Three hours later we were in Tali. A broad paved road, smooth from the passage of countless feet, leads to the city. Rocky creeks drain the mountain range into the lake; they are spanned by numerous bridges of dressed stone, many of the slabs of which are well cut granite blocks eighteen feet in length. At a stall by the roadside excellent ices were for sale, genuine ices, made of concave tablets of pressed snow sweetened with treacle, costing one cash each - equal to one penny for three dozen. We passed the Temple to the Goddess of Mercy, and entered Tali by the south gate. Then by the yamen of the Titai and the Great Five Glory Gate, the northern entrance of what was for seventeen years the palace of the Mohammedan king during the rebellion, we turned down the East street to the Yesu-tang, the Inland Mission, where Mr. and Mrs. John Smith gave me a cordial greeting.

Tali has always been an important city. It was the capital of an independent kingdom in the time of Kublai Khan and Marco Polo. It was the headquarters of the Mohammedan Sultan or Dictator, Tu Wen Hsiu, during the rebellion, and seemed at one time destined to become the capital of an independent Moslem Empire in Western China.

The city surrendered to the Mohammedans in 1857. It was recaptured by the Imperialists under General Yang Yu-ko on January 15th, 1873, the Chinese troops being aided by artillery cast by Frenchmen in the arsenal of Yunnan and manned by French gunners. At its recapture the carnage was appalling; the streets were ankle-deep in blood. Of 50,000 inhabitants 30,000 were butchered. After the massacre twenty-four panniers of human ears were sent to Yunnan city to convince the people of the capital that they had nothing more to fear from the rebellion.

In March, 1873, Yang was appointed Titai or Commander-in-chief of Yunnan Province, with his headquarters in Tali, not in the capital, and Tali has ever since been the seat of the most important military command in the province.

The subsequent history of Yang may be told in a few words. He assumed despotic power over the country he had conquered, and grew in power till his authority became a menace to the Imperial Government. They feared that he aspired to found a kingdom of his own in Western China, and recalled him to Peking - to do him honour. He was not to be permitted to return to Yunnan. At the time of his recall another rebellion had broken out against China - the rebellion of the French - and, like another Uriah, the powerful general was sent to the forefront in Formosa, where he was opportunely slain by a French bullet, or by a misdirected Chinese one.

After his death it was found that Yang had made a noble bequest to the City of Tali. During his residence he had built for himself a splendid yamen of granite and marble. This he had richly endowed and left as a free gift to the city as a college for students. It is one of the finest residences in China, and, though only seventy undergraduates were living there at the time of my visit, the rooms could accommodate in comfort many hundreds.

Tali is situated on the undulating ground that shelves gently from the base of snow-clad mountains down to the lake. The lower slopes of the mountain, above the town, are covered with myriads of grave-mounds, which in the distance are scarcely distinguishable from the granite blocks around them. Creeks and rills of running water spring from the melting of the snows far up the mountain, run among the grave-mounds, and are then trained into the town. The Chinese residents thus enjoy the privilege of drinking a diluted solution of their ancestors. Halfway to the lake, there is a huge tumulus of earth and stone over-grown with grass, in which are buried the bones of 10,000 Mohammedans who fell during the massacre. There is no more fertile valley in the world than the valley of Tali. It is studded with villages. Between the two passes, Hsia-kwan on the south, and Shang-kwan on the north, which are distant from each other a long day's walk, there are 360 villages, each in its own plantation of trees, with a pretty white temple in the centre with curved roof and upturned gables. The sunny reaches of the lake are busy with fleets of fishing boats. The poppy, grown in small pockets by the margin of the lake, is probably unequalled in the world; the flowers, as I walked through the fields, were on a level with my forehead.

Tali is not a large city; its wall is only three and a half miles in circumference. Before the rebellion populous suburbs extended half-way to Hsia-kwan, but they are now only heaps of rubble. In the town itself there are market gardens and large open spaces where formerly there were narrow streets of Chinese houses. The wall is in fairly good repair, but there are no guns in the town, except a few old-fashioned cannon lying half buried in the ground near the north gate.

One afternoon we climbed up the mountain intending to reach a famous cave, "The Phoenix-eyed Cave" (Fung-yen-tung) which overlooks a precipice, of some fame in years gone by as a favourite spot for suicides. We did not reach the cave. My energy gave out when we were only halfway, so we sat down in the grass and, to use a phrase that I fancy I have heard before, we feasted our eyes on the scene before us. And here we gathered many bunches of edelweiss.

As we were coming back down the hill, picking our way among the graves, a pensive Chinaman stopped us to ask our assistance in finding him a lucky spot in which to bury his father, who died a year ago but was still above ground. He was sorry to hear that we could not pretend to any knowledge of such things. He was of an inquiring mind, for he then asked us if we had seen any precious stones in the hillside - every Chinaman knows that the foreigner with his blue eyes can see four feet underground - but he was again disappointed with our reply, or did not believe us.

At the poor old shrine to the God of Riches, half a dozen Chinamen in need of the god's good offices were holding a small feast in his honour. They had prepared many dishes and, having "dedicated to the god the spiritual essence, were now about to partake of the insipid remains." "Ching fan," they courteously said to us when we approached down the path. "We invite (you to take) rice." We raised our clasped hands: "Ching, ching," we replied "we invite (you to go on) we invite," and passed on. They were bent upon enjoyment. They were taking as an aperitif a preliminary cup of that awful spirit tsiu, which is almost pure alcohol and can be burnt in lamps like methylated spirit.

On the level sward, between this poor temple and the city, the annual Thibetan Fair is held on the 17th, 18th, and 19th of April, when caravans of Thibetans, with herds of ponies, make a pilgrimage from their mountain villages to the ancient home of their forefathers. But the fair is falling into disfavour owing to the increasing number of likin-barriers on the northern trade routes.

There are many temples in Tali. The finest is the Confucian Temple, with its splendid halls and pavilions, in a beautiful garden. Kwanti, the God of War, has also a temple worthy of a god whose services to China in the past can never be forgotten. Every Chinaman knows, that if it had not been for the personal aid of this god, General Gordon could never have succeeded in suppressing the Taiping rebellion. In the present rebellion of the Japanese, the god appears to have maintained an attitude of strict neutrality.

The City Temple is near the drill-ground. As the Temple of a Fu city it contains the images of both Fu magistrate and Hsien magistrate, with their attendants. In its precincts the Kwan of the beggars, (the beggar king or headman), is domiciled, who eats the Emperor's rice and is officially responsible for the good conduct of the guild of beggars.

In the main street there is a Memorial Temple to General Yang, who won the city back from the Mohammedans. But the temple where prayer is offered most earnestly, is the small temple near the Yesu-tang, erected to the goddess who has in her power the dispensation of the pleasures of maternity. Rarely did I pass here without seeing two or three childless wives on their knees, praying to the goddess to remove from them the sin of barrenness.

Some of the largest caravanserais I have seen in China are in Tali. One of the largest belongs to the city, and is managed by the authorities for the benefit of the poor, all profits being devoted to a poor-relief fund. There are many storerooms here, filled with foreign goods and stores imported from Burma, and useful wares and ornamental nick-nacks brought from the West by Cantonese pedlars. Prices are curiously low. I bought condensed milk, "Milkmaid brand," for the equivalent of 7d. a tin. In the inn there is stabling accommodation for more than a hundred mules and horses, and there are rooms for as many drivers. The tariff cannot be called immoderate. The charges are: For a mule or horse per night, fodder included, one farthing; for a man per night, a supper of rice included, one penny.

Even larger than the city inn is the caravanserai where my pony was stabled; it is more like a barracks than an inn. One afternoon the landlord invited the missionary and me into his guest-room, and as I was the chief guest, he insisted, of course, that I should occupy the seat of honour on the left hand. But I was modest and refused to; he persisted and I was reluctant; he pushed me forward and I held back, protesting against the honour he wished to show me. But he would take no refusal and pressed me forward into the seat. I showed becoming reluctance of course, but I would not have occupied any other. By-and-by he introduced to me with much pride his aged father, to whom, when he came into the room, I insisted upon giving my seat, and humbly sat on an inferior seat by his side, showing him all the consideration due to his eighty years. The old man bore an extraordinary resemblance to Moltke. He had smoked opium, he told Mr. Smith, the missionary, for fifty years, but always in moderation. His daily allowance was two chien of raw opium, rather more than one-fifth of an ounce, but he knew many Chinese, he told the missionary, who smoked daily five times as much opium as he did without apparent injury.

In Tali there are four chief officials: the Prefect or Fu Magistrate, the Hsien or City Magistrate, the Intendant or Taotai, and the Titai. The yamen of the Taotai is a humble residence for so important an official; but the yamen of the Titai, between the South Gate and the Five Glory Tower, is one of the finest in the province. The Titai is not only the chief military commander of the province of Yunnan, but he is a very much married man. An Imperialist, he has yet obeyed the Mahommedan injunction and taken to himself four wives in order to be sure of obtaining one good one. He has been abundantly blessed with children. In offices at the back of the Titai's yamen and within its walls, is the local branch of the Imperial Chinese telegraphs, conducted by two Chinese operators, who can read and write English a little, and can speak crudely a few sentences.

The City Magistrate is an advanced opium-smoker, a slave to the pipe, who neglects his duties. In his yamen I saw the wooden cage in which prisoners convicted of certain serious crimes are slowly done to death by starvation and exhaustion, as well as the wooden cages of different shape in which criminals of another class condemned to death, are carried to and from the capital.

The City prison is in the Hsien's yamen, but permission to enter was refused me, though the missionary has frequently been admitted. "The prison," explained the Chinese clerk, "is private, and strangers cannot be admitted." I was sorry not to be allowed to see the prison, all the more because I had heard from the missionary nothing but praise of the humanity and justice of its management.

The gaols of China, or, as the Chinese term them, the "hells," just as the prison hulks in England forty years ago were known as "floating hells," have been universally condemned for the cruelties and deprivations practised in them. They are probably as bad as were the prisons of England in the early years of the present century.

The gaolers purchase their appointments, as they did in England in the time of John Howard; and, as was the case in England, they receive no other pay than what they can squeeze from the prisoners or the prisoners' friends. Poor and friendless, the prisoners fare badly. But I question if the cruelties practised in the Chinese gaols, allowing for the blunted nerve sensibility of the Chinaman, are less endurable than the condition of things existing in English prisons so recently as when Charles Reade wrote "It is Never Too Late to Mend." The cruelties of Hawes, the "punishment jacket," the crank, the dark cell, and starvation, "the living tortured, the dying abandoned, the dead kicked out of the way;" when boys of fifteen, like Josephs, were driven to self-slaughter by cruelty. These are statements published in 1856, "every detail of which was verified, every fact obtained, by research and observation." ("Life of Charles Reade," ii., 33.)

And it cannot admit, I think, of question that there are no cruelties practised in the Chinese gaols greater, even if there are any equal to the awful and degraded brutality with which the England of our fathers treated her convicts in the penal settlements of Norfolk Island, Port Arthur, Macquarie Harbour, and the prison hulks of Williamstown. "The convict settlements were terrible cesspools of iniquity, so bad that it seemed, to use the words of one who knew them well, 'the heart of man who went to them was taken from him, and there was given to him the heart of a beast.'"

Can the mind conceive of anything more dreadful in China than the incident narrated by the Chaplain of Norfolk Island, the Rev. W. Ullathorne, D.D., afterwards Roman Catholic Bishop of Birmingham, in his evidence before the Commission of the House of Commons in 1838: "As I mentioned the names of those men who were to die, they one after another, as their names were pronounced, dropped on their knees and thanked God that they were to be delivered from that horrible place, whilst the others remained standing mute, weeping. It was the most horrible scene I have ever witnessed."

Those who have read Marcus Clarke's "For the Term of His Natural Life," remember the powerfully-drawn character of Maurice Frere, the Governor of Norfolk Island. It is well known, of course, that the story is founded upon fact, and is a perfectly true picture of the convict days. The original of Maurice Frere is known to have been the late Colonel - who was killed by the convicts in the prison hulk "Success," at Williamstown, in 1853. To this day there is no old lag that was ever exposed to his cruelty but reviles his memory. I once knew the convict who gave the signal for his murder. He was sentenced to death, but was reprieved and served a long term of imprisonment. The murder happened forty-one years ago, yet to this day the old convict commends the murder as a just act of retribution, and when he narrates the story he tells you with bitter passion that the "Colonel's dead, and, if there's a hell, he's frizzling there yet."

Captain Foster Fyans, a former Governor of Norfolk Island Convict Settlement, spent the last years of his life in the town I belong to, Geelong, in Victoria. The cruelties imposed on the convicts under his charge were justified, he declared, by the brutalised character of the prisoners. On one occasion, he used to tell, a band of convicts attempted to escape from the Island; but their attempt was frustrated by the guard. The twelve convicts implicated in the outbreak were put on their trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death by strangulation, as hanging really was in those days. Word was sent to headquarters in Sydney, and instructions were asked for to carry the sentence into effect. The laconic order was sent back from Sydney to "hang half of them." The Captain acknowledged the humour of the despatch, though it placed him in a difficulty. Which half should he hang, when all were equally guilty? In his pleasant way the Captain used to tell how he acted in the dilemma. He went round to the twelve condemned wretches, and asked each man separately if, being under sentence of death, he desired a reprieve or wished for death. As luck would have it, of the twelve men, six pleaded for life and six as earnestly prayed that they might be sent to the scaffold. So the Captain hanged the six men who wished to live, and spared the six men who prayed for death to release them from their awful misery. This is an absolutely true story, which I have heard from men to whom the Captain himself told it. Besides, it bears on its face the impress of truth. And yet we are accustomed to speak of the Chinese as centuries behind us in civilisation and humanity.

I went to two opium-poisoning cases in Tali, both being cases of attempted suicide. The first was that of an old man living not at the South Gate as the messenger assured us, who feared to discourage us if he told the truth, but more than a mile beyond it. On our way we bought in the street some sulphate of copper, and a large dose made the old man so sick that he said he would never take opium again, and, if he did, he would not send for the foreign gentleman.

The other was that of a young bride, a girl of unusual personal attraction, only ten days married, who thus early had become weary of the pock-marked husband her parents had sold her to. She was dressed still in her bridal attire, which had not been removed since marriage; she was dressed in red - the colour of happiness. "She was dressed in her best, all ready for the journey," and was determined to die, because dead she could repay fourfold the injuries which she had received while living. In this case many neighbours were present, and, as all were anxious to prevent the liberation of the girl's evil spirit, I proved to them how skilful are the barbarian doctors. The bride was induced to drink hot water till it was, she declared, on a level with her neck, then I gave her a hypodermic injection of that wonderful emetic apomorphia. The effect was very gratifying to all but the patient.

Small-pox, or, as the Chinese respectfully term it, "Heavenly Flowers," is a terrible scourge in Western China. It is estimated that two thousand deaths - there is a charming vagueness about all Chinese figures - from this disease alone occur in the course of a year in the valley of Tali. Inoculation is practised, as it has been for many centuries, by the primitive method of introducing a dried pock-scab, on a lucky day, into one of the nostrils. The people have heard of the results of Western methods of inoculation, and immense benefit could be conferred upon a very large community by sending to the Inland Mission in Talifu a few hundred tubes of vaccine lymph. Vaccination introduced into Western China would be a means, the most effective that could be imagined, to check the death rate over that large area of country which was ravaged by the civil war, and whose reduced population is only a small percentage of the population which so fertile a country needs for its development. Infanticide is hardly known in that section of Yunnan of which Tali may be considered the capital. Small-pox kills the children. There is no need for a mother to sacrifice her superfluous children, for she has none.

Another disease endemic in Yunnan is the bubonic plague, which is, no doubt, identical with the plague that has lately played havoc in Hong Kong and Canton. Cantonese peddlers returning to the coast probably carried the germs with them.

The China Inland Mission in Tali was the last of the mission stations which I was to see on my journey. This is the furthest inland of the stations of the Inland Mission in China. It was opened in 1881 by Mr. George W. Clarke, the most widely-travelled, with the single exception of the late Dr. Cameron, of all the pioneer missionaries of this brave society; I think Mr. Clarke told me that he has been in fourteen out of the eighteen provinces. His work here was not encouraging; he was treated with kindness by the Chinese, but they refused to accept the truth when he placed it before them.

"For the Bible and the Light of Truth," says Miss Guinness, in her charming but hysterical "Letters from the Far East" - a book that has deluded many poor girls to China - "For the Bible and the Light of Truth the Chinese cry with outstretched, empty, longing hands" (p. 173). But this allegation unhappily conflicts with facts when applied to Tali.

For the first eleven years the mission laboured here without any success whatever; but now a happier time seems coming, and no less than three converts have been baptised in the last two years.

There are now three missionaries in Tali - there are usually four; they are universally respected by the Chinese; they have made their little mission home one of the most charming in China. Mr. John Smith, who succeeded Mr. Clarke, has been ten years in Tali. He is welcomed everywhere, and in every case of serious sickness or opium-poisoning he is sent for. During all the time he has been in Tali he has never refused to attend a summons to the sick, whether by day or night. In the course of the year he attends, on an average, between fifty and sixty cases of attempted suicide by opium in the town or its environs, and, if called in time, he is rarely unsuccessful. Should he be called to a case outside the city wall and be detained after dark, the city gate will be kept open for him till he returns. The city magistrate has himself publicly praised the benevolence of this missionary, and said, "there is no man in Tali like Mr. Smith - would that there were others!" He is a Christian in word and deed, brave and simple, unaffected and sympathetic - the type of missionary needed in China - an honour to his mission. I saw the courageous man working here almost alone, far distant from all Western comforts, cut off from the world, and almost unknown, and I contrasted him with those other missionaries - the majority - who live in luxurious mission-houses in absolute safety in the treaty ports, yet whose courage and self-denial we have accustomed ourselves to praise in England and America, when with humble voices they parade the dangers they undergo and the hardships they endure in preaching, dear friends, to the "perishing heathen in China, God's lost ones!"

In addition to the three converts who have been baptised in Tali in the last two years, there are two inquirers - one the mission cook - who are nearly ready for acceptance. At the Sunday service I met the three converts. One is the paid teacher in the mission school; another is a humble pedlar; the third is a courageous native belonging to one of the indigenous tribes of Western China, a Minchia man, whose conversion, judged by all tests, is one of those genuine cases which bring real joy to the missionary. He has only recently been baptised. Every Sunday he comes in fifteen li from the small patch of ground he tills to the mission services. His son is at the mission school, and is boarded on the premises. There is a small school in connection with the mission under the baptised teacher, where eight boys and eight girls are being taught. They are learning quickly, their wonderful gifts of memory being a chief factor in their progress. At the service there was another worshipper, a sturdy boy of fourteen, who slept composedly all through the exhortation. If any boy should feel gratitude towards the kind missionaries it is he. They have reared him from the most degraded poverty, have taught him to read and write, and are now on the eve of apprenticing him to a carpenter. He was a beggar boy, the son of a professional beggar, who, with unkempt hair and in rags and filth, used to shamble through the streets gathering reluctant alms. The father died, and some friends would have sold his son to pay the expenses of his burial; but the missionaries intervened and, to save the son from slavery, buried his father. This action gave them some claim to help the boy, and the boy has accordingly been with them since in a comfortable, kindly home, instead of grovelling round the streets in squalor and nakedness.

The mission-house, formerly occupied by Mr. George Clarke is near the City Temple. We went to see it a day or two after my arrival. It is now in the possession of a family of Mohammedans, one of the very few Moslem families still living in the valley of Tali. "When we were in possession of the valley," said the father sorrowfully, "we numbered '12,000 tens' (120,000 souls), now we are ' 100 fives' (500 souls). Our men were slain, our women were taken in prey, only a remnant escaped the destroyer." Several members of the family were in the court when we entered, and among the men were three with marked Anglo-Saxon features, a peculiarity frequently seen in Western China, where every traveller has given a different explanation of the phenomenon. One especially moved my curiosity, for he possessed to an absurd degree the closest likeness to myself. Could I give him any higher praise than that?

That the Mohammedan Chinese is physically superior to his Buddhist countryman is acknowledged by all observers; there is a fearlessness and independence of bearing in the Mohammedan, a militant carriage that distinguishes him from the Chinese unbeliever. His religion is but a thinly diluted Mohammedanism, and excites the scorn of the true believers from India who witness his devotion, or rather his want of devotion.

One of the men talking to us in the old mission-house was a comical-looking fellow, whose head-dress differed from that of the other Chinese, in that, in addition to his queue, lappets of hair were drawn down his cheeks in the fashion affected by old ladies in England. I raised these strange locks - impudent curiosity is often polite attention in China - whereupon the reason for them was apparent. The body bequeathed to him by his fathers had been mutilated - he had suffered the removal of both ears. He explained to us how he came to lose them, but we knew even before he told us; "he had lost them in battle facing the enemy " - and of course we believed him. The less' credulous would associate the mutilation with a case of theft and its detection and punishment by the magistrate; but "a bottle-nosed man," says the Chinese proverb, "may be a teetotaller and yet no one will think so." Our milkman at the mission was a follower of the Prophet, and the milk he gave us was usually as reduced in quality as are his co-religionists in number. In the milk he supplied there was what a chemist describes as a remarkable absence of butter fat. Yet, when he was reproached for his deceit, he used piously to say, even when met coming from the well, "I could not put a drop of water in the milk, for there is a God up there" - and he would jerk his chin towards the sky - "who would see me if I did."