Travels in China, Containing Descriptions, Observations, and Comparisons, Made and Collected in the Course of a Short Residence at the Imperial Palace of Yuen-Min-Yuen, and on a Subsequent Journey thr
by John Barrow
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The city of Nan-tchang-foo is situated upon the left bank of the river Kan-kiang-ho falling from the southward into the Po-yang lake. It was here about five hundred yards in width, against the stream of which we made a rapid progress with a brisk breeze. For the first sixty miles the country was flat and uncultivated, except in places where we observed a few fields of rice. But there was no want of population. Towns and villages were constantly in sight, as were also manufactories of earthen ware, bricks and tiles. The farther we advanced up the river, the more populous was the country, the more varied and agreeable the surface, and the more extended the cultivation. The banks were skirted with large trees, that cast a cool and comfortable shade on the walks beneath. Of these, some were willows, others camphors, but by far the greatest number were the Yang-tchoo, a large spreading tree that threw its branches down to the ground where, like the Ficus Indicus, of which indeed it was a variety, they took root and became stems.

At the city Kei-shui-shien, which like most cities in China offered little worthy of remark, the river divided into two branches; and at Kin-gan-foo, a city of the first order, which we passed the same night, by the river contracting suddenly the current became stronger and of course our progress slower. To track the barges it was necessary again to press a number of men; here, however, it may be observed, they undertook the service with more willingness than to the northward. The river meandered through a mountainous and barren country, rich only in picturesque beauty which, though pleasing to the eye of the artist and the connoisseur, has less charms for the philosopher, who finds more real beauties to exist in a soil, however tame and uniform, that can be rendered subservient to the uses of man.

On the 3d of November we approached that part of the river which, on account of the numerous ship-wrecks that have happened there, is held in no small degree of dread by the Chinese. They call it the Shee-pa-tan, or the eighteen cataracts: which are torrents formed by ledges of rock running across the bed of the river. They have not, however, any thing very terrific in them, not one being half so dangerous as the fall at London bridge about half-tide. But the Chinese have no great dexterity in the management of their vessels. They are so easily alarmed, that they frequently miscarry through timidity, when a little recollection and resolution would have secured them success. The mountains between which the river was hemmed in were covered with forests of the larch fir; the glens and vallies abounded with the bamboo, of which we here observed two species, one the same that is common in other parts of the East, and the second much smaller in its growth, seldom exceeding the height of ten feet; and the fibres of its small stem are more hard and solid than those of the other species. The Chinese use it in the finer parts of such household furniture and other articles as are constructed of bamboo. From the margins of the river to the feet of the forests the lower parts of the mountains were covered with coppice, among which the most common shrub bore a close resemblance to the tea plant, and accordingly the Chinese called it the Tcha-wha, or flower of tea. It was the Camellia Sesanqua of Thunberg, to which they had given the same name (not being very nice in specific distinctions), as to the Camellia Japonica of Linnus. From the nut of the former not unlike to, though somewhat smaller than, the chesnut, a very pleasant oil is expressed and used for similar purposes to the Florence oil in Europe.

This intricate part of the river, where innumerable pointed rocks occurred, some above, some even with, and others just below the surface of the water, required two long days' sail with a fair breeze; and the falls became more rapid and dangerous the farther we advanced. At the fifteenth cataract we perceived two or three vessels lying against the rocks with their flat-bottoms uppermost; a terrible sight for our bargemen who, like the countryman in the fable, instead of applying the shoulder to the wheel, began to implore the assistance of the river god by sounding the gong, in order to rouse his attention and by regaling his olfactory nerves with the smoke of sandal-wood matches; so that had we been dropping down the stream, instead of going against it, there was every reason to apprehend that our barge would have shared a similar fate; for it received many a gentle rub against the rocks.

The appearance of the country in the neighbourhood of the cataracts was extremely beautiful. The transparency of the stream, the bold rocks finely fringed with wood, and the varied forms of the mountains called to mind those delightful streams that are discharged from the lakes of the northern counties of England. Like these too, the Kan-kiang-ho abounded with fish, not however with the delicious trout but one of much less flavour, a species of perch. Great numbers of rafts were floating on the river with the fishing corvorant, and we observed that he seldom dived without success. For the whole distance of three days' journey, the hilly country bordering on the river produced very little but the Camellia Sesanqua, which appeared to be every where of spontaneous growth.

We halted on the 6th of December, late in the evening, before the city of Kan-tchoo-foo, which is remarkable for nothing that I could learn except for the great quantity of varnish trees the Rhus vernix I suppose, that are cultivated in the neighbourhood. In the course of the journey we had picked up two varieties of the tea plant, taken out of the ground and potted by our own gardener; and which, being in good growing order, were intended to be sent to Bengal as soon as occasion might serve after our arrival at Canton. Knowing we should be hurried away, as usual, in the morning and wishing to procure a few young plants of the varnish tree, I prevailed on our good friend Van-ta-gin to dispatch some person for that purpose, to add to those of the tea plant and the Camellia Sensanqua. Van made application to the men in office at this place, with the best intention of serving us, but these gentry, either conceiving that their compliance might be treason to the state, or else, in the true spirit of the nation, determined to play a trick upon the strangers, certainly procured the plants and sent them on board in pots, just as we were departing the next morning. In a short time they all began to droop, the leaves withered and, on examination, it was found that not a single plant among them had the least portion of a root, being nothing more than small branches of trees which, from the nature of the wood, were not likely nor indeed ever intended to strike root.

From Kan-tchoo-foo the face of the country became more uniform and suitable for the labours of agriculture; and, accordingly, we found a very small portion of it unoccupied. Wheat about six inches above ground and extensive plantations of the sugar cane fit for cutting, were the chief articles under cultivation: and the farther we advanced to the southward, the more abundant and extended were those of the latter. The canes were remarkably juicy and their joints from six to nine inches in length. To express the juice from them and convert it into a consistent mass, temporary mills were erected in different places among the plantations. The process was very simple. A pair of cylinders, sometimes of stone but more generally of hard wood, placed vertically, were put in motion by oxen or buffalos and from the foot of these the expressed juice was conveyed, by a tube carried under the floor, into a boiler that was sunk in the ground at the end of the apartment; where it was boiled to a proper degree of consistence the expressed canes serving as fuel. Though unacquainted with the process of refining sugar, the natural tendency that the syrup possesses of forming itself into crystals in cooling had suggested to them the means of obtaining very fine and pure sugar-candy which, in the market of Canton, is sold in a pulverized state as white as the best refined sugar. The coarse syrup, usually called treacle or molasses, and the dregs, are not employed, as in the West India islands, in the distillation of rum, but are sometimes thrown into the still with fermented rice, in order to procure a better kind of Seau-tchoo or burnt wine; the chief use, however, of the molasses is to preserve fruits and other vegetable productions; and particularly the roots of ginger, a conserve of which the Chinese are remarkably fond.

The bed of the river having, in the lapse of ages, settled to the depth of twenty, thirty, or even forty feet below the general level of the country, it became necessary to employ some artificial means of obtaining the water for the purpose, of irrigation. The contrivance made use of to raise it to the height of the banks was simple and ingenious; and from hence it was conveyed in small channels to every part of the cane plantations. Of the useful machine employed for this purposes consisting of a bamboo wheel which I understand has been adopted in America, a view and section may be seen among the plates accompanying Sir George Staunton's authentic account of the embassy. I shall therefore content myself with observing in this place that, the axis excepted, it is entirely constructed of bamboo, without the assistance of a single nail or piece of iron; that the expence of making it is a mere trifle; that in its operations it requires no attendance, and that it will lift, to the height of forty feet, one hundred and fifty tons of water in the course of twenty-four hours[58]. Every plantation near this part of the river had its wheel and some of them two; and the water raised by them was sometimes conveyed at once into the plots of canes and some times into reservoirs, out of which it was afterwards pumped, as occasion might require, by the chain-pump and carried to those places where it might be wanted along small channels coated with clay.

[58] The water-wheels still used in Syria differ only from those of China, by having loose buckets suspended at the circumference, instead of fixed tubes. "The wheels of Hama," says Volney, "are thirty-two feet in diameter. Troughs are fastened to the circumference, and so disposed as to fall in the river, and when they reach the vertex of the wheel, discharge the water into a reservoir."

The women of this province were more robust than ordinary and well suited, by their strength and muscular powers, to endure the hard labour and drudgery of the field, which seemed to be their chief employment. This sort of labour, however, might be the cause, rather than the consequence, of their extraordinary strength and masculine form. The habitual use of hard labour, to which the women are here brought up, fits them best to become the wives of the peasantry in the neighbouring provinces; and accordingly, when a Chinese farmer is desirous of purchasing a working wife he makes his offers in Kiang-see. It was here that we saw a woman yoked literally by traces to a plough, whilst the husband or master had the lighter task of holding it by one hand and drilling in the seed with the other. The exertion of labour together with the constant exposure to the weather, in a climate situated under the twenty-fifth to the twenty-ninth parallel of latitude, have contributed to render more coarse and forbidding the features of the fair sex of Kiang-see, in the formation of which, indeed, Nature had not been too bountiful. Like the women of the Malay nation, with whom they most probably are derived from one common stock, they fixed their strong black hair close to the head by two metal skewers. Their dress, in other respects, was the same as that of the men, and like these they wore straw sandals on their feet. Thus far, by avoiding the pain attendant on fashionable feet, and enjoying the free use of their limbs, they might be said to have the advantage of the city ladies. It was, indeed, observed that even such as were not employed in the labours of the field, but kept constantly at home for domestic purposes, were, in this province, equally exempted from the barbarous fashion of cramping the feet.

On the 9th we again entered a narrow defile and here with difficulty the vessels were forced along against a strong current; and over the pebbly bottom, against which they were constantly striking. At Nan-gan-foo, where we arrived in the evening, the river ceases to be navigable. Indeed the whole of the three last days' navigation might, with propriety, in England be called only a trout stream; upon which no nation on earth, except the Chinese, would have conceived the idea of floating any kind of craft; they have however adapted, in an admirable manner, the form and construction of their vessels to the nature and depth of the navigation; towards the upper part of the present river they drew only, when moderately laden, about six inches of water. They were from fifty to seventy feet in length, narrow and flat-bottomed, a little curved, so that they took the ground only in the middle point. Yet, in several places, the water was so shallow that they could not be dragged over until a channel had been made, by removing the stones and gravel with iron rakes. The length of this river, from its source at Nan-gan-foo to the Po-yang lake, is nearly three hundred English miles. The banks in the low part of the province of Kiang-see consisted of a deep soil of black earth, supported on clay of a dark red or brown colour; denoting the presence of iron. The mountains were chiefly of red sand-stone; and the soil of the hills, producing the Camellia, was a brown loam mixed with particles of mica.

We had now before us another land-journey, over the steep and lofty mountain of Me-lin, whose summit is the boundary between the two provinces of Kiang-see and Quan-tung; on the south side of which commences the river Pei-kiang-ho that flows by the port of Canton; and whose mouth is familiarly known in Europe by the name of the Bocca Tigris. The ascent of this mountain, which some undertook on horseback and others in chairs, was made by a well-paved road, carried in a zig-zag manner over the very highest point, where a pass was cut to a considerable depth through a granite rock; a work that had evidently not been accomplished with any moderate degree of labour or expence. In the middle of the pass was a military post, much stronger than ordinary, and it was defended or, more correctly speaking, it was supplied with two old pieces of cannon, that had been cast, in all probability, near two hundred years ago, perhaps by the Jesuits who first taught them an art which they seem already to have forgotten or neglected.

The view from the summit towards the southward, over the province of Canton, was as rich and enchanting as that on the opposite side was dreary and barren. In descending the gradual slope of about twelve miles, before the mountain had blended with the general surface of the country, there was a constant succession of dwellings; so that this whole distance might almost be considered as one continued street. Half of the buildings consisted, however, of places of convenience to which passengers might retire to obey the calls of nature, and the doors, or rather the openings into such erections, were always invitingly fronting the street. To each single dwelling, whether alone or joined with others, was annexed a fabric of this description. Each was constructed upon a large terrace cistern, lined with such materials that no absorption could take place; and straw and other dry rubbish are thrown in by the owners, from time to time, to prevent evaporation. In one of the streets of Canton is a row of buildings of this kind which, in so warm a climate, is a dreadful nuisance; but the consideration of preserving that kind of manure, which by the Chinese is considered as superior for forcing vegetation to all others, has got the better of both decency and prudence.

All the passengers we met upon this road were laden with jars of oil expressed from the Camellia. In the course of eighteen miles, which is about the distance from the summit of Me-lin to the city of Nan-sheun-foo, we passed at least a thousand persons on their way to Nan-gan-foo, each bearing ten or twelve gallons of oil and among these were a number of women.

Having now traversed five of the provinces of China, that are considered among the most populous and productive in the empire, a general sketch may be drawn, by taking a retrospective view, of the state of agriculture and the condition of the people; of their habitations, dress, diet and means of subsistence; and some conclusion drawn as to the population of the country.

It was a remark too singular to escape notice that, except in the neighbourhood of the Po-yang lake, the peasantry of the province in which the capital stands were more miserable, their houses more mean and wretched, and their lands in a worse state of cultivation, than in any other part of the route—a remark which also agrees with the accounts given by the Dutch embassy of that part of Pe-tche-lee, on the south-west side of the capital, through which they passed. Four mud walls covered over with a thatch of reeds, or the straw of millet, or the stems of holcus, compose their habitations; and they are most commonly surrounded with clay walls, or with a fence made of the strong stems of the Holcus Sorghum. A partition of matting divides the hovel into two apartments; each of which has a small opening in the wall to admit the air and light; but one door generally serves as an entrance, the closure of which is frequently nothing more than a strong mat. A blue cotton jacket and a pair of trowsers, a straw hat and shoes of the same material, constitute the dress of the majority of the people. Matting of reeds or bamboo, a cylindrical pillow of wood covered with leather, a kind of rug or felt blanket made of the hairy wool of the broad-tailed sheep, not spun and woven but beat together as in the process for making hats, and sometimes a mattress stuffed with wool, hair, or straw, constitute their bedding. Two or three jars, a few basons of earthen-ware of the coarsest kind, a large iron pot, a frying-pan and a portable stove, are the chief articles of furniture. Chairs and tables are not necessary; both men and women sit on their heels; and in this posture they surround the great iron pot, with each a bason in his hands, when they take their meals. The poverty of their food was sufficiently indicated by their meagre appearance. It consists chiefly of boiled rice, millet, or other grain, with the addition of onions or garlic, and mixed sometimes with a few other vegetables that, by way of relish, are fried in rancid oil, extracted from a variety of plants, such as the Seffamum, Brassica orientalis, Cytisus Cadjan, a species of Dolichos, and, among others, from the same species of Ricinus or Palma-Christi, from which the Castor is drawn, and used only in Europe as a powerful purgative. Its drastic qualities may probably be diminished by applying less pressure in extracting the oil, or by habit, or by using it fresh, as it does not appear that the Chinese suffer any inconvenience in its application to culinary purposes. As well as I could understand, the seeds were first bruised and then boiled in water, and the oil that floated on the surface was skimmed off. Our Florence oil they affected not to admire having, as they said, no taste. The Chinese, like the inhabitants of the South of Europe, seem to attach a higher value on oils, in proportion as age has given to them a higher degree of rancidity.

Fish of any kind, in this part of the country, is a great rarity; few are caught in the rivers of Pe-tche-lee. We met with none in the whole province, except at Tien-sing and in the capital, whose market, no doubt, like that of London, draws to its center the choice products of a very extensive circuit. Salt and dried fish, it is true, are brought from the southward as articles of commerce, but the poor peasantry cannot afford to purchase them for general use. They obtain them only sometimes by bartering millet or vegetables in exchange. A morsel of pork to relish their rice is almost the only kind of meat that the poor can afford to taste. They have little milk and neither butter, nor cheese, nor bread; articles of nourishment to which, with potatoes, the peasantry of Europe owe their chief support. Boiled rice, indeed, and not bread, is considered as an article of the first necessity, the staff of life in China. Hence the monosyllable fan, which signifies boiled rice, enters into every compound that implies eating; thus tche-fan, the name of a meal in general, is to eat rice; breakfast is called the tsao-fan or morning rice, and supper the ouan-fan or evening rice. Their principal and indeed their best beverage is bad tea, boiled over and over again as long as any bitter remains in the leaves, taken without milk or sugar, or any other ingredient except, in cold weather, a little ginger. In this weak state the only purpose it seems to answer is that of carrying down the sediment of muddy water that abounds in all the flat provinces of China, which the leaves of tea (as I fancy those of any other plant would) are found to do. These poor creatures, however, are instructed by popular opinion to ascribe to it many extraordinary qualities[59].

[59] The simple boiling of the water indeed contributes greatly to the quick deposition of earthy particles, which may have been one cause of the universal practice of drinking every thing warm in China. They were surprised to see our soldiers and servants drinking the water of the Pei-ho cold, and told them it was very bad for the stomach and bowels. This complaint, in fact, attacked almost all the inferior part of the embassy, which Doctor Gillan did not hesitate to ascribe to the great impurity of the water. But the Chinese argued the point with the Doctor with regard to taking it cold, asking him why all the fluids of the body were warm, if nature had intended us to drink water and other liquids in a cold state! They seemed to have forgotten that all the warm-blooded animals, except man, must necessarily drink cold water.

It would require a more familiar acquaintance with the people and a longer residence among them, than was allowed to us, to explain the true reason of such real poverty among the peasantry in the vicinity of the capital. Perhaps, indeed, it may be owing, in a great degree, to the proximity of the court, which in all countries has the effect of drawing together a crowd of people to consume the products of the soil, without contributing any portion of labour towards their production. The encouragement that is here given to idleness and dissipation is but too apt to entice the young peasantry in the neighbourhood from their houses, and thus rob the country of its best hands. The soil, likewise, near the capital is barren and sandy, producing few supplies beyond the wants of the several tenants; and all other necessaries of life not raised by them must be purchased extravagantly dear. It is, indeed, surprizing how this immense city, said to contain three millions of inhabitants, is contrived to be supplied at any rate, considering the very sterile and unproductive state of the country for many miles around it. It might not, however, be a matter of less astonishment to a Chinese, nor less difficult for him to conceive, in what manner our own capital receives its daily supplies, especially after he had observed that there is not a single road, by which London can be approached, that is not carried over vast tracts of uncultivated commons and waste grounds.

The vallies of Tartary furnish beeves and broad-tailed sheep for Pekin, and grain is brought by water from every part of the country, of which the government takes the precaution to lay up in store a sufficient quantity for a twelvemonth's consumption. Of animal food, pork is mostly consumed. Few peasants are without their breed of hogs; these animals, indeed, are likewise kept in large cities, where they become public nuisances. Bad beef in Pekin sells for about six-pence the pound; mutton and pork eight-pence; lean fowls and ducks from two to three shillings; eggs are generally about one penny each; small loaves of bread that are boiled in steam, without yeast or leaven, are about four-pence a pound; rice sells usually at three-halfpence or two-pence the pound; wheat flour at two-pence halfpenny or three-pence; fine tea from twelve to thirty shillings a pound; that of the former price, at least such as was procured clandestinely for us, not drinkable, and the latter not near so good as that of about six shillings in London[60]. There are, indeed, plenty of tea-houses in and near the capital, where the labouring people may purchase their cup of tea for two small copper coin (not quite a farthing) but it is miserably bad. A tolerable horse and a man-slave are usually about the same price, being from fifteen to twenty ounces of silver. The article of dress worn by the common people is not very expensive. The peasantry are invariably clad in cotton; and this article is the produce of most of the provinces. The complete dress of a peasant is about fifteen shillings; of a common tradesman three pounds; an officer of government's common dress ten pounds; of ceremony about thirty pounds; and if enriched with embroidery and gold and silver tissue, between two and three hundred pounds: a pair of black satin boots twenty shillings; and a cap or bonnet about the same sum. The price of labour, however, and particularly in Pekin, bears no sort of proportion to the price of provisions. A mechanic in this city thinks himself well paid if he gets a shilling a-day. A common weaver, joiner, or other tradesman earns a bare subsistence for his family; and the best servants may be hired for an ounce of silver a-month. Many are glad to give their services in exchange for their subsistence, without any consideration in hard money. Tobacco being an indispensable article for all ranks of every age and sex bears of course a high price in the capital. It is singular enough, that this plant should have found its way into every part of the world, among savage as well as civilized nations, even into the deserts of Africa, where it was found in constant use among the Booshuanas, a people, till very lately, totally unknown; and it is equally singular, that an herb of so disagreeable a taste should, by habit, obtain an ascendency so far over the appetite, as not easily to be relinquished.

[60] As these teas however were purchased by Chinese, I have no doubt they reserved to themselves a very large profit on the commission, for it is scarcely possible that this article, the growth and produce of the middle provinces, should bear a price so far beyond what the very best sells for in London.

The climate of the northern provinces is unfavourable to the poor peasantry. The summers are so warm that they go nearly naked and the winters so severe that, what with their poor and scanty fare, their want of fuel, clothing, and even shelter, thousands are said to perish from cold and hunger. In such a condition the ties of nature sometimes yield to self-preservation, and children are sold to save both the parent and offspring from perishing for want; and infants become a prey to hopeless indigence. We have seen in the notes taken by the gentleman in the Dutch embassy, how low the temperature is at Pekin in the winter months; and they have no coals nearer than the mountains of Tartary, which are all brought on the backs of dromedaries; of course, they are extravagantly dear. In fact, they are scarcely ever burned pure, but are crumbled to dust and mixed up with earth, in which state they give out a very strong heat, but no flame, and are suitable enough for their small close stoves.

Although it is a principle of the Chinese government to admit of no distinctions among its subjects, except those that learning and office confer; and although the most rigid sumptuary laws have been imposed to check that tendency to shew and splendor, which wealth is apt to assume; and to bring as much as possible on a level, at least in outward appearance, all conditions of men; yet, with regard to diet, there is a wider difference perhaps between the rich and the poor of China, than in any other country. That wealth which, if permitted, would be expended in flattering the vanity of its possessors, is now applied in the purchase of dainties to pamper the appetite. Their famous Gin-sing, a name signifying the life of man (the Panax quinquefolium of Linnus) on account of its supposed invigorating and aphrodisiac qualities was, for a length of time, weighed against gold. The sinewy parts of stags and other animals, with the fins of sharks, as productive of the same effects, are purchased by the wealthy at enormous prices: and the nests that are constructed by small swallows on the coasts of Cochin-China, Cambodia, and other parts of the East, are dearer even than some kinds of Gin-sing. Most of the plants that grow on the sea-shore are supposed to possess an invigorating quality, and are, therefore, in constant use as pickles or preserves, or simply dried and cut into soups in the place of other vegetables. The leaves of one of these, apparently a species of that genus of sea-weed called by botanists fucus, after being gathered, are steeped in fresh water and hung up to dry. A small quantity of this weed boiled in water gives to it the consistence of a jelly, and when mixed with a little sugar, the juice of an orange, or other fruit, and set by to cool, I know of no jelly more agreeable or refreshing. The leaf is about six inches long, narrow and pointed, deeply serrated, and the margins ciliated; the middle part smooth, semi-transparent, and of a leathery consistence. The Chinese call it Chin-chou.

The great officers of state make use of these and various other gelatinous viands for the purpose of acquiring, as they suppose, a proper degree of corpulency[61], which is considered by them as respectable and imposing upon the multitude; of a great portion of whom it may be observed, as Falstaff said of his company, "No eye hath seen such scare-crows." It would be rare to find, among the commonalty of China, one to compare with a porter-drinking citizen or a jolly-looking farmer of England. They are indeed naturally of a slender habit of body and a sickly appearance, few having the blush of health upon their cheeks. The tables of the great are covered with a vast variety of dishes, consisting mostly of stews of fish, fowl and meat, separately and jointly, with proper proportions of vegetables and sauces of different kinds. Their beverage consists of tea and whiskey. In sipping this ardent spirit, made almost boiling hot, eating pastry and fruits, and smoking the pipe, they spend the greatest part of the day, beginning from the moment they rise and continuing till they go to bed. In hot weather they sleep in the middle of the day, attended by two servants, one to fan away the flies and the other to keep them cool.

[61] An old Frenchman (Cossigny) but a disciple of the new school, has found out that the Chinese are in possession of a new science, the existence of which was not even suspected by the enlightened nations of Europe. As he has the merit of making this wonderful discovery, it is but fair to announce it in his own words: "Je pense que nous devrions prendre chez eux (les Chinois) les premiers elements de la spermatologie, science toute nouvelle pour l'Europe, science qui intresse l'humanit en gnral, en lui procurant des jouissances qui l'attachent son existence, en entretenant la sant et la vigeur, en rparant l'abus des excs, en contribuant l'augmentation de la population. Il feroit digne de la sollicitude des gouvernemens de s'occuper des recherches qui pourroient donner des connoissances sur une science peine souponne des peuples clairs de l'Europe." He then announces his knowledge in preparing "des petites pastilles qui sont aphrodisiaques et qui conviennent sur-tout aux veillards, et ceux qui ont fait des excs:" and he concludes with the mortifying intelligence that he is not permitted to reveal the important secret, "qui intresse l'humanit en general."

The province of Pe-tche-lee embraces an extent of climate from 38 to 40-1/2 of north latitude. The temperature is very various. In summer Fahrenheit's thermometer is generally above 80 during the day, sometimes exceeding 90; and, in the middle of winter, it remains for many days together below the freezing point, descending occasionally to zero or 0. But it generally enjoys a clear pure atmosphere throughout the whole year.

In the practical part of agriculture, in this province, we observed little to attract attention or to commend. The farmer gets no more than one crop off the ground in a season, and this is generally one of the species of millets already mentioned, or holcus, or wheat; but they sometimes plant a Dolichos or bean between the rows of wheat, which ripens after the latter is cut down. They have no winter crops, the hard frosty weather usually setting in towards the end of November and continuing till the end of March. The three different modes of sowing grain, by drilling, dibbling, and broadcast, are all in use but chiefly the first, as being the most expeditious and the crop most easy to be kept free from weeds; the last is rarely practised on account of the great waste of seed; and dibbling is used only in small patches of ground near the houses when they aim at neatness. The soil, being in general loose and sandy and free from stones, is worked without much difficulty, but it seemed to require a good deal of manure; and this necessary article from the paucity of domestic animals is extremely scarce. Very few sheep or cattle were observed, yet there was an abundance of land that did not seem for many years to have felt the ploughshare.

The draught cattle most generally in use are oxen, mules, and asses. Horses are scarce and of a small miserable breed, incapable of much work; a remark, indeed, which will apply to every province of the empire; though those of Tartary, which composed the Emperor's stud, according to the Embassador's description, were not wanting in point of size, beauty, or spirit. No pains, however, are bestowed to effect, nor do they seem to be sensible of the advantages to be derived from, an improvement in the breed of cattle. Nor indeed is any care taken of the bad breed which they already possess. It would be supposed that, where a regular establishment of cavalry is kept up to an amount that seems almost incredible, some attention would be paid to the nature and condition of their horses. This, however, is not the case. A Scotch poney, wild from the mountains, which has never felt the teeth of a currycomb and whose tail and mane are clotted together with dirt, is in fit condition to join a regiment of Tartar cavalry. Those kept by men in office are equally neglected. The Chinese have no idea that this noble animal requires any attention beyond that of giving him his food; and of this, in general, he receives a very scanty portion.

That part of the province of Shan-tung through which we travelled exhibited a greater variety of culture than Pe-tche-lee; but the surface of the northern parts especially was equally uniform. The soil, consisting generally of mud and slime brought apparently by the inundations of rivers, contained not a single pebble. The season was too late to form any estimate of the crops produced upon the immense plains of Shan-tung; but the young crops of wheat, standing at this time (the middle of October) a few inches above the ground, looked extremely well. Little waste ground occurred, except the footpaths and the channels which served as division marks of property. Some attempts indeed were here made at the division of grounds by hedge-rows, but with little success; the plant they had adopted, the Palma-Christi, was ill-suited for such a purpose. As we advanced to the southward, in this province, the proportion of wheat under cultivation diminished, and its place was employed by plantations of cotton, whose pods were now ripe and bursting. The plant was low and poor in growth, but the branches were laden with pods. Like the wheat it was planted or dibbled in rows. The cotton produced the second year was said to be considered as equally good with that of the first, but being found to degenerate the third year, it was then rooted out and the ground prepared for fresh seed[62].

[62] In the tenth volume of a very extensive agricultural work, is detailed the whole process of cultivating the cotton from the seed to the web. The author observes, "The cotton in its raw state affords a light and pleasant lining for clothes; the seed yields an oil, which, being expressed from them, the remainder is serviceable as manure; the capsules or pods, being hard and woody, are used for firing, and the leaves afford nourishment to cattle, so that every part of the vegetable may be appropriated to some useful purpose.

"The soil most favourable to this plant is a white sand, with a small proportion of clay or loam. The plant affects an elevated open situation, and cannot endure low marshy grounds.

"After all the cotton pods are gathered, the remaining stems and branches should be cleared away without loss of time, and the ground carefully ploughed up, to expose a new surface to the air and renew the vigour of the soil.

"When the plough has passed through the ground three times, the earth should be raked level, that the wind may not raise or dry up any part of it.

"——When there is an abundance of manure, it may be laid on previous to the use of the plough, but if it be scarce, &c. it will be preferable to apply it to the soil at the time of sowing the seed.

"The manure should be old and well prepared, and among the best ingredients for the purpose, is the refuse of vegetable substances, from which an oil has been expressed.

"In the southern provinces the cotton plant will last for two or three years, but to the northward the seed must be sown annually."

The author then enumerates nine distinct varieties and their comparative qualities; after which he proceeds to the choice of seed, under which head he observes, that if the seed be steeped in water, in which eels have been boiled, the plant will resist the attack of insects. He then describes the three methods of broadcast, drilling, and dibbling, and gives a decided preference of the last, though it be the most laborious.

"The ground being well prepared, holes are to be made at the distance of a cubit from each other, and the lines a cubit apart. A little water is first to be poured in, and then four or five seeds, after which each hole is to be covered with a mixture of soil and manure, and firmly trodden down with the foot. In the other methods a roller is to be used."

The next process is weeding, loosening, and breaking fine the earth.—He then observes, "After the plants have attained some degree of strength and size, the most advanced and perfect plant should be selected and all the rest rooted out, for if two or more be suffered to rise together, they will increase in height without giving lateral shoots; the leaves will be large and luxuriant, but the pods will be few." He next proceeds to the pruning of the plants to make them bear copiously—gathering the pods—preparing and spinning the wool—weaving the cloth.—This abridged account I have given to shew, that they are not deficient in writings of this kind.

The southern parts of Shan-tung are composed of mountains and swamps. Here, lakes of various magnitudes occur and large tracts of country similar to those which are known to us by the name of peat-moss. In such places the population could not be expected to be excessive; and, accordingly, we met with few inhabitants, except those who subsisted their families by fishing. So great were the numbers engaged in this employment, who lived entirely in floating vessels, that we judged the waters to be fully as populous as the land. No rent is exacted by the government, nor toll, nor tythe, nor licence-money for permission to catch fish; nor is there any sort of impediment against the free use of any lake, river or canal whatsoever. The gifts that nature has bestowed are cautiously usurped by any power, even in this despotic government, for individual use or profit; but are suffered to remain the free property of all who may chuse by their labour to derive advantage from them. But even this free and unrestrained use is barely sufficient to procure for them the necessaries, much less any of the comforts, of life. The condition of the peasantry, in the northern parts of this province, was much more desirable. Their clothing was decent; their countenances cheerful, indicating plenty; and their dwellings were built of bricks or wood, appearing more solid and comfortable than those of the province in which the capital is situated. But the poor fishermen carried about with them unequivocal marks of their poverty. Their pale meagre looks are ascribed to the frequent, and almost exclusive, use of fish; which is supposed to give them a scrophulous habit of body. Their endeavours, however, are not wanting to correct any acid or unwholesome humours that this sort of diet may produce, by the abundant use of onions and garlic, which they cultivate even upon the waters. Having no houses on shore, nor stationary abode, but moving about in their vessels upon the extensive lakes and rivers, they have no inducement to cultivate patches of ground, which the pursuits of their profession might require them to leave for the profit of another; they prefer, therefore, to plant their onions on rafts of bamboo, well interwoven with reeds and strong grass and covered with earth; and these floating gardens are towed after their boats.

The women assist in dragging the net and other operations of taking fish; but the younger part of the family are sometimes employed in breeding ducks. These stupid birds here acquire an astonishing degree of docility. In a single vessel are sometimes many hundreds which, like the cattle of the Kaffers in southern Africa, on the signal of a whistle leap into the water, or upon the banks to feed, and another whistle brings them back. Like the ancient Egyptians, they use artificial means of hatching eggs, by burying them in sand at the bottom of wooden boxes, and placing them on plates of iron kept moderately warm by small furnaces underneath. Thus the old birds which, provided they hatched their eggs themselves, would only produce one brood, or at most two, in the course of the year, continue to lay eggs almost every month. Hogs are also kept in many of the fishing craft. In fact, ducks and hogs affording the most savory meat, most abounding in fat and, it may be added, best able to subsist themselves, are esteemed above all other animals. The ducks being split open, salted, and dried in the sun, are exchanged for rice or other grain. In this state we found them an excellent relish; and, at our request, they were plentifully supplied during the whole progress through the country.

The province of Shan-tung extends in latitude from thirty-four and a half to thirty-eight degrees. The mean temperature, from the 19th of October to the 29th of the same month, was about fifty-two degrees at sun-rise, to seventy degrees at noon. A constant clear and cloudless sky.

The numerous canals and rivers, that in every direction intersect the province of Kiang-nan, and by which it is capable of being flooded to any extent in the dryest seasons, render it one of the most valuable and fertile districts in the whole empire. Every part of it, also, having a free communication with the Yellow Sea by the two great rivers, the Whang-ho and the Yang-tse-kiang, it has always been considered as the central point for the home trade; and, at one time, its chief city Nankin was the capital of the empire. That beautiful and durable cotton of the same name is here produced and sent to the port of Canton; from whence it is shipped off to the different parts of the world. The Chinese rarely wear it in its natural colour, except as an article of mourning; but export it chiefly, taking in return vast quantifies of unmanufactured white cotton from Bengal and Bombay, finding they can purchase this foreign wool at a much cheaper rate than that at which the nankin sells. For mourning dresses and a few other purposes white cotton is made use of, but in general it is dyed black or blue: among some of our presents were also pieces of a beautiful scarlet. Near most of the plantations of cotton we observed patches of indigo; a plant which grows freely in all the middle and southern provinces. The dye of this shrub being no article of commerce in China is seldom, if ever, prepared in a dry state, but is generally employed to communicate its colouring matter from the leaves, to avoid the labour and the loss that would be required to reduce it to a solid substance. We observed that, in the cotton countries, almost every cottage had its garden of indigo. As in ancient times, in our own country, when every cottager brewed his own beer; kept his own cow for milk and butter; bred his own sheep, the wool of which being spun into yarn by his own family was manufactured into cloth by the parish weaver; and when every peasant raised the materials for his own web of hempen cloth; so it still appears to be the case in China. Here there are no great farmers nor monopolists of grain; nor can any individual nor body of men, by any possibility, either glut the market, or withhold the produce of the ground, as may best suit their purpose. Each peasant is supposed, by his industry, to have the means of subsistence within himself; though it often happens that these means, from adverse circumstances which hereafter will be noticed, fail of producing the desired effect.

In the province of Kiang-nan each grows his own cotton; his wife and children spin it into thread and it is woven into a web in his own house, sometimes by his own family, but more frequently by others hired for the purpose. A few bamboos constitute the whole machinery required for this operation. Money he has none; but his produce he can easily barter for any little article of necessity or luxury. The superfluities of life, which those in office may have occasion to purchase, are paid for in bars of silver without any impression, but bearing value for weight, like the Roman as or the Hebrew shekel. The only coin in circulation is the tchen, a piece of some inferior metal mixed with a small proportion of copper, of the value of the thousandth part of an ounce of silver; with this small piece of money the little and constantly demanded necessaries of life are purchased, such as could not conveniently be obtained by way of barter. Silver is rarely lent out at interest, except between mercantile men in large cities. The legal interest is twelve per cent. but it is commonly extended to eighteen, sometimes even to thirty-six. To avoid the punishment of usury, what is given above twelve per cent. is in the shape of a bonus. "Usury, in China," observes Lord Macartney, "like gaming elsewhere, is a dishonourable mode of getting money; but by a sort of compact between necessity and avarice, between affluence and distress, the prosecution of a Jew or a sharper is considered by us as not very honourable even in the sufferers."

The greater the distance from the capital, the better was the apparent condition of the people. The Viceroy, when he received his Excellency on the entry of the embassy into this province, happened to cast his eye upon the half-starved and half-naked trackers of the boats; and being either ashamed of their miserable appearance, or feeling compassion for their situation, he ordered every man immediately a suit of new cloaths. In the morning, when our force was mustered, we were not a little surprized to see the great alteration that had taken place in the appearance of our trackers: every man had a blue cotton jacket edged with red, a pair of new white trowsers, and a smart hat with a high crown and feather. The natural fertility of the country, its central situation commanding a brisk trade, the abundance of its fisheries on the large rivers and lakes were incentives to industry, for the vast population that seemed to be equally distributed over every part of the province.

Rice being the staple of China was abundantly cultivated, in all such places as afforded the greatest command of water. The usual average produce of corn-lands is reckoned to be from ten to fifteen for one; and of rice, from twenty-five to thirty; commonly about thirty. Those corn-lands that will admit of easy irrigation are usually turned over with the plough immediately after the grain is cut; which, in the middle provinces, is ready for the sickle early in June, about the same time that the young rice fields stand at the height of eight or ten inches. These being now thinned, the young plants are transplanted into the prepared wheat lands, which are then immediately flooded. Upon such a crop they reckon from fifteen to twenty for one. Instead of rice one of the millets is sometimes sown as an after-crop, this requiring very little water, or the Cadjan, a species of Dolichos or small bean, for oil, requiring still less. Or, it is a common practice, after taking off a crop of cotton and indigo, in the month of October, to sow wheat, in order to have the land again clear in the month of May or June. Such a succession of crops, without ever suffering the land to lie fallow, should seem to require a large quantity of manure. In fact, they spare no pains in procuring composts and manures; but they also accomplish much without these materials, by working the soil almost incessantly and mixing it with extraneous matters as, for instance, marle with light and sandy soils, or if this is not to be had, stiff clay; and on clayey grounds they carry sand and gravel. They also drag the rivers and canals and pools of water for slime and mud; and they preserve, with great care, all kinds of urine, in which it is an universal practice to steep the seeds previous to their being sown. If turnip-seeds be steeped in lime and urine, the plant is said not to be attacked by the insect. Near all the houses are large earthen jars sunk in the ground, for collecting and preserving these and other materials that are convertible, by putrefactive fermentation, into manure. Old men and children may be seen near all the villages with small rakes and baskets, collecting every kind of dirt, or offals, that come in their way. Their eagerness to pick up whatever may be used as manure led to some ridiculous scenes. Whenever our barges halted and the soldiers and servants found it necessary to step on shore, they were always pursued to their place of retirement by these collectors of food for vegetables. It may literally be said in this country, that nothing is suffered to be lost. The profession of shaving is followed by vast numbers in China. As the whole head is shaved, except a small lock behind, few, if any, are able to operate upon themselves. And as hair is considered an excellent manure, every barber carries with him a small bag to collect the spoils of his razor.

The common plough of the country is a simple machine and much inferior to the very worst of ours. We saw one drill plough in Shan-tung different from all the rest. It consisted of two parallel poles of wood, shod at the lower extremities with iron to open the furrows; these poles were placed on wheels: a small hopper was attached to each pole to drop the seed into the furrows, which were covered with earth by a transverse piece of wood fixed behind, that just swept the surface of the ground.

The machine usually employed for clearing rice from the husk, in the large way, is exactly the same as that now used in Egypt for the same purpose, only that the latter is put in motion by oxen and the former commonly by water. This machine consists of a long horizontal axis of wood, with cogs or projecting pieces of wood or iron fixed upon it, at certain intervals, and it is turned by a water-wheel. At right angles to this axis are fixed as many horizontal levers as there are circular rows of cogs; these levers act on pivots, that are fastened into a low brick wall built parallel to the axis, and at the distance of about two feet from it. At the further extremity of each lever, and perpendicular to it, is fixed a hollow pestle, directly over a large mortar of stone or iron sunk into the ground; the other extremity extending beyond the wall, being pressed upon by the cogs of the axis in its revolution, elevates the pestle, which by its own gravity falls into the mortar. An axis of this kind sometimes gives motion to fifteen or twenty levers. This machine[63], as well as the plough, still in use in modern Egypt, which is also the same as the Chinese plough, have been considered by a member of the French Institute to be the same instruments as those employed in that country two thousand years ago; and judging from the maxims of the Chinese government, and the character of the people, an antiquity equally great may be assigned to them in the latter country. The bamboo wheel for raising water, or something approaching very near to it, either with buckets appended to the circumference, or with fellies hollowed out so as to scoop up water, was also in use among the ancient Egyptians; and, as I have before observed, continue to be so among the Syrians; from these they are supposed to have passed into Persia, where they are also still employed, and from whence they have derived, in Europe, the name of Persian wheels. The chain-pump of China, common in the hands of every farmer, was likewise an instrument of husbandry in Egypt.

[63] See the plate facing page 37.

A very erroneous opinion seems to have been entertained in Europe, with regard to the skill of the Chinese in agriculture. Industrious they certainly are, in an eminent degree, but their labour does not always appear to be bestowed with judgment. The instruments, in the first place, they make use of are incapable of performing the operations of husbandry to the greatest advantage. In the deepest and best soils, their plough seldom cuts to the depth of four inches, so that they sow from year to year upon the same soil, without being able to turn up new earth, and to bury the worn-out mould to refresh itself. Supposing them, however, to be supplied with ploughs of the best construction, we can scarcely conceive that their mules and asses and old women, would be equal to the task of drawing them.

The advantage that large farms in England possess over small ones consists principally in the means they afford the tenant of keeping better teams than can possibly be done on the latter, and consequently of making a better tilth for the reception of seed. The opulent farmer, on the same quantity of ground, will invariably raise more produce than the cottager can pretend to do. In China nine-tenths of the peasantry may be considered as cottagers, and having few cattle (millions I might add none at all) it can scarcely be expected that the whole country should be in the best possible state of cultivation. As horticulturists they may perhaps be allowed a considerable share of merit; but, on the great scale of agriculture, they are certainly not to be mentioned with many European nations. They have no knowledge of the modes of improvement practised in the various breeds of cattle; no instruments for breaking up and preparing waste lands; no system for draining and reclaiming swamps and morasses; though that part of the country over which the grand communication is effected between the two extremities of the empire, abounds with lands of this nature, where population is excessive and where the multitudes of shipping that pass and repass create a never failing demand for grain and other vegetable products. For want of this knowledge, a very considerable portion of the richest land, perhaps, in the whole empire, is suffered to remain a barren and unprofitable waste. If an idea may be formed from what we saw in the course of our journey, and from the accounts that have been given of the other provinces, I should conclude, that one-fourth part of the whole country nearly consists of lakes and low, sour, swampy grounds, which are totally uncultivated: and which, among other reasons hereafter to be mentioned, may serve to explain the frequent famines that occur in a more satisfactory way, than by supposing, with the Jesuits, that they are owing to the circumstance of the nations bordering upon them to the westward being savage and growing no corn. Their ignorance of draining, or their dread of inundations, to which the low countries of China, in their present state, are subject, may perhaps have driven them, in certain situations, to the necessity of levelling the sides of mountains into a succession of terraces; a mode of cultivation frequently taken notice of by the missionaries as unexampled in Europe and peculiar to the Chinese; whereas it is common in many parts of Europe. The mountains of the Pays de Vaud, between Lausanne and Vevay, are cultivated in this manner to their summits with vines. "This would have been impracticable," says Doctor Moore, "on account of the steepness, had not the proprietors built strong stone walls at proper intervals, one above the other, which support the soil, and form little terraces from the bottom to the top of the mountains." But this method of terracing the hills is not to be considered, by any means, as a common practice in China. In our direct route it occurred only twice, and then on so small a scale as hardly to deserve notice. The whole territorial right being vested in the sovereign, the waste lands of course belong to the crown; but any person, by giving notice to the proper magistrate, may obtain a property therein, so long as he continues to pay such portion of the estimated produce as is required to be collected into the public magazines.

When I said that the Chinese might claim a considerable share of merit as horticulturists, I meant to confine the observation to their skill and industry of raising the greatest possible quantity of vegetables from a given piece of ground. Of the modes practised in Europe of improving the quality of fruit, they seem to have no just notion. Their oranges are naturally good and require no artificial means of improvement, but the European fruits, as apples, pears, plums, peaches and apricots are of indifferent quality. They have a common method of propagating several kinds of fruit-trees, which of late years has been practised with success in Bengal. The method is simply this: they strip a ring of bark, about an inch in width, from a bearing branch, surround the place with a ball of fat earth or loam bound fast to the branch with a piece of matting; over this they suspend a pot or horn with water having a small hole in the bottom just sufficient to let the water drop, in order to keep the earth constantly moist; the branch throws new roots into the earth just above the place where the ring was stripped off; the operation is performed in the spring, and the branch is sawn off and put into the ground at the fall of the leaf; the following year it bears fruit. They have no method of forcing vegetables by artificial heat, or by excluding the cold air and admitting, at the same time, the rays of the sun through glass. Their chief merit consists in preparing the soil, working it incessantly, and keeping it free of weeds.

Upon the whole, if I might venture to offer an opinion with respect to the merit of the Chinese as agriculturists, I should not hesitate to say that, let as much ground be given to one of their peasants as he and his family can work with the spade, and he will turn that piece of ground to more advantage, and produce from it more sustenance for the use of man, than any European whatsoever would be able to do; but, let fifty or one hundred acres of the best land in China be given to a farmer, at a mean rent, so far from making out of it the value of three rents, on which our farmers usually calculate, he would scarcely be able to support his family, after paying the expence of labour that would be required to work the farm.

In fact there are no great farms in China. The inhabitants enjoy every advantage which may be supposed to arise from the lands being pretty equally divided among them, an advantage of which the effects might probably answer the expectations of those who lean towards such a system, were they not counteracted by circumstances that are not less prejudicial, perhaps, to the benefit of the public, than monopolizing farmers are by such persons supposed to be in our own country. One of the circumstances I allude to is the common practice, in almost every part of the country, of assembling together in towns and villages, between which very frequently the intermediate space of ground has not a single habitation upon it; and the reason assigned for this custom is the dread of the bands of robbers that infest the weak and unprotected parts of the country. The consequence of such a system is, that although the lands adjoining the villages be kept in the highest state of cultivation, yet those at a distance are suffered to remain almost useless; for having no beasts of burden, it would be an endless task of human labour to bear the manure that would be required, for several miles, upon the ground, and its produce from thence back again to the village. That such robbers do exist who, in formidable gangs, plunder the peasantry, is very certain: She-fo-pao was watching his grain to prevent its being stolen, when he had the misfortune of shooting his relation, who had also gone out for the same purpose. They are sometimes indeed so numerous, as to threaten their most populous cities. The frequency of such robberies and the alarm they occasion to the inhabitants are neither favourable to the high notions that have been entertained of the Chinese government, nor of the morals of the people. Another, and perhaps the chief, disadvantage arising from landed property being pretty equally divided, will be noticed in speaking of the population and the frequent famines.

The province of Kiang-nan extends from about 31 to 34-1/2 of northern latitude; and the mean temperature, according to Fahrenheit's thermometer, from the 30th of October to the 9th of November, was 54 at sun-rise and 66 at noon; the sky uniformly clear.

The province of Tche-kiang abounds in lakes and is intersected with rivers and canals like Kiang-nan; but the produce, except that of a little rice, is very different, consisting principally of silk. For feeding the worms that afford this article, all the fertile and beautiful vallies between the mountains, as well as the plains, are covered with plantations of the mulberry-tree. The small houses, in which the worms are reared, are placed generally in the centre of each plantation; in order that they may be removed as far as possible from any kind of noise; experience having taught them, that a sudden shout, or the bark of a dog, is destructive of the young worms. A whole brood has sometimes perished by a thunder storm. The greatest attention is, therefore, necessary; and, accordingly, they are watched night and day. In fine weather, the young worms are exposed to the sun, upon a kind of thin open gauze stretched in wooden frames; and at night they are replaced in the plantation houses. The trees are pruned from time to time, in order to cause a greater quantity and a constant succession of young leaves. The inhabitants of this province, especially in the cities, are almost universally clothed in silks; this rule among the Chinese of consuming, as much as possible, the products of their own country, and receiving as little as they can avoid from foreign nations, extends even to the provinces; a practice arising out of the little respect that, in China, as in ancient Rome, is paid to those concerned in trade and merchandize.

Besides silk Tche-kiang produces camphor, tallow from the Croton, a considerable quantity of tea, oranges, and almost all the fruits that are peculiar to the country. Every part of the province appeared to be in the highest state of cultivation and the population to be immense. Both the raw and manufactured silks, nankins and other cotton cloths, were sold at such low prices in the capital of this province, that it is difficult to conceive how the growers or the manufacturers contrived to gain a livelihood by their labour. But of all others, I am the most astonished at the small returns that must necessarily be made to the cultivators of the tea plant. The preparations of some of the finer kinds of this article are said to require that every leaf should be rolled singly by the hand; particularly such as are exported to the European markets. Besides this, there are many processes, such as steeping, drying, turning, and packing, after it has been plucked off the shrub leaf by leaf. Yet the first cost in the tea provinces cannot be more than from four-pence to two shillings a pound, when it is considered that the ordinary teas stand the East India Company in no more than eight-pence a pound; and the very best only two shillings and eight-pence[64]. Nothing can more clearly point out the patient and unremitting labour of the Chinese, than the preparation of this plant for the market. It is a curious circumstance that a body of merchants in England should furnish employment, as might easily be made appear, to more than a million subjects of a nation that affects to despise merchants, and throws every obstacle in the way of commercial intercourse.

[64] The East India Company pays from thirteen to sixty tales per pecul for their teas; some tea of a higher price is purchased by individuals, but seldom or ever by the Company. A tale is six shillings and eight-pence, and a pecul is one hundred and thirty-three pounds and one third.

The mean temperature of Tche-kiang, in the middle of November, was from fifty-six degrees at sun-rise, to sixty-two degrees at noon. The extent from North to South is between the parallels of twenty-eight and thirty-four and a half degrees of northern latitude.

The northern part of Kiang-see contains the great Po-yang lake, and those extensive swamps and morasses that surround it, and which, as I have already observed, may be considered as the sink of China. The middle and southern parts are mountainous. The chief produce is sugar and oil from the Camellia Sesanqua. In this province are the principal manufactories of porcelain, whose qualities, as I have in a former chapter observed, depend more on the care bestowed in the preparation and in the selection of the materials, than in any secret art possessed by them. There are also, in this province, large manufactories of coarse earthen ware, of tiles, and bricks.

The extent of Kiang-see is from twenty-eight to thirty degrees, and the temperature, in November, was the same as that of the neighbouring province of Tche-kiang.

I have now to mention a subject on which much has already been written by various authors, but without the success of having carried conviction into the minds of their readers, that the things which they offered as facts were either true or possible; I allude to the populousness of this extensive empire. That none of the statements hitherto published are strictly true, I am free to admit, but that the highest degree of populousness that has yet been assigned may be possible, and even probable, I am equally ready to contend. At the same time, I acknowledge that, prepared as we were, from all that we had seen and heard and read on the subject, for something very extraordinary; yet when the following statement was delivered, at the request of the Embassador, by Chou-ta-gin, as the abstract of a census that had been taken the preceding year, the amount appeared so enormous as to surpass credibility. But as we had always found this officer a plain, unaffected, and honest man, who on no occasion had attempted to deceive or impose on us, we could not consistently consider it in any other light than as a document drawn up from authentic materials; its inaccuracy, however, was obvious at a single glance, from the several sums being given in round millions. I have added to the table the extent of the provinces, the number of people on a square mile, and the value of the surplus taxes remitted to Pekin in the year 1792, as mentioned in the seventh chapter.

+ -+ + + -+ + No. on Surplus each taxes Square square remitted Provinces. Population. Miles. Mile. to Pekin. + + + - + oz. silver. Pe-tche-lee 38,000,000 58,949 644 3,036,000 Kiang-nan 32,000,000 92,961 344 8,210,000 Kiang-see 19,000,000 72,176 263 2,120,000 Tche-kiang 21,000,000 39,150 536 3,810,000 Fo-kien 15,000,000 53,480 280 1,277,000 {Hou-pee 14,000,000} {1,310,000 Houquang{Hou-nan 13,000,000} 144,770 187 {1,345,000 Honan 25,000,000 65,104 384 3,213,000 Shan-tung 24,000,000 65,104 368 3,600,000 Shan-see 27,000,000 55,268 488 3,722,000 Shen-see} one 18,000,000} {1,700,000 Kan-soo }province 12,000,000} 154,008 195 { 340,000 Se-tchuen 27,000,000 166,800 162 670,000 Quan-tung 21,000,000 79,456 264 1,340,000 Quang-see 10,000,000 78,250 128 500,000 Yu-nan 8,000,000 107,969 74 210,000 Koei-tchoo 9,000,000 64,554 140 145,000 + -+ + + -+ + Totals 313,000,000 1,297,999[65] - 36,548,000 + -+ + + +

[65] The measurement annexed to each of the fifteen ancient provinces was taken from the maps that were constructed by a very laborious and, as far as we had an opportunity of comparing them with the country, a very accurate survey, which employed the Jesuits ten years. I do not pretend to say that the areas, as I have given them in the table, are mathematically correct, but the dimensions were taken with as much care as was deemed necessary for the purpose, from maps drawn on a large scale, of which a very beautiful manuscript copy is now in his Majesty's library at Buckingham-house, made by a Chinese, having all the names written in Chinese and Tartar characters.

Considering then the whole surface of the Chinese dominions within the great wall to contain 1,297,999 square miles, or 830,719,360 English acres, and the population to amount to 333,000,000, every square mile will be found to contain two hundred and fifty-six persons, and every individual might possess two acres and a half of land. Great Britain is supposed to average about one hundred and twenty persons on one square mile, and that to each inhabitant there might be assigned a portion of five acres, or to each family five-and-twenty acres. The population of China, therefore, is to that of Great Britain as 256 to 120, or in a proportion somewhat greater than two to one; and the quantity of land that each individual in Great Britain might possess is just twice as much as could be allowed to each individual of China. We have only then to enquire if Britain, under the same circumstances as China, be capable of supporting twice its present population, or which is the same thing, if twelve and an half acres of land be sufficient for the maintenance of a family of five persons? Two acres of choice land sown with wheat, under good tillage, may be reckoned to average, after deducting the seed, 60 bushels or 3600 pounds, which every baker knows would yield 5400 pounds of bread, or three pounds a day to every member of the family for the whole year. Half an acre is a great allowance for a kitchen-garden and potatoe bed. There would still remain ten acres, which must be very bad land if, besides paying the rent and taxes, it did not keep three or four cows; and an industrious and managing family would find no difficulty in rearing as many pigs and as much poultry as would be necessary for home consumption, and for the purchase of clothing and other indispensable necessaries. If then the country was pretty equally partitioned out in this manner; if the land was applied solely to produce food for man; if no horses nor superfluous animals were kept for pleasure, and few only for labour; if the country was not drained of its best hands in foreign trade and in large manufactories; if the carriage of goods for exchanging with other goods was performed by canals and rivers and lakes, all abounding with fish; if the catching of these fish gave employment to a very considerable portion of the inhabitants; if the bulk of the people were satisfied to abstain almost wholly from animal food, except such as is most easily procured, that of pigs and ducks and fish; if only a very small part of the grain raised was employed in the distilleries, but was used as the staff of life for man; and if this grain was of such a nature as to yield twice, and even three times, the produce that wheat will give on the same space of ground; if, moreover, the climate was so favourable as to allow two such crops every year—if, under all these circumstances, twelve and a half acres of land would not support a family of five persons; the fault could only be ascribed to idleness or bad management.

Let us then, for a moment, consider that these or similar advantages operate in China; that every product of the ground is appropriated solely for the food and clothing of man; that a single acre of land, sown with rice, will yield a sufficient quantity for the consumption of five people for a whole year, allowing to each person two pounds a-day, provided the returns of his crop are from twenty to twenty-five for one, which are considered as extremely moderate, being frequently more than twice this quantity; that in the southern provinces two crops of rice are produced in the year, one acre of which I am well assured, with proper culture, will afford a supply of that grain even for ten persons, and that an acre of cotton will clothe two or three hundred persons, we may justly infer that, instead of twelve acres to each family, half that quantity would appear to be more than necessary; and safely conclude, that there is no want of land to support the assumed population of three hundred and thirty-three millions. This being the case, the population is not yet arrived at a level with the means which the country affords of subsistence.

There is, perhaps, no country where the condition of the peasantry may more justly be compared with those of China than Ireland. This island, according to the latest survey, contains about 17,000,000 English acres, 730,000 houses and 3,500,000 souls; so that, as in Great Britain, each individual averages very nearly five acres and every family five-and-twenty. An Irish cottager holds seldom more than an Irish acre of land, or one and three-quarters English nearly, in cultivation, with a cow's grass, for which he pays a rent from two to five pounds. Those on Lord Macartney's estate at Lissanore have their acre, which they cultivate in divisions with oats, potatoes, kale, and a little flax; with this they have besides the full pasturage of a cow all the year upon a large waste, not overstocked, and a comfortable cabin to inhabit, for which each pays the rent of three pounds. The cottager works perhaps three days in the week, at nine-pence a-day; if, instead of which, he had a second acre to cultivate, he would derive more benefit from its produce than from the product of his three days' labour per week; that is to say, provided he would expend the same labour in its tillage. Thus then, supposing only half of Ireland in a state of cultivation and the other half pasturage, it would support a population more than three times that which it now contains; and as a century ago it had no more than a million of people, so within the present century, under favourable circumstances, it may increase to ten millions. And it is not unworthy of remark, that this great increase of population in Ireland has taken place since the introduction of the potatoe, which gives a never-failing crop.

I am aware that such is not the common opinion which prevails in this country, neither with regard to Ireland nor China; on the contrary, the latter is generally supposed to be overstocked with people; that the land is insufficient for their maintenance, and that the cities stand so thick one after the other, especially along the grand navigation between Pekin and Canton, that they almost occupy the whole surface. I should not, however, have expected to meet with an observation to this effect from the very learned commentator on the voyage of Nearchus, founded on no better authority than the crude notes of one neas Anderson, a livery servant of Lord Macartney, vamped up by a London bookseller as a speculation that could not fail, so greatly excited was public curiosity at the return of the Embassy. I would not be thought to disparage the authority on account of its being that of a livery servant; on the contrary, the notes of the meanest and dullest person, on a country so little travelled over, would be deserving attention before they came into the hands of a book-dresser; but what dependence can be placed on the information of an author who states as a fact, that he saw tea and rice growing on the banks of the Pei-ho, between the thirty-ninth and fortieth parallels of latitude, two articles of the culture of which, in the whole province of Pe-tche-lee, they know no more than we do in England; and who ignorantly and impertinently talks of the shocking ideas the Chinese entertained of English cruelty, on seeing one of the guard receive a few lashes, when, not only the common soldiers, but the officers of this nation are flogged most severely with the bamboo on every slight occasion. If Doctor Vincent, from reading this book, was really persuaded that the cities of China were so large and so numerous, that they left not ground enough to subsist the inhabitants, I could wish to recall his attention for a few moments to this subject, as opinions sanctioned by such high authority, whether right or wrong, are sure, in some degree, to bias the public mind. We have seen that if China be allowed to contain three hundred and thirty-three millions of people, the proportion of its population is only just double that of Great Britain. Now if London and Liverpool and Birmingham and Glasgow, and all the cities, towns, villages, gentlemen's villas, farm-houses and cottages in this island were doubled, I see no great inconvenience likely to arise from such duplication. The unproductive land, in the shape of gentlemen's parks and pleasure grounds, would, I presume, be much more than sufficient to counterbalance the quantity occupied by the new erections; and the wastes and commons would perhaps be more than enough to allow even a second duplication. But the population of an English city is not to be compared with, or considered as similar to, the populousness of a Chinese city, as will be obvious by considering the two capitals of these two empires. Pekin, according to a measurement supposed to be taken with great accuracy, occupies a space of about fourteen square miles. London, with its suburbs, when reduced to a square, is said to comprehend about nine square miles. The houses of Pekin rarely exceed a single story; those of London are seldom less than four; yet both the Chinese and the missionaries who are settled in this capital agree that Pekin contains three millions of people; while London is barely allowed to have one million. The reason of this difference is, that most of the cross streets of a Chinese city are very narrow, and the alleys branching from them so confined, that a person may place one hand on one side and the other on the other side as he walks along[66]; that the houses in general are very small, and that each house contains six, eight, or ten persons, sometimes twice the number. If, therefore, fourteen square miles of buildings in China contain three millions of inhabitants, and nine square miles of buildings in England one million, the population of a city in China will be to that of a city in England as twenty-seven to fourteen, or very nearly as two to one; and the former, with a proportion of inhabitants double to that of the latter, will only have the same proportion of buildings; so that there is no necessity of their being so closely crowded together, or of their occupying so great a portion of land, as to interfere with the quantity necessary for the subsistence of the people.

[66] One of the streets in the suburbs of Canton is emphatically called Squeeze-gut-alley, which is so narrow that every gentleman in the Company's service does not find it quite convenient to pass.

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