CHINA’S ONLY HOPE

CHAPTER VIII RAILWAYS.

Is there any one power that will open the door of learning for the scholar, the farmer, the workman, the merchant, and the soldier? To this question we reply emphatically, there is, and it is the Railway. The potentialities of the scholar lie in extensive observation; of the farmer, in finding a ready sale for farm products; of the workman, in the increase of machinery; of the merchant, in cheap and rapid transit; and of the soldier, in the quick despatch of the munitions of war. The rulers of our old Dynasties considered the building of good roads of first importance in the conduct of the government. The Railway is the source of the wealth and power of Western countries. The laws of China make no provision for the building of thoroughfares. Consequently the hill roads are rough and uneven and the village roads are muddy and lead nowhere, whilst the streets of the city are dirty and neglected. We need not wonder that people are afraid of going out and that merchandize cannot be freely transported to inland cities. Let us build Railways and then the scholar can have easy communication with distant friends, the farmer can utilize much that is now waste, the merchant can readily meet the demand for supply, forwarding the heaviest material, the workman will soon find machinery everywhere, the abundant products of the mines will be beneficially distributed, and our China coast will be securely protected and guarded by myriads of efficient troops. Then will there be economy of time and money; the officials cannot become idle nor the people oppressed. The whistle of the train will wake the echoes and dispel the doubts of the Conservatives. Rapid communications with headquarters will be made and much labor and expense saved in preparation for the reception of officials. The whole country will become really ours, and China will be one great united family, with no fear of famine or war.

If the circulation is good, it naturally follows that the body will be in health; if the ears and eyes are open, reliable information can enter; and if the heart and brain are exercised, proficiency will result.

The ears and eyes are the foreign periodicals, the heart and the brain are our colleges, and the circulation is the Railway. Let us have it, and where it cannot touch, let us build good horse roads and tramways. The enrichment of the government and people will be but a secondary matter when we consider the splendid results that will follow in other directions. We have been looking into the Railway affairs of the world for thirty years. Associations exist in all countries for the promotion of Railway interests. Every country considers Railways most urgently important. They have been introduced all over the globe, and even now are daily spreading. They interlace the earth like spider-webs stretching over the land for millions of miles. If China does not introduce them we will remain isolated from the rest of the world. While others are travelling with facility to the sea-coast, we will be sitting, bound and paralyzed, in the house! How can the people of our Flowery Inner Land progress or even exist without Railways?

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