A SPORTING TOUR IN GOVERNOR YEH'S LAND
This first appeared in issue #2 of 'History Notes', compiled by the late Phillip Bruce. It is reproduced here on Gwulo by kind permission of Mr Bruce's family.
From the Illustrated London News, January 23, 1858, comes an account of a Hong Kong sportsman’s expedition.
"I was asked to join a shooting party going about 30 miles up the coast of China. Croakers said, 'Don't go; you will be sure to be taken by Mandarins.' They looked ominously, and, passing their hands across their necks, showed us what we might expect.
"However at two pm on the 2nd November, 1857, we embarked on board a steamer, and away we went for the Lymoon passage. There taking in tow an armed schooner that was to protect us, and two large sampans (China boats) full of coolies to beat the bush, off we went. The tide was against us and we made but little way.
"When night came on we were just getting outside the passage. The steamer and schooner were lashed together, and a heavy swell made them knock each other about; and, although the sea and wind did all they could to keep us off a large rock, the obstinacy of the crews very nearly made a wreck of us. The steamer was rolling about too much to be pleasant, so jumping on board the schooner we were soon fast asleep, and the next morning found us running up Mirs Bay. We caught up the steamer and boats, and by noon were comfortably at anchor in a beautiful cove, the steamer inside, and the schooner close with her guns ready to protect us from the numerous pirates that are to be found here.
"We landed that evening and had a small beat for game. The villagers were civil, bringing us tea to drink, and selling anything they had - the farms, prettily situated under some sheltering hills, with large expanse of rice-fields, before them, whose ripening brown tints, shining like gold, invited peace and security, and entirely removed any fears we entertained.
"The next morning we jumped into the sampans, and by daylight were sailing away to some good place our leader had pointed out.
He had shot in China for years, and knew every nook where a pheasant might be found. Landing in chairs, and carried to the place where the sport began, to save our strength ('Menager vos forces, Messieurs,' as the guides say when you are going up Mont Blanc) we arrive at a likely hill, take a cheering cup, form our line, and away we go. Each sportsman has a China coolie to support him over the difficult slopes. The dogs are hunting ahead, wildly, the coolies beating about the bush, occasionally a pheasant rising, a running fire, and sometimes a bag would cheer us on until about ten, when the sun began to tell, and one fell off and then another; until our leader would almost give in, and, taking pity upon us, would point to some cool, shady place, where our breakfast was.
"The Chinese villagers brought out tables and stools, and seemed delighted with us. The breakfast was spread, we tried to appease our appetites; no easy work after such exercise. Some take their beer and some champagne, and some smoke a cigar, and then lay down to rest, until the coolness of the afternoon invited us again to sport. At dark we returned to the steamer, and after a slight meal were soon fast asleep.
"We shot for several days, landing at different places in our sampans, breakfasting in nice shady places, returning late on board. All pleasure here must end, and Saturday we had to return. The steamer was sent round by sea, and the party crossing the isthmus, after a delightful trip, returned to Hong Kong, their heads all right, and much pleased with the civilities they had received from the Chinese villagers."