THE DRAMA - The Mongol dynasty (A.D. 1200-1368)

A History of Chinese Literature - Herbert Allen Giles 1973

The Mongol dynasty (A.D. 1200-1368)

IF the Mongol dynasty added little of permanent value to the already vast masses on poetry, of general literature, and of classical exegesis, it will ever be remembered in connection with two important departures in the literary history of the nation. Within the century covered by Mongol rule the Drama and the Novel may be said to have come into existence. Going back to pre-Confucian or legendary Days, we find that from time immemorial the Chinese have danced set dances in time to music on solemn or festive occasions of sacrifice or ceremony. Thus we read in the Odes:—

"Lightly, sprightly,

To the dance I go,

The Sun shining brightly

In the court below?

The movements of the dancers were methodical, slow, and dignified. Long feathers and flutes were held in the hand and were waved to and fro as the performers moved right or left. Words to be sung were added, and then gradually the music and singing prevailed over the dance, gesture being substituted. The result was rather an operatic than a dramatic performance, and the words sung were more of the nature of songs than of musical plays. In the Tso Chuan, under B.C. 545, we read of an amateur attempt of the kind, organised by stable-boys, which frightened their horses and caused a stampede. Confucius, too, mentions the arrogance of a noble who employed in his ancestral temple the number of singers reserved for the Son of Heaven alone. It is hardly necessary to allude to the exorcism of evil spirits, carried out three times a year by officials dressed up in bearskins and armed with spear and shield, who made a house to house visitation surrounded by a shouting and excited populace. It is only mentioned here because some writers have associated this practice with the origin of the drama in China. All we really know is that in very early ages music and song and dance formed an ordinary accompaniment to religious and other ceremonies, and that this continued for many centuries.

Towards the middle of the eighth century, A.D., the Emperor Ming Huang of the T'ang dynasty, being exceedingly fond of music, established a College, known as the Pear-Garden, for training some three hundred young people of both sexes. There is a legend that this College was the outcome of a visit paid by his Majesty to the moon, where he was much impressed by a troup of skilled performers attached to the Palace of Jade which he found there. It was apparently an institution to provide instrumentalists, vocalists, and possibly dancers, for Court entertainments, although some have held that the "youths of the Pear-Garden" were really actors, and the term is still applied to the dramatic fraternity. Nothing, however, which can be truly identified with the actor's art seems to have been known until the thirteenth century, when suddenly the Drama, as seen in the modern Chinese stage-play, sprang into being. In the present limited state of our knowledge on the subject, it is impossible to say how or why this came about. We cannot trace step by step the development of the drama in China from a purely choral performance, as in Greece. We are simply confronted with the accomplished fact.

At the same time we hear of dramatic performances among the Tartars at a somewhat earlier date. In 1031 K'ung Tao-fu, a descendant of Confucius in the forty-fifth degree, was sent as envoy to the Kitans, and was received at a banquet with much honour. But at a theatrical entertainment which followed, a piece was played in which his sacred ancestor, Confucius, was introduced as the low-comedy man; and this so disgusted him that he got up and withdrew, the Kitans being forced to apologise. Altogether, it would seem that the drama is not indigenous to China, but may well have been introduced from Tartar sources. However this may be, it is certain that the drama as known under the Mongols is to all intents and purposes the drama of to-day, and a few general remarks may not be out of place.

Plays are acted in the large cities of China at public theatres all the year round, except during one month at the New Year, and during the period of mourning for a deceased Emperor. There is no charge for admission, but all visitors must take some refreshment. The various Trade-Guilds have raised stages upon their premises, and give periodical performances free to all who will stand in an open-air courtyard to watch them. Mandarins and wealthy persons often engage actors to perform in their private houses, generally while a dinner-party is going on. In the country, performances are provided by public subscription, and take place at temples or on temporary stages put up in the roadway. These stages are always essentially the same. There is no curtain, there are no wings, and no flies. At the back of the stage are two doors, one for entrance and one for exit. The actors who are to perform the first piece come in by the entrance door all together. When the piece is over, and as they are filing out through the exit door, those who are cast for the second piece pass in through the other door. There is no interval, and the musicians, who sit on the stage, make no pause; hence many persons have stated that Chinese plays are ridiculously long, the fact being that half-an-hour to an hour would be about an average length for the plays usually performed, though much longer specimens, such as would last from three to five hours, are to be found in books. Eight or ten plays are often performed at an ordinary dinner-party, a list of perhaps forty being handed round for the chief guests to choose from.

The actors undergo a very severe physical training, usually between the ages of nine and fourteen. They have to learn all kinds of acrobatic feats, these being introduced freely into "military" plays. They also have to practise walking on feet bound up in imitation of women's feet, no woman having been allowed on the stage since the days of the Emperor Ch'ien Lung (A.D. 1736-1796), whose mother had been an actress. They have further to walk about in the open air for an hour or so every Day, the head thrown back and the mouth wide open in order to strengthen the voice; and finally, their diet is carefully regulated according to a fixed system of training. Fifty-six actors make up a full company, each of whom must know perfectly from 100 to 200 plays, there being no prompter. These do not include the four- or five-act plays as found in books, but either acting editions of these, cut down to suit the requirements of the stage, or short farces specially written. The actors are ranged under five classes according to their capabilities, and consequently every one knows what part he is expected to take in any given play. Far from being an important personage, as in ancient Greece, the actor is under a social ban; and for three generations his descendants may not compete at the public examinations. Yet he must possess considerable ability in a certain line; for inasmuch as there are no properties and no realism, he is wholly dependent for success upon his own powers of idealisation. There he is indeed supreme. He will gallop across the stage on horseback, dismount, and pass his horse on to a groom. He will wander down a street, and stop at an open shop-window to flirt with a pretty girl. He will hide in a forest, or fight from behind a battlemented wall. He conjures up by histrionic skill the whole paraphernalia of a scene which in Western countries is grossly laid out by supers before the curtain goes up. The general absence of properties is made up to some extent by the dresses of the actors, which are of the most gorgeous character, robes for Emperors and grandees running into figures which would stagger even a West-end manager.

It is obvious that the actor must be a good contortionist, and excel in gesture. He must have a good voice, his part consisting of song and "spoken" in about equal proportions. To show how utterly the Chinese disregard realism, it need only be stated that dead men get up and walk off the stage; sometimes they will even act the part of bearers and make movements as though carrying themselves away. Or a servant will step across to a leading performer and hand him a cup of tea to clear his voice.

The merit of the plays performed is not on a level with the skill of the performer. A Chinese audience does not go to hear the play, but to see the actor. In 1678, at a certain market-town, there was a play performed which represented the execution of the patriot, General Yo Fei (A.D. 1141), brought about by the treachery of a rival, Ch'in Kuei, who forged an order for that purpose. The actor who played Ch'in Kuei (a term since used contemptuously for a spittoon) produced a profound sensation; so much so, that one of the spectators, losing all self-control, leapt upon the stage and stabbed the unfortunate man to death.

Most Chinese plays are simple in construction and weak in plot. They are divided into "military" and "civil," which terms have often been wrongly taken in the senses of tragedy and comedy, tragedy proper being quite unknown in China. The former usually deal with historical episodes and heroic or filial acts by historical characters; and Emperors and Generals and small armies rush wildly about the stage, sometimes engaged in single combat, sometimes in turning head over heels. Battles are fought and rivals or traitors executed before the very eyes of the audience. The "civil" plays are concerned with the entanglements of every-day life, and are usually of a farcical character. As they stand in classical collections or in acting editions, Chinese plays are as unobjectionable as Chinese poetry and general literature. On the stage, however, actors are allowed great license in gagging, and the direction which their gag takes is chiefly the reason which keeps respectable women away from the public play-house.

It must therefore always be remembered that there is the play as it can be read in the library, and again as it appears in the acting edition to be learnt, and finally as it is interpreted by the actor. These three are often very different one from the other.

The following abstract will give a fair idea of the pieces to be found on the play-bill of any Chinese theatre:—


At the close of the Ming dynasty, a certain well-known General was occupied day and night in camp with preparations for resisting the advance of the rebel army which ultimately captured Peking. While thus temporarily absent from home, the tutor engaged for his son fell ill with severe shivering fits, and the boy, anxious to do something to relieve the sufferer, went to his mother's room and borrowed a thick quilt. Late that night, the General unexpectedly returned home, and heard from a slave-girl in attendance of the tutor's illness and of the loan of the quilt. Thereupon, he proceeded straight to the sick-room, to see how the tutor was getting on, but found him fast asleep. As he was about to retire, he espied on the ground a pair of women's slippers, which had been accidentally brought in with the quilt, and at once recognised to whom they belonged. Hastily quitting the still sleeping tutor, and arming himself with a sharp scimitar, he burst into his wife's apartment. He seized the terrified woman by the hair, and told her that she must die; producing, in reply to her protestations, the fatal pair of slippers. He yielded, however, to the entreaties of the assembled slave-girls, and deferred his vengeance until he had put the following test. He sent a slave-girl to the tutor's room, himself following close behind with his naked weapon ready for use, bearing a message from her mistress to say she was awaiting him in her own room; in response to which invitation the voice of the tutor was heard from within, saying, "What! at this hour of the night? Go away, you bad girl, or I will tell the master when he comes back!" Still unconvinced, the jealous General bade his trembling wife go herself and summon her paramour; resolving that if the latter but put foot over the threshold, his life should pay the penalty. But there was no occasion for murderous violence. The tutor again answered from within the bolted door, "Madam, I may not be a saint, but I would at least seek to emulate the virtuous Chao Wên-hua (the Joseph of China). Go, and leave me in peace." The General now changes his tone; and the injured wife, she too changes hers. She attempts to commit suicide, and is only dissuaded by an abject apology on the part of her husband; in the middle of which, as the latter is on his knees, a slave-girl creates roars of laughter by bringing her master, in mistake for wine, a brimming goblet of vinegar, the Chinese emblem of connubial jealousy.

The following is a translation of the acting edition of a short play, as commonly performed, illustrating, but not to exaggeration, the slender and insufficient literary art which satisfies the Chinese public, the verses of the original being quite as much doggerel as those of the English version:—



Su T'ai-ch'in,

a Suitor.

Hu Mao-yüan,

a Suitor.

P'ing Kuei,

a Beggar.


the Beggars Guardian Angel.

Lady Wang,

daughter of a high Mandarin.


Suitors, Servants, &c.

SCENE—Outside the city of Ch'ang-an.

Su T'ai-ch'in. At Ch'ang-an city I reside:

My father is a Mandarin;

Oh! if I get the Flowery Ball,

My cup of joy will overflow.

My humble name is Su T'ai-Ch'in.

To-day the Lady Wang will throw

A Flowery Ball to get a spouse;

And if perchance this ball strikes me,

I am a lucky man indeed.

But now I must go on my way.

[Walks on towards the city

Enter Hu Mao-yüan.

Hu Mao-yüan. My father is a nobleman,

And I'm a jolly roving blade;

To-day the Lady Wang will throw

A Flowery Ball to get a spouse.

It all depends on destiny

Whether or not this Ball strikes me.

My humble name is Hu Mao-yüan;

But as the Ball is thrown to-day

I must be moving on my way.

Why, that looks very like friend Su!

I'll call: "Friend Su, don't go so fast."

Su. It's Hu Mao-yüan: now where go you?

Hu. To the Governor's palace to get me a wife.

Su. To the Flowery Ball? Well, I'm going too.

[Sings.] The Lady Wang the Flowery Ball will throw,

That all the world her chosen spouse might see,

Among the noble suitors down below—

But who knows who the lucky man will be?

Hu [sings.] I think your luck is sure to take you through.

Su [sings.] Your handsome face should bring the Ball to you.

Hu [sings.] At any rate it lies between us two.

Su [sings.] There's hardly anybody else who'd do.

Hu [sings.] Then come let us go, let us make haste and run.

Su [sings.] Away let us go, but don't be so slow,

Or we shan't be in time for the fun.


Enter P'ing Kuei.

Ping [sings.] Ah! that day within the garden

When my lady-love divine,

Daughter of a wealthy noble,

Promised that she would be mine.

At the garden gate she pledged me,

Bidding me come here to-day;

From my miserable garret

I have just now crept away.

And as I pass the city gates

I ope my eyes and see

A crowd of noble youths as thick

As leaves upon a tree.

Forward they press, but who knows which

The lucky man will be?

In vain I strain my eager eyes—

Alas! 'twill break my heart—

Among the well-dressed butterflies

I find no counterpart.

Let her be faithless or be true

I lose the Ball as sure as fate;

Though, if she spoke me idle words,

Why trifle at the garden gate?

Nevertheless, I'm bound to go

Whether I get the Ball or no:

My bowl and my staff in my hands—just so.

Rank and fortune often come

 From matrimonial affairs;

I'll think of it all as I walk along—

 And perhaps I'd better say my prayers.

Why, here I am at the very spot!

I'll just walk in.

Gatekeeper. I say you'll not!

P'ing [sings.] Oh! dear, he's stopped me! why, Heaven knows!

It must be my hat and tattered clothes.

I'll stay here and raise an infernal din

Until they consent to let me in.

Gatekeeper. I haven't anything to spare,

So come again another day

 P'ing. Oh! let me just go in to look.

Gatekeeper. Among the sons of noblemen

What can there be for you to see?

Begone at once, or I'll soon make you.

 P'ing. Alas! alas! what can I do?

If I don't get within the court,

The Lady Wang will tire of wailing.

Enter P'u-sa.

P'u-sa [sings.] By heaven's supreme command I have flown

Through the blue expanse of sky and air;

For a suffering soul has cried out in woe,

And Heaven has heard his prayer.

For the Lady Wang he's nearly broken-hearted,

But cruel fate still keeps the lovers parted.

"Hebbery gibbery snobbery snay!"

On the wings of the wind I'll ride,

And make the old porter clear out of the way

Till I get my poor beggar inside.

The Lady Wang is still within the hall

Wailing till the Emperor sends the Flowery Ball.

[Raises the wind.

Gatekeeper. Oh dear! how cold the wind is blowing.

I do not see the lady coming,

And so I think I'll step inside.

Enter Lady Wang.

Lady Wang [sings.] In gala dress I leave my boudoir,

Thinking all the time of thee—

O Heaven, fulfil a mortal's longings,

And link my love to me.

My gorgeous cap is broidered o'er

With flocks of glittering birds:

Here shine the seven stars, and there

A boy is muttering holy words.

My bodice dazzles with its lustrous sheen:

My skirts are worked with many a gaudy scene.

[Showing Ball.

His Majesty on me bestowed this Ball,

And from a balcony he bid me let it fall,

Then take as husband whomsoe'er it struck,

Prince, merchant, beggar, as might be my luck.

And having left my parents and my home,

Hither to the Painted Tower I've come.

As I slowly mount the stairs,

I ope my eyes and see

A crowd of noble youths as thick

As leaves upon a tree.

But ah! amongst the many forms,

Which meet my eager eye,

The figure of my own true love

I cannot yet descry.

The pledge I gave him at the garden gate

Can he forget? The hour is waxing late.

 And the crowds down below

 Bewilder me so

That I am in a most desperate state.

Oh! P'ing Kuei, if you really love me,

Hasten quickly to my side:

If the words you spoke were idle,

Why ask me to be your bride?

He perhaps his ease is taking,

While my foolish heart is breaking.

I can't return till I have done

This work in misery begun,

And so I take the Flowery Ball

And with a sigh I let it fall.

[Throws down the ball.

P'u-sa. 'Tis thus I seize the envied prize,

And give it to my protégé;

I'll throw it in his earthen bowl.

[Throws the ball to P'ing Kuei.

Lady Wang [sings.] Stay! I hear the people shouting—

What, the Ball some beggar struck?

It must be my own true P'ing Kuei—

I'll go home and tell my luck!

Maidens! through the temple kindle

Incense for my lucky fate;

Now my true love will discover

That I can discriminate.

[Exeunt omnes.

Enter Hu Mao-yüan and Su Tai-ch'in.

 Hu. The second of the second moon

The Dragon wakes to life and power;

To-day the Lady Wang has thrown

The Ball from out the Painted Tower.

No well-born youth was singled out,

It struck a dirty vagrant lout.

Friend Su, I'm off: we're done for, as you saw,

Though for the little paltry wench I do not care a straw.


Enter Gatekeeper and Beggar.

Gatekeeper. Only one poor beggar now remains within the hall,

Who'd have thought that this poor vagrant would have got the Ball?

[To P'ing Kuei.] Sir, you've come off well this morning:

 You must be a lucky man.

Come with me to claim your bride, and

 Make the greatest haste you can.


Even the longer and more elaborate plays are proportionately wanting in all that makes the drama piquant to a European, and are very seldom, if ever, produced as they stand in print. Many collections of these have been published, not to mention the acting editions of each play, which can be bought at any bookstall for something like three a penny. One of the best of such collections is the Yuan ch'ü hsüan tsa chi, or Miscellaneous Selection of Mongol Plays, bound up in eight thick volumes. It contains one hundred plays in all, with an illustration to each, according to the edition of 1615. A large proportion of these cannot be assigned to any author, and are therefore marked "anonymous." Even when the authors' names are given, they represent men altogether unknown in what the Chinese call literature, from which the drama is rigorously excluded.

The following is a brief outline of a very well known play in five acts by CHI CHÜN-HSIANG, entitled "The Orphan of the Chao family," and founded closely upon fact. It is the nearest approach which the Chinese have made to genuine tragedy:—

A wicked Minister of the sixth century B.C. plotted the destruction of a rival named Chao Tun, and of all his family. He tells in the prologue how he had vainly trained a fierce dog to kill his rival, by keeping it for days without food and then setting it at a dummy, dressed to represent his intended victim, and stuffed with the heart and lights of a sheep. Ultimately, however, he had managed to get rid of all the male members of the family, to the number of three hundred, when he hears—and at this point the play proper begins—that the wife of the last representative has given birth to a son. He promptly sends to find the child, which had meanwhile been carried away to a place' of safety. Then a faithful servant of the family hid himself on the hills with another child, while an accomplice informed the Minister where the supposed orphan of the house of Chao was lying hidden. The child was accordingly slain, and by the hand of the Minister himself; the servant committed suicide. But the real heir escaped, and when he grew up he avenged the wrongs of his family by killing the cruel Minister and utterly exterminating his race.

From beginning to end of this and similar plays there is apparently no attempt whatever at passion or pathos in the language—at any rate, not in the sense in which those terms are understood by us. Nor are there even rhetorical flowers to disguise the expression of commonplace thought. The Chinese actor can do a great deal with such a text; the translator, nothing. There is much, too, of a primitive character in the setting of the play. Explanatory prologues are common, and actors usually begin by announcing their own names and further clearing the way for the benefit of the audience. The following story will give a faint idea of the license conceded to the play-actor.

My attention was attracted on one occasion at Amoy by an unusually large crowd of Chinamen engaged in watching the progress of an open-air theatrical performance. Roars of laughter resounded on all sides, and on looking to see what was the moving cause of this extraordinary explosion of merriment, 1 beheld to my astonishment a couple of rather seedy-looking foreigners occupying the stage, and apparently acting with such spirit as to bring the house down at every other word. A moment more and it was clear that these men of the West were not foreigners at all, but Chinamen dressed up for the purposes of the piece. The get-up, nevertheless, was remarkably good, if somewhat exaggerated, though doubtless the intention was to caricature or burlesque rather than to reproduce an exact imitation. There was the billycock hat, and below it a florid face well supplied with red moustaches and whiskers, the short cut-away coat and light trousers, a blue neck-tie, and last, but not least, the ever-characteristic walking-stick. Half the fun, in fact, was got out of this last accessory; for with it each one of the two was continually threatening the other, and both united in violent gesticulations directed either against their brother-actors or sometimes against the audience at their feet.

Before going any further it may be as well to give a short outline of the play itself, which happens to be not uninteresting and is widely known from one end of China to the other. It is called "Slaying a Son at the Yamên Gate," and the plot, or rather story, runs as follows:—

A certain general of the Sung dynasty named Yang, being in charge of one of the frontier passes, sent his son to obtain a certain wooden staff from an outlying barbarian tribe. In this expedition the son not only failed signally, but was further taken prisoner by a barbarian lady, who insisted upon his immediately leading her to the altar. Shortly after these nuptials he returns to his father's camp, and the latter, in a violent fit of anger, orders him to be taken outside the Yamên gate and be there executed forthwith. As the soldiers are leading him away, the young man's mother comes and throws herself at the general's feet, and implores him to spare her son. This request the stern father steadily refuses to grant, even though his wife's prayers are backed up by those of his own mother, of a prince of the Imperial blood, and finally by the entreaties of the Emperor himself. At this juncture in rushes the barbarian wife of the general's condemned son, and as on a previous occasion the general himself had been taken prisoner by this very lady, and only ransomed on payment of a heavy sum of money, he is so alarmed that he sits motionless and unable to utter a word while with a dagger she severs the cords that bind her husband, sets him free before the assembled party, and dares any one to lay a hand on him at his peril. The Emperor now loses his temper, and is enraged to think that General Yang should have been awed into granting to a barbarian woman a life that he had just before refused to the entreaties of the Son of Heaven. His Majesty, therefore, at once deprives the father of his command and bestows it upon the son, and the play is brought to a conclusion with the departure of young General Yang and his barbarian wife to subdue the wild tribes that are then harassing the frontier of China. The two foreigners are the pages or attendants of the barbarian wife, and accompany her in that capacity when she follows her husband to his father's camp.

The trick of dressing these pages up to caricature the foreigner of the nineteenth century, on the occasion when I saw the piece, was a mere piece of stage gag, but one which amused the people immensely, and elicited rounds of applause. But when the barbarian wife had succeeded in rescuing her husband from the jaws of death, there was considerable dissatisfaction in the minds of several of the personages on the stage. The Emperor was angry at the slight that had been passed upon his Imperial dignity, the wife and mother of the general, not to mention the prince of the blood, felt themselves similarly slighted, though in a lesser degree, and the enraged father was still more excited at having had his commands set aside, and seeing himself bearded in his own Yamên by a mere barbarian woman. It was consequently felt by all parties that something in the way of slaughter was wanting to relieve their own feelings, and to satisfy the unities of the drama and the cravings of the audience for a sensational finale; and this desirable end was attained by an order from the Emperor that at any rate the two foreign attendants might be sacrificed for the benefit of all concerned. The two wretched foreigners were accordingly made to kneel on the stage, and their heads were promptly lopped off by the executioner amid the deafening plaudits of the surrounding spectators.

In 1885 a play was performed in a Shanghai theatre which had for its special attraction a rude imitation of a paddle-steamer crowded with foreign men and women. It was wheeled across the back of the stage, and the foreigners and their women, who were supposed to have come with designs upon the Middle Kingdom, were all taken prisoners and executed.

Of all plays of the Mongol dynasty, the one which will best repay reading is undoubtedly the Hsi Hsiang Chi, or Story of the Western Pavilion, in sixteen scenes. It is by WANG SHIH-FU, of whom nothing seems to be known except that he flourished in the thirteenth century, and wrote thirteen plays, all of which are included in the collection mentioned above. "The dialogue of this play," says a Chinese critic, "deals largely with wind, flowers, snow, and moonlight," which is simply a euphemistic way of stating that the story is one of passion and intrigue. It is popular with the educated classes, by whom it is regarded more as a novel than as a play.

A lady and her daughter are staying at a temple, where, in accordance with common custom, rooms are let by the priests to ordinary travellers or to visitors who may wish to perform devotional exercises. A young and handsome student, who also happens to be living at the temple, is lucky enough to succeed in saving the two ladies from the clutches of brigands, for which service he has previously been promised the hand of the daughter in marriage. The mother, however, soon repents of her engagement, and the scholar is left disconsolate. At this juncture the lady's-maid of the daughter manages by a series of skilful manœuvres to bring the story to a happy issue.

Just as there have always been poetesses in China, so women are to be found in the ranks of Chinese playwrights. A four-act drama, entitled "Joining the Shirt," was written by one CHANG KUO-PIN, an educated courtesan of the day, the chief interest of which play lies perhaps in the sex of the writer.

A father and mother, with son and daughter-in-law, are living happily together, when a poverty-stricken young stranger is first of all assisted by them, and then, without further inquiry, is actually adopted into the family. Soon afterwards the new son persuades the elder brother and his wife secretly to leave home, taking all the property they can lay their hands on, and to journey to a distant part of the country, where there is a potent god from whom the wife is to pray for and obtain a son after what has been already an eighteen months' gestation. On the way, the new brother pushes the husband overboard into the Yang-tsze and disappears with the wife, who shortly gives birth to a boy. Eighteen years pass. The old couple have sunk into poverty, and set out, begging their way, to seek for their lost son. Chance—playwright's chance—throws them into the company of their grandson, who has graduated as Senior Classic, and has also, prompted by his mother, been on the look-out for them. Recognition is effected by means of the two halves of a shirt, one of which had always been kept by the old man and the other by the missing son, and after his death by his wife. At this juncture the missing son reappears. He had been rescued from drowning by a boatman, and had become a Buddhist priest. He now reverts to lay life, and the play is brought to an end by the execution of the villain It is a curious fact that all the best troupes of actors not only come from Peking, but perform in their own dialect, which is practically unintelligible to the masses in many parts of China. These actors are, of course, very well paid, in order to make it worth their while to travel so far from home and take the risks to life and property.