FRIDAY, December 13.

Our intended trip up the Yang-tse has been interfered with by a storm of rain and dense fog, but the days never seem long. We get a little time to read up. Our book-table shows seven important works on China and its people - all interesting. To-day is marked by a notable invitation to dinner extended to us through General Bailey. We are to have the honor - one not often bestowed upon globe trotters - of dining with the Mandarin.

The dinner lasted more than three hours, and was composed of I don't know how many courses. I depended upon Vandy to keep count, but he found so much to wonder at that he lost the run when in the teens. From birds'-nest soup, which, by the way, is insipid, to shark's fin and bamboo shoots in rapid succession, we had it all. I thought each course would surely be the last; but finally we did get to sweet dishes, and I knew we were approaching the end. Then came the bowl of rice and tea, which are supposed to be able to neutralize the mess which has gone before. Our host pressed all to drink frequently of a celebrated native wine, the champagne of China, grown in his district, of the quality of which he seemed very proud. Whenever he showed the bottom of his cup, guests were expected to empty and replenish theirs. I did the best I could, both as to tasting the compounds and drinking the wine, but I fear I was voted not a great success in either. The natives were quite hilarious, and smoked at intervals during the feast. They played the ancient game of digits like Romans, and also a Japanese game with the hands and arms, the loser in every case being compelled to drain his cup. When tea was served, the Mandarin, through his interpreter, addressed General Bailey, as the principal dignitary present, thanking him for the great honor conferred upon his humble self by those present having condescended to sit at his table. The general's reply was equally polite and very happy, and appeared to please our host greatly, who then hoped that the illustrious travellers from America would be pleased with China and return safely to their great country from their journey round the world, adding that, having now got the telegraph, America and China and all countries were brought nearer to one another, and would know each other better. I replied that this was happily true, and ventured to express the belief that as we knew each other better we should also like each other more, and that as we, and all modern nations, had learned so much from his country in the past, I hoped that in return we might be able, to some extent at least, to repay that debt by perhaps, showing China some things which she could adopt with advantage. To this sentiment there was a most cordial response.

Before rising from table the photograph of the host was presented to each guest. I requested that his autograph be put upon ours, that we could insert it in our albums among the eminent men we met. He replied that he must then go at the very end, because he had not on his Mandarin hat. But I asked the interpreter to assure him that we in America did not care about the hat; "it was the head that was in it" which had raised him so high. This appeared to please the company inordinately, and we got the autograph, and so ended our first, and, in all probability, our last, Mandarin dinner. Vandy ate and drank of everything offered him, and this morning, when I fully expected him to be as sick as a dog, and with a head like to split, he surprised me by reporting himself as all right, and telling me that in some respects Mandarin cooking beats the world. I should mention that the politeness of our host was overpowering. The first course he served himself to each guest, his servants following him round the table and handing him the dishes ("and I myself shall be your servant, sir, says good Uncle Toby"), and upon entering, as well as upon retiring, he stood in the open court outside of his threshold to welcome and to bid farewell. The shaking of one's own hands instead of grasping those of your friends is soon learned; but what a world of pleasure the Chinaman misses by his mode!

Of course we saw none of the ladies of the household, nor were they inquired for or referred to by any of us. If a Chinese gentleman were asked how many children he had, he would probably not count the girls at all, but at all events he would distinguish thus: two children and a girl. When a boy is born the father is overwhelmed with congratulations, presents are sent, and rejoicing takes place. If the little stranger happen to be a girl, the event is hushed up. No reference is ever made to the great misfortune which has befallen the expectant father. Friends are apprised of the result by advertisements carried through the streets. Yellow strips of paper are used if the child is a boy; any other color means a girl. Among the poorer classes girl babies are frequently drowned. Some estimate that in the Shanghai district one-third are so destroyed; the excuse given by the parents is that they cannot afford to rear a girl. Men monopolize most of the occupations here, and a woman can earn little or nothing; besides, a husband for every girl must be provided upon some terms. After a certain age an unmarried woman is regarded as disreputable, entailing something of disgrace upon her family; and so China lacks that most useful, and, as far as my experience goes, most unjustly maligned class - old maids.

A universal sameness prevails in China which soon becomes monotonous. One street looks precisely like another. If a traveller were set down in any city of China, he would be at a loss to tell where he was. It might be Shanghai, Canton, or Peking. There are the same rows of one-story, or, at most, one-and-a-half-story huts, without the slightest attempt at ornament or variety. There are no grand mansions scattered throughout the land, no city halls, colleges or commercial exchanges, as with us, but one dead flat level of low structures wherever you go. Probably the exactions to which wealth is subject here has much to do with this; all are concerned to hide their resources, but I am told the Chinese educated mind has really reached the stage in which ostentatious display is regarded with contempt. It seeks escape from ceremony and show, in sweet simplicity of living, as most truly great men have done and are doing more and more.

Life "en grand seigneur" has never been the foible of the rich American, but as the seigneur is a species of recent growth and has not yet had time to blossom into flower and show us just to what his nature turns, we must watch his movements hereafter with interest. So far, he seems endued with quiet tastes, as far as personal parade is concerned. A few have built grand mansions, but still live plainly in the matter of retinue and ceremonial.

Even in England one notes nowadays a general expression of disappointment at the result of living up to one's rank, according to the old standard. It is not altogether from lack of means to maintain great style, although this is the real reason with the majority, perhaps, who have abandoned former habits. Another cause is operating, even with such as are wealthy: the squire or his lordship is not the all in all of his district any more; and he is educated now, in many cases, to enjoy intellectual pleasures, which he finds incompatible with so much society and numerous establishments with their endless staffs of servants to maintain. Many of the stately homes of England, therefore, are for rent, and their owners live more within themselves and in simpler manner than before.

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