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death-dealing scythe through the entire country, sparing some districts by a mysterious caprice, but ravaging others. The British authorities began with measures of compulsory inspection, evacuation, disinfection, quarantine, and the like, but were obliged to desist from these by the overpowering ignorance and invincible antagonism of the native population. Literally they would sooner die than be saved against their will. Violent riots occurred, policemen were murdered, even native medical officers were burned alive. Gradually but wisely the Government relaxed the methods employed; persuasion, conciliation, voluntary effort, co-operation, optional inoculation were the agencies that brought the best results. The great thing was to remove the patient at once (for the operation of the disease was extraordinarily rapid) from the infected house or quarter to the nearest plague-camp or hospital, and there to surround him with the conditions-pure air, sound treatment, and stimulating sustenance-that gave the best chance of recovery. Even so 75-80 per cent of those who were stricken died.
In the autumn of 1899, when the visitation was at its height, I went on tour to many of the worst afflicted areas, and was inoculated in advance with the prophylactic serum, which saved so many thousands of lives, and would have saved so many more had not an unfortunate accident, resulting in a number of deaths in a native village from the contamination of a single bottle of fluid there employed, paralysed the scheme, almost in its infancy. The preparations made everywhere by the medical staff
were admirable. Plague camps were hurriedly improvised to which the patients were taken from their huts; splendid hospitals were opened. A devoted staff of workers, European and Native, male and female, dedicated themselves to the service of the people. But the conservatism of the latter, their prejudices, their fatalism, were obstacles which the patience not of days or weeks but of months and even years, was required to overcome.
When the Viceroy goes on tour everything is hurriedly prepared for his inspection, hundreds of pounds are spent on projects for which a few rupees could not previously be found, buckets of whitewash are available for the asking, the whole place is swept and garnished, not, as in the Scripture narrative, for the unclean spirits to enter in, but on the opposite assumption that they have been successfully and finally driven out. I used to apply a very critical eye to these spick-and-span demonstrations, of the extemporised and artificial character of which I was more than once made rudely aware.
The most startling revelation occurred at Nagpur. A sharp outbreak of the bubonic plague had attacked that neighbourhood, and people were dying like flies in the surrounding villages. Outside the town a spacious temporary structure had been hastily run up with bamboos and matting, and had been arranged as a hospital for the accommodation of the patients. At an early hour in the morning I was driven out to visit this place. It was a pattern of neatness; the beds stretched in long rows down the sides of a central avenue, and above each bed
was the chart of the temperature of the occupant. The doctors, European and Native, buzzed around; all the requisite medical appurtenances were there in abundance. Underneath a rough blanket the wretched victims lay, each on his mattress, with a look as of death in their eyes. The morning air percolated with a refreshing coolness through the interstices of the matting.
I visited the patients, who seemed to me surprisingly few, in turn and asked them whence they came, and when they had arrived. Being a little startled at the coincidence by which they all seemed to have come in at 5 or 6 A.M. on that very morning, I drew a bow at a venture, and said to one man, "What did they give you to come?" "One rupee was his unhesitating reply. The same question to the next invalid elicited a similar reply-there being a slight variation in the figure of the bribe-and so on with the remainder. The whole affair was, I will not say a hoax, because the patients and the plague were both there, but a put-up arrangement for the special edification of the Viceroy. My thoughts were "too deep for tears"; and, as the same poet says in another place, I also had "two voices "-one for the innocent victims of the stratagem who had been paid to come in, but who after all may, in the long run, have profited by the experience; the other for the professional authors of the stratagem; and of these two voices, the latter, if my recollection serves me rightly, was the mightier.
At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down.-Judges v.
He struck nine times the ground with his forehead to adore in prayer or thanksgiving the mercy of the Great Khan. - GIBBON, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, cap. lxiv.
WHEN I was in Peking in 1892, and afterwards when I wrote my book, Problems of the Far East, I made a special study of the history of the kowtow, that form of obeisance that had figured so largely in the diplomatic struggle between Europe and China for two centuries, and the final abandonment of which signified the latter's defeat. The performer of the kowtow kneels thrice on the ground, and on each occasion knocks his forehead three times on the floor, in sign of subjection to the Sovereign. From one point of view it may be said to mark the extremity of deference, from another the maximum of humiliation. This obeisance has figured from time immemorial as the Court ceremonial of Eastern kings; 2300 years ago the liberty-loving Athenians condemned their envoy Timagoras to death because he had kowtowed at Susa to Artaxerxes Mnemon, the great king. But
the particular form of prostration which consists of nine blows of the forehead on the ground was consecrated by long usage to the Court of the Son of Heaven. As early as A.D. 713 an Arab Embassy from Kutaiba to the Emperor Hwen Tsang declined to perform the kowtow and were sentenced to death by the indignant Chinese. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Jesuit Fathers kowtowed without any compunction-so did the earlier European envoys to China from. Holland, Russia, and Portugal. The Chinese always maintained that the first English Plenipotentiary to be admitted to an audience with the Chinese Emperor, viz. Lord Macartney, in 1793, had kowtowed to Kien Lung; but he declared that though he had offered to do so, if a Chinese official of equal rank would do the same to a picture of George III., with which he had provided himself, he had ended by only kneeling on one knee.
The next British Envoy, Lord Amherst, in 1816 escaped the kowtow because, owing to a violent dispute upon his arrival in Peking, he never saw the Emperor at all. It was in the China War of 1860 that the incident occurred which Sir Francis Doyle made the subject of his little poem-already a classic -entitled "The Private of the Buffs ". A note prefixed to the poem explained that, some Sikhs and an English private soldier having fallen into the hands of the Chinese and been commanded to perform the kowtow, while the Sikhs obeyed, the English soldier declared that he would not prostrate himself before any Chinaman alive, whereupon