Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/383

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA

trader knows his community. The men and women of the West who have spent their lives in the East have usually gone there with definite purpose and compelling duties. They rarely see more than one part of the whole country, their work holds them fast, and they are prone to see it from the point of view of the interest that took them there. Out of these chapters of intimate knowledge can be put together a great exhaustive study of the whole, but no one has done that yet; the time has not come, perhaps.

Now the traveller with no preoccupying purpose, and fresh from a bird's eye view of large sections of the country, is likely to talk a good deal of nonsense, and yet he may tell some things of interest that the old resident has ceased to see from very familiarity. If you mention them, he says, "of course," but to those at home they are not "of course," and sometimes they are worth telling.

My first and my most lasting impression of the Chinese was how very like they are to us. I had been told it was a mistake to approach China from the east: you touched twelve at once. Nowhere would you find another country and people so strange, so different from anything before imagined. Rather you should approach China from the west, then with each stage as you travelled eastward stranger and ever stranger worlds would open before you. That is what