Mr. Denby to Mr. Sherman.

No. 2864.]

Sir: In my dispatch No. 2845, of December 16 last, I informed you that American missionaries had effected a lodgment at Ch’ang Teh Fu, in the province of Hunan.

I have now the honor to inclose a copy of a paper describing this town, which was transmitted by Mr. E. D. Chapin.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure in No. 2864.]

Description of Ch’ang Teh Fu.

Ch’ang Teh Fu, the largest and most important city in the western part of the Province of Hunan, is situated on the Yuen River near where it empties into the Tung Ting Lake. Its position is thus an important one, commanding, as it does, [Page 212] the trade of almost the whole western part of the province. Of this trade the most important item is the great quantities of timber which is rafted down from the mountain districts and exported to every part of the Yangtze Valley, also coal, rice, oils, tea, and other products.

The population of Ch’ang Teh Fu, at a rough guess, may be between 200,000 and 300,000, and for a Chinese city it seems to be fairly healthy.

The people are more friendly to foreigners than in almost any other place in the province, and the past year has seen a great awakening and a new demand for western knowledge and things. Already such articles as condensed milk, foreign flour, lamps, glassware, cutlery, dry goods, toys, etc., can be purchased in the shops, and doubtless other goods would find a market as the demand for them is created.

The literary men of the city are forming classes for the study of English and are asking for foreign books, while there is talk among the more progressive of a line of steam launches to ply between Ch’ang Teh and Hankow. Owing to the insufficient depth of the Tung Ting Lake none but small launches could be used; but all these things are evidences of a great change and forward movement which, we are glad to say, is not confined to matters of trade or science, for there is also a new interest in the Christian religion. A few have been baptized as converts, and others are showing an interest and inquiring concerning the truth. There can be no doubt that both for purposes of trade and for missionary work the city of Ch’ang Teh Fu is a most important center.

E. D. Chapin.