Three Years' Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China ; including a Visit to the Tea, Silk, and Cotton Countries: with an Account of the Agriculture al d Hor- ticulture of the Chinese, New Plants. &c. By Robert Fortune, Botanical Collector to the Horticultural Society of London. With Illustrations Murray. BIOGRAPHY,
Memoir of William Knibb, Missionary in Jamaica. By John Howard Hinton, M.A.
GEOLOGY, Houiston and &mamma . The Ancient World ; or Picturesque Sketches of Creation. By D. T. Anted, M.A., F.R.S., F.G.S.; Professor of Geology in King's College, London, &c. &c.
FORTUNE'S WANDERINGS IN CHINA.
AT the close of the Chinese war, Mr. Fortune obtained the appointment of Botanical Collector to the Horticultural Society; and he reached Hong- kong in the summer of 1843. Thence he proceeded, at various times during his three years wanderings, to Amoy, Chusan, Ning-po, Shanghae, Soo-chow, and Foo-chow-foo ; residing for some time at each city, visit- ing the owners of gardens and the professional nurserymen, besides ex- ploring the country in the vicinity of the towns. In places where our troops happened to be stationed there was little or no difficulty in doing this ; the understanding being, that the limit should be a day's trip— that, starting in the morning, the excursionist must be back by night. To visit Soo-chow, however, Mr. Fortune had to disguise himself as a Chinaman ; and he felt at ease when the Celestial dogs, who bark at the Barbarians, did not penetrate the masquerade. On some other occasions he broke bounds in European costume; but Chinese good-nature and Mandarin diplomacy, with a little truly British confidence, got him through his straits. The only time he was ever greatly inconvenienced was at Canton. Presuming upon the freedom he had enjoyed in the Northern cities, Mr. Fortune considered himself safe in a place that had so long been honoured by the residence of " Companee" and other fo- reigners : but he found out his error, by being mobbed, and robbed, and " chevied" into town, with his clothes in tatters and his hat missing.
The wild plants of the district, the systems of agriculture and horti- culture, with the effects produced on the vegetable world by the farmer's cultivation and the gardener's art, were the points to which the traveller's attention was primarily directed. Upon these subjects Mr. Fortune has collected a good deal of information, valuable because precise. His accounts of the tea, cotton, and rice cultivation—of the skilful economy of space in Chinese gardening, and of the patient art by which strange effects are produced upon plants—if not absolutely new, have that value which arises from a learned account in opposition to a merely popular description. Botany, however, did more for Mr. Fortune than give him a distinct pursuit ; it compelled him to remain stationary in a place, and to mingle with the people. His excursions in search of wild plants carried him among the peasantry ; his taste for the rare and curious in- troduced him to the connoisseurs—the necessity of purchases, to the pro- fessional gardeners. In any country this would give better opportuni- ties of observation, to a man competent to make use of them, than a mere pleasure-tour. In China it was perhaps the best means of making an acquaintance with the people ; while the frequent precautions requisite to avoid the Celestial "rules and regulations" occasionally involved man- agement and disguises that gave rise to little adventures. Mr. Fortune is also a good traveller and a sensible man, with the adaptability of a
citizen of the world. He has a plain, clear, and sufficiently lively style ; not vigorous or artistical enough to have endowed worn subjects with novelty, but better fitted than greater literary skill to describe so fresh a field as China really is, especially when examined under our tra- veller's circumstances.
Mr. Fortune states that his general conclusions are opposed to the usual opinion entertained of the civilization, population, skill, and learn- ing of the Chinese. If he alludes to the notions of the French philoso- phers of the last century, originally founded upon the reports of the Jesuits, but exaggerated by the Encyclopaedists in their crusade against their own religious, moral, and social systems, his opinion is correct. But, we think, more sober views are now almost universally enter- tained, even touching the paternal benevolence of the Emperor and the reverence shown and promotion given to learned men. If we con- sider the subject in this light, the particular facts which Mr. Fortune adduces seem to support this opinion and overthrow his own general conclusions. He paints the Chinese as a people of great industry, intel- ligence, patience, and practical skill in all the arts of life exercised by them as necessary to their condition. Their machines are of great simplicity, yet fully accomplishing the end in view; much better, indeed, than more complicated implements, which Europeans have attempted to introduce ; and in some cases their simplicity is perfection for their purpose. In his own pursuit, where he naturally looked with a critical eye, Mr. Fortune does them ample justice in his instances. He expatiates upon the skill of the gardeners in general cultivation, and in controlling nature to produce the " dwarf" monstrosities fashionable in China. He considers the practice of manuring as applied by the Chinese better for their objects than that in general or even in scientific practice in Britain; he praises their terrace cultivation; and a common gardener surprised him by an exercise of the irrigating art, though he had seen the skill of the Chinese in its practice. " Rice is grown on the lower terrace ground; and a stream of water is always led from some ravine and made to flow across the sides of the hills, until it reaches the highest terrace, into which it flows, and floods the whole of the level space. When the water rises three or four inches in height, which is sufficiently
high for the rice, it finds vent at an opening made for the purpose in the bank, through which it flows into the terrace below, which it floods in the same man-
ner; and so on to the lowest. In this way the whole of the rice terraces are kept continually flooded, until the stalks of the crops assume a yellow ripening hue; when the water being no longer required% it is turned back into its natural chan- nel, or led to a different part of the lull, for the nourishment of other crops. These mountain streams, which abound in all parts of the hilly districts, are of the greatest importance to the farmer; and as they generally spring from a high elevation in the ravines, they can be conducted at pleasure over all the lower parts of the hills. No operation in agriculture gives him and his labourers more plea- sure than leading these streams of water from one place to another and making them subservient to their purwses. In my travels in the country the inhabitants often called my attention to this branch of their operations; and I pleased them much when I expressed my admiration at the skill with which they executed it. The practice is not confined to the paddy-fields; for I remember once, when impenntending the planting of some large trees and shrubs in the garden of Messrs. Dent and Co. in Hong-kong, after I had given them a large supply of water at the time they were put into the ground, I desired the gardener to repeat the dose next morning. But on the following day, when I returned to the spot, I was surprised to find a little stream divided into many branches, and meandering among the roots of the newly-planted trees. As there was no stream there be- fore, I went up to examine its source, and found that it had been led from a neigh bouring ravine; a work more easy than carrying a large supply of water in buckets, and at the same time more effectual."
Mr. Fortune considers the country not so densely peopled as it has been said to be, and the whole of the land not under cultivation. The character he gives of the soil, in the districts he instances, seems a sufficient explanation of his remark. The Chinese are a practical race, and, not being indoctrinated with the theory of a " peasant proprietary," (though extensively exemplifying it,) think emigration better than profitless culti- vation. In all the luxurious arts of manufacture they excel—in porce- lain, in silks, in embroidery; their mountain-chairs, in which our author travelled, are admirably adapted to the purposes of riders and bearers ; they have banks and a paper issue that would gladden the heart of a Currency-doctor—at least in the smallness of the sums for which the notes are issued ; the density of houses and people in the cities and on the city waters, Mr. Fortune admits, is wonderful, as well as the regularity of their floating streets; their thieves are very skilful,—as he learned on his visit to Soo-chow, when they entered his cabin by the window, rifled it of everything while he slept, and then cut his boat adrift, so that be could not move next morning till his servant bought him a new suit. They have restaurants worthy of Paris, baths that might vie with those of ancient Rome ; and they indulge a tasteful sentiment for the dead, of which they have not been suspected. Behold the proofs from Mr. For- tune's own pen.
LIVING AT SRANGHAE.
Articles of food form of course the most extensive trade of all; and it is some- times a difficult matter to get through the streets for the immense quantities of fish, pork, fruit, and vegetables, which crowd the stands in front of the shops. Besides the more common kind of vegetables, the shepherds' purse, and a kind of trefoil or clover, are extensively used among the natives here; and really these things, when properly cooked, more particularly the latter, are not bad. Dining- rooms, tea-houses, and bakers' shops, are met with at every step, from the poor man who carries his kitchen or bakehouse upon his back, and beats upon a piece of bamboo to apprise the neighbourhood of his presence, and whose whole esta- blishment is not worth a dollar, to the most extensive tavern or tea-garden crowded with hundreds of customers. For a few cash (1,000 or 1,200 -= one dollar) a Chinese can dine in a sumptuous manner upon his rice, fish, vegetables, and tea; and I fully believe that in no country in the world is there less real misery and want than in China. The very beggars seem a kind of jolly crew, and are kindly treated by the inhabitants.
In the town of Shanp,hae, as well as in many other large Chinese towns, there are a number of public hot water bathing establishments; which must be of great importance as regards the health and comfort of the natives. I will describe one which I passed daily during my residence in ShangErae. There are two outer rooms used for undressing and dressing: the first and largest is for the poorer classes; the second, for those who consider themselves more respectable, and who wish to be more private. As you eater the largest of these rooms, a placard which is hung near the door informs you what the charges are; and a man stands there to receive the money on entrance. Arranged in rows down the middle and round the sides of both rooms, are a number of small boxes or lockers, furnished with lock and key, into which the visitors put their clothes, and where they can make sure of finding them when they return from the bething-room; which is entered by a small door at the farther end of the building, and is about thirty feet long and twenty feet wide; the water occupying the whole space, except a narrow path round the sides. The water is from one foot to eighteen inches deep; and the sides of the bath are lined with marble slabs, from which the bathers step into the water, and on which they sit mei wash themselves: the fur- nace is placed oa the outside, and the flats are carried below the centre of the bath.
In the afternoon and evening this establishment is crowded with visiters; and on entering the bath-room, the first impression is almost insupportable: the hot steam or vapour meets you at the door, filling the eyes and ears, and causing per- spiration to run from every pore of the body; it almost darkens the place; and the Chinamen seen in this imperfect light, with their brown skins and long tails, sporting amongst Ile water, render the scene a most ludicrous one to an Eng- lishman.
Those visitors who use the common room pay only six copper cash; the others pay eighteen, but they have in addition a cup of tea and a pipe of tobacco from the proprietors. I may mention that one hundred copper cash amount to about 44a. of our money; so that the first class enjoy a hot water bath for about one far and the other a bath, a private room, a cup of tea, and a pipe of to- bacco, for something less than one penny
The flowers which the Chinese plant on or among the tombs are simple and beautiful in their kind. No expensive camellias, montane, or other of the finer ornaments of the garden, are chosen for this purpose. Sometimes the conical mound of earth—when the grave is of this kind—is crowned with a large plant of fine, tall, waving grass; at Ding-po wild roses are planted, which soon spread themselves over the grave, and, when their flowers expand in spring, cover it with a sheet of pure white. At Shangbae, a pretty bulbous plant, a species of Lycoris, covers the graves in autumn with masses of brilliant purple. When I first discovered the Anemone Japonica, it was in full flower amongst the graves of the natives, which are round the ramparts of Shanghae: it blooms in Novem- ber, when other flowers have gone by, and is a most appropriate ornament to the last resting-places of the dead.
In some of the arts of comfort the Chinese may seem inferior to us : but what were we a century ago ? what is the greater part of Europe now ? And perhaps in China it is only a difference in mode : the houses admit the wind and weather, but no building would meet the rapid changes of temperature in the way the Celestial does.
DRESS/NG FOR COLD: NINO-PO.
As the winter approached the weather became extremely cold; and in December and January the ice on the ponds and canals was of considerable thickness. The most attractive shops in the city now were the different clothing establishments, where all articles of wearing apparel were lined with skins of various kinds, many of them of the most costly description. The very poorest Chinese has always a warm jacket or cloak lined with sheep-skin, or padded with cotton, for the winter; and they cannot imagine how the Europeans can exist with the thin clothing they generally go about in. When the weather was cold, I used always to wear a stout warm greatcoat above my other dress; and yet the Chinese were continually feel- ing the thickness of my clothes, and telling me that surely I must feel cold. Their mode of keeping themselves comfortable in winter differs entirely from ours: they rarely or never think of using fires in their rooms for this purpose, but as the cold increases they just put on another jacket or two, until they feel that the warmth of their bodies is not carried off faster than it is generated. As the raw damp cold of morning gives way to the genial rays of noon, the upper coats are one by one thrown off; until evening, when they are again pat on. In the spring months, the upper garments are cast off by degrees; and when the summer arrives, the Chinese are found clad in thin dresses of cotton, or in the grass cloth manUfac- hired in the country.
Of the domestic affection and fitmily kindness of the Chinese Mr. Fortune gives a pleasing account; and he inclines to a higher estimate of their honesty than general opinion and his own experience might support, when the people are really got at uncorrupted by foreign traders and the rabble of great towns. Of their devotional feeling he speaks in much higher terms than any one has yet done ; but perhaps it is rather reverential than devout. His erroneous general estimate—if erroneous it is—has arisen from judging the Chinese too much by an English standard ; for- getting for how short a time we have been in our present highly ad- vanced state, and what a distance some parts of Europe, even now, are behind the Celestials. This supposed error, however, is no drawbitek; for the facts are always at hand to test or correct the conclusion. Wan- derings ins Chinn is a good book, at once interesting and informing: but we have yet a great deal to learn of the social and economical condition of the Chinese, putting the more refined subjects of art, literature, &e., out of the question.