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Province Of Kiangsu

( Originally Published 1910 )

Nanking—Shanghai—The Yang-tse Kiang—The Yellow River

BORDERING on the sea, traversed by the Grand Canal and the Yang-tse Kiang, the chief river of the Empire, rich in agriculture, fisheries, and commerce, Kiangsu is the undisputed queen of the eighteen provinces. In 1905 it was represented to the throne as too heavy a burden for one set of officers. The northern section was therefore detached and erected into a separate province; but before the new government was organised the Empress Dowager yielded to remonstrances and rescinded her hasty decree—showing how reluctant she is to contravene the wishes of her people. What China requires above all things is the ballot box, by which the people may make their wishes known.

The name of the province is derived from its two chief cities, Suchow and Nanking. Suchow, the Paris of the Far East, is coupled with Hangchow in a popular rhyme, which represents the two as paragon cities:

"Shang yu t'ien t'ang hia yu Su-Hang."

"Su and Hang, so rich and fair, May well with Paradise compare."

The local dialect is so soft and musical that strolling players from Suchow are much sought for in the adjacent provinces. A well-known couplet says:

"I'd rather hear men wrangle in Suchow's dulcet tones
Than hear that mountain jargon, composed of sighs and groans."

Farther inland, near the banks of the " Great River, " stands Nanking, the old capital of the Ming dynasty. The Manchus, unwilling to call it a king, i.e. seat of empire, changed its name to Kiangning; but the old title survives in spite of official jealousy. As it will figure prominently in our history we shall not pause there at present, but proceed to Shanghai, a place which more than any other controls the destinies of the State.

Formerly an insignificant town of the third order (provincial capitals and prefectural towns ranking respectively first and second), some sapient Englishman with an eye to commerce perceived the advantage of the site; and in the dictation of the terms of peace in 1842 it was made one of the five ports. It has come to overshadow Canton; and more than all the other ports it displays to the Chinese the marvels of Western skill, knowledge, and enterprise.

On a broad estuary near the mouth of the main artery that penetrates the heart of China, it has become a leading emporium of the world's commerce. The native city still hides its squalor behind low walls of brick, but outside the North Gate lies a tract of land known as the "Foreign Concessions." There a beautiful city styled the "model settlement" has sprung up like a gorgeous pond-lily from the muddy paddy-fields. Having spent a year there, I regard it with a sort of affection as one of my Oriental homes.

Shanghai presents a spectacle rare amongst the seaports of the world. Its broad streets, well kept and soon to be provided with electric trolleys, extend for miles along the banks of two rivers, lined with opulent business houses and luxurious mansions, most of the latter being surrounded by gardens and embowered in groves of flowering trees. Nor do these magazines and dwelling-houses stand merely for taste and opulence. Within the bounds of the Concessions is the reign of law—not, as elsewhere in China, the arbitrary will of a magistrate, but the offspring of freedom and justice. Foreigners live everywhere under the protection of their own national flags : and within the Concessions Chinese accused of crimes are tried by a mixed court which serves as an object-lesson in justice and humanity. Had one time to peep into a native yamen, one might see bundles of bamboos, large and small, prepared for the bastinado; one might see, also, thumb-screws, wooden boots, wooden collars, and other instruments of torture, some of them intended to make mince-meat of the human body. The use of these has now been forbidden.*

In Shanghai there are schools of all grades, some under the foreign municipal government, others under missionary societies. St. John's College (U. S. Episcopal) and the Anglo-Chinese College (American M. E.) bear the palm in the line of education so long borne ' by the Roman Catholics of Siccawei. Added to these, newspapers foreign and native the latter exercising a freedom of opinion impossible beyond the limits of this city of refuge—the Society for the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge and other translation bureaux, foreign and native, turning out books by the thousand with the aid of steam presses, form a combination of forces to which China is no longer insensible.

Resuming our imaginary voyage we proceed northward, and in the space of an hour find ourselves at the mouth of the Yang-tse Kiang, or Ta Kiang, the " Great River," as the Chinese call it. The width of its embouchure suggests an Asiatic rival of the Amazon and La Plata. We now see why this part of the ocean is sometimes described as the Yellow Sea. A river whose volume, it is said, equals that of two hundred and forty-four such rivulets as Father Thames, pours into it its muddy waters, making new islands and advancing the shore far into the domain of Neptune.

Notice on the left those long rows of trees that appear to spring from the bosom of the river.' They are the life-belt of the Island of Tsungming which six centuries ago rose like the fabled Delos from the surface of the turbid waters. Accepted as the river's tribute to the Dragon Throne, it now forms a district of the province with a population of over half a million. About the same time, a large tract of land was carried into the sea by the Hwang Ho, the "Yellow River," which gave rise to the popular proverb, " If we lose in Tungking we gain in Tsungming."

The former river comes with its mouth full of pearls; the latter yawns to engulf the adjacent land. At present, however, the Yellow River is dry and thirsty, the unruly stream, the opposite of Horace's uxorius amuis, having about forty years ago forsaken its old bed and rushed away to the Gulf of Pechili (Peh-chihli). This produced as much consternation as the Mississippi would occasion if it should plough its way across the state that bears its name and enter the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Bay. The same phenomenon has occurred at long intervals in times past. The wilful stream has oscillated with something like periodical regularity from side to side of the Shantung promontory, and sometimes it has flowed with a divided current, converting that territory into an island. Now, however, the river seems to have settled itself in its new channel, entering the gulf at Yang Chia Kowa place which foreign sailors describe as "Yankee cow"—and making a portentous alteration in the geography of the globe.

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