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much of the province of Pe-chili, all of that of Shan-se, the northern part of Shen-se, Kan-su, and northern Ho-nan. It consists of a solid but friable earth of a brownish-yellow colour, wbich overlays the subsoil to the depth often of 1,000 feet. Professor Douglas describes it as having a “tendency to vertical clearage, and wherever a river cuts into it, the loess encloses it between perpendicular cliffs 500 feet in height. These, when washed by the water, are speedily undermined, and the loess breaks off in vertical sheets, which fall into the river, and are carried down by the stream.” In this way the great plain has been formed (p. 26), and through the means described the Gulf of Pe-chili and the Yellow Sea are shoaling up. To the Chinese this earth is of the utmost value, for wherever found-in the lowlands or on the hills at an elevation of 7,000 or 8,000 feet-it is available for the purposes of agriculture, and yields abundantly without the application of manure, and with a minimum expenditure of labour on the part of the tiller. It not only supplies the happy people whose soil it overlays with food for use and export, but in the cliffs which it forms on the banks of the rivers are dug numerous caves, used as dwellings by the great majority of them. Indeed, so important is it, that some ingenious philologists consider that one of the Emperor's numerous titles—“Whang-te,” i.e., “Yellow Emperor,” or “Ruler of the Yellow”—is derived from the fact that he is lord of the loess, or "yellow earth (whang-too). It is probably the residuum which fell to the bottom of a lake in days when the country it now overspreads was submerged.
China: PEOPLE; RULERS; TRADE.
In a country so rich, the first requisite for its development is to have it peopled by a race capable of taking advantage of the opportunities at their hand. This China only partially is. In the first place it is densely populated by a nation chiefly agricultural or dependent on agriculture, and the want of manufactories prevents the surplus population of the cities and rural districts from being absorbed. Hence China is, under the present circumstances, densely stocked, though, were its mineral and other resources properly developed, it would not have more than enough of labourers, and these would rank among the most comfortable of toilers. The exact number of people in the Empire we do not know; it can only be roughly calculated, and the estimates vary from 425, 213, and 152 millions to not one quarter of that number. The usual statement accepted in Europe is that China proper-excluding Mantchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, Corea, Dsangaria, and Turkestan ---contains nearly 405,000,000 souls ;* but a Chinese statistician,t who during the past year has calculated the number of his countrymen, considers that if they are put at from
* Behm and Wagner: "Die Bevölkerung der Erde,” 1874-78.
100,000,000 to 120,000,000, they will not be done injustice to. But Mr. Hippesley, of Shanghai, in another calculation made in November, 1876, considers that the population of China proper is about 250,000,000. The truth will most likely be found between the two latter estimates. A census which was made towards the close of the sixteenth century gave 307,467,000 as the number of Kìen-lung Wong's subjects, but in 1743 Grosier considered that they did not exceed 200,000,000; and though various enumerations taken since that date give the population at a much higher figure, it is very doubtful whether some of the returns are not apocryphal, constructed to gratify the vanity of the Kinsman of the Sun and Moon, albeit, if in error to the extent imputed, they would rather rudely interfere with the financial estimates of his ministers. But the latest statist is of opinion that the Empire has been decreasing in population since 1761, and doubtless during the Taiping rebellion between 1847 and 1862 the destruction of numerous cities, towns, and villages, and the massacre of their inhabitants, must have materially reduced the density of the inhabitants of the Empire. The population of Pekin is estimated at from 500,000 to 1,650,000, which shows how loose are the data we have to go on. Canton has, it is reported on the same vague authority, one million and a half of people; Tien-tsin, nearly a million ; Hangchow, 600,000; Shanghai, 278,000; and the number of other cities with a population over 100,000 is considerable. A census of the foreign residents, taken in 1879, gives the following particulars :--
Thus the firms engaged in commerce are 351, and the total foreign population of the empire 3,814, while the population of the nineteen treaty ports, including those of Formosa, is estimated at 4,990,000.
But even at the lowest figures given China is a thickly-peopled region, though to nothing like the extent of the valley of the Ganges, and the swarms of its people who are hiving off into other countries—tossing to the winds the traditions of centuries—ought, under other conditions, to find at home the employment which they now seek abroad. Of the character of the people at large it is somewhat difficult for a foreigner to speak. They must not be judged according to the Old World canons of morality, nor above all, meted in the European measure. As Archdeacon Gray justly remarks, their morals are written in strange characters more difficult for one not of their race to decipher than their own singularly compound word syllables. “In the same individual virtues and vices, apparently incompatible, are placed side by side. Meekness, gentleness, docility, industry, contentment, cheerfulness, obedience to superiors, dutifulness to parents and
reverence for the aged are, in one and the same person, the companions of insincerity, lying, flattery, treachery, cruelty, jealousy, ingratitude, avarice, and distrust of others.” But deceit and fraud are with them, as with all timid races, the natural defence of the weak, while, as the English courts of law abundantly demonstrate, the other inconsistencies of their character are not peculiar to them. The despotism of their Government, the gross superstition of their religion, the abominable cruelty of their judicial code, and their
general ignorance, in spite of the fact that as a rule they are more lettered than were until recently any people in Europe, combined with the degraded social life which polygamy always entails, are serious disadvantages for any race to contend against. But still, those well acquainted with them pronounce the Chinese, as a rule, "courteous, orderly, industrious, peace-loving, sober, and patriotic.” Mr. Seward, the American Minister at Pekin, wrote eight years ago in much the same strain, and as his opinion is, perhaps, in some respects better worth quoting than that of a European, I think it worth giving in full. “The prevailing tendency," writes this experienced publicist, “among foreigners in China is to debase the Chinese to a very low place in the scale of nations, to belittle their
intellectual capacity, to condemn their morals, to declare them destitute of vitality and energy
the case finds facts ready for his use which seem to him to demonstrate his own view. I confess that the case is different with me. Faith in the race is a matter of intuition with me. I find here a steady adherence to the traditions of the past, a sober devotion to the calls arising in the various relations of life, an absence of shiftlessness, an honest and at least somewhat earnest grappling with the necessities and difficulties which beset them in the humbler stages of progress, a capacity to moralise withal, and an enduring sense of right and wrong. These all form what must be considered an essentially satisfactory basis and groundwork of national character. Among the people there is practical sense, among the gentry scholarly instincts, the desire of advancement, the disposition to work for it with earnestness and constancy, amongst the rulers a sense of dignity, breadth of view, considering their information, and patriotic feeling. Who will say that such a people have not a future more wonderful even than their past? Why may not the wheels of progress and empire roll on until the countries of Asia witness again their course ?” The present writer sees no reason, except that out nations rarely revive. But it
be said that the Chinese have never gone back. Their civilisation is old, very old; but already there are signs that the new wine which is pouring into the empire is bursting the old bottles, and that though China has not been in such haste to clothe itself in Western garments as Japan, it will in the end, though not running so fast, make quite as much progress, and, as its wealth is infinitely greater, win in the race for the prizes of the new civilisation. Nor is their docility so great as has been usually represented. The many rebellions, often fierce and prolonged, one of which drove the Emperor off his throne, prove that the Chinaman, though easily ruled when properly treated, can be a fierce zealot and even a courageous asserter of his rights when the slumbering Asiatic tigerishness of his nature is roused. It is also akin to the bigotry of which we accuse the Chinese to style them unprogressive, exclusive, and dead to the advantages of European inventions. They do not wish for railways. How long is it since all England was enamoured of these, since scores of squires of all degrees rushed to the capital to protest against the iron horse coming near them, and from the pulpit and the press these inventions were denounced as ruinous to Englishmen, English horses, and English schoolboys' morals ? Vaccinaticn is still denounced, as were inoculation and vaccination long after they were introduced ; and tramways were until lately—perhaps they are still—vilified as inventions of the Americans or of the evil one, the power of darkness and our transatlantic cousins being, in the eyes of the British Chinaman, very nearly akin. Occasionally a European is mobbed in the villages of the remoter parts of the Empire. This is no doubt exceedingly rude on the part of a people who never saw a Briton, and never heard much good of them in their dealings with the Celestial Empire ; but only a few months ago the members of the Chinese Embassy were mobbed in one of the most fashionable streets of London, and at this day a strangely-dressed foreigner would fare but badly in some of the more outlandish parts of the Black Country, or elsewhere. The soldier in Goldsmith's story hated the French because “they ate frogs and wore wooden shoes,” and would doubtless have put his sentiments in regard to our amiable neighbours into force had he caught one of them in a region less remote perhaps than those
parts of China where the “foreign devil” meets with rough usage. Even the Irisb or Scotch have not yet escaped the prejudice of the vulgar English, and the inhospitable half brick is yet in some parts of the country the legitimate weapon for the insular Chauvanist to apply to the stranger's head. The man with the evil eye is in Italy a worse terror to the peasant than the wonder-working foreigner to the ignorant Kan-su herdsman. A woman accused of witchcraft was only lately burnt to death by some Russian peasants, and the authorities of Chin rank so far approved of the act as to award her murderers the most nominal punishment known to the law, and to acquit others. Connecticut Puritans, and among other English judges the learned Sir Matthew Hale, not very long ago were of the same opinion. Even yet in many districts of Great Britain a person supposed to be endowed with such occult powers would fare well if he or she did not make the acquaintance of one of those capacious horse-ponds with which rural England is so plenteously studded. The truth is, that those who superciliously criticise the Chinese display, by the very words they use, the selfsame prejudices they despise in the Mongols. For instance, Mr. Wingrove Cook * is shocked that the Chinese rose has no fragrance, that the women have no petticoats, the labourer no Sabbath, and the magistrate no sense of honour. He thinks it something absurd for a man when puzzled to scratch the antipodes of the head, to consider the seat of intellect in the stomach, or the place of honour on the left hand; that he wears white garments when in mourning, and considers that to bare the head is insolence instead of respect. And why not? The left is nearest to the sun-producing east, and is therefore as honourable as our west. The brain is just as unlikely to be stimulated by irritating the scalp as any other part of the body, while it is not more absurd to consider the intellect in the stomach than to imagine, as do half mankind and all the poets, that loves and hates are in the hollow muscle called the heart. But the people are not stationary. The Chinese army is a formidable force compared with what it was twenty years ago, and foreigners are taken into their service whenever the Government finds that any gain is to be reaped by doing so. Arsenals are springing up everywhere, ships are being built on the most approved models, and arms—unfortunately, forged to a wonderful extent and perfection. Their embassies have gone to Europe, and those of Europe to them. They are amenable to reason, have no caste, and, unlike the other peoples of the East, are singularly free from religious prejudice. As Mr. Williamson points out, history shows that they have adopted every manifest improvement which has presented itself for many centuries. At the time when Caractacus and his blue-painted warriors were meeting Cæsar on the Kentish shore, the Chinese had adopted the Buddhist system of decimal notation, and had changed their custom of writing figures from top to bottom for the Indian plan of inscribing them from left to right. Every dynasty up to the present time has improved the calendar by the light derived from foreign astronomers, and in open competitions Father Schall, of the Jesuit mission, was appointed by the first Tartar Emperor President of the Board of Astronomy at Pekin. When the Emperor Kangh-i began to print his encyclopædia in 300 volumes he adopted movable copper types, and to this day movable types of wood are employed in printing the Pekin Gazette. The cotton-plant, the potato, the maize, tobacco, and opium, have all been naturalised by
Cook: “ China" (1858).