The Mirror of Kong Ho HTML version

Letter 1
Concerning the journey. The unlawful demons invoked by certain of the
barbarians; their power and the manner of their suppression. suppression. The
incredible obtuseness of those who attend within tea-houses. The harmonious
attitude of a person of commerce.
VENERATED SIRE (at whose virtuous and well-established feet an unworthy
son now prostrates himself in spirit repeatedly),--
Having at length reached the summit of my journey, that London of which the
merchants from Canton spoke so many strange and incredible things, I now send
you filial salutations three times increased, and in accordance with your explicit
command I shall write all things to you with an unvarnished brush, well assured
that your versatile object in committing me to so questionable an enterprise was,
above all, to learn the truth of these matters in an undeviating and yet open-
headed spirit of accuracy and toleration.
Of the perils incurred while travelling in the awe-inspiring devices by which I was
transferred from shore to shore and yet further inland, of the utter absence of all
leisurely dignity on the part of those controlling their movements, and of the
almost unnatural self-opinionatedness which led them to persist in starting at a
stated and prearranged time, even when this person had courteously pointed out
to them by irrefutable omens that neither the day nor the hour was suitable for
the venture, I have already written. It is enough to assert that a similar want of
prudence was maintained on every occasion, and, as a result, when actually
within sight of the walls of this city, we were involved for upwards of an hour in a
very evilly-arranged yellow darkness, which, had we but delayed for a day, as I
strenuously advised those in authority after consulting the Sacred Flat and
Round Sticks, we should certainly have avoided.
Concerning the real nature of the devices by which the ships are propelled at sea
and the carriages on land, I must still unroll a blank mind until I can secretly, and
without undue hazard, examine them more closely. If, as you maintain, it is the
work of captive demons hidden away among their most inside parts, it must be
admitted that these usually intractable beings are admirably trained and
controlled, and I am wide-headed enough to think that in this respect we might--
not-withstanding our nine thousand years of civilised refinement--learn something
of the methods of these barbarians. The secret, however, is jealously guarded,
and they deny the existence of any supernatural forces; but their protests may be
ignored, for there is undoubtedly a powerful demon used in a similar way by
some of the boldest of them, although its employment is unlawful. A certain kind
of chariot is used for the occupation of this demon, and those who wish to invoke
it conceal their faces within masks of terrifying design, and cover their hands and
bodies with specially prepared garments, without which it would be fatal to
encounter these very powerful spirits. While yet among the habitations of men,
and in crowded places, they are constrained to use less powerful demons, which
are lawful, but when they reach the unfrequented paths they throw aside all
restraint, and, calling to their aid the forbidden spirit (which they do by secret