The British public is greatly handicapped in forming an intelligent appreciation of happenings in China by a lack of that initial experience which can only be gained by residence in the country.In this little work I have endeavoured to place before readers a sketch of things as I saw them, and to convey to their minds an idea of how Europeans live there, of their amusements, of their work, and of those things which are matters of daily interest to them, so that my book may serve as a kind of preface to that enthralling volume, the current history of China, as it is daily revealed in the press, in magazines and in learned works.
at in whatever port you reside your thoughts and your interests are daily and directly concerned with either one or the other. From them come the daily newspapers, arriving, maybe, several days after date of issue, but still fresh reading for those in distant places. From them come the gun-boats which, besides protection, bring the welcome society of jovial naval men, and from them come commercial travellers with assortments of hats, boots, guns, clothes and other necessaries; while to them we go to embark for home, or, when in need of a social holiday, to chip off the rust of out-port seclusion, until eventually we look to them for many of our creature comforts, and through them, as through a window, to the world beyond.
Existence at both Shanghai and Hongkong is surrounded with so many Western accessories in the shape of good houses, electric light, excellent roads, horses and carriages, bands in public gardens and hourly telegrams, that life at an out-port, while at times very monotonous, is frequen