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fare handy—looked pretty and fanciful; the eye was feasted as well as the palate. As in the restaurants of the lower order, I noticed here a large, round white cake, high in the centre and sloping toward the edge, which seemed made to look at rather than to eat, for they were all on exhibi tion intact. We were told they were made of rice-flour and sugar, and were delicious eating, which we were ready to believe without the test. The captain in his usual happy manner made free with everything about the place. A whole basket of chopsticks was brought at his bidding, those which the guests were in the habit of using. They were chopsticks of ivory, chopsticks of wood, and chopsticks of both materials combined; but there were no knives. Spoons, too, were brought out, costly as silver, of the finest porcelain, handsomely painted, wide and shallow of bowl, with short, broad handles.
The captain then submitted the question: What should we visit next, the church or the theatre?
"Is there a matinee?" was asked.
No; their hours for performing were at present from twelve noon till nine P.m. Neither would there be any danger of losing the last act of any particular play by going an hour or two later; the drama now on would be continued through the next six months, probably. Continued, not repeated. Their plays are somewhat lengthy; they run from about Christmas till the Fourth of July following. Seeing that we should lose nothing by so doing, we concluded to visit the temple first, the finest Joss-house then in existence on this coast.
It was a dingy place at best, though the different rooms were made gorgeous by jars and vases of the most elaborate pattern and design, to say nothing of the shrines or altars where their saints and gods were kept. Fierce, piratical men, and meek, simpering women, all gaudily decorated, were among these figures; which the captain introduced to us, as he had learned to know them from the attendant—whether priest or servant I could not learn. A never-dying fire of sandalwood sticks in front of some of the shrines, kept the air heavy with the peculiar odor of that wood; and though I saw neither pipe nor opium jar, I fancied that I discovered just the slightest soupcon of poppy-seed in the atmosphere. The fiercest, most piratical-looking of the whole number of gods was said to be a physician who died three
thousand years ago; and when a Chinaman gets sick at this day he will drag himself to the temple, prostrate himself before this deity, and seek recovery at the hands of the dead-and-gone doctor < instead of trusting to one still in the flesh.
A lady-saint with the face of a Dutch peasant girl represents a heavenly queen, whose history is of the Joseph-and-his-Brethren style, translated into the feminine gender. Her family abused her and disowned her, even her father, and finally drove her out, to perish of cold and starvation. Then a benevolent old gentleman took pity on her, picked her up and made her a queen—for he was a god of some kind, you see, and had the power to do so. After a while a famine came on the land, and her people were in dire distress, when she suddenly made her appearance among them, provided for them all, made her father a superintendent of tea plantations, and had her sisters and brothers all elected county supervisors and aldermen of New York city. That's the cap-, tain's version of the story.
Confucius in all his glory was here, too; but he is not worshipped much. Where is the use of wasting prayers or peace-offerings on him? He is so well known to be of a kind and benevolent disposition that there is no need to propitiate him; it's that "wicked god" over yonder with teeth an inch long, a forked tongue and horns on his head, that's got to be kept in good humor with gifts and supplications.
There was a railing in one room, though what it was there for I don't know; because we went in behind it and in front of it and all around it. It was about three feet high, and looked solid enough in the half light; but we should never have paid much attention to it, I am afraid, if the Baron, stooping to examine it, had not uttered a sudden exclamation of wonder and delight. It was equal to anything he had ever seen in old Nuremberg, he said; and it was indeed wonderful. The metal was a dead silver color, and carved or moulded exquisitely. Dragons and men in armor, battle-axes and winged lions, horses and mailed knights bestriding them, in inextricable confusion, it seemed to me, but most artistically grouped and arranged, the Baron said, and he ought to know, for the art treasures of the civilized world have become familiar to his eyes. The captain was told to ask the Chinaman what it was held worth. The Chinaman counted on his fingers a while, and then said that it had cost just six hundred dollars in our money in China—to the Baron's astonishment. He said that as many thousand would not N pay for it; and I believe it is the only thing in Chinatown that he or any one else ever wanted to carry away from there.
We had enough Joss house pretty soon, and bent our steps to the theatre. It was the only Chinese theatre in town at that time, and therefore the best. The stairs leading up were rather narrower than might be desirable in case the theatre were ever filled and a sudden rush made for exit. The auditorium was a rude counterpart of our own theatres; a rough one, too, for the planks of the flooring were hardly well-planed, and the seats were not cushioned to perfection. Though the play was in full blast when we entered, I cannot say that the curtain had risen; there was none to rise. There was no curtain at all, except two limp pieces of serge that hung crumpled and twisted from two doorways at the back of the stage platform, and from where the actors made their entrance and exit. The platform, like our stage, was raised above the pit or parquette; but these actors are not stingy with their stage at all. Steps lead from the pit to the stage in two places, corresponding witn the doors at the back; and if any of the audience took a notion that they had business with the actors or assistants in the green-room, they quietly mounted these steps and passed over the stage undisturbed. The orchestra was in full blast, too, and remained so during the time we stayed. The musicians were located at the back of the stage; I should have said in the depth of the stage, only it is so shallow there is really no depth to it. The instruments area bass drum, a pair of cymbals and a fiddle with one string and three notes to it. One is the note of the midnight hyena, the second that of a wailing cat, and the third the cry of a small child with the stomach-ache. These instruments are beaten, clashed and scraped without a moment's intermission, raging fiercest when the actor screeches loudest, and never diminishing till the next paroxysm of oratory, when it grows still more terrifically fierce.
As for the actors themselves, I fear I should never be able to do justice to their histrionic talent or artistic merit, so I will content myself with trying simply to describe them. The principal actor—what he was acting I defy anybody
to tell—was dressed in a long white satin robe, his eyes rendered more decidedly oblique by art, and long tufts of hair stuck to his upper lip, for the regulation court mustache. The Chinamen in San Francisco don't wear this kind of mustache in every-day life, you understand; it is the powdered wig and peach-blossom velvet of our stage. I know he was the principal actor, for he did the tallest spouting, a plainly-dressed actor along with him speaking hardly above his breath. When these quit the stage there was a change of scenery; two Mongolians who had sat on a bench running along the side wall, got up and laid a common rushbottomed chair along the front of the stage, fastened to it a large card with a few Chinese characters, and retired. Enter the next set of actors; and one of the number, going up to the chair, making believe to pull a fish-net out of it, and leaning over to catch fish, convinced us that the words on the card meant: "This is a fishingboat."
When they had shouted themselves hoarse another band of hope entered, and the card on the chair, which now stood upright, was changed. This time it was a house, or a tree, for the villain of the plot tried to hide behind it.
The audience in the meantime sat perfectly unmoved; not a sign or a note of approval was heard or seen. Their dissatisfaction, however, they always express in a very forcible manner, so the captain told us. The average Chinaman is perfectly familiar with these six-months'-long tragedies; and while the actors do them according to the old-established custom, they have nothing to say. But at the least deviation from the strict rule they set up the most vigorous yells, jump on the stage, beat the actors, pull up the benches and destroy the gas-fixtures. All the actors, one hundred and twenty, board, sleep, and live in the low, cramped room underneath the stage; and they were in a state of siege once for nearly three weeks, and were almost starved to death by an enraged populace, because they insisted that their way of rendering a certain play was correct, and refused to be dictated to by their audience. But they had to give in, to save their lives. Sitting there so perfectly still and impassive, with their "Melican" hats jammed tight on their heads, no one would suspect the amount of fight and bloodthirstiness in the ugly souls of these Chinamen.
"They're the devil when they get started," the captain said.
But I must not forget to mention the female element in the audience. It was not large—seven women, out of an assemblage of about two hundred. We watched them coming in, one and two at a time, picking their way mincingly to their part of the house, their low, white-rimmed shoes a clog to their every step. If I spoke awhile ago of the common blue blouse they always wore, I fell into a grave error. Behold them here in tunics of bright green and royal purple, with uncovered flower-strewn head, and wrists encircled with bracelets of gold and the stone that looks like malachite. In one hand they carried the unfailing red silk handkerchief, and under the arm an umbrella. Not that there was any rain, nor likely to be for the next three months; the umbrella seemed merely one of the adjuncts of an elegant toilet—a finishing-touch to Mongolian full-dress.
Fifteen minutes spent in a Chinese theatre is a long while, and at the end of that time we began to manifest symptoms of surfeit. But the captain would not hear to our going. The tie plus ultra of all actors was sure to make his appearance in a little while, and we must see him—or her, rather; for the Chinese women, on account of their utter lack of education, cannot adopt the histrionic profession, and the female characters are all taken by men. (The reader will please bear in mind
that I am speaking of the Chinese in San Francisco, not in China.) And sure enough, during one of the most inhuman transports of the orchestra, a damsel with vermilion cheeks, ditto lips, and dreadfully slanting eyes, smirked herself on the stage—for indeed there was no shuffle to that step, it was all smirk. She had on a long under dress of purple satin and a tunic of yellow, lined with white; she had bracelets and a fan,and she simpered and drew up her shoulders, and blushed behind her fan just too sweet for anything It was a pity that the hair she wore did not come quite forward enough; one could see with the naked eye where the black, stubby hair of the fellow had grown out since he had his head shaved last. It was an admirable make-up, however, but the greatest puzzle to me was the question, what did he do with his cue? He would not cut it off, I know, if his whole histrionic fame depended on it; and how he could hide it so completely out of sight I don't know. Perhaps there will be lighi. in dark places in Chinatown too, some time, and this, with other mysteries, may be explained to my satisfaction.
In the train of this damsel came her lover; the attendants placed two chairs, and the performers began to sing to each other. It was more than we could bear. The music on the stage grew frantic—so did we; and the captain, with the fear of having to book us as insane on the |>oliirregister before his eyes, got up at last to lead us out.
By Elizabeth Oakes Smith.
The Chinese have a saying, " He who neglects the education of his daughters is preparing shame for himself and family, and unhappiness for the houses in which they may enter."
We are apt to think boys and girls are about the same the world over; not much to be relied on where any persistence is required; giddy, thoughtless, and selfish. This is doubtless true of the majorities of them, but does not hold good of all, as many children from the first indicate the germ of their after years of self-abnegation and noble endeavor. They are very different in different eras, and what they are for the time being becomes the prophecy of the coming period.
I think the progress of our civilization is deeloping a new aspect of girlhood, entirely unlike that of our earlier days. The girls of the past, our mothers and grandames, were of a stately, decorous order of character. They were rather demure, had their own ideas about matters and things in spite of the Puritanic austerity of the fathers; and in their intercourse with the young men were not a little disposed to snub all pretentiousness on their part. A youth had to come the whole way in proffering his attentions—there was no waltzing to render love-making easy. The slow, stately, and yet coquettish minuet, though excellent to show off a fine figure and the graces of a self-sustained demeanor, admitted of no romping, and none of that familiar handling of the person which goes far to neutralize that maidenly reserve which in the past was considered a grace.
No girl ever sat at night in the parlor with her lover to the exclusion of the mother, nor did slit ride or walk with him unless attended by some member of the family. She was not a little proud, and perhaps proud of her pride, as knowing her own value.
Mothers under the breath spoke of bad men and bad husbands, and unjust laws that were based upon the subordination of women, and from this it is most likely came the germ of that movement in our day in behalf of women's rights, or her claim to be considered as an integral element in the body politic. The general habits of the people inclined them to thoughtfulness; for