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There are no data upon which to base an accurate estimate of the number of pounds of tea consumed in the Chinese empire, but it is probable that an approximation to the truth may be obtained by assuming the consumption to equal one thousand millions.

In the production of silk the Chinese do not, as regards quality, compete favourably with the French or Italians, and their best samples do not obtain so good a price in European markets as those forwarded from the South of France; but, although thus inferior in quality, the abundant supply that China is able to yield must always make her silk-trade most important and

For the growth of their mulberry-trees the cultivators usually select the land adjacent to canals or streamlets, as they find that such situation is the most advantageous for insuring a good crop of leaves. The trees vary in size and appearance according to the districts in which they are grown: those in the Southern provinces are small and low, partaking the character of a shrub; but in the more favoured Central provinces they are allowed to reach a height of from six to nine feet-a height within reach of the hands of the leaf-gatherers.

The best silk-districts lie in that part of the Great Plain containing portions of the four provinces of Hoo-peh, Che-kiang, Kiang-su, and Ngan-hui-provinces which are amply supplied with water both from lakes and rivers, and possess the central silk-markets of Soo-chow and Hoo-chow, together with the export cities Shanghae and Ningpo.

The farmers retain the production of silk entirely in their own hands; each grows his own trees, keeps his own silkworms, and, aided by his household, prepares for sale his own packets of raw silk; and large farms or attendant manufactories are unknown.

During the season the market-towns are thronged with the farmers and their wives, who come in to dispose of their silk to the wholesale merchants; after the usual wrangling and pretended objections which form such an indispensable part in all the trading transactions of these loquacious people, the silk is submitted to the examination of the inspectors, by whose opinion the merchants are guided in their purchases, and who pronounce their final decision upon its value. The raw silk, when bought, is carried into storehouses, and there sorted and made up into large parcels, which are eventually sent into the principal commercial cities and sold to the native or foreign merchant at prices varying from twelve to twenty-five dollars per hundred taels weight, or from 160 to 370 dollars per cwt.


The silk export to Europe has of late been very steady, and has averaged during the last four years about eighty-two thousand bales, or above eight million pounds annually, of which the greater portion is shipped in English vessels and imported to the United Kingdom. Silk in lesser quantities is also embarked in French and American ships, and, in fact, constitutes the principal article of trade with the first-named nation, but the English have lately made such advances in their commercial strength that the exportation has practically almost entirely fallen into their hands, and Continental Europe is content to receive the greater part of its silk from Great Britain, whose re-export in the year 1862 was 58,200 bales, the total import during the same year being 78,500 bales.

China must always hold a prominent position with respect to the trade in silk, because she is able to produce vast quantities in short spaces of time and at the most moderate cost; the fertility of the Plain, the energy of the farmers, and the cheapness and abundance of labour, must always make it impossible for any other country to compete with her with the slightest hope of


Whenever the resources of the Chinese empire have come under the consideration of foreigners, the nature of her exports has had the effect of causing them to give undue weight to questions relating to tea and silk, and China is too frequently regarded merely as a country that exports tea or silk and imports opium and cotton goods. It should not, however, be forgotten that these imports and exports have but a slight influence upon the general condition of that empire, and affect but a small proportion of its inhabitants, and that by far the greater part of the cultivated land is employed in the necessary production of food -such food as will meet the imperious demand of an excessive population.

The agriculturists, in their desire to develop to the utmost extent the life-supporting capabilities of their land, have found it advisable to confine their attention to the cultivation of grain and vegetables, and do not set aside any part of the ground for grazing purposes, there not being, as far as we know, a single acre throughout the provinces sown with grass-seed. Pigs, fowls, and ducks supply the animal food of nine-tenths of the people; the pigs are fed from the refuse of the house or farm, the fowls obtain their supplies from a like source, and the ducks are driven from field to field, or landed from boats on the riverbanks, and so find for themselves the means of support. Fish are also a prominent feature in the markets, and the bays and rivers yield them in abundance. The many clever and patient






methods adopted for catching these fish-of which we may instance the well-known cormorant-fishing of the North, and the moonlight bay-fishing in the South-are amongst the proofs of the peculiar ingenuity and perseverance attached to the Chinese character. Oxen are scarce, and near the treaty-ports are raised principally for the purpose of meeting the demand of the foreign residents and shipping; in the rice districts the water-buffalo is invariably employed for the necessary ploughing, it being found that this animal, from its strength and habits, is the most useful and economical.

Upon all points relating to farming the Chinese are a keenlycalculating, matter-of-fact people; nothing with them is lost or cast aside; and in manuring the land, as in selecting the seeds, everything is made subordinate to the consideration of what will support most human beings and yield the greatest profit.

It is in the various conditions of agricultural life that this people appear to the greatest advantage. Thrifty and industrious by nature, domestic and social through the character of their institutions, the farmers and labouring peasantry present the uniform spectacle of a contented, gentle, and hospitable race. Taught by early education and custom to esteem parental authority, the youths and children are obedient and unassuming, and thus there are to be seen in each household the aged and the young living together in most admirable harmony, and bound to each other by the powerful ties of mutual interest and respect.

Upon investigating the nature and magnitude of the inland traffic of the empire, the very extensive means of water-communication and its almost exclusive use for all purposes of transport will at once arrest attention. China is fortunate in possessing a great length of seaboard containing many good harbours and well-sheltered bays, on whose shores are raised a hardy, energetic, and skilful race of sailors. This seaboard is connected with the interior by frequent broad and navigable rivers, up whose streams the heavily-laden junks can safely steer their course for hundreds of miles, and discharge their cargoes at the commercial towns lying adjacent to the banks, and these main arteries are connected with each other by a network of tributaries, creeks, and canals to an extent elsewhere unparalleled.

The most important trading rivers are the Yang-tze, with its tributary, the Han; the Min, upon whose banks is situated the treaty city Foo-chow; the Pei, which connects Tientsin and the trade of Pekin with the sea; the Yung, with its treaty port Ningpo; and lastly, the West, North, and East Rivers, whose waters meet near Canton, and from thence discharge their united volume into the sea around Macao and Hongkong. The Hoang-ho


or Yellow River is not only useless for all commercial purposes, but has a disastrous influence over the fortunes of the people living near its banks. The rapidity and waywardness of the stream, its liability to burst its banks and flood the country, and the amount of revenue annually employed in the attempt to keep it within bounds, have rightly earned for this river the name of 'the grief of the sons of Hona.' The breaking away a few years past of a portion of the northern bank has caused a remarkable change in the course of the river, and its erratic waters flow no longer into the Yellow Sea, but find their outlet in the gulf of Pechili. This change has had a most detrimental effect upon the surrounding country, and has materially impaired the usefulness of the Grand Canal.

That most important river, the Yang-tze, differs totally in its effect upon the country from its rival the Hoang-ho, and to it the Chinese are indebted for much of their prosperity. From its rise in the Tibetan mountains, as far as Central Sz-chuen, the river is known as the Kincha, or 'Golden Sanded;' but before leaving Sz-chuen it is called the 'Yang-tze' or 'Son of the Ocean,' which name it retains throughout the remainder of its length. From source to mouth the distance in a straight line is 1850 miles, and the whole length is estimated to equal 2900 miles. In this long course it is swelled by the waters of the Tung-ting and Poyang Lakes, and receives many tributaries, of which the principal is the Han, the great trading river which connects the Northern and Southern provinces, and has situated at its junction with the Yang-tze the well-known commercial city of Hankow. From Hankow the Yang-tze rolls seaward, with broadening banks, through the fertile provinces of the plain, and after passing successively Kiu-kiang, Nankin, and Chin-kiang, it receives the waters of the Woosung, laden with the foreign ships from Shanghae, and thence discharges its vast volume into the China Sea, whose waters it discolours for above one hundred miles from its mouth.

With respect to the extent of basin drained, the Yang-tze approximates in magnitude to the Amazon, Ganges, and Mississippi; but these rivers are much inferior in their capabilities for navigation. The first rapids on the Yang-tze-kiang occur a few miles above a city of the second rank, named I-chang, situated near the entrance of the mountainous region of Sz-chuen, and distant by river from the sea above eleven hundred English statute miles, and up to this point the main channel has a minimum depth at low water of not less than eighteen feet. In order that the extent of inland communication thus open may be well understood, we will take as an example the case of a well-laden English ship of



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fifteen hundred tons leaving this country with exports for the interior of China. Such a ship, upon arrival at the mouth of the Yang-tze, would probably proceed to Shanghae and transfer her cargo to vessels regularly trading on the river; but it would be possible for her to keep on her course until within sight of the British Consul's flag waving on the heights of Chin-kiang, at which port, 144 miles above Shanghae, she would be permitted to trade. Proceeding onwards and passing Nankin, the old capital of the Ming dynasty and present head-quarters of the Taepings, she would arrive at Kiu-kiang, a city placed at the junction of the Poyang Lake, 419 miles from Shanghae, and where the union jack would again denote the presence of a consul. This treaty port, although at present, owing to exceptional circumstances, in an unflourishing condition, must, by the mere fact of its situation at the entrance of the tea and silk districts and its direct communication with the southern ports, become eventually of great importance. Hankow, the last consular station on the Yang-tze, and distant from the sea 590 miles, would be the next port reached, and here the foreign vessel would find herself in the centre of inland traffic and surrounded by thousands of junks congregated from all parts of the country. At Hankow her commercial voyage would cease; but the noble river would permit her, if necessary, again to proceed upwards and continue her course without difficulty as far as I-chang, the limit of the navigable Yang-tze, where her progress would be finally arrested, and an English crew might regard with wonder the distant ranges of bleak hills which mark the entrance of the unfertile and thinly-inhabited province of Sz-chuen, and observe with pride their ship swinging to an anchor dropped beyond the heart of a great empire, at a distance of 990 geographical or 1139 statute miles from the coast.

The Si-kiang and Pei-ho, respectively at the southern and northern extremities, are the rivers ranking next in importance. The latter is navigable for small craft as far as Tientsin; but it has the double disadvantage of being frozen over between the months of November and March, and of having at its entrance a bar, which at the highest springs has not above twelve feet of water over it. The Si-kiang or Western River has lately been explored by our surveyors, and is found to be navigable for vessels of less than sixteen feet draught of water for nearly one hundred miles from its mouth, and light shallow steamers might at penetrate as far as the province of Kwang-si. If the proposed overland communication between Rangoon and Canton should ever be practically adopted, the Si-kiang will carry much of the mutual productions, and in that case become a river of consider

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