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The Journal of Two Voyages along the coast of China, in
1831, and 1832 ; the first in a Chinese junk ; the second in the British ship Lord Amherst : with notices of Siam, Curea, and the Loo-choo islands; and remarks on the policy, religion, etc., of China. By Charles Gutzlaff. New York: John P. Haven. 1833. pp. 342.
MR. GUTZLAFF, the author of these narratives, is a native of Prussia, and is a missionary of the Netherlands society. The energy and faith of primitive days seem to have revived in him. After laboring several years in Siam, he went on board a Chinese junk, and under the disguise of a native dress and a naturalized character, performed a voyage along the coast of China, extending from June to December, 1831. He found many opportunities to distribute books and tracts, and in personal conversation, to direct the minds of his fellow-passengers and others from the absurdities of their religious creed, to the Saviour of the world. His skill in administering medicines, and his practical and extensive acquaintance with natural philosophy and astronomy, awakened a strong interest in his behalf, and were the means of conciliating much attention to his character as a spiritual adviser. The details of this voyage have been published in successive numbers of the Chinese Repository, a monthly journal published at Canton. Many extracts have found their way into American periodicals.
On the 26th of February, 1832, Mr. Gutzlaff commenced the second voyage, on board the Lord Amherst, captain Rees, an English country ship, chartered for the occasion, by the East India Company, under the direction of H. H. Lindsay, Esq., of the company's establishment in China. After an eventful voyage, the Lord Amherst reached Macao on the 4th of September. She visited several_ports of Canton province, the western side of the island Formosa, Amoy, Fuh-chow-foo, the capital of Fuhkeen, Ning-po in Che-keang and the neighboring islands, Shantung, Corea, and the Loo-choo group of islands. The medicines and books distributed by Mr. Gutzlaff were joyfully, and in some places, eagerly accepted.
To show the manner and spirit of the journalist, we select the following paragraphs.
“While musing thus, I turned and saw a poor man carrying a burden, but willing to converse upon the things of eternal life. I felt consoled by this, and rejoiced that I was permitted to tread upon these barren hills. Today we entered a village at the foot of a very high hill, and were gladly received by the inhabitants. They did not hesitate to converse freely upon any topic which we introduced. I had the pleasure to add a few books to the well-worn library of an old man, which he carefully examined. The houses were built very substantially, and kept tolerably clean ; but the occupants were very poor people, of whom the male part were either at work at Amoy, or were gone to foreign parts. At the beach we were shocked at the spectacle of a pretly new-born babe, which shortly before had been killed. We asked some of the bystanders what this meant. They answered with indifference, it is only a girl. It is a general custom in this district to drown female infants immediately after their birth. Respectable families seldom take the trouble, as they express themselves, to rear these useless girls. They consider themselves the arbiters of their children's lives, and entitled to take them away when they can foresee that their prolongation would only entail misery. As the numerous emigration of the male population renders it probable that their daughters, if permitted to live, would not be married, they choose this shorter way to rid themselves of the incumbrance of supporting them."
April 22. It is the commemoration of the Lord's resurrection. How far from all Christian society! How long have I been separated from the communion of the saints !
“We arrived to-day in the harbor of Fuh-chow, after having, the day before, slightly touched the ground. The whole atmos. phere is shrouded in darkness, which obscured the landmarks at the entrance of the harbor ; yet we had excellent pilots on board, who brought us in safely. We are now come to that district whence the greatest quantity of tea is furnished for consumption in Europe.
“ The hills where the tea is cultivated, stretch abroad in every direction. The soil does not yield a sufficient quantity of rice for home consumption ; however, the exports of timber, bamboo, and teas, more than balance the imports of rice and cotton. whole region is very romantic : ridges of undulating hills, naked in part, and partly cultivated, in form of terraces, up to the top, give the whole à most picturesque aspect. The river, which
leads up to the capital, is broad and navigable as far as the city. Here are no fragments of ancient edifices, or other classic ruins, but a display of Chinese industry and skill in all its variety. The villages and hamlets are very numerous all along the river ; often in beautiful situations. The Dutch anciently traded at this port; but even the remembrance of it is now lost. Our appearance, therefore, struck the inhabitants with astonishment. The entrance of the river is in lat. 26° 6', lon. 119° 55'. As soon as we had anchored, we were visited by the inhabitants of the adjacent village. They made no inquiries after trifles, but were anxious to ascertain the prices of our cargo, and invited us to their village. Fertile fields, sown with wheat, naked rocks, and plains of sand, gave a diversified aspect to the whole environs. We visited our friends in their houses, and held very long conversations with them, principally upon trade. They received the books with hearty pleasure, and read them most diligently. After going through the village, and scrambling over several cliffs, we were intending to return, but were pressingly invited by a merchant, to partake of a supper, which he had prepared for us in a public hall. We supped, therefore, upon very good fare, among an immense crowd, who were extravagantly delighted to see us their guests, and urgent that we should partake freely of their refreshments. We felt very happy in the midst of these cheerful people, who did not act on the principle of the mandarins, that barbarians must be treated as enemies."
“ April 26. Mr. L. and the captain took proper care that the unjust punishments of the natives, who might approach us, should not be repeated here, as at Amoy. We were visited by the mandarin of this district, a civil and sagacious old man. He had received orders from the deputy-governor of Fuhkeen province to procure a certain number of our Christian books for the inspection of the emperor. I gave him, accordingly, one copy of Scripture Lessons,' a tract on gambling, fleaven's Mirror, a full delineation of Christianity, besides a few other books of which he had copies before. I was highly delighted that God, in his wisdom, was sending his glorious gospel to Peking, that it might be fully examined and known in the palace. Taoukwang has never shown himself an enemy to popery. In all his edicts against the sects and heresies in his dominions, he does not even mention the name of Christian.
Though I know nothing of his character, except that be delights more in pleasure than in business, I humbly hope that the perusal of the word of God will impress his mind favorably towards the gospel. It is the first time that the Chinese government has taken the trouble to examine the oracles of God. The depravity of the human heart, which is as great in the rulers of China as any where, I fear will not permit them to perceive the glory of God in a crucified Saviour. Yet it is the cause of God."
“ Whilst we were at Ning-po, we received a list of the ships which had formerly been at this port. They seemed to be very numerous; but at the present time no traces of the foreign trade are to be seen, though the old people retain still a faint remembrance of the foreigners. Here the celebrated Jesuits from France, near the end of the seventeenth century, landed, and obtained permission to settle at Peking. Two of them became the constant attendants of the emperor, Kang-he, in all his travels, and were the partners of his dangers in the Tartarian war. What great results might one have expected from such an opportunity both to benefit the highest personages in the empire, and to impart to the people the blessings of Christianity ? In these hopes we have been greatly disappointed. Instead of introducing the reign of truth, they created intrigue ; in lieu of pure religion, they spread popery. Though possessing the greatest talents, they never devoted them simply to the glory of their Saviour ; they never employed them in giving to the benighted heathen, in their own language, the blessed gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is truly lamentable ; that they should bestow such labors, encounter such sacrifices, and defend their tenets with such heroism, to found an earthly religion, which confers few blessings in this life, and leads to a doubtful eternity. In offering these sentiments, there is no design to depreciate their talents, or to vilify their religious zeal ; but it is the language of deep regret to see the salvation of the soul neglected amidst the best opportunities of securing it; and the most trifling ceremonies predominate over the eternal welfare of men, which should have been the prime object in all their operations."
“July 17. A stiff breeze brought us in sight of Corea. A merciful Providence has brought us through many dangers, along the coast of China, and oh that we were truly grateful !”
“We came to anchor at Chwang-shan, an island north of Basil's Bays. The silence of the desert seemed to reign every where. We ventured towards the shore, and the first thing we met was a fishing-boat, miserably constructed, with two natives in it, clothed in rags. Though we could not communicate with them orally, yet we could use the Chinese character in writing. We gave the old man a few books, and lion buttons, which highly delighted him. As soon as we had landed on a small island, several natives came down from a hill, wearing conical caps of horse-hair, with jackets and trowsers similar to the Chinese, but wider and without buttons. Nothing could exceed the gravity of their look and demeanor. An elderly man who held a staff, bade us sit down by repeating several times 'tshoa.' After complying with his request, he made a long harangue, of which we understood not a syllable, but in which he seemed very earnest. From his unequivocal gestures, and from a young man whom we had the happiness to find, who understood a few Chinese words, we afterwards learned that he was pointing out to us the regulations of his country, and the duties of strangers on their arrival."
August 22. Yesterday, we passed Sulphur island, from which great quantities of smoke were rising. This island seems to be entirely volcanic, and destitute of vegetation. We wished much to go ashore ; but the wind blew too hard, and the sea was too high to permit us to land. After experiencing sudden gusts of wind, we arrived, to-day, safely at Napa-keang, the principal anchorage of Great Loo-choo. This island has been repeatedly visited by Europeans, and has engaged the attention of the ablest writers.
“Soon after anchoring, we set out to go ashore, at the temple of Lin-hae. We
e saw several Japanese vessels in the harbor, and observed the junk returned which we had seen at Fuh-chow."
“ August 24. Anjah, with Tche, and an elderly mandarin, to-day made us a visit on board, the first which we have yet received."
“To-day, we visited the Japanese junk. The substantial canvas of the sails, the broad structure of the vessel, the immense rudder, and main-mast, which is quite disproportionate, the spacious accommodations, were all objects of curiosity for strangers. Most of the sailors were naked : they were very friendly, and received our Christian books gratefully; and we should have gained much information from them, but for the interference of the Loo-choo mandarins, who were much displeased with the visit, and endeavored by every means to get us away from the junk. They painted off the treachery of the Japanese, and the danger of our lives in becoming too intimate with them. Yet we protracted our visit as much as possible, and viewed every part of the junk.”
“ To-day we dined in the Po-tsang temple. The most savory dishes were placed with much order and taste, upon japanned tables, and presented to us in regular succession. The liquor with which they treated us, was very clear, and of excellent fla
We admired the good order and propriety exhibited in the feast, among a great crowd of spectators. Good manners seem to be natural to the Loo-chooans.
“ After dinner we took a long walk among the hills and groves of this delightful island. We saw several women working very hard in the field ; and the peasantry appeared to be poorly clad and in poor condition; yet, they were as polite as the most accomplished mandarins. Sweet potatoes occupied the greater part of the ground, and seem to constitute the principal food of the inhabitants."
Sufficient evidence will be found in the foregoing quotations, of the interesting nature of the volume. There is a sweet simplicity and frankness in Mr. Gutzlaff's delineations