"Up the North River"


Dublin Core


"Up the North River"


River boats; Furniture; Cities and towns; Tracts; Pleiades; Buddhist monasteries; Cormorants; Caves


Harriet travels along the North River in November on a boat called a "Ho-tan" with Mr. Piercy, Miss Radcliffe, and the Whiteheads from the English Wesleyan Mission. They furnished their cabins from their houses. Harriet details their travels, discussing how they handed out books and tracts in small towns. They also handed out tracts at a Confucian temple. During their journey, they paid no heed to potential pirates. They anchored by a Buddhist monastery, where they climbed to a number of temples for a better view. Mr. Whitehead gave a Buddhist priest a tract. They passed through the countryside where natural features were of spiritual significance, and eventually took Blind Boy's Pass. They saw natives fishing with domesticated cormorants. After enjoying the scenery of Kau Yam Shan, they proceeded to Ying-Tak, where they met some opposition as foreigners. A favorable wind carried them to Fatshan and the rest of the way to Canton.


Noyes, Harriet Newell


Loose, The College of Wooster, Special Collections, Noyes Collection




n. d.


Council on Library and Information Resources Hidden Special Collections Grant




eng (English)





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"Up the North River."
It was my good fortune in the latter part of November to
Enjoy a trip up the North River, in company with a few other
missionaries. There six of us, all told, Mr Piercy + Miss
Radcliffe with Mr + Mrs Whitehead, representing the English
Wesleyan Mission and my Brother and myself the American
Presbyterian. We had intended leaving Canton about noon
15th Nov but were delayed in making our preparations so that
it was nearly 4 P.M. before all was ready for giving the signal
to "push off". We called a few moments at the British Consulate
where Mr Piercy obtained a passport which by the treaty is
required of foreigners wishing to go more than a days journey
from Canton. While waiting here the French mail came in
and we were all delighted that the delay enabled us to receive
letters before leaving they are Ever welcome in this far off land.
The Evening shadows were gathering about us as our men at
last commenced "poling" up the river but we had so timed our
trip as to take advantage of November's moonlight and we knew
they would soon be scattered by the rising moon.
The boat we had Engaged for the trip called by the Chinese
a "Ho-tan" was manned by a crew of thirteen strong looking
natives who had agreed for the sum of $3.00 a day to row
push pole or drag us up the river as far as we pleased to go.
Our Ho-tan was perhaps 50 feet in length by 12 in width covered
+ divided by light partitions into several apartments The first
was occupied by the Chinese assistants who went with us to aid
in preaching + distributing books. The next and largest of all was

[--was--] parlor, study, and dining room, during the day and at
night was transformed into a sleeping room for the gentlemen
their mattresses being stowed away in the day time under the
floor or rather in the "hold" of our vessel. Behind this room
two smaller ones were appropriated to the use of the ladies of the
party, and in the stern was located our kitchen, pantry, storeroom
+c. Our rooms when furnished with table + chairs from our
houses began to have a home-like appearance and when we had
pushed our boxes trunks + provision baskets as far into the back-ground
as possible and brought forward two or three Easy chairs a
dining table + a little melodeon with books and papers we
looked at Each other and congratulated ourselves on having
so good a prospect of spending two or three weeks together
[u]comfortably[/u] as well as pleasantly. Our first stopping place
was to be Fatshan a large city about half the size of Canton
+ some twelve miles distant. WE had intended reaching
it before dark but were so late in starting that instead of
that it was nearly midnight long after I was asleep.
Making only a short stop here our boatmen pushed on until
2 A.M. and then anchored at a little village called "Sha Han"
or Land mouth the name being given it from the sand-bank
in the river here which renders it impossible for large boat to
pass this point excepting at high tide. Early in the
morning we heard one of the gentlemen shouting to the
boatmen to start again and about 1/2 past four we were
in motion. After breakfast all went on shore at a
village called Sin Tong. The natives showed the usual
curiosity to get a glimpse of foreigners and quite a crowd
soon gathered around us to whom Mr Whitehead spoke for a

half hour or so standing at the foot of a large banyan tree.
They [--l--] received willingly the books and tracts given them +
one man who followed us to the boat said that he had heard
the gospel preached in Canton. Several women at work in
a field near by attracted our attention but as soon as Mrs Whitehead
+ I started to go to them they hid behind a straw-stack + when
they perceived that we were following them threw down their
bundles of rice and ran away across the fields. However in a
short time their curiosity overcame their fears and we soon found
ourselves the centre of a group of women who examined our
clothing with much interest asking many questions + making
various comments on our appearance. The women usually
seem kind but are very ignorant as the Chinese consider
it quite useless to give any attention to their Education.
Returning to our boat we soon passed Sai Nam a larger
place where we stopped only long Enough to distribute a
few books. Towards Evening we anchored at "Sam Shui" or
three waters the town deriving its name from its location as
here the North + West Rivers unite forming the Canton River.
Leaving our boat a little before sunset we went across the
fields to visit a pagoda a short distance from the river
and here we sat down on an old stone platform and watched
the sun set over the western hills. The country which near
Canton is so level + uninteresting now rises into hills
higher and higher in the distance + far away we could trace
their outlines clearly defined against the Evening sky reminding
us of the hills and mountains of our own native lands After
looking at the pagoda which is rather a noted one + in a
good state of preservation we continued our walk towards

Sam Shui. It is a walled city and noted as being the only
place in the region that withstood the attacks of the
Tai Ping rebels the inhabitants ascribing their success in
holding the place to the powerful influence of the pagoda
just mentioned. The city is now in rather a dilapidated
condition and we did not go far inside the walls but
stopping a few moments in an open space near an old
Confucian temple were immediatly surrounded by a crowd
of men women + children, to whom we gave some tracts we
had brought with us. They said they had never heard
of Jesus and it seemed so sad to think that probably
many perhaps all of those about us would never learn
to know and love the Saviour's name. It was growing dark
when we left the city but a pleasant walk across the fields
by moonlight brought us to the river bank and here we
stopped a moment before going down to the boat to look
at the landscape before us. Just in front we could trace
for some distance the course of the West River and
away to the right that of the North their waters
mingling at our feet to flow together southward in the
Canton River whose windings we had followed to
this spot. Altogether it was a pretty picture with
its fitting background of high hills in the distance
and I could not help thinking that "[u]only man[/u] is vile."
When will the day come when form these valleys and
hillsides the songs of praise and thanksgiving shall
ascend to the one true God.
When we looked out the next morning Sam Shui
with its surroundings was far behind us for the boatmen

had been at work an hour or two. A morning walk
gave us good appetites for our breakfast which we found
ready for us on our return. In the afternoon we stopped at
a large town called Lo-Pau long enough for the gentlemen
to distribute books and a little farther up the river all
went on shore for a walk. Coming to a large banyan tree
with one branch sweeping down nearly to the ground we
ladies seated ourselves thereon + enjoyed a swing bringing
reminiscences of childhoods sunny days. The boat
anchored for the night right in the middle of the stream
rather an unusual proceding as the Chinese generally stop
near some village or anchor beside a gun-boat to insure
protection from robbers. But our men were too tired to go
farther and the "Captain" assured us there was no fear +
set a watch in Chinese style by bringing out a large gong
which was hung up + struck at short intervals during the
night. We all sat on the top of the boat Enjoying the beautiful
moonlight for an hour or two before going to our rooms,
The next morning while the gentlemen were gone for
their morning walk we went on shore and as they were
late in returning had a long walk which we Enjoyed
although it was rather dusty. When they returned they
told us of a beautiful grove they had seen reminding
them of forests at home. We passed nothing of much
interest during the day and stopped for the night
near a village call Shek-kok. Soon after breakfast
next morning we all got off for a walk and found it
so cool and pleasant that we walked several miles before
we thought of returning to the boat. We find that we

walk faster than the boat travels so that when we are
tired of walking we sit down + wait for them to come
up. We passed the Pleiades or seven star hills as the
Chinese call them although there are two or three more hills
in the range about as large as the seven that are counted.
They are not very high hills and of a reddish brown
color and quite bare as are most of the hills I have seen
in China. At 1/2 past four we Entered the Tsing Un Pass.
we had passed the city of the same name 14 miles below
Early in the morning. At the pass the river suddenly
becomes narrower until it is not more than 300 feet
in width and the water which at Canton is always a
muddy yellow here is perfectly clear and a most beautiful
green. The scenery is wild + grand far beyond anything
we had yet seen + sitting in the bow of the boat we
could get a fine view in passing and Enjoyed it much
the more that we see nothing like it in the vicinity of
Canton. From either side of the river mountains rise
sloping upward to the height of several thousand feet.
their sides partially covered with verdure so that they do not
have at all the painfully barren appearance which so many
of the hillsides of China present. We came to anchor a
little before dark at "Fa-loi-tsz" a little gem of a place.
Here is a Buddhist monastery with stone steps leading
up to it from the water's edge and farther up the
mountain side among the trees we could see another.
The Buddhist priests seem to have found + appropriated
to their own use all the prettiest spots in China
In the twilight we climbed up the mountain to the

first one + going on a little farther came to a nice little
open space among the trees where we waited with Mr Piercy
^{while Mr Whitehead + Henry} went on to the second temple. The monks as usual seemed
friendly + willing to show us over their premises.
The next morning we wakened to find the North winde sweeping
down the pass with such force that the boat-men were afraid
to proceed and so we improved the opportunity of Enjoying a
mountain climb. Miss Radcliffe did not attempt to climb
much higher than the second temple but Mrs Whitehead
+ I were ambitious to see the top of the mountain. We found
it very rugged + steep however and before we reached the
summit we concluded to sit down and let the gentlemen
go on without us. We were not far from the top however +
were high Enough to get a fine view of the magnificent
scenery about us. The mountains on the opposite side of the
river looked more grandly beautiful as we looked across at
them from our elevation that when we looked upward
from their base. It was a beautiful panorama spread out
before us the mountains opposite with the sunshine lighting
up their ridges and the shadows sleeping in the intervening
ravines. the dark green river flowing at their feet far, far below
us and beyond over a lower range of hills away to the left
we could see a wide plain trace the course of the river
as it came winding down from the North. The Monastery
which as we looked at it from the boat seemed a long way up
the mountain now appeared as though built close by the
waters Edge + the men going hither and thither dwindled to
mere specks in the distance. We waited here an hour or two
Enjoying the beautiful view + meanwhile our thoughts + words

straying away to England + America + visiting the loved ones
there. Presently we heard a shout and looking up saw
that the gentlemen had reached the mountain top. We
Exchanged signals + after a few minutes rest they began the
descent and were soon with us and all on our way down
the mountain. From the top we had discovered a path
which led us down in a much Easier way than we had
climbed up. We stopped to rest at the monastery and soon
a few of the inmates came near to have a talk with us one
old man bringing some spring water which was deliciously cool
and clear. One of the priests seemed inclined to be sociable
+ Mr Whitehead talked with him about the Way of Life + Henry
gave him a little tract "Come to JEsus" We could only hope that
he would think of what he had heard + study the little book
so Earnestly that it might indeed lead him to Jesus.
Rturning to our boat we found that although on the mountain
side it had seemed very warm + pleasant the wind was still blowing
fiercely on the river. Nevertheless our boatmen were now ready
to proceed + in a short time we were out of the Pass + found
the river widening + becoming more shallow losing its green
color, but still very clear so that sometimes we could see the
bottom. We anchored for the night near a very little village and
as it was Saturday night here we spent the Sabbath. In the
morning Mr Piercy + Miss Radcliffe with Mr + Mrs Whitehead took
some books and went to the village close by to talk with the people.
while Henry + I went to a smaller one a little father on.
A few people left their work in the fields to come + look at us
and ask questions. One of the men had been in Canton +
heard the gospel there. The women as usual could not

read but they took a few books and perhaps some one
will read them to them + the good seed not be all lost.
As we returned to the boat we sat down for a few moments on
a hillside where all about were growing just such pines as
I have seen on the hills of New England. I enjoyed the
home feeling so much that in the afternoon Mrs Whitehead +
I took our books + went back again + spent 2 or 3 hours in the
same place that I had found so pleasant in the morning.
The gentlemen had gone across the river to visit some villages
on the other bank + we watched them cross the sandy plain
which here fills nearly half the bed of the river until they climbed
up the farther bank + disappeared in the forest of bamboos
which lined the opposite shore. We had climbed up the
hill-side and sat down only a few feet above the path
on the river bank and Every few minutes a long line of men
ten or a dozen wold pass dragging heavily laden boats
up the river just as in our country canal boats are drawn
by horses. They looked at us as they passed with the greatest
astonishment and no wonder I am sure they had never seen
foreigners sitting there before as they travelled over the well
worn path. Some of them expressed their surprise by the
usual "Hi-yah" + many of them indulged in various
comments on our appearance. After sitting here for some time
we saw the gentlemen come back but as the boat-men could not
get the boat close up to the sand our strong fellow got out in
the water + taking them one at a time on his back carried
them across and deposited them dry-shod in the boat. It was
nearly dark when we all got back to the boat feeling that we
had spent a pleasant Sabbath + certainly a more quiet

one than would have been possible in Canton. In the evening
Mr Whitehead read a sermon and we had a short service
at the same hour that our friends in Canton were holding
theirs. Monday morning found us again on our way north.
The weather which when we left Canton + for several days
after was quite warm had changed so much that we could
hardly put on enough wrappings to make us comfortable.
Soon afer breakfast we went on shore and walked for several
hours along the bank the path often leading us up steep hills
and through groves of the tall slender bamboo. The country
here is far more thinly settled than farther down the river.
Near a little cluster of huts some of the natives came around
us to have a good look at the foreigners. One old woman told
me that when she was young she had been all the way to
Canton with a boat load of wood. To many of them
Canton seems like another world and it is astonishing to
see how contracted their ideas are. We found many beautiful
little nooks one where under the shadow of some majestic trees
there was a shrine dedicated to one of China's idols.
Thus it is Ever in China wherever Nature is most beautiful
we find her thus desecrated + turn where we may are met
by these sad tokens of the idolatry + degradation of this people.
At one place the path wound around the slippery rocks
many feet above the river into which a false step would
have precipitated us and a little farther on led us down
into a valley shut in by high hills which were so covered
with pine trees that I could almost fancy that I was
looking upon New Hampshire's pine clad hills once more.
Our road finally came to an end among a mass of rocks

at the end of a long reach of sand + here we sat down to
wait for our boatmen to come across + take us off in the
little boat belonging to our craft. A nice sail across the river
+ we were again on board. Towards evening we went out again
for a row in the little boat + Enjoyed the beautiful sunset.
WE had anchored for the night in a most delightful spot
shut in on Every side by majestic hills the river seemed like
a little lake Embosomed among the mountains. The sunset
was beautiful beyond imagination. the exquisite coloring of
the sky every shade reflected in the clear water below + the hills
+ mountains robed in richest softest hues from the Emerald
green of those that were near, varying through different shades
with the increasing distance + far, far away + towering over
all rose a majestic mountain robed in royal purple +
on its summit still lingering the last golden rays of the
setting sun. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever" + the memory
of that beautiful sunset will long be bright. Tuesday morning
although not Entirely rested from our long walk of the day
before we went on shore + walked for a mile or so along rather
a dusty path. Then as we begun to think of returning to
the boat we found to our surprise that it was ahead of us instead
of creeping along behind as usual. So the first thing to be done was
to overtake them which as the road now begun to mind over
rocks + along the sides of steep hills proved no easy matter.
We soon found as the river suddenly became more narrower
+ the banks on both sides to rise into high hills that we had
Entered the "Blind Boy's Pass." Now we had overtaken the boat
but we were so charmed with the wild beautiful scenery that we
Enjoyed walking + kept on a long the narrow path worn in the

side of the precipitous rocks. Suddenly we noticed that from
the opposite rocks the shouts of the boat-men came back clear
and distinct, and then we knew that we had found the Echo
that sleeps among these hills of which we had heard before
but had forgotten its Existence until we heard its voice.
We were obliged to hurry on to keep up with the boat but
stopped a few moments to call to it delighted to find it
repeating Every word + tone clearly + accurately I called
out England America + Home wondering meanwhile if it
was not the first time it had ever said these words,
We would have loved to linger in the lovely spot if it
had been possible but could not so climbing down the
rocky bank we Entered our boat and from its windows
feasted our Eyes on the wild beauty of these grand rocky
hills. While on the hillside we noticed in the river far
below us some Chinamen catching fish with fishing cormorants
something we had only heard of before and at the risk
of making our boat stop to wait for us we stopped a few
minutes to watch them. The cormorants are large
black birds their wings cut so close that they cannot
fly and with iron rings around their throats to prevent
their swallowing the fish they have taken. We watched
one go down under the water and it seemed a long time
before he came up again but when he did it was with a fish in
his mouth. His master put out a long bamboo pole on which
the bird perched + he took it into the boat + took away the
fish it had just caught. The bird apparently accustomed
to such treatment seemed to accept it as a matter of course
+ standing on the side of the boat shook out his wings for

another plunge We saw another one come up to the
surface with a very little fish which it managed to swallow
I should think they would soon learn to catch only those
small enough to go through the ring. Sometimes when one
gets a fish so large that it can not carry it alone another
of the birds will go to its assistance + my chinese teacher
says that ten or twelve have been known to carry a fish
two or three feet long. I imagine the story partakes more
of the marvellous than the true however. We several
objects in this pass to which the Chinese, from some
resemblance which they have discovered usually more
fancied than real, ^have given names. The "Stone General" is a large pillar
of stone which stands by itself in a commanding position
+ near by another rock has received the appellation of The
Stone Coffin. A little farther on in the face of the rock is
what is called The Blind Boy + from this the pass
takes its name. Three large hills side by side are
supposed to resemble the head and wings of a crow + at a
little distance the resemblance is quite distinct. We Enjoyed
our sail through this pass very much indeed + pushing on
a little beyond anchored for the night. When we rose the
next morning we found that the boatmen had been at work
some time and we were nearing "Ying Tak," the place
we had intended should be the terminus of our voyage
but as we had already given up the hope of getting back to
Canton within two weeks + none of us felt disposed to turn
back we concluded to go on. "Kun yam Cave" some distance
farther up the river was a point of interest to us all so
leaving our visit to the city of Ying-Tak until our return

we pushed on as far as possible + dropped anchor for the night
at a village ^{a little} below the cave Towards Evening we went for a walk
on the shore passed on our way a little temple + close by a large
tree whose trunk was entirely hollow and an opening on one side
large Enough to admit a grown person Easily. It seemed to
see the tree apparently healthy + flourishing but I have often
seen the banyan growing from a stone wall its roots
running all over it + creeping into Every crevice in search of
nourishment + I have been told that they draw their
sustenance largely from the air. We passed a number
of natives drawing wood in little carts of the rudest possible
construction with large thick wooden wheels some of them
far from round + boxes made of basket work Each drawn
by a bullock with a yoke on its neck just in front of the
large hump they have on their shoulders.
Thursday morning a bright clear day at 1/2 past eight
we reached Kun Yam Cave our destination. Taking a
cup of tea + some crackers we left our breakfast to wait
our return + went off in a small boat to visit the cave,
dedicated as its name indicates to "Kun Yam" a favorite
goddess of the Chinese the goddess of Mercy. The rock as we
came up the river seemed to stand out by itself rising
perpendicularly from the water's edge to the height of 500
feet The Entrance of the cave is at the foot of the rock + we
stepped from our boat to the stone platform which leads
to it. Stone steps are cut in the side of the rock + at
the head of the first flight we found two our three priests
in little rooms as dark + dirty as their abodes usually
are. A few more flights of steps turning back + winding

around led us back to the front of the rock + another room
much higher + directly over the first one visited. From the
window we looked out on a beautiful landscape the winding
river below us + on the opposite bank a plain diversified by
high hills rising abruptly + here + there a clump of trees the
bright morning sun lighting up the picture Without a scene
of beauty within what a sad contrast. A dirty little room
tenanted by dirty priests a senseless gilded idol of Kun Yam
before which men also as stupid were placing offerings
of fish fowl rice + fruit + burning incense sticks. This was
the first cave I had ever visited and I could not help thinking
of [--others--] caves in other lands + former days that have been the
hiding places of men of whom the earth was not worthy, + I
wondered if these walls would ever Echo back the praises of
the Almighty God as they have for so many years the
senseless mummeries of these deluded creatures. It was with
sad feelings that I turned away from this mountain
cave + returning to our boat went a little farther up the
stream to visit another temple. This was built on a
rock or shelf projecting from the mountain side + hundreds
of feet above immense rocks jutting from the mountain
seemed ready at any moment to fall upon it. Perhaps
for this reason it has been deserted at any rate we saw
no one there + everything seemed in a dilapidated
condition. In one room however there was an idol but
evidently neglected, + in another place we saw a small
one enclosed in a glass case. We found on the wall here
written with lead pencil the names of a party of five ^from Canton was
four years before had visited this place + beside theirs we

recorded our names. After we had seen everything we still
lingered [illegible] to leave for when we returned to the boat
we must turn our faces southward and we had Enjoyed
the days so much in coming up the river that it brought
a feeling of sadness to think that they were ended.
Wondering whether we should ever look upon these rocks
again we turned away + descending the steps that led to
our boat in a few minutes we were again on board +
bound for Canton. The change from the flat level country
around Canton to the beautiful scenery through which
we had been passing had been such a pleas[--ant--]ure + we
had enjoyed it so thoroughly that we hardly felt
ready to return to the busy dusty city. But as we
wished to reach Ying Tak before dark it was time to be on
our way so with a farewell glance at Kau Yam Shan + the
scenery it overlooks we turned our thoughts + faces southward.
We reached Ying Tak 4.P.M. + the gentleman went
on shore taking books with them + soon had a crowd
around who bought the books so eagerly that they had to
return again + again for a fresh supply. A little before dusk
they came for us to go with them for a walk. An immense
crowd had gathered on the shore hoping to catch a glimpse
of us + when we came out their delight seemed to know
no bounds. They ran before us shouting + screaming +
crowding up as closely as possible in order to get a better
view of their strange visitors. As we went on the noise
+ confusion increased + from every door new faces issued
all striving to get a sight of the strangers. We hoped
that their curiosity would soon be satisfied but found

that to be a vain hope the crowd becoming larger + larger.
They seemed however to be only curious not unfriendly
+ it was only occasionally that we heard the epithet
"foreign devil" by which foreigners are so often designated
in China. We went first to the city wall but coming to a
gate that was barred + after trying in vain to get some
one to open it we concluded that they wanted to keep us there
so as to have a good look at us + so thought it would be best
to beat a retreat. Getting outside the wall we walked as
fast as possible through the crowd to a high hill near
the city from whose summit we had a fine view of the city
+ its surroundings. The location of the city is beautiful,
on one side the river bordered by cultivated fields + on
the other a valley shut in by hills; from where we stood
four distinct ranges being plainly visible. Groves of
beautiful trees grow luxuriantly all over the valley + two
charming little lakes reflected the crimson splendors
of the setting sun, giving variety + beauty to the scene.
But mingled with the pleasure that the beautiful ever gives
to us was the sad thought that this lovely spot is the dwelling
place of thousands who are sunk in the depths of ignorance
+ superstition, Swarming all about we could not look
upon them + for a moment forget that to them the gospel message
has never yet been delivered. There is now an idol temple
at the top of the hill + another halfway down would
that we might hope that they will soon be removed +
replaced by a temple dedicated to the worship of the
one true God. We soon left this place for it was nearly dark
+ the walk to our boat through the dust[--y--] with the crowd

which seemed determined to escort us was something formidable
A little boy who with the hope of receiving a few cash had undertaken
to guide us exerted himself in a manner worthy of a
veteran policeman to keep the crowd in order + at a
respectful distance. In going down the hill he charged
us to be very careful as the stones were slippery + we might
full + to show his meaning tumbled down himself two
or three times a practical illustration which amazed us
somewhat. As we passed along the streets with the crowd
following the doors + windows lined with curious faces
dogs barking + chickens cackling we felt that our visit
was causing more of a commotion in the city of Ying Tak
than we could have wished. We were glad to get back
to our boat + close the doors between ourselves + the noisy
crowd. Soon after we came back an official called I
suppose to ascertain the object of our visit. We imagined
that he was very well pleased to learn that we intended
leaving early the next morning + he soon took his
departure. When we wakened the next morning Ying Tak
was far behind us + we were nearing the Pik Lok Tunnel
the next point of interest on our way. The tunnel or cave
is about a mile + a half from the river so we had the
prospect of a morning walk of three miles. The sun
was just above the eastern hills when we left the boat
+ the fresh morning air the dew still on the grass the
beautiful plain across which our pathway led the
grand rocky hills shutting it in on every side Each
lent an additional charm + reminded us of morning
rambles in other lands. We crossed two little streams on

stepping stones + following the narrow pathway past
little patches of buckwheat sweet potatoes + ground
nuts clumps of bamboos here + there a rude hut +
a little distance to the right a stone quarry + just
beyond came in sight of the opening in the rock
which forms the entrance of the Pik Lok or Precious
Stone cave. When we reached the place where we
first caught a glimpse of the interior of the cave
an involuntary exclamation of surprise + delight
came from our lips. From the roof of the cave large
stalactites depended in clusters reflected in the water
of the little lake below clear as crystal + reflecting
from its glassy surface the sunlight which entered at the
back of the cave lighting up the dark brown stones
partially covered with ferns + mosses of the most beautiful
green. We followed a narrow road leading beside the lake
around the rocks + coming out on the other side into a
quiet little valley. A party of laborers passed us here
on the way to their work their carts drawn by the water open
most ungainly looking animals of a dirty grey color, the
driver sitting upon the back of his ox + guiding, him by a
cord passing through his nostrils. Reentering the cave
we stood together + sung Forever with the Lord + Praise God
from whom all blessings flow. It seemed a grand cathedral
a temple not made with hands fitting for the worship of
the Creator of all. Here as every where we found the shrines
+ burning incense sticks the inevitable traces of idol
worship. An old priest told us that formerly there was
a temple inside the cave but it had fallen into ruins

and been removed, Now however they are making
preparations for building a new one. We would gladly
have lingered longer in this lovely spot but [--as--] our day,
journey was only begun + as we hoped to be a long
way down the river before night we had no time to
lose. Going down stream we found that we made much
better progress than working up against the current.
We left the Pik Lok Cave a little after 10 and an hour's
sail brought us to the Blind Boys Pass which we had
enjoyed so much on our way up a few days before.
We bestowed a passing glance upon the Stone General
standing in solitary grandeur .looked again for the
Blind Boys face + the hawk with its wings still outstretched
Exchanged a few parting words with the echo + at 1/2 past
12 the river began ^to widen + we knew that the Blind Boys Pass
with all its wild rocky scenery was behind us.
Towards evening we passed through the Censer Pass
a smaller one + anchored at 1/2 past six at the
little village of Wong Shek. When we looked out the
next morning we were just passing the place where
we had spent the preceding Sabbath. Two hours sail
brought us to the Tsing Un Pass + a little after ten
we reached the temple of Fa Loi Tsz. Stopping here a
little while to get a supply of the clear spring water
we climbed up the hill + visited the waterfall
near it + enjoyed again the beautiful view which
had so charmed us a week before. After a short stay
we left the temple and light breeze soon carried us
out of the pass + at 1/2 past two we reached Tsing Un city.

We only stopped here long [--for we were--] Enough to
distribute a few books as were anxious to get near
some large place to spend the Sabbath. The men
worked a little later than usual + we anchored a
little after dark near a village. We spent a quiet
Sabbath the gentlemen going to all the villages near
preaching + distributing books. Towards evening we
went up to a pagoda a little ways from our anchorage
It was on quite a high hill + from its top we could see
a long distance. The hill-sides were all terraced + the [illegible]
at our feet looked like a garden. Sitting down on the
grass we sung the Missionary hymn + several others.
This pagoda is very well built the legend connected
with it is that the builder agreed to build it for a certain
sum but finding that he could not make it strong +
substantial for that expended considerable more thus
involving himself in debt + as his employers refused to
pay any more than they had at first agreed when the
pagoda was finished he mounted to the topmost story +
throwing himself from its top was dashed in pieces.
Doubtless like most of the Chinese legends there is no
foundation whatever for the story in fact.
The twilight here is very short + before we were aware
it had grown so dark that when we turned to retrace
our steps it was with difficulty that we could find the
way + the hillside which we had found steep + slippery
when coming up now seemed far more so. When we
reached the place where we expected to find our boat waiting
for us we saw them just coming with lanterns. They

said they had been over once before + not seeing us
feared that we had fallen in with robbers or tigers +
so they had gone back for more men with lanterns
swords spears + knives. They really seemed quite
concerned for us + rejoiced to see us back safely
+ although we felt sure their fears were needless we felt
touched by the concern they felt + expressed for our
welfare. The next morning a good North wind
filling our sails carried us rapidly down the river
towards Canton. We made no stop during the day
as we were anxious to get back to Canton the next day.
Tuesday morning found us again at Fatshan where
we stopped for an hour or two A few hours more and
we were again at Canton. We all felt much benefited by
the change + that we were coming back to our work with
renewed vigor + bringing many pleasant recollections
of the two weeks we had spent so happily together.
We hope too that the good seed sown by the wayside may
spring up + bring forth fruit + that the books +
tracts which have been scattered in so many places
may at least some of them be carefully read + though
silent prove effectual of the way of Life--

Original Format




Noyes, Harriet Newell, “"Up the North River",” Letters from Harriet Noyes: Missionaries and Women's Education in Nineteenth Century China, accessed February 29, 2024, https://noyesletters.org/items/show/987.

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