William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By William Henry Seward; Olive Risley Seward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V.
UP THE PEIHO-RIVER.

Mouth of the Pei-ho.--Chinese Forts.--American Guns.--The Most Crooked and Mean of Rivers.--Chinese Dogs.--A Misunderstanding.--CaptainWang.--Our Flotilla.-- The City of Tien-Tsin.--Aspect of the Country.--Our Boat Life.--Absence of Animals.--A Messenger from Peking.--A Chinese Trader.--Tung-Chow.

Pei-ho River, October 27th.--We passed the bar at three this morning, having only twelve feet water, while the Shan Tung draws twelve feet four inches. Thanks to the sandy bottom, we have come safely over. With the exception of our peeps into the native cities of Shanghai and Chee-foo, we have so far only seen Europe in China. Now China and the Chinese have opened themselves to us. Taku is the outer port of Tien-Tsin, and is fortified. Though the works are not remarkable for construction, they have proved very effective defences by reason of the marshes which prevent the near approach of an enemy. We counted one hundred and fifty guns in position, some of which are of American make. The forts seem not strongly garrisoned. It was impossible for us to ascertain whether the wide-spread settlements through which we passed after crossing the bar, and which contain a population of half a million, are one great city, or a hundred or more busy villages. But we learn that, statistically regarded, Taku consists of three villages, Taku, Siku, and Sangku. A leading business is the trade in salt, which is made on the sea-shore, and deposited in large quantities on the banks of the rivers. The channel is crowded with junks, while only one, two, or three for-

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