« AnkstesnisTęsti »
entrance; but when the water is plentiful I was told that a small boat is used to take visitors farther into the depths. Passing the mouth of this cave is the road leading into the remoter valleys and thence into the next province. Half a mile to the east, around the shoulder of a projecting hill, is another “water cave" called the “Red Cave," and
“ so named from a perpendicular wall of reddish rock that rises above it. It is much higher up the hill than the other one, being at least two hundred feet from the base, and is in the form of a great spring welling up from an exhaustless reservoir in the heart of the hill, and pouring a constant stream down into the valleyThe brooks issuing from these two caves unite a short distance below and join the main stream at Sing-tsz. Following the base of the mountain barrier to the east ten miles further, we come to another of these streams flowing from a cave. A deep pool of bluish-green water spreads in front of the cave and effectually prevents an entrance, but far in the rocky bosom of the hill can be heard the dripping of the water as it forms the little stream that flows forth. The main branch of the river comes from the great waterfall, a fit beginning for the beautiful stream we have followed with such delight, while a fifth, but much smaller branch flows in from the south, the source of which I had not time to search out.
The country immediately around Sing-tsz is chiefly composed of low, barren hills; and presents a rather desolate aspect, but a few miles distant in any direction the higher mountains relieve the monotony. To the north stretches the Shun-t'au-ling, the “Gentle Head Ridge," from the base of which the“black" and "red" oaves send forth their perennial streams. It is a massive, but barren range, with scarcely a tree to be seen. To the east is the Fung-t'au-ling, the “Respectful Front Ridge" over which the portage road through a corner of Hunan, to the head waters of the north river, passes. It possesses more variety of form and more verdure than the other. These two ridges form the border between Canton and Hunan provinces. To the south of these is the remarkable ridge mentioned above, the Tai-pin-ling, the "Great Slice Ridge.” It is quite distinct from the others, being of a later and very different formation. From Sing-tsz we see only the western border of it, but it extends through the district of Ü-ün, IL , toward the north river, a region unexplored as yet, but one, unless I am greatly mistaken, wonderfully rich and varied in natural beauty and floral productions, and in the midst of which will be found the watershed of the Lien-chow stream on the west, and the Yeung-klai, 1., stream on the east.
From Sing-tsze we may follow the course of the main branch to the waterfall, a winding way through a fine farming country, and in
distance twelve or fifteen miles, or, a much better plan, we may take the path leading directly to it, the white sheet of its descending water streaming continually before us, marking the goal to be reached. It is a six-miles' walk to the foot of the fall. A turn in the road, however, shuts it out from view for a time just before we reach it, but the roar of the falling water guides us unerringly. When we reach the foot, there is a sense of disappointment. It does not look as it did when seen from a greater distance, nor is its height to be compared with what we had expected; but it is wonderful! It falls full fifty feet over a broad, sloping precipice of black rock in three main streams, one much larger than the others, into a deep circular pool a hundred yards in diameter and very deep. The water is almost ice cold. Thick inasses of tangled shrubbery, cover both sides of the vale through which it falls, an evergreen setting for this beautiful white gem. Under the shadow of high rocks on the south we rest on a cushion of leaves with our eyes fixed on the fascinating scene. What exquisite shapes the jets of falling water assume! How bewitching the changes they undergo from the brink to the deep green lake! As if flung by fairy hands, the water comes down like falling snow, or like the finest lace, or strings of pearls, or shining beads, but all the graceful images we can call up fail to express the endless variations and forms of beauty exhibited. Breaking the spell of the fair charmer at last, we arise and begin to ascend a path up the steep side of the southern wall, which has just attracted our attention. Climbing about two hundred feet up the slippery path, we reach an open space for observation, when a spectacle of wondrous beauty and grandeur combined bursts upon us. The sensations of that moment are not easily described, but are still less easily forgotten. The disappointment at sight of the lower fall only redoubles the joy now felt as the great main fall we had watched from the distance and lost, as we drew near, flashes upon us in all its splendor, as it dashes with thundering echoes into the narrow gorge. The lower fall could not be seen from a distance because of intervening hills, and owing to the peculiar shape of the hills through which the water pours, the main fall was invisible from the base, hence the illusion. From this point where the glory of the great fall dazzles our eyes it is still a quarter of a mile to its foot and the question is, how to reach it. Descending with difficulty the steep slope to the bed of the stream which flows from the main to the lower falls, down a most remarkable gorge in one succession of rapids, we start to pick our way toward the fall. The gorge is about twenty yards wide. Its sides are of solid rock-polished granite, and the course of the stream is filled with an astonishing accumulation of boulders, ten, twenty and some
of them thirty feet in diameter, worn smooth as glass by the action of the water. For a short distance all goes well, but soon unlooked-for difficulties arise. We must wade or retreat. We do not long hesitate, with the fall before us, now temporarily hidden by heaps of moundlike boulders, all thought of retreat is banished. Discarding shoes, we creep over the slippery rocks, narrowly escaping many a plunge into deep, cold pools, or foaming rapids ; wading at times waist deep through the rushing torrent, with a stout Chinese coolie acting as support, and in several places making a bridge of his back, when other expedients fail. At last the coveted position is reached and we sit on a great rock, under the magnificent cataract, the water falling three hundred feet in one grand plunge, breaking into crystal spray almost from the very top, falling in great folds of feathery whiteness, or like sheets of liquid silver sparkling with the lustre of innumerable diamonds. The sunlight through the scattering spray, casts rainbows upon the rocky side, some near the foot, others higher up, according to the position of the observer. No thought of food or fatigue can draw us away from such absorbing loveliness. It is only when the descending sun warns us that that fearful gorge must be re-traversed before darkness comes on, that we turn our backs upon the fall, and then frequent backward glances hold our willing feet. The question of return is even more difficult than was that of getting hither. It is simply impossible to retrace our steps by the way we came. No amount of caution can secure firm foot-hold for descent in many of the places we have come up. Some other way must be found. The northern wall is tried, but after ascending a few feet the glassy surface of the granite rocks affords not the slightest foot-hold. At last, after much searching a precarious foot-path, used by some fishermen, is found along the southern wall. Ascending some jutting rocks, we reach a narrow ledge in the steep wall, where, closely hugging the rock above we manage to creep along. At one point the path leads underneath a little fall, where, fortunately for us, the stream of water is small, so that we pass with only a mild shower-bath. At another point there is no path at all, only two small pine logs, tied to the roots of a little tree growing out of a crevice in the rock, with a sheer granite wall below for two hundred feet. It is a severe trial to the nerves. After surmounting some lesser difficulties we reach our first point of observation without mishap, and with mingled feelings of pleasure and regret begin to descend. Often in my dreams have I revisited the place, however, and found myself traveling along that perilous path. No more vivid or delightful picture lives in my memory to-day than that ever-falling, never-ceasing, endless volume of crystal pearl-drops
leaping in mad delight down that giddy height into the granite walled gorge below. Not the least wonderful thing about this gorge is the strange commingling of various kinds of rocks. White and red granite lie in great masses side by side, marble, limestone, sandstone and trap are thrown together in delightful confusion, showing the upheaval and admixture of the various strata to have been complete when this great ridge was formed. Above the main fall the water descends in rapids for some distance, so that the whole fall is probably not less than five hundred feet, the climax being reached in that tremendous plunge of three hundred feet. For those who do not feel inclined to try the passage up the gorge just described, there is another way. Half-amile to the north from the foot of the lower fall a good path ascends the hill, leading to the top of the upper fall. From a point on this path is gained the most comprehensive view of the falls where, without personal discomfort, they can be seen to admirable advantage. The stream that forms the fall comes from an extensive upland plain, which is filled with a vigorous, but rather turbulent population, and was the home, not many years ago, of organized companies of robbers, who went forth in strong bands to plunder the people of the lower plains, until the whole country-side rose in arms, and defeated them in their own strong-holds. On one occasion, as the people of this plain were celebrating the "dragon-boat” festival, one of the boats was drawn by the swift current into the rapids, where it was soon beyond control, and was swept over the precipice with the awful vortex of the falls, but one of the thirty-six men it contained escaping with his life.
Here, having reached the source of the Lien-chow stream, we debate the question of return. Two routes are open retrace our course down the river, taking a rapid review, as the swift current sweeps us along, past all the fine scenes we have examined more leisurely on the upward journey, or, leaving our boat, we can go overland to the head of the North River and thence to Canton. We choose the latter course, and crossing the dividing ridge into Hunan, we come, after two days' journey, to Ping-shek, 75, an important town and military station in the south-east corner of Hunan. It is sixty miles from Sing-tsz to this point, and the road passes through a very attractive country. For miles in succession the path leads through fine groves of camellia trees, which were covered with innumerable white flowers as we passed. From Ping-shek, F, onward the journey is by boat. Ten miles below that city we enter the Canton province again, at the head of the great pass which extends for thirty miles without a break. This pass is justly celebrated for its sublime and striking scenery. The high mountains on either side are covered
to their tops with a heavy growth of timber, the bark huts of the wood-men being the only buildings seen for miles at a time. The river through the pass is one succession of rapids of a startling character, swift and steep, with ugly rocks rising in their course. The shooting of these rapids is most exciting, the light, shell-like boats going down them like the wind, turning deftly aside from the great rock in the midst, the water lashing their sides, while they incline almost to an angle of forty-five degrees, in some of the steeper descents. We make no attempt to describe the wonders of this magnificent pass, which is unsurpassed by any in the province, but invite all to whom the journey is possible to visit it before they leave China, and store their minds with the images of beauty and sublimity, of majesty and power, which the sight of it is sure to impress.
OPIUM AND TRUTA.
BY J. DUDGEON, M.D. THE THE Nineteenth Century has opened its pages to an article on Opium
and Common Sense from our late minister to China. It seems to have been written to act as a brake to the wheels of the Anti-opium Society, which appears to be moving more rapidly onward than the Government like to note. The Marquis of Hartington's deliverance at Manchester is to be explained on the same principle. Dr. Birdwood (now Sir) a special assistant in the India office, London, writes a letter to the Times on the absolute innocuousness of opium, which no one, I feel sure, will endorse. The opposition that will be aroused to the latter effusion, will, I have no doubt, end in adding strength to the antiopium agitation and create still greater alarm in the enemy's camp; and Sir Rutherford Alcock's article will not be much against the truth, but rather for it, in the end, especially when taken in connection with his outspoken utterances against opium, when he was minister. Since then, and since this article was written, Sir Rutherford has lectured on the subject at the Society of Arts, and a good deal of controversy has, in consequence, been stirred up. Error and wrong, not truth, will suffer from agitating this dirty pool. Foreigners in China, living in foreign concessions apart by themselves, including our ministers, consuls and merchants see but comparatively little of Chinese private life and of the results of opium-smoking. The latter have their trade interests at stake, and self-interest is a wonderful blind to the evils of opium; the former, being government officials, are not expected to espouse the anti-opium cause and so tie the hands of the Executive. Each, however, in his own way can contribute his quota to the elucidation of the general subject, for the question is many-sided. But it is, after all, medical men, missionaries and travellers who are most competent to pronounce decidedly regarding many important points in