Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York
Volume 3. Pages 283-299. January 1, 1872
IX. JOURNEY THROUGH EASTERN MANTCHOORIA AND KOREA.
By Walton Grinnell.
READ JUNE 18th. 1871.
Mr. President and Members of the Geographical Society: In the remarks which I will have the honor of presenting to you this evening, I shall confine myself to that part of Asia lying between the great river Amoor, on the north and the frontier of the Korea on the south, embracing portions of Chinese and Russian Mantchooria, between the Shan-a-lin mountains and the Gulf of Tartary .
The spring and summer of 1870 I had spent in cruising among the Kurile Islands and in a land journey through Kamchatka and north-east Siberia; but in September of that year I found myself landed at Vladivostok (the Port May of the English charts), on the Gulf of Tartary, in lat. 42° 50’.
I had two reasons for being dropped at this rather outof-the-way spot. The first and prime object of my whole journey was to attempt to reach Samarkand and Central Asia from some point on the Gulf of Tartary, between the 37th° and 45th° parallels; and, secondly, I had cherished a hope of crossing the Korean frontier and of learning something regarding that strange, sealed empire and its interesting population. In neither of these attempts was I entirely successful, though my failure by no means convinces me of the impossibility of the undertaking.
By the supplementary treaty of Aigun, Count Mouravieff obtained for Russia possession of that vast and fertile territory lying south of the Amoor and between the Gulf of Tartary and the river Usuri, and with an energy and enterprise which have characterized Russian progress during the last ten years, she has encouraged emigration, placed steamers on the Usuri and Lake Hanka, built the port of Vladivostok, constructed a telegraph from the Baltic to the Pacific, and enforced order among the Manjoors and other tribes. A considerable experience in traveling in little-known countries had prepared me for the exclamations which met me on all sides. At Vladivostok: “What! cross Mantchooria and Mongolia to Samarkand! Impracticable, can’t be done; and as for the Korea, absolutely impossible ! !” Faint-hearted indeed must be the traveler who, having determined on an attempt, is thwarted from his purpose by such exclamations or the discouraging advice of timid friends. Vladivostok is an admirable harbor, and has the advantage of being closed only about six weeks by ice. It has a mixed population of Manjoors, Chinamen from the northern provinces, Korean refugees and a few Russians, in all, perhaps, 400 inhabitants. It has a small trade in exporting sea-weed, ginseng, etc., to China. The Russian government have lately decided to remove here the naval arsenal of Nikolaeivsk on the Amoor, and during the present summer it will be connected with China by the Danish submarine cable, and with Europe by the Siberian military telegraph. Thus it will be seen that this little port bids fair to “have a future,” and at no distant day it may form the base of operations directed against the Korea.
On landing at Vladivostok I was received by the Russian authorities with that hearty hospitality and goodwill which, during a year’ s experience in many parts of the Russian possessions, I have never once found wanting; and on stating my objective point, I was offered every facility in the way of passes, escorts and transportation. It was the middle of September, however, before I was prepared to start, and through the courtesy of the commandant of Vladivostok I was landed by a Russian man-of-war at the mouth of the Siphon, a river flowing from the water-shed of the Shan-a-lin mountains into the Bay of Amoor. The Siphon is a shallow stream flowing through one of the most beautiful valleys imaginable. During the first day’s ride I met no traces of cultivation, but tracks of big game met us on every side; tigers, swine, panthers and deer are numerous, and the river and lagoons were alive with wild fowl. In the course of a few days I arrived at Nikolskoi, a Russian post on the Siphon, about sixty versts from its mouth. Two years before my visit, this post was attacked and destroyed by a band of Manjoor outlaws, but at present a guard of Cossacks give it some protection. It was here that I first learned of several considerable villages of Koreans scattered in the fertile valleys to the westward, and I at once determined to visit them and, if possible, to reside some weeks with these people before crossing into the Korea proper.
Here again I was befriended by the Russian officials, and one bright morning in October I found myself well mounted and with a Korean guide on my way to a village of 500 souls, said to be situated about forty versts to the west, near the base of the Shan-a-lin mountains.
It was a new field, full of interest. Many centuries ago this portion of Mantchooria formed a part of the Korea, and the numerous remains of walled cities and forts attest the power and civilization of the Korea at that period. Our trail, on leaving Nikolskoi, led us through a finely preserved Korean remain — a rectangular fortress, with well shaped walls of earth thirty or thirty-five feet high, and protected by a moat and two outer ditches. The work covered about six acres, and had four gateways, guarded by curtains of earth-work. I afterward examined this work more thoroughly, measured its side, and saw some stone statues, and elaborately carved fragments of columns.
The valley of the Siphon is a promising field for colonization. Corn and millet grow luxuriously; and the Manjoor, even with his rude cultivation, produces bountiful crops.
During my stay in the Siphon district vast tracks of grass lands were on fire, and I was often compelled to make long detours to escape the flames.
Toward nightfall we arrived at the first village of Koreans. It was a thrifty little hamlet on the hill-slope, straggling down to the valley below. The general effect was purely Japanese; the grouping of the houses, their structure (except the detached chimney), the neat fencing of interlaced boughs, and the well-laid thatch, formed a marked contrast with the miserable cabin of the North China peasant, or the mud-built fanzar of the Manjoor.
My guide was soon surrounded by friends, and so presented me to the chief, or head man of the village, that we were most cordially received.
On entering the house we found the whole family squatted on the matting. The women were engaged in mending their slender wardrobes, and men were fashioning clay bowls, which were neatly done, and graceful in shape.
A Korean house, at least those of the Northern provinces, is built of a light framework of bamboo, or reeds, fastened together by cords, and filled in with clay. The outside is covered with a light planking; and the roof formed of thick thatch, or sun-burned tiles. Connected with the house, though standing some distance from it, is the chimney, formed of a hollow tree. The interior is generally divided into two or three apartments, the floor being raised some two feet, and heated from underneath by a system of flues, which connects the fire-place with the chimney. By this arrangement these flimsy houses are made most comfortable, even during the severe winter of this region. The Korean eats, sleeps and works on this heated platform, which is covered by a matting of straw, or split reeds. I was given a most excellent supper of fresh venison and boiled millet; and I was charmed by the refined and cleanly manner in which it was served. I had taken the precaution to bring with me some Chinese tea; a gift of a few handsful of which placed me on the very pinnacle of popularity; for tea is a luxury almost unknown to these poor refugees.
There are about 5,000 Koreans settled north of the Tamen, principally peasants from the Northern province, and, consequently, knowing but little of the Southern parts of their empire. I spent some weeks in different villages, and, through my guide, who spoke a little Russian, I continually questioned the Koreans regarding their country and its customs. The result of this questioning, and of my own observations, I have condensed into the following notes:
The Korea is, as we know, the peninsula which forms the north shore of the Yellow Sea, and lies between 35° and 43° N., and 125° and 129° E. from Greenwich. It has an area of about 81,000 square miles, and a population of about 6,000,000. Of the geography of this country we know next to nothing. Indeed, the coast line is but imperfectly described on our charts; and all attempts to communicate with its people, or to land on their shores, have been successfully resisted.
The Korea is an independent empire. It is true, an annual tribute is sent to the Emperor of China; but this is by no means a token of actual dependence. The empire is divided into eight provinces. The capital, or royal city, is Si-oo-ri, called, on our maps, King-ki-tao; the name given it by the Chinese, and one not in use among the Koreans. There are many large cities; but in the north the population is neither so numerous nor so cultivated as in the south and central provinces. Many of the cities have walls of stone thirty or forty feet high; and there are castles or forts in different parts of the empire. Soldiers are numerous, and armed with gingalls and bows; and iron and chain armor is still in use. Cannon, great and small, of brass and iron, are mounted on the castle and city walls. I could learn of no wars nor rebellions of late years. The climate is magnificent, and cotton grows as far north as 40°. Hemp and flax are largely cultivated, and, from the cloths and ropes I saw, they must be of excellent quality. Tobacco is extensively grown and incessantly used; a pipe, with a Korean, being as much part of his costume as his jacket. Rice is found in the Northern province; but a species of very small millet seems to be the staple food of the lower classes. Paper is made from the bark of a tree (a species of mulberry); and I saw many qualities, all good, and some finer than any I had seen in Japan. The Korean, like the Japanese, uses paper for everything. The windows of his house, the walls of his rooms, his waterproof overcoat and his umbrella, his pocket handkerchief and his pillow-case, are all made of this paper, and it has many advantages. The Koreans excel in metal work; and nearly all household utensils are made of a composition resembling bell metal, and very light colored, from the great alloy of silver.
I saw but few specimens of lacquer, which was of inferior quality. The carpenters and joiners are very clever, and use tools similar in shape to those of China, though of better finish.
The universal, national dress is white, of silk or cotton with the richer classes, and of hemp or bleached grass cloth with the poorer. The dress of the women consists of a skirt or petticoat, padded or quilted in winter, reaching nearly to the ankles. Underneath they wear a garment not unlike Turkish trowsers. The upper dress is a jacket, or bodice, fastened at the neck and reaching but half way to the waist, and tightly laced, compressing to the utmost the upper part of the body. They wear large chignons. Otherwise the hair is simply dressed. I noticed, even with the poor people with whom I lived, gold and silver rings, and long skewer-like hair pins of the same metals. The men wear a short jacket, like the Japanese Kimino, and loose breeches, gathered in at the knee. For shoes, both sexes wear a pointed sandal of straw or cotton twine.
The Koreans marry at thirteen or fourteen; and I have seen a girl of fourteen with her two children on her back.
The men’s hair is worn drawn tightly to the top of the head, where it is tied in a large knot. The boys wear a pig-tail like the Chinese, which is cut off on their marriage and sold for making chignons. For a head covering they wear a hat made of open worked horse-hair.
The type of the Korean is purely Mongol, though of lighter complexion and more robust figure than the Chinese or Japanese. The women are often very pretty, with well shaped hands and feet, and they are most graceful in all their movements. In manner they are exceedingly pleasing and reserved. I have never been with a tribe, from the Tchuktchees of Behring Straits to the Steppes of Patagonia, so rude or simple as to be ignorant of the gentle art of flirting; but your Korean young lady is the most accomplished of coquettes. The women seem well treated, and do no hard work, and the children are most tenderly cared for. In short, from my own experience, the Koreans are a thrifty, brave and honest people, with considerable civilization and much good nature. Education is widely diffused; and I did not meet, even among those poor villagers, a single man who could not read and write. In reading, they articulate in a sing-song fashion, connecting words and sentences, and making no stops or rests. The literature of the Korea is said to be very extensive; and the jealousy of the government is so great that any one sending a book or manuscript across the frontier is punished with death. Nevertheless some works in Korean can be bought at Pekin. The works on history, philosophy and the sciences, are printed in the Chinese characters; while all lighter literature, such as poetry and romances, are in the native Korean letter.
The language of the Korea is alphabetical, and composed of 187 letters; it differs entirely from Chinese or Japanese, and has many curved strokes and circles. In simplicity, it resembles the Kata-Kara of Japan. When spoken, one is struck by the softness of pronunciation, and by the musical modulation of the voice in strong contrast with the harshness of the Japanese, and guttural emphasis of the Chinese.
The domestic animals of the Korea are the same as those of northern China, but the horses I saw were much finer than the Mongolian ponies. Game abounds, from tigers downwards. The system of cultivation is, as in China, extensive and thorough, and the roads and other means of communication are described as numerous and well kept. The popular religion is Buddist, but many of the villages I have been among have lost their faith, though a joss picture forms part of the furniture of their houses. The Russians have made a few converts at Hadirostok The trade with China has of late years greatly diminished, and, with Japan, has entirely ceased, owing to the jealousy and restrictions of the Korean government.
It has often been fancied that the Korea was exceedingly rich in the precious metals. I have seen silver plates and golden ornaments from there, but I see no foundation for the idea of superabundance of these metals. The villagers told me that gold and silver were held in the same value, and that neither were used as money, except near the capital, where they had heard of blocks of silver, probably for trade with the Chinese. The money of the country is of iron and copper, similar to the money of China.
The general aspect of the Korea is mountainous, the greatest elevations being in the north, and sometimes rising to 6,000 or 8,000 feet and approaching close to the sea. As we sail along the coast to the southward this range appears to leave the coast and to tend to the south-west. Of the water system, the Ya-la river, which probably takes its rise from the water-shed of the southern spur of the Shan-a-lin mountains and falls into the Yellow Sea near the Chinese frontier, is the most considerable, and is navigated by junks of the first class for sixty or eighty miles. The second river in point of size is the Tumen, which forms the northern boundary of the empire. Where I met it, at the Russian frontier, it is 200 yards wide; but the bar, which has been examined by the Russians, and I believe by the English also, has only about six feet of water, and is exposed to the swell of the Japan Sea. The Tumen is frozen many months in the year, thus forming a bridge over which the poor people with whom I lived, driven by famine from their own country, escaped to the protection of China and Russia. The jealousy of the Korea of the inviolability of the empire is so great that during the last century all the villages, farms and houses on their banks of the river were ordered to be destroyed, and death was the punishment for crossing from shore to shore.
There are many harbors on the east coast, and ships passing up the Gulf of Tartary have often found good shelter, but the whole coast requires examination before it is safe of approach. Of the Archipelago, to the southwest, we know absolutely nothing, which is doubly to be regretted, as the merchant ships from Nenchiang to Japan are often driven into this bight and find themselves surrounded by unknown dangers.
The problem of opening this strange empire to western commerce has been tried by France and Russia, and both attempts ended in discouraging failure. That the efforts of this country, now being made through Admiral Rodgers and Mr. Low, our Chinese minister, will prove more successful, I greatly doubt. Suppose we appear off the coast with a powerful fleet and succeed in landing, we have no power to assure our communications or of reaching the government at Livori, neither can we force the officials of the capital to come to our ships and to treat with us.
The Korea is as invulnerable as China. Her capital, all her great cities, and her wealth and industry, are away from the coast. We cannot force the government into receiving us, by bombarding a few harmless fishing villages, and it will not listen to conciliatory diplomacy. No, if we wish to sell our gray shirtings and our repeating rifles, if we covet her gold, her copper and her coal, and if we think her advantageous to swallow, we shall have to go to Sioori, and to tell the Emperor so, in his own palace; and to do that we should have at least 10,000 soldiers for our traveling companions. The opening of Japan was by no means an analogous case. Our triumph there was due to the personal courage, persistency and diplomatic adaptation of circumstances of our minister, Mr. Townsend Harris.
In concluding these notes on the Korea, I would remark that I believe a determined traveler, who is ready to spend six or eight years in the exploration of that country, can accomplish his object by residing in the villages of refugees, spending a year or two in studying the language, and in making short excursions across the frontier. On his final attempt he must expect to be made prisoner, but by tact and knowledge of the language, he may make himself so valuable as to be detained or even employed by the government, and like Will Adams, the first Englishman in Japan, live to give a thorough account of the country. The results are quite worthy of the risks attending the attempt.
On leaving the Korean villages, of which I have visited several, I made a detour from the trail to visit a hill fortress of Korean origin, of which I had often heard.
Differing from the work I had seen at Nikolskoi, this fort was perched on the crest of a considerable hill, which here rises from the valley. Its walls were well defined, and at the four angles were towers, or high traverses, rising fifteen or twenty feet above the main wall. The extreme antiquity of these remains was attested by the full grown forest trees growing on the walls and within the inclosure. Great quantities of small rectangular bits of iron have been found here by the natives, which I immediately recognized as portions of scale armor, similar to that worn by the Japanese. I found the longer side to measure 2,400 feet, and the lesser 752 feet.
The country south of the Siphon completely changes in character; the extensive plains and low, unwooded hills give place to rugged forest-clad mountains, intersected by numerous valleys, and swift-flowing torrents falling into the Bay of Amoor.
On the hills we started herds of deer, and as we forded the streams, we literally rode through shoals of salmon. These fish, after entering a river never return, but, mounting to the head-waters, are left by the receding current to die, and become food for the bears, which here abound.
On the 12th of November I reached the beautiful valley of Mon-go-gaile, where the Russians propose planting a colony. A cart-road of Mantchoor origin intersects the valley, and a bridge, the first I had seen, spans the river. This, with the ruins of a few fanzars and millet mills, are the only signs of its former population.
It is said that valley was abandoned because of the ravages of tigers. The Manjoors assert that a tiger will never pass over burnt ground; but this precaution does not prevent the loss of cattle, even when inclosed in the strong high palisades which are always to be found on a Manjoor farm in this district.
The climate of these valleys is much warmer than the surrounding country; all cereals grow luxuriantly. I passed several groves of cork trees, with a bark of four or five inches, and wild grapevines interlace the forest.
On returning to Mkolskoi, which I did at the end of November, I found the Russian bishop of Pekin, who had made the journey from thence via Neoukden and Ningorta, and whose wonderful facility in the Chinese and Manjoor dialect, and knowledge of Northern China, gave his opinions great weight. On conversing with this distinguished traveler, regarding my plan of crossing Mantchooria and Mongolia to the desert of Gobi, he assured me of its impracticability, and, moreover, stated that from information he had gained from the Chinese of those districts, the country was but thinly settled and comparatively uninteresting. It is very cruel to one’s pride, and very demoralizing to one’s stamina, to abandon a long matured plan; still, traveling is not a worthy occupation if used as a mere means to display courage, daring or endurance. The true traveler struggles through difficulties to accomplish a denned object, and to return with definite results.
At length I determined to abandon the Korea, and the idea of reaching Samarkand by Mantchooria, and resolved to push to the Amoor; from thence reach Irkutsk, in Central Siberia, with all possible speed, and from there work down to Samarkand, through the desert of Gobi. With this idea in view, I left Nikolskoi on the 6th of December.
The thermometer stood at 3° F.; our road was due north and the weather was piercingly cold; besides, I was in no way prepared for such a temperature, and I had 120 versts to make to reach Lake Hanka, where I could hope to find some fur clothing. The road was detestable, and the country most dreary, a rolling temdra or wet prairie. The eye searched in vain for a tree, a shrub or a blade of grass, and the only verdure was a long moss, dead and whitened by frost. I passed only one Mantchoor Fanzar, in which were two old Chinese, self-exiles, who buried themselves in this dreary region years and years ago to escape Chinese justice. More miserable specimens of wrecked humanity I never saw, and their Fanzar or house was as tottering and decrepit as themselves. Nevertheless, I was heartily glad to share with them their warm shelter, with its bugs and vermin, from which I received marked attentions.
I passed several skulls and human bones of victims in some battle, and the plain was strewn with the whitened remains of deer and other game.
On nearing Hanka, the Shan-a-lin mountains approach close to the lake; but the country to the south and east is monotonous and prairie-like.
The Russians have established a port at Kama-Ribaloff, on a bluff overlooking the lake, and during the summer it receives supplies by steamer from the Amoor, by the Usuri and Sangashi. By this magnificent system of rivers, Vladivostok, on the Gulf of Tartary, is in almost direct water communication with Irkutsk, a distance of over 3,500 miles.
Lake Hanka is situated between latitude 44° 30’ and 45° 20’, and longitude 131° 50’ and 132° 30’ (aprox.), and has an average depth of ten fathoms. The boundary between Russia and China crosses it from south-east to north-west. The shores, except in the vicinity of Kama, are low and marshy, and I traveled for ten days on the Chinese portion without meeting a sign of human habitation. The lake was firmly frozen. Once I crossed from the Russian frontier to the Chinese shore, over the ice — a most arduous undertaking, for great hummocks, sometimes forming ridges of fifteeen to twenty feet high, impeded our progress, and I lost one of my horses in an air-hole.
I had managed to get a good outfit of furs at Kama-Ribaloff, and with my bearskins for bed and cover, I did not suffer from the cold, though the thermometer averaged 5°.
On December 14th, I arrived at the mouth of the Sangachi, a river which flows from the lake, and after a north-east course of 200 miles, falls into the Usuri. The Sangashi is a deep, narrow stream, with a strong current, and never frozen at its head. The country along its banks is a vast sundra, or marsh, almost impassable. No snow had yet fallen, and the ice was not in a fit condition for sledging, so I was compelled to plod through this dreary waste for two days before reaching the Kossack settlement of Makora, on the Sangashi, near its junction with the Usuri. The character of the country here changes, and the interminable marshes of the upper river give place to wooded slopes and undulating banks.
I struck the Usuri about 150 miles from its source, and found it a magnificent stream of 500 feet wide.
The ice was reported in good condition, and having procured a sledge, I had the cheering prospect of easy traveling for 350 miles, and of meeting occasional villages of Chinese and Kossacks.
The Usuri flows through a rich, well wooded country; the banks often rise to considerable elevation, and on the Russian shore we passed several villages of Kossacks, who cultivate a small patch of ground, and hunt the sable, fox, bear and tiger, which abound in this section. The sable of the Usuri is not so valuable as that of Kamchatka, though a good skin readily brings from twenty to twenty-five rubles at Hebarofka, or other large trading-posts, and a tiger skin is worth from sixty to 100 rubles.
The left bank is occupied by Chinese and Goldi. The Goldi are a tribe of Mongol origin, long inhabiting this country, and spreading as far as the lower Amoor and the country of the Ghilasks. They have no written language; a religion and customs different from the Chinese; and are generally fishermen and hunters. They are a peaceful, hard-working, and stupid race, short of stature, and with features a cross between the Chinese and Esquimaux.
We often passed solitary little temples or Buddhist shrines, and I stopped at many of the Chinese farms. They generally have large, well built Fanzars, with courtyards like those in Northern China. Much ground is under cultivation, and they seem well supplied with horses and cattle. In winter they use the Narta, or light sledge, with dogs, as a means of transportation.
I passed a night at one fanzar, at which there were at least twenty persons. The head of the family was a fine old Chinaman, who, being rich, had surrounded himself with many of the luxuries of his country. His wife and children were dressed in rich silks, and wore bracelets of gold and silver, and ear-rings of jade.
The elder members of the family smoked opium incessantly, and it was late in the evening before they fell over on the ka-hu in a drowsy sleep. During the night they would wake and the porcelain pipes and little oil lamp were always in request. For a few silver rubles I bought from these people a white sable skin, a variety I had never seen before, and one much prized in China and Russia.
As we proceeded, the Russian settlements became more numerous, and Boussi and Kasakiricha are well built villages. For the last 100 versts the banks are high and bluff-like, and at forty versts from its mouth the Usuri divides into two branches, the one flowing into the Amoor at the port of Kahebrafka, and the other taking a more westerly direction, and also empties into the Amoor. During the last three days of my journey on the Usuri the thermometer, at 8 a.m., ranged to 32° Fahr., and both the Imisick, or driver, and myself suffered from frozen ears, noses and hands. I arrived at Hebarofka (which is a place of 600 or 700 souls, and a winter station for the Amoor steamers), on the 23d of December.
The Usuri rises between 44° and 45° north, and has a length of 530 miles. It is navigable during the summer months by small steamers for 350 miles. Gold is found in the small streams flowing into it, and the Siberian government are pushing emigration to its banks; still, the long and severe winters will prevent any great agricultural development, though as a mining district it may rival the Amoor, or even the untold riches of Lera. It is a curious fact that tigers are found in this cold country, and, before my arrival, one was killed near the house in which I lived, in the heart of the village of Hebarofka. Tigers have been traced as far north as 51°, and hardly a day passed that I did not see fresh tracks between Lake Hanka and the Amoor.
The Amoor at Hebarofka is about four miles wide, and from hence to the sea flows through a low, unproductive country, thinly populated by a few tribes of Ghilasks and Goldi.
My journey from Hebarofka was made over the frozen Amoor and the Shilka, and across the Baikal Lake to Irkutsk, where I arrived by the end of January, 1871. The distance is about 2,400 miles.
The section between Hebarofka and Irkutsk possesses much grand scenery and many interesting features, but it has already been ably described in works on the Amoor and Siberia, and I doubt if I can add any information of importance to those descriptions. That portion of Russian Montchooria between Castres and Olga Bays is as yet untrodden by white men, and the inhabitants have long been regarded by the Manjoors as an unconquerable race of savages.
Mantchooria is the “out west” of China, and a large immigration is constantly arriving and settling in the fertile valley of the Sangashi. Numbers of horses and cattle are sent to the south, and considerable gold dust finds its way into China from the gold washings of the Shan-a-lin mountains.
The Russian colonization of her territory is a system of forced military emigration; small colonies are placed every thirty or forty versts, without regard to the adaptation of the country, but rather to assure communication between the larger military posts. These colonies are in no case self-supporting, but are supplied by the government with flour and other rations; and they do but little for the general development of the country; nevertheless one cannot but admire that system which has planted a village every few versts, from Europe to the Pacific, through one of the most inhospitable countries on earth.
It has been supposed that the Russian occupation of Mantchoria and the Shaga-lin Islands was but a part of a systematic advance on Korea and Japan. From my observation on the spot and at St. Petersburg, I am convinced that Russia has no present designs on either country.
Holding the Upper Amoor, the possession of its mouth and free navigation of its waters became almost a necessity; and a nation having so extensive a seaboard on the Pacific naturally required a safe port as a refuge for their fleets. Nickolskoi is comparatively useless, for the navigation of the Gulf of Tartary is tedious and dangerous, and only twelve feet can be carried across the bar of the Amoor; in Vladivostok, however, Russia has found a commodious harbor within three days’ sail of Shanghai, and with river communication to the very heart of her Siberian possessions.
In conclusion, Mr. President and ladies and gentlemen, allow me to express my thanks for the attention with which you have listened to my rather dry remarks, and to express the hope that, ere long, some daring traveler will lift the veil which hangs over the mysteries of Korea and Central Asia.