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1.11. Chinese a Grateful People.

Mr. E. H. Parker, in his “China” (1901), says—“The Chinese are said to be ungrateful. This I totally deny. The fidelity of Chinese servants is really extraordinary, if they are treated with even moderate sympathy and consideration. … Nothing makes a more powerful impression on the Chinese mind than impartial justice. To them it is a grand sight to see wages paid out without deductions on the ‘scale’ or ‘hanky-panky’ of any kind..... When they begin to get used to the cold, mathematical precision of the British mind, going straight to its object without fear or favour, they begin to feel that they are in the presence of a weird, strange being of a superhuman kind. But again, when they find that, in addition to this chilly justice, they are positively shown some tenderness or consideration, such as gratuitous medical aid, free assistance in righting a wrong, the present of a coffin to their mothers, and such-like things indicative of disinterestedness, they positively overflow with feelings of respectful gratitude. I have seen a pack of cunning-looking Chinamen blubber like babies in taking leave of their master, and the more impassive he looked the more they blubbered. It is this gratitude for kindness that often deceives missionaries into a belief that ‘faith’ has been aroused in the Chinese mind. Even officials of the most rascally description show great fidelity to a friend. On one occasion I asked a high official to put in writing some facts touching a matter in which both he and I had been deceived. He said, ‘X, has certainly behaved badly; but he was my friend when he did it, as you are now;


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and I would no more tell you in writing that he did it than I would tell him that you asked me to give information against him.’ In fact, there is a very high standard of both gratitude and honour amongst friends in China, in spite of treacheries and rogueries. I cannot recall a case where any Chinese friend has left me in the lurch or played me a dirty trick, and few of us can say the same of our own colleagues and countrymen.”

Mr. Archibald R. Colquhoun in “China in Transformation,” says—“It is not uncommon to impute ingratitude to them. But the rule applies, East and West alike, that a bad master never had a good servant, and those who most loudly cry out against ingratitude are usually those who have merited nothing else. ..... All foreigners who have studied the Chinese in a human, sympathetic manner, like Meadows, Smith, and others, testify to their devotion and gratitude. So many instances of this are recorded that it must be taken as natural to the Chinese to attach themselves heart and soul to any one, be he native or foreigner, who once gains their confidence. And the way to do that is explained by Meadows: it is to show them, not by words, but by acts, that you are thinking of their welfare as much as your own. There is no mystery in this; it holds good of all races and of all periods.”

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