We reached Port Arthur on the 19th, and having obtained a pilot, entered the harbour. We found there only two of the vessels belonging to the defeated squadron, the Ping Yuen and the Kwang Ting. The former did not seem much injured, but the latter had evidently suffered heavily, the port bow being partially stove, the upper works demolished, and the armouring tremendously battered and dinted.
Shortly after casting anchor in the West Port, I lowered a boat to take Lin Wong ashore. In the dockyard he ascertained that a fast steam launch was to leave for Tientsin with despatches within two days, and he arranged to take advantage of her departure to regain that port, from which, it will be remembered, he had come on board the Columbia. As he seemed well acquainted with Port Arthur, I got him to take me round, and show me as much of the place as could be seen in the two or three hours of leisure at my disposal, for the Columbia was to trip her anchor again in the evening.
The general features of Port Arthur, or, to give it its native name, Lu-Shun-Kou, must be tolerably familiar to all who have followed the course of the war. A glance at the map shows its position, at the southern extremity of the Liaotung Peninsula, commanding, with the formidable forts of Wei-hai-wei on the opposite tongue of land, near Chefoo, the entrance to the Gulf of Pechili. Although now the principal arsenal and naval depot of the Chinese Empire, it is of quite recent creation, only having come into note since 1881, in which year it was decided to establish a naval dockyard. Up to then it had only been used as a harbour for junks employed in the timber trade and carrying cargoes from the Yalu to ports in the Pechili Gulf, or from the south to Niuchang and West Chin-chou. Native contractors having made an extensive bungle of the job, it was entrusted to a French company, and by them completed. Since then the place has increased, from an insignificant village of sixty or seventy mud houses and a few shops, to a town of over a thousand dwellings, as well as two large theatres, two temples, and a number of banks and inns. The population at the time of the Japanese incursion was about 5000 or 6000, in addition to a garrison of about 7000. The port is very spacious and commodious, and dredgers have worked assiduously for several years past to deepen the entrance to it. The bar has been deepened from twelve feet to about twenty-five feet to enable permanent moorings to be laid down for men-of-war. The dock basin, called the East Port, covering an area of thirty-two acres, has been constructed well behind the signal bluffs to the right of the entrance, the West Port, or natural harbour, opening just opposite round the long, narrow spit of land called the Tiger’s Tail. The basin has a depth of twenty-five feet at low water. There are large and numerous wharves and quays, fitted with steam cranes, and connected by a railway with