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waters abate so rapidly that, in the course of a few weeks, the Poyang Hoo, to use the words of Archdeacon Gray, “resembles not so much a lake as a river, winding its course towards the Yang-tse-Kiang between low banks of mud.” During the dry season the peasants erect huts of straw on the land from which the water has receded, in order to be on the spot to cut down the coarse grass and reeds which the rich alluvial yields in great quantity. These they stack in front of their huts, to be afterwards sold in the neighbouring villages as fuel for the winter. The waters of this lake abound in wild fowl, chiefly geese, ducks, teal, divers, and pelicans, which are captured by the native fowlers, and sold in the cities that stud the banks of the great river which flows near by.
These birds are captured in a curious fashion. “Sometimes," writes Dr. Gray, “he [the fowler) fixes two gingals [native firelocks] in a boat which is constructed to sit low in the water, and, laying hold of the stern, wades or swims, as the case may be, gently pushing the boat towards the wild fowl. When he has come within gunshot he discharges his gingals into the midst of the birds by means of a long fuse. At other times the fowler floats a number of baskets on the water, and when the wild fowl have become used to them, and swim close to them without fear, he covers his head with a similar basket and wades into the lake. By a gradual approach he tries to get into the very centre of the flock, and then he suddenly stretches out both hands, and generally succeeds in capturing a brace of them, which he at once deposits in a creel on his back.”* The Toong-ting Lake is studded with islands, one of which, much visited by the pious Chinese, contains many temples in honour of Buddha, and is the abode of numerous priests of his sect, who not only serve the altars of Buddha, but also those of the Toon-ting idol, or King of the Lake. On the “Golden Island” the tea plant is grown in great abundance; but as the tea grown in this locality is considered to prolong life, a quantity of it is annually sent to the Imperial Palace at Pekin, for the use of the Emperor and Court. Tai-Hoo is another large lake—the circumference is estimated at 260 miles-surrounded by a pleasant country, producing large quantities of cotton, green tea, silk, and plastic clays, of which some of the best "china” is made. Three of the Chinese lakes are accounted sacred. These are the Toon-ting and Poyang-already noticed—and the Hoong-chak, which is in the same province as the last-mentioned one, namely, in Kiang-su. State worship is paid to the spirits which are supposed to preside over them, and on such occasions a sheep and a pigeon are sacrificed to the genius of the lake. “An imperial communication addressed to the genius of the lake is also read aloud, and afterwards committed to a sacred fire."
The climate of China is a rather comprehensive phrase. One might as well talk of the climate of Europe, for a country stretching through twenty-six degrees of latitude and twenty-seven degrees of longitude, must vary as to its atmospheric character
“China” (1878), Vol. II., p. 326. In “Races of Mankind,” Vol. I., pp. 277-278, an almost identical mode of capturing wild fowl is described as being practised by the Indians living on the shores of a great shallow lake off the Gulf of Maracaibo, in Venezuela.
in different quarters of it. One peculiarity about it is, that though much of China lies within the tropics, its temperature is, even in the height of summer, much lower than that of countries lying in the same latitude. For instance, though Pekin is a degree south of Naples, its mean annual temperature is ten degrees lower than that of the Italian city. In the northern provinces the winter cold is severe, and the midsummer heat severe. In July, August, and September the interior and coastlying towns in the southern provinces are almost furnaces; and this is the period at which the dreaded typhoons arrive, as well as those virulent and epidemic diseases for which the country has obtained so fatal a notoriety. In the extreme south the southern monsoon begins to blow in March or April, and brings with it from the heated ocean annual rains, so heavy that their fall averages seventy inches per annum. This humidity, combined with the heat and the want of all sanitary regulations in the crowded houses and towns, makes parts of the country during the warm season very unhealthy. Famines rage at intervals, owing to the droughts and inundations, while the typhoons that visit the southern coast cause immense destruction. On the estuary of the Canton River the authorities calculated that, in 1862, upwards of 60,000 people were drowned, or killed by falling houses during one of these hurricanes, which lasted fourteen hours. From the south to the east they rage, and are not unknown in the north as far as Shanghai. On page 32 is engraved a view showing one at Hong Kong in the south. But it may be said that as a rule the climate of the northern and inland provinces is pleasant, and sometimes even more than pleasant. During the winter season, that is, from October to February, little or no rain falls in the south. Towards the end of September the north-eastern monsoon sets in, and continues to April, when, as already noted, it is succeeded by the south-western monsoon, invariably accompanied by rain, which, on reaching the coast, assumes the form of thick fogs, ending in heavy showers, refreshing at once to the parched earth and to man, exhausted by the heat of the dry air. At the change of each monsoon thunder-storms are frequent, but are usually neither of such long continuation nor so severe as those with which Great Britain is occasionally visited.
Roughly speaking, China (Maps, pp. 5, 24) may be divided into two great halves, the one mountainous, hilly, little developed, though rich in minerals, but sparsely peopled; the other consisting of plains and fertile valleys, highly tilled, and supporting, unless we except the Valley of the Ganges, the densest agricultural population in the world. The country thus physically distinguished is China proper, excluding Tibet, Tartary, and other dependencies, which we shall consider as Chinese colonies separately, or which, as in the case of Formosa, have been already noticed. The geography of the eighteen provinces, into which). for administrative purposes, the empire is divided, need not be gone over in great detail, for every map and every school geography narrates their bald characteristics with wearisome conscientiousness. Each of these provinces constitutes a separate Government, with a capital which is a city of the first class, and is again divided into departments, districts, and hundreds, which in their turn are administered from cities of lower grade in the civic hierarchy of China, the land being so apportioned that each city has under it an area corresponding to its class or rank. The lord paramount of the whole empire is the Emperor or “Tien-tze ” himself, unless in cases in which a viceroy, who superintends two provinces, forms another step between the governors and the throne. Under them come the provincial governor-generals. Their authority is again delegated to minor officials, who further
divide their responsibility with smaller mandarins, until at length the Imperial mandate, or that of the ministers who act in his name, is brought to bear upon “the mass of the people.” Of the provinces, Kan-su, Se-chuen, and Yun-nan are the largest, all the other fifteen being very much smaller, though it ought to be added that their importance is often in an inverse to their area in miles.
In Pe-Chili, for example, in which is situate the city of Pekin, there are said to be nearly as many people as in Great Britain, though its area is under 59,000 square miles. Among these are many Mohammedans. In the capital itself it is believed that there are over 20,000 Moslem families; and in Pow-ting Foo, the chief provincial city, about 1,000