BLTC Press Titles

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Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Bhagavad Gita


My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

Narrative of the war with China in 1860

by Garnet Joseph Wolseley (1st visct.)





The open roadstead where we rendezvous'd off Kingtang was very pretty: we were about a mile from shore, so that we could see the country well. This island, known by us as the Silver Isle, rises in most places abruptly from the shore, there being but little level land there, and that little consisting of small narrow strips, evidently reclaimed from the sea, which is still only kept from overflowing them by an earthen embankment, there called a bund. Like all other places I have seen in China, it was closely and beautifully cultivated. Every little spot capable of yielding the most trifling produce was neatly laid out into vegetable ground and carefully sown, with the exception of those few scattered portions where nature refused to reward the toil of the husbandman. It was to aU intents a garden, and well deserved its native name of Kingtang, or Golden Island. These islands only want wood to be beautiful, but land is too valuable there to allow of timber being grown to any extent. Each hamlet, however, is surrounded by either a high hedge of


bamboo or some trees, which are, I believe, allowed to grow with a sanitary object in view, as this provision of timber near the houses is supposed to absorb all the miasma generated from the low grounds on which the Chinese towns and villages are invariably built. We are thus taught a lesson in sanitary arrangements applicable to the country, and the value of which we discovered to our cost when last we occupied Chusan, where the troops encamped upon the hills suffered so severely, whilst those quartered in the town and on the low ground near it were, comparatively speaking, healthy. We have since then adopted the plan of bamboo hedges, and planted them round our barracks at Hong-kong. The tide which ran where our ships were anchored off' King-tang was so swift, that when running with its greatest force, no rowboat could pull against it; and several belonging to our ships of war were only saved from being carried out to sea by dropping anchor, those not having such with them making impromptu ones out of the awning-rods, or other available substitutes.

Several officers belonging to the G7th Regiment, who had been on shore during the day enjoying a ramble over the hills, having incautiously put to sea during the last hour of the ebb tide, were drifted off", and could not even make our ship, which was furthest down in the stream way. We floated out a line to them fastened to a life-buoy, which they caught, but not being clever at nautical manoeuvres, they allowed the line to get under the keel, where it frayed and broke; so off they drifted with a five-knot current and a steady wind. Being very crowded, and without an anchor,

they had reason to be thankful that another boat, which had shortly before been similarly drifted, lay at anchor, just astern of them, which, in passing, they managed to lay hold of, and there having waited for the turn of tide, they got back to their ships hungry and, I should fancy, weary of arm. Opposite King-tang is the town of Chin-hai, where the Nmgpo river falls into the sea: it was just visible from our anchorage; and its tapering pagodas, situate close behind, formed good landmarks for shipping. The report of guns was heard all through the day in that direction, although the rebels were not anywhere within range. This frequent discharge of cannon is supposed to have the effect of increasing the courage of the Imperialists, and of proportionably depressing that.of the rebel troops. By daybreak on the 21st of April we were all under weigh, at first coasting along King-tang, then treading a tortuous passage through the other islands, all equally pretty, and bearing a close resemblance one to the other. Once in amongst them, it appeared to be an inland lake which our ships were furrowing up. Land was quite close to us, on all sides, rising from the sea, for the most part in steep slopes, and richly green down almost to high-water mark; whilst here and there a clump of trees or hedge of tall bamboo indicated the position of a village. Numbers of small craft hovered about, more like a flock of swallows than a fleet of ordinary fishing-boats; and there, for the first time, I saw Chinese junks having sails, devoid of the bamboo rods, which are usually placed at about one foot apart over their entire length: these were fitted, instead, with rings, which slid up and down the masts like our fore-and

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