The Mirror of Kong Ho HTML version

Letter 4
Concerning a desire to expatiate upon subjects of philosophical importance and
its no accomplishment. Three examples of the mental concavity sunk into by
these barbarians. An involved episode which had the outward appearance of
being otherwise than what it was.
VENERATED SIRE (whose genial liberality on all necessary occasions is well
remembered by this person in his sacrifices, with the titles "Benevolent" and
I had it in my head at one time to tell you somewhat of the Classics most
reverenced in this country, of the philosophical opinions which prevail, and to
enlighten you generally upon certain other subjects of distinguished eminence.
As the deities arranged, however, it chanced that upon my way to a reputable
quarter of the city where the actuality of these matters can be learnt with the least
evasion, my footsteps were drawn aside by an incident which now permeates my
truth-laden brush to the exclusion of all else.
But in the first place, if it be permitted for a thoroughly untrustworthy son to take
so presumptuous a liberty with an unvaryingly sagacious father, let this one
entreat you to regard everything he writes in a very wide-headed spirit of looking
at the matter from all round. My former letters will have readily convinced you
that much that takes place here, even among those who can afford long finger-
nails, would not be tolerated in Yuen-ping, and in order to avoid the suspicion
that I am suffering from a serious injury to the head, or have become a prey to a
conflicting demon, it will be necessary to continue an even more highly-sustained
tolerant alertness. This person himself has frequently suffered the ill effects of
rashly assuming that because he is conducting the adventure in a prepossessing
spirit his efforts will be honourably received, as when he courteously inquired the
ages of a company of maidens into whose presence he was led, and
complimented the one whom he was desirous of especially gratifying by assuring
her that she had every appearance of being at least twice the nine-and-twenty
years to which she modestly laid claim.
Upon another occasion I entered a barber's stall, and finding it oppressively hot
within, I commanded the attendant to carry a reclining stool into the street and
there shave my lower limbs and anoint my head. As he hesitated to obey--
doubtless on account of the trivial labour involved--I repeated my words in a tone
of fuller authority, holding out the inducement of a just payment when he
complied, and assuring him that he would certainly be dragged before the
nearest mandarin and tortured if he held his joints stiffly. At this he evidently
understood his danger, for obsequiously protesting that he was only a barber of
very mean attainments, and that his deformed utensils were quite inadequate for
the case, he very courteously directed me in inquire for a public chariot bound for
a quarter called Colney Hatch (the place of commerce, it is reasonable to infer, of
the higher class barbers), and, seating myself in it, instruct the attendant to put
me down at the large gates, where they possessed every requisite appliance,
and also would, if desirable, shave my head also. Here the incident assumes a