BLTC Press Titles


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Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh


Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller


A voyage down the Amoor

by Perry McDonough Collins

Excerpt:

THIS VOLUME IS EESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,

IS TOKEN OF ADMIRATION AND GRATITtTDE,
BY ONE WHO HAS SHARED HIS GENEROUS HOSPITALITY,

AND WITNESSED THE NOBLE BESULTS OF HIS rROFOCND AND BENEFICENT POLICY
ON THE AMOOB RIYEE.

PREFACE.

My attention was first turned towards Siberia by the perusal of Lieutenant Von "Wrangel's narrative of an expedition to the Polar Sea. Reflecting on the vast extent of the country, its mighty rivers, its stately and boundless forests, its immense mineral wealth, I was struck with the magnitude of its natural resources, and with its possible value to the commerce of the world, if it could only obtain an easy outlet to the ocean.

For several years previous to 1855, while residing in California, I had given much study to the commercial resources of the Pacific side of the United States, especially in connection with the opposite coast of Asia. I had already fixed in my own mind upon the river Amoor as the destined channel by which American commercial enterprise was to penetrate the obscure depths of Northern Asia, and open a new world to trade and civilization, when news arrived in 1855 that the Russians had taken possession of the Amoor country, and formed a settlement at the mouth of the river. Greatly interested by this event, the important consequences of which my previous speculations enabled me fully to comprehend, I proceeded to Washington in search of accurate information on the subject. Little was known in California about tho Amoor, with wlm'h no direct communication had then been effected. To have gone to the mouth of the river myself, as I was strongly inclined to do, would have required me to charter a vessel for the express purpose, and this I was scarcely able to afford. And besides, on arriving there, a private adventurer, without credentials, I could have no assurance of being permitted to ascend the river or explore the country. "What I chiefly desired was to examine the whole length of the Amoor, and ascertain its fitness for steamboat navigation. That point settled in the affirmative, everything else was sure to follow as a matter of course.

At "Washington, I had conferences with President Pierce, Secretary Marcy, and the Eussian Ambassador, which resulted in my appointment, March 24, 1856, as Commercial Agent of the United States, for the Amoor River.

Armed with this commission, and with letters to influential personages at St. Petersburg, I started without delay for the Russian Capital, resolved to traverse the empire from West to East, cross Siberia, enter Tartary, and, if possible, descend the Amoor river from its source to its mouth. I sailed from ISTew York April 12,1856, and the result of my travels and voyages is here submitted to the public.

A VOYAGE DOWN THE AMOOR.

CHAPTER I.

DEPARTURE FOR SIBERIA.

On the 17th of May, 1856, I reached Cronstadt in the first steamer that had entered the port that year, and was the only passenger on board. For three days we had been detained by ice in the Gulf of Finland. For two more days I was kept at Cronstadt in consequence of my passport having no vise of a Russian Consul in the United States, as is required by the police regulations of the empire. At the end of that time, however, the matter was satisfactorily explained, and I was permitted to enter St. Petersburg.

My main object at the Russian capital was to get the permission of the imperial government to traverse Siberia and explore the Amoor River, which I was resolved to descend, if possible, from its head waters to its mouth. Little, however, could be done in this direction during the absence of General Mouravieff, the distinguished Governor-General of Eastern Siberia, to whom my application had been referred by the imperial government, and who was then on a visit to Germany. I waited patiently for his return through the months of June and July, occupying myself with observing the manners and customs and studying the language of the Russians, and in enjoying the hospitalities with which I was honored through the kindness of the United States Minister, Governor Seymour of Connecticut.


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