QUEER DOINGS IN CHINA.
China is the great slave country of the world. There are 10,000,000 human beings, mostly girls and women, in servitude. China has 400,000,000 inhabitants; and there is scarcely a Chinese family of means in Hongkong, Canton, Macao, or Amoy, but possesses one or more slave girls.
Girls are sold at any age from three to fifteen, and most commonly at seven or eight. The prices range from £2 upwards, according to age and beauty. Most of the girls are bought to work about the house. It is cheaper to buy a servant than to hire one.
In sales a clause is often put in the agreement that the girls are not to be resold for improper purposes. If not, their masters can do as they, please.
Theoretically there are no slaves in Hongkong, as it is British territory, but in reality the city is full of them. They are the maid-servants and nurses of the Chinese. It is not uncommon to find from twenty to thirty slaves in a single family. A gaily dressed woman may often be seen riding out to visit on the back of a slave girl. The woman's arms are thrown about the neck of the slave, and little Chinese feet peep out of her petticoats behind. A PECULIAR TROUSSEAU. Female slaves are often presents from one man to another, and not infrequently they form part of the bridal outfit. They are commonly bought as secondary -wives, and often as teachers. One mandarin in Canton has four wives, sixteen children, and twentyone slaves. He keeps his family in another province, and recently wrote asking his mother, to send down two of his wives to him, as he was lonely. The. old lady replied that she needed the wives to take care of his sixteen children, and he had better buy two more where he was. The mandarin has decided to do this, and inasmuch as he is anxious that his boys should learn English, he is now looking for an English or American girl.
SLAVE-GROWING A TRADE. The cities of Yangchow and Sucha* are as famous for rearing handsoma girls as is Georgit, in the Caucasus, from where the Sultan's harem is replenished. There are persons in these cities who make a business of raising slavegirls. They have farms where tha .slaves are taught to sing, play upon musical instruments, and acquire other accomplishments. These girls are chiefly the daughters of poor people, or the daughters of slaves. It is common in China for a man to purchase his wife. Indeed, there are more wives acquired in this w ray than in any other. Every man in China hats a* right to as many wives as he can maintain, and a secondary wife is cheaper than a hired servant. The first wife is the legal one, but the others have their rights, although they are practically slaves. Such women are usually well treated, and if their masters are rich they may, have slaves of their own. The standing of the secondary wife in the household is largely at the caprice of the master, although she is supposed to Have no voice in the management of affairs, and cannot' even control Tier own children. Sometimes her lot is a sad one. There are cases in which wives &T6 sold, but the act is considered disgraceful. The man who is addicted to the opium habit will sell his children, and not infrequently his wife to supply his appetite. Wives aresometimes*sold also by gambling husbands, being put up on the turn of a card, or the rake-out of the cash at fan-tan. A case of this kind recently happened at Pekin, says "Science Siftings," but the wife forestalled the brutal design by taking her own life* A COMJC AUCTION". Dr. Coleman, one of the professors of the university at Pekin, tells the story of a Judge Yuan, of the district of Chinanfu. This Judge attempted the reformation of his" district, and ordered that all the questionable women of the town be brought to his palace, to be sold for wives to bachelors. The sale attracted a great crowd. An. old farmer picked out a stout, hearty woman of forty. ' "Weigh her!" said the Judge, and screaming and kicking she was put on the scales. "Ninety catties," said tb< weigher. "But how much a catty?" asked the farmer. "What is the price of pork to-day?" "Ninety cash a. catty." "Then sell them at ninety cash," ordered the Judge. The farmer paid about eighteen shillings for his wife. There are slave brokers in all the larg-e Chinese cities. The starvation which now prevails in Northern China will cause many parents to sell their children. With some it will be a question of allowing them to starve or selling them. Think of buying a baby for teripence! This is the price which one of the infant asylums of Shanghai pays for them. The asylum is a missionary institution, and the children are reared surrounded by Christian influences, and when they arrive at the proper age are given respectable Imsbands. In buying slaves the broker often takes them on trial, just as you would take a horse. He wants to find out if the animals arc healthy and sound. There arc many lepers all over China, and in the first stages the disease is hard to detect. One method is to examine the slave in a dark room under a blue light. If this shows that the. skin is of greenish tinge the slave is all right, but if the tinge is reddish it is regarded as a sign of leprosy.
Auckland Star, Volume XXXII, Issue 70, 23 March 1901, Page 9