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There are also now wholly Chinese streets in the foreign settlement, where all the shop-fronts are gorgeous with gilding and fine decorative Chinese characters, where all the shops have signs which hang perpendicularly across the street-way, instead of horizontally over 3 the shop-front as with us, and where Chinese shopkeepers sit inside, bare to the waist, in summer presenting a most unpleasing picture of too much flesh, and in winter masses of fur and satin.Shanghai has got a capital racecourse, and theatre, and cricket-ground—grounds for every kind of sport, indeed. Its sights are the bubbling well and the tea-garden in the China town, believed by globe-trotters, but erroneously, to be the original of the willow-pattern plate.People threatened me with horrible sights, and still more horrible smells.But I fancy those, who talk in this way, can know very little of the East End of London, and nothing of the South of France or Italian towns.Nevertheless, in spite of absolutely leaden skies and never a glimpse of sunshine, the coolies and the twenty-years-in-China-and-don't-speak-a-word-of-the-language men wore sun-hats, and pretended to get 6 ill from the glare, when any one fresh from England would certainly say it was the damp.The floods were all the while advancing on what looked like a beleaguered city, when we went out on the plain outside, and gazed back at the city wall, with its dark water-line clearly marked all round close to the top.
It was in the merry month of May, 1887, that I first landed in China; but from the first there was nothing merry about China.Now, darkened by the smoke of over thirty factories, it is flooded by an ever-increasing Chinese population, who jostle with Europeans in the thoroughfare, till it seems as if the struggle between the two races would be settled in the streets of Shanghai, and the European get driven to the wall.For the Chinaman always goes a steady pace, and in his many garments, one upon the top of the other, presents a solid, impenetrable front to the hurrying European; whilst the wheelbarrows on which his womankind are conveyed rush in and out amongst the carriages, colliding here and there with a coolie-drawn ricksha, and always threatening the toes of the foot-passenger.Yet they, too, have souls possibly worth the awakening.With their long nails, their musk-scented garments, their ivory opium-pipes, and delicate arrangements of colours, they cannot be without sensibilities.
Do they feel that the Gaul is at the gates, and that the China of their childhood is passing away?