Letter from T.H. Barker to his wife Mary, 19 October 1903

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Title: Letter from T.H. Barker to his wife Mary, 19 October 1903
Parent item: Collection of letters from T.H. Barker to his wife Mary (sort key: 3)
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Authors: Thomas Henry Barker
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License: Public Domain Mark This work is free of known copyright restrictions.
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Description: Handwritten. Letterhead: Astor House Hotel.

The Astor House Hotel. Image: Fretz Bros. Ltd., Zurich (via The New York Public Library)


Astor House Hotel Co. Ltd.

Codes used A.B.C. 5th Edition WESTERN UNION.

11 p.m.

Shanghai, 19th Oct. 1903

My dearest Mary

I wrote you last on about 11 October from Mr _'s[?]  bank at Kobe. I left Harkers[?]  & Kobe with regret, but found Thornhill (gent.) & Arnold Foster on board the 'Albanian', also 4 German gentlemen who crossed to Japan on the "Empress". There was also a Mr Lucas of Shadham Moz. Kobe, who had dined at Harkers[?]  the last evening I was there. I gave Broker[?]  Foster Frazer's book on Siberia as a parting gift, and he gave me his portrait — he is one of a very few special men whom one meets once never to forget again — he is a bachelor of 41.

I had an attack of inflammation in the lower part of my body on leaving Kobe; whether it was the good living & and mixture of courses, or some infection, I cannot make out. I have suffered much pain, but have been a total abstainer for 3 or 4 days & and am now fast recovering.

I kept quiet on the passage to Shanghai. We arrived at Woosung yesterday morning at ½ past 8a.m. I immediately after breakfast embarked on a tender, which brought me up to the Yanghoo[?]  river to Shanghai in 1 1/2 hours. The Yanghoo[?]  is an inlet of the great Yangtse River. We had an astonishing sail and met more large steamers than when entering L'pool, & and passed dockyards, mills and factories all beautifully built in European style. Shanghai is a fine place, with a beautiful promenade (the Bund) running along the river front & palatial banks & and other buildings on the land side. It is a gay scene on Sunday with rickshaws & carriages. Chinese footmen in bright yellow liveries with cone shaped hats and fringes. The Chinese women dress their hair with pearls & other ornaments & and are very neat. The young girls are beautifully painted, like the figures on Garo[?] . The Nanking road was nearly as crowded as the Strand or Cheapside on Sunday afternoon. This morning Metcalf (a Harvard B.A.) & I spent the morning in the China city — no rickshaws are allowed there, & and we had to walk through a picturesque but rather dirty labrynth: everything new about one. We saw the Taotai in his court, we visited the temples, the tea gardens, which are very old, most elaborate & picturesque, turned into an opium smoker's domain, saw them sawing and carving ivory, making lanterns, printing from blocks & a host of other arts & industries. We got back to lunch. I am to lunch with Geo. Norris[?]  of the Charl_[?]  Bank tomorrow. He has been ill; & and in late afternoon tea with Sir Hiram Wilkinson, Chief Justice of Shanghai, who has a friend with him from Chou[?] .

I leave on the "Shalka" a fine Russian boat for the Corea tomorrow evening, & go on to Dalian and Port Arthur where I shall arrive Dalian in 4 1/2 days. Afterwards I cross to Cheboo and take the steamer to [illegible]  arriving at Pekin in a week. I shall hear at Dalian what the Russian govt. are doing for me. After a day or two at Pekin, I shall leave for Taiwan[?]  [illegible]  and [illegible] . I hope to find the Manchurian lines repaired to get through to Irkutsk without much snow. I shall not be able to reach England until the end of the third week in November, as the connections cannot be made in less time. By the way tell Charley Mr Harvie came up to me on the Bund and I was at his office for an hour today. He leaves by the "Empress" on Saturday for Vancouver. I also met the B & A Tobacco cpy. agent; they have a large factory here. This is a very large & fine hotel. I have a large bed & sitting room, and a private lavatory, bathroom & w.c., so there is not much to grumble at here. This journey has been a wonderful eye opener to me in regard to the Far East: every young man should try to see it at any cost. This letter will go via Siberia; the Russians now take mail almost daily. I received yours & Charley's letter at Nagasaki, where I spent the day & met Mr. Layard, nephew of Sir Henry.

Arnold Foster & I lunched together for the last time yesterday. (He paid for a bottle of Pommeray). He took the low road to Hong Kong & India; I take the high road & and I hope to be in England before him, but I shall live in hope of coming again to this most fascinating East.

With fond love to all

Your affect. Husband

Thos. H. Barker

Mrs Barker I have dispatched Liverpool 3 cases by slow steamer leaving Kobe 16th for London, they contain my X'mas purchases