1848, Feb 8
In company with five missionary brethren, was gone all day some miles into the country. Found the people everywhere friendly, and always ready to receive a tract, and listen to a friendly word. The whole region is thickly populated, and presents a truly beautiful appearance, although it is now the winter time. Among other things I was particularly struck with the appearance of the country, in that every where we went, we met with numerous beautiful pools of water (my italics here and elsewhere), affording admirable places for baptizing. We crossed also a number of creeks and canals, on stone bridges, having well turned arches of solid masonry. One of these bridges, however, had no arches, but had immense blocks of hewn granite twenty-five feet in length, laid flat from pier to pier. I am not aware of there being any toll bridges in China.
We visited the only pagoda of any note in all this region. It is in excellent repair, several thousands of dollars having been expended upon it during the past three years. By a well-constructed stairway we ascended to the top, a height of more than a hundred feet, and the panoramic view spread out before us was unspeakably magnificent. The meandering streams, with their numerous bridges, junks and boats, the towns, villages, hamlets, groves, fields, innumerable hillock graves, and enclosed family burial plots, with the life-like appearance of the people and animals of the vast surrounding plain, would require pages to describe. Far toward the northwest, and seemingly beyond the horizon, the blue faint outlines of hills could be discerned. From the top of this great pagoda, one could not help sighing, when reflecting, how long this beautiful and densely populated plain has been cursed by idolatry and ignorance of the true God, and at the same time look forward with joy and hope [...] no need to continue :-)
From Southern Baptist Missionary Journal.