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on the humanities, its imper- the philosopher from becoming turbability was never of the a prig. The old fellow trained rigid type achieved by redskin and fought his quails in the warriors or the Spartan samurai same genial and sporting spirit of Japan. The cosmic breadth as Lord Rosebery kept his of his placid outlook upon racing stud. As he said himpolitics and religion was tem- self, they provided him with pered, in the domestic and a stimulating antidote to the business affairs of everyday insidious influences of monotolife, by certain habits and nous routine, a pleasant mental fixed ideas; where these were tonic corrective of cobwebs, involved, he was capable of moss-growing, and ruts. They displaying perfectly human supplied in fact the snack of feelings in a wholly unplatonic ginger at the banquet of life, spirit. For example, on the without which (as he reminded subject of woman and her me when once I happened to rightful place in the scheme of discuss with him the ethics of creation, he held strong views, the matter) Confucius himself curiously similar to those set could not enjoy a meal. forth by King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs, and no doubt inspired by similar experiences on a smaller scale. Also in matters concerning the preservation of "face"whether M'Quigg's or his own -he was a positive and inflexible martinet, opposed to all compromise, and liable, when thwarted, to generate violent wrath matter, the canons of the Sages notwithstanding. Finally, where the milder forms of gambling were concerned, he had his own standard of manners and morals. The important part which fighting quails and crickets had gradually assumed, in a life that otherwise might have become dull, and the fervent enthusiasm with which he was wont on occasion to describe their bloodthirsty and profitable exploits, appeared to me to supply that necessary and saving grace of human frailty which preserves
That particular conversation lingers in my memory, because it was one of the rare occasions on which I saw Kuan's poise of impassivity most palpably disturbed. Also I remember well the day-a Sunday morning in early spring, the sun shining gloriously in a sky of pale turquoise and in the air a vital sap and savour of new life, released from winter's icy grip. I had called in at M'Quigg's place after breakfast to take him out to the golf ground (you couldn't call it a course) for our usual Sunday round. Having found him at his bath, I was whiling the time away in his den, admiring a delightful arrangement of jonquils, dwarf hawthorn, and flowering cherrytrees, when old Kuan came in, armed with feather duster. courtesies we topics of the
his inevitable After the usual passed to the day.
then, all unexpectedly, that, he might think fit! Was
there anything more reprehen-
When old Kuan, justifying his own particular path of dalliance, introduced that somewhat disparaging reference to golf, I perceived the cogency and subtlety of an argument which laid a light finger on the vulnerable heel of our own Achilles, which pointed gently at the unmistakable fly of human weakness in the pellucid amber of M'Quigg's catholic and comprehensive wisdom. It was an argument adroitly in
tended to remind himself (and the west were wonderfully com
me) of the truth that the best and wisest of men may have their foibles, and, incidentally, that bachelors usually pay for them less dearly than Benedicks.
I thought it best on this occasion to express general sympathy for the victim of feminine unreasonableness, and an intelligent appreciation of the merits of quails and crickets, rather than to pursue the subject of golf, because, in the first place, golf had nothing to do with the case, and secondly, because I was aware that it would be easier to convince Mrs Kuan of the veniality, or even the virtue, of quail-fighting than to make her husband sympathise with his master's devotion to the royal and ancient game. For all his genial tolerance and tacit acceptance of the inscrutable ways of us outer barbarians, I knew that nothing I could say would ever persuade him that his master's craze for hitting a ball about on the sandy waste of the Anting plain was anything but a lamentable eccentricity of genius. He could not possibly conceive that any rational being of mature age should not only take pleasure in such an infantile pastime, but make it a continual topic of serious conversation. him, as I knew, M'Quigg was not mad with the madness common to foreigners; on the contrary, he honestly revered his master as one in whom the mysterious arts and crafts of
bined with the true wisdom of the East. The tajen's fondness for golf was therefore something pertaining to the category of monsters, prodigies and feats of strength-those matters which Confucius refused to discuss. It was a thing in itself as inexplicable as the absurd mania for fiddling displayed by another foreigner widely renowned for uncommon wisdom, a fellow townsman of M'Quigg-the great "I. G.," to wit, a tajen upon whom the old Buddha had deigned to confer the Yellow Jacket and a Button of the first degree.
Without entirely sharing old Kuan's views as to the recreations suitable and lawful to the Superior Man, I am bound to admit that M'Quigg's mania for golf was hardly consistent with the usual dignity of his attitude as an emancipated spectator of the human comedy, and that the effect of the game upon his mind was not easily reconcilable with a philosophy founded on an intelligent perception of relative values. For he brought to bear upon it a quality of unbending seriousness, quite as lacking in humour as that displayed by the diplomatic body in regard to the etiquette requisite on sovereigns' birthdays or the order of precedence to be observed at official entertainments. Without doubt, the game often affected him more closely than any arguments of doctors and saints at our gates, or all the rumbling of the distant drums.
When its fever was upon him, it seemed to deprive him temporarily of his acute sense of proportion and hearty urbanity; in the throes of a foozling seizure, he, who in all other ludicrous situations could laugh heartily at himself, looked at life and his fellow-creatures, as through a glass, darkly.
At the best of times the sight of a golf-ball on the tee was sufficient to render him insensible to everything but the hazards and horrors of the game. His eyes saw not the moving shadows on the hills, his ears were deaf to the soaring music of the lark at heaven's gate. On the course, a primrose by the river's brim (if he noticed it at all) was nothing more than a primrose. In a word, when he donned his knickers he doffed his flowing mantle of sense and sensibility; and the tragedy of it was, that though he took the game so seriously and pursued it so persistently, all his efforts failed utterly to raise him out of the hopeless duffer class. He had all the Ulsterman's characteristic rigidity of body and heaviness of hand, and, having taken to golf late in life, was clearly destined to remain an earnest inglorious foozler to the end of his days. But, as so frequently happens in such cases, the victim played doggedly on, all unconscious of his doom, ever hoping to discover some open sesame to proficiency. Often in those days, as I (a cheerful fellowfoozler) watched him grimly ploughing the desolate sands of
the Anting plain, or the grey unlovely mud-flats of the Tientsin course, I felt inclined to sympathise with old Kuan's attitude towards a pastime capable of creating such havoc with one's equanimity. Had his opinion been asked, Kuan would probably have ascribed the root of the trouble to some unexpiated sin of M'Quigg's remote, and probably Scotch, ancestors. Looking back on it now, in the light of recent observation, I perceive that his infatuation for the game was an infirmity natural to a certain type of masterful mind; furthermore, that the more pronounced and successful this type, the greater its liability to persistent foozling. We used to poke fun at M'Quigg in those days for finding, in alleged business negotiations at Yokohama or Hongkong, a pretext for trying his luck on greens of real grass; but I daresay we would not have done so, had we been able to foresee how great a part golf would come to play in the crises and destinies of nations at the hands of enthusiastic foozlers, who happened also to be Prime Ministers or potentates of the Press.
An incident which occurred in the course of our game on the Sunday morning of my talk with Kuan may serve to illustrate the demoralising effect of the game upon the mind of one usually indifferent to the cussedness of inanimate objects and mindful of the laughter of the gods. We were playing a hole in the vicinity of the
Yellow Temple enclosure, on the northern side of the course. M'Quigg's tee-shot had put his ball close to an obstacle of the type which figures with such melancholy frequency, not only in the waste places, but in the tilled fields of North China-namely, a little mor tuary mound, consisting of a Devoe's oil packing - case, sparsely covered with loose earth. On the Tientsin course, as on the Shanghai recreation ground of former days, the game derived a certain piquant flavour of Old Mortality from the graves, tombstones, and widows' monuments, which afforded almost the only variants of the flat landscape, and occasional hazards; but on the windswept No Man's Land which lies beyond the northern walls of Peking, none but the coffins of the very poor were ever dumped, and these contained, as a rule, the pitiful remains of some unwanted nameless little one.
By the rules of the game as we played it, M'Quigg was entitled to lift his ball and drop it clear of the dismal obstacle, losing a stroke. But the pangs of defeat were upon him, and, hardening his heart, he elected to play it as it lay, and this, not prudently with a niblick, but with a forceful iron. No kerosene packingcase was ever made that could resist the impact of that shot. The thin weather-beaten shell cracked, as if smitten with an axe, and through the horrid breach the ball disappeared. Had I not been dormie, M'Quigg
would no doubt have agreed to treat it as lost, abandoning the hole; as it was, he turned his back on that shattered tenement of clay and pretended to be lighting his pipe; whilst his caddy, a ragged urchin of the Ishmael breed, proceeded to retrieve the ball, as unconcernedly as if it had lain in casual water. Over the details of that quest I draw the veil of decency. The boy having handed the ball to him, M'Quigg doggedly dropped again. Having played the shot, he then calmly inquired whether I thought that a penalty should attach to lifting a ball unplayable under such conditions? He held the view-I was at no pains to contest it-that coffins casually deposited on or near the fairway should, under local rules, be treated as ground under repair. As I won the hole and match with a couple of strokes to spare, the question was of academic interest only; had the issue of the game depended upon it, he was quite capable of referring it to The Field.'
From a flowering plum-tree just inside the enclosure of the Yellow Temple, a golden oriole was singing a rapturous greeting to the spring, the rippling credo of a joyful heart, unburdened by any winter garments of repentance. Farther on, against a dark background of cedars, the clustered chalices of a leafless magnolia glistened like jewels in the sun-goodly sights and sounds, whose healing virtue lured one to forget the grim realities of wintry