Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

Advice from a traveller

I am particularly fortunate in finding among my fellow-passengers Mr. Harry B. French, the traveller and author, from whom I obtain much valuable information, particularly of China. Mr. French has travelled some distance through the Flowery Kingdom himself, and thoughtfully forewarns me to anticipate a particularly lively and interesting time in invading that country with a vehicle so strange and incomprehensible to the Celestial mind as a bicycle. This experienced gentleman informs me, among other interesting things, that if five hundred chattering Celestials batter down the door and swarm unannounced at midnight into the apartment where I am endeavoring to get the first wink of sleep obtained for a whole week, instead of following the natural inclinations of an AngloSaxon to energetically defend his rights with a stuffed club, I shall display Solomon-like wisdom by quietly submitting to the invasion, and deferentially bowing to Chinese inquisitiveness. If, on an occasion of this nature, one stationed himself behind the door, and, as a sort of preliminary warning to the others, greeted the first interloper with the business end of a boot-jack, he would be morally certain of a lively one-sided misunderstanding that might end disastrously to himself; whereas, by meekly submitting to a critical and exhaustive examination by the assembled company, he might even become the recipient of an apology for having had to batter down the door in order to satisfy their curiosity. One needs more discretion than valor in dealing with the Chinese.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Thursday 16th Apr 1885 (12:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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