National Geographic : 1900 Sep
MRS BISHOP'S " THE YANGTZE VALLEY AND BEYOND " By ELIZA RUHAMAH SCIDMORE In these two volumes Mrs Bishop relates incidents of her travels in China during the years 1896 and 1897, including visits to Shanghai, Hangchau, and Ningpo, and along the regular tourists' route up the Yangtze to the head of steamer navigation and the Gorges. Mrs Bishop pushed on beyond this scenic region to Chingtu in Szechuen province, and from that western center went on to the wild mountain region to the northwest of it, where she encoun tered the mysterious Man-tze, people of another race, differing from the Chinese entirely, some forgotten Aryan offshoot. At this furthest interior point this intrepid woman-traveler traversed a district where no European had ever gone before, even the ubiquitous Jesuit missionary not having visited those villages. It is a record of the direst discomforts and hardships that any woman ever deliberately encountered and willingly endured. The wonder grows, as one reads, that she should have remained in the province, should have followed her itinerary to the end, as she had planned it. Only escape from prison, or from an enemy's country in war time, would seem warrant for such repetitions of fatigue and exposure, with the barest necessaries of subsistence, under the most revolting conditions. For months Mrs Bishop slept in the worst rooms of the worst of Chinese inns, often adjoining and over the pigsty, and some times in it, and always obliged to take every precaution against the vermin swarming and the filth dripping from every side. Privacy, quiet, cleanliness, proper food, and baths were as impossible for her as for the Chinese, who have no need or longing for such luxuries. Often she went shivering to bed in wet clothes, often the roof leaked and storms blew in upon her, and once she went to bed when the winds and drafts in her bedroom blew out the candle. Tea and a bowl of wheat flour stirred up in boiling water constituted her break fast, cold rice or a nibble of chocolate her luncheon, and dinner was a modest course of rice with curried meats or chicken. She lived on this fare during the months spent in small native boats and in a chair borne by coolies over the busy roads of Szechuen. Mrs Bishop did not travel in the conventional closed sedan chair of the country, but rode in an ordinary wicker armchair fastened to poles, as is shown in one of the illustrations. When she discovered that such open travel was contrary to etiquette and custom, attracted unpleasant attention, and left her at the mercy of street crowds and mobs, Mrs Bishop did not abandon it, but valorously continued to run dangers the ordinary male traveler might avoid. Every indignity and discourtesy was put upon her by her boatmen at the start, and continued by coolies and street crowds throughout Szechuen province. All of Chinese rude ness, hostility, brutality, and insult was vented on this quiet, kindly disposed *The Yangtze Valley and Beyond. By Isabella L. Bird (Mrs Bishop), F. R. G . S ., author of Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains, The Hawaiian Archipelago, etc. With map and 116 illustrations from photographs by the author. 8vo, 2 vols., pp. 410, 365. New York: G. P . Putnam's Sons. $6.00 .