PAGODA AT LUNG-WA.
HEREWITH I send forth a little book on China, which I trust may help Asian and American people to
understand each other better. History shows that the human nature of the Chinese and of ourselves is
the same. I have gone below the surface, letting the Chinese speak for themselves, chiefly through
their myths, folklore, art, literature, institutions, and annals.
My initial interest in China came through traditions of my grandfather, one of the first, as a
merchant navigator, to carry the American flag to Canton, thence bringing home pretty curiosities,
which, with my father's stories of his many voyages, provoked a desire to know more of the mighty
hermit nation. I visited many times the great Chinese Museum in my native city, Philadelphia, formed
by Nathan Dunn, an American merchant long in China. There were life-sized groups of human figures,
male and female, picturing all classes, from emperor and mandarins to cobblers and beggars,
representations of shops and crafts, and a varied collection of genuine objects of use and beauty,
intelligently selected and brought from the Middle Kingdom. Two Chinese gentlemen, in silk and
nankeen dress and bamboo hats, explained things. Even then I longed to know more of what the Chinese
thought and felt, than of what they made, ate, bought, or sold. Happily, besides browsing in my
father's library and hearing him tell of his experiences in Pacific seas, I had the pleasure, later,
of living, as pioneer educator, four years in the Far East. I saw the Chinese also in Japan and
California, met and talked with scores, possibly hundreds, of men and women long resident in or
coming from nearly every part of China, and with scholars who had spent their lives in original
The witness of a single person, or book, concerning so vast and varied a land as China is worth but
little. Yet complex as is its hoary civilization, the few leading principles holding its millions
together are very simple. Sympathy is the key to interpretation. Every age has had its ruling ideas.
China, to the critical student, does not present that picture of monotonous inflexibility which
Occidentals—too often proud of their dense ignorance of this great country and
civilization—conjure up and apparently delight to dwell on.
Though in the course of years digesting the standard and ephemeral works on China and making some
acquaintance with its texts, I have relied mostly for help upon scholars whom I have known
personally, at home or in the Orient, such as Messrs. Legge, Williams, Allen, Macgowan, McCartee,
Williamson, Martin, Yung Wing,Hart, Mayers, Dennys, Ross, Holcombe, Wilson, Hirth, Pott, Schlegel,
de Groot, Cordier, Terrien de la Couperie, and others, or as correspondents,—too many to
name,—besides Chinese, Japanese, and Korean native men of learning, who have kindly answered
many questions. The limits of this little book permit only an outline of reference, description, and
philosophy of the subject. My ambition is to lead my readers to the study of more serious works on
The West has as much to learn as to teach, to receive as to give, from the Orient. May this nation
with an unexampled past and the United States of America ever abide in peace and friendship.
ITHACA, N. Y.
PREFACE TO THE EDITION OF 1922
IN sending forth the new edition of "China's Story," the author ventures to beg from his
countrymen—China's best friends—patience with the oldest of nations. Having lived to see
very much the same scenes arising from the meeting of Orient and Occident—with the travail and
the many sorrows, arising of necessity during the rejuvenation of Japan and Korea—the persons,
things, and events of the past seventy years in "the Middle Kingdom" do not seem so very different
in any one case from the others. Nor should we despair of China's redemption in time from
superstition and disorganization, with the tangles of warring factions, and the old forms of
darkness and delusion.
One of the trustworthy signs of a new life in these three great nations is that of the growing pains
caused by a new consciousness of brother-hood with all the world. This is seen in a sensitiveness
unknown of old. Each people is now jealous of the praise or blame bestowed on any one of them by
Americans, and all seek this Yankee nation's help and favor. Let us Occidentals give them time for
adjustment to new conditions and deliverance from bad precedents and examples. Let our first
President's hope, expressed in his Farewell Address, that the blessings which we enjoy may be shared
to and by others, be fulfilled. To this end American traditions, reinforced by the Washington
Conference of 1922, point.
Pulaski, N. Y.