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of cotton, which is always at its best in plains by the sea. In addition to the staples of rice and wheat (this latter now largely supplanted by the poppy) the land is gay with crops of beans, barley, maize, buckwheat, pulse, sorghum, ground-nuts, rape, the sugar cane, hemp, potatoes (sweet and ordinary), the tobacco plant, and the mulberry. A scientific rotation of crops, and the conscientious returning to the soil of the residue of all that is taken from it, explains the exceptional fertility. No sooner is one crop maturing than preparations are made for another, the new crop being often planted in the rows between the ripe crop yet unreaped. Groves of trees, evergreen and deciduous, surround the farmsteads which are here scattered all over the country at 100 or 200 yards' distance from each other, and are not so much grouped in villages for mutual protection as in the less favoured regions in the outer world beyond the mountains. Unlike the Japanese, in this utilitarian land a thrifty people grow trees for profit rather than ornament, and except the banyans (Hoang-ko) round the numerous shrines and sheltering the interminable succession of tea and rest-houses which line the chief highways, the groves have all an industrial value. The bamboo, which is to the sub-tropical regions what the palm family is to the inhabitants of the tropics,-food, shelter and raiment,-frames every village prospect with its graceful feathery verdure. On the higher slopes stand glorious woods of walnut and chestnut, while the bottoms are lined with the bright green mulberry and the delicately tinted tallow tree. The wood-oil tree and the varnish-tree yield valuable products in universal demand for home consumption, and furnishing a surplus for export as well. Sericulture is universal in Szechuen, and all but the very poor dress in silk. Every household breeds its silkworms, which are fed not alone on the mulberry leaf but also on the leaves of the oak and of the Cudrania triloba: the women even go so far as to hatch the eggs in their bosoms. The district of Ya-chow supplies Thibet with the greater part of its brick tea, the quantity sent by the road of Ta-chien lu being valued at about 200,0001, annually. Another most interesting produce of these parts, and which has been carefully examined into and minutely described by Mr. Hosie in his reports to the Foreign Office, is the insect wax—the Pai-la or white wax of commerce. The insect producing this wax is bred in a valley situated 5000 feet above sea-level among the mountains in the south-west corner of Szechuen, which drive the Yangtse to make its great southern bend, in latitude 28°. The larvæ of this insect (Coccus Pai-la of Wedgewood) are here found on the large-leaved privet (Ligustrum lucidum) living in
pea-shaped pea-shaped excrescences or scales: these are easily detachable, and in the end of April they are gathered from the trees and collected in the town of Teb-chang, situated in latitude 27° 24', on the right bank of the Anning river.
Mr. Hosie in his book, which will always be a valuable compendium for reference on the subject, goes on to tell us :
• To this town (Teh-ch'ang) porters from Chia-ting annually resort in great numbers—in former years they are said to have numbered as many as 10,000—to carry the scales across the mountains to Chia-ting. The scales are made
paper packets, each weighing about sixteen ounces, and a load usually consists of about sixty packets. Great care has to be taken in the transit of the scales. The porters between the Chien-ch’ang valley and Chia-ting travel only during the night, for at the season of transit the temperature is already high during the day, and would tend to the rapid development of the insects and their escape from the scales. At their resting-places, the porters open and spread out the packets in cool places. Notwithstanding all these precautions, however, each packet, on arrival at Chia-ting, is found to be more than an ounce lighter than when it started from Chien-ch’ang. In years of plenty, a pound of scales laid down in Chia-ting costs about half-a-crown; but in years of scarcity, such as last year, when only a thousand loads are said to have reached Chia-ting from Chien-ch'ang, the price is doubled.
• In favourable years, a pound of Chien-ch'ang scales is calculated to produce from four to five pounds of wax; in bad years, little more than a pound may be expected, so that, taken as a whole, white-wax culture has in it a considerable element of risk.
West from the right bank of the Min river, on which the city of Chia-ting lies, stretches a plain to the foot of the sacred O-mei range of mountains. This plain, which runs south to the left bank of the Ta-tu river, which forms the northern boundary of the Chien-ch’ang valley farther west, is an immense rice-field, being well watered by streams from the western mountains. Almost every plot of ground on this plain, as well as the bases of the mountains, are thickly edged with stumps, varying from three or four feet to a dozen feet in height, with numerous sprouts rising from their guarled heads. These stumps resemble, at a distance, our own pollard willows. The leaves spring in pairs from the branches. They are light green, ovate, pointed, serrated, and deciduous. In June 1884, when I visited this part of the country, some of the trees were bearing bunches apparently of fruit in small pods; but as no flowering specimens were then procurable, there still exists a little uncertainty as to this tree. I am informed, however, that it is, in all probability, the Fraxinus Chinensis, a species of ash. The tree is known to the Chinese as the Pai-la shu, or " white-wax tree.”
• The wax first appears as a white coating on the under sides of the boughs and twigs, and resembles very much sulphate of quinine,
or a covering of snow. It gradually spreads over the whole branch, and attains, after three months, a thickness of about a quarter of an inch.'
Mr. Hosie does not fully explain why the tree which produces the insect, and the tree upon which the insect deposits its wax, should not be cultivated in closer proximity. No other people but the Chinese would incur the labour and risk of transporting insects a distance of 200 miles on men's backs, and by night, for such an object. The melting-point of this insect wax being 160° Fahrenheit while the animal tallow melts at 95°, explains the great value placed upon this production in a land where (the treaty ports always excepted) gas and electric lighting are unknown. The Chinese dips' with their clumsy rush wicks, give little light, but they have one virtue, that they will burn in the open air without guttering, and it requires a gale to extinguish them. This virtue is due to their outer coating of insect wax, and accounts for its former value of 5007. per ton. Of late
Of late years, however, the competition of cheap petroleum from America has largely reduced the consumption of candles in China; and where these were formerly burnt in every bouse, their use is now mainly confined to the handy varnished-paper lanterns, which the condition of Chinese streets renders absolutely indispensable to all, rich or poor, who venture out after dusk. The price of insect wax has now fallen to 2001. per ton, and the import into Shanghai from Szechuen last year was only 500 tons, valued at 100,0001.
Fences are rare in China, and so valuable is the land in Szechuen that each farmer plants his ground close up to his neighbour's boundary, with no intervening division. The roads were all narrow enough when originally laid out, but we have seen, in places away from the main arteries of commerce, raised footpaths between the paddy fields cut down by the greed of the cultivators of the land adjoining to a width of five or six inches : and a considerable traffic was going on along these paths, even not excluding an occasional sedan chair. Το protect their crops from the ravages of the passing pack animals, the farmers along the borders of the roads scatter feathers in amongst the growing plants. The Chinese agriculturist neglects nothing : of the poppy, which now apparently replaces all other winter crops,
Mr. Little tells us :If it were forbidden to collect the drug, his winter poppy would still pay the farmer by its other products, such as the oil produced from the seed; the lye, used in dyeing, produced from the ash of the stalk, and the heavy crop of leaves which goes to feed the pigs, which every Chinaman keeps. Nor, with the Chinese
system of applying all the town manure to the fields, does the crop exhaust the ground or render the summer crop of maize any less prolific.
We see that the Chinaman has long ago forestalled us in his attention to by-products, which in this country have only begun to be properly cared for quite recently. Britain would support double its present population upon our actual resources, if every inhabitant were as thrifty as are the Chinese, both rich and poor, and its agriculturists as well informed in their own special department and as minutely painstaking.
A very fine tobacco grows largely in Szechuen, where alone it is smoked in cigar form. The Ramie fibre is widely cultivated for the manufacture of grass-cloth, that indispensable material of the well-to-do Chinaman's elegant and appropriate summer clothing, and the Fatsia papyrifera is planted for its pith, out of which deft Chinese fingers cut the thin sheets miscalled rice paper. Dye plants are less widely sown than formerly: the brilliant yet, at the same time, soothing colours of nature safflower, indigo, madder-are giving place to the glaring products of chemical ingenuity. Aniline dyes are fast ruining Oriental art, and it is a question whether all the good we have given to Asia by our intercourse is not counterbalanced by the destruction of the old artistic feeling, which permeates all its productions, the commonest household utensil as well as the finest fabric, and the most precious curio' of China and Japan.
Pisciculture has from time immemorial occupied the Chinese, and most successful they are in entrapping the spawn in the rivers in spring-time and transporting it to inland fish-ponds. In Hupeh in the month of May row upon row of fine meshed fishing nets stretched on small square bamboo frames are seen floating in the muddy stream of the Yangtse in which the ova collect: these are afterwards taken out and placed in large earthenware jars, and as soon as the shoals of minute young fish appear, they are transported to inland towns and villages for deposition in the local fish-ponds. On their long journey by land and water, often extending over several weeks, the fishlets are fed from time to time with yolk of egg. We have seen many of the final homes of these fish far away in the hill country, hundreds of miles from the river of their birth. In the enclosed courtyard, which forms the entrance of every decent house in China, a square stone-walled basin is let into the ground, atrium fashion, and in this the fish disport themselves ready to the hand of the cook, whose cheerful workshop frequently forms one side of the entrance yard. A small conduit of clear running water from the neighbouring mountain stream
is conveyed into the basin under the enclosing wall at one corner and makes its exit by another. A small village is often composed of a double row of such houses, each with its private reservoir served from the common stream. In Szechuen even the shallow stagnant water of the paddy-fields is utilized for pisciculture, and the land not only produces the Chinese staff of life, rice, but the staple next in importance in their diet, fish. In the early spring, reeds and rank grass are cut from the hill-sides, made up into bundles, then strung on bamboos and laid down in the shallow water in the Yangtse weighted with stones. Here the fish spawn and the ova adhere to the grass and reeds, which are then taken
and sown. is afterwards scattered in the terraced fields, running water being carried down from field to field by small cuts in the dividing earth banks, each of which can be readily plugged with mud, and the circulation arrested or re-opened as occasion requires.
Salt, produced from brine evaporated over natural fire wells, silk, opium, and drugs, form the staple exports to the East. Mr. Little tells us of the inexhaustible supply of drugs, huge junk-loads of which are despatched from Chungking throughout the season, to enrich the drug stores and destroy the stomachs of their customers, the dyspeptic well-to-do classes :' and of the principal street of Chungking he tells us, “The whole air is redolent with the heavy fragance of Chinese medicines, a mélange apparently of rhubarb, liquorice-root, orris-root, lovage (Radix levistici), and musk.' The Chinese, wisely or unwisely, imbibe their medicines in the form of tisanes, and a prescription made up at one of the chemists' shops requires a special porter to transport it. The movement of drugs in bulk, many valuable, some purely fanciful, is a conspicuous feature in the goods traffic from the West, and a large proportion of the freights in the river steamers trading to Ichang is derived from the cumbrous bales in which they are packed for transport.
Of the opium cultivation, in speaking of the endless stretch of country now devoted to this enervating drug, he tells us, writing of his journey in the month of April : The whole Pong valley was beautifully cultivated, exclusively with poppy; the brilliant dark green of the plant, sprinkled with the white flowers, giving the hills the appearance in the distance of being covered with rich pasture, from which the sun had not yet dissipated the morning dews.'
The value of the opium produced in Western China is (no statistics being available) generally believed to be fully equal to that of the foreign import from Persia and India, say 8,000,0001. ; the quantity of native-grown, which fetches only