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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Acting under the orders of the missionaries


[199] The chief supporters of superstition in China.

[200] See No. I., note 39.

[201] Such is one of the most common causes of hostile demonstration against Chinese Christians. The latter, acting under the orders of the missionaries, frequently refuse to subscribe to the various local celebrations and processions, the great annual festivities, and ceremonies of all kinds, on the grounds that these are idolatrous and forbidden by the Christian faith. Hence bad feeling, high words, blows, and sometimes bloodshed. I say "frequently," because I have discovered several cases in which converts have quietly subscribed like other people rather than risk an _emeute_.

An amusing incident came under my own special notice not very long ago. A missionary appeared before me one day to complain that a certain convert of his had been posted in his own village, and cut off from his civic rights for two years, merely because he had agreed to let a room of his house to be used as a missionary _depot_. I took a copy of the placard which was handed to me in proof of this statement, and found it to run thus:--"In consequence of ---- having entered into an agreement with a barbarian pastor, to lease to the said barbarian pastor a room in his house to be used as a missionary chapel, we, the elders of this village, do hereby debar ---- from the privilege

of worshipping in our ancestral hall for the space of two years." It is needless, of course, to mention that Ancestral Worship is prohibited by all sects of missionaries in China alike; or that, when I pointed this out to the individual in question, who could not have understood the import of the Chinese placard, the charge was promptly withdrawn.

[202] An historical character who was formerly among the ranks of the Yellow Turban rebels, but subsequently entered the service of Kuan Yue (see No. I., note 39), and was canonized by an Emperor of the last dynasty.

[203] This curious ceremony is the final touch to a newly-built or newly-restored temple, and consists in giving expression to the eyes of the freshly-painted idols, which have been purposely left blank by the painter. Up to that time these blocks of clay or wood are not supposed to have been animated by the spiritual presence of the deity in question; but no sooner are the eyes lighted than the gratified God smiles down upon the handsome decorations thus provided by devout and trusting suppliants.

There is a cognate custom belonging to the ceremonies of ancestral worship, of great importance in the eyes of the Chinese. On a certain day after the death of a parent, the surviving head of the family proceeds with much solemnity to dab a spot of ink upon the memorial tablet of the deceased. This is believed to give to the departed spirit the power of remaining near to, and watching over the fortunes of, those left behind.

[204] Such indeed is the fate of a per-centage of all public subscriptions raised and handled by Chinese of no matter what class. A year or two ago an application was made to me for a donation to a native foundling hospital at Swatow, on the ground that I was known as a "read (Chinese) book man," and that consequently other persons, both Chinese and foreigners, might be induced to follow my example. On my declining to do so, the manager of the concern informed me that if I would only put down my name for fifty dollars, say L10, no call should be made upon me for the money! Even in the matter of the funds collected for the famine-stricken people of 1878, it is whispered that peculation has been rife.

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