Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

66

and dirty, every-where wearing the aspect of squalor and want. No foreigners live inside the walls. Indeed, one can hardly think of a more miserable imprisonment for a foreigner than to be compelled to live within those walls. All the missionaries are, however, working within the city, while dwelling outside. The foreign city consists of three concessions”—English, American, and French-stretching for three miles along the curve of the river, and separated from each other by narrow creeks. This foreign city is really beautiful and quite unique, as it differs from all other cities by combining the European and Oriental style in its buildings and general appearance. There are some very magnificent buildings. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Company's building is one of the finest in all the East. A public garden runs for quite a distance along the river. The long beautiful curved street-way bordering the river is called “The Bund,” and is open all along one side to the river, and is built up with very imposing buildings on all the other side, nearly all of them having tasteful front yards, filled with semi-tropical vegetation. . . . It is a suggestive fact that the Chinese are every-where pressing in among the foreigners with their homes and business, and most of them building Chinese homes and stores in an improved Chinese style, showing that they can appreciate an improvement on even Chinese houses and comforts, while some of them come boldly to the front, and build large stores and hongs, and enter into direct competition with foreigners, even in matters of foreign trade. ... The missionary force working in and about Shanghai numbers about thirty, English, Scotch, and Americans. Drs. Yates, Muirhead, Nelson, Young, Lambuth, Roberts, and Farnham, seem to be leaders

The Church of England has a fine cathedral as an architectural structure, but almost worthless to speak or hear in. The Presbyterians have a neat church building for English services; and the “non-Episcopals” have a union chapel for English services. The Presbyterian Publication House is an extensive building, and is doing a great and good work in publishing the Scriptures and many other works in the Chinese language. From Shanghai as a center these missionaries are operating far out in the country, all the missions having “outstations,” some of them a hundred miles away.

The Bishop now proceeded down the coast to the mouth of the river Min, on which is situated Foochow, his next point of destination, and to him and the Methodist Episcopal Church generally the one of far greatest interest. The important cities of Ningpo and Hangchow are noticed as having been passed en voyage. The vessel now suddenly tacked and bore them into the Min. Winding their way “through a picturesque group of islands, called the White Dogs, and which seem like

among them.

savage sentinels guarding the entrance of the river,” they pursued their way. Scenes familiar to the Bishop twenty-five years before met his vision on every side, and he was wellnigh overcome by the inexpressible emotions that were naturally excited. Yet many changes had taken place. When he first entered this river the Portuguese lorchas were the most eligible conveyance within his reach. Now he was sailing up the river in a snug little English steamer. The Bishop says:

In the summer of 1851 we chartered one of these vessels at Hongkong, and a voyage of eight days along the bleak and barren coast of China brought us to this same outlet of the river. Now three or four lines of steamers are running up and down the coast of China, and regular steam communication is kept up between Foochow and Shanghai on the north, and Hongkong and Canton on the south.

The pages under review abound in fine descriptive passages, and the one that introduces us to the city of Foochow is worthy to be presented as a specimen. The author

says: The scenery of the river Min inspires universal admiration. Travelers have frequently compared it to the picturesque scenery of the Rhine, but Americans find a better comparison in the beautiful scenery of the Hudson, which it equals in grandeur and surpasses in the beautiful blending of the rich low-lands, cultivated rice-fields and tributary streams. The principal entrance to the river is narrow, bounded on each side by ranges of lofty and undulating hills, most of which, however, have been made to yield in many places to the ingenuity of Chinese cultivation, and exhibit in numerous spots along their steep sides beautiful verdant terraces, producing on their level surfaces a large variety of articles of food. This beautiful and striking feature, exhibiting the industry and ingenuity of the Chinese husbandman, is constantly repeated along the steep and naked sides of the high mountain range which extends along the northern side of the river, as well as on the more gentle slopes of the numerous hills which range in varied scenery along the southern bank of the stream, and the

effect is too beautiful to weary the observer by its repetition. This narrow pass is now strongly fortified by the Chinese government.

After passing between the two hills, which almost meet together at the mouth of the river, the stream widens into what appears to be a beautiful hill-bound lake, enlivened along its banks with numerous villages, and dotted over its surface with a multitude of small boats, constituting the homes of a large number of natives who make their living by fishing and disposing of their supply to the people of the villages along the river. On the right bank of the river is a large village, Kwantow, where there is a military establishment and a custom-house, which used to be the general clearance office for the city of Foochow.

Continuing to ascend the stream, the traveler reaches another narrow pass, called the Mingang, with columns of rocks on either side, piled up to the height of a thousand feet, between which the deep waters rush with great velocity. Beyond this the stream again widens into a beautiful, broad, and deep river, skirted on the north by a high, broken range of mountains, glit, tering here and there in the sun's rays, with the torrents and cascades which rush down its precipices. On the south side it is adorned by alternating hills and large level areas of paddy fields, through which in one place is seen winding a large creek, leading back into the fertile country, and in another opening out into a deep ravine, through which flows a large branch of the river, which here returns to meet again its parent stem, from which it had separated a few miles above the city of Foochow. In the north-western extremity of this view of the river are seen two beautiful and, in this warm climate, ever green islands, lifting their hemispherical forms from the bosom of the river; and about three miles to the south of this, at the other extremity of the scene, is discovered a large triangular island, on the upper extremity of which rises the seven-storied pagoda which has given its name to this island. This part of the river constitutes the principal anchorage for vessels of large tonnage. In it were now lying a number of sailing vessels and several steamers.

After ascending above the Pagoda Island the river separates into two large branches, the principal of which, taking a northeasterly direction, leads to Foochow; while the other, ascending more to the south and west, again joins with the principal branch, about eight miles above the city, after encircling a large and fertile island about thirty miles long, and which, opposite the city, is six or seven miles in width. As soon as we rounded the head of Pagoda Island, we felt that the old Foochow of twentyfive years ago had wonderfully changed. As we turned toward the right bank to look for our venerable friend of twenty-five years ago, the high, picturesque mountain range of Kushan, we beheld, stretching along the line of the river, for quite a mile in extent, a large number of foreign buildings, and heard the puff of steam-engines and the clatter of hammers, which indicated to us another great arsenal and ship-yard, owned and directed by the Chinese government. Lying in front of these buildings were four very fine-looking gun-boats that had been built by the Chinese.

As we ascend the river the range of mountains recedes from the stream, and in irregular and broken masses sweeps along the northern boundary of the large amphitheater in which lies the city. On the southern bank of the other branch of the river is another high range of exceedingly irregular hills, whose dark outlines are visible from Foochow, thus completing the beautiful basin in which the city is situated. One of these hills, quite abrupt and mountainous, called Tiger Hill, which towers up in the distance just opposite the city, is supposed to have a strange influence over the destinies of Foochow. It is said that an early prophet declared that when this hill, which terminates in an abrupt precipice on the river's edge, should fall, the city would be destroyed. "To prevent this great catastrophe two large granite lions are set up within the city walls immediately facing this threatening hill, which are supposed to counteract all evil influences of this rugged elevation.

As we come nearer the city we discover that another wonderful change has taken place. All along the southern side of the river we now see a number of foreign houses, many large merchant's hongs, and many beautiful homes on the side of the hill back from the river. Å foreign population of about two hundred, and a foreign trade of millions of pounds per year, has sprung up in the city since we left it, twenty-five years ago. But old China is still the same. As we approach the city, hundreds of " sampans," or small row-boats, and larger vessels more permanently located, here throng the river, and serve as residences for their owners. These water residences are one of the striking features of Chinese life, and are found in all parts of the empire. The river population of Foochow must amount to several thousand souls, born and reared and spending their lives on these boats. Here, too, are the many junks of the olden time, of all forms and sizes, from the massive uncouth vessels coming down from Shantung, to the neat little black painted crafts of Hingpo; and these vessels pursue the same old method of sailing down the coast during the early fall and winter by the aid of the north-east monsoon, and then lying here for nearly six months, to sail back again when the monsoon shall have changed to the south-west. Here, too, in the center of the river, is the same Tongchiw, or Middle Island, connected with the banks on each side by stone bridges and densely covered with buildings, and occupied by a busy, thriving multitude, numbering several thousands. Several native official residences are found on this island, and formerly we made our own home upon it, accompanied by two mission families.

This city is the capital of the Fuhkien province, which has an area of fifty-seven thousand square miles, and a population of fifteen millions of the most hardy and adventurous natives of the empire. On the south side of the river is a great suburb called Ato, containing a population of fifty thousand, with extensive shops and markets and numerous massive temples. As it is well said:

Circumstances have fixed this locality as the chief center of our mission at Foochow. Here, on an extensive compound on the southern face of the hill, we have five excellent residences, one of them owned by the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. We have a large three-story girls' boarding-school, also belonging to the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. We have another large three-story building, with basement, the lower part of which may be called the “Methodist Book Concern ” of Foochow, and the remaining two stories may be designated the “ Theological Institute," of the Foochow Conference.

On the front face of the hill we have a fine brick building known as the Tieng-ang Tong, the “Heavenly Rest Church, divided into two compartments, the one for English and the other for Chinese service. A little removed to the west of this great compound is located the home and hospital of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, under the direction of Miss Sigourney Trask, M.D.

On the west bank of the river is a still more populous suburb, extending two miles above the great bridge, and one mile below it, spreading out in some places considerably over the plain, and containing not far from one hundred thousand souls. On its main thoroughfare, leading to the gate of the city, is the Methodist Episcopal Church of Iong Tau, and in another portion of this same suburb is another commodious church, called Ching-Sing Tong, “ Church of the True God," the first church erected in our China Mission,

The one hundred and fifty pages of the work that follow from this point are occupied with a vivid description of the city of Foochow and its environs, with a lucid historical sketch of the city, especially as connected with Christian missions, and particularly those of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Deeply interesting accounts of the transactions of the conference, and of the exercises and institutions connected therewith, are also given. The Bishop was also among the heathen and Mohammedan temples of the region, and saw the ceremony of the false worship therein, and gives us his meditations thereon. He also favors us with a most discriminating consideration of the character and writings of Confucius, which concludes the whole. All these various chapters are interspersed with incidents illustrative of Chinese manners and customs. Of these well-written and deeply-interesting chapters we can give but the merest outline.

We follow the Bishop as he enters within the walls and threads his way through the ten-feet-wide streets, jostled by

« PoprzedniaDalej »