SHANGHAI, Saturday, December 14.
We leave for Hong Kong, eight hundred miles south, by the mail steamer which sails at daylight. Our usual good fortune attends us. The monsoon blew us to port one night sooner than we expected. A night saved was quite an object, as the Geelong is a small craft, and her rocking means something. Vandy was very ill, but I managed to report regularly at table as usual. We slept on shore Tuesday night, and the morning revealed one of the prettiest places we have ever seen in the East. Hong Kong is an island about twenty, six miles in circumference, situated one mile from the mainland of China, and just at the mouth of the river leading to Canton. There is scarcely an acre of level ground upon it except one little spot which does duty as a race-course, and is not level either by any means. A narrow strip fronting the water is occupied by the city of Victoria, which extends about three miles, but back of this the ground rises rapidly, and houses cluster upon the steep sides of the mountain. Nevertheless, public gardens have been laid out with exquisite taste and skill upon the hillside, and excellent walks reach to the very top of the peak, more than eighteen hundred feet high. So closely does this crag overhang the town below that a stone could be dropped into the settlement from its crest.
It is the thing in Hong Kong to do the Peak, and we did it, but not in a manner very creditable to our staying powers, I fear. The fact is, we had been tossed for sortie days upon a small ship. It was exceedingly warm. I We were very tired (conscience suggested another word for tired); in short, there were a dozen reasons - good, bad, and indifferent - why two strong, lusty fellows should, under the circumstances, be carried up instead of attacking the Peak on foot; and so each of us, in a sedan chair, borne by four strong coolies, managed to get to the top and enjoy the splendid view, coming down in the same novel manner. It was surprising, after we had returned, to find how decided a misunderstanding had arisen between us on the subject. I had not pressed walking up on Vandy's account, while he had only denied himself that wished-for pleasure in deference to my supposed inability. You see, had this point been made clearer before we started, we might have had the walk after all. As it is, the credit of both is fairly maintained, and I do think that neither of us regrets the unfortunate misunderstanding; one gets so lazy in these latitudes!
More than a hundred thousand Chinese have come from the main land to reside in Hong Kong and enjoy the benefits of British rule, and the population, which in 1841 was only five thousand, is now a hundred and forty thousand. So the good work of reforming China goes forward by the surest of all means, good example. It is at such points as Hong Kong - one of the keys of the world - that England does her real work and lifts up mankind.
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