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LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. 



Class 






WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 



WITH THE RUSSIANS 

IN 

MANCHURIA 



BY 

MAURICE BARING 



THIRD EDITION 



METHUEN & CO. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.C, 

LONDON 



First Published . . June 
Second Edition . . August 1905 
Third Edition . . iqo6 



DEDICATED 

TO 
GUY BROOKE 



229781 



THE LETTERS WHICH FORM THE BASIS OF 
THE FOLLOWING CHAPTERS ARE REPRINTED 
FROM THE MORNING POST, BY WHOSE KIND 
PERMISSION THEY ARE HERE REPRODUCED. 




CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

PREFACE ....... ix 

I. Moscow ....... i 

II. Moscow TO KHARBIN ..... 14 

III. KHARBIN AND MUKDEN ..... 33 

IV. LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO .... 57 
V. THE RETREAT FROM HAICHEN . . . .84 

VI. DAVANTIENTUNG ...... 98 

VII. THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG . . .114 

VIII. THE RETREAT FROM LIAOYANG . . .134 

IX. THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO . . . .146 

X. POUTILOFF'S HILL . . . . .171 

XI. NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN ARMY . . . .183 

XII. GENERAL IMPRESSIONS . . . . . 195 



vii 



PREFACE 

following notes will have no value for the 
military expert or the serious student of war. 
They are merely the jottings of the fleeting impres- 
sions of an ignorant and bewildered civilian who 
drifted for a little while like a piece of weed to and 
fro on the shifting eddies and currents of the great 
stream of war. More competent judges will explain 
the causes and effects, the true value and signifi- 
cation of the historic events, of which I was to a 
certain degree a spectator. 

All I can hope to do is to give a faint shadow of 
the pictures that have imprinted themselves on my 
memory, glimpses and sidelights into the war, such 
as one obtains at a railway station by putting a 
penny in the slot of a small machine. As is the 
case with such pictures, the colours will probably 
seem blurred and the outlines hazy with vibration, 
but I shall be satisfied if the play of life is in any 
way caught and reproduced. 

I was riding one day last September between 
two villages in the tract of rich country which lies 
to the south-west of Sin-min-tin, with an escort of 
Cossacks. The man who rode beside me asked me 

ix 



PREFACE 

if I was a doctor. I said I was a war correspondent. 
He remained pensive for a while, and he then 
explained to me the nature and the first cause 
of war correspondents in the following terms : 
"War correspondents," he said, "are people who 
are sent to see that neither side add anything." 
He meant that war correspondents were there 
to check the military authorities, lest either side 
should invent a spurious exploit or an imaginary 
battle. 

This, I suppose, is the ultimate cause of war 
correspondents. It is the reason why they are 
received, if not why they are sent ; because, if this 
were not so, it is inconceivable that the military 
authorities would be bothered with them. 

Formerly the main object of the correspondent 
was to transmit news. Owing to the conditions of 
modern warfare, the rapid circulation of news, and 
the institution of the censorship, this, the corres- 
pondent's ostensible object, shines before him more 
like an Utopian dream than a concrete ambition 
which can be definitely realised. If, therefore, the 
military authorities are averse to the publication of 
news, and at the same time encourage or tolerate 
the presence of correspondents, I imagine the only 
reason of this can be that they desire the presence 
of impartial witnesses. 

In the case of war such a thing is to be desired. 
A war between two modern nations can scarcely 



PREFACE 

help being the subject of much embittered con- 
troversy. This controversy is carried on more by 
invented and embellished fiction in the cities than 
by facts from the front. 

During the South African war it happened to be 
my duty to read daily the news and opinions of 
a venomous newspaper called the Hamburger 
Nachrichten, which used to be the official organ of 
Prince Bismarck. This newspaper, with an infinite 
capacity for taking pains which in this case certainly 
amounted to genius whenever the facts seemed to 
favour the British arms, distorted them until dis- 
grace oozed out of them ; it, moreover, attacked the 
British with all the weapons of envy, hatred, and 
malice, with cheap ridicule, snarling sarcasm and 
subtle misrepresentation. 

One wondered whether such stuff as this was to 
be the only record of the war to be made for the 
consumption of the German public. This was not 
the case. In spite of the fact that the German 
press was unanimously hostile and bitter towards 
England with regard to this question, during the 
last year the German official report of the war has 
appeared translated into English by Colonel 
Waters, in which the fancies of the German 
press are deprecated as baseless calumnies, and 
the facts are dispassionately revealed in their true 
shape. 

This was owing to the presence during the war 

xi 



PREFACE 

of impartial witnesses, namely, the military attaches. 
Such men, it may be objected, are sufficient for the 
task of seeing that nothing be superadded to the 
facts. No doubt ; but it is not always possible that 
their reports can be given to the public ; they are, 
to a certain degree, fettered by various considera- 
tions ; whereas the war correspondent at large is 
free. 

To go back to the Hamburger Nachrichten. 
When it was my misfortune to be obliged for 
professional reasons to soil my mind by reading 
the offensive arguments it expressed in a style 
unredeemed by any saving merit, I used to 
wonder whether, in the event of a Continental 
power being engaged in a similar war, our press 
would adopt such an ungenerous course of action. 
The occasion arose ; it found us the allies of 
Japan, and naturally inclined to regard their side 
of the question with favour and that of her enemies 
from a more critical standpoint. Moreover, the 
exploits of the Japanese soldiers excited here, as 
they did in the Russian army, and in the rest of the 
world, an enthusiastic admiration that was justified 
and natural, but if it be asked whether our press 
the press of a great nation, who had just come 
through a struggle with a small power, in the con- 
duct of which there were episodes and incidents 
which proved that we had at least several motes, 
if not a beam, in our own eye and during which 

xii 



PREFACE 

we had learnt to realise the unfairness and venomous 
falseness of foreign criticism if it be asked whether 
our press, fresh from this lesson, eschewed the bad 
example, and showed a more generous and impartial 
spirit to a great power fallen on to evil days and 
evil tongues, just as we had done the answer, I 
fear, is that the attitude of our press towards 
Russia was the same in kind as that of the Con- 
tinental press towards us, if more sober and 
moderate in degree. 

Therefore it is perhaps as well for the enlighten- 
ment of the purely unprejudiced and inquisitive 
minds who have no violent bias, who belong to no 
political or any other kind of party, who are affected 
neither by Russophobia or what the Shanghai news- 
papers call " Nippomania," that there should be 
on either side such things as war-correspondents, 
whose only object is to state what they saw and 
to point out the good as well as the bad side. 
Before starting for the war I went to the War 
Office at St Petersburg to obtain my papers, and 
had an interview with General Tzelebrovsky. "You 
will see bad things and good things," he said to me, 
"as happens in every war, but do not exclusively 
dwell on the bad things." During the war in South 
Africa, the Continental press, not satisfied with 
dwelling exclusively on the blacker side, painted it 
blacker still. I resolved, therefore, when I went to 
the war, that if I wrote about it then or afterwards I 

xiii 



PREFACE 

would try and eschew the methods of the Hamburger 
Nachrichten, which seems to be incompatible with 
the manners and morals of what is called a civilised 
country. It is not, however, so very easy for an 
impartial voice to obtain credence in the face of 
strong prejudices. A great living thinker once said 
that the worst of a free country like England was 
the non-existence of any liberty of thought. You 
could do what you liked, but you could not express 
independent opinions without being labelled as a 
faddist, or a pro- Boer, or a bimetallist, or a 
vegetarian. 

I think this is profoundly true. If one were 
to state that you do not necessarily see why 
England should be the enemy of Russia one 
would be labelled a pro-Russian, and it has been 
repeatedly explained by most newspapers that a 
pro- Russian is the same thing as a pro- Boer, an 
enemy of the Empire. 

For this reason, before I begin this short record 
of my experiences in the Far- East, I wish to state 
that, although I feel no inborn hatred of Russia, and 
think, on the contrary, as an English merchant who 
had lived forty years in Russia said to me in the 
train on my way home, that "they are very fine 
fellows " whatever their faults may be I wish to 
state, in order to reassure our rigid guardians of our 
public morality, the inspired oracles of our national 
conscience, that I am neither a pro-Boer nor even a 

xiv 



PREFACE 

liberal, but a mere observer, who, having lived and 
travelled a certain amount abroad, has been able to 
form some sort of comparative estimate however 
inadequate of the relative values of foreign notions 
and insular prejudices. 



xv 



WITH THE 
RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

CHAPTER I 

MOSCOW 

\ II THEN I started from Moscow everything 
was going in that city much the same as 
usual. The most interesting thing in Moscow at 
the present day, if you have heard the services and 
the glorious bass-singing at the Cathedral of the 
Assumption and at St Saviour's, is one particular 
theatre which is worth mentioning in any book 
connected with Russian affairs, because it is a sign 
of the times, not only artistically but politically, 
and exercises a considerable influence. People are 
in the habit of saying that in Russia there is no 
middle class. I cannot conceive what they mean. 
Mr Norman in his book states that there is no middle 
class in Russia. It must have escaped his notice ; 
but it exists none the less, and it includes the 
professional class, the world of doctors, lawyers, 
professors, teachers, artists, the higher and middle 
merchant class, and besides these (a fact which is 
not realised), nine-tenths of the officials, and since 
A i 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

the introduction of compulsory military service 
two-thirds, if not three-quarters, of the officers. 
Most of the generals now in Manchuria, includ- 
ing Generals Kouropatkin and Sacharoff, belong 
to this class. It not only exists, but it is 
enormously important, since it calls itself the 
" intelligentsia," and does in fact number among 
its constituents nearly all the " intellectuals " of 
Russia and all that is most advanced in the world 
of science, literature, and philosophy. Dostoievski 
belonged to this class ; but perhaps its most char- 
acteristic and representative spokesman and por- 
trayer is an author who died last year, and whose 
death was mourned with sorrow by hundreds 
of Russians even in the wilds of Manchuria, 
namely, Anton Tchekoff. He is famous as a 
writer of short stories portraying the life of the 
middle classes in Russia with the same accuracy 
and insight with which Tolstoi depicted the upper 
classes and Gogol the officials of a past generation. 
Some of TchekofFs most successful work was 
written for the stage ; it has been acted with care 
and exquisite art ; the result is that it has been 
triumphantly successful ; and it has given voice 
perhaps more than anything else during the last 
ten years to the feelings, aspirations, disappoint- 
ments, the hopes, fears, and disbelieving of the 
educated Russian people. For that reason it is im- 
portant and interesting to any one who is following 



MOSCOW 

Russian affairs at this moment. Tchekoff s plays 
are acted at a theatre called the Artistic Theatre 
at Moscow. This theatre was started originally 
about four years ago as a company of well-to-do 
amateurs, under the leadership of M. Stanislavski. 
They began by acting Sullivan's Mikado for fun, 
and continued acting for their pleasure, and re- 
solved to spare neither trouble nor expense in 
making their performances as perfect as possible. 
They took a theatre and gave performances for 
nothing or next to nothing, but their success was 
so instantaneous and so great, their public so 
affluent, that by degrees they were obliged to take 
a new theatre, charge higher prices, and at the 
present time they form what is certainly the best 
all-round company of Russia, if not of Europe. It 
resembles the Theatre Antoine of Paris, both as 
regards the quality of the acting and the kind of 
plays acted and the extraordinary attention which 
is paid to detail. 

The acting has an advantage over that of the 
French School in being more natural. The 
character of the plays acted is curious, if not unique, 
on the European stage. The clash of events in 
them is subservient to the human figure, and the 
human figure itself is subservient to the atmosphere 
in which the figures are plunged. 

The repertoire of the theatre is varied, and in- 
cludes Julius Ccesar, Gorki's Lowest Depths, Haupt- 

3 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

mann's Lonely Lives, and works of Ibsen and 
Tolstoi ; but by far the most interesting work 
produced is that of Anton Tchekoff, from the fact 
that his plays faithfully reflect, with far greater 
fidelity and less exaggeration than is the case 
with Gorki, the soul of the Russian people at the 
present day. This is also the reason of the great 
popularity of the plays; for never did plays con- 
tain less action, less "clash of wills," less scenes- 
a-faire t or any of those things which are supposed 
to be essential to dramatic success. They are 
enough to make Sarcey turn in his grave. And 
the success, it must not be forgotten, is substantial, 
concrete, and financial, and not one of esteem. It 
is difficult to get expensive places, even some days 
beforehand, for a Tchekoff play. His work re- 
sembles both in its character and in the character 
of its success that of Mr Bernard Shaw, minus the 
paradox and the extravagance. He is a kind of 
serious Bernard Shaw not without humour, but with 
the Gilbertian humour and fantasy left out. His 
importance is, as I said before, more than artistic ; 
it is political although politics are never directly 
mentioned in his plays. Their importance lies in 
the fact that no influence can be more effectual 
than that of the stage, especially in troublous times. 
" Organise the theatre," Matthew Arnold said, "the 
theatre is irresistible." Well, the theatre is almost 
the only thing in Russia which is organised, and it 

4 



MOSCOW 

is very well organised indeed. Its effect, therefore, 
can be exceedingly great. Tchekoff never mentions 
politics ; but what he leaves unsaid, what he sug- 
gests is far more potent and effectual than any 
number of harangues or polemical discussion. He 
shows the Russian soul crying out in the desert ; 
he shows the hopelessness, the straining after im- 
possible ideals, the people who have been longing 
for the dawn, and condemned to the twilight chiefly 
owing to their own weakness. He shows the 
difficulty of solving questions and the heart-sick- 
ness of those who think about it, in exactly the 
same way Mr Shaw shows the difficulty of dealing 
with the Irish question in John Bull's Other Island. 

I will give a short analysis of one of his most 
successful plays Uncle Vania. The play deals 
with scenes of country life, and the thread of action 
which connects these scenes is of the slightest. 

We are introduced into the world of the well- 
to-do upper middle class, the class corresponding 
to that with which Ibsen deals. Someone once 
defined Ibsen's characters as a pack of shopkeepers 
wrangling over an antimacassar, and his plays as 
an intolerable mixture of sordid bourgeoisie and 
hysteria. Tchekoff 's characters are not sordid ; 
hysterical some of them are, but their hysteria is 
interesting because there is reason for it. The 
reason being the profound discontent of the educated 
people with the manner in which they are governed, 

5 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

a discontent so hopeless and insistent as to lead 
to hysteria. 

The curtain rises on a garden ; a well-to-do 
house with a terrace visible in the background. 
In the foreground a large table is laid for tea. 
But something in the aspect of the table leads 
one to think that the samovar has been waiting 
long ; there is an air of great unpunctuality and 
vagueness about the whole place. It is three 
o'clock of an August afternoon, insufferably hot, 
dull, and sultry. Astroff, a country doctor, has 
been called to minister to Professor Vladimiroff, 
who is living in the house and suffers from gout. 
Astroff talks with an old woman servant, and in 
a few sentences reveals that he is suffering from 
"tedium vitae." Towards the age of forty, said 
a cynic, men tire of honesty and women of virtue. 
Astroff is reaching that age. He is overworked 
and is sickened by the monotony, the labour, the 
squalor, and the seeming futility of a country 
doctor's existence. 

Great attention is paid to details in this theatre, 
and by the way the doctor kills flies on his cheek, 
and other similar trifles, the sultry oppressiveness 
of the thundery day seems to reach us from over 
the footlights. 

Voinitzki appears next he is " Uncle Vania"- 
after whom the play is named. His position is as 
follows. His sister was the first wife of Professor 

6 



MOSCOW 

Vladimiroff. She died leaving an only daughter, 
Sonia. Voinitzki's father bought the estate in which 
the action takes place as a dowry for Sonia. Voinitzki 
renounced his claim to the succession in favour of 
Sonia, but his father in buying the estate was not 
able to pay the full sum due, and died leaving behind 
him a debt of 25,000 roubles. Professor Vladimiroff 
married a second time, a young and beautiful wife, 
Elena. Voinitzki undertook the administration of 
the estate, and with the help of his niece Sonia, in 
the course of ten years, paid off the debt left by his 
father. These business matters are revealed later on. 
The situation at the beginning of Act I. is that 
the professor and his young wife have settled down 
on the estate. Two facts are plain, that Voinitzki 
is in a highly strung state of nervous excitement, 
and that his excitement is due to the professor. We 
gather that the professor resembles both as to 
situation and as to character Casaubon in Middle- 
march. Indeed, throughout the play we are more 
than once reminded of Middlemarch. The pro- 
fessor's presence, Voinitzki tells Astroff, has had a 
disastrous effect on his manner of living and has 
introduced a general disorder into the household, 
for the professor often " breakfasts at five o'clock tea 
and dines on the following day." Yet we guess 
that it is something more than the professor's 
irregular habits which have excited Voinitzki to 
such a pitch. 

7 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

In answer to Astroff's questions Voinitzki gives 
his views on the professor. He describes him as 
a dried-up biscuit, a learned fish, who lives on the 
estate of his first wife because he cannot afford to 
live in a town a grumbler who has been unde- 
servedly lucky, who after writing for twenty-five 
years is utterly unknown. Astroff suggests that 
Voinitzki envies him. Voinitzki admits it to the 
full, pointing to the miraculous way in which this 
piece of " diseased egoism " has attracted to it the 
"love o' women." No Don Juan, he says, ever had 
such success. His first wife adored him, and he 
inspired his mother-in-law with a lasting veneration 
verging on idolatry ; his second wife gave him her 
youth and beauty. All have believed in him and 
slaved for him. 

We afterwards learn that Voinitzki slaved for him 
also, because he believed in him. "What for?" 
he asks bitterly, and "Why?" Elena, Sonia, and 
Voinitzki's mother make their appearance. The 
professor is seen walking in the garden in an over- 
coat and goloshes, in spite of the heat, and from the 
conversations which take place until the end of the 
first act we see that Sonia is in love with Astroff, 
and would make him an admirable wife. We see 
that Sonia is an admirable character, but unfortun- 
ately devoid of beauty and all charm. We see that 
Voinitzki is in love with Elena, that Elena's interest 
has been awakened in Astroff, and that she herself 

8 



MOSCOW 

is a kind of land mermaid, a middle-class Pagan, 
not immoral but amoral ; a passionless Cleopatra, a 
good-natured Mary Stuart, a well-meaning Circe ; 
one of those half-sentimental, half-sensuous creatures 
who give nothing and yet are well content that all 
who surround them should be spell-bound by the 
aroma of their personality, while they maintain, even 
to themselves, the theory that they are intensely 
harmless and respectable. 

Practically nothing happens in the second act. 
We see quite clearly that Sonia is in love with 
Astroff, and that he is unaware and careless of the 
fact ; that Voinitzki, more nervous than ever, pur- 
sues Elena in vain with his advances ; yet in spite 
of this want of action the attention of the audience 
is riveted. We are made to feel AstrofFs hopeless- 
ness at the life of a country doctor in Russia ; the 
ploughing of sands, the physical disgust, and still 
greater, the moral sickness at the evils which he is 
powerless to remedy. I often heard the doctors in 
the war talk exactly in the strain in which Astroff 
talks in this play. It is not the suffering we encounter 
which depresses us, they used to say, but the evils 
which should be instantly remedied, and cannot be 
remedied, and which are partly inherent in the very 
character of the people. 

We are also made to feel the atmosphere reigning 
in the house, and emanating from the characters of 
its inmates. The effect, as Astroff says, is one of 

9 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

suffocation the professor with his gout and books, 
Voinitzki a bundle of nerves and hypochrondria, 
Elena who merely eats, sleeps, and walks about, 
shedding the intoxicating influence of her beauty, 
languorous and soft, herself as empty of true sub- 
stance as a sachet. 

In the third act Sonia confesses her love for 
Astroff to Elena, and asks her to find out if her case 
is hopeless, and if so, to persuade him to cease from 
visiting the house. Elena reveals the situation to 
him in a few delicate hints. He looks at her with 
amazement, and then adopts a tone of cynical 
brutality. "If you had told me that two months 
ago," he says, "all might have been different, but 
now you know very well why and on account of 
whom I have come here day after day : for a whole 
month I have given up everything for you, and this 
has delighted you." Elena plays the part of injured 
innocence ; he takes her in his arms and kisses her. 
At that moment Voinitzki enters and witnesses the 
scene. 

A moment or two afterwards the professor arrives. 
He has summoned the family to talk business. They 
all enter and sit down, and the professor makes a 
speech, prefacing it with the remark that he is not a 
practical man a speech in which he proposes that 
the estate should be sold, and that he should buy a 
small country house in Finland with the proceeds. 
Voinitzki interrupts him with violence, and in an 

10 



MOSCOW 

ever-increasing crescendo of fury cries out that the 
professor, who says he is a child in these matters, 
wishes to turn him out after his ten years of slavery, 
and to sell Sonia's estate. " You have ruined my 
life," he cries. " You are my worst enemy ; I know 
what course to take," and he rushes out of the room. 
The professor follows shortly. A pistol shot is heard. 
Voinitzki has fired on the professor. The professor 
returns, calling on all to stop Voinitzki. Voinitzki 
enters again, and fires at the professor, but misses 
him a second time. 

The action of the fourth act can be stated in a 
few words. The professor and his wife leave the 
house. Astroff goes back to his practice, leaving 
Voinitzki and Sonia to resume their quiet life of 
regular work. And yet in saying this I have 
omitted all that is important in this act, which is 
the most striking of the four, and impresses the 
audience the most deeply. It takes place in 
Voinitzki's room. On one side of the stage is his 
sitting-room, on the other what serves for the office 
of the estate. It is an autumn evening. Astroff 
and Elena take leave of one another. " I wish to 
beg one thing of you," she says to him " to respect 
me." He smiles derisively. She is just that kind 
of woman who would like to have what can 
only be gained by loss of respect and yet be 
respected. 

"If you had stayed here longer," says Astroff, 

ii 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

" I should have been a ruined man and you . . . 
would not have improved. Well, you are going. 
. . . Let me kiss you ... to say good-bye. . . . 
Yes ? (kisses her). Now ..." Elena (going to 
the door) : "I wish you all possible happiness. 
(She returns and flings herself in his arms ; they 
then hurriedly break away from each other.) It is 
time to go." Astroff : Finita la comedia. 

The professor enters with Voinitzki, Sonia, and 
his mother-in-law, and bids good-bye. He then 
leaves the house with his wife. The others go to 
see them off. Voinitzki and Astroff are left alone. 
The bells of the horses are heard outside. One 
after another, Sonia, the mother-in-law, and the old 
woman servant enter the room saying : " They've 
gone ! " Described, this appears to be insignificant ; 
seen, acted as it is with incomparable naturalness, 
it is indescribably effective. In this scene a par- 
ticular mood, which we have all felt, is captured and 
rendered ; a certain chord is struck which exists in 
all of us : that kind of " toothache at heart " which 
we feel when a sudden parting takes place and we 
are left behind. The parting need not necessarily 
be a sad one. But the tenor of our life is 
interrupted. As a rule the leaves of life are turned 
over so quickly and noiselessly by Time that we 
are not aware of the process. In the case of a 
sudden parting we hear the leaf of life turn over 
and fall back into the great blurred book of the 

12 



MOSCOW 

past, read, finished, and irrevocable. It is this 
hearing of the turning leaf which Tchekoff has 
rendered merely by three people coming into the 
room one after another and saying, " They've 
gone ! " 

The intonation with which the old servant said 
"They've gone" an intonation of peculiar cheer- 
fulness with which servants love to underline what 
is melancholy was marvellous. Finally Astroff 
goes. Voinitzki's mother reads a pamphlet by the 
lamp-light, the clatter of the horses' hoofs and the 
jingling of bells are heard dying away in the 
distance, and Voinitzki and Sonia set to work at 
their accounts, and the infinite monotony of their 
life begins once more. 

The play is received at every performance by 
the audience, although it has been played nearly 
a hundred times, with boundless enthusiasm. 



CHAPTER II 

MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

T STARTED from Moscow on my journey 
*" across the plains on the 2nd May. The 
trains were running four times a week as in times 
of peace, as they are at present. There were 
seven officers on board the train, a few officials, 
and two war correspondents, besides myself, Lord 
Brooke, Reuter's correspondent, M. de la Salle of 
the Agence Havas, and Mr Hamilton of the 
Manchester Guardian. I made the acquaintance 
of the officers, who were friendly in the extreme. 
There was, however, in this paradise a snake in 
the shape of a merchant from Vladivostock, who, 
I was told, was fabulously rich. His avocations 
lead him to read the English newspapers. He 
was consequently appalled by the fact that re- 
presentatives of the Morning Post and Reuter's 
Agency were going to the seat of war. Reuter's 
Agency, he told me, was the worst. Reuter's 
Agency he invested with just the same Machia- 
vellic and mysterious qualities with which a certain 
section of the French during the Dreyfus case 
attributed to that terrible intangible " Syndicat." 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

The chief object of the Agency was, he told me, to 
ruin Russia. With this purpose it was sending to 
all parts of the world professional liars, men of un- 
bridled fancy, complete unscrupulousness, with 
unlimited wealth at their disposal, who were to 
poison the currents of popular opinion at all their 
sources. 

He evidently instilled his ideas into the heads 
of the officers, who were simple-minded men. (I 
met several of them later on), and after a time a 
marked coolness in their manner became visible. 
The suspecting man of commerce prophesied that 
we should not be allowed to go farther than Irkutsk, 
and I imagine the result of his suspicions was that 
a telegram was sent somewhere, either to Kharbin 
or St Petersburg, to know who we were. All our 
papers were in order, and at Irkutsk we were 
allowed to continue our journey. 

The journey struck one by its ease and rapidity, 
since when I started from London the impression 
prevailed that the railway would certainly be blown 
up, that trains fell into the half-frozen lakes, and 
that open railway trucks were the only form of 
accommodation. 

As far as Irkutsk I travelled in the ordinary 
express, which has comfortable first and second- 
class carriages, a dining-room, a pianoforte, a bath- 
room, and a small library of Russian literature. 
The journey from Moscow to Irkutsk took nine 

15 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

nights and eight days. Passenger trains consisting 
of first, second, and third-class carriages ran as 
usual from Irkutsk to Baikal Station. It was here 
that the real interest of the journey began. The 
lake was at that time crossed daily by two large 
ice-breakers, the Baikal and the Angora, which 
cleft through three feet of half-melted ice, the 
passage lasting four hours. Baikal Station is only 
a few hours' journey from Irkutsk. I arrived about 
one o'clock in the afternoon, and the steamer started 
at five. 

As we left, the scene was one of the most strange 
and beautiful I have ever witnessed. It had been a 
glorious day, and the sun in the cold, clear atmos- 
phere an atmosphere that has a radiant purity 
which is quite indescribable was gradually assum- 
ing the appearance of a red, fiery, arctic ball. In 
front of us was a silent sheet of ice, powdered with 
snow, white and spotless except for one long brown 
mark which had been made by the sledges. On the 
horizon in front of us a range of mountains was 
visible, whose summits seemed to disappear into 
a veil of snow made by the low-hanging clouds. 
It was impossible to discern where the mountains 
left off and where the clouds began ; in fact, this 
low range had not the appearance of mountains at 
all ; it seemed as if we were making for some 
mysterious island, some miraculous reef of sapphires, 
so intense was the blue of these hills, so gem-like 

16 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

the way they glinted in the cold air. To the right 
was another still lower and more distant range ; the 
intense deep blue faded here into a delicate and 
transparent sea-green the colour of the transparent 
seas in the Greek islands and these hills seemed 
like the phantom continuation of the other range 
unearthly and filmy as a mirage. 

As we moved the steamer ploughed the ice into 
flakes, which leapt and scattered themselves in 
innumerable spiral shapes, fantastic flowers of ice 
and snow. As the sun sank lower the strangeness 
and beauty increased, for a faint pink halo pervaded 
the sky round the sun, which grew more and more 
fiery and metallic. I knew that I had never seen 
anything like this before, and yet \ felt at the same 
time that I was looking on something which I had 
already seen. I racked my brains, and suddenly I 
became aware of what was teasing my mind. It 
was the recollection of Coleridge's Ancient 
Mariner. The following lines came into my head : 

" And now there came both mist and snow, 
And it grew wondrous cold : 
And ice, mast-high, came floating by 
As green as emerald." 

It was "wondrous cold/' and here in the distance 
seemed to be the ice as " green as emerald." Above 
us was the sun "no bigger than the moon," and as 
we ploughed through the ice which " crackled and 
B 17 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

growled" like " noises in a swound," I felt we might 
have been the first that ever burst into that " silent 
sea." 

As the sun sank the whole sky was suffused with 
a pink glow, and the distant mountains seemed like 
ghostly caverns of ice. 

It was too cold to stay on deck and enjoy the 
beauty with any comfort, and one took refuge in 
the comfortable cabin, where an excellent dinner 
was ready. We arrived at eight o'clock ; it was 
dark, and the other ice-breaker was starting on its 
return journey to the strains of military music. 

I resumed my train journey about eleven o'clock 
at night. The train was so full that it was impos- 
sible not only to get a seat in the first or second 
class, but at first it seemed doubtful whether one 
would obtain a place of any kind in the train. On 
realising the situation I had jumped into a third- 
class carriage, which was at once invaded by a crowd 
of moujik women and children. An official screamed 
ineffectually that the carriage was reserved for 
the military, upon which an irate moujik waving a 
huge long loaf of bread (like an enormous truncheon) 
cried out, pointing to the seething and heterogeneous 
crowd : " Are we not military, also, one and all of 
us reservists ? " and they refused to move. This 
was the first example I had of a fact which was 
borne upon me over and over again during my 
sojourn among the Russians namely, that if you 

18 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

ask leave to do anything you will probably be told 
that it is quite impossible owing to Article 146 of 
Section IV. of such and such a regulation, or that 
you must get a paper signed by such and such an 
official but if you do the thing it is probable that 
nobody will interfere with you ; there is a Teutonic 
mass of rules and regulations, but the Slav tempera- 
ment is not equal to the task of insisting on their 
literal execution. It is as if an elaborate bureau- 
cratic system were introduced into the internal 
administration of Ireland. One can imagine the 
result. Sometimes one blesses Heaven for this 
fact ; at other times it seems to have its disadvan- 
tages, and one regrets the rigour of the game. 

The confusion was incredible, and one man, by 
the vehement way in which he flung himself and his 
property on his wooden seat, broke it and fell with 
a crash to the ground. The third-class carriages are 
formed in this way ; the carriage is not divided into 
separate compartments, but is like a corridor carriage, 
with no partition and no doors between the carriage 
proper and the passage ; it is divided into three 
sections, each section consisting of six plank beds : 
three on each side of the window, and one placed 
above the other, forming three storeys. There is 
besides this, a tier of seats against the windows in 
the passage at right angles to the regular seats. The 
occupant of a place has a right to the whole plank, 
so that he can lie down and sleep on it. I gave up 

19 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

my place in the first carriage as I had lost sight of 
luggage and servant, and went in search of them and 
of the guard. 

I found the guard, who stated that the train was 
full to overflowing, and that no further carriages 
would be added. I said I wanted four places, and 
that I did not mind if they were in the luggage van, 
or anywhere else. He took me to a carriage which 
was occupied mostly by soldiers. It must be borne 
in mind that the train by which I was travelling was 
not a military one, and that these soldiers were stray 
offshoots going to join their respective regiments. 

The guard told the soldiers to make room for me, 
my servant, and two travelling companions. It 
seemed to me an impossible task ; but it was done. 
I was presently encamped on a plank near the 
ceiling in the passage, at right angles to the 
regular seats. I soon fell into a deep sleep. The 
next thing I remember was being wakened at sun- 
rise by a furious scuffle. A party of Chinese coolies 
for all I knew then they may have been man- 
darins or yamen had invaded the train. They 
were drunk, and spat and slobbered, and the soldiers 
with one voice cried, " Get out, Chinese." They 
were bundled backwards and forwards, rolled up 
and down the passage like a football, and were 
eventually allowed to settle on the platform outside 
the train. I did not go to sleep again. It was too 
interesting to sleep, and from my suspended plank I 

20 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

enjoyed myself more than I have ever done in any 
theatre. The soldiers began to get up. One of 
them, dressed in a scarlet shirt, stood against the 
window and reverently said his prayers towards the 
rising sun, with many signs of the Cross. A little 
later a stowaway arrived ; stowaways who travel in 
trains in Russia without tickets are called " hares." 
He was detected by the under guard, who advised 
him to get under the seat during the visit of the 
ticket collector. This he did ; he remained under 
the seat about an hour and a half, until the ticket 
collector paid his visit. Then he crept from his 
hiding-place and squeezed in among the crowd in 
the carriage ; the ticket collector frequently returned, 
but on every occasion he managed to escape notice 
by letting himself be crushed almost to a jelly by the 
other passengers. 

My first day was one of sordid isolation. In my 
side bunk near the ceiling I could merely observe, 
but was unable to fraternise with my fellow-creatures. 
This was not to last. I was forced to lie down all 
day owing to a cut on my foot. This fact became 
known, and in the evening I was offered a bed on 
the ground floor, so to speak, in the central division 
of the carriage. I at once moved into it. The re- 
maining storeys of the division were occupied by four 
soldiers and a sailor. They had all come from differ- 
ent parts of Russia. My two immediate neighbours 
were Little Russians ; one was a Cossack. Never 

21 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

in my life have I been so well treated, so well looked 
after, or better entertained. One of the Little 
Russians constituted himself into a sort of slave. 
He brought me tea, cleaned up the carriage, 
guessed one's every need. These soldiers asked 
me where I came from, but were not much the 
wiser when I said London. But Great Britain, 
France, Germany, and America were, they said, 
the only important Powers. We discussed countries 
and languages, and the debate was closed by one of 
them saying that there was no doubt that French 
was the most difficult tongue, and Russian the 
easiest The French, they said, were a clever 
people. "As clever as you?" I asked. " No," 
they answered, "not so clever as us, but when we 
say clever we mean nice? 

The next day I gradually made the acquaintance 
of all the occupants of the compartment. They 
divided the day into what they called "occupation" 
and " relaxation." Occupation consisted of busying 
oneself with something, that is, reading, constructing 
a musical instrument one of the soldiers was making 
a violin reading aloud, or making a " composition." 

" Relaxation " consisted of playing cards, doing 
card tricks, telling stories, or singing songs. My 
fellow travellers played a game of cards which 
baffled my understanding. Two people play and 
the cards are equally divided on the table. A hand 
of five cards is chosen and the game begins. When 

22 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

the five cards are played five more are chosen 
indiscriminately from the visible pack, so that all 
bother of thinking what might be in one's adversary's 
hand is avoided. The soldiers had two meals a day 
dinner and tea their rations consisting of three 
pounds of black bread, half a pound of meat, and 
cabbage soup. Sometimes they read aloud from 
some volumes of Gogol and Poushkin I had with 
me. They began anywhere in the book and 
stopped anywhere, and always thought it interesting. 
One of them pointed out to another the famous 
letter in Poushkin's Evegenie Oniegin and said that 
it was very good. I asked him to read a poem 
called Bjesi, which is about the little demons that 
lead the sledge driver astray in a snow-storm. He 
said it was good because one could sing it. 

The soldiers had not read much. They have no 
time ; but the book I found that they had nearly all 
of them read was Milton's Paradise Lost. When 
two years ago a schoolmaster in the Tambov 
Government told me that Paradise Lost was the 
most popular book in the village library I was 
astonished, and thought it an isolated instance. At 
a fair at Moscow, during Passion Week last year, I 
noticed that there were five or six different editions 
of translations of Milton's poem, with illustrations, 
ranging in price from 12 roubles to 30 kopecks, and 
while I was looking at one of them a moujik came 
up to me and advised me to buy it. " It's very 

23 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

interesting," he said. " It makes one laugh and 
cry." I now understand why Milton is to the 
Russian peasantry what Shakespeare is to the 
German nation. They like the narrative of super- 
natural events which combine the fantasy of a fairy 
tale and the authority of the Scriptures the school- 
master in Tambov also told me that the peasants 
refused to read historical novels or stories because 
they said they were mere "inventions (Vwidoomki)" 
some of it makes them laugh, and the elevated 
language gives them the same pleasure as being in 
church. It is possible to purchase Paradise Lost at 
almost any village booth. I bought an illustrated 
edition at a small side station between Kharbin and 
Baikal. Another English author who is universally 
popular, not among the soldiers but with the officers, 
the professional and upper and middle classes, is 
Jerome K. Jerome. He has for the present genera- 
tion become a popular classic in the same way as 
Dickens did for the preceding generation. It was 
possible to buy a cheap edition of his works at every 
railway station where there was a bookstall between 
Moscow and Kharbin. 

Conan Doyle's books were also universally 
popular. I never came across an officer who had 
not heard of Sherlock Holmes. The officers used 
to take in a great quantity of magazines. These 
magazines consisted largely of translations from the 
English ; from the works of Jerome, Wells, Kipling, 

24 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

Conan Doyle, Marie Corelli, and Mrs Humphry 
Ward. Officers used often to ask me who was the 
most popular English author. I used to answer 
that I thought it was Rudyard Kipling. This 
used to astonish them as they considered him 
rather childish. But then his stories lose all 
their salt in translation. Mrs Humphry Ward, 
they used to say, was a really serious author. 
Translations of Wells and Conan Doyle used 
to be running as serials in several magazines at 
a time. 

Far the most cultivated of the men in the train 
was the sailor ; he had read Gogol, Tolstoi, 
Tourgeneff, and Poushkin, but of him more 
anon. 

In the evening a bearded soldier, who hailed 
from Tomsk, came and asked me if I would mind 
writing my name down on a piece of paper as he 
wished to mention in a letter home that he had 
seen me. In the course of conversation he said 
he had never seen an Englishman before, but that 
he had been told by sailors that Englishmen were 
easy to get on with and clean, much cleaner than 
Russians. 

He told me his story, which was melancholy in 
the extreme. He had fallen asleep on sentry go, 
and had been deprived of nearly all the rights of a 
human being ; he seemed to be absolutely without 
any spark of hope. The conversation ended in an 

25 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

exchange of stories among the soldiers. One of 
them told me a story about a priest. He was 
doubtful as to whether I knew what a priest meant, 
and to explain it to me he said, "a priest, you 
know, is a man who always lies." 

I asked the bearded man if he knew any stories. 
He at once sat down and began a fairy tale 
(Skaska). It was called the " Merchant's Son." 
It took an hour and a half to tell. I think it is 
in one of Mr Lang's "Fairy Books." I asked the 
man if he had read it. He said that he had been 
told it ; that he could remember nothing he read 
but everything he was told. He told the tale 
beautifully ; the narrative was interlarded with 
dialogue; the epithets and the attributes of each 
of the persons in the story were repeated every 
time they were mentioned in the true Epic manner. 
I feel certain that he recounted it to me, word for 
word, as it had been told to him. In this way the 
Homeric poems were handed down from one 
generation to another. The moment the man 
finished he began another called " Ivan the Little 
Fool," but I interrupted to undress and lie down, 
as I foresaw that the tale would be what the White 
Knight said about his song, " It's long, but it's 
very, very beautiful." It was long. It was one 
o'clock in the morning when he finished it. But 
to be told a really good long story, by a real story 
teller, till you go to sleep is an ideal and unwonted 

26 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

experience in a journey. In Russia there are many 
such mute inglorious Kiplings and Stevensons. 

When the story came to an end I was asked 
to tell them a story. I tried to relate the " Digit 
of the Moon," but when I had got half-way through 
I became aware that I had made an initial con- 
fusion by having stated that the prince had to guess 
riddles instead of having to put them. 

I said that I had gone wrong and must stop and 
tell another story. 

They said, "It doesn't matter, the story is very 
good as far as it goes." 

Then a soldier told me a story which seemed 
to me to be well known ; at least I have either 
read it or its equivalent in some such book as 
Mr Sidgwick's delightful exercises in Greek prose 
or in some French grammar. The hero of the 
story being Frederick the Great, or the Sultan, 
or some other popular monarch. This is how the 
soldier told it me I repeat it because he gave 
it an original turn. The Tsar, he said, summoned 
the patriarch of the Church and informed him that 
unless he was capable, on being summoned to an 
audience, of answering three questions he would be 
executed. The patriarch, who was a simple man, 
and unable to answer questions without previous 
notice, went away heavy at heart. On the way home, 
however, he met with a miller, and the miller said 
to him : " Holy Patriarch, why are you so gloomy ? " 

27 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

The patriarch told him the cause of his distress. 
" Is that all," said the miller. " Leave the matter 
to me ; I will on the appointed day dress up in your 
clothes, impersonate you, and answer the questions." 
When the appointed day arrived the miller went 
to the palace dressed up as the patriarch, and the 
Tsar put him the following question. 

" How many stars," he asked, "are there in 
the sky?" 

" Nine hundred thousand seven hundred and 
fifty-seven," answered the miller. 

" How do you know? " said the Tsar. 

" Your majesty has only to count them," replied 
the miller, "to be convinced that my estimate is 
correct." 

" Well," said the Tsar, " we will pass on to the 
second question. How much am I worth ? That 
is to say, not how rich am I, nor what is my price, 
but what is my exact value, stated in terms of 
money ? " 

The miller thought a little, and then said : " Our 
blessed Saviour was sold for thirty pieces of silver ; 
your majesty is neither an entire divinity nor an 
entire mortal, ' Too dark for heaven and too divine 
for earth/ as the poet Lermontof says, I should 
therefore split the difference, and say that your 
majesty is worth exactly fifteen pieces of silver." 

" Well," said the Tsar, " you have guessed two 
questions, but you must now answer the third and 

28 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

most difficult of the three. What am I thinking at 
the present moment ? " 

" Your majesty," answered the miller, " is thinking 
that I am the holy patriarch, whereas I am in reality 
merely a miller in wolfs clothing." The Tsar 
laughed, and gave the miller a present, and sent 
him about his business." 

The soldier then added, and this was the original 
turn he gave to the story, if the story already 
exists in this form. " The miller lives in Moscow 
and I have seen him." 

I must pass over the next day, which was much 
like the preceding one. We were to arrive at 
Manchuria Station in the night or the early morn- 
ing, and as it was our last evening the soldiers 
entertained me with songs. Here the sailor came 
to the fore and sang song after song ; some of 
his own composition. There were some splendid 
singers in the train, but the sailor was the only 
one who had a really good voice among my com- 
panions. These soldiers came from so many 
different parts of Russia that they had a difficulty 
in finding a song which they all knew. They sang, 
however, the song of the Siberian exiles " Glorious 
sea of the holy Baikal," which is one of the most 
melting melodies in the world. They sing in parts 
with great accuracy and in perfect tune. At Man- 
churia Station in the cold dawn I said good-bye to 
my friends who had treated me so kindly and 

29 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

entertained me so well. I thought how little one 
half of the world knows about the other. These 
good-natured, simple, amusing, and quick people 
are thought by half the world to be sodden brutes, 
little better than beasts. Of the war they spoke 
little and as all soldiers speak of any war. But I 
was struck by a remark that the sailors made who 
had been to Nagasaki. One of the soldiers said 
the Japanese were a savage race, and probably 
fought with twisted scimitars, upon which the sailor 
cut him short by saying : " They are a charming, 
clean people, far more cultivated than you or I." 
One of the soldiers said he thought it would have 
been a far more sensible arrangement if the dispute 
had been settled by a single combat between Count 
Lamsdorff and Marquis Ito. 

At Manchuria Station the commercial gentleman, 
who had regarded correspondents with suspicion, 
informed me that it was very doubtful if we should 
be allowed to cross the frontier into Manchuria. 

After we had interviewed the "Commandant" of 
the station and been given our papers, he seemed 
rather mortified. He asked me how I had enjoyed 
travelling with the soldiers. I said that I had 
been very kindly treated and excellently entertained. 
This seemed to disturb him very much, and he 
remarked that the soldiers were naive people and 
that I could not deceive him as easily as I could 
them. I afterwards overheard him discussing with 

30 



MOSCOW TO KHARBIN 

the officers the inadvisability of letting Englishmen 
mingle with the soldiers and worm out of them 
forbidden information. The result was when I 
and my two companions were comfortably settled 
in a third-class compartment, whither some of the 
soldiers had followed us, we were requested to 
move into another carriage. As we had settled 
down for the night we said we would prefer to 
remain where we were. The train started and 
three Cossacks were presently sent to guard us. 
Two sat in the passage opposite to us and one 
lay down on the floor between our bunks. The 
soldiers asked them what they were doing. They 
answered, " We have been told to guard these 
men ; but they are not doing anything ; they are 
sleeping." " Perhaps," one of the soldiers sug- 
gested, "they ought not to have come here." 
As it turned out our commercial friend had 
unwittingly done us a service, for a pickpocket 
had found his way into the train, and, except us, 
everybody in the carriage was robbed. 

The next morning we did move into another 
carriage where there was more room, and by the 
time we arrived at Tzitzikar Station I think the 
officers must have received some answer to their 
inquiries with regard to us ; as a marked change in 
their manner amounting to extreme deference was 
visible. 

The journey to Kharbin passed off without any 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

incident. Some excitement was caused by the 
announcement that a band of Hun-hutzes had 
been seen, and that they might very likely attack 
the train. This, however, did not occur ; but a 
whole crowd of Chinese officers boarded the train 
at one station and filled up the spare seats, 
especially the top-seats, from whence they spat, 
without ceasing, on the occupants of the lower seats, 
much to the annoyance of a French lady, who re- 
marked that "les chinois sont impossibles." 

From Manchuria Station to Kharbin the journey 
lasted three nights and two days. I arrived at 
Kharbin on the i8th May after a journey of seven- 
teen days from St Petersburg. 



CHAPTER III 

KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

1C* ROM the conversation of some of my fellow- 
travellers from Manchuria Station I had 
obtained the impression that Kharbin resembled 
one of those huge American cities that grow up 
in a night. I pictured to myself a town somewhat 
like Vienna, with asphalt pavement and electric 
light. On arriving all that I saw before me from 
the station was a sea of mud, deep, thick swamps 
which did duty for roads, a few houses in the 
distance, and a certain amount of scaffolding. 
There were no vehicles to be got, except a 
Chinese peasant's cart, which consists of a large 
board and huge solid wheels like the carriages 
pictured in " prehistoric peeps." I experienced 
a sinking sense of disappointment, and echoed 
Faust's cry of disillusion on seeing Helen of Troy : 
"Is this? I thought, "the place that's launched 
a thousand ships ? " Later on, after driving 
round the town to find rooms in a hotel, it 
became evident that on the whole Kharbin is a 
large place ; the town proper, the old town, which is 
called Pristan, is three miles away from the station ; 
c 33 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

the new town consists of government offices, a 
church, a hotel and some hospitals, and the Russo- 
Chinese Bank. That was true then ; but now all is 
changed. You arrive at a gigantic station built in 
the art-nouveau style, which has spread like a disease 
from Germany over the whole of Russia. The old 
station has been converted into a hospital. In 
front of the station is a spacious boulevard leading 
to the bank, and you have at once the impression 
that you are in town. When I arrived in May I 
felt that I had come to the house on the marsh. 
I eventually found rooms in the Hotel Oriant, 
which I think must be the most expensive hotel 
in the world; it is kept by two ex-convicts, with 
squinting eyes and a criminal expression ; and the 
prices of food and lodging were exalted beyond 
dreams of Ritz. 

The bedroom was damp and dirty, and cost 153. 
a day, without the bed. I have with me now a bill 
for a small supper, which, for two people, amounted 
to 72 roubles. The population of Kharbin consists 
almost entirely of ex-convicts and Chinamen. This 
fact did not surprise me, and I agreed with a 
Frenchman who said to me, " On a raison de dire 
qu'il faut avoir tu6 pere et mere pour venir vivre 
dans un tel pays." 

The cab drivers were all ex-convicts, and fearful 
tales were told one of how, if dissatisfied with their 
fares, they merely killed you and threw your body 

34 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

into the street. On the return home an officer told 
me how a cabman driving him home had thanked 
him for driving with him, and when the officer 
asked why, had explained that the presence of 
an officer was a guarantee of safety, and that the 
night before he had been set upon by two thieves 
who had beaten him till he gave up all his money, 
warning him that if he screamed he would be 
stabbed. They had then proceeded to strip him, 
and finding a watch concealed in his sock they 
had beaten him again. The authority of the 
police in Kharbin seems to be non-existent. 
Kharbin is now called the Chicago of the East. 
This is not a compliment to Chicago. I only 
stayed there a week on the way out, and not at 
all on the return journey ; but from accounts I 
heard it is now a changed city, full of Greeks, 
who do an enormous trade, and theatres and 
music-halls. It was the Cape Town of the war. 

When we arrived at Kharbin we were told that 
it was impossible to go any further ; that the 
correspondents at Mukden were on the point of 
returning, and that Admiral Alexieff himself was 
expected. This was a fact. I was told that 
the plan of campaign was a general retreat to 
Kharbin, which was to become the headquarters 
of General Kouropatkin, and that he would not 
advance thence until he had what he considered 
to be a sufficient number of troops. 

35 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

A week later a meeting took place between 
General Kouropatkin and the Viceroy at Mukden, 
and whether or not it was the result of this inter- 
view, the forward movement south was begun which 
ended in the battle of Wa-fan-go. 

Among business men whom I met, there was 
a certain feeling of relief that the war had broken 
out, that the uneasiness and suspense had been 
put an end to, and that the matter would be 
settled one way or another. They criticised, 
however, the manner in which the negotiations 
had been carried on most violently. One man 
said to me if you carry on negotiations in such 
a manner you should have 100,000 men ready 
to back you up, whereas in the whole of Man- 
churia, when the war broke out, there were not 
more than 60,000 men." It appeared that after the 
battle of the Yalu General Mischenko had only 
eighteen sotnias, and there were only a few regiments 
of infantry at Liaoyang. 

In fact, the Japanese might have marched to 
Mukden and taken it without risk and without loss. 
That they did not do so is, I suppose, to be attributed 
to the fact that they thought they would capture the 
whole of the Russian army at Liaoyang, and had 
made their plans accordingly, and considered conse- 
quently that the more troops the Russians poured 
into Manchuria the better. 

After staying a week in this depressing centre I 

36 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

travelled to Mukden in great luxury owing to the 
courtesy of General Holodovsky, who gave me a 
place in a first-class carriage, which was reserved for 
him. He was a charming and cultivated man, with 
a passion for out-of-door sports and oriental china. 
He was also responsible for the admirable fortifica- 
tions which were constructed at Liaoyang, and 
further south between Liaoyang and Ta-shi-chiao. It 
only took a day and two nights to reach Mukden. 

On arriving at Mukden one is aware that one has 
left the Western world far behind one ; Kharbin is 
a great modern abortion ; Mukden is an oriental 
masterpiece. It is said to resemble Pekin on a 
smaller scale, to be a miniature Pekin. It is a large 
square town surrounded by an extremely thick 
dilapidated wall, round which you can walk. Inside 
it are masses of closely-packed one-storied houses 
divided up into innumerable small alleys, and inter- 
sected by two or three main streets, in which the 
shops riot in an extravagance of oriental sign-posts ; 
huge blue and red boots, bespangled with gold stars, 
hanging in front of the bootmakers, golden and 
vari-coloured shields and banners hanging in front 
of other shops ; theatres, each with a great clang- 
ing gong sounding incessantly to attract the passer- 
by ; add to all this, the sunshine, the brilliant 
colouring of the people's clothes, the " tinkling 
temple bells and the spicy garlic smells," and even 
if you have never been further than Mukden, when 

37 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

you return to the damp and drizzle of London, the 
wet pavements, the rawness, the fog, and the half- 
light, you will hear the East calling you will long 
for the " day and the dust and the ecstasy." 

The palace, which is deserted and yet contains a 
collection of priceless art-treasures, jewels and china 
and embroidery and delicately illuminated MSS. 
locked up in mouldering cupboards, is exquisitely 
beautiful. Its courtyards are carpeted with luxuriant 
grass, its fantastic, dilapidated wooden walls, carven, 
painted and twisted into strange shapes such as you 
see on an oriental vase. The planks are rotten and 
mouldering, the walls eaten with rain and damp ; 
and one thanks Heaven that it is so, that nothing 
has been restored. Nothing lives for ever ; is it not 
then better that the shapes and buildings whose 
transitory existence delights the eyes of mortals be 
left in their beauty, left to live and grow ever more 
beautiful as they decay in obedience to the gradual 
change of time than to suffer the affront and the 
mutilation of man's brutal and hideous rejuvenating 
process ? 

Mukden reminded me of Hans Andersen's fairy 
tales: its buildings and its inhabitants, the shops, 
the temples, the itinerant vendors in the street, the 
sounding gongs, the grotesque signs and quaint 
fantastic images, seem to belong to the realm of 
childish trolldom. Here it was, one feels, that the 
Emperor of China, of whom Andersen tells, sat and 

38 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

sighed for the song of the nightingale, when his 
artificial, metallic singing-bird suddenly snapped and 
ceased to sing. Still more enchanting in the same 
order of things are the tombs of Pai-ling and Fu- 
ling : here the delicate, gorgeous-coloured, and fan- 
tastic buildings which protect the remains of the Man- 
churian dynasty are approached by wild wood-ways, 
paths of soft grass and alleys of aromatic and 
slumber-scented trees. 

The high, quaint towers and ramparts which sur- 
round the tombs in China all the houses are of one 
story, and the sacred monuments are high, for the 
reason that the Chinese say that only spirits can live 
in high buildings are in the same state of semi- 
dilapidation ; the brilliant colours are half- faded, the 
stairways are rotten, and overgrown with moss and 
grass. Here one feels that in some secluded attic 
at the top of a creaking stair, among the cobwebs 
and the dust and the starved wild flowers, surely 
here the sleeping beauty of the wood is slumbering, 
obstinately slumbering, lest she awake to hear the 
noise of shrapnel, and to see to what base use men 
can employ their energy and their ingenuity. 

After I had stayed a week in General Holodovsky's 
railway carriage, daily apologising for so protracted 
a visit, I moved into the town, to the Der-lung-djen, 
which means the inn of the dragon. It consisted of 
a spacious courtyard, full of horses, surrounded by a 
low stoned series of rooms, right against the southern 

39 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

wall of the town, and close to the southern gate. 
Here I engaged a Chinese boy and a mafoo (groom), 
and lived for sixteen days. Several of the war cor- 
respondents lived there also, and it would have been 
a period of delicious ease had one not been aware 
that exciting events were happening just out of one's 
reach, and had we not been tormented by the desire 
to be there also. My first impressions of the Chinese 
consisted of respect mingled with wonder at their 
extraordinary dexterity, cleverness, and competence. 
My Chinese boy informed me, after he had been 
with me a day, that I ought to raise his wages, since 
he came from Canton, and was therefore clean, 
whereas he said "Chinese man dirty." His name 
was Afoo ; he spoke Pidgin- Russian. I saw from 
the first that he thought the idea of going further 
south to Liaoyang or anywhere near the front was 
silly. The Chinaman is essentially a man of peace. 
War he considers the greatest folly under the sun. 
A soldier that is to say, a fighting man is to him 
the scum of the earth. (The Duke of Wellington 
made the same remark about the rank-and-file of the 
British army.) To fight is to be guilty in his eyes 
of the worst form of vulgarity. It is no wonder, 
then, that, when he heard I was intending to go to 
Liaoyang, he remarked that his father was ill at 
Kharbin, and his wife not so well as might be 
expected at Tientsin, and asked leave to visit them, 
which I refused. He was clever, but casual ; capable, 

40 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

but obstinate ; and urbane without being rude. One 
day I told him he was stupid. "Of course," he 
answered, " I am stupid. If I were not stupid I 
should not be your servant, but a mandarin." 

I have certainly never at any period of my life 
been so well looked after, nor had my needs minis- 
tered to, my unspoken wants guessed, and my 
habits divined so well as during these peaceful days 
at the Der-lung-djen by Afoo. It was when the 
correspondents gave a dinner-party that the Chinese 
boys displayed their talents. Then all their pride 
came out ; their desire to show they were better 
and more capable than the servants of our guests ; 
then their quickness, agility, and dexterity were 
manifest in their highest degree. 

The question which one is at once asked is, what 
was the attitude of the Chinese towards the Russians 
and towards the war ? Their attitude towards the 
war was simple enough, but their dealings with the 
Russians and what they felt about them is, I think, 
a more complicated question. 

When I arrived at Mukden the population there 
was deriving great profit from the war. They were 
selling corn and carts and every conceivable com- 
modity to the Russians at fancy prices. The 
educated Chinese used to tell me that it was neither 
the Russians nor the Japanese that they feared, but 
the possible breaking loose of the Chinese army. 

The situation was, therefore, as if Scotland had 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

been occupied by France and invaded by Germany, 
and the Scotch people were vaguely hostile to the 
French and guardedly friendly to the Germans, but 
quaking with terror at the thought of Glasgow and 
Edinburgh being looted by the Scots Guards. 

The Russians have behaved as cleverly in theory 
as one can behave to the Chinese, and yet the 
result has not been altogether successful. I will 
try and point out why. 

The Russians have in no way interfered with the 
internal justice or administration of China. Chinese 
justice pursues its uncompromising course. It is 
not more unjust than occidental justice, but it is 
different. Its object is to punish crime. As all 
oriental races, the Chinese are indifferent to death 
and impervious to the minor forms of legal torture, 
such as mere flogging. The law, therefore, is 
necessarily severe, and less sentimental than ours. 
They have a rule, that for every crime which is 
brought to the notice of the law a criminal must 
perish, or someone must perish one crime, one 
criminal ; one criminal, one head off somewhere. 
If the criminal chooses, however, he can procure 
an understudy, who suffers in his stead. 

" The difficulty is to find 
A trusty friend who will not mind." 

It is not as a matter of fact very difficult, and can 
be done if you are willing to spend a little money. 

42 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

It is impossible for a Chinaman to be condemned to 
death unless he confesses that he is guilty of the 
crime of which he is accused, and the accused is 
tortured daily there are many exceptions and 
grounds of mitigation until he confesses, then his 
head is cut off. The advantage of this system is 
that a thing like the Dreyfus case, which dis- 
members and convulses a whole nation, is im- 
possible, and the main object is achieved. The 
Chinese have recognised the fact that ideal justice 
is impossible, that it is very difficult to lay hands 
on the true offender, that human things are so 
complicated that to apportion the right measure of 
blame is a task too high for man, and that since 
things are so, and crime must be repressed, crime 
itself must be punished, and it is. The only com- 
petent judges of the question, i.e. men who have 
devoted their lives to the study of Chinese in- 
stitutions, say that Chinese law is better adapted to 
ensure the punishment of a greater number of guilty 
persons than the English law ; and that although 
innocent men may be occasionally punished (a case 
which sometimes occurs in Europe also), the well- 
being of the mass is better preserved than by a 
system in which sentiment plays a larger part. 

Again, the Chinese penal code has been char- 
acterised as being remarkable for the conciseness 
and simplicity of its style, its businesslikeness and 
absence of verbiage. 

43 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

Another good point is that the judge, if not 
influenced by bribery, may endeavour to give a 
common-sense verdict ; he is not bound by pre- 
cedents, and he can overrule the custom if he sees 
his way to a reasonable course of action. To try 
and make the Chinese adopt occidental methods to 
give them the benefit of the Code Napoleon, or the 
beautifully simple system of English or Scotch 
law, would be disastrous. This the Russians have 
recognised. They have grasped the great fact that 
nobody can govern the Chinese but the Chinese, 
and have acted upon it. 

Secondly, they have absolutely forbidden all 
religious propaganda. 

There is nothing but praise to be said on the 
subject of our missionaries at Mukden or Liaoyang : 
they are men for whom I have the greatest respect 
and admiration ; men who, this winter, have done 
great and admirable work among the refugees 
driven to Mukden from their devastated homes. 
But treating the question in the abstract the Chinese 
cannot fail to appreciate facts such as the German 
occupation of Kiaw-chaw ; they must have learnt 
by now that the missionary is the first step in a 
sequence of things, the ultimate stages of which are 
gunboat, concession and occupation ; and it may be 
doubted whether it is not rather presumptuous on 
our part to try and convert the Chinese, for are 
we so sure that the life led as the result of our 

44 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

methods, our morality, and our religion, is superior 
to theirs ? However that may be, I think one can 
safely say that if you wish to get on well with the 
Chinese the less you try to convert them the better, 
and the Russians have never made the slightest 
effort in that direction. 

Thirdly, the Russians have no racial antipathy 
to the yellow race. The Russian soldiers and the 
Chinese fraternise as people belonging to the same 
race and the same class, and not only the soldiers, 
but the officers treat the Chinese lower classes, and 
let themselves be treated, with great and good- 
natured familiarity. This seems to me to account 
for the success of the Russians in getting on with 
the Chinese, and for their failure in making them- 
selves respected. 

The main facts about the Chinese in Manchuria 
are, firstly, that they are hostile to any foreign 
occupation, and that they regard Russian-man, 
English-man, German-man as one and the same 
namely, robber-man or Hun-hutze. That is the 
principal point, the rest is merely a question of 
detail. To the Japanese they are, and will be, 
favourable according to how far they consider they 
will be successful in turning the Russians out of 
Manchuria, but I do not fancy they would like a 
Japanese occupation, and during the Chinese War 
the Japanese although they behaved better than 
the Europeans because their troops were better 

45 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

disciplined, were nevertheless unflinchingly severe 
towards the Chinese. 

Secondly, the situation has been altered by the 
change in the circumstances by the fact that occu- 
pation in times of peace and occupation in times of 
war are two separate things. 

On the whole the Russians treat the Chinese 
exceedingly well. Russian soldiers who rob or 
molest the Chinese are treated with extreme 
severity. A soldier who is convicted of twice 
having robbed a Chinaman can be hanged. It is 
said that the familiarity with which the Russians 
treat the Chinese lowers their prestige. This is 
no doubt true, but does not seem to me to be of 
great importance. Mr Whigham, in his book on 
Manchuria, says that no one will persuade him the 
Chinaman prefers justice to sympathy or likes to be 
pushed off the pavement into the middle of the road. 
The situation is now different owing to the fact of 
the war. The war is, to say the least of it, a 
nuisance to the Chinese, and the Russians are the 
outward and visible sign of the war. 

Considering the fact that the Chinese are hostile 
to the Russians in the war question, it seems to me 
marvellous that so few cases of friction occurred. 
I imagine this is due to the extraordinary cleverness 
and supple adaptability of the Chinese to the 
circumstances. I was buying a shirt one day in 
Liaoyang, a thin silk shirt such as the Russians all 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

wore in the summer. The shop-keeper thought at 
first I was a Russian soldier, and patted me on the 
back and said, " Shang-ho hodjia," which means 
good old fellow. I then said I was an Englishman, 
upon which his manner became deferential, and he 
said, " Englishman good man, Russian man bad 



man." 



The missionaries tell me, and I have frequently 
repeated the argument as if it was my own idea, 
that what the Chinese object to is not the familiar 
treatment they experience at the hands of the 
Russians, but the inconsistency of the treatment. 
That they are arm-in-arm with them at one moment 
and kick them the next. 

But if this is true of the Russians it is equally 
true of the English, and it comes about in this way. 
I have seen this occur also over and over again. 
The Englishman is treating the Chinaman with 
what he thinks, and with what is, perfect fairness 
and friendliness. The Chinaman suddenly ex- 
asperates him beyond all endurance, and then the 
Englishman kicks him. The net result of this is 
that the Englishman kicks the Chinaman if he is 
angry, and does not ever go arm-in-arm with him. 
The Russian goes arm-in-arm with the Chinaman, 
and does not kick him if he is angry, but only if he 
is drunk ; and if he, drunk or sober, maltreats a 
Chinaman he is liable to be hanged. 

The result ought to be that the Chinaman should 

47 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

respect the Englishman more and like the Russians 
better. This would be true in times of peace, but it 
is the Russians and not the English who are making 
war in China. 

It must be remembered that, unless you have 
spent all your life in China, it is difficult to treat 
the Chinese consistently owing to the fact that they 
are certain at some time or other to exasperate you 
to madness. 

The Russians consider our treatment of the 
Chinese brutal, and it is true that I only once saw 
a Russian kick a Chinaman, and he, the Russian, 
was drunk. I was, on the other hand, constantly 
amazed at the way in which the soldiers allowed 
themselves to be positively bullied at times by the 
Chinese. The truth of the matter is that the 
Russians get on perfectly well with the Chinese 
whether the Chinese respect them more or less than 
Englishmen or others is neither here nor there 
but no amount of getting on well will compensate 
for the fact that the Russians are not only occupy- 
ing their country but making war in it. Therefore 
the question of treatment has become a question 
of detail sunk in the larger fact of the war. I 
think the Russians have often been inconsistent in 
their treatment of the Chinese, or rather that this 
inconsistency is carried further in their case owing 
to the fact of the war, and the Chinese, being an 
element of that fact, the Russians have, I think, often 

48 



KHARJBIN AND MUKDEN 

behaved far too leniently to the Chinese when these 
have shown themselves openly hostile to them, and 
then exasperated at the result they suddenly adopt 
a severer method which affects the innocent rather 
than the guilty. Whenever I saw a Chinaman 
arrested for complicity with the Japanese or the 
Hun-hutzes he invariably escaped. 

The matter can be briefly summed up as follows : 
The Chinaman has no inborn hatred of the 
stranger, but detests the foreign occupation and 
foreigners who come with a purpose, such as to 
obtain concessions or other things, which they know 
in the long run mean occupation. 

The Russians get on well with the Chinese, who 
accepted their rule, which was easy and light, 
quietly and cheerfully in times of peace ; but now 
that they are the outward and visible manifestation 
not only of occupation, but of war and all its 
horrors, they wish them at Jericho. It is very 
difficult to get the Chinese to express an outspoken 
opinion on such things. One Chinaman told me he 
considered all the foreigners who infested Manchuria 
including the Japanese as robber-men. The 
Chinese suffer also greatly at the hands of the 
interpreters who have taken service with the 
Russians. These men are rascals of the lowest 
form. They extort money from the wretched 
peasants under the threat of denouncing them as 
Hun-hutzes, and I have no doubt that they fre 
D 49 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

quently betray the Russians whenever an occasion 
occurs. I saw one of these men who returned to 
Mukden from Liaoyang after the Japanese occupa- 
tion of that city. He was asked by an officer what 
was going on at Liaoyang. "The Japanese," he 
replied, "have burnt most of the houses." 

"What Japanese general is in command?" asked 
the officer. 

"His name in Chinese is the following," he 
replied, saying a long and unpronounceable con- 
catenation of syllables. 

Now, if his name had been Nodzu or Oku, it 
would have been the same in Chinese. He merely 
wished not to say. 

There was one interpreter who was attached to 
the battery with whom I subsequently lived, named 
Mishka, whom I could not help liking. I have 
no doubt he was a scoundrel, but a sympathetic 
scoundrel. One day he led two Cossacks into 
temptation, and took them to a place where they 
drank and looted. 

He was told on the morrow that he must be 
beaten, and was given the choice of being sent to 
the Chinese magistrate or being beaten by a Cossack. 
He said he would rather neither course were 
adopted. When he was told that it was absolutely 
necessary he chose to be punished by the Cossack. 

For a week afterwards he avoided the officers 
and would not come near the colonel. At last, 

50 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

on being asked the reason, he said : " My ashamed" 
(moia stidno). The Chinese peasants showed ex- 
traordinary patience in the manner in which they 
bore the deprivations and sufferings which were 
the result of the war. These sufferings were 
very great, especially in the villages south of 
Mukden, which are now all deserted, the inhabi- 
tants having fled to the town. While a fight 
was actually going on the Chinaman used gener- 
ally to dig a hole in the ground a small catacomb 
and thatch it with kowliang, and there conceal 
himself with his wife and his family until the fight 
was over, creeping out every now and then to make 
tea. The interpreters who followed the troops were 
perfectly used to the firing, and did not care a fig. 
They were tough individuals, and I saw one he 
was quite small give a big Cossack a tremendous 
thrashing. I am convinced that if the Chinese 
were organised, and ceased to think fighting vulgar, 
they would make excellent troops. 

While I was at Mukden I had an interview 
with the Chinese Viceroy, and conversed with him 
through an interpreter. He refused to express any 
definite opinion, even on the subject of the weather. 

When asked if the war would last long he 
replied, " War is an expensive business." 

The day after my visit to the Viceroy, I and 
Mr de Jessen, a Danish correspondent, were invited 
to luncheon at the Chinese Foreign Office. 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

In deference to the European guests the meal 
was semi- European. It began with tea, and then 
there followed about seventeen courses, consisting 
of small dishes of meat, each one almost exactly 
like the other. There came a moment when I 
refused a dish ; the meal then immediately ceased. 
It was evidently managed on the plan of feeding 
your guests till they showed signs of disinclination 
for food, and then stopping. On the following day 
the mandarins who had been present left cards in 
the morning to say they were coming to see us, 
and arrived in the afternoon and paid an elaborate 
visit. 

On the whole the impression one gathered from the 
Chinese was that they had accepted the war, as they 
accept everything else, in a philosophical spirit, and 
were resolved to make the best of it by letting no 
occasion slip of making some profit. 

As to the question of the " yellow peril " I 
certainly would not be so rash as to make any 
prophecy. The question is, I suppose, will the 
Chinese ever adopt Western methods, as the 
Japanese have done, in order to drive foreigners 
from their country and to assume a leading and 
threatening part in the affairs of the world. 

In order to do this they would have to cease 
being what they are at present. They would have 
to become " patriots " in the sense of organising 
themselves into a competitive machine. 

52 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

Philosophically the Chinaman is an individualist 
in that he prizes the quality of the individual life 
lived more dearly than the place of his country in 
the arena of nations ; but practically the individual 
does not exist in China. 

The unit of society in China is not the individual 
but the family; the members of the family are 
fractions of the whole ; a family is responsible for 
the good behaviour of its members,* a neighbour- 
hood for its inhabitants, and an official for those 
whom he governs ; the conservation, preservation, 
and perpetuation of the family are the aims of 
human society. The Chinaman, therefore, is a 
patriarchalist, and his aim is peace. 

Nevertheless the victory of the Japanese over 
European troops may very likely produce a change 
of some kind. Monsieur Anatole France, in his 
latest book, wittily says that what we have to fear 
from the yellow peril is nothing in comparison with 
what the Chinese have to fear from the " white peril," 
and that so far the Chinese have not yet looted 
the Louvre, nor has a Chinese fleet bombarded 
Cherbourg. I should say that the yellow peril will 
depend for its reality and extent entirely on this : 
how seriously the Chinese will consider the " white 
peril" to be? and how obnoxious will Europeans 
make themselves to the Chinese ? If the Europeans 

* It is impossible for a fraudulent bankrupt to settle his goods on 
his wife or family, as the family must make good his losses. 

53 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

appear to them to step over the limit of what is 
bearable, they will take measures accordingly. 

But the war has introduced a new and serious 
factor into the case. The Chinese have now 
realised that so far from the white races being 
invincible owing to their guns, their engines, and 
all the attributes of their superior civilisation, they 
can be thoroughly well beaten by yellow men who 
use the implements of the white race with far 
greater effect and skill than they do themselves. 

There is also in China a Young Chinese party 
which is all for reform and for following the 
example of the Japanese. The British encourage 
this party and imagine that such a reconstruction 
would be of great advantage to Europeans and 
especially to the British ; not long ago one of the 
newspapers wrote an article called " The Arming of 
China" and " Increase of British Prestige/' making 
these statements as if the second part was the logical 
result of the first. One of the most competent 
observers of Chinese affairs told me that he con- 
sidered this point of view to be erroneous. " There 
are," he said, " two anti-foreign parties in China, 
the Boxers and the Young Chinese party, but both 
are agreed as to one fundamental tenet, and that is 
" China for the Chinese." Should the Young 
Chinese party be ever successful in getting the 
upper hand and enforcing reforms, so far from there 
being any increase of British prestige there would 

54 



KHARBIN AND MUKDEN 

be a universal tendency to kick every foreigner out 
of China, after having previously cut off their noses, 
and then the Chinese would return to their own 
avocations. " But," he added, " it is a very difficult 
matter to force such an idea into a British head, 
because the British think that reform must neces- 
sarily be accompanied by enlightened and generous 
ideas such as the partition of China and the 
exploitation of its wealth by the British, open doors 
and a parliament, a habeas corpus act and con- 
cessions. " But believe me," he said finally, 
" Chinese reform means the end of all European 
prestige. If China is ever powerful in the way that 
Japan is, the Chinese will make very little difference 
between the British, the Germans, the Belgians, 
and the Hun-hutzes." 

People say airily "the Chinese are so backward, 
poor things " ; my advice to such people is to go 
and see. They will find that the Chinese arrived 
at a certain level of civilisation centuries ago and 
remained there, because they saw nothing in the 
progress of other countries which tempted them to 
imitate it. They anticipated our so-called civilisa- 
tion and deliberately discarded it, since they did not 
consider that it would tend to greater happiness in 
the long run. 

They are not ambitious and they are satisfied 
with a little. To them the important thing is not 
the quantity of things achieved in life, but the 

55 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

quality of the life lived. They are not in a hurry ; 
for that reason they fail to see why a motor-car is a 
better vehicle than a rickshaw, because if no one is 
in a hurry, there is no disadvantage in proceeding 
in a leisurely fashion. 

They see us spending our whole lives in hurrying 
after something, in aiming at being somebody, in 
kicking others aside in order to get somewhere. 
They continue the game for the sake of the game 
and not for the sake of winning any concrete prize. 
They are honest and hard-working, cultivated, 
intelligent, good - mannered, and good - tempered. 
They hate fighting, brawling, noise of all kinds, 
drunkenness and bad manners. Are they so very 
backward ? 



CHAPTER IV 

LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

T ARRIVED at Liaoyang on the 22nd of June. 
** Liaoyang is only fifty miles from Mukden, and 
the journey took nearly twelve hours. Liaoyang, as 
a town, resembles Mukden only it is less impos- 
ing, and perhaps even more picturesque and more 
dirty ; the environs are certainly more beautiful. 
Like Mukden it is surrounded by a big wall ; only 
at Mukden the town has overflowed and formed 
large suburbs ; at Liaoyang there is only a small 
suburb on the east side of the town. As at 
Mukden, there was a collection of small brick-built 
government offices clustered round the railway 
station. 

There was far more animation at Liaoyang than 
at Mukden ; General Kouropatkin was at Ta-shi-chiao 
when I arrived ; but nevertheless one felt that one 
was somewhere near a war. Streams of carts poured 
through the town, the green two-wheeled carts 
called dvoogolkas which the Russians use for their 
transport ; troops frequently marched through the 
streets and officers arrived at the hotel on their way 
to or from the front. 

57 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

The hotel was kept by a Greek ; it was not very 
comfortable, and the flies gave one but little peace ; 
still there was an atmosphere of gaiety about Liao- 
yang, a constant stream of arrivals, a bustle and life 
which did not exist in Mukden. I spent a week at 
the hospital, being laid up at Dr Westwater's house, 
a part of which he has very kindly turned into an 
hospital. Dr Westwater is almost the only foreigner 
in Manchuria who has any prestige in the eyes of 
the Chinese. He has lived at Liaoyang for many 
years, and the Chinese, not excepting the Hun- 
hutzes and the Boxers, regard him as a kind of 
divinity. He is equally popular and respected 
among the Russians, and was attached to their Red 
Cross during the Chinese campaign. He made 
a part of his house into an hospital, and looked 
after such of the correspondents and military 
attaches who fell ill. 

His garden was a most ideal spot, and testified to 
the extraordinary fertility of the soil you sow a seed 
one day, and on the morrow you notice a herbaceous 
border. Every kind of vegetable grows there. 
With regard to this, strangely mistaken ideas are 
prevalent in England ; people used to say that it 
would be impossible for the Russians to carry on the 
war in Manchuria, as they would not be able to live 
on the country, whereas it is owing to the fact of 
Manchuria being what it is that the war was possible 
at all. Russia could have supported an army of a 

58 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

million men in Manchuria without importing a single 
sack of flour from Russia. 

In a normal year there is a big enough export 
from Newchang to feed an army. Moreover, the 
granary of Manchuria is the district north of Mukden 
which up to a short time ago had been practically 
untouched. To talk about the Russian resources 
being exhausted because Liaoyang had been taken, 
was equivalent to saying that because London was 
taken the resources of an army occupying all the 
country north of the Trent were at an end. Practi- 
cally, all the supply that the Russians import 
from Russia consists of bread, sugar, biscuits, 
and coffee. 

Again, they had in Mongolia an inexhaustible 
supply of horses and cattle on which they could 
draw. If there was occasionally a shortage of food 
it was not owing to lack of supplies, but to lack of 
time, as is always the case on forced marches. 

What a country for the disciples of Mr Haig and 
Mrs Earle ! What a delightful pot-pourri could be 
written from a Manchurian garden ! In connection 
with this, Dr Westwater told me that he performed 
the most serious operations on the Chinese without 
any rise of temperature occurring, and he attributed 
this to the fact that they eat no meat. 

At Liaoyang my Chinese servant left me, partly 
because I had paid him his wages, partly because I 
was going to the front, and partly because I gently 

59 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

kicked him out of the room one day when he had 
not come near me because it was a Chinese feast. 
He said he had lost face and must therefore leave 
my service. 

Lord Brooke, Reuter's correspondent, and I 
engaged two Montenegrin servants, named re- 
spectively Georgio and Siacco, who were after- 
wards the source of no little trouble. 

On the 1 3th of July we received the news that we 
were allowed to go to the front, and on the i5th I 
left with Brooke for Ta-shi-chiao, together with two 
Montenegrins, two mules, and five ponies which it 
took twelve hours to entrain. Brooke and I had 
been appointed to the cavalry division of the ist 
Siberian Army Corps, consisting of four regiments 
of Siberian Cossacks, a regiment of Dragoons, and 
the 2nd Trans-Baikal battery under the command of 
General Samsonoff. I stayed a day and a night at 
Ta-shi-chiao, and lived in the vestry of the Roman 
Catholic Church with MM. Nodeau and Roucouli, 
the correspondents of the Journal and the Temps. 

General Samsonoff was himself at Ta-shi-chiao, 
being indisposed after months of ceaseless and ex- 
hausting work. His place was being taken by 
General Kossagofsky. I proceeded to join my 
division, which was occupying a small village 
south-west of that place. 

I started early in the morning and found the 
village without much difficulty. The general was 

60 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

away, but I was received by two officers of the 
4th Siberian Cossack Regiment who were camping 
in a small Chinese kitchen-garden. They gave me 
some excellent soup, and some chicken, and tea, 
followed immediately afterwards by coffee, and 
received me with that kind of natural, simple 
hospitality which is more precious than rubies, 
and is, in fact, the real true courtesy. One thinks 
of the elaborate counterfeit of good manners, the 
studied phrases of those who, being denuded of the 
true gift, aim at a kind of Louis XIV. style of com- 
plicated civility, and one shudders. These Cossack 
officers were real Cossacks. They had spent most 
of their life in the wilds of I do not quite know what 
inaccessible region, with no fellow-companions save 
the soldiers under them and Chinese peasants. 

During my stay in Manchuria I met almost every 
kind of Russian officer : guardsmen who had ex- 
changed into cavalry regiments ; men who had been 
there for years ; officers from provincial Russian towns, 
from Siberian towns, from the Caucasus, from 
Moscow, from Perm, from Omsk, from the German 
frontier ; men who had travelled all over the world, 
and spoke every language ; others who had lived 
all their life in Siberia, or the Trans-Baikal regions, 
or Manchuria. I found that the good qualities 
which distinguish the best of them were the same ; 
the same, in fact, which are instantly recognisable in 
all classes of all countries, consisting of that absence 

61 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

of swagger, conceit, and self-consciousness which 
makes a boy liked at Eton. Never have I met 
with more perfect examples of this type than these 
two wild Cossacks. There are plenty of other types 
who, without possessing these qualities, which are 
often even conspicuously absent, are nevertheless 
good-natured and likeable. Tolstoi in his Sebas- 
topol sketches shows us all types of the Russian 
officer and soldier, with his marvellous searchlight of 
truth and genius. But it was not until I had lived 
among them that I realised how faithful his portraits 
were. The cavalry officers seemed to me superior 
to the infantry officer ; but of the infantry I had 
practically but little experience. The officers and 
men of the Siberian army seemed to me superior 
to those of the Russian army proper: that is to 
say, they knew their business better. The Russian 
officers have been greatly abused ; they are re- 
presented as incompetent drunkards, brutal, stupid, 
and unconscientious. Military instruction, as far 
as I can judge, they do seem to lack ; but I do 
not see that we are exactly the people to throw 
stones at them on that account. 

As to the question of incompetence, it seems to 
me that the system is more at fault than the officers. 
There is a general want of organisation, cohesion, 
and discipline in the whole army ; and the fault 
comes more from above than from below. 

With regard to the question of drunkenness, the 

62 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

only fact which seems to me important on the 
matter is that at the actual front there was no 
drunkenness. There was nothing to drink except 
tea, and occasional extremely limited doles of vodka. 

It is quite true that officers sometimes got drunk 
at Liaoyang and Mukden, but Liaoyang and 
Mukden were not the front. Certain facts must 
also be taken into consideration : when Russians 
drink they drink a great deal harder than we do ; 
they drink vodka, which is brandy brandy for 
heroes, as Dr Johnson said. Secondly, that Liao- 
yang and, subsequently, Mukden were, during the 
war, in the same relation to the front (since Kharbin 
was too far off to be easily accessible, it taking 
sometimes as much time to reach Kharbin from 
Mukden as it would to reach Constantinople from 
London) as Capetown during the South African 
war. Therefore, when officers arrived there for 
a short respite from the privations and hardships 
of life at the front, they felt entitled to enjoy them- 
selves. The important fact is that they were not 
drunk in the field, that they were not drunk when 
they should have been in discharge of their duties ; 
and that if they liked drink or not it did not 
prevent them from being brave men, and dying 
with alacrity. I never heard any foreign witness 
during the war, however critical, cast any aspersions 
on their courage. 

Thirdly, there was an intermediate class of men 

63 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

who were not officers by nature, but who had come 
out to the war from curiosity, and wore a uniform ; 
this class was the most conspicuous at places like 
Liaoyang and Mukden, and tended to create a 
false impression. This was more noticeable at the 
beginning of the war. After two or three months 
General Kouropatkin weeded the army of its noxious 
elements with a ruthless hand. With regard to 
the question of general tenue, there were, it is true, 
some bad exceptions ; but the general truth with 
regard to the officers who were at the front, is 
that they may lack instruction and may be deficient 
in many things, but as a rule they are brave men 
who do their duty. 

I will give an instance to show what I mean. 
I was entertained at Kharbin by a certain officer 
who gave to me and some friends of mine a gener- 
ous feast, which resulted in our host being inebriate 
for at least thirty-six hours. That same officer I 
happen to know never left his regiment during the 
time I spent in Manchuria, which was always at 
the extreme front, except for one day ; and his 
regiment was kept continually at work, with only 
the bare necessaries of life till men and horses 
could do no more. 

But a foreigner, had he seen that man in Kharbin, 
would have put him down as a hopeless case. 
During the whole time I was attached to a home 
battery I never saw a single case of drunkenness 

64 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI CHIAO 

among the officers, even when we were quartered at 
Mukden. Before we started for the battle of the 
Sha-ho I managed to buy a dozen bottles of cham- 
pagne from the store. I expected that we should 
have a great carouse. This was not the case. Some- 
what to my astonishment a glass apiece was dealt 
out, and the rest was laid by, by the head of the 
mess, for future occasions, against the event of there 
being guests. Of course it was impossible to carry 
about any quantity of wine or spirits when we were 
at the front, and the only places where carouses of 
any kind were possible were towns such as Mukden 
and Liaoyang and Kharbin. 

While I lived with General Kossagofsky's staff, 
I met some very fine fellows. The most remark- 
able was a young man called Egoroff. He had 
passed all his examinations, and was offered a 
place on the general staff, which he refused, as 
he preferred a more modest situation at the front, 
where he would be sure of getting some fighting. 
He was a splendidly built, good-looking young 
fellow, exceedingly modest, and well educated. He 
was always at his post, and took part in every 
single small engagement which presented itself. He 
was a born leader of men, and saved the situation 
when a panic occurred among the Cossacks of his 
division at Yantai. 

Somehow or other fate was against him, and he 
never had an opportunity of brilliantly distinguish- 
E 65 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

ing himself, and he was one of those men who 
never push or put themselves to the fore. Many 
men during the war gained a great reputation owing 
to some lucky fluke, and more or less rested on 
their laurels. He, I think, worked as hard as 
anyone; if there was kudos to be gained or not, 
he was always there, and had gained no remunera- 
tion except the inward satisfaction which nobody 
can take away from him ; that glow which Keats 
said made him so indifferent to praise or blame. 
He answered to the description of a brave man 
that one of the characters gives in Tolstoi's Sebas- 
opol sketches, namely a man who always behaves 
as he should do, a definition which Tolstoi points 
out closely resembles Plato's definition of courage. 
He struck one as if he had stepped out of one of 
Shakespeare's historical plays, and he could be cast 
for the part of Hotspur or Henry V. During the war 
met with counterparts of nearly all the individuals 
portrayed by Shakespeare in his historical plays, 
and heard conversations almost identically the same 
as those recorded in Henry V. among the soldiers 
in the English lines the night before the battle of 
Agincourt. This man impressed me as much as 
any man I met during the war. 

But apart from a phoenix of this kind I met a 
great many officers who struck me as good fellows, 
and who did their work well. The good officers 
remained at the front ; the inferior kind used to 

66 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

hang about the stations, until General Kouropatkin 
put a stop to this. One point which certainly 
deserves to be mentioned was the extraordinary 
hospitality of the Russian officers. Hospitality is 
a quality which is universal in Russia ; it is equally 
remarkable in all classes ; among officers, soldiers, 
moujiks, tinkers, and thieves. 

Whenever one passed by an officer's quarters 
he invariably invited one to come and to partake 
of something, and however little he had for 
himself, he gave you of his best. It was quite 
extraordinary to see what a fuss they made about 
a guest. The first example I had of this was 
in the train from Kharbin to Mukden, when I 
was in General Holodovsky's carriage. I did 
not know him beyond a mere formal introduc- 
tion at the railway station, and he at once sent 
me tea, biscuits, and a candle to read by. 
Every morning he sent his servant to see that 
I had everything I wanted, and one evening at 
Mukden when I told him that my foot was 
hurting me, he at once set out before I could 
stop him to get a doctor from the Red Cross. 
I wondered whether it was usual for generals to 
take such trouble about war-correspondents. But 
where it was more remarkable still was at the 
front when officers at once put the small luxuries 
they had at your disposal. They were not satisfied 
with your taking one helping or one glass, but 

67 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

insisted on your satisfying yourself to repletion. 
I have already described the soldiers' hospitality ; 
it was impossible to watch them eating without 
their at once offering you a share, and often I 
was glad of the offer. The officers who hung 
about the stations, and there were too many such 
men, were of a different order, and sometimes the 
fact of being a correspondent put one at their mercy. 

The correspondents wore a red badge on their 
left arm, which often proved to be a red badge of 
suspicion. The badge had the drawback, which 
was in some cases an advantage, of putting one 
at the mercy of a casual inquisitive stranger, who 
regarded one as public property, a thing to be 
looked at like a penny-in-the-slot machine. This 
is the kind of conversation I constantly had with 
strangers : 

"What is that red mark on your arm?" (Very 
often they knew this, and the opening was varied. 
Sometimes it took the form of " Come here, 
correspondent") 

" I'm a correspondent." 

" What country ? " " I'm an Englishman." (This 
produced a somewhat chilling effect generally.) 

" What newspaper ? " " The Morning Post" (I 
find everybody knows the Morning Post by name, 
and considered it by far the most Russophobe news- 
paper.)- Ah ! " (effect bad). 

Sometimes I made the acquaintance of someone 

68 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

casually, and it was only in the course of con- 
versation that the fact that I was a correspondent 
was known, the red badge being often confused 
with the badge of the Red Cross, which it in 
no way resembled. I found that in general the 
correspondent was regarded as a kind of Sherlock 
Holmes, and was credited with being aware of the 
plans of both armies by a process of induction. 
But one thing I have always found I have 
found it in every country that I have travelled 
in, but more especially when one wore a red 
badge that the man who at once comes up to 
one and effusively makes friends is a bore, and 
very often not a high-class person ; and I often 
sat for hours at a railway station exchanging 
mirthless jests and drinking endless toasts in vile 
liquors with these importunate strangers. There 
were exceptions, of course, even to this rule. But 
the best sort of people were those I either met by 
accident or by introduction, but not those who 
went out of their way to make my acquaintance. 
The red badge not only attracted the military, 
but put one at the mercy of all the nondescript 
class of officials, clerks, merchants, Greeks, and 
camp-followers, and all such people who hang about 
an army. With such, however, it was easier to deal. 
There was also another kind of officer, who to 
my mind was worse than the class who haunted 
the stations. 

69 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

The type will be found in any army ; in Russia 
it is more objectionable owing to the political 
situation of the people. The qualities that dis- 
tinguish him are a violent and uncompromising 
Jingo spirit, a narrow mind, a blustering and 
swaggering manner. Officers of this kind talk of 
the privates as if they were brutes, utterly devoid 
of either intelligence or human feeling of any kind ; 
whereas they little know how far more intelligent 
the private soldiers are than themselves. Such 
men fill one with a revolutionary spirit when one 
hears them talk. 

Their counterpart exists, alas, all over the world, 
and they are responsible for some of the stupidest 
acts that have ever been committed. It is only 
fair to add that I met very few men of this type, 
and none in the corps to which I was attached. 

To go back to my military life, I presented my- 
self later on in the day to General Kossagofsky, 
who received me with the utmost cordiality, and 
gave orders that I should be provided with quarters, 
and everything that I wanted. I was installed with 
the intendant and the regimental doctor in a Chinese 
house, as the guest of the Staff, and told to make 
myself at home. There I spent three pleasant 
days, getting up at sunrise, and going to bed at 
nine ; there was a lull for the moment in events, 
though every now and then we heard firing. I 
spent most of these days lying out in the fields 

70 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

talking with the officers. On the evening of the 
22nd, I rode into Ta-shi-chiao to see how things 
were going there. At dawn the next morning I 
was wakened by the noise of guns, which seemed 
to be very near. I made ready to ride out im- 
mediately, but my servant brought me the news 
that my pony had been stolen during the night. 
The house was infested with Chinese boys and 
mafoos (grooms), who were Christians and spoke 
French two bad signs. I asked what steps had 
been taken to recover the pony. My servant said 
he had been to the police, who had inscribed in a 
book the names, ancestors, domicile, and religion 
of the horse and its owner, and that the necessary 
proceedings would be taken in due course. As 
this process seemed to be likely to involve delay, 
I adopted another. I took every Chinese in the 
house by the pigtail, and thrashed them one after 
the other, and said I would continue to do so 
until the pony was brought back. I also gave a 
small coin to one of the mafoos, a certain Vasili, 
who was the greatest scoundrel of the lot. 

This sounds brutal and disgusting, but it was the 
only way to get my pony back ; and had I not done 
so, I should have been taken prisoner by the 
Japanese, and sent home. In half-an-hour's time I 
was informed that the pony had returned of its own 
accord. It walked in at the gate with its headstall 
in perfect order, showing that it had not broken 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

loose. I started at once in the direction of the 
firing, but unfortunately this delay caused me to 
miss the first engagement. 

The Japanese had advanced and opened fire from 
the hills due south of Ta-shi-chiao, and the Russians 
by the time I arrived the position was roughly 
about ten versts from Ta-shi-chiao had retired from 
the first position with insignificant losses. The 
general position was like this : From Ta-shi-chiao 
southwards a perfectly flat green plain extends to the 
south, flanked to the east and to the west by a range 
of kopjes ; about ten miles due south there is also a 
range of hills. A road intersects the centre of the 
plain from Ta-shi-chiao to the south. To the west, 
in the centre of the plain, not far from the road, is 
an isolated kopje. To the east the range of hills is 
quite close to the road, to the west the plain extends 
for a considerable distance. The Russians retired 
from their first position, which was the range of hills 
due south, and established a battery to the east 
between their first position and their second position, 
which consisted of a high range of kopjes to the 
east. From this half-way position they opened 
fire on the Japanese, who were establishing a 
battery on the position just evacuated by the 
Russians. 

The firing lasted about three hours and a half. 
The commanding officer stood on a small mound, 
the battery beneath him, some distance away. 

72 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

Behind us a regiment of Cossacks was concealed in 
the tall kowliang. (Kowliang is giant millet, which 
grows so tall that a regiment can remain concealed 
in it, and could march, if the men picked stalks, as 
the army of Macduff marched on Macbeth, like a 
moving forest.) 

On the east side of the road, about two hundred 
yards behind the mound, was an exiguous village. 
The Japanese made no answer to the Russian fire. 
After a time, in the scorching heat, I walked back 
to the village, where my pony was tied up with those 
of a detachment of the Red Cross. This was about 
noon. The Russian guns were firing steadily, and 
the noise was loud. I was talking to a man of the 
Red Cross whom I knew. " We shall retreat very 
soon," he said. I said I supposed the Japanese 
would fire on us as we retreated. " They have been 
firing on us for the last five minutes," he replied, 
and then I noticed that the house to which most of 
the ponies had been tied had been damaged by a 
shell, and on walking across the road I saw that a 
house on the right had been blown up. 

Our firing ceased, and we began to retreat. One 
Cossack had been killed in the village. The 
Japanese fired on us as we retreated through the 
kowliang, but without doing any damage. A little 
further down we emerged on the open road, and 
were joined by a regiment of infantry which had 
also been concealed in the kowliang. Looking 

73 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

round I saw that the little village was in flames. 
That was all that happened on Saturday. 

As a big fight was expected the next day I rode 
into the town, and started in the evening to find my 
division. This was no easy matter, as it had 
rained in the afternoon, and the small streams had 
become impassable floods. I eventually found the 
Cossacks bivouacking in the village where they had 
been before. I shall never forget that ride through 
the kowliang, in a sunset which suffused the earth 
and sky with an unearthly softness, and later on in 
the moonlight, which seemed to be at pains to soothe 
the earth after the noise and dust and heat of the 
day of toil and fighting. 

I slept on the side of the road in the lee of a wall, 
and woke with the first streak of day, while the 
morning star was yet bright and isolated in the still- 
ness and the glimmer of the dawn. Nothing was 
audible. I had the ponies saddled, and was given 
some tea, hot potatoes, and eggs, by an officer. 
Then the sun rose, and almost with its first shaft of 
light firing was heard. I immediately made for the 
Russian second position. 

The Japanese opened fire from the east, 
and soon afterwards from the south-east. The 
Russians had three batteries to the east, and three 
to the south-east, and later on one by the isolated 
kopje to the west. An artillery duel began, which 
lasted all day and until after sunset. The Japanese 

74 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

were a long time in determining the Russian posi- 
tions, and when they did so their shells did not 
manage to find the batteries themselves. I took 
up my position where the infantry and artillery 
reserve were in waiting by the village, and rode out 
now and then to see how things were going at 
different points. The shells were falling in the 
plain. Early in the morning a regiment of infantry 
was sent up the road southwards, but the Japanese 
opened fire on them and they retired to the village. 
The Red Cross were in attendance not far from one 
of the batteries, but during the morning I saw no 
wounded brought back. 

The aspect of the field of action was briefly this. 
In the distance a low range of very soft blue hills, 
to the west a stretch of brilliant vivid green, out of 
which the cone of the isolated kopje rose. To the 
east dark green hills, with patches of sand, and at 
their base the brilliant green kowliang. In the 
centre the hot sandy road. Heat, blazing heat, 
everywhere. Not many trees a few near the 
village a cloudless burning sky, and a ceaseless 
deafening noise. The Japanese shells were burst- 
ing in puffs of brown and grey, and the sky was 
full of little clouds of smoke, as if someone was 
blowing rings of tobacco smoke across the moun- 
tains. Every now and then Cossacks appeared in 
the kowliang, or a shell would burst in the plain. 
In the evening I ascended one of the hills, but my 

75 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

field-glasses had been carried off in the shifting 
transport of my division, and I could see nothing 
in detail, though the positions lay beneath me as 
clear as a map. 

During nearly the whole of the day I was among 
the artillery of the reserve and transport and some 
detached Cossacks, and shared their midday meal. 
The more I saw of the Russian soldiers the more 
my admiration for them increased. More splendid 
fighting material it would be impossible to conceive. 
They will endure any hardships, any fatigue without 
a murmur. They take everything as it comes, 
smiling. 

They have the supreme quality of making the 
best of everything good-naturedly, and without 
grumbling. Early on Sunday morning as I 
rode out to the position I fell in with a detach- 
ment of transport. They had never stopped 
for a moment's rest. They were exhausted and 
hungry, and had settled down to have their tea 
when the man (he was not an officer, or even a 
sergeant) who was in charge of them announced 
that they would have to do without tea as there 
was no time. The men merely remarked : " This 
morning we shall not drink tea," and I didn't hear a 
single grumble. Secondly, their good nature and 
kindness were quite extraordinary. I had end- 
less examples of it on various occasions. During 
the journey which I have previously described I 

76 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

was treated as a distinguished guest ; but here, in 
the theatre of war itself, I experienced something 
different, and perhaps unique, that is the way they 
treat strangers whom they consider as equals. 
After a week's campaigning, wearing a very dirty 
Russian shirt, and having a half-grown beard, I 
was taken by the soldiers many times for a kind of 
detached private. One man asked me if I came from 
the Caucasus ; another asked me if I was on leave. 
One Cossack asked my servant, when I was riding 
to the staff, where his master was ; he pointed to 
me. " No," said the Cossack, " where's your 
master?" I said I was he. "I thought," he 
answered, " you were a simple (ordinary) man " 
(Prostoi chelovjek). I first noticed this owing to the 
fact that I was addressed by soldiers as zemliak or 
zemliachok, which in Russian is equivalent to the 
French word "un pays," and means countryman. 
It is especially used among soldiers as a familiar 
way of hailing somebody. I always hastily ex- 
plained that I was a foreigner, an Englishman, and 
a correspondent, but that never seemed to make 
much difference. 

They gave me of their best when they had got 
little for themselves, tea with two lumps of sugar, 
when sugar was precious. One man gave me a 
tin of soup, because, he said, I should want it in 
the evening. If I offered them money they 
refused it. When I said I was a correspondent 

77 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

they at once asked me to foretell the future of the 
campaign in accurate detail, and were disappointed 
when I told them that I knew even less than they 
did of what was going on in the present, let alone the 
future. Once, when I was in Liaoyang, I had been 
given the receipt of a telegram on which the name of 
the person to whom the telegram had been addressed 
was written in Russian. I could not decipher the 
name, and asked the Censor's Cossack servant what 
it was. He patted me on the back and said, " No, 
little pigeon, I'm like you ; I can't read, or write, 
either." (Ja toshe nie gramotni.) 

Soon after noon, when one of the batteries was 
relieved, only three of its men had been wounded. 
All the morning the Japanese fire had seemed con- 
centrated on this battery. In the afternoon firing 
began further east and west, and the Russians 
placed a battery near the isolated kopje. Towards 
six o'clock all firing on the west ceased. The 
spirits of the Russians rose as the day went on. 
The number of wounded was very small ; men were 
brought in on stretchers every now and then, but 
most of them had succumbed to the sun, which was 
unbearably hot. I myself saw only five wounded 
men brought in, but I only had two batteries within 
the immediate range of my inspection. Towards 
sunset the Japanese fire had greatly diminished. 
Two batteries were said to be out of action. Their 
infantry had not shown itself. It seemed that their 

78 



LTAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

advance was checked. The Russian batteries were 
intact. Firing ceased at nine o'clock in the evening. 
It had lasted fifteen hours without a moment's break. 
The Russian fire had seemingly proved most effec- 
tive, while the behaviour of the men and the general 
management of the batteries were admirable. 

When I arrived home at nine o'clock in the 
evening I was met by an extraordinarily ludicrous 
situation. Two Chinamen had just arrived to re- 
build the church, and had pulled down the altar, 
and at the top of the ladder were working at a new 
frieze. The Chinese have no sense of time, and 
they began to work at nine o'clock in the evening, 
probably because they had been busied with other 
affairs during the day. Secondly, the two Mon- 
tenegrins, Giorgio and Siacco, were quarrelling in 
the yard, and throwing brushes and pans at each 
other. Thirdly, one of the Chinese boys had 
prepared me a hot bath in the middle of the yard. 
A gunner arrived who had been fighting all day, 
sweating, grimy and extenuated with fatigue. He 
asked a Chinaman for a drop of water. The China- 
man told him to get out as quickly as possible. 
That was like a Chinaman. I gave him some hot 
tea with half a tumbler of cognac in it, and noticing 
that the building was a church, the gunner went 
in and said a prayer. Then I tried to stop the 
Montenegrins from quarrelling, upon which Giorgio 
said he would shoot me. They were both armed 

79 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

to the teeth. I dismissed him from my service. 
He refused to go, alleging that he was Brooke's 
servant, and not mine (which was not true). 
Brooke had left two days previously, leaving his 
horses behind, and having meant to return in a 
day or two. I went into the town to find the 
police, and there I heard that a general retreat 
had been ordered, and that Ta-shi-chiao was to 
be evacuated. The news produced great depres- 
sion, and seemed inexplicable. It was owing, I 
suppose, to the fear of the Japanese turning the 
Russians' left flank. And what had apparently 
happened was that each flank had considered itself 
unsupported. Many competent authorities, among 
others Colonel Goedke, maintain that the retreat was 
unnecessary. At the time it certainly seemed so. 
An instance of the untrustworthiness of the reports 
that come from the coast of China was furnished to 
me when I read a month later in the English news- 
papers that it was reported from Newchang that 
Ta-shi-chiao had been taken on Sunday night at 
the point of the bayonet. 

When I learnt that the retreat had been ordered 
I saw that whatever happened the Montenegrin must 
stay, as I could not possibly take five ponies and 
two mules back to Liaoyang. (Brooke had left his 
horses at Ta-shi-chiao, meaning to return.) 

I started the next morning with Mr Dourkovitch, 
a Polish artist, five ponies, two mules, two Monte- 

80 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

negrins, and two Chinamen. The Montenegrins 
quarrelled as we started over a piece of string, and 
Giorgio called Siacco a mule ; Siacco said that 
he wouldn't move a step out of Ta-shi-chiao. I 
finally pacified him and persuaded him to start. It 
was a blazing hot day. We soon passed through 
the town and station of Ta-shi-chiao. The 
transport was retreating, the station was ready 
for destruction, the buffet had sold out its last 
bottle of wine, and its last cigarette. The whole 
place had the appearance of a race-course the day 
after a race-meeting. Everything was empty 
and desolate, but there was no confusion nor 
disorder not more than you would observe in 
an empty bee-hive where only the honeycombs 
remain. We followed the transport ; but we met no 
retreating regiments ; they were fighting a rear- 
guard action. Firing was audible at first, but not 
after eight o'clock. I was struck by the leisurely 
way in which the transport retreated. It seemed to 
go on comfortably and automatically without officers. 
I only met one captain from 6 A.M. to midday, and 
very few sergeants. Colonel Goedke, the military 
critic of the Berliner Tageblatt, remarked to me 
the next day that he too had been struck by the 
extremely calm manner in which the retreat was 
being conducted. " In Germany," he said, "it would 
probably be done more quickly, and more smartly, 
but there would be more cursing and swearing, 
F 81 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

more fuss." It struck me that in this case the 
Slav temperament showed the qualities of its defects. 
The Russians with their habit of doing their duty 
in their own leisurely fashion like automata did it 
just as well without orders as with. 

It grew hotter and hotter. At midday we rested 
for three hours under the shade of some trees. 
There were many wells on the road. At the 
beginning of the campaign I used not to drink 
water at all ; then I used to put capsules of per- 
manganate of potassium in the water ; finally, on 
this march, and from that time forward, I drank any 
water that was to be got. The water must have 
been very good in Manchuria. Otherwise the 
whole of the Russian army would have been laid up 
with dysentery. The soldiers drank any water they 
could get, however dirty, and they eat a great quan- 
tity of raw cucumbers and unripe melons with the 
rind. There was very little dysentery, and the 
cases were, as a rule, not severe, and arose generally, 
I think, from people eating the horrible concoctions 
that came from Shanghai, or from drinking iced beer. 
While we were resting under the trees, Giorgio 
and Siacco quarrelled once more. Giorgio had 
been sulking during the whole of the morning, and 
the consequence was one of the mules was lost. A 
search had been instituted in the beanfields and 
kowliang. Finally one of the Chinamen found it. 

We resumed our march about three o'clock in the 
afternoon and leaving the transport went by a road 

82 



LIAOYANG TO TA-SHI-CHIAO 

over the hills. Towards six o'clock we again heard 
sounds of firing. We arrived at Haichen at seven 
o'clock in the evening. M. Dourkovitch went to 
the French missionaries and I sent my ponies 
thither also, intending to take the night train for 
Liaoyang. I arrived at the station and asked when 
the train started. " Nie iswiestno It is not known," 
was the answer an answer I knew so well. Being 
used to fifteen-hour waits at these Chinese stations 
I troubled little about the train, and being told that 
no one knew when it was to start I went to have 
some food. I thus managed to do what was very 
difficult in these times : to miss the train. I set out 
for the town. The gates were closed for the night. 
I returned to the deserted station half dead with 
fatigue. It began to rain. I fell on a chair outside 
the buffet ; an official told me I must not sleep on 
that chair anywhere else, but not there. I lay 
down on the ground of the platform a little further 
up. A soldier had been watching the proceedings. 
He waited till I was asleep, then he brought his 
own matting, lifted me up, put it under me, built a 
small tent of matting over me, and brought me a 
sack as a pillow. I woke up and protested against 
taking his belongings, but he insisted, and made 
himself comfortable with a greatcoat and a piece of 
matting. The next morning he brought me a cup 
of hot tea at dawn. I offered him a rouble. He 
refused it. I never saw him again, but his " little 
unremembered act " will never be forgotten by me. 

83 



CHAPTER V 

THE RETREAT FROM HAICHEN 

TPHE next morning I sent my ponies on by road 
and resolved to wait for the train. Nobody 
seemed to know what was happening. Firing was 
heard now and again. Some people said Haichen 
was to be evacuated immediately, and others that 
the decisive battle of the war would take place 
there. It was evident that a rear-guard action was 
being fought. The station was crowded with 
people. Food was still to be obtained. The lines 
were blocked with trains. A train was going to 
start for Liaoyang, but nobody knew when. After 
many hours' waiting I began to regret that I had 
not gone by road, when I heard suddenly that the 
train for Liaoyang had been made up and would 
set off immediately. I found that the train consisted 
of trucks and vans, only one or two of which seemed 
to be open to the public, and were being rapidly 
filled with soldiers and members of the Red Cross 
Service. Into two of the only other open vans 
what was in the shut vans, of which there were 
about thirty, I did not ascertain two soldiers were 
hurling bits of furniture, matting, and various odds 

84 



THE RETREAT FROM HAICHEN 

and ends. I tried to find a place in one of the vans, 
but was met with the cry, " There's no room here ! " 
and, indeed, for once the exclamation was evidently 
founded on fact. 

Next door, on the end of a shut van close to the 
buffers, two soldiers were standing with bayonets, 
guarding, apparently, a large bag of bread. " You 
can sit on this bag if you like," one of them said. I 
climbed up and watched the process of furniture- 
hurling which was going on in the next van. It 
was being carried on by two soldiers who were 
calling each other names which would not only be 
quite unprintable but seemed to be the last word 
of all abusive language. Since, however, the terms 
employed formed part and parcel of the every-day 
language of those men all their sting had gone. The 
coins were so debased by constant circulation that 
their intrinsic value had been long ago lost sight of. 
The process went on good-naturedly enough until 
one of the men called the other a sheep. This 
seemed to me to be the first harmless word which 
had been bandied during the conversation. The 
effect produced was tremendous. The man who 
was called a sheep threw down a plank he was 
handling and declared to the world at large that 
that was more than human nature could bear, that 
he refused to work with a man who called him a 
sheep, and that a man who called another a sheep 
without any reason or justification was fit to be 

85 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

killed. All this was bawled out at the top of his 
voice and interlarded with terms of abuse to find 
equivalents for which it would be necessary to have 
recourse to the language of the East, and which 
reflected slightingly on the pedigree of the man 
addressed. 

But again, these words were accepted as part of 
the vehicle of conversation, as indispensable ejacula- 
tions, such as "Good gracious!" The infuriated 
soldier finally called everyone to witness and ex- 
claimed that here was a man who had called him a 
sheep, and who was a sheep himself. This seemed 
to me rather to spoil the argument. Two officers 
arrived and told the men to go on with their work, 
but the argument was still going on when the train 
started, and the last words I heard were " Sheep ! 
sheep ! He called me a sheep ! " 

Three other soldiers climbed up to the small 
platform where I was standing before we started. 
They went to sleep almost directly, and so did I. 
We arrived in a short time at An-san-san, the first 
and only station between Haichen and Liaoyang, 
without a stop, the distance being twenty-seven 
versts. Just before we got to the station I awoke 
with a start, and in so doing knocked one of the 
soldier's rifles out of the train. He was asleep, and 
as it took him a minute or two to awaken, neither 
he nor I realised immediately what had happened. 
When he did realise his loss his consternation was 

86 



THE RETREAT FROM HAICHEN 

tremendous. He was like Little Bill, the lizard, in 
" Alice in Wonderland," when his pencil was taken 
away during the trial ; and the soldier took the rash 
course of jumping out of the train. I felt I was 
going to be responsible for his life when I saw him 
leap from the ^carriage to the line ; but fortunately, 
we were not far from the station, and the train was 
not going much faster than a quick omnibus. 

I arrived at Liaoyang in the evening, and stayed 
there till Sunday, the 3ist July. 

On Friday I heard rumours of fighting south, but 
I was prevented from starting by the fact that my 
pony was sick. I started on Sunday morning early 
for Haichen. The distance from Liaoyang to 
Haichen is fifty versts. It proved too hot to 
accomplish the journey in one day, and I passed the 
night at a small station not a railway station 
where the soldiers who guarded the line lived. 

" Can I spend the night here ? " I asked. 

" Possible," was the laconic answer. 

I rode up, unsaddled my pony, and let it graze. 
The sun had set, and it was almost dark, except for 
a hot red glow in the west. The earth seemed still 
to be breathing out heat. On either side of the 
house stretched an interminable green plain, inter- 
sected by the railway line. I lay down on the grass, 
not expecting anything further. I had had nothing 
to eat except four Chinese pancakes and some Chinese 
tea, which I had obtained in a Chinese village with 

87 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

great difficulty, after a long argument among the 
Chinamen as to whether or not I was a Hun-hu-tse. 
I will return to the question of the Chinese and their 
dealings with travellers later. 

The soldier in charge of the station he was the 
"starshe," the " senior man," i.e., the man in charge 
of the post of frontier guards, and he presently came 
and invited me to supper. It consisted of soup, 
meat, and brown bread, followed by tea. Five men 
partook of it. The senior man, my host, apologised 
for the insufficiency of the meal, and said it was the 
best he had to offer. He then went and brought his 
last remaining delicacies, some cucumber and two 
bits of sugar, putting both bits into my cup. I cannot 
give an idea of what a delicacy sugar was at this time 
at the front or on the march. The man also produced 
a still greater rarity, a small crystal of lemon extract, 
and insisted on giving it to me. I never enjoyed a 
supper more. I asked my host whether or not he 
had been a long time at this station. I thought he 
would say a week or so, but to my surprise he said 
four and a half years. Then all at once I realised 
the man's life, the life of a man in a land lighthouse, 
isolated in a plain in the south of China, at a place 
where the trains never stopped, and where European 
travellers must have been rare before the war. 

We began to talk of various places and things. 
He was one of the most simple-minded and trans- 
parent characters I have ever met, with a gift of 

88 



THE RETREAT FROM HAICHEN 

hospitality which made me feel solemn. Is there not 
a line in Byron's Don Juan where "an Arab with 
a stranger for a guest " illustrates something ineffably 
sacred. That line came into my head. The man 
was not in the least like an ordinary soldier. He 
had a wide and at the same time a confused educa- 
tion, a bewildered knowledge of remote things and 
places. He told me about some hot springs which 
were near, and then said he had been at Aden, and 
talked of the Red Sea as being quite close. I said 
the Red Sea was near Egypt. One of the other 
men then remarked that he knew better, because he 
had been to school, and that I was thinking of the 
Yellow Sea. 

I said I had been to school also, and had likewise 
been to Egypt. A third man observed that the 
Yellow Sea was a small sea which flowed into the 
Black Sea, and that the Red Sea lay indubitably 
between Japan and China. 

" It is near Colombo," one of them explained. " I 
have been to Colombo." 

" Does Colombo belong to Great Britain?" asked 
one. "Yes!" answered the other; "there are 
Englishmen in Colombo. Everything belongs to 
Great Britain, and they have now taken Thibet." 
" No ! " rejoined another, " Colombo is near America, 
and belongs to America at least so I have been 
told." 

I was too exhausted to take any active part in the 

89 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

conversation, or even to ask the senior man who and 
what he was. I could only drift on the stream of 
talk that was going on. After supper they made me 
a most comfortable bed with some hay and a blanket 
and a pillow out in the field. 

" You will be more comfortable here than indoors," 
remarked the senior. " There are too many insects 
indoors." 

He then brought me some more tea with his last 
little crystal of lemon extract, and wished me good- 
night. I thanked him for his hospitality. He then 
crossed himself, and bade me welcome in the name 
of heaven and the saints. I felt that I had met one 
of the characters in Hans Andersen's fairy tales. 
This man might have come, for instance, into that 
beautiful story of the " Travelling Companions." 
He had just that transparent, simple and infinitely 
benignant character which Andersen alone could 
depict. The fact struck Siacco, who was with me 
alone this time, and who remarked with awe that it 
was extraordinary to see what infinite trouble these 
people took to do honour to a guest. 

I started at dawn the next morning, and arrived 
at eight o'clock at a village where the Red Cross was 
established. I had already met men belonging to the 
transport, who said they were retreating from Hai- 
chen and that there had been incessant fighting 
during the last three days. I was entertained by 
the Red Cross representatives and given tea and 

90 



THE RETREAT FROM HAICHEN 

eggs, and while I was there they arranged to retreat 
north at five o'clock that evening. I reached Hai- 
chen about nine o'clock. I found the place full of 
movement and excitement. There had been 
fighting during the last two days ; fighting was 
still going on ; the Commander-in-Chief and the 
Staff were there, and exciting events were expected. 

About eleven o'clock firing was heard from a 
battery due south and quite close to Haichen. 
I rode out to it, but by the time I had arrived 
at the distance whence operations were visible the 
firing ceased. Another battery still nearer opened 
fire and ceased firing almost immediately. The 
batteries then retreated, and there was no more 
firing that day. 

When I arrived at the station I was told that 
Haichen would not be evacuated, but that a big 
battle would take place on the morrow. In the 
meanwhile everything except the actual troops was 
rapidly clearing out of Haichen. At the same 
time the wounded were being brought in from the 
field ambulances to the sanitary train which was 
in the station. There were a great many wounded. 
Some were being brought in on stretchers, and 
others walked supported by soldiers on each side. 
Their wounds were quite recent. The manner in 
which this transport of the wounded was managed 
was admirable. It was done quietly, quickly and 
effectually. 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

This was the first time I saw the ghastly spectacle 
of maimed soldiers being carried in with their fresh 
bandages, recent wounds, white and yellow faces, 
and vague wondering eyes. Some of them were 
being carried on stretchers, others were walking, 
supported by soldiers on either side. The scorching 
sunlight beat upon them. " Non ragioniam di lor 
ma guarda e passa." 

I have often heard the Red Cross organisation 
abused by Russian officers, but they seemed to me 
to ask a great deal. The sanitary trains, everyone 
admitted, were admirably organised, clean, com- 
fortable and cool. Everyone admitted that the 
hospitals at Kharbin were beyond praise ; and that 
the field hospitals were satisfactory. What was 
lacking was a sufficient means of transport to 
convey the wounded from the field of battle to 
the field hospitals, and to the ambulances ; but 
since my return I have been told by military men 
here that that is a defect which it is almost impossible 
to remedy. 

There existed what was called the Evangelical 
Red Cross Society, which consisted mostly of 
Germans from the Baltic provinces. This was an 
admirably managed institution. There were also 
flying columns of the Red Cross who bandaged 
the wounded under fire. Personally, I only came 
into contact with two of these columns, one of 
which I saw doing good work at Ta-shi-chiao, 

92 



THE RETREAT FROM HAICHEN 

and at Liaoyang. On the whole, they came in 
for a fair measure of abuse, it being said that they 
were never where they were wanted. Whether this 
is fair or not, I have no means of judging. The 
columns with which I was acquainted certainly did 
admirable work at Liaoyang. During the battle 
of the Sha-ho, the field hospitals were sometimes 
very far from the field of action, as when Lonely 
Tree Hill was taken ; but I will come to that in 
due time. 

To go back to my narrative. At noon on the 
ist of August, a big battle was expected on the 
morrow. Everything seemed to point to this, and 
everyone seemed to be prepared for it. I spent the 
night in a small village about half a mile north of 
the station, and made all preparations for the next 
day. With me were Brooke, and M. Dourkovitch. 
We had scarcely laid ourselves down on an im- 
provised bed in the yard of the small Chinese 
cottage where we were staying, when we were 
roused by a noise of shouting and cheering, which 
subsided after a time. About a quarter of an hour 
afterwards a rumour reached us where and how 
it started I do not know that the Japanese were 
in the village, and that we must make haste to 
get away, or else we should be cut off. We got 
ready, and rode out not very far from the village, 
and waited on a road in the moonlight. I sent 
Siacco the Montenegrin to find out what was the 

93 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

matter, and he managed to get himself arrested as 
a Japanese, and only returned late on the following 
afternoon. 

Siacco was a fair-haired individual with blue 
eyes. He was less like a Japanese than any one 
I have ever seen. But the Russian soldiers judged 
a man's nationality by his clothes and Siacco wore 
a straw hat. If you wore gaiters or spats the 
soldiers thought you were a Japanese. One day 
when I was wearing Stohwasser gaiters I was 
stopped by a frontier guard and asked in a tone 
of suspicion where I had bought that leg-gear. I 
answered Tokio, and was allowed to pass. If I 
wore a Russian shirt I was invariably taken for 
a Russian private. If I wore a Caucasian cloak 
(bourka) I was taken for an officer and saluted. 
The Chinese judged one by one's saddle if on horse- 
back ; that is to say, if one rode on a Chinese saddle 
they put one down as a Mafoo. Otherwise they 
were extraordinarily discerning even in the small 
villages in determining nationality one might be 
dressed from head to foot like a Russian, and the 
Chinamen in passing by would say Englishman, 
Frenchman, or German, as the case might be. 

Soon we met transport carts and Cossacks, and 
various detached soldiers. We gathered from the 
absolutely conflicting accounts of the troops, that 
somewhere some accounts said half a mile off, 
and others five miles off a false alarm of a night 

94 



THE RETREAT FROM HA1CHEN 

attack had been raised, which had caused slight 
confusion in one part of the camp. Whether or 
not there had been an attack of any kind I never 
ascertained ; but I think not. Certainly no shots 
were heard. What appeared to have happened 
was that the rumour of this false alarm had reached 
the retreating transport men who had exaggerated 
the occurrence, and thus created a panic. There 
were no troops in our village at all. In about a 
quarter of an hour all was perfectly quiet. 

We were tempted to march to Liaoyang in the 
cool of the night, but on the chance of there being 
interesting events we remained at Haichen. I 
spent the night with a regiment of Siberian 
Cossacks. One fact appeared quite evident, namely, 
that the expected battle was not to happen, and 
that Haichen was to be evacuated. The next 
morning we rode back to Haichen Station ; the 
infantry were retreating, and the evacuation was 
being carried out. I started back alone about 
noon, retreating with the infantry, men who had 
been under fire without ceasing for the last three 
days. 

It was again a swelteringly hot day, and it was 
interesting to compare the retreat of the infantry 
compared with that of the transport. It was 
carried out in perfect order. When I arrived at 
the frontier guards' post, where I had spent the 
night on the way to Haichen, I found a whole 

95 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

regiment resting. I had had nothing to eat, and 
I too lay down to rest. I was joined at four 
o'clock by Brooke, Dourkovitch, and Colonel 
Potapoff, who was one of the many Press censors. 
Later in the afternoon, Siacco the Montenegrin, 
turned up. I reached An-san-san about nine 
o'clock in the evening. The heat was torrid 
during the whole day. The wells had by this 
time become thick with mud after being stirred up 
by many hundreds of troops. I passed the night 
on the platform of An-san-san and started for 
Liaoyang the next day with Brooke, Colonel 
Potapoff, Siacco and two Cossacks. We could not 
find any food on the road. We told the Cossack 
to go and loot, but he returned empty-handed, 
and if a Cossack cannot find food, nobody can. 
While we had halted to rest at a clump of trees, 
a soldier suddenly turned up in a ragged shirt. 
He was a prisoner who had escaped from the 
Japanese. We asked him what the Japanese were 
like. He said they were " nichevo,"* meaning they 
were all right. 

Later in the afternoon Siacco crowned his 
inglorious career by three times falling off his 
pony ; and when reproved for lagging behind, he in- 

* " Nichevo" is the most important word in the Russian language. 
It means primarily: "Nothing." It also means: "It does not 
matter," and hence by extension, " It is all right." Applied, therefore, 
to a man it signifies : " He is all right." 



THE RETREAT FROM HAICHEN 

suited Colonel Potapoff. He was finally made to 
walk home, and we left him swearing that he 
belonged to the Orthodox Church, had fought 
the Turks, and would complain to General 
Kouropatkin. We reached Liaoyang at eight 
o'clock in the evening. I had never known what 
exhaustion meant until that evening. Among 
other things I had caught a slight sun-stroke. 
The next day I was laid up with sun-fever, and 
had to stay in bed for three days with ice on my 
head. I was again cured by Dr Westwater. 
Siacco was finally dismissed. 



97 



CHAPTER VI 

DAVANTIENTUNG 

Monday, August 8th, I started once more on 
horseback with a new servant, Dimitri, a 
Caucasian, a dark-eyed brigand, with a black beard 
and a hawk nose, dressed like a Caucasian in a loose 
brown skirt with silver trimmings, cartridges on his 
breast, a revolver at his waist, and a large scimitar. 
I was in search of General Kossogovski's division. 
At An-san-san I met a volunteer, who was also 
bound for the same destination. We slept at 
An-san-san, and started early the next morning 
for Davantientung, a village about ten miles south- 
west of An-san-san. It was not very easy to find 
the way; after we had passed through the first 
two or three villages we emerged into an ocean of 
kowliang. Fortunately there was a field telegraph, 
and Dimitri and I both insisted that it would be 
wise never to lose sight of it. It led us by strange 
pathways, over ditches, and through swamps ; the 
volunteer fell into a ditch which his pony refused to 
jump, and I was nearly drowned in a swamp, but 
ultimately we arrived at Davantientung. Owing to 
the temporary indisposition of General Kossogovski 
the division was under the order of General Sichoff. 



DAVANT1ENTUNG 

The general was sitting in a very small and 
incredibly dirty room of a Chinese fangtse (cottage). 
A telegraph was ticking in the next room, and flies 
were buzzing everywhere. " Have you brought us 
any food? We have nothing here, no bread, no 
sugar," were the general's first words. He told me 
to make myself at home, and to settle down where 
I liked. Some of the Staff lived in the cottage, 
in which there were two rooms, and others lived 
in the garden. I chose the garden, and during 
the first two days I thought I had chosen the 
better part, but after a time, as the Staff increased 
to its full complement, the garden was filled with 
horses and Cossacks, and there was little left but 
standing room. Life at the front consisted, if 
you except the battles, of bracing and exhaustive 
movement, or of complete and most languorous 
idleness. 

I should like to be able to give some idea of 
these days of inaction and waiting in a Chinese 
garden or house during the entr'actes of the war. 
Everything was green and yellow. The weather 
was very hot to begin with ; when it rained, which 
it did once every ten or twelve days, it was hotter. 
The roads and houses were made of yellow baked 
mud, on each side of which were endless stretches 
of kowliang fields of a very intense green too 
green. One was reminded of the Frenchman's 
description of St Moritz, " Ce lac beaucoup trop 

99 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

bleu, ces arbres beaucoup trop verts." Along the 
horizon there was perhaps a range of mountains, or 
hills, very soft and blue and beautiful, so that one 
was reminded at the same time of Scotland and of 
Egypt. It is a strange country ; it is also a beautiful 
country. That is to say, at every moment one 
is confronted with landscapes, and effects of light 
and shade which are intrinsically beautiful. Near 
Davantientung there was a lake of pink lotus 
flowers which, in the twilight, with the rays of the 
new moon shining on the floating, tangled mass 
of green leaf (the leaves by this light assumed a 
kind of ghostly grey shimmer), and the broad and 
stately pink petals of the flowers, made a picture 
which if Monet, the impressionist, could have 
painted, the public with one voice would have 
declared to be an exaggerated impossibility. But 
neither Monet nor any other painter could ever 
succeed in reproducing the silvery magic of those 
greys and greens, the phantasy wrought by the 
moonlight, the twilight, the radiant water, the 
dusky leaves, and the delicate lotus petals. 

Yet, in spite of frequent beautiful sights, it was 
hard to enjoy the beauty of the country. Perhaps 
it was owing to the war to the " pomp and circum- 
stance of glorious war ! " One recognised that the 
country was beautiful, but the beauty did not steal 
on one unawares, and fill the spirit with peace. I 
am talking not only of my own experience, but that 

100 



DAVANTIENTUNG 

of many men, military and civil, whom fate threw 
together there. During these idle days the country 
seemed to overpower one with irresistible languor. 
In the yard outside the horses were munching green 
beans in the mud. Inside the "fangtse" all the 
flies in the world seemed to have congregated. One 
took shelter from them, in spite of the heat, under 
anything even a fur rug. To eat and sleep was 
one's only desire, but sleep was difficult and food was 
scanty. Insects of all kinds crawled from the dried 
mud walls to one's head. Outside the window two or 
three Chinese used to argue in a high-pitched screech 
about the price of something. One lay stretched on 
the " k'ang," the natural hard divan of every Chinese 
house. There was perhaps a fragment of a newspaper 
four months old which one had read and re-read. 
The military situation had been discussed until there 
was nothing more to be said ; nowhere was there any 
ease for the body, or rest for the eye. 

An endless monotony of green and yellow, of 
yellow and green ; a land where the rain brings no 
freshness, and the trees afford no shade. The brain 
refused to read ; it circled round and round in some 
fretful occupation, such as inventing an acrostic. A 
French poet has described this languor in the 
following verses, which seem made for these 
circumstances : 

" Je suis 1'Empire a la fin de la decadence, 
Qui regarde passer les grands barbares blancs, 
IOI 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

En coraposant des acrostiches indolents 
D'un style d'or oil la langueur du soleil danse, 
L'ame seulette a mal au coeur d'un ennui dense, 
La-bas on dit qu'il est de longs combats sanglants." 

But then, after all, the entr'actes, though they 
seemed as long as those of a French theatre, were 
in reality short, and how richly one was com- 
pensated, not only by the culminating moment 
of the battle, but by all the action which lead up 
to it, as soon as the curtain rose again. There 
was another side even to the days of languor. In 
the first place one got used to it. In the second 
place, it was often great fun. The officers 
were friendly, somebody used to arrive from civili- 
sation with some sugar and some cigarettes, or 
with some exciting news. There was a constant 
stream of arrivals and departures to and from the 
Staff. I have memories of pleasant dinners outside, 
under a trellis-work covered with melon leaves, of 
delicious pancakes cooked by the Cossacks, and of 
many amusing incidents too trivial to tell. Above 
all, I have recollections of the general atmosphere 
of friendliness and good nature. During the whole 
of these periods, there was never a moment when I 
would have elected to be transported permanently 
elsewhere if such a thing had been possible. 

General Sichoff himself, to begin with, was as 
friendly as possible. He was a knight of St 
George ; that is to say, he had the St George's 

102 



DAVANTIENTUNG 

cross of an officer. A private soldier can get the 
St George's cross of the fourth class for general 
good conduct in action. It merely shows that he is 
a good soldier. The officers' St George's cross is 
the highest Russian order, equivalent to our Victoria 
Cross. General Sichoff had seen many campaigns ; 
he was a soldier of the old school ; a man of great 
personal courage, and the universal verdict was that 
he was a "molodjetz" (which means a fine fellow). 
On his staff I found my friends of Ta-shi-chiao, 
including Alexander Ivanovitch Egoroff. We 
shared a small matting shelter, which did duty 
for a tent in the garden adjoining the general's 
fangtse. If Napoleon had commanded the Russian 
army, he would have put that man in command of 
an army corps. 

There was also a young fellow called Dimitri 
Nikoliaevitch, who had lived some years in Turkestan, 
quite a young man, who struck me as being like one 
of the young officers capable of holding positions 
of great responsibility, such as Rudyard Kipling 
describes. I thought he was likewise remarkable 
for the sense that he talked, and his utter lack 
of swagger, and obnoxious " panache " of any 
kind. 

After spending six days with the Staff, a change 
came about in my fate. One of the Staff officers 
had been transferred to another division, which was 
under Colonel Gourko, in a neighbouring village. 

103 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

He invited me to go with him. The rain had begun 
to fall in torrents, and I was rather glad to leave 
our garden, which had been converted into a swamp. 
The village was not far off, and it was comforting to 
find a shelter in a house. 

At last, I thought, the famous rainy season has 
begun. The rainy season is supposed to last a 
month, and to happen either in June, July, or 
August. Whether the year 1904 was abnormal or 
not I do not know, but the rainy season turned out 
to be like an exceptionally dry English summer, 
when it only rains from Saturday to Monday. 
During the month of August I noted that it 
rained on August 4th, 8th, and 9th (showers) ; 
again on August i4th, i5th, i7th, 27th, 3<Dth 
(evening only). When it rained it poured, and 
during the intervals the weather was broiling hot, 
with the exception of three cold days August I9th 
to 22nd. 

I was most hospitably entertained by Colonel 
Gourko that evening, and, quite by chance, I also 
made the acquaintance of the officers of the 2nd 
Transbaikal Battery (Horse Artillery) of Cossacks, 
which was also stationed in the same village. On 
the following day the battery asked me to stay with 
them. I accepted their invitation. The following 
trivial incident led to my being invited to remain 
permanently with this battery. I had had supper 
with the officers, and we retired to bed. I un- 

104 



DAVANTIENTUNG 

rolled my Wolseley valise on the floor of the 
fangtse. The doctor, who was looking on, said : 
" You mustn't sleep on the floor, you must sleep on 
the k'ang." I said I preferred to sleep on the floor, 
my reason being that I did not wish to crowd the 
officers on the already crowded k'ang. The doctor 
then called a Cossack, and said : " Lift Mr Baring 
in this bed on to the k'ang." Whereupon one of 
the officers, seeing that I really preferred sleeping 
on the floor, countermanded the order. This led to 
a discussion, as to whether he had the right to 
countermand the doctor's order, which lasted nearly 
all night, the question being complicated by the fact 
that the doctor said he had medical reasons for 
giving the order. The discussion was most violent, 
and ended in an arbitration, which in its turn ended 
in a compromise, and it was settled that the officer 
was technically right and morally wrong in can- 
celling the doctor's order; "but, since," they said 
to me, " you are the cause of all this, the least you 
can do is to stay here with us." So I did. 

On the following day the doctor, another officer, 
and myself, set out on an expedition to visit a neigh- 
bouring village where we heard there was a Roman 
Catholic Church and a Roman Catholic Chinese 
priest. After some difficulty we found the village, 
and entered the vicarage. It was a scrupulously 
clean Chinese house, and there sat an old, bronzed 
Chinaman, reading his breviary. He greeted us in 

105 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

French, which he spoke hesitatingly, with an 
admixture of Chinese, but with the purest accent, 
a provincial accent smelling of the French soil. He 
gave us a glass ^i fine champagne, which had come 
from Monsieur Lestapi at Bordeaux, and was of the 
epoch of Louis Philippe. It was the only time I 
tasted anything good to drink during the whole 
time I was in Manchuria. It was wasted, how- 
ever, on the doctor of the battery, because brandy, 
old or new, made him sick. He was obliged to 
drink it, so as not to offend. The priest then told 
us that he had never been in France, but had been 
taught by the French. There were many Catholics, 
he told us, in the neighbourhood. During the 
Boxer revolution he had been put in prison, and 
condemned to death, and led ignominiously to the 
scaffold ; then he had been rescued or pardoned for 
some unknown reason, and eventually set free. 
We asked him if the Boxers would be likely to 
repeat such conduct. Nothing, he said, was more 
likely, but whatever they did they would be unable 
to make a single Chinese Catholic repudiate his 
faith ; once converted, always converted, in spite of 
any inducement such as torture. The English 
missionaries told me the same thing about the 
Chinese Protestants, or Presbyterians, or Noncon- 
formists. Once they are converted nothing will 
repervert them. They become invincibly obstinate. 
He gave us his blessing, and then we departed. 

106 



DAVANTIENTUNG 

There was not a single European anywhere near 
the neighbourhood. 

On the following day the battery received orders 
to move into the village of Davantientung, which I 
had just left. We moved into the village, and 
occupied and gently dismantled a large Chinese 
house. The owner cried quietly while we did so. 
He was comforted with roubles, after which he 
cried on every possible occasion, even when his own 
hens clucked in the yard. Here began another 
pause, a new entr'acte which was the prelude to a 
most exciting act. This was the first time I had 
actually lived with a regiment, a battery being the 
same as a regiment. 

The commander of the battery, Colonel Phile- 
monoff, was absent in hospital when I arrived. 
His place was taken by a Lieutenant Malinovski, a 
man who knew everybody in Manchuria, and who 
was as fat and jovial as Falstaff. Besides him there 
were Lieutenant Kislitzki, about whom I have 
much to say later ; Lieutenant Kabwilkin, a fair- 
haired, blue-eyed boy from Transbaikal ; Lieutenant 
Brand, a young European who had been trans- 
ferred from a Russian regiment ; Michel Pavlovitch 
Glinka, the doctor ; and a veterinary surgeon. 
Besides them there was a young Polish volunteer, 
Count Tyszkiewicz, who, at the time I arrived, was 
a bombardier. 

The remaining officers of the battery I met later. 

107 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

We all lived in one room of a Chinese fangtse; 
our beds were stretched side by side along the 
k'ang. We got up at sunrise, and the ceremony of 
washing used to begin, a ceremony which I used to 
cut as short as possible. It is rude in the Russian 
army to shake hands with anyone before you have 
washed, and if you attempt to shake hands with 
an unwashed man he will withdraw his hand, saying 
that he has not yet washed. The washing cere- 
mony is done in this fashion. You take off your 
shirt, and a Cossack pours water over your head 
and your hands out of a pewter cup, while you 
use as much soap as you please. After that tea 
used to be brought, a large kettle of boiling 
water with the tea made in it. The Cossacks 
used to cook a kind of thick pancake rather like 
a crumpet. 

At twelve we used to have dinner, consisting of 
large chunks of meat, for hors d'oeuvres, soup with 
rice and meat in it, and one dish of meat. This was 
followed by tea. The battery cook had one dish of 
which he was proud. He called it " Boeuf Stro- 
gonoff." It consisted of bits of meat cut up, and 
mixed with bits of chopped potatoes ; the whole 
served in a pail. I recommend this recipe to Mrs 
Earle for inclusion in her next " Pot-pourri." 

After a time, the battery struck at the constant 
repetition of this dish, and the cook was forced to 
vary his menu, and make cutlets, or something else ; 

108 



DAVANTIENTUNG 

but when left to himself he always went back to 
" Bceuf Strogonoff." 

I used sometimes ironically to ask him whether 
there was going to be " Bceuf Strogonoff" for 
dinner ; and he then used to answer confidentially, 
that on that particular evening it was impossible, 
but that I was to cheer up, as he would give it on 
the next day. 

After dinner we used to lie on the k'ang, and talk, 
and sleep. There used to be more talk than sleep. 
The day used generally to be spent in one of those 
very long and very heated discussions, such as 
Tourgeneff describes in his novels ; generally the 
conversation used to begin on the subject of the war, 
and wander off into Russian internal politics, 
zemstvos and all the things about which we have 
been hearing so much lately. I remember one day 
I was trying to write a letter to the Morning Post ; 
but the discussion going on around me was so 
heated and so universal that all possibility of con- 
centrating one's thoughts vanished. I finally ended 
by incorporating a part of the conversation in my 
letter and writing as it were to dictation. 

The doctor was holding forth on the horrors of 
war and the absurdity, and the sickening spectacle 
of seeing all the complicated arrangements for the 
succour of the wounded. 

The doctor argued as follows : 

" We create engines of destruction with the object 

109 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

of inflicting the most deadly injury possible to our 
fellow-creatures, and at the same time we take the 
greatest possible pains to organise a system by 
which these same men, whom it is our object to 
destroy as swiftly as possible, may be restored to 
activity as soon as they have been once in any slight 
degree injured by our instruments of destruction. 
To carry on war on humanitarian principles is, if 
one comes to think of it, an absurdity. Your object 
in war is to kill, destroy, and damage the enemy as 
rapidly as possible, to let those who are whole and 
hale fight for all they are worth, and let the weak 
and the wounded go to the wall. Logically Red 
Cross organisations and field hospitals are a great 
hindrance and an unnecessary expense. If the fact 
of war be admitted, it should be waged as barbar- 
ously as possible, since a humane war is a contradic- 
tion in terms. It is like a humane boxing match 
or a humane bull-fight." 

" But," objected someone else, and I continued 
writing as if it were an afterthought of my own, 
" just as to fight and to wage war are an ineradicable 
instinct and a raison (Fetre of mankind, to succour 
the wounded is likewise an ineradicable instinct, and 
as long as armies exist Red Cross Societies will 
exist." 

Then another, who knew his English and Euro- 
pean history, broke in : " The battle-field of Cre9y," 
he said, " after the battle, was probably as gruesome 

no 



DAVANTIENTUNG 

a sight as a modern battle-field, yet the English," 
he said, pointing at me, " would no more part with 
the name of Cregy than we would part with any of 
the jewels of our national inheritance." 

Here I could not help breaking in and saying 
that : " There was no more an ambulance or a 
hospital at Crec^y than there would now be at a 
football or a cricket match in England at the present 
day. The French and the English fought for fun 
then, in the same way in which they now play foot- 
ball. War was then an aristocratic game. Witness 
the despatches of the correspondent on the French 
side namely, Froissart. Was there ever corre- 
spondent more impartial, less blind to the faults of 
his own side, more enthusiastically appreciative of 
the enemy's qualities ? But now nobody could say 
that the Japanese and the Russians were fighting 
for fun. Such incidents as the loss of the Petropav- 
lovsk and the Hatsust were merely desperately and 
fruitlessly deplorable and no more inspiring than a 
railway accident." 

"Then," said the doctor, "you agree with me 
that if there is to be such a thing as war, it is illogical 
to have Red Cross organisations." 

" No," I replied, " it seems to me the only 
redeeming feature of war." 

" Why ? " he asked, " You are exceedingly 
illogical." 

"Possibly," I answered, "but it is so," and 

in 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

everybody agreed with me and the discussion was 
closed. 

In the cool of the evening we used to stroll out or 
go for a ride ; at eight o'clock we had supper, con- 
sisting of one dish, and tea afterwards. Songs 
used generally to be sung, and then we went to bed 
early, and slept as long as the flies gave one peace. 

During this time the Hun-hu-tses began to be 
troublesome. I thought when I was in Manchuria, 
that the British public must have been told and re- 
told till they were sick of it what the Hun-hu-tses 
are, and no longer think them a special race of 
beings, like the hairy Ainus, with red beards, as I did 
when I left London in the days when I used to call 
them " Chan-chuses," but it seems to me on my return 
that the same impression still remains, and they are 
still called "Chan-chuses" which means nothing at all. 

It has been explained, I suppose a thousand 
times, that "hun" means red and "hutse" beard, 
or vice versti. The Hun-hu-tses, who used to be a 
corporation of polite blackmailers of the rich 
mandarins, utterly indifferent to foreigners, re- 
spectable, advanced in opinions, and wanting in 
cohesion, like the Liberal party in Great Britain, 
have, since the war, changed their character, and 
increased their recruits. But up to this moment 
they had been little heard of. In August, however, 
in the whereabouts of Davantientung, they began 
to be troublesome, and fired on the lonely traveller, 

112 



DAVANTIENTUNG 

on the isolated Cossack, and, indeed, killed three 
gunners. 

A subtle change had come over the Chinese in 
this district. I said in the preceding chapter I 
would allude later on to the attitude of the Chinese 
in the villages. The Russians have treated the 
Chinese as friends and brothers, and have paid 
them six times too much for everything, have 
felt no antipathy for their yellowness, and been 
a great source of profit. As long as Russian 
prestige was intact, such treatment merely made 
everything smooth. But after a few Russian 
reverses the Chinaman became insolent. Riding 
to Haichen, I found the Chinese most hospitable 
in the villages hospitable at once. On my re- 
turn with the retreating army it was only by 
explaining that I was an Englishman I could get 
a morsel of millet ; in fact the Chinese would open 
their doors to the French, Germans, or Americans, 
to any one except the Russians and the Swiss and 
the Belgians, for whom, for some unexplained 
reason, they have a mysterious aversion. 

The Russians began to say " What fools we are. 
We treated them far too well." But where the 
trouble lay was not in the question of treatment 
consistent or inconsistent but in the fact that the 
war was continuing, causing increased distress 
among the Chinamen, and the prestige of Russian 
arms was diminishing. 

H 113 



CHAPTER VII 

THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

/^\N the 23rd of August I rode into Liaoyang to 
post a letter. I was accompanied by an 
officer and six Cossacks as a protection against 
the Hun-hu-tses, who had been giving trouble 
lately. Indeed, officers had been warned to go 
by train from An-san-san to Liaoyang, and not to 
ride without an escort. I could not help reflecting 
that the Hun-hu-tses could aim at one as well from 
a distance whether the Cossacks were present or 
not. The presence of an escort did, however, have 
a deterring effect on the Hun-hu-tses, although 
Brooke was attacked one day quite close to 
Mukden, and two of the officers in the battery to 
which I was attached were shot at within a mile of 
their quarters (this was later). 

For my own part I never saw a Hun-hu-tse, 
except a retired one who lived at Mukden. This 
man, who used to live at peace with his neighbours 
at a temple at Mukden after a life of rapine and 
murder, invited me to go and stay with the Hun- 
hu-tse general, who was celebrated for his bright 
clothes, his daring, his elusiveness, and his exquisite 

114 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

cruelty. He assured me that I should suffer no 
harm, and would be treated with the respect due to 
the English and the insane. Tempting as the offer 
was, I felt compelled to answer that war corres- 
pondents were not supposed to incur unnecessary 
risks. It sometimes happens that Chinese of high 
rank join the Hun-hu-tses, men with advanced 
views, who are dissatisfied with the existing order of 
things. The Chinese use the word Hun-hu-tse for 
any sort of robber or rowdy man. It is equivalent 
to the word hooligan. 

On the day after my arrival at Liaoyang (August 
25th), heavy fighting was reported to be going on in 
the east. In spite of the temptation to go eastwards, 
I resolved to go back to the battery in the south, as 
it seemed to me inevitable that a big fight in the 
south must take place soon. On the next day 
(August 26th) firing was heard to the south in the 
morning, and I started alone for An-san-san. When 
I reached An-san-san at 4.30 in the afternoon, there 
was a great stillness everywhere. I passed a regi- 
ment of Siberian Cossacks encamped on the right of 
the railway line, and a battery of Eastern Siberia 
ready for action on the hills on the left of the line. 
Firing was going on, at this time, beyond the hills ; 
the 3rd Transbaikal battery fired ; and the 2nd was 
ready for action, but it was not audible at the station. 
I was afraid my battery would have moved ; besides 
which the road to Davantientung was exceedingly 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

complicated, and I had got no Cossacks to guide me. 
However, a most civil officer on the Staff of the 
First Corps drew me a map of the way, and I started 
due west along the big range of hills. Here I also 
passed a battery placed along the road ready for 
action. I passed two of the villages marked on the 
map successfully, and then I followed the field tele- 
graph, and soon lost the road marked. All went 
well until I reached a certain spot which I re- 
membered having passed the first time I went to 
Davantientung. I saw a slight kopje in the distance 
in front of me, about five miles to the south, and 
recognised it with joy. Instead, however, of making 
straight for this hill, some instinct made me go back 
and proceed due west, in the hopes of finding the 
main road. I was afterwards told that the Japanese 
had occupied the hill I nearly made for, and fired 
thence on the next day. Whether this is so or not, 
I have no means of ascertaining ; but they cannot 
have been far off. 

I knew whereabouts my village lay, and I hoped 
by going a long way round to reach the main road 
which I had missed. I came on a village, and asked the 
way. The Chinese were standing outside their houses 
in the twilight, and when I asked them the way, they 
pointed and grinned ironically. I thought they were 
misleading me, and that I was making straight for 
a nest of Hun-hu-tses. I offered a small boy a coin 
if he would guide me. He pointed me out the road, 

116 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

and led me part of the way, and then disappeared, 
and I found myself in a sea of kowliang. I felt 
uneasy, but resolved to go straight on till I came to 
a village of some kind. I knew I was going in the 
right direction, and after a time I came on a village, 
and met a Cossack. I asked if the battery was 
near, and he pointed to the very first house. By 
accident I had stumbled on the very house in 
which the battery was located. It had been out 
ready for action all day, and had moved its 
quarters. 

I found, on arriving, that Colonel Philemonoff, the 
commander of the battery, had returned from the 
hospital. I knew of him by reputation, since he was 
reputed to be the best artillery officer in the whole 
of the Siberian army. He was ill, and suffering 
greatly from an internal disorder ; but nothing 
ever overcame his indomitable pluck. We had 
supper, and went to bed. At two o'clock in 
the morning we were roused with the informa- 
tion that we were to start at once, as the 
Japanese were advancing on to our village. We 
got up ; the officers and men collecting in a field in 
the darkness. It was raining. We marched to the 
largest village in that district. Towards the middle 
of the day the rain stopped, and we had just finished 
our mid-day meal when we were told to get ready 
for action. The battery was taken outside the 
village, and the guns placed in a kind of kitchen- 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

garden pointing south-west, towards Davantientung, 
the village we had just left. Colonel Gourko, who 
was commanding the cavalry division, consisting 
chiefly of dragoons, rode up, and made a short 
speech to the men. The weapons and the uniforms 
were modern, but the sentiment and the shouted 
answer of the Cossacks crying out the regulation 
formula hailing their Colonel were old. The 
mounted Cossacks, indeed, might belong to any 
epoch, and could have fought at Agincourt or 
Ravenna. Then the battery began to fire, and 
went on firing for about three hours, from about two 
till five in the afternoon. The Japanese made no 
response at first ; they fired a little .later on, but no 
shells reached us. It turned out afterwards that we 
had both been shelling the village of Davantientung 
in vain. I was sorry for the village where I had 
spent so much time, and for the lachrymose host 
whose house I had occupied. We were told to 
move into a village about a verst distant. There 
we occupied a small Chinese temple, and I was just 
dropping off to sleep on a mat when I heard a stir 
outside. The Japanese were less than a mile from 
us, and had entered one end of the village we had 
just left, while the dragoons had gone out at the 
other. Our force was very small a detachment of 
dragoons, and the battery. The rest of the division 
had left earlier in the morning. We heard shots, 
and the battery was told to get away with all 

118 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

possible speed. There was no panic, and, in spite 
of the shocking condition of the roads, we got away 
quickly and effectually, having narrowly escaped 
being cut off. We marched until twelve o'clock at 
night, then rested, and at dawn started for Liaoyang 
by a circuitous route to the west. We arrived at 
Liaoyang about three o'clock in the afternoon, and 
established ourselves in a small village on the rail- 
way line about four versts from the town, that is to 
say on the right flank of the army. The next day 
(August 29) was one of complete calm ; we sat in a 
Chinese cottage, and ate pancakes. I rode into the 
station in the afternoon, and was told that a battle 
was expected on the following day, and that it 
would perhaps begin that very night. It was a 
divine evening. A little to the south of us was the 
big hill of Sow-shan-tze ; in front of us to the east 
a circle of hills ; to the north the town of Liaoyang. 
A captive balloon soared slowly up in the twilight ; 
a few shots were fired by the batteries on the 
eastern hills. We were the farthest troops south- 
west. 

By nightfall we had not received orders where 
we were to go. We lay down to sleep, and in the 
battery itself nobody was convinced that the 
Japanese would attack on the following day. We 
had scarcely lain down, however, before orders 
arrived for us to move to a village eastwards. The 
horses were saddled, and we marched to a village 

119 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

up on the hills east of Sow-shan-tze, about four or 
five versts distant. There we again established 
ourselves in a Chinese house, where I lay down and 
fell into a heavy sleep. I was awakened by the 
noise of musketry not far off. There were faint 
pink streaks in the eastern sky. The village was 
on an elevation, but higher hills were around us. 
Musketry and artillery fire was audible. The battle 
had begun. We moved out of the village to a hill 
about a hundred yards to the north-west of it ; here 
there was an open space consisting of slopes and 
knolls, but not high enough to command a view of 
the surrounding country. Two regiments of infantry 
were standing at ease on the hills, and as General 
Stackelberg and his staff rode through the village at 
the foot, the men shouted the salutation to him. I 
believe most of the men thought he was the Com- 
mander-in-Chief. On some rocks on the knolls 
groups of officers were standing surveying the 
position through their glasses. The whole scene 
looked like the picture of a battle by Detaille, or 
some military painter. The threatening grey sky, 
splashed with watery fire, the infantry going into 
action, and the men cheering the general as he 
rode along in his spotless white uniform. And to 
complete the picture, a shell burst in a compound 
in front of us, where some dragoons had halted. 
We had been ordered to leave the little village 
just at the moment when tea had been made, 

120 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

and there seemed to be no further prospect of 
food. 

We presently moved off to the west, and the 
battery was placed at the extreme edge of the 
plain of millet west of the hill of Sow-shan-tze. 
The battery opened fire immediately, the com- 
mander giving his orders high up on Sow-shan-tze 
Hill to the right, and transmitting them by men 
placed at intervals down the slope. The whole 
battle occupied an area of nearly forty versts in cir- 
cumference. If one climbed the hill, which I did, 
one saw beneath one a plain of millet and little 
else. It was an invisible battle, and perhaps the 
loudest there has ever been. I climbed up the 
hill after I had stayed with the battery below for 
some time, and watched the effects of our fire. 
We were firing on a battery to the south-west at a 
distance of five versts, a range of about 5000 yards. 
I could see the flash of the Japanese guns through my 
field-glass when they fired. Every now and then 
you could distinguish, in a village or a portion of the 
plain where there was no millet, little figures like 
Noah's Ark men, which one knew to be troops. It 
was impossible to say, however, whether they were 
Russian or Japanese. Indeed, at one moment we 
fired on a village, convinced that the troops which 
had been visible there for a moment were Japanese. 
Soon after we received a message to tell us not to 
fire on it as our men were there. 

121 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

It was a bad day for artillery, because the sky 
was so grey that it was difficult to distinguish the 
shells as they burst. On the side of the hill was 
Colonel Philemonoff and with him were Lieutenant 
Kislitzki, and the doctor. The colonel was too ill 
to do much himself, and during the greater part 
of the day it was Kislitzki who gave out the 
range. Kislitzki was not second in command. 
He was a young man twenty-five years old ; 
but his knowledge of gunnery and his talent 
amounting to genius in discovering the enemy's 
batteries and estimating ranges were so excep- 
tional, that when the Colonel was too ill to 
work he put everything into this young fellow's 
hands. 

From Renan's translation of Ecclesiastes it appears 
that the phrase " the race is not always to the 
swift, nor the battle to the strong," means that 
when runners are needed for a race, the swiftest 
are not always asked to compete, nor are the 
strongest men given an opportunity when there 
is an occasion for a fight. Here was a case to 
the contrary. 

The colonel lay wrapped up in a Caucasian 
cloak on the side of the hill, and every now and 
then, as he gave out, checked, or slightly modified 
Kislitzki's orders. 

The three men who struck me most of those I 
met in Manchuria were Egoroff, whom I have 

122 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

already mentioned, Colonel Philemonoff, and 
Kislitzki. 

I cannot conceive it possible to be pluckier than 
the colonel was, both in his utter disregard of 
danger, and in the manner he endured terrible 
suffering without giving in. 

Kislitzki was certainly the most brilliant officer 
I saw ; the most cultivated and thoughtful ; he 
knew his business, and loved it. It was an art 
to him, and he must have had the supreme satis- 
faction of the artist when he exercises his powers, 
and knows that his work is good. He was also 
absolutely fearless, and without the suspicion of 
thought for himself, or his career, or what would 
be advantageous to him. He was responsible for 
the battery's splendidly accurate firing in nearly 
every engagement ; but he has not got the credit, 
nor does he need it ; his wages were fully paid 
to him while he was at work. Moreover, any 
reputation that accrues to Colonel Philemonoff is 
deserved, because he created the battery, and the 
officers were his pupils, and his personal influence 
pervaded it. He was always there, and ready, if 
things went badly, to surmount any amount of 
physical suffering to deal with the crisis. He 
also loved his profession, and was the top of 
it, and it was bitterly ironical that now, when 
he had such a great opportunity for exercising his 
skill that he was too ill to avail himself of it. 

123 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

One day when he was lying on a hill in command 
of the battery in action and had sunk back ex- 
hausted on to the grass, he said to me, " I love my 
business ; and now that we get a chance of 
doing I can't all the same they know I'm here 
and if any difficulty any crisis arose, they know 
that no physical pain would prevent me from doing 
all I could." 

Kislitzki, however, equalled him, the Cossacks 
used to say he was an " eagle." 

As the time went on, the Japanese attack moved 
slowly like a wave, from the south to the south- 
west, until in the evening about seven o'clock, they 
were firing west of the railway line, and the 
Russian infantry was lying along the line. The 
battery ceased fire, and then three of the guns 
were taken on to the top of the small hill which 
lay at the foot, and west of the big hill of Sow- 
shan-tze, and fired due west. A Japanese battery 
was supporting the attack of its infantry. After 
a time it was silenced. It was a picturesque sight 
to see the guns firing towards the red setting sun, 
over the green kowliang in which the Japanese 
infantry was advancing, and breaking like a wave 
on a rock. 

Towards sunset it had begun to rain. All day 
the Japanese had been firing on us, but their shells 
fell to the right of us in the millet ; every now 
and then a shell burst over our heads behind us, 

124 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

but on the evening of the first day we had had 
no losses of any kind. At five o'clock I was 
sitting on the edge of the road with a young 
officer, Sub- Lieutenant Hliebnikoff, a born Trans- 
baikalian, of the battery, who had been shouting 
orders all day in command of a section. He was 
hoarse from shouting, and deaf from the noise. 
I was also deaf from the noise. We neither of 
us could hear what each other said, and shared a 
frugal meal out of a small tin of potted meat. A 
soldier near us had his pipe shot out of his mouth 
by a bullet. I shouted to him that we were in 
rather a dangerous place ; he shouted back that he 
was much too hungry to care. At nightfall firing 
ceased. The result of the fight at the end of the 
day seemed to be distinctly favourable to the 
Russians. By sunset the Japanese attack had 
been driven back. From the spectator's point of 
view everything was spoilt by the dense, tall 
kowliang, or giant millet ; from a hill you could see 
the infantry disappear into the kowliang ; you could 
hear the firing, and the battle seemed to be going 
on underground. One seemed to be in a gigantic 
ant-heap where invisible ants were struggling and 
moving. In the evening the result became ap- 
parent in the stream of wounded and mangled men 
who were carried from the field to the ambulances. 
At sunset, if one could have had a bird's-eye view 
of the whole field, it would have given one the 

125 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

idea of a hidden and bleeding heart, from which, 
like the spokes of a wheel, red arteries composed 
of the streams of wounded on every road, radiated 
in every direction. 

That first evening there was already a terrible 
procession wending its way to Liaoyang ; some 
men on foot, others carried on stretchers. I met 
one man walking quietly. He had a red bandage 
round the lower part of his face, his tongue and 
his lips had been shot away. The indifference 
with which the men bore their wounds was quite 
extraordinary. On the left of the road which goes 
along the railway line to Liaoyang, a section of 
the Red Cross was stationed. The wounded were 
brought there after they had received preliminary 
attention from a flying column of the Red Cross, 
which nearly all day was stationed at the base 
of the Sow-shan-tze Hill. This flying column 
rendered splendid service. The doctors and their 
assistants followed the troops on horseback, and 
were the first to attend to the wounded. Nightfall 
found us sitting on a small kopje at the base of the 
Sow-shan-tze Hill; it had rained heavily; there 
was no prospect of shelter for the night. 

Colonel Philemonoff was sitting wrapped up in 
his Caucasian cloak. A Cossack had been sent 
out to the village of Moe-tung, which was about 
three hundred yards to the west of the Sow-shan-tze 
Hill, to find a Chinese house for us, and to make 

126 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

tea. He did not return, and Kislitzki and I set 
out to find him. We came to a house and found 
a number of soldiers warming themselves round 
a fire in a room to the left. The Cossack met 
us with the news that there was no room to be 
found, since the rooms on the left were occupied 
by Japanese prisoners, and those on the right by 
the Russian dead. There was, indeed, in the yard, 
a kind of shed, full of dirt and refuse, to which 
he pointed. Kislitzki was a man who was quite 
extraordinarily fastidious with regard to cleanliness 
and food ; he would rather starve than eat food 
which displeased him, and stand up in the rain 
than sleep in a hovel. This the Cossack knew. 
Kislitzki went away in disgust. I remained warm- 
ing myself by the fire on the threshold of the house. 
Soon five or six officers of an infantry regiment 
arrived hungry and drenched. 

The Cossack met them, and said the whole house 
had been engaged by the commander and officers 
of the 2nd Transbaikal Battery, who would presently 
arrive, and the officers left in disgust and despair. 
Then I went back to the battery on the kopje, and 
it was settled that we should remain where we were. 
After a while the doctor and Hliebnikoff asked me 
to take them to the house to see what could be 
done. Kislitzki had disappeared. We returned 
to the house, and on the left of the yard lights were 
burning in a room which we had not been shown 

127 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

before, and there were the Cossack and his friends 
enjoying a plentiful supper of cheese, sausages, hot 
tea, and a bottle of vodka. I admired the mar- 
vellous cunning of the Cossack, who had caused 
everybody to leave the house, and reserved it for 
himself and his friends. The doctor, Hliebnikoff, 
and I occupied the Cossack's room, and ate a part 
of his opulent supper, and then we lay down to 
sleep. At one o'clock we were awakened by bullets 
which were uncomfortably near. The Japanese 
had attacked the village. I saddled my pony, and 
made for the battery, but I lost my way and fell 
into a pond, and was soon wandering at random in 
the kowliang. That was the most uncomfortable 
moment I experienced during the battle. I made 
for the east, and struck one of the main roads 
leading to Liaoyang. There I met a wounded 
soldier, groaning in the kowliang, unable to walk. 
He implored me to save him from the Hun-hu-tses, 
I lifted him on to my pony, and started to try and 
find the Red Cross. He was wounded in the chest. 
We went very slowly over the muddy road. It had 
stopped raining, and the moon had risen. The 
wounded soldier said the fighting had been des- 
perate ; he had been in a hand-to-hand fight. The 
Japanese fought splendidly, he said, but were too 
small to manage bayonets, and did not understand 
them. After a while he said, " Tell me, little father, 
what made the Japanese get so angry with us?" 

128 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

We found the Red Cross, which was located in a 
temple, and there the man's wound was rebandaged. 
I slept in the yard of this temple on some stones, 
near a fire. The firing had ceased, so I gathered 
the attack had been checked. With the very first 
stroke of dawn, the booming of a gun was heard to 
the east, a deep, steady boom, which seemed like 
that of a siege gun. By the time the sun rose 
heavy firing was audible to the west. I resolved to 
go back to the battery, but it was necessary first 
to feed my pony. 

Dimitri, the Caucasian, had left my service the 
day I rode into Liaoyang, finding the life too 
uncomfortable. I went into a kowliang, where 
Cossacks were getting fodder for their horses, and 
borrowing a sword from a Cossack, tried to mow 
the stiff kowliang with indifferent success. At last 
I was reduced to pulling it up by the roots. 

On returning to the battery, I found them in the 
same position they had occupied the day before, 
but the guns had been shifted so as to point west. 
On the small kopje the firing was at a closer range, 
and the Japanese had partially regained in the 
night the ground they had lost the evening before. 
Moreover, they had discovered the whereabouts of 
the battery, they had got the range, and were firing 
on us heavily. One man was wounded soon after I 
arrived. He was bringing a pail of tea on horse- 
back, and he went on carrying the tea after he had 
i 129 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

been shot. The men served the guns admirably. 
I watched them for some time, and then I crossed 
the road, climbed the small kopje, and found the 
colonel and Kislitzki. The Japanese were firing 
from a battery about three versts off. This was my 
first experience of prolonged shrapnel and shell fire ; 
the shell burst on the road, and on our kopje, 
behind, in front, and all round us. The shrapnel 
exploded too high. The shells made a noise just 
like rockets, and those that exploded near us smelt 
horribly nasty. I ascertained that Hliebnikoff, the 
young sub-lieutenant, had been wounded in the 
night, and sent to the hospital. The time seemed 
to pass very quickly, as if someone was turning the 
wheel of things at a prodigious, unaccustomed speed. 
When our own guns fired a salvo, and the enemy's 
guns burst at the same time, I felt sometimes as if 
the world was falling to pieces, and one's head 
seemed like to split. Most of the men had cotton- 
wool in their ears. This went on till about one 
o'clock, when a pause occurred. I left the kopje, 
and sought a safer place near the horses ; then I 
went to see what was happening in other parts of 
the field. 

Eastward, the firing was loud and incessant. A 
long stream of wounded was flowing to the Red 
Cross, and from thence to Liaoyang. The ground 
was strewn in some places with bandages soaked in 
blood. Some men were walking with the blood 

130 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

soaking through their bandages ; others were carried 
on stretchers. 

Near the station of the Red Cross ambulances 
were starting for the town. The noise seemed 
louder than ever. I was quite deaf in one ear. 
I remained for the rest of the day near the Red 
Cross. After a while I thought I would go back 
to the battery, and I inquired of an officer whether 
it was still in the same place. He told me that it 
had moved, and been taken west. This I after- 
wards found out was not so. It remained in its 
old position until nine o'clock in the evening, 
having fired more or less during the whole day. 

Fighting was going on all round, though nothing 
was visible. Every now and then I saw troops 
disappear into the kowliang. The attack on the 
right flank on the railway line had shifted further 
north. It lasted until nine o'clock in the evening 
The Japanese not only did not succeed in breaking 
through the lines to the west, but they were driven 
back two miles. To the east they took a trench 
which was never retaken. Then, owing to Kuroki's 
turning movement in the east, orders were issued 
to retire at ten o'clock that evening. On the 
following morning the loth and i3th Corps had 
crossed the river to join the i7th and the 5th Corps. 
Liaoyang, with its triple line of defences, was left 
to defend itself, while the rest of the army crossed 
the river. It was a terrible battle, and in itself 

131 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

neither a victory nor a defeat for either side. The 
losses on both sides were enormous, the bravery 
displayed on both sides prodigious. Some of the 
Russian infantry had fought for forty-eight hours 
without ceasing, and without bread. And though 
the battle of Liaoyang was over, the fighting had 
not ceased. All through the night of the 3ist the 
Japanese attacked the forts ; a Cossack officer, who 
was in one of these forts, told me that the sight 
was beyond words terrible ; that line after line of 
Japanese came smiling up to the trenches to be 
mown down with bullets, until the trenches were 
full of bodies, and then more came on over the 
bodies of the dead. An officer who was in the fort 
he described went mad from the sheer horror of the 
thing. Some of the gunners went mad also. 

I rode back to the town towards evening ; on 
the way I met Brooke, who had been with General 
Stackelberg. We turned back to watch some 
regiments going into action towards the east, and 
then we rode back to Liaoyang with the streams of 
ambulances and stretchers, and wounded men 
walking on foot. The terrible noise was still con- 
tinuing. I thought of all the heroes of the past, 
from the Trojan war onward, and the words which 
those who have not fought their country's battles, 
but made their country's songs, have said about 
these men and their deeds, and I asked myself is 
that all true ; is it true that these things become 

132 



THE BATTLE OF LIAOYANG 

like the shining pattern on a glorious banner, the 
captain jewels of a great crown, which is the richest 
heirloom of nations, or is all this an illusion, is war 
an abominable return to barbarism, the emancipa- 
tion of the beast in man, the riot of all that is bad, 
brutal, and hideous ; the suspension and destruction 
of civilisation by its very means and engines, and 
that those songs and those words which stir our blood 
are merely the dreams of those who have been 
resolutely secluded from the horrible reality ? And 
then I thought of the sublime courage of Colonel 
Philemonoff, and of the thousands of unknown 
men who had fought that day in the kowliang 
without the remotest notion of the why and where- 
fore, and I thought that war is perhaps to man 
what motherhood is to woman, a burden, a source 
of untold suffering, and yet a glory. 



133 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE RETREAT FROM LIAOYANG 

HP HE evening and night of the 3ist Brooke 
and I spent at Colonel Potapoff s house, one 
of the little government brick houses near the 
station. Some people arrived later, bringing the 
latest news from the field of battle, which was that 
the Japanese had been driven back towards the 
west. 

The next morning when we awoke we heard no 
noise, no firing Colonel Potapoff went out to 
see what was happening. He returned with the 
news that a retreat had been ordered. I went to 
the telegraph office to send off a despatch to the 
Morning Post. It was entirely dismantled, and 
they were about to move into a railway carriage ; 
the telegram was accepted and paid for it was a 
long and expensive one but it never reached 
London. An hour later that office was shelled. 
Firing began and we were told that the new 
town would soon be shelled. Brooke, Colonel 
Potapoff and I had our horses saddled and put 
all our belongings on a large Chinese cart, and 
we set out with two Chinese boys. It was a 

134 



THE RETREAT FROM LIAOYANG 

fine hot day. We rode out of the town and 
reached a Red Cross hospital, which was just out- 
side the town ; there Colonel Potapoff had some 
business and I waited for him Brooke, who was 
riding with the cart behind us, was to meet us 
at the bridge on the river. I waited some time 
at the Red Cross, and we had a little food there 
with one of the doctors. Then we started again. 
We arrived at the river. There were no signs of 
Brooke nor of our Chinese cart. We waited there 
two and a half hours and then we crossed the river. 
Hundreds of carts, transports and trains were 
crossing the bridge. We afterwards learned that 
Brooke had gone back into the town. 

I wanted to find the battery and met one of the 
Cossacks who belonged to it ; but all he told me 
was that it was somewhere to the left. We pro- 
ceeded on our march ; a little later in the afternoon 
we met two French correspondents : M. Roucouli 
of the Temps y and M. Nodeau of the Journal-, 
they had lost all their luggage during the bombard- 
ment of the new town, which had begun soon after 
our departure. 

We arrived at a siding where a train stopped ; it 
was full of stores ; not Government stores, but the 
remains of the Greek stores at Liaoyang, and the 
provisions of the "international hotel" and other 
European shops. To my great joy the soldiers 
looted it, hurling bottles of beer and packets of 

135 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

cigarettes and tobacco from the train to their 
comrades below. I drank one of the bottles of 
beer, and we took away others and resumed our 
march to Yantai. 

We passed the night with the officers of a 
regiment of Siberian Cossacks which was bivouack- 
ing in a field not far from the railway line. The 
firing was still going on. At night we saw a 
great blaze as if the whole town were on fire- 
it turned out to be only one building. Nobody 
knew what was happening. The people who were 
with me took a pessimistic view of things. We 
thought things were much worse than they were ; 
that the forts would fall in the night and that 
Kouropatkin would be cut off. It was owing to 
the complete ignorance of the state of affairs 
which we all shared that caused me to miss the 
fight at Yantai. 

We thought there was going to be a retreat 
beyond Mukden to Tie-ling. The next morning 
I saddled my pony and determined to ride to 
Yantai. Nobody knew what had happened at 
Liaoyang. Troops and transports were retreating, 
but firing was audible to the west and to the east 
of us. 

Finally I left my pony with Colonel Potapoff who 
had got an horseless Cossack with him, and resolved 
to go to Mukden by train. I walked down to 
the siding. On the right of the railway line one 

136 



THE RETREAT FROM LIAOYANG 

of the large Red Cross tents was pitched, and 
the wounded were being bandaged. Three in- 
fantry soldiers arrived exhausted with fatigue and 
sat down near me. I asked one of them how he 
had left things. He told me he had been fighting 
for the last three days without stopping, and had 
nothing but a few dried biscuits to eat. He told 
his story with enthusiasm. I asked him whether 
he had been in a bayonet encounter. He answered : 
" Yes, again and again, hand to hand." 

" Do the Japanese fight well?" I asked. 

" I should think so," he answered, " they are 
molodtzi" (fine fellows), and he described to me, 
as others had done, how they came again and again 
to the charge. 

At that moment an officer came back and abused 
this poor fellow for sitting down to rest. " You are 
one of those cowards, I suppose," he said, " who are 
going back to Kharbin in order to tell them there 
that we have run away." 

" No, your honour," the man answered, and I felt 
sick at heart. 

Then Kouropatkin's train arrived empty. I 
obtained leave to go in it and arrived at Yantai 
station. By Yantai station a part of the ist 
Russian Corps was stationed, all spic and span 
in their new green uniforms and freshly-painted 
green carts. 

There I saw the French correspondents and 

137 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

Colonel Goedke ; but nobody who seemed to 
know or who could tell me what was happening. 
I had burnt my boats by leaving my pony behind, 
and was obliged to return to Mukden. That 
afternoon occurred the fight at Yantai. 

I arrived the same evening at Mukden, and sent 
to an hotel which had been inaugurated by a 
Chinaman called the Manchuria Hotel. There I 
found Mr Hands the Daily Mail correspondent, 
and M. de Jessen the Danish correspondent of 
the Berlinske Tiedende. It was a big, spacious 
building with two courtyards. It started by being 
an hotel, and ended by being the private residence 
of the war correspondents. 

I arrived at Mukden on September the 2nd. One 
by one all the other war correspondents arrived 
Colonel Goedke, M. de Lasalle, the correspondent 
of the Agence Havas, etc., etc. Brooke arrived on 
the 6th. The authorities at Mukden expected an 
immediate retreat on Tieling. The Russo-Chinese 
bank moved to Tieling ; the telegraph office was in 
the train, ready to start at any moment ; and every- 
body expected to be awakened one fine morning by 
the bursting of Japanese shells. 

We had made arrangements to retreat to Tieling, 
and we thought that it was merely a question of 
hours. However, the days passed, and nothing 
occurred, and in spite of rumours emanating from 
the Chinese, that the Japanese were five miles off, 

138 



THE RETREAT FROM L1AOYANG 

nothing happened. After a week of doing nothing 
I began to find the inaction tedious. My battery 
had disappeared. Some people told me it had gone 
to Kharbin to rest; others, that it was at Tieling. 
As a matter of fact it had gone to Kuan-cheng-tze, 
which is not far from Kharbin, by way of resting ; 
but the rest had consisted in marching straight 
to Kuan-cheng-tze, and thence back again to 
Mukden. 

M'Cullagh, the correspondent of the New York 
Herald, suggested that I should go with him to 
General Mishenko's corps, to which he was attached. 
Each correspondent was attached to a separate corps, 
and in order to change your corps you had first to 
apply to the General Staff. It was possible, how- 
ever, to pay a short visit to a corps without being 
officially appointed to it, if you did not wish to 
remain there permanently. 

On September the loth I started south for Sa-ho- 
pu with M'Cullagh and a company of the Chitinsky 
regiment of Cossacks. We bivouacked in a wood 
on the way, and arrived at Sa-ho-pu the next 
morning. We found General Mishenko living in 
the small fangtse with his staff : the same old story 
horses in the yard, dirt in the house, heat and 
monotony. General Mishenko himself made a great 
impression on me. He seemed to be far more deci- 
sive and businesslike than most of the generals one 
met. As a man he was simple, and extremely 

139 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

straightforward and amiable. His courage was 
proverbial. 

On September 4th, M'Cullagh and I took up our 
abode as the guests of the Verchnioodinski regiment, 
and the same day the whole corps moved about two 
versts further south to a field, where we bivouacked 
in the open. 

On September i3th, M'Cullagh woke me up early 
in the morning, and asked me if I would like to go 
on a reconnaissance. We started half-an-hour later 
with about forty Cossacks and two officers, and rode 
to a village on the banks of the Sha-ho. There the 
Chinese were asked the usual question : 

"Iben io-meyo?" " Japanese are, not are?" to 
which they generally answer No. 

On this occasion they said there were some 
Japanese in a temple about a mile to the east. Our 
detachment divided itself into two sections, and I 
went with one of the officers and his men. We rode 
into a field of kowliang about 800 yards from the 
temple which had been indicated to us. There the 
men were placed in the kowliang, and told to fire 
on the temple. They fired a volley, and the 
Japanese answered with a volley a few minutes 
later. The bullets whistled over our heads. The 
Japanese were clearly visible on the temple hill with 
a glass, and without a glass for the non-short-sighted. 

We remained there the rest of the day, not having 
obtained much more information than we had received 

140 



THE RETREAT FROM LIAOYANG 

from the Chinese in the morning namely, that on 
the temple hill there were a certain amount of 
Japanese. 

In the evening we rode back to a village and slept, 
with horses saddled and everything ready for an 
alarm, there being nobody between us and the 
Japanese. The next morning we returned to the 
regiment. M'Cullagh and I rode back to Mukden 
that same day. It was necessary for me to obtain 
an official permission if I wished to remain in that 
corps. 

I did not ask for the exchange, as I intended 
some day or other to find my Transbaikal battery. 
I stayed three days at Mukden, and on the 2Oth I 
started with Colonel Potapoff to pay a visit to 
General Kossagofsky's corps, which was on our 
extreme right flank near Sin-min-tin, forty versts from 
Mukden. We arrived at the first "etape" in the 
evening. "Etapes" are a sort of official post, in 
charge of an officer, consisting of one or two houses, 
placed at intervals on the main roads, so that travel- 
ling officers can pass the night in them. 

The first etape was a place remarkable for the 
scrupulous cleanliness with which it was kept. This 
was so rare in Manchuria that it felt almost un- 
canny. Not only was it clean, but orderly and 
scrupulously organised to the smallest detail. One 
did not dare throw one's cigarette ashes on the 
floor. The towels had small labels over them, such 

141 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

as : " This is for the hands " ; " This is for the face." 
The commander of this etape was evidently a 
meticulous man. 

We started at noon the next day for the next 
etape, and arrived there about five o'clock in the 
afternoon. Here we found quite a different order 
of things ; an equally spacious and roomy house, 
but an atmosphere of extreme geniality and a most 
jovial host. We had dinner, enlivened by cham- 
pagne bought from a German man of business who 
had come back from Newchang. 

On the following evening, just as dinner had 
started on the terrace outside, and the soldiers were 
celebrating someone's birthday in the yard by sing- 
ing a folk-song that has about seventy-five verses, 
just as champagne bottles were being opened, a 
whistle was heard, and the sergeant arrived and 
said, " Allow me to report that there is an alarm." 

The songs stopped abruptly ; the soldiers were 
formed up and marched off through the gate . . . 
but it was only a false alarm after all, and in twenty 
minutes' time they returned, still singing the con- 
tinuation of the same song. The next day I saw 
General Kossagofsky, and he arranged that I should 
go to advanced posts, whither I started the next 
day with an escort of frontier guards. 

I stayed a week in a village about twenty versts 
south with Colonel Kononovitch, who was in com- 
mand of the cavalry division there. Those were 

142 



THE RETREAT FROM LIAOYANG 

delicious days. The weather was perfect ; a mild 
autumn haze pervaded the landscape, which in these 
parts was rich and woody ; the kowliang had been 
reaped, and there was a subtle thrill in the air, a 
peculiar haze in the broad noondays there which 
made one think of autumn days in England ; the 
leaves were not brown, and there were no signs 
of decay ; but autumn made itself felt in the chilly 
dawns and the shortening evenings. I lived in the 
colonel's house ; with him was an adjutant, who 
went out shooting every day with his retriever, just 
as if he had been in Russia. In the evening the 
officers used to play vindt. 

Every morning detachments used to be sent out 
to reconnoitre, as this was the chief district of the 
Hun-hu-tses. The troops quartered here consisted 
of Cossacks of the Amur and frontier guards. 

Outside our house there was a large square field 
enclosed by a wall. Beyond it was a wooded hill. 
Here the men were encamped, and lit their camp- 
fires in the evening and sang songs. One song 
they used to sing very often contains the following 
cheerful sentiment : 

" I don't drink honey, 
I don't drink beer, 

I drink sweet vodka made of cherries ; 
I don't drink out of a thimble-glass, 
I don't drink out of beaker, 
I drink out of half a pail." 

As I used to lean over the wall watching them 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

cook their supper, they used to come and ask me 
questions, and often they offered me porridge made 
of buck-wheat, which was very good. 

The kind of questions they asked were how far 
off England was ; whether there were wolves in 
England; how bread was made there; how much 
wild ducks and horses cost in England ; what the 
country looked like ; whether we burnt coal or 
wood ; whether there was military service ? Once, 
when I had answered a whole string of similar 
questions to the best of my ability, the Cossack who 
was questioning me said, " In fact the English are 
white people, just like we are." 

This same man explained to me the difference 
between the Siberian troops and the troops which 
were arriving from European Russia. " The 
Siberian troops," he said, " you see, are used to 
an accursed country like this, but when the Euro- 
peans arrive and see all these strange things it 
makes them timid " (robkii). I asked this man 
what he thought of the Japanese. He said they 
were a ladni narod, a people whom you could mix 
with easily, easy to get on with, and very brave ; 
but he said in old times when people went to war 
the strongest side won, " but now it all depends on 
machines and ingeniousness. It's a great pity." 

Great flights of wild duck used to fly over our 
village in the evening, and there was a great quan- 
tity of wild duck on a reedy lake hard by. Every 

144 



THE RETREAT FROM L1AOYANG 

now and then we used to be startled by Hun-hu- 
tse atrocities. One poor man who was caught by 
them was frizzled to death by lighted spirits of 
wine in a small saucer. The Japanese were ex- 
pected to attack on this flank, as they subsequently 
did in the battle of Mukden ; but it never came to 
anything. After a time I began to think nothing 
would happen in this part of the world, and I 
resolved to go back to Mukden and try and find 
the battery and my friends once more. So one 
morning I started home again with an escort across 
the happy autumn fields down the Sin-min-tin road, 
which was crowded with innumerable Chinese carts, 
Pekin carts, pack mules, and foot passengers. I 
arrived at Mukden on October the 3rd, and at the 
railway station I met the veterinary surgeon of the 
2nd Transbaikal Battery, who told me they had 
just arrived from Kuan-chen-tze, and were now 
encamped near the station. 

At Mukden there was a great deal of movement 
and bustle. It was expected that General Kouro- 
patkin would take the offensive. I resolved to 
rejoin the battery immediately. 



145 



CHAPTER IX 

THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

T FOUND the battery bivouacking between the 
-*~ station and the Chinese cemetery among the 
graves. There I found all my old friends ; they 
had been right up to Kuan-chen-tze and some of 
them to Kharbin, and had returned provided with 
warm clothing. We dined in a small fangtse which 
was occupied by the colonel, who was still an invalid 
and lying in bed. After dinner we retired to pass 
the night under the trees, and very cold it was 
sleeping in flapping tents in the windy night 
and the misty dawn among the graves of forgotten 
dynasties. 

On the 4th we moved into a temple and enjoyed 
two days of idyllic calm. The temple was inhabited 
by a Buddhist priest, and there was a little, tiny 
Chinese child about three years old, who used to 
run about the courtyard, and with whom I made 
friends. This child was afraid of nothing, not of 
boys, or horses, or men. But when he saw the 
Cossack on sentry-go with a drawn sword, he used 
to insist on being carried past him, saying, " Ping ! " 
(which in Chinese means soldier) with an intonation 

146 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

which proved he shared the mistrust and contempt 
of his countrymen for the profession of the fighting 
man. A fighting man in a Chinaman's estimation 
ranks beneath the hun-hu-tse or the hooligan ; for 
whereas they fear the hun-hu-tse, their aversion for 
the soldier is mingled with contempt. 

I enjoyed those two days of peace, there was 
something infinitely quiet and beautiful in that 
temple, with its enclosure of trees and grass 
bathed in the October sunshine. This delicious 
calm did not last very long. The battery be- 
longed to the cavalry division of the ist Siberian 
Corps, but this had already gone to the front, and 
our fate was still undetermined. For the time being 
we were in the reserve. We were expecting to 
receive orders to start at any moment. There had 
been no time to repair the guns, since the battery 
had only barely had time to march to Kuan-chen-tze 
and back again. 

Kislitzki sat up all night of the 5th repairing the 
guns himself in the workshop of the artillery. 

October 6th. We received orders to start for the 
front and join the ist European Corps, which formed 
part of the reserves. We started after luncheon on 
the 6th, and arrived in the evening at the village 
of San-lintze twelve versts south-east of Mukden. 
We passed the night in a fangtse, and out of doors 
it froze hard. The Chinese heated the k'angs, 
and the result was towards two in the morning I 

147 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

felt that my head was frozen and my side 
roasted. 

October ^th. We moved early in the morning to 
another village three versts further on. There we 
were attached to the 7th regiment of Siberian 
Cossacks, commanded by Prince Troubetzkoi. A 
new officer joined us, a boy straight from college, 
Takmakov by name. Firing was heard that after- 
noon to the east, probably from where Rennenkampf 
was fighting. I went for a walk with Kislitzki, and he 
unfolded to me his views and ambitions. He was a 
student of Herbert Spencer and John Stewart Mill, 
and a lover of England, and owing to his love of 
tidiness and cleanliness used sometimes to be called 
an Anglo-maniac. That evening I shared a fangtse 
with him, as he always lived apart from the men ; 
he could not stand pigging it with other people. 
He spent most of the night making some (to me) 
mysterious implements of wood, something to do 
with rectifying the angle of sight of the guns, and 
singing long passages of Lermontov's poem, The 
Demon, as he worked. 

October 8. A day of idleness, rain and inaction. 

October 9. Early in the morning we moved to 
the village of Sachetun, where we took possession 
of two small dilapidated houses. Towards evening 
we also heard the rattle of musketry. In front of us 
were the 4th, i;th and loth corps ; on the left flank 
the ist, 2nd, and 3rd (commanded by General Stackel- 

148 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

berg) ; and on the right the 5th. We were still in 
the peaceful reserve with the ist European Corps, 
but the peace was not to last long. We were enter- 
tained that night at dinner by the 3rd Transbaikal 
battery, who were stationed in the same village. 
We heard the noise of firing all through the night. 
We sat down thirteen to dinner. A bad sign. 

October 10. A day of inaction at Sachetun. 
Artillery fire was audible all day long and in the 
night. 

October n. We left Sachetun towards the 
afternoon, and proceeded to a village about a verst 
further south. Here I met Georges de la Salle, 
the correspondent of the Agence Havas y who had 
apparently been wandering between the two lines. 
We rested in the village about half an hour, and 
then received orders to proceed further south, and 
to put ourselves at the immediate disposition of 
General Kouropatkin. 

We arrived at a village with an unpronounceable 
name, not far from General Kouropatkin's head- 
quarters. We arrived at the village at sunset. 
The limited number of Chinese fangtses were all 
occupied, so we bivouacked in a field. There were 
only two tents among us, and most of us slept out 
on the ground. To the south of us was the first 
range of hills which continue straight on to Yantai, 
and among which a desperate battle was going on. 
We heard firing all night. 

149 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

October 1 2. Artillery fire began at half-past six 
o'clock, and from a kopje in front of our position, I 
got a splendid view of the fighting. To the east 
were successive ranges of brown, undulating hills, 
and to the west a plain black with little dots of 
infantry (the ist European Corps). In this plain 
a Russian battery was engaged in an uninterrupted 
duel with a Japanese battery, and was receiving a 
hail of shells. They were under fire the whole day 
long ; the Japanese had got the range, but I ascer- 
tained afterwards that their losses were insignificant 
although the fire had been so heavy. Their carts 
were smashed and some horses killed. In the 
extreme distance, to the south-west of the kopje on 
which I stood, were the hills of Yantai. On a 
higher hill, in front of that on which I was standing, 
the infantry was taking up its position, and the 
Japanese shrapnel was falling on it. The infantry 
retired and moved to the south-west, and it looked 
at first as if there was going to be a general retreat, 
but that was not the case. 

The firing of the batteries continued uninter- 
ruptedly until ten minutes to seven o'clock in the 
evening. In the night it rained heavily, the noise 
of thunder mingling with that of the musketry. 
News of terrific fighting kept on arriving a battery 
lost and a regiment cut up and the wounded began 
to stream past our camp. There was another night 
of rifle fire. 

150 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

October 13. Again, punctually at half-past six in 
the morning, the artillery began once more. Early 
in the morning I went up on the kopje about a verst 
to the south of us. I watched the batteries firing and 
the Japanese shells falling constantly nearer to us. 
The infantry was entrenched in the hills, and to the 
west the Russian battery was firing in the position 
it had been the day before. On turning round I 
saw through my field-glass that our camp was astir. 
I ran back to it, and was met by a Cossack, my 
soldier servant, who was a Buriat, and worshipped 
only at the shrine of the Lama of Thibet. He was 
leading my pony, and as I mounted the animal, 
Japanese shells began to explode on the kopje 
where I had been standing. All the transports 
of the ist Corps, which was camped next to us, 
began to move it was about half-past eight in the 
morning and we were expecting to start also, 
when we suddenly received orders to remain where 
we were. The Japanese shelling ceased for the 
time being. We remained practically alone in the 
field by the village. A little before one o'clock a 
regiment of the ist Corps, which was in front of us, 
received orders to retreat. 

At one o'clock in the afternoon it was said that 
the enemy was beginning to turn our right flank. 
We received orders to fire on the Japanese battery 
on the south-west, and to cover the retreat of the 
Russian field battery, which was between it and us. 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

At twenty minutes to three the battery went into 
action. The guns were masked behind the houses 
of the village, and Colonel PhilemonofT, in order to 
get a good view, climbed up an exceedingly high 
tree which grew by the side of the houses. Know- 
ing that he might at any moment be seized by a 
paroxysm of pain, my blood ran cold to see him 
do this. Not being able, however, to see sufficiently 
well from the tree he climbed down and moved up 
on to the slope of the hill. He began to give out 
the range, but after two shots had been fired he fell 
almost unconscious to the ground, and Kislitzki 
took over the command. 

The Japanese answered with shells of shimose'. 
My attention was particularly attracted by the ex- 
plosion of a shell on the slope. It seemed to me 
to have torn up a mass of kowliang or a portion of 
a tree, and to have scattered it into fragments. 
But when, at three o'clock, we left the position in 
order to fire further west, we saw that it was not 
kowliang or a piece of a tree that had been blown 
up, but a man. We took up our position on another 
and higher hill, and fired west at the furthest 
possible range on the Japanese infantry, which we 
could see moving in that direction against the 
horizon. The battery fired till sunset, the shrapnel 
falling in the exact position desired, and when we 
had finished the Inspector of Artillery of the ist 
Corps, who had been looking on, complimented 

152 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

the Commander, declaring that he had never seen 
more exact firing. He added that a Cossack 
battery was worth ten of his European batteries. 
He also made a speech to the men serving the 
guns, congratulating them on their good work, which 
began, "little children, little Cossacks." It was a 
simple and straightforward speech, and struck exactly 
the right note. At dusk we marched into a village ; 
everywhere on these hills the infantry was stationed 
in trenches ready for the night attack. Some of 
the men had been killed by shells, and by a trench 
I saw two human hands. 

October 14. We were aroused at four o' clock in 
the morning by the noise of firing. I had got so 
used to hearing that peculiar ticking rattle that I 
awoke the moment I heard it, as if it had been an 
alarum set to call me. We moved out into the road 
and waited for the dawn. It was quite dark. The 
firing seemed to be close by. The Cossacks made 
a fire and cooked bits of meat on a stick. My Buriat 
soldier-servant was a great adept at that art, as in 
his country all meals are served in that fashion. 
At dawn Prince Troubetzkoi arrived with the news 
that the i;th and loth Corps had repulsed the 
assault of the enemy, and that we were to join him 
later on in an attack. The commander went in 
search of a suitable position and I accompanied him. 
From a high hill we could see through a glass the 
Japanese infantry climbing up the kopje immediately 

153 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

south of our former camp. The Japanese climbed 
the kopje, lay down, and fired on the Russian 
infantry to the east of them, the Russians being 
screened from our sight by another hill. Our 
battery was placed at the foot of the hill, and opened 
fire on the enemy's battery five versts to the south- 
west. The enemy replied from the east and the 
west with shrapnel and shell, and the situation 
seemed ugly. The battery was quickly extricated, 
however, and moved (the operation was excessively 
difficult as the field where the battery had received 
orders to be placed consisted of clotted earth) under 
heavy fire to a position on a hill further north. We 
fired thence on the enemy's battery which was five 
versts distant to the south-west. 

Colonel Philemonoff, Kislitzki and I lay on the 
turf on the top of the hill. Kislitzki was giving the 
range, behind us on the slope of the hills were the 
guns. As we sat down a shell burst about two 
yards from the colonel ; he grunted and moved 
about a yard to the left. The enemy were firing 
shrapnel and shimose. 

Our firing seemed to be extraordinarily accurate. 
One of the shells must have alighted on a Japanese 
ammunition cart, for during a second I saw a pillar of 
flame which I at first took to be a burning house, 
but it suddenly disappeared. 

The battery went into action at 8 A.M. After we 
had been firing about an hour, the Japanese infantry 

154 



THE BATTLE OF SHA HO 

came round through the valley and occupied a 
kopje north-west of us, and opened fire first on our 
infantry which was beneath and before us, and then 
on the battery. The sergeant came and reported 
that men were being wounded and horses had been 
killed. 

Takmakov, the boy Cossack, who had just arrived 
from college was shot through the chest, happily 
the wound was a slight one. A Cossack was shot 
through the head and went mad ; another was 
seriously wounded. The Japanese infantry was 
stationed at a distance of 600 sajen from us, that is 
about 1 200 yards. Then Hlebnikoff, one of the 
youngest of the officers belonging to the battery, 
(and perhaps the most conscientious), who was com- 
manding a section, reversed three of the guns and 
fired on the infantry, giving the range himself. 

This continued until noon. The Japanese were 
clearly visible, through a glass one could have 
recognised a friend. Their bullets whistled over 
our heads. At noon the infantry retired leaving us 
unprotected, and we were forced to retreat at full 
speed under heavy shrapnel and cross infantry fire. 
I was left without a pony and had to run, till a 
Cossack brought me a riderless horse, which I 
mounted with great difficulty as it had an extremely 
high saddle, and all the Cossack's belongings on its 
back. We retired to Sachetun, crossing the river 
Sha-ho, arrived there at i P.M. We had scarcely 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

halted ten minutes when we were ordered to move 
forward as an attack was to be made. Everybody 
was expecting a general retreat to Mukden. The 
stores at Sachetun were burning in great columns 
of flame. We thought we were being ordered 
merely to cover a retreat ; but this was not so, as 
on the right flank the Russians had repulsed the 
Japanese attack, as we had been told in the morning. 
We went into action recrossing the river Sha-ho 
under heavy fire. It had begun to pour with rain. 
As we crossed the river one of our horses had the 
front of its face literally torn off by shrapnel. We 
took up a position on the further side of the river 
about thirty yards from the banks and fired due 
south. 

The first few shots of the enemy were fired with 
great precision on to the battery. They then 
altered the range and their shells fell on the farther 
bank of the river. After we had fired for about 
twenty minutes, the enemy's fire ceased all along the 
line. Only two mountain batteries, and the Russians 1 
east to the Japanese west continued firing. It 
was at this moment that the Japanese advance 
ceased all along the line, and we now know that the 
reason why it ceased was because they had run short 
of ammunition. Had they continued their advance 
at this moment we should probably have been forced 
to retreat to Mukden, and possibly to abandon 
Mukden also. 

156 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

Kislitzki and I walked towards the south to see 
what was going on, and climbed up on the roof of 
an isolated cottage : we were almost killed for our 
pains by a stray shell which whizzed over our heads 
and exploded on the ground behind us. Then we 
returned and set out for a village to the south-west 
by a circuitous route across the river. Nobody 
knew the way. Nobody seemed to have heard of 
the village. We marched and marched until it 
grew dark. Some Cossacks and Chinese were 
sent to find out where the village was. We 
halted for an hour by a wet ploughed field. At 
last they returned and led us to our destination. 
We expected to find our transport there. I was 
nursing the hope that I should find dry clothing 
and hot food, as we were drenched to the skin 
and half dead with fatigue and hunger. When 
we arrived at the village I was alone with an 
officer ; we dismounted at a bivouac and he went 
on ahead expecting me to follow him. I thought he 
was to come back and fetch me. I waited an hour ; 
nobody came so I set out to find our quarters. The 
village was straggling and mazy. I went into 
house after house and only found strange faces. 
I returned to the bivouac and got one of our 
Cossacks to guide me : we spent another half hour 
in fruitless search. At last we found the house. I 
entered the fangtse and found all the officers ; but 
no transport, no food and no dry clothing. 

157 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

The officer who had guided me said : " Why did 
you desert me ? " 

I threw my riding whip on the floor in a fit of 
exasperation and said : "It was you who left 



me." 



Then they all laughed and one of them said, " We 
must shake hands with you, because this is the first 
time you have shown signs of discontent, before we 
thought you were superhumanly contented, but now 
we know you are human." 

October \^th. We spent in quiet and inaction. 

I spent the night in the colonel's quarters and we 
discussed Russian literature, especially Dostoievski's 
novels, for which we both had a passion. He asked 
me which of the Russian novelists I preferred. I 
said Dostoievski and Gogol. " I think the same," 
he said, " but I am surprised at your thinking that ; 
is it possible that a foreigner can appreciate the 
humour of Gogol ? " I said that Englishmen would 
probably find it hard to believe that foreigners 
could appreciate the humour of Dickens. He said 
he had a passion for Dickens. The case then was 
analogous. We discussed Dostoievski's masterpiece, 
" The Brothers Karamazov "; the colonel greatly pre- 
ferred the elder brother Dimitri, of the three brothers. 

October ibtk. We received orders at dawn to be 
in readiness ; a rumour arrived that the Japanese 
were in a village three versts off and we were 
prepared to retreat to Mukden. Half an hour later 

158 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

we were ordered to join the ist Siberian Corps, our 
proper corps, which had been sent south to attack. 

We marched to a village called Nan-chin-tza, 
about three versts distant from the hill which the 
Russians call Poutiloft's Hill and the English Lonely 
Tree Hill. It had been taken in the night by the 
Japanese. We could see through a glass men 
walking on it now and then, but nobody knew 
whether they were Japanese or Russians. Two 
Cossacks were sent to ascertain the facts. Wounded 
men were returning one by one, and in bigger 
batches from every part of the field. It was a 
ghastly sight, and even worse than at Liaoyang. 
It was a brilliant sunshiny day and the wounded 
seemed to rise in a swarm from the earth. Their 
bandages were fresh and the blood was soaking 
through their shirts. The Cossacks returned saying 
the hill was occupied by the Japanese. We were 
told to join the ist Corps. Here I met Com- 
mandant Chemineau, one of the French military 
attaches and Captain Schoenmeyer the Chilian 
attache. We marched back a verst and found the 
corps bivouacking in the plains ; all along the road 
we met crowds of wounded and mutilated men, 
carried on stretchers, and walking, their wounds quite 
fresh and streaming with blood. We halted ten 
minutes and then we were ordered to go into action. 
We marched a verst south again, the guns were 
placed behind a village about three versts to the 

159 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

north of the hill to which General Poutiloff gave his 
name. 

On the way we met General Poutiloff himself 
and the infantry going into action. The guns were 
placed in the plain behind a village. Colonel 
Philemonoff and I climbed up on the thatched roof 
of a small house, whence he gave his orders. He 
gave the range himself throughout the whole day. 
In front of us was a road ; the house upon which 
we were seated was placed at the extreme right 
corner of the village ; to the right of us was a field 
planted with some kind of green vegetable which 
looked like lettuce. Infantry kept marching along 
the wood on its way to action ; a company halted 
by the field and began eating the lettuce. Our 
colonel shouted to them, " You had better make 
haste finishing the green stuff there, children, as I 
am going to open fire in a moment." They 
hurriedly made off as if it was upon them that fire 
was to be opened, save one, who, greedier than the 
rest, lingered a little behind the others, throwing 
furtive glances the while at the colonel, lest he 
should suddenly be fired upon. Soon after they 
had gone the battery opened fire; two other 
batteries were also shelling the hill, one from the 
east and one from the west. Orders were received 
to shell the hill until six o'clock and then to cease 
fire, as it was to be stormed. The enemy answered 
uninterruptedly with shrapnel, but not one of the 

160 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

Japanese shells touched us, they all fell beyond us. 
After we had been firing some little while three 
belated men belonging to a line regiment walked 
down the road ; our guns fired a salvo, upon which 
these men, startled out of their lives, crouched down 
in apprehension. The colonel, seeing this, shouted 
to them from the roof, " Crouch lower, or else you 
will be shot." They flung themselves on the road 
and grovelled in the dust, casting an imploring 
glance at the colonel. " Lower," he cried to them, 
"lower, can't you get under the earth?" They 
wriggled ineffectually, and lay sprawling about like 
big brown fish out of water. Then the colonel 
said : " You ought to be ashamed of yourselves ; 
don't you know that my shells are falling three versts 
from here, be off with you ! " As the sun set we 
ceased fire and waited. Soon a tremendous rattle 
of infantry told us the attack had begun. An 
officer subsequently described this fire as a "comb 
of fire " that seemed to tear the regiment to pieces. 
We waited in the dark, red, solemn twilight, and 
about an hour later a ringing cheer told us that the 
kopje had been taken. Someone who was with us 
remarked that it was just like manoeuvres. But all 
was not over, as the Japanese attacked the kopje 
twice after it had been taken ; it was partly taken 
but at what a cost we began presently to see. 

It grew dark, and we sought and found a Chinese 
house wherein to pass the night. Men began to 
L 161 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

arrive from the hill, and from their accounts it was 
difficult to tell whether the hill had been taken or 
not. With the officers was Glinka, the doctor of 
the battery. We had just laid ourselves down to 
rest when a wounded man arrived asking to be 
bandaged, then another and another. Many of the 
soldiers had received their preliminary attendance 
on the hill itself at the hands of the army surgeons 
and assistants, but the detachment of the Red Cross 
by which the wounded could be rebandaged was 
twelve versts distant. Soon our house was full of 
wounded, and more were arriving. They lay on 
the floor, on the k'angs, and in every available place. 
Light was the difficulty. We had only one candle 
and a small Chinese oil lamp, and the procession of 
human agony kept on increasing. The men had been 
badly wounded by bullet and bayonet, torn, mangled 
and soaked in blood. Some of them had broken 
limbs as well as wounds. Some had walked or 
crawled three miles from the hill, while others, 
unable to move, were carried on greatcoats slung on 
rifles. When one house was full we went to the 
next, and so on, till all the abodes up the street 
of the village were filled. Two of the officers 
bandaged the slightly wounded, while the doctor, 
with untiring energy and deftness, dealt with the 
severely injured. The appalling part of this 
business was that one had to turn out of the house 
by force men who were only slightly wounded, 

162 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

or simply utterly exhausted and faint, so as to 
reserve all available space for the severely wounded. 
And even if you have not been severely wounded, 
yet after fighting for hours it is not an agreeable 
prospect to have to walk fifteen miles before there 
is any chance of getting food. Some of them merely 
implored to be allowed to rest a moment and to 
drink a cup of tea, and yet we were obliged ruth- 
lessly to turn them from the door in view of the 
ever-increasing mass of agonising and mangled men 
who were arriving and crying out in their pain. 

The Russian soldier, as a rule, bears his wounds 
with astounding fortitude, but the wounded of whom 
I am speaking were so terribly mangled that many 
of them were screaming in their agony. Two 
officers were brought in. " Don't bother about us, 
doctor," they said; "we shall be all right." We 
laid these two officers down on the k'ang. They 
seemed fairly comfortable ; one of them said he felt 
cold ; and the other that the calf of his leg tingled, 
" Would I mind rubbing it ? " I lifted it as gently as 
I could, but it hurt him terribly, and then rubbed 
his leg, which he said gave him relief. " What are 
you?" he said, "an interpreter, or what?" (I had 
scarcely got on any clothes, what they were, were 
Chinese and covered with dirt.) I said I was a 
correspondent. He was about to give me some- 
thing, whether it was a tip or a small present as a 
remembrance, I shall never know, for the other officer 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

stopped him and said, " No, no, you're mistaken." 
He then thanked me very much. Half an hour 
later he died. One seemed to be plunged into the 
lowest circle of the inferno of human pain. I met a 
man in the street who had crawled on all fours the 
whole way from the hill. The stretchers were all 
occupied. The manner in which the doctor dealt 
with the men was magnificent. He dominated the 
situation, encouraged every one, had the right 
answer, suppressed the unruly and cheered up those 
who needed cheering up. 

The house was so crowded and the accommodation 
so scanty that it took a very short time to fill a 
house, and we were constantly moving from one 
house to another. The floor was, in every case, so 
densely packed with writhing bodies that one 
stumbled over them in the darkness. Some of the 
men were being sick from pain ; others had faces 
which had no human semblance at all. Horrible 
as the sight was the piteousness of it was greater 
still. Mentem mortalia tangunt. The men were 
touching in their thankfulness for any little atten- 
tion, and noble in the manner which they bore 
their sufferings. 

We had tea and cigarettes for the wounded. 

I was holding up one man who had been terribly 
mangled in the legs by a bayonet. The doctor 
was bandaging him. He screamed with pain. The 
doctor said the screaming upset him. I asked the 

164 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

man to try not to scream and lit a cigarette and put 
it in his mouth. He immediately stopped, smoked and 
remained quite quiet until his socks were taken off. 
The men do not generally have socks, their feet are 
swathed in a white kind of bandage. This man had 
socks, and when they were taken off he cried, saying 
he would never see them again. I promised to 
keep them for him and he said, " Thank you, my 
protector." A little later he died. 

When we gave them tea and cigarettes they all 
made the sign of the Cross and thanked Heaven 
before thanking us. 

One seemed to have before one the symbol of 
the whole suffering of the human race ; men like 
bewildered children stricken by some unknown 
force, for some hidden inexplicable reason, crying 
out and sobbing in their anguish, yet accepting and 
not railing against their destiny, and grateful for 
the slightest alleviation and help to them in their 
distress. 

We stayed till all the houses were occupied. At 
two o'clock in the morning a detachment of the Red 
Cross arrived, but its hands were full to overflowing. 
Then we went to snatch a little sleep. We had in 
the meantime received news that the hill had been 
taken and that at dawn the next day we were to 
proceed thither. With regard to the exact time 
and manner in which Lonely Tree Hill was taken, 
the accounts are conflicting. 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

Some people state that it was taken on the 
evening of the i6th between seven and nine o'clock ; 
others that it was not finally taken until dawn of 
the i;th. 

General Sacharoffs official report reads as 
follows : "On the night of the 2nd-3rd (i5th-i6th) 
October the Japanese attacked in the centre the 
position occupied by two regiments on the so-called 
' Lonely Tree Hill,' north-west of the village of 
Nan-chin-tza, and forced these regiments to cross 
the River Sha-ho. Strengthened by reserves, our 
forces, after preliminary artillery shelling, attacked 
and stormed the hill after stubborn resistance and 
drove the enemy back beyond the hill." He adds 
in a later telegram : " The night of the 3rd-4th 
( 1 6th- 1 7th) passed off quietly in the storming of 
the hill of yesterday's date, the enemy occupied a 
strong position which had been hurriedly and in- 
sufficiently fortified by them . . . after an exceed- 
ingly successful artillery preparation, our troops 
took the whole position of the enemy and drove 
them back to a distance of two versts. Fighting 
continued until the morning of yesterday's date." 

The night of the 3rd (i6th), I spent, as I have said 
already, in the village of Nan-chin-tza, whither the 
wounded returned from the hill, saying it had been 
taken. 

One of the officers of the battery rode to the hill, 
and it was suggested by the officer in command 

166 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

there that the battery should at once move to the 
hill ; this was not done as a night attack was 
expected. During that night neither I nor my 
companions heard a shot fired ; but since it is stated 
in the official report that fighting continued until 
morning, I presume that this fighting took place 
two versts beyond the hill, five versts from us, in 
which case we would not have heard it. 

We heard the infantry firing when the attack was 
made most distinctly, and it ceased about 9 P.M., or 
possibly before. In any case, the next morning, 
October 17, shortly after sunrise, we were on the 
top of the western corner of the hill itself and the 
battery was placed in position in the plain at the 
foot of the hill. If the hill had only just been taken 
at dawn, we must have heard the firing as we rode 
from the village to it. Therefore I am personally 
convinced that this part of the hill, at any rate, was 
taken the night before ; and that the fighting in the 
night must have taken place beyond it ; the record 
in the " archives" of the battery recorded the matter 
as I have related it. 

Since writing this I have been informed from 
headquarters at Mukden that the version given 
above is correct. But I have also heard that there 
is still a great discussion as to when and by whom 
the hill was taken ; the Petrovski regiment claim 
to have taken it early in the morning of the i7th 
October ; whereas the infantry which was with 

167 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

Poutiloff declare that they took it on the evening 
of the 1 6th. The fact is that the term Poutiloff 
Hill is vague ; the hill was a great long place and 
adjoining it was another big hill, the Novgorod 
Hill ; fighting may have gone on there, or beyond 
Poutiloff 's Hill, all night. I only know three facts. 

1. The hill was attacked between 7 and 9 P.M. 
The firing was as audible as anything could be ; we 
heard cheering and we heard the fire cease. 

2. We heard no firing during the night. 

3. Early the next morning I was myself standing 
on the western extremity of the hill talking to 
General Poutiloff. 

October 17. At dawn we started for PoutilofFs 
Hill, trotting all the way. The road was covered 
with bandages ; the dead were lying about here 
and there ; but when we arrived at the hill itself 
the spectacle was appalling. I was the only 
foreigner who was allowed to visit the hill that 
day. As the colonel rode up the hill we passed 
a Japanese body which lay waxen and stiff on the 
side of the road and suddenly began to move. 
The hill itself was littered with corpses. Six 
hundred Japanese dead were buried that day, and 
I do not know how many Russians. The corpses 
lay there in the cold dawn with their white faces 
and staring eyes, like hateful wax-work figures. 

Even death seemed to be robbed of its majesty, 
and to be bedraggled and made hideous by the 

168 



THE BATTLE OF SHA-HO 

horrible fingers of war. But not entirely. Kis- 
litzki, who was with me, pointed to a dead 
Japanese officer who was lying on his back, and 
told me to go and look at his expression. I did 
so ; he was lying with his brown eyes wide open 
and smiling, showing his white teeth. But there 
was nothing grim or ghastly in that smile. It was 
miraculously beautiful ; it was not that smile of 
inscrutable content which we see portrayed on 
certain wonderful statues of sleeping warriors, such 
as that of Gaston de Foix at Milan, or Guidarello 
Guidarelli at Ravenna, but a smile of radiant joy 
and surprise as if he had suddenly met with a 
friend for whom he had longed for above all 
things, at a moment when of all others he had 
needed him, but for whose arrival he had not 
even dared to hope. Not far off a Russian boy 
was lying, fair, and curly headed, with soft grey 
eyes, a young giant, with his head resting on one 
arm as if he had sunk like a tired child overcome 
with insuperable weariness, and had opened his 
eyes to pray to be left at peace just a little longer. 

The trenches and the ground were littered with 
all the belongings of the Japanese ; rifles, ammuni- 
tion, bayonets, leather cases, field-glasses, scarlet 
socks, dark blue great coats, yellow caps, maps, paint 
brushes, tablets of Indian ink, soap, tooth-brushes, 
envelopes full of little black pills, innumerable note- 
books, and picture post-cards received and ready for 

169 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

sending. Some of the Japanese dead wore crosses. 
One had a piece of green ribbon sewn on a little 
bag hanging round his neck. One had been shot 
through a written post-card which he wore next 
to his heart. So many men were buried that day, 
that the men were positively faint and nauseated 
by the work of burying the dead. 

General Poutiloff was on the top of the western 
corner of the hill. There I remained with Colonel 
Philemonoff. The battery fired all day long ; the 
Japanese fired on us, but their shells fell beyond 
the hill into the plain. One of our Cossacks was 
seriously wounded while he was eating his luncheon 
under the shelter of the hill in a trench, and this 
made me think of Napoleon's remark to a young 
soldier he saw ducking to avoid a shell. 

"If that shell were meant to find you it would 
do so were you buried twenty leagues under the 
earth." 



170 



CHAPTER X 
POUTILOFF'S HILL 

A T the foot of the hill two or three Japanese 
**- prisoners sat round a fire, drinking tea with 
the Cossacks. Some wounded Japanese lay there 
covered up with coats and wraps, waiting for the 
ambulance, which arrived in the evening. The 
Japanese, though they suffered from the cold, 
seemed happy enough, with the exception of one 
who reminded me, by his proud and mournful 
expression, of a beautiful description of a caged 
eagle : 

" Up to the hills he lifted longing eyes 
And waited for the help which never came ; 
Too proud to wonder what had torn him thence, 
Too sad to mourn, too strong to be consoled." 

During the day a touching incident occurred. 
A Japanese soldier surrendered, bringing with him 
his wounded brother whom he had not been able 
to carry back to the Japanese lines. He was 
convinced that in doing this he would be killed, 
since he related that the impression prevailed in 
the Japanese army that the Russians killed their 
prisoners. 

171 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

During this first morning I had an opportunity of 
seeing what treatment the wounded and the prisoners 
received at the hands of the Cossacks. All day long 
the Cossacks busied themselves with the wounded, 
carrying them tenderly to safe and warm places 
we were under intermittent fire all day and bring- 
ing them food and cigarettes. If I had been a 
Japanese and wounded I would rather have walked 
into the hands of the Transbaikal Cossacks than 
into those of any of the other Russian troops here. 
The Transbaikal Cossacks especially are the most 
good-natured and long-suffering of men. I have 
seen them bullied by the Chinese, and yet they bear 
the exasperating treatment with the utmost for- 
bearance. I have seen the Chinsse refuse them 
bread when they were hungry and fuel when they 
were cold, and other correspondents have been 
witnesses to this also, and I have longed to incite 
them to take what they wanted. That is an 
immoral sentiment engendered by war. I admire 
the Chinese beyond words, and they have my 
deepest sympathy, but I used to find that when 
one came into personal contact with them in plain 
matters such as food, lodging and fuel, they were 
enough to drive one mad by their relentless grasp- 
ingness and greed. Moreover they always got the 
best of one unless one used physical force, which 
the competent authorities say is the greatest mistake 
one can commit. 

172 



POUTILOFFS HILL 

A French writer says somewhere, that in all 
times the Cossacks have been calumnied. There 
are, however, Cossacks and Cossacks, and Cossack 
is an excessively wide term, considering that it 
includes inhabitants of Transbaikalia as well as 
settlers on the banks of the river Don. Few 
people in Europe know what any kind of Cossack 
is. They may be worse in some ways than they 
are pictured ; but they are different very different 
from the popular conception of the Cossack. 

The Cossacks were originally people who escaped, 
wandered or emigrated from Russia proper, in the 
thirteenth century, when there was no Russian 
Empire, but a kingdom of Moscow ruled over by 
a Muscovite Tsar. It is perhaps not superfluous 
to mention that there has never been such a thing 
as a Tsar of Russia or a Tsar of all the Russias 
and that the term is incorrect unless used poetically 
there were Tsars of Moscow. When Peter the 
Great created the Russian Empire he became 
Emperor (Imperator) of all the Russias ; the 
present Emperor is Emperor of all the Russias, 
and Tsar of Astrakan and of the extra- Russian 
principalities in the same way as the King of 
England is Emperor of India. 

Queen Victoria was very severe on diplomats 
who referred to the Emperor of Russia as the Tsar 
in their official despatches. To go back to the 
Cossacks. In the thirteenth century when the Tartars 

173 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

invaded Russia, they pushed down to the south 
leaving a tract of deserted land between them and 
the kingdom of Moscow ; thither, on the banks of 
the Don and the Dnieper, fugitives, wanderers and 
adventurers emigrated from the kingdom of Moscow 
and founded a colony and called themselves Cossacks. 
The present Cossacks are the descendants of these 
colonists. They own the land and have their own 
laws and administration, in return for which they are 
liable to military service under special conditions. 
They are obliged to furnish their own horses and 
equipment. 

The Siberian and Transbaikal Cossacks are the 
descendants of settlers in Siberia and Transbaikalia, 
and form part of the same organisation ; but as a race 
they differ greatly from the European Cossacks. 
The European Cossacks have the reputation of 
great brutality and cruelty. This is no doubt 
because they are employed by the government in 
suppressing riots and revolutionaries, which they do 
with the greater zest in that they do not consider 
themselves Russians but Cossacks. It is an insult 
to call a Cossack a soldier. He is not a soldier, 
but a Cossack. I had no experience of the 
European Cossacks ; but I lived with extra- 
European Cossacks during the whole time I was 
in Manchuria; with the Siberian Cossacks, in General 
SamsonofFs division, with the Cossacks of the Amur, 
with the Transbaikal Cossacks and many others 

174 



POUTILOFFS HILL 

I found they were a delightful race of people, 
good-natured, long-suffering and ingenious. In 
fact, they very much resembled the Irish. They 
often told lies in a transparent childish manner. 
They quarrelled and abused each other but never 
came to blows. They were extraordinarily in- 
genious in finding food and making themselves and 
others comfortable by building houses and making 
stoves out of insufficient means. 

If you told a Cossack to ride into a ford to 
see whether it was passable or whether one would 
be drowned in it, he would do so at once and not 
be drowned. They were far more effective in- 
dividually than collectively. They were wonder- 
ful riders and lost without a horse. There are two 
proverbs about Cossacks which pleased me ; one is 
"A Cossack will starve but his horse will have 
eaten his fill," and the other is " The Cossack's 
brother is Death." 

I lived among these men all the time I was in 
Manchuria and had the opportunity of studying 
them closely. 

They used, as I have already said, often to 
question me about England. When I answered 
their questions they generally used to say, "it's 
a country exactly like Russia and not like this 
place." Once during the Malacca incident a 
Cossack came up to me and said : " There is going 
to be a war with England," I said I thought not. 

175 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

"Yes," he answered, "I read it in the newspapers. 
It's a pity because Englishmen are civil ; when I 
hold their horses at the station they give me a 
present. The Russians tell me to go to the Devil." 

I often had opportunities of watching their deal- 
ings with the Japanese wounded, and their treatment 
of them was exactly what the Times described the 
Japanese treatment of the Russian prisoners and 
wounded as being ; " namely that they treated them 
not only with mercy but with tenderness." I saw 
one Cossack sponging the face of a Japanese 
wounded man, as if he had been a nurse. 

There is a sentence in the German official account 
of the war in South Africa which is refreshingly 
sensible. Talking of the alleged brutalities of the 
British troops the writer says that exceptional cases 
of brutality occurred as they must occur in every war 
on both sides, but that as a rule these stories were 
sheer fabrications, invented calumnies, and that the 
conduct of the soldiers had in general been above 
praise. The same thing is true of this war. There is 
no sort of bitterness between the combatants. The 
Russians are full of the greatest admiration for the 
Japanese. Exceptional cases of excess or brutality 
could no doubt be cited on both sides ; but what 
an ungrateful and ugly task it is to rake up these 
stones and what a false impression it conveys ; 
how unfair and unjust is this proceeding, consider- 
ing that on both sides the behaviour of the troops 

176 



POUTILOFF'S HILL 

has been on the whole wonderfully good. A corre- 
spondent who returned to Mukden from Liaoyang 
since the Japanese occupation told me that the 
Japanese were full of praise of the Russians. 

The Russians used always to say the Japanese 
were "molodtzi," which means "fine fellows," and 
is the greatest praise you can express in Russian. 

The following is a story the truth of which I can 
vouch for. A Russian and a Japanese were found 
locked in a hand to hand struggle. The Japanese 
was taken prisoner and the Russian was severely 
wounded. The Russian refused to be taken to the 
ambulance unless the Japanese were taken with 
him ; because the Russian said that it was " his 
Japanese." They were put together in the same 
hospital train and the Russian refused to be separ- 
ated from the Japanese and spent his time looking 
after him, and fanning his head and telling all 
visitors that it was " his Japanese" 

A Cossack officer in General Kossogovski's 
division, when I was dining in his regiment one 
evening, made us all nearly cry by his account of 
the way in which the Japanese fought and met 
death in front of one of the forts at Liaoyang. 
"Their officers are superior to us," he said, "more 
intelligent, more cultivated, and unsurpassably 
brave." 

The soldiers said the same thing. The good- 
nature and unselfishness of the Transbaikal Cossacks 
M 177 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

was never more noticeable than it was on the day 
we arrived at Poutiloffs Hill. For of their own 
accord the men went in search of the wounded, 
brought them to the fire and gave them tea and 
cigarettes and carried them themselves to the 
village, three versts off. The doctor was much 
struck by this and he begged me to notice it and 
to say something about it some time. 

The night of our first day at Poutiloffs Hill was 
spent in the open. It rained, but the Cossacks, 
who displa^> great ingenuity in making them- 
selves at home, built me a small house out of 
kowliang in which I was quite comfortable. In- 
fantry firing was heard quite close to us in the 
night. 

The next day was the first of a series of mono- 
tonous and restless days. We were entrenched 
on the hill, and the enemy began to make entrench- 
ments at a distance of three versts. There were 
two other batteries stationed near us. We fired 
but little, and the enemy shelled our position for 
about half an hour every day. We established 
ourselves in a broken-down " fangtze " at the 
foot of one end^ of the hill. There were no 
windows, and the doors had to be usd for fuel. It 
was the first time during the war that I experi- 
enced real discomfort. The nights were piercingly 
cold. The "k'ang" was too short to permit 
one to lie on with comfort, while the dirt and 

178 



POUTILOFFS HILL 

dust were distressingly abundant. Besides, it was 
neither work nor play. We were always on the 
alert. Almost every night we were aroused by 
infantry fire, while during the day we were disturbed 
by shells, and yet nothing interesting occurred. On 
the 2Oth of October, while we were quietly having 
luncheon behind a bank of earth on the summit of 
one side of the hill, the whole meal was spoilt by the 
explosion of five or six shimose shells in our imme- 
diate vicinity, which filled the soup and the tea with 
dirt. 

The days for the most part were spent in quiet 
and inaction, but generally towards the afternoon 
the enemy practised firing on us. Two or three 
times our "fangtze," which was supposed to be in a 
sheltered place, received a hail of shrapnel, and one 
of the orderlies was seriously wounded, and after- 
wards died. Sometimes a night attack used to be 
expected, and the battery remained in position al 
night. I thought I should like to experience what 
it was to sleep out by the guns. It proved to be 
infinitely more comfortable than our draughty and 
dismantled " fangtze." The Cossacks dug a house in 
the ground, and roofed it with kowliang, for the officers 
and myself to sleep in. They made a stove with 
bricks, so that one slept in comparative warmth until 
the fire went out. Towards one o'clock in the morning 
I became aware that my feet were frozen, and I 
sought the Cossacks' trench, where a wood fire was 

179 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

kept alight all night long. There I fell into a de- 
licious half-doze in front of the burning logs, while 
two Cossacks kept up a soft discussion on the causes 
of war and the attitude of the Great Powers towards 
Russia. From the east came the sound of infantry 
fire, and from the west, on the right flank, came the 
booming of guns, the noise lasting about two hours. 
I lay in my half-slumber, listening to the serious and 
simple reflections of the Cossacks, till the dawn sent 
a silver shiver over the sky, when I fell asleep until 
the Cossacks' soup-kitchens arrived at noon and 
soup was doled out. 

A week passed in this way, without anything of 
any particular interest happening, and I therefore 
resolved to return to Mukden. 

I left on the 3<Dth October with Colonel Phile- 
monoff, who had been ordered home to Russia by 
the doctors. He had been getting worse, and could 
scarcely move from his bed. In spite of this he 
would get up from time to time, and, muffled in 
cloaks, go up to the top of the hill in the bitter cold. 
He was an example of man's " unconquerable mind." 
And it was indeed bitter to him when he was at 
last forced to go and leave his men and the work, 
which was his life. I saw him say good-bye to the 
Cossacks. He made a short speech in a low voice, 
absolutely simple and unpretentious. 

Then as he rode away he told me how he had 
lived with these men, and regarded them as his 

1 80 



POUTILOFFS HILL 

children, and that it broke his heart to go away. 
He was a man of forbidding exterior, with a quiet, 
grim manner. He terrified some people out of their 
wits, but he was refined, cultivated, with a quiet sense 
of humour. 

" Lofty and sour to them that lov'd him not ; 
But, to those men that sought him sweet as summer." 

the embodiment of natural unaffected courage, and 
the men worshipped him. 

I arrived at Mukden on the 3ist of October, and 
the battery returned on the 4th of November to 
repair its guns. We established ourselves in our 
former quarters, the temple outside the city walls, 
whence we had started for the last battle. 

In the meantime the autumn had come and gone. 
It was winter. There had been practically no autumn. 
A long summer and an Indian summer of warm hazy 
days, like the end of August and the beginning of 
September in England, without any rich, solemn 
effects of red foliage and falling leaves, touched with 
"universal tinge of sober gold." One day the trees 
were still green, and the next the verdure had 
vanished. The sunshine had been hot, and then 
suddenly the puddles in the yard froze ; the sky 
became grey, the snow fell, and the wind cut like a 
knife. 

To my mind Manchuria is infinitely more 
beautiful in its leafless state than in summer. 
When the kowliang is cut the hidden undulations 

181 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

and delicate lines are revealed. It is a country of 
exquisite outlines. When one sees the rare trees, 
with their frail fretwork of branches standing out in 
dark and intricate patterns against the rosy haze of 
the wintry sunset, suffused and softened with in- 
numerable particles of brown dust, one realises 
whence Chinese art drew its inspiration ; one 
understands how the "cunning worker in Pekin" 
pricked on to porcelain the colours and designs 
which make Oriental china beautiful and precious. 

After a few days the snow disappeared, and, 
although the nights remained bitterly cold, the days 
were bright and beautiful, crisp and dazzlingly clear, 
just as they are in Cairo during the winter. 

I remained at Mukden until December the ist, 
when I started for London. 



182 



CHAPTER XI 

NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN ARMY 

A S I have already said, the Russian private 
** soldier seemed to me to afford the finest 
fighting material conceivable. In the first place, he 
is indifferent to death ; in the second place, he will 
fight as long as he is told to do so ; thirdly, he will 
endure any amount of hardships and privations 
good-naturedly and without complaining. It is 
often said that the Russian soldier is admirable 
on the defensive and when qualities of endurance 
are needed, but that he is no good on the offensive. 
I believe this is a catch-word which has no 
foundation in fact. I believe the truth to be 
that the Russian soldier will go anywhere and 
do anything, only that the amount of dash of 
which he will be capable will depend on the amount 
of dash with which he is led. That Russian 
infantry is capable of doing marvels under inspired 
direction was proved to the world in 1799 by the 
campaign of Suvorow, but since Suvorow Russia 
has not had an inspired leader of genius. 

Skobelieff was a dashing soldier, but he had not 
the Napoleonic rapidity of conception and action as 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

Suvorow had ; and it needs something more than 
dash to handle an army, as a great musician handles 
a musical instrument. 

In this war, with the exception of General 
Kondratchenko, the defender of Port Arthur, there 
has been no instance of any such inspired and 
inspiring generalship. General Mishenko was an 
energetic leader, but, being a cavalry leader, and 
the opportunities for effective cavalry work being 
limited by the nature of the country, has had but 
comparatively small scope for the exercising of his 
talents. A still more capable general to my mind 
was General Samsonoff, who also suffered from 
lack of opportunity but never did anything badly. 
From the commander - in - chief downwards the 
principal fault in the Russian command seems to be 
a lack of initiative ; the generals shrink from taking 
the responsibility, and lose time and opportunity 
by referring decisions to the Commander-in-Chief. 
As to the spirit which animates the soldiers, they 
have, in the first place, no sort of idea of what the 
war is about ; they think that Manchuria is a 
country unfit for white men, and they have only one 
desire, and that is to go home. Every soldier 
who ever spoke to me asked me how long the 
war was going to last, and whether there was any 
chance of peace being declared. 

I said to one who had asked me this usual 
question : " The winter is coming on, and it will be 

184 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN ARMY 

a time of hardships." He answered : " It's not the 
winter we mind, we're used to the cold ; but we 
want to go home to our wives and children." 

The European soldiers felt this way more than 
the Siberians, who felt more at home in Manchuria. 

I do not think that this manner of looking at 
the campaign has any great result on their fighting. 
They fight because they have been told to do so 
for the Emperor; it is inconceivable to them that 
Manchuria should be the object of the fighting, 
as they do not think a sane man would waste a 
thought still less the life of a Cossack on such 
a country. 

I am told our troops used to say the same thing 
in South Africa. Colonel Goedke also told me 
that in 1870 officers and men, although they were 
victorious and in France, after six months' cam- 
paigning, were utterly sick of the war. 

A soldier one day said to me that he wondered 
how the Chinese could be so patient considering 
that their crops were destroyed and their houses 
burnt. "Fancy," he said, "if that happened in 
our country." This made me think that the spirit 
of the Russian soldier would be very different if 
he thought he was fighting for anything remotely 
connected with Russia. 

An officer said to me that you could do anything 
with Russian soldiers if you could kindle their 
amour propre, and that once done they would be 

185 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

more formidable in an attack than on the defensive. 
This is equivalent to saying that what is needed 
is capable and inspired direction. In this war they 
have been from the very beginning trained to retreat 
and to consider the fact of retreating as the one 
natural event. Such a state of things cannot but 
have a bad effect on the morale of the men. 

That the infantry can attack with dash was 
proved by the way they stormed Lonely Tree Hill 
under a perfect hail of bullets. 

A great deal has been written and is still written 
daily about the hardships the Russians are en- 
during owing to their being without food and 
winter clothing. This is mere fancy. The soldiers 
have a plentiful supply of meat and are probably, 
as far as feeding goes, better off at the front than 
they are in barracks. When food has been scarce 
it has been owing, not to lack of supply, but to 
impossibility of distributing food during a fight 
or a forced march. It is also true that regiments 
occupying villages at the outlying positions have 
often been without bread and sugar, and have 
sometimes been reduced to biscuits. But the 
fact which nobody seems to grasp here is that it 
is possible to live on the country, and even if 
the men were reduced to feeding as the Chinese 
peasants do, on millet and beans, they would 
not starve. 

As to warm clothing by the middle of December 

1 86 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN ARMY 

the whole army was provided with thick coats 
reaching to the knees and lined with sheepskin, 
fur caps and felt boots. In the month of October, 
before the cold had begun, officers were sent from 
every regiment to Kharbin in order to bring back 
warm clothes for their men. Besides the thick over- 
coats (poloushoubki) the men had shirts made of a 
soft woollen stuff like a blanket. It is the more 
discontented of the " intellectuals " in St Petersburg 
and Moscow who are responsible for the reports 
about the wretched insufficiency of the men's 
clothing ; and they are then magnified by our daily 
press. If lack of initiative is the most crying defect 
of the Russian army, lack of proper organisation is 
the second fault. Just as in the civil administration 
of Russia disastrous results are obtained by the 
utter lack of cohesion and complete disconnection 
between one department and another, so in the 
army there is a deplorable want of connection 
between the various parts. 

As to the strategy and tactics, the competent 
authorities seem to agree that there has been no 
very brilliant display of strategy on either side ; 
and that the war in this respect has been almost 
pre-Napoleonic. 

In the case of General Kouropatkin, the ques- 
tion is obscured by the fact that it is not known 
how far he was hampered by the civil element 
at the beginning of the war. 

187 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

One very competent authority told me that he 
considered that at the beginning of the war 
General Kouropatkin had a perfectly clear idea 
of what he could do and what he could not do ; 
but that as far as his actual tactics went they were 
thoroughly old-fashioned, and showed no advance 
on the tactics employed by the Russian army in 
the war of 1877 against the Turks. 

Want of initiative was the fault generally imputed 
to him want of decision and of a far-reaching 
outlook. 

On the other hand, it cannot be said that the 
army had lost faith in him. Officers often said 
that he was a Berthier and not a Napoleon ; and 
it was universally admitted that he was a good 
organiser, a thoroughly competent man ; personally 
brave, simple and unassuming ; but as an organiser 
he had a great deal too much to do. 

A great deal has been made in the press about 
the boasts which General Kouropatkin was alleged 
to have made when he started for Manchuria. 
There is not a shadow of foundation for these 
statements. Never did a general go to a war in 
a less boasting frame of mind. In fact, he said 
that it would be quite impossible to win a victory 
at the initial stage of the war, and never advocated 
the advance south. 

To reform the system, which is at the root of 
the evils from which the Russian army suffers, 

188 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN ARMY 

would need a man of colossal genius ; since some 
of its most crying faults are inherent in the Russian 
national character. For instance, the laxity of 
discipline. It is not that the men are disobedient, 
but that the officers do not take the trouble to 
see that their orders are properly executed. 
They are inclined to let things slide, and to put 
off things to the next day. Another fact in 
connection with this is that it is impossible to 
force Russian soldiers, Russian peasants, or 
Russians of any kind to do things in any but their 
own way. If they kill a sheep in a particular 
way they will go on killing it in that way. It is 
no good bringing them a modern invention twice 
as practical, which will save them a great deal of 
time and trouble ; they will pay no attention to it, 
and go on in their old fashion. You will meet 
with a passive, smiling, and good-natured resist- 
ance, against which nothing can prevail. They 
are extremely unpractical, and at the same time not 
entirely unpractical ; they often muddle through ; 
for instance, the trains used to arrive ; new troops 
used to arrive ; the transport used to arrive, and one 
wondered how this was done, considering the con- 
fusion and the happy-go-lucky fashion in which 
everything connected with these matters seemed 
to be. 

If a general took energetic measures to see that 
his orders were carried out literally and promptly 

189 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

he incurred unpopularity. The officers under him 
resented being worried. It was in these very 
matters that the Japanese showed themselves 
so superior to the Russians, namely, in their 
organisation and in their discipline. 

In one of the points in which the Russians are 
infinitely superior to the Japanese namely, their 
cavalry the superiority was, if not nullified, at least 
lessened by the fact that the country was singularly 
unsuited for the use of cavalry ; moreover, the 
Cossacks, as a fighting weapon, are in a certain 
degree antiquated. They ride, as indeed is the 
case with all Russians, quite beautifully ; they lose 
all their heaviness and awkwardness on horseback, 
and become one with the horse, and give one the 
impression of centaurs ; but the time has gone by, 
or at least it certainly did not present itself in this 
war, when a cavalry charge of men equipped with a 
huge, thick lance is of any great advantage. Mounted 
infantry would have been invaluable ; but the shoot- 
ing of the Cossacks was bad ; it was not what they 
were accustomed to do. The Cossacks, and especi- 
ally those from the Caucasus, expected charges with 
bare sabres, and this did not occur. The Cossacks 
were useful in keeping up the communication between 
the various parts of the army. 

The Japanese used their cavalry extremely little 
and never unsupported by infantry ; unlike the 
Chinese, they have no notion of riding. 

190 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN ARMY 

Where the Russians were superior was probably 
in the accuracy of their artillery fire and in the 
actual quality of their guns. The firing of the 
artillery of the Siberian army was quite admirable, 
and the officers of all the Siberian batteries were 
highly instructed and exceedingly capable officers. 

To sum up, I should say that the faults of the 
army are to be attributed far more to the defective- 
ness of the general system and the absence of in- 
spired direction than to the deficiencies of the officers 
as a class. The officers, though they varied greatly 
in kind, were brave men who did their duty well, and 
it was not surely their fault that the strategy was mis- 
guided and the tactics old-fashioned. One minor 
point which is a part of the Russian system, and is 
perhaps worth mentioning, is the wholesale distribu- 
tion of decorations, varying in every conceivable 
shade both in kind and degree. The effect this has 
is deplorable, since anyone who omits to receive a 
decoration is almost a marked man. Besides this 
it produces a greed for decorations, till at last 
people think of that to the exclusion of everything 
else. 

Want of direction and lack of cohesion seem to 
me the two crying faults, and the faults by which the 
Japanese gained the most ; in fact, a soldier on my 
return home summed up the whole situation by 
saying to me, "If the authorities at the top of 
the ladder were anything like as good as the 

191 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

men at the bottom, the result would be very 
different." 

Another remark which also summed up the whole 
war I heard made the Christmas before last by an 
Englishman, before the war began : "If there is a 
war," he said, " I am sure the Japanese army will 
have every kind of modern equipment, while the 
Russian army will be in the same state as it was in 
the days of Peter the Great." If one substitutes 
1877 for Peter the Great the remark is literally true. 
The Russian army and all its methods is thoroughly 
old-fashioned. 

The Russian military authorities refused to pay 
attention to the war in South Africa because they 
said it was too small to be worth considering. The 
lessons of that war, which were many and various, 
were consequently lost upon them. The result is 
that their whole system is old-fashioned. The 
strategy was old-fashioned, the tactics old-fashioned, 
the Cossacks as a weapon are utterly antiquated, 
and far more fit to fight at the battle of Agin- 
court than at the present day. Above all things 
the training of the infantry soldier is old-fashioned, 
since he is trained practically to fight exclusively with 
the bayonet. It was only at a late stage during the 
war that perpetual volley-firing was discouraged. 
His bayonet remains fixed on his rifle when he 
fires ; in fact the possibilities of the modern rifle do 
not seem to have been even taken into considera- 

192 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN ARMY 

tion. On the other hand, the artillery firing was, 
as I said before, good. The reason is that the 
artillery officers in Russia receive an infinitely 
better training than the rest of the army ; but 
even in this branch there are strange deficiencies 
an absence of good field-glasses, of telescopes 
and range-finders. In the battery to which I was 
attached no range-finder was used. There happened 
to be two officers who were exceptionally gifted, 
and had a talent of judging distance which was 
marvellous ; but such men seldom occur. I heard 
a German critic find fault with another thing, which 
was that the Commander-in-Chief, after he had 
given orders to the commander of a corps to do 
a definite thing, interfered as to the way in which 
it was to be done. This violation of what he called 
the gliederung (the structure) of the army was, 
according to German ideas, the worst fault which 
it was possible to commit. 

However, in spite of all these shortcomings, it 
is probable that the Russian army is underrated 
as a fighting machine and as a whole. To say 
that all the officers are rotten is an absurdity. 
There are many line officers whose duties were 
insignificant, and whose scope of action was nar- 
rowly limited, who I am convinced would have 
been capable of doing effectual if not great work. 
The great vice is the system, and the system is the 
direct result of the bureaucratic system of govern- 
N 193 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

merit, which can only produce a state of moral 
slavery. Next to that, the greatest deficiency was 
a lack of generals, a lack which has been felt by 
many nations at many and various epochs, ancient 
and modern, from the days of Xerxes to the days 
of Macmahon and Kruger a lack which is by no 
means a Russian idiosyncrasy. 



194 



CHAPTER XII 

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS 

TF I were asked my main impression as to the 
-*- Russian army, I should answer that the army 
was good but the system was bad. Which is 
equivalent to saying what a Russian officer said to 
me during my journey home : namely, that the 
Russian people were good fellows, but the Govern- 
ment, i.e. the bureaucracy, was damnable ; but that 
is a question which is beyond the scope of this little 
book. Non nostrum. The same idea appears to 
be occurring to the whole Russian nation at this 
moment. 

There is one question which I should like to 
allude to, and that is the attitude of Russians 
towards England. I found it to be universally 
exactly the same as the attitude of the English 
towards Russia : namely, that the Russians like the 
English individually, and get on well with them, 
but they consider England's policy to be one of 
subtle, far-reaching, unscrupulous Machiavellian en- 
croachment. One very intelligent officer said to 
me, " I admire, respect, and delight in individual 
Englishmen, but I hate the policy of England with 
all my heart and soul." 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

I asked him in what it differed from the policy of 
Russia, and told him that was exactly the opinion of 
some of my countrymen with regard to his country. 
There is nothing very new or startling about such 
a point of view. It is shared by every European 
nation with regard to Great Britain ; by large 
countries like Germany, by small countries like 
Denmark, by friendly countries like Italy. In a 
certain sense it is a compliment, as it testifies to 
the success of our policy. 

In some degree I think the tone of our press is 
responsible for this, the patronising and canting 
tone with which we deal with the follies and vices 
of our neighbours, as if nothing regrettable of any 
kind or sort could by any possible manner of means 
happen in England. An instance of this was the 
attitude which our press adopted towards France dur- 
ing the Dreyfus case, which was so highly success- 
ful in exasperating that high-spirited and sensitive 
nation. Happily all that is forgotten ; the relations 
of nations shift and change as quickly as those of 
individuals, and out of the bitterness came the 
entente. But our attitude towards Russia is 
similar now to what it was then towards France. 
One can understand a policy of definite hostility. 
" If we really feel all this," one says to oneself, 
" why not go to war ? " But the question is : " Do 
we really feel all this ? " 

But if we do not mean to go to war, what is the use 

196 



GENERAL IMPRESSIONS 

of slander and pin-pricks? When foreigners talk 
about the egoism of England and her egotistic policy, 
I always reply, " Of course our policy is egotistic, and 
based upon egoism ; but will you show me the nation 
whose policy is based upon altruism ? " The French 
sometimes talk about the Italian campaign of Solfe- 
rino as an altruistic war; but Napoleon III. can 
hardly be said at that moment to have been a 
disinterested spectator in European politics. 

With regard to the policy of England, another 
officer, a Cossack, said to me that England and 
Russia had no conflicting interests, that the question 
of India was to Russia a fairy tale for the childish, 
but that in spite of this it was impossible to get on 
with the English as a nation, because they never let 
the Russians alone, it was a question of pin-pricks 
on every side. "It is always a question," he said, 
" of barking and not biting ; in fact neither the one 
thing nor the other, neither definite hostility nor 
open friendliness, but a series of small vexatious 
actions leading to nothing except vague bad feeling." 
The reply to this, I suppose, is that English people 
say exactly the same thing about the Russians, and 
that it is based upon the fear of India being invaded. 

Several officers said to me that they cherished the 
dream of an invasion of India, but I generally 
noticed the truth of the saying that Russian officers 
below the rank of a colonel think an invasion of 
India an exalted ideal, a possible object and a 

197 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

desirable ambition, whereas all officers above the 
rank of colonel regard it as an absurdity, undesir- 
able if not impossible. In connection with this 
one officer made the following remark to one of 
the English correspondents, "We Russians cannot 
fight on sea or in mountains." " Then you can 
never take India," was the correspondent's answer. 
In thinking of this we should remember the fact 
that the Russians if left to themselves are essentially 
a peaceable and peace-loving nation ; if they have 
been landed in a war, as in this case with Japan, it 
is an obvious fact that the Russian nation at large 
had nothing to do with it ; it is as if England, to 
take a manifestly impossible hypothesis, had been 
landed in an unpopular Colonial war by the High 
Commissioner of South Africa or the late Mr 
Rhodes. It is also obvious that the war received 
no moral support from the people such as even 
unpopular wars sometimes receive ; the Russian 
people felt that it had been made over their heads 
entirely. At the beginning of the war there was, 
after the first attack on Port Arthur, a considerable 
amount of popular feeling even among the intellectual 
classes, owing to the fact that they felt that Russia 
had been humiliated, and that although the war was 
a gigantic mistake it must be gone through with ; 
but this feeling soon died away, overwhelmed by 
the ever-increasing wave of disgust which swept 
over the nation and is now so clearly manifest. 

198 



GENERAL IMPRESSIONS 

The feeling among the army when I left the front 
was that if Port Arthur fell peace should be made, 
that irretrievable mistakes had been committed, that 
the war was fundamentally iniquitous ; that the 
Japanese were an admirable people, enlightened and 
putting so-called civilisation to shame. I hear that 
this feeling developed to extraordinary degree 
after the battle of Sandepu ; and now after the 
battle of Mukden it must be stronger still. The 
feeling in the army was that what Russia wants 
is peace and internal progress and the develop- 
ment of her immense home resources, the opening 
and development of Siberia for instance, and not 
aggression abroad. If such a feeling obtains in the 
army how much stronger must it be in Russia 
itself. 

Of course there are Jingoes who would be capable 
of suggesting a campaign against Germany or India 
as a possible remedy ; but such people are not to be 
taken seriously ; we have similar people here, and 
should " rate them at their true value." It may be 
objected that Jingoes in Russia occupy sometimes 
exalted and influential positions. This is true, but 
the result of their action has just been put to the 
test, and the answer of the nation has been made 
first by protest and then by dynamite ; it is therefore 
difficult to believe that Jingoes, however exalted, 
however fanatical, however misguided, however 
invincibly ignorant, obstinate, short-sighted and 

199 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

retrograde, will venture once more on a policy which 
is received with such emphatic disapprobation ; the 
people want peace, the army want peace, the intel- 
lectual classes want peace ; it is to be supposed 
therefore that they will end by getting it, and that 
an era of a different kind of peace may possibly 
begin for Russia, a peace unthreatened, by the 
results of a system which would have suited the 
days of the Comte D'Artois and of Louis XV., but 
which is strangely discordant with the modern world.* 
Another thing which I had long ago guessed 
became to me during the course of the war an 
absolute certainty. We regard Russia as they 
regard us, as a far-seeing, subtle, designing, 
plotting, unscrupulous and Machiavellian Mephis- 
tophelian force. Our policy is more remarkable for 
the good luck which has attended it than for the 
foresight with which it is framed. A statesman 
once said that when people ask what England's 
policy will be about such and such a point, 
they embarrass the ministers and the permanent 
officials because there generally is no policy. 
This is the case with Russia : what we take for 
subtle Machiavellian delays, extended procrastina- 
tion, ambiguous temporisation and calculated pre- 
varication is simply the result of sheer incompetence ; 

* Of course there may be a revulsion of popular feeling at any 
moment. Something might occur which would lead the people to 
back up the war, in which case it may continue for years. 

200 



GENERAL IMPRESSIONS 

utter disorganisation, and the slipshod, slovenly, 
happy-go-lucky muddle arising from the fact of a 
country being governed by a decentralised bureau- 
cracy, the bureaucrats of which are Slavs, and have 
the Slav temperament. Very often the policy of 
putting off, of temporising, of inaction, of lying on 
your back and vaguely kicking has the most 
effectual results. It takes in the whole world ; 
and when it is successful the world says, " What a 
magnificent bluff ! " but the bluff is an unconscious 
one. The men are not competent enough to know 
they are bluffing. Surely this war has or ought 
to have revealed the matter to the whole world. 
The manner in which Manchuria was occupied, 
the way in which the negotiations were carried on, 
the outbreak and conduct of the war all these 
things show that there was no guiding idea, no 
fixed policy, no organisation, no harmony between 
the officials in the Far East and the officials in St 
Petersburg, and above all things no foresight. The 
idea of far-seeing, far-reaching Russian policy should 
by the mere fact of this war be exploded for ever. 
Russian policy has up to now been the fortunate or 
unfortunate result of a mere chaos of conflicting 
elements in which no guiding mind has ever been 
able to preponderate or to permeate. 

But enough of politics, which are not the subject 
of this book. I wish to end by a brighter side of 
things. As the officer said to me, the Government 

20 1 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

may be damnable but the people are good. And 
that is a thing which Englishmen know little or 
nothing about. Some people read French trans- 
lations of Russian novelists, but it never occurs to 
them that these novels are the reflection and shadow 
of a mightier thing, which is the Russian people. 
Nations like the Chinese and the Russians should 
not be judged by their governments, but by the 
noblest fruits of their men of genius, or by any 
Russian or Chinese peasant. 

A Russian with whom I conversed on the way to 
the war at Moscow on various topics (he was from 
the Baltic provinces and therefore far from being 
Chauvinist) said to me that whereas in Great 
Britain excellent books were published almost daily 
about Japan and Japanese affairs the British people 
were informed to a ludicrously insufficient extent 
about Russian affairs, and not only as far as the war 
was concerned but about Russia and the Russian 
people in general. "Your travellers," he said, 
" go in thirteen days from Moscow to Port Arthur 
and then write a book called 'A Rush Through 
Russia. 7 They do not know the language, and 
the result cannot be altogether satisfactory." I 
told him that translations of Russian literature 
were very popular in Great Britain. " That is 
perfectly true," he answered. "The British know 
some of our novelists very well, though our most 
characteristic author, Gogol, our Dickens Dickens 

202 



GENERAL IMPRESSIONS 

with a blend of Stevenson and Edgar Allan Poe 
is quite unknown to them, and our poets, Poushkin, 
Lermontoff, and Alexis Tolstoi are not even trans- 
lated ; but it has never occurred to the British that 
our literature is in any way a reflection of our 
national life. They consider the masterpieces of 
Tolstoi, Tourgenieff, and Dostoievsky like airy 
soap-bubbles, which have proceeded by chance 
from the brains of certain cosmopolitan men of 
letters. They do not take their idea of Russia from 
our literature, but from their descriptions of Russians 
in English fiction. They judge us not according to 
the portraiture of Tourgenieff but according to that 
of Merriman, the author of the * Sowers/ an excel- 
lent novel, which I read with delight, but which 
gives about as accurate a picture of Russian life 
as Georges Ohnet would give of British society." 
" Let me give you another instance," he proceeded. 
" Foreigners imagine when they come to Russia that 
the whole population of our country consists of 
Tartars ; the Tartar type, with slit eyes and a 
snub nose, whereas, as you know, a Tartar in the 
streets of Moscow attracts attention as something 
exceptional, in the same way as an Irish peasant 
woman in her national dress would in London. 
Foreigners are surprised to find that Russians belong 
to the Aryan race." 

Another Russian said to me that Russia was the 
great unknown quantity to Great Britain, the big X, 

203 



WITH THE RUSSIANS IN MANCHURIA 

and that in consequence of this ignorance on the 
part of the British their trade suffered considerably, 
while Germany, whose commercial travellers spare 
neither time nor trouble in studying Russia, its 
language, and its customs, gained enormously. The 
British Consul at Moscow confirmed this fact to me, 
and told me that he had even received letters from 
business firms alluding to the " Port of Moscow." 
All Englishmen whom I have seen, who have 
lived long in Russia, and know the language and 
the people, have said to me the same thing, namely, 
that the Russians are fine fellows, and that the 
English ought to get to know them because they 
would like them, and that what people say about 
Russians in England is nonsense and cant. Dr 
Westwater, the missionary doctor at Liaoyang, 
who had worked with the Russians, and, from his 
long residence in China, had had every opportunity 
of seeing both sides of the medal, said exactly the 
same thing to me. It has been said to me by every 
British man of business I have met in Russia. 

As to the war I shall be satisfied if there is a 
single sentence in this book which will have brought 
home to anyone the unalterable horror, misery, 
pain, and suffering which is caused by a modern 
war anything which will make people reflect when, 
or rather before, they beat the big drum and appeal 
to St Jingo. 

War is an insensate abomination, and the only 

204 



GENERAL IMPRESSIONS 

redeeming feature in it seems to me the sparks it 
knocks out of the human character, apart from the 
actual courage displayed, and the deeds of heroism 
which are done. 

War seemed to me to be like the palace of truth, 
to act as a touchstone on men's characters ; it 
revealed many vices, follies and failures, weak- 
nesses, the meanest and smallest sides of human 
nature ; but also in the other scale of the balance, 
and surely the balance is weighed down on this 
side, many noble things and innumerable small 
forgotten acts which were beautiful, and among 
these perhaps the most precious are the unex- 
pected surprises in men, the "self-sacrifice of the 
indifferent, the unworldliness of the worldly, the 
unselfishness of the selfish." 



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