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addicted to smoking it, and once the habit is begun there seems almost no cure for it. Indigo is also a profitable crop, and Mantchurian tobacco is famous all over China. Indeed, the spread of tobacco culture over the empire, as well as its use by all classes, is very remarkable. Tobacco is believed, on what grounds I have not been able to learn, to have been introduced into Japan by the Dutch. The Japanese acted as the agents in bringing the herb over to Corea about 280 years ago.
The Coreans, in their turn, made the Mantchus acquainted with it, and when the latter conquered China they brought into the Middle Kingdom the drug which is now smoked by probably every man and boy in the empire. Coal has been found in the province, and it is probable that agates, cornelians, onyxes, and other precious stones are not the only mineral riches of the country, though as yet neither iron nor coal have been worked, nor indeed are they known to exist in any great quantities, though abundant in the surrounding country.
Tigers of the Bengal species are common, and often commit considerable depredations on the flocks, and even carry off human beings. Bears, polecats, weasels, foxes, sables, wolves, wild boars, stags, antelopes, rabbits, hares, &c., abound; and horses, mules, asses, oxen, sheep, dogs, cats, and pigs—especially in the vicinity of the large maize distilleries—are common everywhere in the settlements. Trout, carp, perch, pike, eels, and salmon are plentiful in the rivers. The last named, indeed, is a common article of food among the natives, while their skins are prepared for summer clothing, and if properly dressed look very pretty.
Snakes and other reptiles are too common, and the insect swarms which fill the air are among the worst disagreeables of travel here, as well as along the valley of the Amoor further north and east.
Northern Mantchuria, Ho-lung-chiang, or Tsi-tsi-har, is a much less inviting country, and more thinly populated, though its area is 199,000 square miles. The only cultivated regions appear to be in the valley of the Nonni and along the banks of the Soongari. In the former district are situated the cities of Tsi-tsi-har (or Pu-kwhe) and Mergen, and in the latter the smaller town of Hu-lan, in addition to several villages. The other parts, though fine, are either covered with forests and not likely to be soon reclaimed, or left almost entirely in a state of nature, even when consisting of fine open valleys such as those we described in a former chapter (p. 8). In time the country may be settled up, for the soil is rich, and the cattle which in places dot the prairies afford evidences of the excellent pastures in which they wallow. Otherwise the remarks already made about Central Mantchuria may be said to apply generally to this part of the imperial "natal land.”
The region is well fitted for receiving the surplus population of China, especially of North China, but it is doubtful whether they will ever be able to people it rapidly enough, for the Russians are anxious to colonise their part of the valley of the Amoor, and though their success has not hitherto been great, any misfortune to the Chinese empire might be the signal for Sclav civilisation to find its way further cast, until the whole of Northern Mantchuria, and even of the central part of the country, met the fate of the greater part of the Amoor Valley. The Mantchus and the Mongols are sometimes confounded. In reality they are of different habits, though, in common with the Coreans, and perhaps the Tungoose, Goldi Giliaks (p. 7), Manguns, the Orokaps of Saghalin (Vol. IV., p. 319), and the Japanese, of one stock. But while the Mongols—as
has been very clearly explained by Mr. Meadows*—cast on the great plains of Asia were compelled to be nomadic, the Mantchus, more highly favoured, had in Mantchuria propert
a lind of mountains and fertile valleys, and so lived by hunting, fishing, and agriculture.
* See also, passim, Mr. Howorth's exhaustive “History of the Mongols ” (1877—80).
+ The present Mantchuria comprehends some country which, though beyond the great wall, and often politically separated from China, has from the earliest times been settled by Chinese agriculturists, traders, and artisans.
The Mantchus have always been a settled people. In ancient times they dwelt during the winter in caves excavated in the sides of dry banks, or in pits in the earth ; and in summer in huts formed of boughs, covered with bark or with long wild grass. From the earliest periods they have reared horses and oxen, but, unlike the Mongols, they have never had camels and sheep. On the other hand, they have been greater breeders of pigs, which fatten on the abundant mast shed by the great forests which cover so much of their country. The Mantchus approximate to Mongols in being hunters, but of a different kind of game, and have, in addition, always derived much of their sustenance from the numerous rivers which intersect their country. The vague term “ Tartar” is generally applied to the Mantchus, but if by “Tartar” is to be understood a nomadic race of herdsmen the term is a misnomer, for at the period when a lettered race came in contact with them they presented, according to Mr. Meadows, a close resemblance to the Red Indians of New England and Canada at the date of the discovery of America. They were divided into a number of tribes, but as from time to time one tribe gained the mastery over another, the vanguished tribe dropped its old name in favour of that of the victors, and thus it came to pass that before the Mantchus bore their present designation they were known by various other titles, landmarks of the progress of the conquering and absorbing characteristics of the people to whom they belong. In very early times, the Mantchus paid tribute to China, but growing powerful, and taking advantage of a corresponding weakness on the part of their more civilised neighbours, they began to assume the aggressive, until in 1618 they routed a great army of Chinese and Coreans sent against them. In 1644 the Ming dynasty was entirely displaced by the Tsing “pure,” or Mantchu emperors, who to this day reign with undisputed authority. Since that date Mantchus have, as might be expected, really ruled the country, and occupied most offices of profit and trust. But the “ Tartar” sway has not been an oppressive one; and while the Mantchus have conquered China, the Chinese have conquered the Tartars, by the victors having almost unconsciously imitated the customs of the vanquished, until at the present moment it is difficult to distinguish the one race from the other, except that the Mantchus are rather lighter in complexion than the Chinese, somewhat heavier built, possess more beard, and as a rule are more intellectual-looking in appearance (p. 72). They are also less under the control of the Buddhist priests than the Mongols, and pay more respect to literature. Take them as a whole, they may be considered the most improvable of all the Chinese people, and possibly present the best raw material on which civilisation and progress can work in Asia.*
The region of the Chinese Empire known under this name is not necessarily the country of the Mongols, for this enthnological term is, like the corresponding one of “Tartar,” used very loosely and comprehensively. Indeed, it corresponds in Blumenbach's classification of the human race to the Turanian of later writers, and includes not only
• Fleming: “Travels on Horseback in Mantchu Tartary” (1863); Gabelentz: "Eléméns de la Grammaire Mandchoue” (1833).
the Mongols proper, but the Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Tibetans, Tartars of many kinds, Siamese, Japanese, Burmese, Eskimo, Samoyedes, Finns, Lapps, Turks, and even Hungarians or Magyars—in fact, a heterogeneous collection of about half of the human race. But though collectively no people have played a more prominent part in the history of the world, the country of Mongolia proper is by no means an important region, nor are the nomadic hordes inhabiting it suggestive of the warrior scourges who, under Attila, crushed the Roman Empire, or under Genghis Khan and his successors formed the greatest empire the world ever saw. Mongolia, as defined by General Strachey, is the almost rainless region sloping in great grassy or stony plains towards the interior of the continent west of the Khinghan range of mountains. The sight of these monotonous tracts weary the eye, and, owing to the scanty pastures interspersed by deserts, are able to support but a thin population-estimated at 200,000—compared with their enormous extent, and that of a nomadic character, ever on the move in searchrof grass and water for their flocks of sheep and camels, and herds of horned cattle, and horses. In the eastern part of the country the tribes, owing to contact with the Chinese, are approximately civilised, but those in the western part of the region are so cruelly barbarous as to make the country, in spite of the travels of a few adventurous explorers,* to a great extent a terra incognita. In the summer the heat is great, and the winter colds correspondingly severe. Much of it, owing to the little rainfall, is a hard stony desert, with here and there areas of blown sand. Except on the slopes of the higher mountains bordering or intersecting it, on which the rain falls more plenteously, or where the melting snow supplies water for irrigation, there are not many towns or settled villages. In such localities there is a little cultivation and some trees, but beyond these oases all Mongolia presents few spots fitted for the abode of civilised man. The Mongols are very pious, and in each of their circular tents there is almost invariably an image of Buddha. Milk, cheese, and the flesh of their flocks is their usual food, and dried excrement their almost only fuel (pp. 72, 77, 81).
THE DESERT OF GOBI.
Shut in by the Yablonoi Mountains, the Thian-shan, the Tibetan plateau, and the Khinghan range—its eastern part almost coterminous with Southern Mongolia, and its western part merging into Eastern Turkestan—lies the great upland desert of Gobi.f It is a plateau of some 1,200,000 square miles, elevated between 2,000 and 6,000 feet above the sea, while there are mountain ridges which traverse this Central Asian wilderness reaching in some parts to 10,000 or 12,000 feet. It is Han-hai, or Dry Sea of the Chinese, a term which Richthofen has proposed to substitute for that ordinarily in use, in so far that it not only is suggestive of its present condition but of its former history. In reality it is the bed of an ancient sea, the shores of which can still be traced with more or less distinctness, and is divided into two great basins. The western of these is intersected by the great Tarim River, which is swollen by tributaries from
* Prejevalsky: “ Travels in Mongolia, translated by E. Delmar Morgan (1876), etc.
+ It is the Turki for “ great,” and, like the term “ Shamo,” sometimes used as a synonym of “Gobi,” is employed by the Chinese as a general term for any sandy desert.
the surrounding mountains, the course of which is as yet very imperfectly known, and which ends in an inland lake, now very generally believed to be the famous Lob-nor, whose identification has for so many centuries been one of the problems of Central Asiatic geography, Colonel Prejevalsky, to whom of late years almost our sole knowledge of this region is due, describes the country through which the Tarim flows as one of the wildest and most unfertile in all Asia.
. A sadder desert it would indeed be difficult to imagine. A meagre fringe of tamarisks and reeds line its shores, while away to the south-west stretch those drifting fields of sand which have immemorially given the country the evil reputation it so deservedly bears. On the banks, where a little moisture enables a scanty vegetation to settle, about 1,200 souls manage, by the rearing of cattle and the cultivation of a little wheat and barley, to exist. The people, who are all Mohammedans-of the Kara Kalmuk, Klioshot, and similar tribes-only came to the Lob country, as the district of the Lower Tarim is called, about 170 years ago.
But before these Kalmuk emigrants came there were aborigines in the district about whom very little is known, except that they are small black men, with long matted hair, who shun the society of the new comers, and delight to live with the wild beasts and the cattle in the thickets and brakes about the marshes. Even the villages of the new comers are only a collection of reed huts, and though the people live a little better since agriculture has been introduced among them, they still subsist chiefly on fish, and the produce of their flocks, and the chase. But the Ameer of Kashgar, who during the short-lived era of his kingdom claimed to be their ruler, never could get any tribute out of them, while it is not very likely that the Chinese will be any more successful now than they were in former times. Some of their customs are extremely peculiar, and well worthy the attention of ethnologists, though they are of such a nature as to render these pages not the proper place for introducing them to a non-scientific audience. At one time the population was much more numerous, but more than twenty years ago small-pox destroyed the majority of the inhabitants. The Lake swarms with fish, and its margins at seasons are noisy with wild fowl; and among the reeds the tiger, wolf, fox, wild boar, hare, and other animals prowl, affording abundance of food and sport to the inhabitant, whose thoughts seem never to soar much higher than the material wants of
At one time the wild camel was numerous near the Lob-nor, but at present its chief haunt is the desert of Kum-tagh, to the east of the Lake, though specimens are now and then come across in other districts. The eastern, or Shamo basin of the Gobi, is varied by no water-courses, but seems to consist of a series of terraces, giving the country, according to the observations of Mr. Ney Elias, the appearance of low hills or downs, with valleys and plains intervening, the whole of a rocky or stony nature rather than sandy, though patches of sand do occur at intervals. Vegetation is rare, and consists of weeds, scrub, and “heath,” with scarcely a blade of grass, “and only a dwarfed and stunted tree here and there in the gorges or passes of these low rocky ranges that at uncertain intervals cross the desert in almost parallel lines from east to west.” *
But it is not this part of the desert which is of the greatest interest-it is the region covered with the shifting sands towards the west, and regarding which for long there have
Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Vol. XLIII. (1873), p. 120; Richthofen: "China,” Vol. I. (1877)