[Editor: This article about Chinese in Australia was published in The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 21 August 1886. A related article appeared in the same issue, “The Chinese must go”.]
The Chinese in Australia.
Their vices and their victims.
Disease, defilement, depravity, misery, and crime — these are the indispensable adjuncts which make Chinese camps and quarters loathsome to the senses and faculties of civilised nations. Whatever neighbourhood the Chinese choose for the curse of their presence forthwith begins to reek with the abominations which are ever associated with their vile habitations. Wherever the pig-tailed pagans herd on Australasian soil, they introduce and practise vices the most detestable and damnable — vices that attack everything sacred in the system of European civilisation — vices which cannot be named in print, and others infinitely worse, so horrible and heinous that they cannot be spoken of by man to man. Corruption and pollution the most vile, characterise these centres and radiate widely therefrom, for the Mongolian Octopus grows mightily within Australian territory, and stealthily, but surely includes in the grasp of his withering and remorseless arms a daily increasing number of helpless and hopeless victims.
The whole world of land and water produces no form of animal life so repulsive as that of the octopus. In dark ocean caves this brute bides its hideous body, and its prehensile limbs shoot out thence silently and swiftly to grip its unsuspecting prey. So sudden is the attack that the victim knows not its danger until the saucer-shaped suckers, by which the limbs fasten, are pumping its heart’s-blood into the insatiable maw of its captor and there is no escape for the prey until its blood and life are alike exhausted; when this is accomplished, the sapless body is permitted to fall away and float where it will, but so long as there is still a single drop of blood remaining, the suckers adhere with more than leech-like persistence and must be cut away one by one before relief can be obtained.
So with the Mongolian Devil-fish. Lurking in his hiding-places, his arms are swift to seize unwary victims which so grappled can never obtain a release so long as they are capable of a disgraceful usefulness, profit, or pleasure. Wherever this hideous monster forces an entrance he stays; wherever he stays he grows, and his growth is induced and made memorable by the destruction of all whom he can grasp and hold by means of the sinews and suckers within and upon his ever-lengthening, ever-strengthening arms. Every one of these arms, each of these sessile suckers has its own class of victims, or especial mission of iniquity. One arm shoots out and drains the blood of those who approach the fan-tan table; another brings the pak-ah-pu or lottery-swindle suckers into play; a third sucks through the agency of the hop tuck, or opium-pipe which yearly draws from hundreds of persons their ability, integrity, and virtue; another plunders the law-abiding, and usually moral white workman, who sees the labour which is rightly his, torn from him by a set of moon eyed whoremongers, who neither know nor fulfil any avoidable duties to the State or mankind. Corruption, direct and indirect, endows a fifth arm with power to do evil, and health is drawn in by other tentacles which work by aid of the demons of disease bred in the dark and filthy dens, where the Chinese recklessly crowd, and where they allure the victims of their lust. Such are some of the results of the existence of the Chinese Devil-fish in the cities and towns of Australia. Such are some of the kinds of his devastating labours, and such are his pitiable victims. Yet, as like his prototype, he shrinks away into dark corners and dens, his mode and means of life, and the magnitude of his operations are known only to those whom he ruins, and to them the knowledge never comes till the suckers are doing their merciless work.
That is why Chinamen are tolerated in Australia. If the nature of their life, its objects, and results, were fully known, there would not be one Chinaman left on the continent; public ignorance on these points is the only thing that saves the Mongolians from instant expulsion. To set down, as we propose, a few facts about the Chinese in Sydney, necessarily entails a charge of sensationalism, but yet we only publish one-third of our knowledge of the subject. One-third more is not fit to be set forth in print, and an equal portion is forbidden by a libel-law, framed apparently in the direct interests of all who commit criminal acts. For months we have been collecting information of the Chinese, and visiting them in their most secret, and therefore most loathsome, dens. We have allowed them to rob us at fan-tan and pak-ah-pu; to sicken us with loathsome effluvia which burden their vile breath, and hang like a fog within their narrow and polluted dens. That we have risked health, and safety, is merely a necessary incident of the enquiry; that every faculty and sense has been affronted by the various features of the scene is only an assertion of the fact that ordinary white men are less degraded than the Mongols and their victims. And having thus ascertained the truth of the whole question, we venture to publish a portion of that, regardless of the fact that there will be many who taunt us from the pulpit and the press with the charge of being mere sensationalists.
* * *
What do the general public of New South Wales think of the Chinese? They buy cabbages from them, never asking how those cabbages have been grown; they occasionally buy cigars from them, without enquiring whether those cigars have paid any duty or not; they buy furniture, not troubling to consider by what class of workers that furniture has been made; and perhaps they think the almond-eyed Mongol not half a bad fellow. They even ascribe some admirable virtues to him. He does not drink, it is said, and is, therefore, more moral than the Australian, who has a lamentable tendency that way; he is civil, even to sycophancy; he has solved the problem of growing carrots out of sewage and sand; and as he sells his goods usually a shade below the price required by Europeans, the unenquiring purchasers are inclined to regard him with a mild kind of admiration. They see that there are some advantages to be gained by dealing with him, and they know nothing, and therefore believe nothing, regarding his devastating vices. His pock-sears are regarded as a peculiarity of the Celestial skin; the grime which his face bears, and of which the foundations were laid immediately after his birth, they account for by racial reasons; and the evil odour and evil look which he carries they explain by his nationality. Passing along Lower George-street, Goulburn-street, or some of the streets in the lower suburbs, and noticing the aggressive atmosphere of stink — no other word describes it — stink from the cookshops, stink from the opium dens, stink arising from the filth of the dwellings, and the filth of which the skin of every fan-tan-shop Chinaman carries a share — the careless Australian merely hastens his step and passes along, wondering for a moment, perhaps, what those houses are like inside which are so foul-smelling and foul-looking without. Men of more observant nature, noticing that the doorways of some of these foulders are filled with opium-reeking caricatures of humanity, whose numbers certainly indicate neglect of all laws of hygiene, shudder at the foreboding of small-pox, cholera, or other disease, which, nursed in these pestilential dens, may one day go forth through the streets of the city and strike down unnumbered victims. And there is to the observant the sign of more certain calamity — a calamity of to-day, and every day as long as the Chinese hordes are allowed to defile this fair city — a calamity which bursts the fortunes, health prospects, and hopes of thousands of young men and girls yearly — a calamity which is achieved at the fan-tan table, the pak-ah-pu dives, and more than all at the opium couch, and in chambers of sexual degradation, a sight or detailed description of which would make the strong man shudder, the virtuous stand aghast, and the sensual and depraved in the eye of a Christian code, sicken with undisguised disgust.
And all these institutions for the demonising of humanity are carried on without hindrance or restraint from the laws of the colony. If an Australian started a fan-tan hell, Darlinghurst would be his home, and stone-breaking his employment, within a month; and indulgence in pak-ah-pu lottery would similarly mean penal seclusion for a lengthy period. But no such just retribution overtakes the Mongolian. The laws of the colonies are protective of his life and property, but are to him devoid of punitive power. If an Australian steals a cabbage from a Chinaman’s garden, the law is swift to avenge; but no law interferes when the same Chinaman robs the Australian of money, health, and all that makes life worth having. Nor can it be considered as certain that life itself is not sometimes taken in those ominously foul and obscure dives, approached by dark and narrow stairs or ladders leading down to intricate and tortuous passages. Certain it is that murders might daily be committed in these branch offices of hell, without a chance of discovery by the outside world, and it is similarly certain that there are Chinamen having access to these rooms who are debased and brutal enough to bite a man’s ear off for a shilling.
How do all these Chinamen live, is a question that must often arise, when it is remembered that there were 10,205 in New South Wales in 1881 — an increase of 3000 since 1871 — of whom more than a third, upwards of 4000, then lived in Sydney and suburbs, and that the number has been added to considerably since then How do they obtain the money which enables a majority of them to pass the hours of daylight in lordly idleness, and what is their conduct within their own houses? How do they live, and on whom? Follow them into their houses, and you will solve the problem as far as it concerns a very large number of them.
Gambling by pak-ah-pu and fan-tan is the first item in their revenue account, and it is an important one. There is no concealment about the places where these swindles are worked. Anyone may go in, although a janitor, looking through a small hole in the door of the Inferno, satisfies himself of the appearance of candidates for admittance before passing them in. The various “banks” and tables are publicly known — known as well to the police as to the civilian. The “Mashers” can be pointed out by any of the army of loafers who hang about the street corners; the “Cookshop” is equally celebrated, so are the places where Yok Lee, Cum Lee, Quong Lee, Chi Lee, and various others carry on a perpetual swindle in a skillful and lucrative manner. A Chinaman’s shop without a fan-tan table is as incomplete as a first-class funeral without a corpse, and there are over 20 pak-ah-pu “banks,” each with a full staff of officials, in Sydney and its suburbs, going all day and half the night as well. In the five principal camps in the country, visited by Inspector Brennan and Mr. Quong Tart in 1883, the total of inhabitants was 942; of these besides 37 prostitutes and 36 women “married” to Chinamen 26 Chinese return themselves as gamblers, and 193 as of no occupation. That the number of professional gamblers is absurdly under-estimated may be judged from the fact that the Albury camp which then maintained 12 fan-tan tables to a population of 110, does not appear to have any gamblers at all, although the report states that gambling is carried on extensively, so that if the return speaks truly the tables are automatic and run themselves — an inference which borders on the improbable.
Wherever the Chinese settle in Australia their chief industry is the robbery of Europeans by the simple agency of their national games. Sydney is no more cursed, in proportion to population, by slant-eyed swindlers than are Melbourne, Brisbane, Sandhurst, Rockhampton, and other Australian cities, and with a mere alteration of names whatever is here written of Sydney dens, will be equally fitted to the description of the results of the Mongolian invasion in other colonies. The dens are wonderfully alike in appearance, for the Chinaman is as conservative in his habits as a limpet, always adapting the domicile to his own taste, and a sketch of one house will serve as a sample of the rest. Let one den in Sydney, which need not be here named, stand as representative of its class. It has show-windows on either side of the front door. That on the left-hand side contains oranges, bananas, and sugar-cane; that on the right is entirely and completely empty. Within the shop a deeply pock-marked Chinaman, sitting on a low stool, sells the fruit over a rough counter in dimension something like an elongated gin-case, or a shortened coffin, and this is the only honest trade carried on in the premises. On the right-hand side the back of the show-window is boarded over, and there is no pretence to any sort of trade except in pak-ah-pu tickets. These are sold by a bland little Pagan, usually assisted in his clerical work by some stone-broke European victim of the lettery frauds. On the wall behind him are posted tickets which have “caught” various prizes, and beside him are hung the marked tickets, the result of the drawings of various banks. His customers plank a “lokoloey” (sixpence, or any multiple of it) and mark off 10 characters out of the 80 printed upon the rice-paper voucher handed them by the bland heathen, who, thereupon, proceeds to take a duplicate for the use of the “bank.” This front shop is in size about 16ft. by 8. At the back of the ticket-counter is a door in the wooden partition which, when open, shows a room with sleeping-places or shelves, like those of a book-case, on either side, and with a passage about 2ft. wide between them. For the dissemination of infectious diseases this system has no equal. To borrow an expression from a recent writer, “the scales of the leprous man may fall on the healthy man in the berth beneath him.” Fancy six or eight men sleeping in a hutch, say 7ft. by 6 and 8ft. high! Forty-two cubic feet of air to each man! And such air, too! No window is available for the escape of the noxious gases or elements, no door for the renewal of supply. Like pigs the Chinamen lie there, snoring and exhaling the opium and tobacco which they have been smoking; like pigs in the dirt which clings to them; like pigs in their utter indifference to the debasing influences of their surroundings; and like men only in their ability to attain to depths of degradation from which the insensate beasts are barred. Passing through the shop by a door at the left-hand corner, a passage at the side of the aforesaid sleeping den leads to another room about 16ft. by 10 where a gesticulating and malodorous gang of Chinamen crowd round a fan-tan table at which Europeans are not allowed to play. Small stakes in silver or copper are the rule, but sometimes gold glitters there and notes rustle, for every Chinamen is an inveterate gambler, and grows reckless in his play. This room is about 8ft. high, for with that passion for economising space at the expense of health and every other desideratum, the lessees or their predecessors have run a platform across the width of the room to serve either as a sleeping place or store — it is impossible to say which. Passing through this room access is gained to the den in which European gamblers are fleeced. There the unsophisticated junior clerk who, for the first time in his life, is earning a “salary”; the more experienced book-keeper, whose reason tells him he is a fool to submit to so bald a system of robbery; the cute waiter, who is wide awake in all money-dealings, save with the Mongolians; and the otherwise sensible workman or lumper with the sweat of the day’s work still on his forehead — all linger until they come to a state of stone-broke, and then sullenly and slowly pass out with a deep contempt of the folly which leads them on to misery and ruin, but usually with an equally firm determination to come back and “slate the Chows” by means of some infallibly remunerative style of play on a future occasion.
There is a fearful fascination about the game. There are no enticements in the surroundings, no soft allurements to the vice, and no attempt whatever to cloak the process of robbery. The “tan-dealer” is usually repulsively ugly even for a Mongolian; the cashier generally uglier still; and the animal who acts as door-keeper and chucker-out, a striking compound, unless his face be a libel, of all the worst varieties of vice and villainy which are capable of attaching themselves to the human mind. Everything is repellant, everything vile about the Chinese fan-tan dives. There is the heavy-bodied leering trinity of gaudily-painted gods against the wall, before whom a gloomy oil-lamp continually burns; there are the reckless and dissipated gamesters who hang round the tables; there is the glaring swindling of the tan-dealer, and the frequent “pointing” of the cashier; and there is the seething, stinking atmosphere of the room, reeking with the odour of opium, fish-oil, Chinese cookery, sewerage, and all manner of muck — all these things eloquently protesting against the presence of any persons who respect themselves, or desire to be respected by others. Yet, in spite of all disgusting and repelling influences, there are men — young and old — some well and carefully dressed, some evidently of repute in circles where their gambling habits are not known, playing at lunch-time, in the afternoon, or at night, whenever they can escape for a few moments from office or from home. Ask the merchants who carry on business in the vicinity of these places how many clerks they have had to dismiss because of a fatal fondness for these games; ask other employers who have suffered from peculations — peculations brought about by the infatuation of fan-tan; or ask the poverty-oppressed wife who lives on a crust because her husband’s ample wage is weekly offered on the fan-tan board as an oblation to a fare directed by an infallible system of swindling — ask them how great a power this hell-born game has over its European victims. And on this point useful and valuable testimony comes from Mr. Groom, of Melbourne, who has for years been trying to evolve the latent virtues of a large number of alleged larrikins. He states that one of the chief difficulties in the way of reforming his boys is the fact that they are constantly drawn back into all manner of vice by the irresistible attraction of these fatal fan-tan tables.
But what, it may be wondered, is this game which exercises so potent an influence? It is as simple as pitch-and-toss. The appliances consist only of a square plate of iron, numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the respective sides, and a number of counters or “cash,” in size something like ordinary trouser-buttons. The dealer takes a handful of these from the ample heap before him and puts them under a cup; then the money is staked on either side of the board; the dealer hits the cup, rakes out the counters by four at a time, and the number remaining after the last four is drawn determines the winning side. Thus, if there be 32 counters placed under the cup, four is the winner; if 31, three, and so on with other numbers. Then the winners, if any, are paid, and a fresh deal at once started. The methods of swindling are excrescences all over the alleged game. The odds paid to winners are substantially 3 to 1 every time; they nominally amount to this, whether the money is placed on the “fan,” or the “nim,” or the “save,” — positions which need not be described — but a commission varying from 8½ to about 20 per cent is deducted from winners, and other dodges unnumbered, but not unknown, are constantly practised. There is the device of “spring-coins.” These are slightly thicker than the ordinary counters, and when tapped with the stick used by the dealer for raking them in, the spring which holds the two halves of the coin together is released, and what was a single coin counts two. Thus, if the three is heavily backed while the four carries no money, the spring-coin enables the dealer to swindle the rightful winners and “scoop the pool.” But this device is not very often used; it is liable to detection, and other methods are easier. Besides the commission, which is good every time, there is a steady means of gain in the power which the dealer acquires by long practice of knowing by the weight of the counters which he lifts from the heap how many there are, and, consequently, what the remainder will be. This may seem utterly incredible, but it rests upon strong proof. Often in the day-time when no victims are expected, the “tan-dealer” may be seen taking up the counters, lifting up, and then counting them to see if his estimate of their number is correct; and frequently when big money is placed upon a number just before the cup is lifted, a look of anger may be noticed in the eyes of the otherwise unimpressionable and immovable dealer. A good “tan-dealer” in ’Frisco is frequently paid as much as £5 a night, and it is affirmed that the services of such are of almost equal value in Sydney and Melbourne.
It is strange that so glaring and well-known a system of swindling should have any power over men who have intelligence enough to play, yet the power is undeniable. Here is a single instance in proof. A few nights ago, a respectably-dressed and rather handsome young man, who had apparently just about reached his majority, lounged over one of the tables. He had lost his last copper, and, after vainly offering to stake his pocket-knife against sixpence, as vainly tried to borrow coppers from the other players. Disappointed in this he turned upon the dealer and cursed him and his ancestors back to the reign of Hung Fat, or thereabouts, in eloquent and forcible blasphemy. Then he turned to go out, probably in search of a more fortunate table or charitable crowd. As he got to the door he shivered; the night was piercingly cold and the rain descending pitilessly. And one who had witnessed the scene stopped him in the street and learnt the full tale of his woes. He had that day been dismissed from his third situation — each lost by his infatuation for fan-tan. No door was open to him, he had pawned everything, and must stay out all night — “find a boiler somewhere, perhaps,” was his hopeless reflection. But his inquisitor promised to provide for him for the night, gave him the equivalent of bed and breakfast, on the single condition of a promise willingly and fervently given, never to go into a gambling den again; then the two shook hands and parted. But not for long. Hardly had the Samaritan gone 50 yards when the other came running up to him again. “Take it,” he said, holding out the money; “take it, for God’s sake, and pay them for a bed for me somewhere! Take it! If you leave me with it I will only go back to those — —; they will rob me again, and I will have to sleep out in this — cold after all.”
Down from the fan-tan den are stairs leading to lower and dirtier abodes: rooms darker and more greasy than anything on the ground-floor: rooms where the legion of aggressive stinks peculiar to Chinamen seem ever to linger, and where the forms of the grimy Mongolians passing to and fro with shuffling, sneaking step, seem more like demons of another world than debased inhabitants of this. Viler than pigstyes, gloomier than caves, and fouler than sepulchral vaults, these cellars and passages possess the worst attributes of each of these places. Yet the rooms are not naturally repulsive, nor would they be so when occupied by other tenants; but the Chinaman has defiled their walls with his filthy touch; he has vitiated what was once a reasonably pure atmosphere, with his presence, and he has polluted the premises with his disgusting habits; and so it is that nought save suggestions of evil, incentives of disgust, and associations of vice, now seems to move in the fetid atmosphere. Here, more than any where else, perhaps, the casual visitor is struck with the total immunity of Chinamen from the laws of the land in which they live. Not only do their dwellings disclose the most reckless disregard of all regulations and penalties to which Australians are rightly subject, but the facilities for escaping the power of all laws is amply apparent. To apprehend a Chinaman who is known to have offended would be like catching one particular rat out of a thousand running loose in a coal cellar. To identify any particular Mongolian, where all are so much alike, is a feat which would generally baffle the smartest detective in Sydney, and to find him in the gloomy recesses of his grimy abode, is a ten-times more difficult matter. Like the devil-fish which, pursued by an enemy, obscures the waters with an inky cloud, so the Chinaman hides within the congenial darkness and mazy intricacies of habitations seemingly constructed with the single aim of protecting him from a righteous retribution. From one house to another he may pass, as passes a rabbit through all the passages radiating from a warren, and so it happens that unless a Chinaman is caught red-handed in crime, be it burglary, coin-sweating, larceny, smuggling, or assault, he is able to put the terrors of the law at open defiance.
Independent of the punitive power of the criminal, so, also, the Chinaman is regardless of the remedial power of the civil law. By enactments of immemorial antiquity the freedom of all who tread British soil is assured, but the Chinaman cares nothing for this. He imports his fellows here and keeps them in a condition of slavery until they have worked out their own enfranchisement. He imports Chinese women sometimes and sells them (as one was sold a few days ago in Sydney for £350 cash), to whomsoever is willing to invest in so precarious a property. No assistance would be given by the courts of Law or Equity for the enforcement of such contracts, but he is independent of such aid. There is the authority enforceable by his own tribunals, and he requires nothing more. For all practical purposes the Chinese are as independent of Australian authority as the Frenchmen of New Caledonia, or the Esquimaux who tread their native ice.
Ascending again the narrow stairs which lead down to the lower regions of the dwelling, and passing through the fan-tan room, another creaking, narrow staircase — slippery with dirt, and much worn by the pilgrimages of infatuated gamblers — leads up to the den where pak-ah-pu spiders feed upon the money and the life of the deluded human flies. The den is disagreeably ominous of the consequences of crime. A narrow passage, bounded by the wall on one side, and by a breast-high partition continued by means of grim-looking wooden bars, suggestive of the prisoner’s dock at a criminal court, on the other, is peopled by a number of the ticket-holders in this particular “bank.” They have paid their “lokoloey” (sixpence), marked off their 10 figures, and now wait with desperate hopefulness to see how many of their markings will correspond with the 20 marked off by the bank. If they get five thus coinciding, they win 1s. 2d.; if six, 9s.; if 7, £3 13s. 6d.; if 8, £20 15s.; if 9, £36; and if all 10 so correspond, £70. It is the apparent munificence of these prizes that makes the swindle so popular. But the dimensions of the chance of winning a prize are in much less than inverse ratio to the magnitude of the prize itself. The data of the calculation are easily obtained, for the ticket purchaser strikes out 10 characters of the 80 on the paper, and the bank obliterates 20 more. It is, therefore, 4 to 1 against the choosing of any particular number by the bank. And what is the chance of ten numbers coinciding? Ask the smartest mathematician in Sydney. Give him reams of paper and a week for the calculation. Or ask the Melbourne professors who tried for a month to fog it out, and then could only say that the answer was in tens of thousands. The chances are altogether out of proportion to the amount of the possible prizes. In San Francisco, where the same game is run on a large scale, the price of the ticket is 10 cents (fivepence), and the highest prize 1300 dollars (£260), and yet the “bank” wins hugely at that. To come out a winner at pak-ah-pu at New South Wales prices the ticket-holder must be endowed with “luck” such as is only granted to one man in a million, and the Mongolians make their money on the other 999,999. The investors in these tickets do not know the magnitude of the odds against which they contend. They can comprehend the wide difference between the price of a ticket, sixpence, and the value, £70, of the highest prize, but they cannot understand that between the ticket and the prize there is a great gulf of chance fixed which few — very few — are ever able to cross, so they buy the tickets. They keep the “banks” going, both in George and Goulburn streets, every half-hour throughout the day, and through the greater part of the night, and time after time they stand before the partitions and poke their noses through the wooden bars, while they await, with hope ever doomed to disappointment, the result of the drawing of the numbers. This is managed generally in a fair and straightforward manner. With odds of 100 to 1 in their favour, the Mongolian swindlers can afford to keep up a pretence of straightforwardness. In that part of the room, shut off by the partition from the outer passage, four or five of them usually sit, while another manages the drawing. Duplicates of all tickets purchased are handed in, and then the drawing commences. Eighty single characters similar to those upon the tickets, each inscribed upon a separate ticket, are then folded up and put into a large bowl. These are next dealt out into four smaller bowls. Characters representing these smaller bowls, inscribed on counters, marbles, or cards, are placed upon a tray, and one is taken up by any one of the persons standing outside. Thus the bowl containing the 20 fateful numbers is chosen, and a Chinaman proceeds to slowly chant the names of these as he pastes them one by one on a board, while the other Mongolians within the enclosure mark them off upon blank tickets pinned ready to hand upon the tables before them. Then the disappointed investors behind the bars compare their markings with those of the bank, and file moodily and mournfully downstairs again; some of them to spend the night under the open sky, for often enough that enticing “seventy pounds for sixpence” induces wretched victims to pawn their coats for a ticket; some of them to wonder how they will square their “petty cash” at the office on the morrow — for pak-ah-pu loses more situations in the northern end of Sydney than any other cause, and some of them to buy more tickets or to have another try at the fan-tan tables. A bigger swindle than pak-ah-pu never was invented; more merciless swindlers than the men who run it never came to Australia, and greater fools than the investors in tickets never were born.
Yet for all that it will continue to claim its victims as long as there is a Chinaman in Sydney. The police may obtain convictions, as they have already done in the case of Ah Toy, Charley Terse, and others, but about future prosecutions there will be the wretched half-heartedness which always characterises all prosecutions of Mongolian criminals, and if 20 banks are stopped there will still be enough going to bring immense revenue to the commercial promoters of these ingenious systems of public robbery. The detectives, able and conscientious men, usually find themselves, for some reason, unable to check these unlawful proceedings. If the banks are prevented from acting openly they will transact their business in that covert manner at which Chinese are adepts. It is absurd to suppose that the police will now be able to effectually prevent, without the enactment of new laws, the system of wholesale robbery which for years past they have been utterly unable even to limit or check. The Mongolian is not easily circumvented by law. His first acquaintance with colonial authority is in his evasion of the £10 poll-tax; the first English he reads is that contained in the Acts relating to gambling.
And the Chinese have another means of self-protection against the terrors of the Criminal Law. Their New Year is a joyous season. Their hearts bubble over with generosity and good-will at that particular period. They are impelled then to give presents to all their friends and acquaintances, and it is strange how many friends a Chinaman discovers at that period, and friends also who could, if they would only give the necessary instructions, bring unpleasant pressure to bear in an inconvenient manner. Virtue is its own reward. Generosity is a virtue. John’s generosity brings great reward. And so it happens that Chinese fan-tan tables bring him in a remarkably large revenue; his pak-ah-pu swindles are magnificently remunerative; his smuggling ventures, even if discovered and proved, are not always very severely punished; his coquettings with ‘Maly Ann’ in an opium-den are not penalised; and his infraction of the whole criminal code at pleasure brings no retribution, or at least rarely such as would be commensurate with the offence.
Strangely enough, the cabbage-growing Chinamen are not so generous in their gifts. “Toiling onward as toils the dull bullock” among their uninspiring esculents, they grow boorish and strictly commercial in sentiment. But their more enlightened brother, to whom inspiration is wafted from the fan-tan table, generosity instilled with the odour of smuggled cigars, and beneficence borne upon the melody of the pak-ah-pu chant, is elevated by these influences; his soul swells out in gratitude accordant with the inspiration, and he willingly lavishes ample gifts upon a whole lot of people. The code of Draco might adorn the Statute-Book of New South Wales, and yet it would not avail a very great lot so long as John maintains his present munificence. The Americans have at last risen to an appreciation of this fact. All the laws they could pass had no power to curb Mongolian eccentricities; despite all legislative enactments John refused to be clean, to be honest, or to be moral; with increase of numbers came huger developments of vice; every objectionable feature was magnified as the Chinese population became more dense; and now, as a final resource, and as the only means of removing a national cancer, the States are trying to effect the gradual but complete expulsion of the detested and degraded race. Wherever he goes the Chinaman adapts his surroundings to himself. The Chinese camps and colonies all over Australia, from Cape York to Cape Otway, from Port Jackson to Perth, are essentially similar in their filth, their independence of local laws, their agencies of degradation and disaster; and entirely the same in the class of persons whom they bury in moral ruin. Where Attila’s steed trod no blade of grass afterwards grew; similarly, wherever Chinamen settle, respect for laws, civil, municipal, and moral, is utterly banished never to return so long as the slant-eyed Celestial is permitted to remain.
Such is a discursive description of a den in the main streets of the New South Wales capital or any other Australian city, but to see the Chinaman in his domestic life, his dwellings in the cross-streets, and in such purlieus as Queen-street, Cumberland-street, the “Suez Canal,” Goulburn-street, and Cambridge-street, in Sydney, must be visited. In George-street the Chinamen coquettes with crime, chiefly in the form of gambling swindles; but about the “Rocks,” and other localities of a similarly secluded character, he wallows, and rolls, and revels in vice for the gratification of his sensual tastes and passions. There also are his establishments maintained as a means of defrauding the revenue of the country, by aid of careless or amiable Customs officials. There he hides the cigars and opium of which consignments are constantly smuggled from various vessels frequenting the port. The opium-pipe is there in constant request, and its fearful ravages are seen in every house. The very air of the alley is impregnated with the heavy odour of the drug, and the Mongolians who pass and repass, by their shambling gait, glistening eyes, and trembling muscles bear evidence of its pernicious effects. Enter one of these dwellings, and you will most likely see the wretched morphinees actively achieving their own bodily damnation.
The smokers’ couch is usually a very low square table, with a rough pillow at one end, and covered with strips of fine matting. On one side of this table the Chinaman lies, sometimes resting on his elbow, and at others reclining at full length. In the middle of the table or couch is a slush lamp with a short sugarloaf-shaped glass. The lamp gives but a feeble light, and this is further obscured by the grime, smoke, and opium particles which cloud over the glass. The prevailing gloom of the apartment is suited to the usual occupation of its tenants. In opium smoking the first operation is to “cook” the drug, to reduce it to the proper consistency. A piece about the size of a pea is put on the end of a thin skewer (called the “yen hock”), about the size of, and similar in appearance to, a knitting-needle, and then held over the lamp, where it seethes and melts into softness, when it is put into the pipe bowl. The pipe-stem is about 20 inches long, made of a heavy polished wood, and is nearly as thick as an ordinary broomstick. A bowl, in shape like a shallow cup, screws into this about six inches from the end, the extra space being left to increase the draught obtainable. The cooked opium is pressed down and perforated with the yen hock, and then the smoker, leaning so as to get the pipe-bowl over the lamp, with a few long breaths draws the flame or heat on to the opium, and inhales the resultant smoke, puffing it out again through his nostrils. A very few puffs suffice to exhaust the more powerful constituents of the dose, and when no more fumes result, the devotee relaxes his grasp of the pipe; it falls on the table, and he turns over languidly and lays prone, with nerves for a time pacified and at ease. He is an interesting though sad study. He has, perhaps, been smoking daily for 10, or even 20, years, and the ravages of the habit are apparent in every visible muscle and feature. The pupils of his eyes are abnormally dilated, and the eyeballs are covered with a thin glassy coating, which effectually cloaks any lustre they may once have possessed. His skin, in appearance, resembles the hide of a beast, and looks as though it were no longer nourished from within; the outer muscles of his neck are rigid, and their course plainly traceable beneath the dry skin enfolding them; his hands are those of a sun-dried corpse, and his body is emaciated and enfeebled to the last degree. To him the pipe is now not even a pleasure. Once, so long ago that he can hardly remember the period, opium lifted him up for a time from this world of hard reality, to an optimistic region — a realm of rapture where troubles were unknown, and all was dreamy, languorous, sensuous satisfaction. Then the drug was a Jacob’s ladder, by means of which he could climb to a Nirvana of picturesque romance, where pleasant Fancy ruled supreme and brought all the senses into subjection to her will. But that period was too delightful to endure for long. The poor weak nerves were distressed by the exertion of exalting the gross brain to such unnatural ecstacy; they cried out for a return of the strength taken from them by the fierce strain, the cruel task, which had been imposed upon them. They trembled in their agony of weakness, and called with a voice that could not be stifled for a return of the stimulant which had wrought so disastrously upon them. Then relief was tried in newer doses of the drug, but this could no longer enable the brain to soar to blissful heights; it could only still for a time those clamorous cries which would arise with renewed and louder vehemence as soon as the evanescent influence of the poison had departed.
The wretched victim has endowed those nerves with a raging passion which nothing but the grave can fully satisfy, and which only the inciter of that passion can temporarily allay. Like Frankenstein, he has raised a monster for his own irredeemable torture; he has planted seven devils within his breast which rend and tear him until he gives them the food that strengthens them to torment and tear him again with fiercer force. He is like one who, adrift on the open sea, drinks of the briny waters to quench his thirst; the draught is no sooner swallowed than the thirst breaks out afresh, and with each draught rages the more until finally it gathers a passionate strength against which the enfeebled brain vainly contends for mastery. The powers of thew and of sinew have long since departed; he is left at last a pitiable wreck, overwhelmed with utter ruin of body, oblivious of all moral obligations, and deprived of all hope and even of reason itself — nay, worse, for the reason given for his comfort and consolation has become an agent of torture and anguish to him as long as his life shall endure.
In writing thus we do not overlook two objections to such a statement of the case. There are some persons who will assert opium-smoking to be harmless, if practised “in moderation” and with “due precautions.” We admit this, but ask who ever heard of these conditions being observed, in Australia at any rate? There is on this continent no such thing as moderation in this indulgence, and temperance in the same habit is equally unknown in America. We look at opium-smokers as they are, not as they would be if they exercised a species of control which is foreign to their powers and the nature of their temptation. Either they use the drug immoderately or they avoid it altogether — they know not this “moderation” so complacently advocated by arm-chair moralists who have never been assailed by the fierce torment of opium-hunger. And again it may be objected that it is possible to “knock it off” altogether. It is possible in the case of those who have only been smoking long enough to know the delusive and disastrous delights which the preliminary pipes afford, but with such there is no desire to abandon the rapture when they know not what hellish misery it entails. Even to them fearful agony from abstinence inevitably ensues. The “yin-yans” supervene on a sudden deprivation, and then every nerve in the whole body is a mocking, raging, agonising fiend, armed with indescribable powers of torture. The subject temporarily loses his faculties and staggers blindly and madly through the streets, unheeding because unknowing of everything around him. Reason is dethroned. Unnumbered demons hold high carnival and run riot through his entire system, and the ordeal proves too dreadful to be endured unless restraint comes from without and the drug is withheld. Men in this state stop short of no crime to obtain opium, and the Chinese, knowing this, look upon one of their own countrymen, so suffering, as a reckless thief, and therefore try to leave him without opportunity. In ’Frisco, only a month ago, a Mongolian in this state of frenzy walked into a chemist’s shop demanding opium with the alternative of death as the penalty of refusal. And Mr. Quong Tart, of Sydney, will testify that in China, if any property is stolen, it can always be obtained at the opium-dens if something like its price is offered as a reward. Men who talk calmly of the ability of morphinées to renounce their habits, must consider these frail victims to be mere machines and not creatures of flesh and blood, serve and brain. Knock off opium-smoking! As well shout to a man to stop falling when he is yet only half-way to the bottom of a precipice; an obstacle interposed may prevent his reaching the rocks of ruin at the bottom, but nothing else can.
The opium-smoker is rarely alone in the indulgence of his vice. There is space for two on the table, and the other place is usually occupied — occupied sometimes by a dead-broke and reckless European, who can be made a useful accomplice in the numberless systems of swindling which are never absent from those regions where Mongolians “most co-congregate,” or else by the “nicee girlee,” “little girlee,” whose presence and appearance put the finishing touches to the revolting degradation of the scene. To the lowest depths of depravity to which men may reach there is always a lower depth attainable only by women, and whatever the vice be, its most revolting aspect is seen when the weaker sex lend themselves to its allurements. So in this case. It is possible to moralise over the condition of the male debauchee, but the mind cannot reflect calmly upon the appearance of his partner in revolting practices. There she lies, sucking in the fumes of the drug with a degree of diligence that betrays something akin to insanity. Her dress is negligent in the extreme, and often not sufficient to satisfy the ordinary requirements of decency. Her cheeks are hollow — sometimes devoid of all colour and sometimes marked with a brand of Mongolian yellow. Regardless of the presence of strangers, lost to the reality and completeness of her moral prostration, unheeding of duty, and utterly indifferent concerning her manifest destiny, she continues her smoking until satiation ensues and brings brief respite from the tortures by which she is now ever oppressed. Her powers for good in this world are destroyed by a series of acts for which she may not, after all, be much to blame. Her capacity for enjoyment of the many gifts of the world is exhausted. She has sunk to an abyss of loathsome and miserable sensuality which the vilest beasts of the field are forbidden to attain, and, just as the merciful man puts a dog, hopelessly smitten with painful disease, out of his misery, so one could wish, in mercy’s sake, to bring quick deliverance to this hapless victim by the aid of unerring lead or remorseless steel. Such happy release would be murder only in the eyes of the law. Before the God who rules the world, and in the sight of those of His creatures who can reason with unfettered and unprejudiced minds, the act would be its own and ample justification.
It is difficult for those who have never seen such sights to realise their existence, in the midst of a wealthy, populous, and in many respects magnificent city. In George-street, Sydney, brilliant and lavishly-appointed equipages roll along bearing the possessors of lordly wealth; the “Block” is crowded with aristocratic and scrupulously-attired pedestrians; while banks, shops, warehouses, and churches of magnificent proportions and costly design, eloquently testify to the wealth of their possessors. Yet almost within the shade of these edifices, within hearing of the rolling carriages, and almost in view of those who flaunt their respectability, riches, and beauty on the block, there are lanes, slums, and alleys tenanted by Chinese where the practice of immorality and the worship of sensuality is reduced to a science and systematically pursued. There men and women, drunk with the vile abuse of a potent drug, wallow in a sea of indescribable social crimes, yet — worst shame of all — feel and show no shame at discovery. There are grades, even in the lowest class. Marriage is said to exist in some cases, and where no pretence is made of such a state, there is often a distant resemblance, an abhorrent caricature of domestic life.
An instance which may be taken as a fair type of one of these grades is found in the house of —— in ——. [Note — The blanks here are our tributes of respect to a brutal libel law.] The front room upstairs is used as a bedroom, and as the opium-pipes are there, it is rarely left without a tenant. Commonly the scene may be described thus. A low double-bed has its head to the front wall, and on the opposite side a ragged colonial sofa is placed, the remaining furniture consisting of a chest of drawers, old and dirty, and two or three chairs. Upon the bed two girls, carelessly dressed, recline. Both are cooking or smoking opium. They are sisters; one is said to be married to a Chinaman, the other to a European. It is difficult to guess their ages, for their faces are marred by the profligacy with which they have wasted their powers. Each has a child, a poor, shrivelled, weary-looking finite, which seems to have tired of the brief view it has had of the world. Breathing an atmosphere in which all vile odours are blended with a marked predominance in favour of opium: playing — if they ever do play — with other children whose only birthright is a heritage of vice, and accumulating their vocabulary by collecting the words uttered by the voices of prostitutes, thieves, and scoundrels of every degree, their certain destiny of misery seems already guaranteed. There is only one chance of averting that doom; they are weak and sickly; the germs of disease may even now be doing their deadly work: the children may soon die, and thus end lives that can only be a burden and a curse. It is a sign of sympathy to wish them such a boon.
Upon the couch in the same room sits a bloated and bleary-eyed old woman. She is said to be the mother of these two girls. With apparent unconcern and listless manner she looks at the two wrecks opposite her. But the sight has probably become a familiar one. She herself has evidently undergone some devastating dissipation which has dulled her faculties and blunted her perception. Presently the alleged husband enters the room; he is hideously ugly and scarred by a former visitation of small-pox; his eyes glitter with expectation and passion as he looks at the smokers and the pipes. He will occupy a third place on that couch, and the girls will “cook” his opium for him and prepare his pipe. He will then be about as happy as he knows how. Any nobler species of enjoyment would be incomprehensible to him as it would be to his female companions. And the old mother? She sits passive, silent, and unconcerned. She shows no emotion, she is capable of none.
But a description of the Chinese quarter would be incomplete without an allusion to houses of the lowest class. Vile subjects can only be described by the aid of vile terms, therefore no apology need be made, because the language is in accord with the theme. To avoid the necessity of leaving the task unfinished, the worst specimens must be held up to view; it is the fault of the theme, not of the scribe, if the presentment is indelicate. There are times when obscenity must be looked upon, and crime described.
While there are some of the Chinamen who decoy white women to their dens, in order that they themselves may have consorts in crime, there are others to whom “Maly Ann” is merely a source of revenue. The captivate European woman is a more chattel to such; there is no sentiment in the relationship, it is strictly commercial. The joint enterprise of servant and master brings in large profits, of which the Chinaman claims his share — about 96 per cent usually, and the balance is expended in providing opium and clothing for the degraded Caucasian Phryne. High revels often are held in those quiet-looking dwellings perched up on the Rocks. Periodically the black boys in service at pretentious villas and magnificent mansions in the suburbs, come into town and assemble together, in one of these vile houses of resort. Then the signal of their advent is passed from den to den, and the human stock-in-trade of the Mongolian traffickers in depravity is collected for the entertainment of the visitors. The subsequent scene, even broadly described, could not be printed, and even if printed, could not be read. A few outline particulars give a dim idea of the carnival. The house itself consists only of four or five rooms, of which two are furnished with beds or couches, and in these meagre apartments from 15 to 30 of each sex are gathered. At the back door stand two or three foul fiends in Mongolian shape, the promoters of the festival, the receivers of the resulting profits. They look on with hideous complacency, as wreckers might look on the wave-battered hulk of a ship which they had drawn on to destruction, and seem to be calculating the extent of the demoralisation they have induced, and mentally estimating its probable commercial value. This is the very deification of sensual vice. Every feature tending to obscure or disguise the grossness of immorality is removed; the surroundings and accompaniments are of the most repulsive character. All is gross, foul, hideous, horrible, and obscene. The drama is re-enacted on the nights when men from the mail boats, or seamen from other ships elect to risk their goods, health, and even lives in the pursuit of depravity. The same moral tragedy is then staged, the actors pile a further weight of guilt on the load they already have to hear, and the Mongolian manager exultantly empties the treasury box, for the production is always for his benefit.
But these wretched Rahabs do not always stay in Sydney. Their considerate employers deem an occasional change of air, from, say, the Rocks to Botany, to be very beneficial. Change of scene also is good. The eye wearies of continual observation of changeless streets, and then the sight of a bed of cabbages is an immerse relief. Change of companionship also is occasionally pleasant. And the Chinese in suburban vegetable-farms are exceedingly hospitable; though there may be 20 of them sleeping in one small room, “there is room for Mary there.” So Mary goes for occasional visits to a suburban cabbage-garden, for the etiquette of the Rocks, as interpreted by her master, does not admit of refusal of so kind an invitation. And a few pieces of gold help to console the kind master for Mary’s absence. So hospitable are some of the cabbage merchants that they willingly pay for the privilege of entertaining the miserable female pilgrims from the “Rocks.”
It is morbidly interesting to go to those haunts, in such localities as the “Suez Canal,” where the dilapidated ones congregate when there are no visitors to be entertained at the temples of a disgusting Venus. Of a dozen of the women present perhaps two or three are reputed to be what is considered respectable and even “toney” on the “Rocks;” they live with alleged husbands, and even aspire to some exclusiveness in the bestowal of their affection. Two or three more, perhaps, are real old “Johnny Warders,” and the remainder are undeniably and professedly traffickers in shame. All, without a single exception, have been in gaol for offences ranging from “loitering” and “righteous” (for that in the “Suez Canal” is the received pronunciation of “riotous”) and nearly all are opium-smokers. They have tasted the drug, and no sense of shame is powerful enough now to wean them from it. It is the one bond which holds them to men whom the most degraded of their class must detest, and scenes which they must abhor. Were it not for the all-powerful hop tuck, the opium-pipe, even reformation might be possible, but against its influence they are helpless. Various causes and circumstances have brought them to their present state. Some have fled to the arms of their multitudinous Mongolian admirers because of outraged and pursuing justice, and the present state of such is capable of exciting but little commiseration; others have hidden here from offended husbands and angry parents, and the remainder have been captured and seduced by means of that potent ally of Mongolian lust, the omnipotent opium-pipe.
The last-named class are the most numerous, and their misfortunes deserve the greater consideration. It is difficult to arouse much compassion for those who have deliberately chosen — even though the choice were made in a moment of indignation and anger — the habitations of the Mongol. But the case is different with those who have, by their own thoughtlessness or innocence, been made the victims of gross and criminal treachery.
Degradation of the thoughtless or innocent usually comes by slow degrees. It may be that a vain girl in some tobacco or boot-factory is in want of some finery, or even money, for an approaching holiday. Emissaries of the Octopus come to hear of the wish; they lead Miss Vanity to an obliging Celestial, who lends her what dress-stuff or petty cash she desires, and thus opens an account against her in the ledger which will subsequently contain the record of her ruin. The loan or money or goods is rarely repaid. The emissaries of the Chinese creditor remind the debtor of the obligation, and force her to revisit the den. If she is pliant to the wishes of the debtor, and willing to minister to his pleasure, her down-hill course is certain and rapid, but if virtue, or even disinclination, bars the way, the hop tuck is called in to break down the barrier, and once the pipe is held to the lips the Rubicon is passed, no retreat is possible, and advance means inevitable destruction. Thus the female European population in the Chinese quarter is maintained. Sometimes mere school-children, prompted by childish curiosity, wander round to those dens. They look at toys and nick-nacks which are new and strange. The Chinese, with calculating generosity, give presents, which serve as an incitement to future visits, and those visits lead to the only possible result when a lustful and unscrupulous Chinaman is one of the parties, and an unsuspecting, though perhaps instinctively cautious girl, the other. Another recruit is sooner or later added to the Mongolian harem, the list of the Australian criminal classes receives another entry, and another innocent girl starts with fearful velocity on the downward path which ends only in death.
This is no fancy sketch. Girls can be seen in that worst part of the Chinese quarter, who but two or three years since, were rightly honoured by loving schoolfellows, and they are familiarised with all the vices which accompany as a shadow the form of the Mongolian Octopus. One of the girls now kept in a den on the Rocks says of hers if, “I went to ——’ place when I was only about 16, because he used to give me presents. He then wanted me to smoke, but I never would, because the pines looked so dirty. But one day, he put a new pipe before me, and made it ready, and after the first whiff from it, he or any other man — — — — — —. I was completely at their mercy, but so help me God! I was a good girl before that. Look at me now, what am I?”
Shall these things be continued? Shall these monsters of sensuality grapple the youth and innocence of Australia? Let this be answered by agitation, by the popular voice, and by unflinching legislation. So long as sensual Chinamen and innocent girls are permitted to come into contact, so long will the results be disastrous to the latter. And as there will, we hope, be innocent girls to the end of time, the only way to obviate the evil is by forcible removal of the remorseless agent of degradation, the Chinaman himself. The suckers which thus attack feminine frailty must be cut therefrom else the moral life and every enjoyment which makes existence valuable or even endurable will be drawn from the welling veins of victims who atone for their sin with life-long and irredeemable suffering. To rescue the hapless girls who would otherwise fall into the grip of the Mongolian octopus is a sacred duty devolving upon every Australian who has a sister, or a mother. But it must be done by legislation, and the only legislation of any value whatever must effect the absolute expulsion of the Chinese Devil-fish. So long as he remains, so long also will this evil continue. Repression is impossible; if Chinese vices be penalised, they will still continue to be practised, but greater caution will be observed than now is customary, and newer dodges will be resorted to in order to effect seclusion.
When the octopus of the ocean is pursued or wounded, he glides into deeper and darker crevices, ejecting a cloud of ink to conceal his hiding-place. Similarly the Mongolian Devil-fish, if pursued by the police, or wounded by legislation, will not cease from crime; he will merely remove it back from its present location, and obscure his movements by those devices with which a long course of evasion and defiance of the law has made him thoroughly familiar. The existing causes must ever induce the present evil effects.
A glance at the facts of the case will make this clear. There are in Sydney, say 2000 Chinamen who are not married, and never will marry. They are not men who can occupy themselves in study, and the contemplation of philosophy and virtue. They are beings without any higher ideal than that based upon their own passions; the gross pleasures of the body are their one and only delight. And lastly, their lust is in most cases fed by the fierce stimulant of the enslaving hop tuck. The degradation of others is, therefore, an absolute necessity of their habits and mode of life. And these habits are incapable of alteration. On this point a Californian, who is thoroughly familiar with the history and habitations of the Chinese in America, forcibly writes in the Northern Miner (Q):—
“Transport John Chinaman to any part of the globe and he remains John Chinaman to the tips of his taper fingers. His dress, laws, prejudices are dear to him as life, or that symbol of Celestial citizenship, his pig-tail. He is as incapable of any radical change in habit as a mummy. Let him down in the Antipodes and he lives as though under the shadow of Pekin’s walls.”
Even if the vile instincts of the Chinese labourer were not unalterably fixed, his lack of physical strength would still maintain him in his immorality. The labour of the Australian workman is so valuable that its fruits suffice for the support or a family in decency and moderate comfort. But the weaker and stupid Chinese cannot do the work of a white man, because he is lacking in strength and intelligence, and, therefore, must be content with a smaller wage, upon which he cannot venture upon marriage even if he desires to do so. It is a huge mistake to suppose that it is the greater diligence of Chinamen which enables them to supplant European labourers. The real truth is that the Chinaman who can do say half the amount of work of which his Christian competitor is capable, will accept about one-third the wage of the other; his labour is therefore absolutely cheaper. Working alongside an English navvy or mechanic the Mongol would be beaten out of sight, but as he only wants sufficient money to support himself in vice, while the other must earn enough to maintain himself and others in the methods of virtue, the Chinaman can do the work more cheaply. Thus because of his traditions, physical powers, and low intellectuality, the average Mongol must necessarily be a degraded creature. If the Legislature could supply him with intellect, an elevating ideal, and increased strength of thew and sinew, it might possibly deprive him of his present absorbing desire to commit crimes which every good citizen abhors, but so long as he has that desire it will, despite all police control or restrictive laws, be satiated by his own debasement, and the utter ruin of others. Religion is equally inefficient on this point. If the Mongol could appreciate any other god than his own sensuality, his inability, because of the insufficiency of his wage, to live as Christians do would prevent him from following the commands of a higher law. Until the leopard changes his spots and the Ethiop his colour, the Mongols will continue to be an ulcer in the fair bosom of Australia. Expulsion, and expulsion only, can meet the necessities of the case, and to obtain the benefits arising from this deliverance of the land from the grasp of the Mongolian octopus we could view with comparative unconcern the departure of such estimable men and useful citizens as Mr. Quong Tart, Mr. Lee (of On Yik and Lee), who with perhaps half-a-dozen others of the same nationality, are worthy of a welcome in any country under the sun. But their conduct, excellent though it may be in every particular, only serves to show in darker and more disgraceful colours the lamentable debasement, comprehensive villainy, and disastrous vices of the wretched horde of their fellow-countrymen who are spreading with ever-increasing rapidity over the territory of the Australian colonies.
* * *
Such are some of the features and results of a Chinese camp or quarter, and the descriptions and observations apply throughout Australasia, wherever Chinese infest the land. We give the facts generally, because details are disgusting and particularisation dangerous. Shortly the question of dealing with the Mongol invasion will have to be met by every Australian Legislature. And it will have to be met squarely, not evaded by levying a poll-tax, as on the last occasion of its Parliamentary debate. With the object of furnishing facts upon the question, our investigation was undertaken, and its results thus written. If Australia takes the warning thus given the enterprise will be amply rewarded and its labours redeemed.
The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 21 August 1886, pp. 11-15
This article makes several references to ’Frisco, i.e. San Francisco (California, USA), as that city was widely-known for having a significantly large Chinese population.
Antipodes = Australia and/or New Zealand (“antipodes” may also refer to two things which are direct opposites, such as opposing ideas or concepts, as well as including two places or areas which are on opposite sides of the world; hence the origin of its usage regarding Australasia)
Australasia = Australia and New Zealand; in a wider context, it can refer to Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, and neighboring islands
berth = a bed or sleeping place in a boat, train, or other vessel (also: an allotted place for a ship or a boat to stay, especially at a wharf or a dock)
Block = a city’s main area or fashionable area (in general terms, a “block” is a city block, residential block, or urban block which is usually bounded by four streets, exclusive of small lanes, etc.)
boon = something which is beneficial, helpful or useful; a blessing, a godsend (may also refer to a favour or request)
boorish = ill-mannered, badly behaved, coarse, crude, disagreeable, insensitive, uncouth in manners or appearance (may also refer to a peasant, country bumpkin, or yokel; derived from Dutch “boer” and German “bauer”, for farmer); the usage of the term is normally applied to males rather than to females
Botany = in a geographic context regarding Sydney (NSW), Botany Bay
Celestial = of or relating to China or Chinese people (the “Celestial kingdom” is an archaic name for China) (may also refer to: of or relating to the sky or outer space; of or relating to heaven; something from Heaven; something which is regarded as heavenly, or very good)
Chow = a Chinese person (may also refer to something that is Chinese in origin or style, e.g. a “Chow restaurant”)
code of Draco = a reference to the laws of Draco (also spelt “Drako”); Draco (7th century BC) was a legislator in ancient Athens (Greece) who established laws characterised by their harshness and severity (hence the term “draconian”)
copper = copper coinage; brown coins of low denomination, made from bronze or copper
cute = clever, cunning, shrewd, especially in a self-serving or underhanded manner (derived from “acute”) (distinct from the modern meaning of “cute” as pretty or attractive in a pleasant or endearing way)
d. = a reference to a penny, or pennies (pence); the “d” was an abbreviation of “denarii”, e.g. as used in “L.S.D.” or “£sd” (pounds, shillings, and pence), which refers to coins used by the Romans, as per the Latin words “librae” (or “libra”), “solidi” (singular “solidus”), and “denarii” (singular “denarius”)
Darlinghurst = Darlinghurst Gaol; a prison located in Darlinghurst, New South Wales
devotee = a person devoted to something (or someone), someone who is very interested in and enthusiastic about something (e.g. sports, religion, sexual fetish, drugs, etc.); a committed fan or follower
Esquimaux = (archaic) Eskimos (singular: Esquimau)
Ethiop = (archaic) Ethiopian; (archaic) a Black person, Negro
evanescent = vapour-like; something that is almost imperceptible, fading quickly, or fleeting
fan-tan = a Chinese gambling game
See: “Fan-Tan”, Wikipedia
fan-tan-shop = gambling den, gambling establishment; a place where the gambling game of fan-tan is played
’Frisco = San Francisco (California, USA)
ft. = abbreviation of “foot” or “feet”; a foot is a unit of length in the British imperial system of measurement (a foot is equal to 30.48 cm)
gamester = someone who habitually plays competitive games, especially for money; a gambler
heathen = someone who follows a non-Christian religion; an adherent of a polytheistic religion; a pagan
Inferno = a reference to a Hell-like place
Jacob’s ladder = a ladder connecting earth to heaven, which appeared in a dream to Jacob (the story is given in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, 28:10-22)
John = slang for a Chinese man, as in “John Chinaman” or “Johnny Chinaman”
Johnny Warder = someone who drinks alone; may also refer to a drunken layabout (derived from John Ward, who ran a pub in Sussex Street, Sydney, which was known to be frequented by undesirable drinkers)
larrikin = in earlier times “larrikin” referred to a young male urban hoodlum, lout, or roughneck, or someone who was loud, mischievous and rowdy; in modern times “larrikin” refers to someone who behaves rowdily and noisily in public, or who has a disregard for cultural, social, or political conventions
little girlee = (vernacular) little girl (Chinese English)
lumper = a laborer employed to handle cargo or freight; a docker
majority = age of majority; the age at which a person legally obtains the rights and privileges of an adult (depending on the state and era, usually between 18 and 21 years of age)
Maly Ann = (vernacular) Mary Ann (Chinese English)
Mongol = an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia and northern China; in early Australia, the word “Mongol” was sometimes used as an alternative term for “Chinese”
Mongolian = see: Mongol
morphinee = (French: morphinée) morphine addict
morrow = (archaic) the next day, tomorrow
navvy = an unskilled labourer, especially one employed on major civil engineering projects; from navigations (canals), as many construction workers were employed on widespread canal-building schemes in 18th century Britain (thus, navigation workers came to be colloquially known as “navvies”)
nay = an archaic form of “no”; however, it is still sometimes used regarding voting (e.g. to vote yea or nay), in formal circumstances, in some dialects (e.g. in the north of England), and as a substitute for “no” when some emphasis is desired
nicee girlee = (vernacular) nice girl (Chinese English)
oblation = the act of offering something, such as thanks, worship, or even a sacrifice, to a diety (such as the presentation of bread and wine to God in the Eucharist)
octopus = the Chinese octopus (or “Mongolian octopus”) was a phrase used to describe the influence and reach of the Chinese people (usually used in a negative sense, in such a way as to describe an imagery of the spreading arms and influence of Chinese corruption, crime, and vice)
pagan = someone who follows a non-Christian religion; an adherent of a polytheistic religion; a heathen
pak-ah-pu = a Chinese lottery game (also spelt “pak-a-pu”, “pakapoo”, “pukka-poo”)
See: “Pakapoo”, Wikipedia
Pekin = (archaic) Peking (the capital city of China), also known as Beijing
Quong Tart = Mei Quong Tart (1850-1903) a well-known Chinese merchant who lived in Sydney (born in Hsinning, Canton Province, China; died in Ashfield, Sydney, NSW)
Rocks = (The Rocks) an area of inner Sydney (New South Wales)
Rubicon = (usually given in a phrase, such as “to cross the Rubicon” and “crossing the Rubicon”) to take an action, make a decision, or begin a process, which, once begun, cannot be changed or will have strong consequences; a point of no return (the phrase refers to the Rubicon river, or stream, in north-east Italy, which was a Roman boundary; no Roman general was allowed to lead an army into the republic of Rome, under penalty of treason; however, in 49 B.C. Julius Caesar had been recalled to Rome and faced prosecution, but once at the Rubicon he made the decision to march into Rome with the 13th Legion, thus causing a civil war, which he eventually won)
s. = a reference to a shilling, or shillings; the “s” was an abbreviation of “solidi”, e.g. as used in “L.S.D.” or “£sd” (pounds, shillings, and pence), which refers to coins used by the Romans, as per the Latin words “librae” (or “libra”), “solidi” (singular “solidus”), and “denarii” (singular “denarius”)
Sandhurst = the former name of Bendigo (Vic.)
sepulchral = relating to a sepulchre: a repository for the dead; a burial place, grave, crypt, or tomb; also a receptacle for sacred relics, especially those placed in an altar (also spelt as sepulcher)
silver = silver coinage
situation = position of employment, post
slush lamp = a crudely-made lamp; a slush lamp could be made by using a tin can (or any crude container, such as a coconut shell; or a container half-filled with clay), putting in a fuel, such as grease, mutton fat, oil, slush (i.e. fat and grease from cooking), or tallow, and using a rag for a wick
States = in the context of America, “the States” refers to the United States of America
stone-broke = the state of having no money; penniless, impoverished (also given as “stoney broke”, “stony broke”)
Suez Canal = a lane in The Rocks area of Sydney; at one time it was notorious as the haunt of the Rocks Push (a gang of larrikins); in earlier years, when there was a lack of storm water drains, rain water would gush down the laneway in torrents (this was allegedly the origin of the name, incorporating a laconic play upon words, “the sewers canal”; as well as which, the lane connects two separate areas of The Rocks)
sycophancy = self-seeking or servile flattery; the conduct, behavior, or character of a sycophant (i.e. a crawler, a toady; a fawning self-serving person who uses flattery and servility to win favour from people of influence)
thew = well-developed muscle or sinew; power, strength, or vitality of the muscles
toney = having an aristocratic or “high-toned” manner or style
Venus = a very beautiful woman; in Roman mythology, the goddess of beauty and love
vitiate = impair, spoil, or weaken the effectiveness, efficiency, or quality of something; to make something defective, faulty, or ineffective; ruin
wide awake = alert, clever, knowing, well aware
without = (archaic) outside
yen hock = (Chinese) a thin wire used for dipping out the opium and holding it over the light while cooking; the needle used to prepare a pipe of opium; an opium needle
yin-yan = (Chinese slang) a craving for opium (from the Cantonese “yin”, meaning opium, and “yan” meaning a craving for something)
[Editor: Changed “or not they buy” to “or not; they buy” (inserted semi-colon, as per usage in that sentence); “10 205” to “10,205” (inserted a comma); “left hand” to “left-hand” (in line with other usage of “left-hand” in the article); “stone-broke. European” to “stone-broke European” (removed full stop); “cross so” to “cross, so” (added a comma); “his eyes glitters” to “his eyes glitter”. This article appears to have various printing mis-strikes (missing letters, with blank spaces); in such cases, the appropriate changes have been made (e.g. changed “a ded to” to “added to”; “t is an important” to “it is an important”; “sk the merchants” to “Ask the merchants”). The quotation from the Northern Miner has been put into a blockquote, so as to distinguish it from the rest of the text.]
Leave a Reply