Li Shuchang: On Brighton

[Added at the suggestion of Paul Kahn, IRIS, by GPL and Devon Pike '93]

Brighton on the English coast is a fine European resort. It is some 160 li south of London and travelling there by train takes only two hours. It is a place where the English people go for fun and relaxation.

Behind the town there is a range of hills, and in front of it a rocky embankment. Some enterprising people had a huge structure carved into the embankment, in which fish are kept. Fresh spring water is drawn into this aquarium, which is covered in glass, and all the strange and marvellous creatures from the four continents are gathered here. A long, wooden bridge is also built, extending for a thousand feet into the sea, and sight-seers can lean against the railing and look at the distant prospect. At the end of the bridge there is a games pavilion. Besides these two structures there are well-kept lawns and fine sand, painted windows and grand mansion, all reflected in the shimmering sea. It is a stretch of blue for as far as your eyes can reach.

Brighton has a population of 100,000. The people live in houses built in rows, much like the teeth of a comb. The streets criss-cross, and the town expands by the day. Here the sight of towering tides and soaring waves is not to be seen, nor is there a gathering of merchant ships along the coast. Mechanics and factory workers do not ply their trade here, and so the place is free from smoke, dust and disorder. Its strong point is that it is quiet and clean.

Every year when Parliament is in recess, its members come here to relax. On a fine, warm day, against the backdrop of sky and water, English gentlemen and ladies walk arm in arm to enjoy the scenery; their suits and dresses are as splendid as rosy slouds. Occasionally there are one or two boats floating on the open blue sea. And there are the families of rank and wealth who come out in their brightly-coloured carriages drawn by handsome steeds: they ride side by side, racing against each other, enjoying the company as well as the place. And when twilight fades into darkness, lamps burn bright. The sound of music rises from the water in competition with the wind and waves: when the one swells, the other fades. In the face of such leisurely and quiet charm one feels the urge to leave all worldly concerns behind!

A month after I arrived in London, a wealthy gentleman by the name of Ashbury took me there for a visit. I exclaimed upon arrival that it was a unique and extraordinary resort, and since then I have revisited the place many times and have never been tired of it. A year later I was posted to other countries and I visited quite a number of famous scenic spots, but there was not a single day when Brighton was not in my mind: such was its charm.

As a country England is prosperous, strong and powerful. Those who have commented on this only know that the English have invincible warships and big cannons, that they chase after profit with alacrity, and that these reasons account for their success in the world. What the commentators do not know is that in England there is a place as leisurely and languorous as Brighton.

In the old days Xun Zi had said that the most difficult task in founding a state was in establishing strength and stability. And yet Luan Zheng of the Jin State said to Zi Zhong of Chu: "There is advantage in orderly arrangement." He also said, "There is advantage in being leisurely." This is because order and leisure come only from strength and stability. A place such as Brighton gives us a glimpse into [the life of] another country.

(Renditions: A Chinese-English Translation Magazine , 33-34: 211-212.)

Mo's Sour Sweet United Kingdom Overview