Puslapio vaizdai

a mark.* But let us suppose the individual planted in his 'literary apartment,' and observe the manner in which he wrestles with his exigency. Having collected his four treasures' he begins to compose-no, not yet, for beside the four, there is a fifth, without which the others are as useless as the trilobites-to wit, water. A receptacle must be found, water brought, a portion of the slab inundated, and then the writer is prepared-to get ready to begin. The ink must first be carefully triturated. (Imagine a housekeeper who is obliged to keep her guests waiting for dinner while she sends a bag of grain to the mill to be ground!) A foreign pen is thrust into its ink, as a bayonet stabs a foe-but not so a Chinese hair pencil, the delicate tip whereof, even with the most careful treatment, is perpetually coming to grief. It must be moistened by a dexterous manipulation, inducing a gentle and uniform capillary attraction of the ink. This successfully achieved, the writing begins. The matter of the communication itself, may be well or ill expressed, but its composition, notation, and dispatch has consumed time enough for the same operation to be performed by an Anglo-Saxon ten times over. In Western lands, a business man (whatever his education) seldom finds any difficulty either in understanding the business communications which he receives, or in making himself understood by

This helplessness of the traveller is brought out in a somewhat pathetic verse, written by Ch'in Sên (), an official of the T'ang Dynasty, who for some offense had been sent into the extreme west of the empire. On his journey, he meets a company on government service bound for the Capital (Ch'ang An E),

and wishes to send a letter but is unable. Here are the lines:





'On the great highway looking back to the east, far far from his native place, With his sleeves an old man wiped the tears as they trickled down his face; Imperial messengers there he meets-a party of cavalrymen,

"A letter I'd send," the old man cries, "but paper I lack, and a pen."'

[Of course he did, and nearly all Chinese have continued to lack them, from the Tang Dynasty down to date. If the old gentleman had told the whole truth, he would have stated that he also lacked, as mentioned above, the block of ink, and the ink-slab, but he could not conveniently put all that into the last half of one line, and brackets did not perhaps occur to him.] Finding he could not write a letter, he remarked: Well Gentlemen, I shall have to trouble you to take a verbal message, and say that I am contented and happy.' [This was not true, or else what was he crying about when they met? The message, however, was never delivered, or if it was, only in a very different shape from that in which it was sent or else the T'ang Dynasty people were much happier in the execution of such commissions than those of their descendants who are now alive.]

others.* Time is money. But in China time is not money, for everybody has abundance of time, while very few indeed have any money. The celerity with which a foreigner will dispatch a message, and get through a great amount of important business, is naturally a perpetual mystery and marvel to the Chinese. Hence it is not strange that a pair of exceptional characters, who were swift composers, rapid writers, and urgent executors of business, and who never kept anyone waiting, should stand out in Chinese history in as conspicuous relief as the Great Pyramid and the Sphiux upon the sandy plains of Egypt. No wonder, too, that they were denominated the Sea, and the Tide.]

(To be continued.)

ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. Supplementary Papers. Vol. I., Part 1. Travels and Researches in Western China.

By E. Colborne Baber. London. 1882. THIS is a most interesting book of travels, and from the large

number of things of great interest which are made known, it is very properly designated a volume of researches.” Its graphic pages bring before the mind of the captivated reader incidents not only of travel, beautiful natural scenery, notices of the customs and manners, folklore, agriculture and manufactures, bridges, monuments, temples, and images, but also notices of a hitherto unknown race of people with specimens of their written language. These various items are brought to the attention of the reader with all the interest and vividness of a moving panorama. The account here given makes it evident that Szechuen Province, which has been one of the last to be explored, is one of the most interesting as well as the largest of the Eighteen Provinces. It is to be regretted that the author was not permitted to bring out the work in the ordinary way and edited by himself; as then it would have had a much wider circulation.

The Province of Szechuen is well watered by numerous streams, which are to some extent navigable. While it has many mountain ranges, and is in most parts hilly and undulating, it has also many valleys of great fertility. It produces all the necessaries of life in great variety and abundance. It is but seldom liable to the

Witness, for example, the letter written by an illiterate ship.captain, who during

the existence of a war in South America, had been dispatched with a cargo to a port iu Peru. The owners received, in due time, to their intense mystification, the following laconic epistle: "Own to the blockhead the vig is spilt." Yet when deciphered, this proved to be a report of model lucidity and comprehensiveness : *Owing to the blockade, the voyage is spoilt.' No Chinese could have indited such a message.

calamity of famine. The population are generally comparatively well housed, clothed and fed. They are quiet and industrious. The fact that in many parts the people live in isolated houses instead of huddled together in villages for common safety shows that order and peace prevail. The appearance of the country is thus described :

As seen from the road, the land is rather sparsely wooded with bamboo, cypress, oak (Ch'ing-kang), and with the wide-branching banyan, the only use of which seems to be to afford its invaluable shade to wayfarers. Cultivation is everywhere dense; indeed with the exception of graves and the immediate neighborhood of houses, and Government works such as the ancient walls which here and there close the ap proach to a pass over the hills, and the few slopes which are too steep for agriculture, every spot of ground is tilled, and most of it terraced. Not much store is set by the wheat crop, the Ssu-ch'uanese being, at any rate in the southern districts, a rice eating people...... Famines of wide extent are not frequent in the province, but it is easy to gather from the gossip of the country people that local scarcity is neither unknown nor unexpected...... A little conversation with natives soon satisfies the traveller that Ssŭch'uan is practically a young province. They speak of K'ang Hsi and Kien Lung as monarchs of remote antiquity, and their chronology hardly reaches further back than the end of the Mings, about 1645. That the country was peopled, or more correctly speaking repeopled, in the early part of the present dynasty, is, however, an historical fact which does not require any additional proof. pp. 3, 4, 7.

It would appear that, during the anarchy and war connected with the accession of this dynasty, this province was nearly entirely denuded of its population. It manifests a wonderful facility of recuperation that the province is now so populous and wealthy.

At page 14 the author thus describes the method of getting the water from the salt wells :

Just as we sighted the city, I observed near the bank a bamboo tube supported vertically 10 feet above the ground by a light scaffolding and stays of rope. Several low buildings surrounded the construction, and on entering I saw a strip of bamboo 14 inch broad by inch thick, issuing rapidly from the earth through a hole, five inches broad, in a flag-stone. The bamboo strip, joined to other strips by lashing, passed over a roller, and on following it into a shed, I found it was being wound on a whim by a pair of buffaloes attached to the circumference. In a few minutes the connected strip, 260 feet long, had all issued from the hole, bringing up a bamboo pipe 50 feet long. When the bottom of the pipe rose clear of the ground a workman seized it, opened a valve in it, and several gallons of salt water shot out into a tub placed alongside. The end of the bamboo strip being fastened to the bottom of the pipe, or bucket, as it may be called, could not of course support it vertically after it had cleared the mouth of the well from which it had brought up the brine; but it was kept erect by its top entering the stout tube, or guide, which had first caught my eye.

The buffaloes were then ungeared, the bucket dropped of itself at a great pace to the bottom of the well, where the brine pressed open the valve and again filled the bucket; the buffaloes were reattached and revolved in their orbit, and so the method of working brine-wells in Ssă-ch'uan was made clear.

The brine runs from the tub through pipes of the unfailing bamboo into pans, from which the water is evaporated over coal-fires. The coal seemed very light, and is copiously watered to increase its effect. I could get nothing out of the valve. man, who was stone deaf, and little more out of the buffalo-driver, in consequence of the noise of the revolving whim; but in the evening we found a merchant of Neichiang, who owned a well at the great salt-works of Tzu-liu-ching, a long day's journey S.W. of this, who talked freely about his property and the method of working it. The merchant bewailed the great expense he was put to for buffaloes; he keeps two hundred, costing about Tls. 40 (say £12) a head. The Tzu-liu-ching wells are worked at high pressure, the buffaloes being driven round at the best speed that can

be got out of them......The buffaloes suffer severely from the hot atmosphere and the unnatural haste......Consequently the beasts die off rapidly...

Probably there is no Chinese industry to which steam-power could be applied with more immediate and obvious advantage, than to the raising of brine from these. wells. Those which I saw at Nei-chiang are not more than 300 feet deep, but at Tzu-liu-ching some are bored to more than 2000 feet. The gear which connects the revolving drum with the wheel over the well's mouth does not multiply speed, so that the buffaloes have to run the same distance as the depth of the well; hence they have to be driven fast to obtain a remunerative output, and "it is the pace that kills." Some adjustment by which they could pull harder, but travel slower, would be an advantage to all parties, but in any case the buffalo is very ill-suited to such work. The substitution of steam- for beef-power would not diminish the need for human labor; a man at the valve and another in the stable, with a boy to guide the buffaloes are all that the present system requires for the mere raising of the brine, and as many, or more, would be employed if steam-power were used, while the greatly increased outflow of brine would afford occupation for more hands in the evaporating-shed. At Tzu-liu-ching the boilers could be heated by gas, the fuel by which the evaporation is effected. pp. 15, 16.

In a temple where he lodged for a night, Mr. Baber met with an unusual incident which he relates as follows:

Pai Fo Ssu-" white Buddha shrine "-a temple 20 miles, or less, distant from Tzu-chou, received us for the night, and turned out to be a place of unusual interest. Vague accounts have from time to time been published of a Chinese sect who worship a deity called Tamo and regard the cross as a religious symbol, a story which has led the Roman Catholic missionaries to identify Tamo with St. Thomas, and to accept as proved the tradition that the Apostle visited China. On the other hand, the Tamo of Buddhism is, if I am not mistaken, a well-authenticated patriarch who came to China in the sixth century. It was, therefore, very curious to discover in this temple a graven image of the apostle, whether of Christianity or Buddhism, depicting him with very marked Hindu features, a black complexion, and with a Latin cross on his breast. I append a rough sketch of the symbol, which in the original is carved in relief and coloured red. Images of Tamo are numerous in Ssu-ch'uan temples, and he is nearly always-I think I may venture to say always-represented with black or very dark features. I have never heard of any other case of a cross being attached to his effigy. page 18.

At page 19, Mr. Baber asks a question on a very common thing, which perhaps some of our readers can explain. He asks::

What is the meaning of the two masts which are set up beside the door of every official residence in China? They are generally assumed to be flagstaves, but I have never seen a flag exhibited, and they are unprovided with halliards. And what is the purpose of the transfixed piece which these poles carry? It is imagined to be a "top"-like the "main top" or "fore top"-but it has no such use, and is altogether too frail; moreover, there may be one, two, or three tops, according to the rank of the resident official, without any relation to the height or structure of the mast. The supposed top is named by the Chinese tou, meaning a bushel, a measure of grain, where the allusion to fertility is obvious." page 19.

Our author notices the change in the form and appearance of that common feature of the Chinese landscape, the pagoda, which occurs in different parts of China in the following passage:

[ocr errors]

"As one journeys across China the gradual change in style of these picturesque towers is very striking. In the typical pagoda of the south-eastern provinces the successive stages decrease both in height and diameter; but as the Ssu-ch'uan border is passed cases begin to occur in which the fifth or sixth stories are of the same breadth, or as it seems, of even a greater breadth, than the base, so that the outline of a side of the building, that is to say its profile, resembles the arc of a bent bow when held with the string vertical. Still further west, as in the country we have reached, the old pagodas are square, and their upper stages are generally of very little height. In this Chien Chou pagoda each of the four faces are slightly concave; it is built of chunamed brick; the stories have imitation doors and round windows, and the cornices which

divide story from story are not prominent, so that were it not for the suddenly pointed summit it might almost be taken for an English church-tower. It is very unlike the common idea of a pagoda, and yet it is a most authentic pagoda and a very old one, for high up on its eastern face, above a bas-relief of Buddha, is the inscription "Shih-kia-mu-ni Shê-li pao-t'a (Buddha Shê-li Pagoda). What is Shê-li? I appealed to the attendant priest, who is attached to the place, for information. “A Shê-li" he replied, is a particle of the essence of Buddha, having no special shape, color, or substance, but in general it is a minute speck resembling a morsel of crystal, and giving off intense light. Its size may however change infinitely, and it is impossible to set limits to it. An iron chest cannot confine it in the custody of unbelievers, and its radiance on occasion pierces everything, so that there is no concealing it." Much more such like definition was offered me, which might have been credible if one could have understood it. But I have a reminiscence which almost amounts to a sure recollection that Shê-li is a transliteration of some Sancrit word meaning relic in which case the inscription indicates that the pagoda contains a relic of Buddha, doubtless a particle of his ashes brought from India by a pilgrim. The extant journals of Fahsien, Hsuan-chuang, and others show that one purpose of their visits to India was to obtain relics (probably the term they employ is Shè-li, but I have no opportunity of examining any of their accounts) and here is a fairly authentic instance of the way in which they disposed of their collections.

Eight of the thirteen stories of this pagoda are ascended by an interior stair case, the walls of which are painted throughout with pictures of Buddhist saints and worthies much in the style of the ruined Burmese temples at Pagán. The priest had no knowledge of the date of the building, and affirmed that there was no means of knowing it. I inquired somewhat deeply into this question, even sending to the prefect of the city to ask his opinion, but he replied that the date could not be ascer tained. He himself evidently took no superficial interest in the antiquities of his jurisdiction, for he sent me a rubbing of an inscription which I met with on a singular object lying in the court below the pagoda. page 21.

Greatly to our regret the author gives us no description of Ch'êng-tu, the provincial capital, but the following statements in regard to it will be read with interest:

[ocr errors]

Ch'êng-tu, which we reached on the 20th, is about 15 miles from the foot of the range. Enough has been written about it by previous visitors to render any description of mine, superficial as it would be, unnecessary. To the traveller who could afford sufficient time to examine leisurely its antiquities and temples it would assuredly afford results of great interest. It is one of the largest of Chinese cities, having a circuit of about 12 miles, and although it contains a good many open spaces and temples with attached grounds, it may be considered well populated. The census of 1877 returned the number of families at about 70,000, and the total population at 330,000-190,000 being males and 140,000 females; but probably the extensive suburb was not included in the enumeration. Perhaps 350,000 would be a fair total estimate. Its principal trade is in the numerous wild products of Tibet and Koko-nor-furs, rhubarb, musk, medicines, &c., which it purchases with the tea, silk, and cotton-cloth of Ssŭ-chu'an. All Tibetan countries are more or less directly administered or coerced from Ch'eng. tu by the Governor-General; and even distant Nepaul, known colloquially to the Ssu-chu'anese as the country of the "Pi-pêng," sends a decennial mission of tribute, which is permitted or forbidden to proceed to Peking much at the Governor-General's discretion. It is no doubt owing to its proximity to the frontier that the city is provided with a Tartar garrison, now become undistinguishable from the indigenous citizens. The fiction of a difference of language is, however, maintained, as may be noticed in the case of shop-signs, many of which are still written in Manchu. Ch'êngtu claims an historical celebrity as having been the capital of the famous Liu-pei, and some vestiges of the palace which he built about 222 A.D. are said still to exist on the site of the present Examination Hall. page 26.

But the most interesting part of the book is the description of Mount Omi, and its temples and curiosities. Travelling by a river he arrived at Chia-ting Fu city, which is about 100 miles from the capital. After travelling some distance by land he passed the night

« AnkstesnisTęsti »