Letter from T.H. Barker to his wife Mary, 31 October 1903

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Letter from T.H. Barker to his wife Mary, 31 October 1903, p01.png
Title: Letter from T.H. Barker to his wife Mary, 31 October 1903
Parent item: Collection of letters from T.H. Barker to his wife Mary (sort key: 7)
Storage location:
Authors: Thomas Henry Barker
Format and extent: handwritten letter
License: Cc-by-sa.png Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Related people:
Related places: Chapoo Port Arthur China

The ship he sailed on may be El Dorado, built 1874 "ex-Donna Isabel, 1878 purchased from J. E. Welch, London renamed El Dorado, 1905 sold to J. Morris, Shanghai. 1,180 tons".[1]


Chapoo, 31st October 1903
8.30 p.m.

My dearest Mary,

I wrote you last night from Clarkson's office at Port Arthur. I went on board the “Hoang-ho” directly afterwards & dined with the Captain & 1 or 2 passengers. We had a comfortable meal & chat. We left Port Arthur between 9 & 10pm & arrived off Chapoo about 5am this morning. It was a beautiful starlight morning, the sky translucent & Jupiter seemed to float in it, like a glowing silver butterfly. The sun soon rose & we then entered Chapoo Harbour. We could not enter before daylight on acct. of regulations of the Chinese customs. The swell was very heavy in the harbour the wind being northerly. I got with difficulty into a sampan & went on shore. None of the office folks were up, & I could not get full particulars of the sailing of the “Tai-shen” for Tientsin. I returned therefore to breakfast on the “Huang-ho” & afterwards got all my baggage into the saloon. A lazy officer came forward & said the vessel was engaged by Chinese & that there was no room for Europeans. Bag and baggage went into the sampan again & we rowed to Jardine's boat the “Eldorado”. There I found room but was 'blown' by the effort to get from the sampan on board. Lazy Captain, lying in his berth, said he had 3,000 packages to discharge & that he could not begin until the sea went down. Therefore, leaving my baggage, down I went into another sampan & was tumbled out onto this harbours steps barking my shins & scraping my arms. Off I went however to ?fords, the agents, & one of the clerks, much more courteous than his masters, took me to the club, entered my name, gave me some whisky, & showed me the Consulate. After a chat with Mr Bryan Butler, he took me to his house, introduced me to his wife, gave me a good dinner, & I spent the afternoon there, meeting Rev Mr Scott, Bishop of North China, & others. The Consulate, as is usual, is in a choice position on a promontory, between the 2 bays. Chepoo island lies to the front & ?Coh-hai-whei is to the east in the distance. The view is very fine, Chinatown westward & Chepoo watering place eastward, with a fine beach & very like an English seaside resort. Behind mountains, with the wall running round the tops of them, which was built by the Chinese to keep out the Japanese. European influence again prevails here, & the Chinaman sinks into servitude. Europe will in time eat up China, unless she reforms on the Japanese lines, & takes the control which she is slowly relinquishing, with her own hands, but there is no hope of that.

I have just dined alone on board the “Eldorado” & we have started for ?Takin. I think much of Charles on these boats, on which he passed so many years: no enviable years when you see the life and circumstances. The Russian boats are far superior in style & in manning – poor England is losing ground here, & the “jeunesse doree” of China are not like their forefathers, but are being slowly elbowed out by Germans & Russians.

Boat rolls, so no more at present. Your affect husband,

TH Barker



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