Memoirs of the Rev. Walter M. Lowrie

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Memoirs of the Rev. Walter M. Lowrie
Memoirs of the Rev. Walter M. Lowrie, missionary to China
Walter M. (Walter Macon) Lowrie (1819-1847)
New York: Robert Carter & Brothers; Philadelphia: William S. Martien
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My Dear Mother—

. . . . The city has been all in a hubbub for the last four days with
the [Too shin hwuy, or] Procession in honor of all the Gods. Great
preparations have been made for it for weeks past, as it is the greatest
festival of the year, and crowds of people have flocked in from all
parts of the country to witness it. Perhaps there have been five hundred
thousand persons, residents and strangers, congregated in and about the
city, and it has been a curious sight to witness the crowds that
collected where anything was to be seen. Numerous companies of strolling
play-actors have taken advantage of the occasion, to display their
talents and pick up cash. They commonly have their theatres in the
temples, nearly all of which have a stage built for the purpose, but it
is not uncommon for the actors to erect a temporary stage in the street,
occupying nearly the whole breadth of the narrow passage, and with the
crowd of spectators, rendering it utterly impossible to go through the
street. In every street where the procession was expected to pass, such
numbers of people collected as made it a matter of no little difficulty
to force one’s way through. Parents were obliged to carry their children
on their shoulders, and one would be amused in watching from an upper
window the tides of men as they swept backward and forward. Wherever any
eminence offered a favorable location, it was so thickly covered with
people, that it seemed like some great pyramid of shaven heads and black
eyes. Yet with all this crowd there were few cases of disorder or
fighting. I saw but one example of the latter, in which there were only
two persons engaged, one of whom broke his pipe-stem over the head of
the other and drew blood, giving him a hearty pull by the tail at the
same time; but the bystanders, instead of taking sides, and having a
“regular row,” as would have been the case in some Christian countries,
seemed only anxious to quiet the disturbance as soon as possible.
Everybody carries a pipe with a wooden stem from two to four feet long,
and it was a curious sight to see the forest of pipe0stems which the
living mass held up on every side; but the stems were too weak to have
done much harm as cudgels, and the people do not carry sticks or
weapons. There was no drunkenness seen, and New York on the Fourth of
July night would compare badly with Ningpo on the Festival of all the