A Journey in Manchuria
By H. E. M. JAMES (Henry Evan Murchinson James), of the Bombay Civil Service. (Presented at the Evening Meeting, June 6th, 1887.) Map of Manchuria, p. 594.
in: Proceedings of the
Society and Monthly Record of Geography. Volume IX., No.
9, September 1887.
This paper was followed by the publication of a full-length, illustrated book, The Long White Mountain, or, A journey in Manchuria: with some account of the history, people, administration and religion of that country (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1888)
[page 531] I THINK it may interest the Society to know that my companions and I have to thank one who is well known here, I mean Mr. Archibald Colquhoun, for the first suggestion of Manchuria as a field for travel. We had originally planned an expedition in southern China, but we chose Manchuria on learning that it was but little known, that the climate and chances of sport were alike good, that the people were pleasant to deal with, and also because we hoped to see something of the Russians on the frontier. I fear my observations will not have that scientific character which befits a paper read in this place, but none of the observations taken on the journey have yet been worked out, so I must necessarily confine myself to a simple account of our doings.
Manchuria is that part of Tartary which occupies the north-eastern corner of the Chinese Empire, being bounded on the north and east by Russia, and on the south by Korea, the Yellow Sea, and the Gulf of Liau-tung. The name signifies the country of the Manchu Tartars. It has, however, never been applied in the extensive sense that foreigners use it, either by Manchus or Chinese. Occasionally the term Shing-king, which is, properly speaking, merely the translation of the Manchu word Mukden (* i.e. Flourishing Capital.), the southern capital of Manchuria, is applied by the Chinese to the whole country from the sea to the Amur, but the ordinary name is Tung-san-shen, or the three eastern provinces: that is to say, the province of Liau-tung in the south, of which Mukden is the capital; Kirin in the centre with a capital of the same name; and the province of Helung-kiang, or Black Dragon river (the Chinese word for the Amur), in the north, with capital Tsitsihar. Liau-tung, which is more generally known as Feng-tien, or "Heaven ordained" (as it has been "ordained" as the source of the present ruling [page 532] dynasty), is densely populated, and is computed to contain twelve or thirteen millions of people. Kirin contains probably eight millions, and Tsitsibar perhaps two millions. I base these figures on calculations made by a former British Consul at New-chwang, who went into the question with a good deal of care, and a missionary, whom I consulted, comes to much the same conclusion. The total area of Manchuria (inclusive of a patch of Mongolia on the north-west, which is included in Tsitsihar) is about 380,000 square miles. It is therefore larger than the Austrian Empire and Great Britain and Ireland put together. In India it would be called non-regulation territory. Though the law administered is the same as in China Proper, and in the more settled parts there is the same civil organisation, yet the administration is essentially a military one, and the chief appointments are all held by Manchu military officers. Originally the governor, or Tartar general of each province, bore the same title, viz. Kiang-kun (Chiang-chün), but a few years ago the exalted Chinese title of Tsung-tu, or governor-general, was conferred on the governor of Mukden, and the other two governors are now subordinate to him. He used also to be commander-in-chief as well as head of the civil administration, but in November 1885 a special commander-in-chief named Mu was appointed to reorganise the forces in Manchuria, who is independent of the governor-general. In the province of Feng-tien the titles and grades of officials, magistrates, and the like are precisely the same as in China Proper. It is only in the outlying districts of the centre and north that military and civil functions are found united in the same persons.
Fêng-tien actually adjoins
the province of Chihli in which Pekin itself
is situated, and has always been comparatively civilised,
bearing much the same
relation to the wild hilly tracts in the north and east that
Bengal does to
Assam and Bhutan. For centuries it was subject to Korea, then a
powerful state, but since the eighth century it has, except
during one brief
interval, been incorporated with China. The other two provinces
did not come under
the direct control of Pekin till 1644, when the Manchus
conquered the Chinese Empire.
With a very sparse indigenous population of Tartar hunters these
were reserved until comparatively recent times, partly as a
nursery for Tartar
soldiers, but mainly as a place for the transportation of
criminals, and it is
only since 1820 that colonists have been permitted to settle
there. For a long
time after that date life and property were so insecure that the
the country has been very slow, but during the last twenty years
has been made. Kirin and Tsitsihar are, however, still used as a
kind of Botany
Bay, not only for criminals properly so called, but for
ill-behaved mandarins. In
consequence the administration is feeble and corrupt, and the
with a multitude of evil characters.
Manchuria (for I will continue to use the name adopted by Westerns) [page 533] is essentially a highland country, a land of mountain and river, forest and swamp. The whole of the south and east is occupied by considerable ranges of hills, the tops and slopes of which are covered with dense woods, and which geographers have christened Chang-pai Shan, literally, Long White Mountains, or else Shan-alin, which is part of the Manchu word for the same thing. The mountaineers, however, give each separate ridge or conspicuous hill a separate name, and confine the title of Long White Mountain to the principal peak in the region. The ranges appear as if they had come into existence on the most incoherent system, running in one part from north to south and elsewhere from east to west. They form part of a series of low volcanic hills from three thousand to six thousand feet in height, which extend on the south far into Korea, and on the west into the Russian maritime province as far as the Sea of Okhotsk. The only really plain country is found in a fertile alluvial tract in Feng-tien, which is watered by the river Liau, and again to the north and west of Kirin, where the Nonni drains a vast area of undulating Mongolian steppes. North of the lower leaches of the Sungari, the hills form part of a separate system also volcanic, and which are in fact outlying spurs of the Khin-gan range. The principal rivers are the Liau, Yalu or Ai Chiang, the Sungari or Sung-hwa Chiang, the Nonni, and the Hurka or Mutan Chiang. The Liau rises in Mongolia and flows into the Gulf of Liau-tung, close to the treaty port of Newchwang. The next three rise within a comparatively few miles of one another in the most remote recesses of the Ch'ang-pai Mountains. The Yalu flows west into the Yellow Sea; the Tumen flows into the Japan Sea, and the two together form part of the boundary between Manchuria and Korea. The Sungari—which is by far the largest, being navigable by large junks as far as Kirin,—is one of the most considerable tributaries of the Amur. The Nonni, flowing due south, and the Mutan Chiang, due north, are its main affluents.
On the map are marked two
barriers of palisades, one commencing at the
Great Wall and passing by Yu-shih-tung-tzu and Ruan-chang-tzu to
the other starting from Fung-whang-chang on the Korean border,
and meeting the
first not very far from Kai-yuen. These palisades were built by
dynasty about four centuries ago. They consisted of long lines
of wooden chevaux de
frise, in the shape of a St.
Andrew's cross, and made it difficult for men, and especially
for cavalry, to
pass, except through gates at various intervals. They were
intended to protect
Liau-tung from the Mongols on the north and the Manchus on the
east. At the
present day they have disappeared entirely, though a mound or
row of trees
occasionally marks the place where they stood. The gateways,
however, are still
maintained as customs posts, at which transit duties are levied.
Manchuria has a history of its own, though space allows but a brief allusion to it. I dare say most people are aware Manchuria is the [page 534] cradle of the existing dynasty of China; but it is not equally well known that China has been conquered twice before by Tartars from this region. About one hundred years before our William the Conqueror, a tribe called the Ketan invaded China, and took possession of the throne, adopting the title of Liau, it is said, from the river in Fêng-tien. In less than two hundred years they, in their turn, were driven out by the Neu-chin, another tribe from the same neighbourhood, who called themselves the Kin, or golden dynasty, and who were upset in the thirteenth century by Ghenghis Khan, the Mongolian "Scourge of the World." The Mongols were overthrown by a Chinese rebel towards the end of the fourteenth century, who founded the Ming dynasty; and when that had lasted nearly 300 years came the present Tartar dynasty.
It will thus be seen that during six out of the last nine centuries China, at any rate North China, has been ruled by foreigners. The history of China, in fact, is the history of most Oriental monarchies: a powerful tribe under a powerful head conquers the country, and for one or two generations rules it wisely and firmly. Gradually luxury creeps into the court; the princes become dissolute and effete; the administration falls into a state of degradation and inefficiency; and then the collapse of the dynasty is only a matter of time. Such was the case in the year 1643, when the last Ming emperor was on the throne. A common brigand, named Li-tsu-chung, headed a successful rebellion and took Pekin. The emperor committed suicide, and the rebel proclaimed himself in his stead. Then came the opportunity of the Manchus. About sixty years before the fall of the Mings a chief had arisen who had conquered and consolidated into one powerful state all the miscellaneous Tartar clans who inhabited the country outside the palisades. His name was Nurh-ho-chih, and he lived in a remote valley on the Su-tzu Ho, about 90 miles east of Mukden and 60 from the then Chinese frontier. Only six or seven small villages owned him as lord. It happened that his father and grandfather were betrayed by another Manchu to the Chinese, and Nur-ho-chih resolved to avenge them. He collected a few followers and attacked the tribes with whom the traitor took refuge one after the other. Eventually he succeeded in his vengeful quest, but the delights of victory led him on to further conquests till he had made himself master of the whole of Manchuria outside the Chinese boundary. He spent some time organising a good administration, in the course of which he gave his countrymen, for the first time, a written alphabet. At last he felt himself sufficiently strong to attack China, and before he died, in the year 1626, he had made himself master of the Chinese province of Feng-tien. His successor continued harassing the Chinese till the downfall of the Ming dynasty, when Wu-san-kwei, who had been appointed by the Emperor to command on the Manchurian frontier, sent over to his quondam enemy inviting him to come and avenge his deceased lord. Overjoyed, the Manchu accepted the [page 535] offer, marched on to Pekin, and in the year 1644 the present dynasty was proclaimed in the person of Nurh-ho-chih's grandson, a boy of six.
The story cannot fail to remind a student of history of the rise of Sivajee, the Mahratta hill robber, who undermined, and whose successors destroyed, the Mogul Empire of India. Naturally, ever since the capture of Pekin, Manchuria has been (and it was so in the case of the two previous Tartar dynasties) the great recruiting ground for the Imperial army. Thus, it has always been in a state of depletion of its best blood and suffered greatly in consequence. But of recent years, as I said before, Chinese cultivators from Shang-tung, Chihli, and other northern provinces of China, have flocked into it in large numbers - so much so, that for one Manchu that is now to be seen, there are probably twenty Chinese. Nearly all special Manchu customs have disappeared; except in the army, the Tartar hat has disappeared like the hat of the old women in Wales, and the language itself is now only spoken in a few remote valleys; in fact, two teachers of Manchu had actually to be imported from Pekin to Kirin two years ago on the express ground that the few Manchus who had any knowledge of their own language were all wanted as official clerks. Imagine the getter-up of a Welsh Eisteddfod sending to London for a couple of bards to speak Welsh, and the parallel is complete. With the language, the alphabet also is disappearing, and the clumsy barbarous Chinese hieroglyphics are replacing it. It is the old story over again, “Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit." So much so, that the late Consul of New-chwang, Mr. Meadows, a gentleman of keen observation, declared it was impossible to distinguish Manchus from Chinese by their features or general appearance; but in this I think he went a little too far. When a large body of them are seen together the difference of race can, if I mistake not, be seen at once, as Manchus look more like the Newars or the Ghoorkas of Nepaul than typical Chinamen. They are generally short and good-looking, brown as Italians or Sikhs, with high cheek-bones, dark rosy cheeks, and large brown eyes, which are but little oblique. Nevertheless, looks apart, they are to all intents and purposes Chinamen.
I am bound to say the discovery caused ourselves a little disappointment. We expected to see a fine wild savage race, picturesquely dressed, riding furiously on gallant horses, the beaux-idéals of barbaric manliness, instead of a population of ordinary stolid Chinamen. In one point, however, Manchus do maintain a distinction which puts them far above the Chinese: they do not mutilate their women's feet, and to this day no woman with crushed feet may enter the Imperial court. When they took China they ordered the men to shave their foreheads, to plait their back hair in pigtails, and also to wear narrow instead of wide sleeves to their coats, and they ordered the women not to torture their little girls by cramping their feet. The men meekly submitted, but the ladies indignantly refused. And I need scarcely say [page 536] that then, as since, it was found hopeless trying to reform barbarous female fashion when the ladies had made up their minds about it.
Manchus still enjoy certain
privileges. Every male who arrives at the age
of puberty, as soon as he can draw the bow, is enrolled in one
of eight corps of
militia, called Banners, from each corps carrying a distinctive
entitles him to receive a retaining fee of 1 tael, say 5s. 6d. a
month. He is
given land to cultivate rent-free, which he generally sublets to
and if he is employed on active military service he gets from 5
to 7 taels a
month. The result is the Manchus, instead of taking to honest
work, are mostly
hangers-on about yamêns (or public offices), picking up
odd bits of work, and
trying for permanent official employment. They take to
gambling, and become disreputable members of society. General Mu
is, however, now
converting a large number of these idle militiamen into
regulars; and the race
has produced, and produces, as good civil officials every whit
as the Chinese.
I have brought a Manchu bow and arrows for those to see who are
such things. It is singular that a race which is wise enough to
rifles and to buy Krupp cannon should still employ a
considerable number of
archers. The bow and arrow drill is very amusing to see.
One word more about the history of Manchuria. Until the year 1858 a line running for about 1000 miles north of the Amur river at a distance of from 500 to 1000 miles from it, and continuing down the coast as far as the Corean frontier, marked the boundary of the Chinese possessions as fixed by treaty with Russia, and the navigation of the Amar by the Russians was not permitted. During the Crimean war, however, they were obliged to use that road for victualling their settlements in Kamstchatka, so numerous expeditions were sent down the river, and posts established all along its bank. In 1858, China being then in the throes of the Tae-ping rebellion, Russia called on her to legalise what had been done, and the whole of the country on the left bank of the Amur was ceded to her. Two years later, in 1860, when in addition to the Tae-ping rebellion the English and French armies were before Pekin, Russia, anxious to obtain an outlet for her Siberian trade less liable to be closed by the ice than ports in the Sea of Okhotsk, requested the Emperor Hien-fung to make her over the tract between the river Usuri and the sea. The country was then practically worth nothing to China, and she gave it up quietly. History will yet show whether Russia acted wisely in overstepping such a capital boundary as the Amur. Some people indeed think that Russia would not mind taking another slice of Manchuria if the occasion offered: others believe that the Chinese, having been successful in recovering Kuldja, might, if opportunity offered, try and recover the sea-coast strip. And even though both sides may desire peace, the best friends are liable to fall out when crowded too close together.
[page 537] Manchuria certainly is a most delightful country. In the summer the climate is delicious, that is when it does not rain. It is occasionally hot, but we never felt anything worse than 87° in the shade. The winter is certainly severe. In the south the thermometer goes down to -10° Fahr., and in the north to - 48° Fahr., but the cold weather is extremely bracing and healthy, and at that season the frozen roads make admirable highways for a vast amount of traffic. During the rest of the year they are miry and impracticable. It is very fertile, but I need not give a list of all the crops that are grown, as they differ but little from the crops of northern China generally. I may, however name three, the bean, the small millet, and the poppy. Of the first there are innumerable varieties, and the oil extracted from them forms the staple export of the country. The hsiau-mi or small millet has a tiny grain like canary seed, and when boiled makes first-rate porridge, as I can gratefully testify. The poppy grows luxuriantly, and the native grown opium has almost completely ousted the Indian drug. The imports of the latter into Manchuria in the year 1866 amounted to 572,000l; in 1880 they amounted to only 31,300l., and opium is grown not only for local consumption, but for distribution in parts of northern and central China. This fact will show that the opium question, which has exercised so many philanthropists in the past, is in a fair way of settling itself, though not in the precise way perhaps that the philanthropists wish. The Chinese are openly growing the drug for themselves, and the taste for Indian opium is disappearing in favour of the home article, just as in India Trichinopoly cheroots have of late completely ousted Manillas. So now that the Che-fu Convention has come into force, which has in fact, though perhaps not in name, imposed an additional duty on the Indian article, it is almost safe to prophesy that in a short time the Indian trade will be seriously affected, and the use of the Indian drug will be confined to a few wealthy gourmets. The Indian ryot will suffer, having to make good a deficit of some millions sterling, while the whole population of China, instead of as now only a part of it, will in future enjoy the luxury of opium smoking. Admitting that there are many evils connected with opium, I may add that I can only remember meeting two persons who had ruined themselves in health by it, and that some experienced foreigners whom we met were of opinion that taken in moderation on a full stomach it is no worse than tobacco.
The mineral wealth of Manchuria is very great. In one spot we found iron and gold within a few miles of one another, and we were told that there was also a silver mine close by. There is also abundance of very good coal and peat. A good deal of gold is exported, but mining is strictly contrary to the law, and the day before we arrived at Sansing a man was executed for it. Notwithstanding, in remote parts where the mandarins dare not go, a great deal of mining, or rather washing, is carried on.
[page 538] The forests also are very valuable, the pine trees, walnuts, oak, and elm being conspicuous for their size. The trees are floated down the rivers during the rains, and from the mouth of the Yalu alone vast quantities are exported over the whole of China.
Minor products, of great value in
the eyes of the Chinese, are furs,
ginseng, and deer-horns. The hills yield a great deal of very
fine sable and
the tiger and lynx skins are magnificent, the severity of the
climate making the
fur grow far longer than in a tropical country like India. The
root of the wild
ginseng is a medicine very highly esteemed, and sells for about
10l. to 20l. an ounce. In the interior of the Ch'ang-pai
Mountains we saw companies,
twelve or fifteen young men in each, scouring the valleys and
glens in search
of the plant; one or two roots will repay them for a season's
labour. A great
deal of cultivated ginseng is grown, but the value of it is very
small, only 5s.
or 6s. a pound. Extraordinary virtues are attributed to this
plant, and I am
not sure they are altogether moonshine. A friendly innkeeper
once gave us a
little chopped into fine shreds, of which we made tea, and
certainly it proved very
useful in case of stomach-ache. Lastly the deer-horns, which
form an important article
in the Chinese pharmacopoeia, may be mentioned. If secured a
short time after
the horn has sprouted, that is to say, when it is only about a
foot long and
full of blood, the Chinese are ready to pay almost any price for
it. One pair
was shown to us for which 50l. had
It is time, however, that I should give some account. of our journey itself. I was accompanied from India by Mr. Younghusband, whose taste for travel is hereditary, as he is nephew to Mr. Shaw, the first English explorer of Yarkand and Kashgar. We were joined in China by Mr. H. Fulford, a young officer in the Consular service, to whom the Chargé-d'affaires kindly gave leave. He spoke Chinese capitally, a fortunate thing for us. On the 19th May we started from Ying-tsu, known in official language as New-chwang, the name of a town 30 miles further up the Liau river. New-chwang indeed was the port originally, but owing to the rapid accretion of land at the mouth of the Liau the shipping gradually moved down the river. Still, as Lord Elgin's Treaty contains the name New-chwang, that name has been applied ever since to the town where the British Consul resides. We first went to Mukden, 120 miles to the north, a large walled city containing 200,000 inhabitants. After the conquest of Liau-tung, Nurh-ho-chih fixed on this as his capital. It contains an Imperial palace, where the relics of the hero are said to be kept. On two hills in the neighbourhood, surrounded by sombre groves of pine, and adorned with fine triumphal arches and monuments of various kinds, the Great Ancestor, as the dynasty rightly calls him, and his son are buried. Before the conquest of China, Nurh-ho-chih had, in imitation of the Mings, created various Boards or departments for the conduct of the administration, and the fiction is still kept up, though nowadays Mukden is only a provincial town and [page 539] has not been honoured with an Imperial visit for upwards of forty years. The Manchu Emperor constructed also Temples of Heaven and Earth in imitation of those at Pekin, but these, though still existing, have been allowed to decay. At Mukden we hired twenty mules, to which we had afterwards to add six more, for in the hills it was necessary to reduce the loads to the smallest dimensions. We carried a small Kabul tent which was very useful occasionally when camping out in the forests, though we generally succeeded in finding a hunter's hut, while in the cultivated country wherever there were farms there were inns—of a kind. The Chinese resemble the Americans in this respect—wherever they make a new settlement the first thing they do is to establish an inn, which fulfills the joint purposes of a saloon, a grocery, and a dry goods store; and though I will not say the accommodation is luxurious, still travellers may be thankful for it.
From Mukden we turned due east up the valley of the Hun, a large affluent of the Liau, through a most beautiful and well-wooded valley. The second day we passed Fu-shun-chang, formerly the frontier town of China, and the first which the Manchus attacked. We then followed the Su tzu Ho, a tributary of the Hun, passing Sarhu, the scene of the greatest and most decisive battle between the Manchus and the Chinese, an account of which in Manchu and Chinese is inscribed on a fine marble slab erected on the spot. About 16 miles further we passed an ancient palace, and then Yung-ling, a village filled with soldiers, who guard a hill on which are situated the tombs of Nurh-ho- chih's ancestors. Three or four miles beyond stands Yenden or Hing-King, the "capital of prosperity," now a pretty village, with decaying gates and walls, containing an insignificant yamen or government office. This was Nurh-ho-chih's second but most celebrated capital; from which he went out to fight at Sarhu. Two miles south are the remains of Lao-cheng, his first capital.
Settlers are now taking up their abode in great numbers in the adjoining valleys, and the forests are rapidly falling before the axe. The scenery in the neighbourhood is marvellously beautiful—woods and flowers and grassy glades—and to the lover of nature it is simply a paradise. The first day I began to collect I found no less than five kinds of lilies of the valley, and it was common to see whole hill-sides covered with masses of that delicious flower, which is such a favourite in England. Beautiful mandarin ducks haunted every pool and stream, and from the mountain tops the cock-pheasant's crow was heard on all sides. We had, however, started just a little too late, for the spring rains were even then beginning, and the roads were becoming difficult. We followed the Su-tzu Ho to its source in the hills, crossed the water-shed, and on the ninth day after leaving Mukden arrived at T'ung-hwa-hsien, the seat of a resident magistrate; it is situated on the Hun Chiang, an affluent of the Yalu, which came down in flood and stopped [page 540] our progress for some days. Hardly had we succeeded in passing it before we were again detained by one of its tributaries, and it was not till nearly a month after leaving Mukden that we reached Mau-erh Shan which is the farthest Chinese outpost on the Yalu, and garrisoned by 200 men. We had intended following, if possible, the Yalu up to its source, crossing the watershed and descending the valley of the T'umên, but we found this was quite impracticable. Above Mau-erh Shan, the river passes under a succession of lofty and precipitous cliffs, and though a few colonists have penetrated into the valleys beyond to cut wood, communication is almost entirely cut off, except in the winter, when the river is frozen over. We learned, however, that by crossing the mountain chain on our left, we should find a path practicable for mules, which would take us to the head waters of the Sungari, and then across another range into the T’umên valley, so we turned our faces northwards. We followed Number Two of the upper affluents of the Yalu (the Chinese number them, instead of giving them distinct names), and two days brought us to the top of the Lao-ling, as the range is called which separates the Sungari basin from the Yalu. The pass was 3000 feet high, and on the far side we came on the head waters of the Tang Ho a fine affluent of the Sungari. The path here, and indeed all the time we were in the mountains, was very narrow, and in places difficult. Occasionally it passed along hill-faces where the earth had fallen away in a landslip, and it looked as if the next step would bring the whole hill-side down together. At other times, torrents of sufficient depth and violence to sweep a mule off its legs, had to be crossed fifteen or twenty times in a morning; but these were trifles compared with the swamps. Frequently we have had half the mules down at once, rolling their packs and themselves in the mud. While all hands were turned to assist the first that fell, the others would feel themselves getting bogged, and when struggling to get free would tumble themselves in the mire. The good temper and patience of the mule drivers, how-ever, were quite imperturbable, and we always got through somehow. The only real accident we had was caused by the ground giving way under a mule, and tumbling it and one of the men into a swollen river. The man was a good deal hurt, but he recovered, and only a few stores were damaged. Constantly we had to halt in narrow places while the path was being enlarged with axe, pickaxe, or spade to enable the mules to get along at all. One very hot day a mule, carrying a great deal of silver, got tired of waiting, and plunged into the swollen Yalu, there 350 yards wide. He swam some distance from the shore, but fortunately returned, and the pack, which was, after Chinese fashion, merely slung across the mule's back and not fastened in any way, tumbled off in shallow water; a few yards further out, and our loss would have been considerable.
[page 541] The fourth day from
Mau-erh Shan brought us to the main stream
of the Sungari, at its junction with the Tang Ho. We were now
precincts of the Long White Mountains. In theory they are
supposed to be sacred
to the ancestors of the reigning dynasty, and it is sacrilege to
them. Only a few months ago the official Peking
Gazette published a report from the Governor of Kirin,
that in obedience to
standing orders he had carefully searched all the ravines in the
Shan to see if any wicked people were seeking for ginseng, and
he had found the
country quite quiet and free from intruders. As a matter of
fact, the mandarins
never dream of going into the mountains, and settlements are
being founded rapidly.
The colonists form themselves into associations or guilds, with
and councils, who legislate for the community, and exercise
powers of life and
death. The existence of these guilds is known to the authorities
of Kirin, who
occasionally call on them, and not unsuccessfully, for
assistance in hunting
robbers; yet theoretically, as I have said, they have no
existence before the
law. Some items in their legislation are peculiar, but
proclamation which we saw warned people not to harbour certain
whose names were given. A second forbade Koreans to fish. The
Koreans, be it
noted, are employed in large numbers as agricultural labourers
by the settlers,
who want them, so they said, to labour in the fields, and not
waste their time
in sport. A third was for regulating the trade in ginseng, and
person buying or selling it before a certain date. The penalty
transgression of that law is, in the case of a rich person, a
fine to the guild
of one pound of rice (a luxury in the hills), ten taels in
money, and two pigs,
weighing at least seventy-five pounds each. If the offender be
an outsider, and
therefore moneyless and unable to pay the fine, he is to be
beaten to death with
sticks. This law was for the protection of zealous ginseng
seekers, who sought the
more remote valleys, and occasionally found the market
forestalled by hunters
returning before the season was fairly over. The guilds are most
institutions, and the only place within Manchuria where life and
be said to be really secure is within their limits; although,
configuration of the country and the vast area of forests with
which it is
covered, robbers would, under ordinary circumstances, find there
a safe refuge.
It was now time to search for the snowy peaks, which, we understood from the map attached to the Rev. Alexander Williamson's book, ‘Journeys in North China,' from Mr. Ravenstein, and other sources, must be in the neighbourhood—snowy peaks from 10,000 to 12,000 feet high. Alas, the vice-president of the guild told us that there was not such a thing in Manchuria. There was, however, he said, a very celebrated mountain, the Lao-pai Shan, or Old White Mountain proper, about ten or twelve days' march off, from the top of which sprang the Yalu, the [page 542] T'umen, and the Sungari. If we liked he could guide us there, but the road was very difficult to find, and he must come himself. We accepted his offer, loaded two mules very lightly and started, taking only one servant with us, and a boy to lead the mules over the bad bits. The track led over a succession of ranges covered with forest, so dense and so continuous, that it was quite a relief when we came to the Sungari or one of its affluents and got a breath of fresh air. At intervals of 15 miles would be found the hut of a ginseng cultivator, or a hunter of deer-horns and sable. Two such were situated in the craters of ancient volcanoes, which time has now clothed as thickly with trees as any part of the region. We found the mountaineers exceedingly hospitable and friendly, as real sportsmen invariably are, though their huts were so small that we found it a tight fit at night. We were obliged to sleep cheek by jowl with them on the little kang or brick platform, which is heated by the fire that cooks the food, and serves the purpose of stove, drawing-room, dining-room, and bed-room. Really, sometimes we were packed just like sardines, but unless a Chinaman got his foot in one's eye, as happened sometimes, we slept peaceably enough. The weather was hot, and occasionally we had to carry the mules' loads for them over bad places, but we found plenty of wild strawberries, and a kind of delicious bleaberry or barberry growing in great quantities, which was very refreshing.
The fifth day after leaving T'ang-ho-ko we had to dispense with the mules, as the bogs beyond were absolutely impassable for any beast of burden whatsoever. We reduced our necessaries as much as possible, and the rest we made up into packs, which we carried ourselves with the aid of a hunter, a very good fellow, who volunteered to come and help us. It may be thought we should have brought more attendants, but the huts would not have held them, and besides, supplies were so scanty in the hills, that, although the hunters were extremely generous in giving us dried deer's flesh and other trifles, a larger party could not possibly have obtained food. We now came to a swamp pure and simple, and boggy glens, where first we saw extensive groves of larch. At last, on the ninth day after leaving the guild, we began the ascent of the long-wished-for mountain. The lower slopes are covered with forests of birch and pine, but these gradually grew less dense, until we emerged on a most delightful grassy plateau dotted with trees. To us it was like being transported into the Garden of Eden. The forests had certainly not been devoid of flowers, and some fine turn-cap lilies and orchids and bluebells had lit up their gloom; but now we came upon rich, open meadows, bright with flowers of every imaginable colour, where sheets of blue iris, great scarlet tiger-lilies, sweet-scented yellow day-lilies, huge orange buttercups, or purple monkshood delighted the eye. And beyond were bits of park-like country, with groups of spruce and fir beautifully dotted about, the soil covered with short mossy grass, and [page 543] spangled with great masses of deep blue gentian, columbines of every shade of mauve or buff, orchids white and red, and many other flowers. One gem of a meadow was sprinkled with azaleas bearing small yellow flowers, which looked at a distance like gorse. Now for the first time, and up above us through the trees, we could see the ragged needle-like peaks of the Old White Mountain. As we marched along the plateau we heard the sound of subterranean streams rushing madly underground, and in one place we crossed a deep gully by a natural bridge, the banks of which approached so closely that we could almost jump across, while peering over we could see the mountain torrent roaring far below like the river Beas at its source. It would be very easy for a careless walker to slip into one of these hidden watercourses and lose his life.
Finally we arrived at a cottage called T'ang-shan, at the base of a grassy hill which slopes down from the final heights of the Pai Shan. A short distance there are two splendid cascades not very far apart, each about 150 feet high, one of which is called by the natives the real source of the Sungari proper. A mile or two away it forms a burn about ten yards across, on the edge of which is a fine hot spring, 142° Fahr. The evening we arrived we climbed a hill 700 feet above the plateau, from which we had a grand view of the peaks. From this point of view there appeared in sight two sharp peaks, with a saddle between them, and the whole steep side below was shining white, but not with snow, for there were only a few patches of it to be seen in clefts, but of wet, disintegrated pumice stone, large lumps of which we bad noticed on the banks of the Sungari on our road through the forests. The westerly peak looks slightly the higher, but after ascending the saddle we found it was lower than that on the east, which is a splendid object bold, sharp, and jagged. Beyond it, further to the east, on a rock-broken sky-line, stands another conspicuous pinnacle, shaped like a serpent's tooth, and from there the shoulder of the mountain slopes gradually down till it reaches the plateau where the hut is situated.
The first day of our halt it rained, and we made the ascent the next. We climbed the slope behind the house, up to our waists in luxuriant wet grass, full of tiger-lilies and other gorgeous flowers, and across a stretch of moorland perhaps two or three miles broad, covered with a dwarf white rhododendron, a lovely little pink flower like an azalea, a pink heath, and other flowers. Then we commenced the slope leading up to the saddle. Even here, on the naked pumice, were clumps of wild yellow poppies, dwarf saxifrage, a vetch, and other botanical treasures. It was a steep climb, reminding one somewhat of Vesuvius, except that the rain had consolidated the loose pumice. At last we got to the top and looked over the edge, and lo! at the bottom of a crater on whose brink we were standing, about 350 feet below us, we saw a beautiful lake, its colour of the deepest, most pellucid blue, and though the wind was howling above, its surface as still as Lake Leman, reflecting the crown of fantastic peaks [page 544] with which the rugged top of the mountain was adorned. It was indeed a superb spectacle. We judged the lake to be about 11 mile broad, and six or seven miles in circumference.
After enjoying the view for some time Mr. Fulford and I attempted to descend the crater. The hunter guide refused to accompany us, because he said it was too steep, but he pointed out a place down which, he said, deer occasionally found their way to feed on the grass, of which there was a narrow fringe in one place between the water and the base of the cliff. We succeeded in getting down to about 60 feet from the bottom, through loose pumice and stones, but we were suddenly stopped by finding that, under the action of water, the cliff which we were descending had crumbled away, and left some 15 or 20 feet of sheer perpendicular rock in front of us. If we had had a rope we might have got to the bottom without difficulty, but the descent was too risky without it, as the friable stone and the pumice it was embedded in gave no secure foothold. Mr. Younghusband, in the meanwhile, had been boiling his thermometer in a cleft filled with snow, the only place where he could escape from the wind, and then he commenced the ascent of the eastern peak. It was very steep, and not unaccompanied with danger, as the foothold was very uncertain, and had he slipped he might have rolled over the edge and dropped five or six hundred feet into the lake. However, he succeeded better than we did, and got up to the highest pinnacle, and crawled out to the very edge of a peak of rock which projects over the lake like a bowsprit, and waved his hat to us. From below it looked as if nothing but an eagle could find a resting-place in such a position. He calculated the height to be 7525 feet, but allowing for an error in the reading of the boiling-point thermometer, which we subsequently discovered 500 feet must be added on to that. The view, even from the saddle, of the surrounding country, was very fine. Far away in Korea, we could see forest-clad peaks which looked as if they might almost be as high as the Pai-shan, but all the hills in the immediate neighbourhood, including the Lau-ling, that is the range we crossed after leaving the Yalu, seemed pigmies in comparison. So farewell to the idea of snowy peaks 10,000 or 12,000 feet high.
From the north end of the lake there issues a small stream which is the source of the Erh-tao-chiang, or Second river, the eastern branch of the Sungari, whose confluence with the main stream we visited a few weeks later. The source of the Yalu was said to be about ten miles off, that of the Tumen thirty, but we could not visit them, as our supplies were almost at an end, and had it not been for Mr. Fulford's skill in shooting partridges we should have had very little to eat. Whenever we heard a shot fired we used to ask if it was an old one or a young one, the old ones had so much more meat upon them. The birds used, when flushed, to fly up into the trees, and it required a very quick eye to distinguish them in the boughs.
[page 545] The journey to the Pai-shan would have been perfectly enjoyable had it not been for a plague which former writers on Manchuria have alluded to—I mean the midges and gadflies. The misery caused by insect pests is a stock theme with travellers, too common perhaps to call for sympathy. And yet if there be a time when life is not worth living I should say it was summer in the forests of Manchuria. The midges are worst at night and in the early morning, though they by no means object to the middle of the day also. Clouds of them almost darken the air, and they bite like fiends. Mules and cattle are picketed at night to the leeward of fires, so that the smoke may protect them. At sundown all the doors and the windows of houses are shut tight, though the smoke and summer heat are stifling. Often a fire must be kindled as well on the floor, to fill the house with smoke, and when full of Chinamen also the atmosphere in the early morning can be better imagined than described. Men at the plough carry circlets of iron on their heads, on which are stuck pieces of burning touchwood, and pieces of it in their hands as well. Fortunately we had provided ourselves with green gauze veils, which were invaluable when we went to bed or when marching in the early morning, and at meals we enveloped ourselves with smoke. The gadflies were less annoyance to ourselves than to our beasts, as they invariably selected any that were sick or tired. They did not appear till seven or eight in the morning, and retired at sundown, so by marching before daylight a little respite was obtained from their attacks. They were huge fat insects, and at this distance of time they seem to me to have been as big as stag-beetles. There are several kinds, one striped yellow and black, like a giant wasp; and the rapidity with which they can pierce a mule's tough hide is inconceivable. In a few moments, before one could go to its assistance, I have seen a wretched beast streaming with blood. Fortunately the gadflies are very stupid and slow, and easily killed. I remember once Mr. Fulford and I had to stand over a mule which had tumbled several times down hill, and was quite exhausted, smashing the gadflies as they settled with slabs of wood, until night came on. I have no idea how many hundreds we killed, but we saved that mule's life. They did not often bite men, but occasionally a busy, curious, thirsty gadfly would try how a "foreign devil's" blood tasted, and then that "foreign devil" jumped and made remarks.
We had intended to shoot big game in the hills, but we soon found that sport and travel were not compatible. We saw tiger's " pugs," but the jungle was far too thick to go after them. The hunters trap them in cages, though some, as in India, worship them and will not hear of their being disturbed. The preparations for the sable season were just commencing. When the snow is on the ground, the sable, which is a species of weasel, likes travelling along the trunks of dead trees to keep his feet dry. So the hunters choose fallen timber or fell trees for the [page 546] purpose, and drive a row of sharp pegs on each side along the top, the pegs being a few inches apart, so as to make a kind of little avenue for the sable to pass through. In the middle is placed an ordinary figure of four trap from the top of which a long sapling is suspended, which falls and crushes the unfortunate animal. The deer are caught in pitfalls, beautifully hidden, into one of which Mr. Fulford tumbled one day. It was 16 or 18 feet deep, and he might have been seriously hurt. The black bears, exactly the same beast in appearance as that of Kashmir, do a great deal of damage by pulling the deer out of the pitfalls and devouring them. We found one in the act and article of finishing a magnificent stag, with ten points to his antlers. It is a very serious matter when the bear munches up a pair of horns worth 30l. or 40l. Unfortunately, when we commenced carrying our kit, we had to leave our rifles behind, or we might have had good bear-shooting.
A good many of the names in this region are Korean, and the hunters told us that it is not many years since the last Koreans were ejected, not without bloodshed. After our return we looked at Du Halde and found the following account of the Pai Shan, which, it will be seen, our visit corroborates almost exactly. I quote the English translation:
"The mountain from which the Sungari derives its source is likewise the most famous in Eastern Tartary. It lies much higher than the rest, and may be seen at a vast distance. One part of it is covered with wood, and consists only in a soft gravel which looks always white. Therefore it is not the snow that whitens it, as the Chinese imagine, for there never is any, at least in summer. On the top are five rocks, which look like so many broken pyramids exceeding high, and are always wet with the perpetual fogs and vapours that condense around them, and in the middle they enclose a deep lake, whence issues a fine fountain that forms the Sungari. The Manchus, to make the mountain still more wonderful, have a curious saying that it is the mother of their great rivers, the Toumen, the Yaloo Oola, and Cihou Oola, which having coasted the borders of Corea, unite and fall into the sea of that kingdom.
"But this is not exactly true, as may be seen in the map, nor can the origin of the rivers be attributed to the Chang Pei Shan, unless you include the neighbouring mountains that separate the kingdom of Corea from the ancient city of the Manchus."
This description is quoted from
Père Regis, who with Pères Jartous and
Fridelli surveyed Manchuria for the Emperor Kanghi in the year
1709. It is
difficult to say whether it has been written by an eye-witness.
Fathers began their work on the 8th of May, and went to survey
Pechili on the
10th of December, and I am inclined to think they could not have
had time in
the interval to go to this remote mountain as well as to visit
tracts so widely
apart as the country to the north of the Amur, the Usuri, and
they mention doing. Certainly they could not, if they travelled
some expressions used would imply they did. They necessarily had
to trust much to
hearsay, [page 547] and it is scarcely accurate to describe the
circle of peaks
as "five broken rocks." Moreover, the lake and mountain are not
specifically marked on their map. Still, whether the old Jesuits
ever looked down
on the blue waters of the Lung Wang Tan or not, we may be sure
it was not the
fault of their want of enterprise, and to them belongs the
honour of first
revealing the existence of the lake to Europe. I may add that
the mountaineers talked
of a boundary pillar not far away on the Korean frontier, dating
fifty-first year of the emperor Kanghi (1711), just two years
after the survey
was finished, and that Père Regis alludes to this
frontier as if it had been
We returned to T'ang Ho Kou, the confluence of the river Tang with the Sungari and the head-quarters of the guild, by the way we came, without adventure, unless I may count a snake story as one. Our followers and ourselves had been sleeping in a deserted Korean hut, and on getting up in the morning, one of us saw the head of a snake peering out between a bit of matting on which we had been sleeping and the wall. We lifted up the matting, and there lay four big brown adders. They were sluggish brutes, and made no attempt to escape, so we killed them, and found all of them had poison fangs in their jaws. If they had crawled over us in the night, one of us might easily have been bitten.
By this time it was raining nearly every day, and the rivers were in high flood. The vice-president of the guild, Mr. Yen, told us it was impossible to find our way to the valley of the T'umen by the route we had contemplated taking. I believe myself if supplies had been available we might just have succeeded in doing it, but the guild being short themselves would give us none, and there was a risk of our being caught between two rivers and starved. Mr. Yen then offered, if we liked, to guide us through the mountains to Kirin, and as the season was advancing we thought it best to accept his offer and go to Tsitsihar. The track was difficult both to find and to follow, and I am bound to say that Mr. Yen proved himself a good guide. We crossed, as before, a seemingly endless succession of forest-clad hills and swampy valleys, with occasional settlements. One valley in particular, that of the Sung Eo, not far from our starting-point, was several miles across, covered with the most magnificent crops of millet and Indian corn I ever saw: but places like this were oases in the desert. Three of the rivers could only be crossed in dug-outs, the owners of which tried to extort extravagant sums for the accommodation. In one instance we evaded the enemy by taking a circuitous and very difficult route over a ridge, from which we had a final and magnificent view of the peaks of the Pai Shan, shining sixty or seventy miles away on the horizon. At another place we agreed with one of the people for a handsome donation, but when our baggage was across, another man tried to stop us, and threatened to send our things back again if we did not give more. He soon saw, however, that we would stand no nonsense, and we went on unmolested.
[page 548] After a week's journey we came upon the Sungari again at a place called Yu-si Ho Kou-tzu, a short distance from the place where the Erh-tao Chiang, or eastern branch, joins it. It is here a splendid stream, 300 yards broad, and the scenery at the confluence is grand. The Erh-tao Chiang rushes down a narrow ravine with lofty precipitous sides, crowned with forests, and a tall cliff, or rather rock—for it is an isolated mass 800 feet high—hangs frowning over the meeting of the waters. The Erh-tao Chiang, though shown in the maps as the main stream of the river, is, as its name implies, the second. It is not very much more than half as broad as its fellow, though very deep. Beyond this point we came on extensive gold-washings, where we were warned to look to our guns, as the diggings were situated in a kind of no-man's land, out of the jurisdiction and protection both of mandarin and guild, and upwards of three hundred outlaws had assembled there to wash the sand for gold. However, though we spent a night quite close to them, they did us no harm.
At last we crossed the Wa-pi Ho, the Khuifa river of the maps, one of the finest tributaries of the Sungari. Beyond this it was comparatively plain sailing. The country was settled, and the roads wide enough for carts. We emerged from the perpetual gloom of the forests and the everlasting chop, chop, of the axe clearing away trees from the path was heard no more. One unmistakable sign soon announced that we were out of the safe protection of the guilds. All important shops had high walls and small fortifications to protect them against brigands, and we crossed one low pass, called the Ching-ling, which was a favourite haunt for these gentry. Not very long before three carts laden with valuables—opium, deer-horns, and the like—were looted in open day, and nine persons in charge of them were murdered. During our progress from Mukden to Kirin we made a collection of flowers and plants, the preservation of which was a source of some difficulty and anxiety, owing to the constant rain. The Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has kindly favoured me with the following note upon it:-
"It comprises upwards of 500 species of Flowering Plants, 32 Ferns, and 10 Lycopods and Horsetails (Equisetum). Unlike the vegetation of the mountains of the Peking region and the neighbouring provinces, this specimen of the flora of Manchuria contains a very small endemic element, and less than half a dozen absolute novelties. Among the genera characteristic of the flora of North-eastern Asia, Stenocoeliurn, Eleutherococcus, Platycodon, Glossocomia, Metaplexis, Brachy-botrys, Siphonostegia, and Funkia are represented; but with few other exceptions the genera are dispersed all round the north temperate zone, and many of these have a very much wider range. In short, it is a part of the same floral region to which the British Islands belong, and no fewer than 160 of the species collected, or nearly a third of the total, are identical with the species inhabiting these islands. These species are almost all herbs or very dwarf alpine shrubs. As in temperate North-eastern Asia generally, the proportion of arboreous and shrubby species to herbaceous [page 549] species is relatively high. They include three limes, six maples, one pear, one mountain ash, one cherry, one bird-cherry, two thorns, one elder, one dogwood, one ash, five conifers, three willows, two poplars, two hazels, and one oak." The predominant Natural orders are: Compositae, 65 species; Rosacea, 30 species; Liliaceae, 28 species; Ranunculaceae, 27 species; and LecrumiIlosae, 20 species; and conspicuous genera are Aquilegia (columbine), Poeonia, Dianthus, Potentilla, Lathyrus, Spiraea, Aster, Artemisia, Senecio, Saussurea, Adenophora, (Campanula), Polygonum (knotgrass), Lilium, &c.
"Otherwise noteworthy plants:- Papaver alpinum, Vitis vinifera, Trifolium lupinaster, Saxifraga (a new species with large peltate leaves), Linnoea borealis, Phyllodoce coerulea, Utricularia intermedia, Pinus mandshurica, Lilium (various species)."
A supplementary collection was also made in the autumn on the Mongolian steppes. We also preserved a small number of bird-skins, though the rapidity of our movements and the obstacles we met with greatly impeded our ornithological efforts. Dr. Bowdler Sharpe, of the British Museum, has obliged me with the following observations on our specimens:-
The collection comprises the following interesting species:- Tetrao tetrix, Lanius sphenocercus, Otis Dybowskii, Acredula caudata, Sitta villosa, Turdus naumanni, Perdix barbata, Emberiza castaneiceps, Ninox scutulata, and Accentor erythropygius. A black woodpecker is identical with a species found in the Tyrol.
A week's journey from the Hwa-pi Ho brought us to Kirin. It is probably the filthiest town in China, which is saying a good deal, and we were detained by the rain for three weeks in the filthiest inn in the place. Our room was situated on one side of a large quadrangle, which, during our stay, was one lake of mixed mud and sewage, as a large open drain ran through the centre of it.
The situation of the town is undeniably fine. The Sungari, on emerging from the hills, low spurs of which extend even beyond Kirin, sweeps round from west to east in a great bend for about four miles, and then turns northward again. The town, which contains, I should estimate, from 70,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, extends for about two miles along this bend, so close to the bank that the street along the river front is constructed of wooden flooring raised on piles, in many places rotten and most unsafe. A circle of low hills springing beyond the west end of the town curves right round behind it, and so that with the river in front and rising ground behind, it might be made a very strong place. The only thing of interest is the arsenal, which has recently been established under the management of a gentleman named Sung, who received his training under foreigners in the arsenals of Tientsin and Shanghai. He was e:xceedingly courteous and friendly, and not only showed us over the arsenal, but asked us to dinner twice, and feasted us like princes. It was extremely interesting to see a large establishment like [page 550] the arsenal filled with foreign machinery, some German, and some English, with boilers and engines and steam hammers, just such as one might see at Woolwich or Elswick, all erected and managed by Chinese without foreign assistance of any kind. It would open the eyes of those Europeans who think that Western nations have a monopoly of mechanical and administrative ability. And you may like to hear the Chinese verdict on English, compared with German machinery. The latter was considered to work more quickly and did light work better, but the English was more solid, and could be depended upon for accuracy. Amongst other curiosities, Mr. Sung showed us a machine gun invented, perhaps it would be more correct to say adapted, by one of his foremen from a Western model. It was so portable that two men could carry it about and the tripod on which it worked with the greatest ease. We were shown it at work, and it can fire eighty shots a minute smoothly and without any symptom of obstruction. On the opposite side of the river to the arsenal a powder factory has also been put up, in which gunpowder is being manufactured on the most approved principles. The fact that one of the first uses to which the Chinese are putting the mechanical knowledge they learn from foreigners is the construction of machines for destroying their fellow-creatures, affords food for reflection.
At Kirin we changed our pack-mules for carts to get over the ground faster, but our start did not augur well. The road through the great northern gate of the town, the capital of the province, was so much out of repair, that the carts stuck in it for a couple of hours, and one was upset in a lake of black mud. That, however, is not an uncommon sight at the entrance even of Pekin. We followed the left bank of the Sungari for about 24 miles, and then crossed it at a place called Wu-lu-kai, where stand the remains of giant walls, said to be those of a city which flourished a thousand years ago. Père Verbiest went there with the Emperor Kanghi in 1682, and it was even then described as the first city in all the country, and formerly the seat of the Tartar Emperors.
About twelve miles beyond this we crossed a fine stream 120 yards wide, called the Shih-chia-tzu, which has apparently escaped the notice, I do not know how, of previous travellers. Our onward journey followed the track taken by the Archimandrite Palladius in 1870. As far as Petuna the country was richly cultivated, and the crops were very fine, principally the tall millet, beans, and hemp, the last-named taller than I ever saw it before. The rivers were still in flood, and the whole country at the junction of the Sungari and the Nouni was under water, forming a lake ten miles from shore to shore. The day we arrived a storm came on, and the ferryman refused to start. There was no shelter on the river bank, and we could not get back, as the marsh we had just crossed was by that time like a sponge and quite [page 551] impassable; so we were in a dilemma. We tried sending one cart back, but it stuck in the mud, and took two hours to extricate. Eventually, after a wretched day spent in the rain and wind, the ferrymen were persuaded to start, and shortly after nightfall we came to a tiny fisherman's hut on an island in the ocean, the owners of which had pity on us, and took us in. I regret, however, that the exposure gave Mr. Fulford an illness from which he did not recover for some time.
Beyond the Sungari we came for the first time on the Mongolian steppes. Great parts of the country were inundated, and lakes were to be seen on either hand, stretching far away into the distance. We could not, therefore, follow the Archimandrite's route exactly, but made numerous diversions. The steppe is so bare, that a single tree forms a conspicuous object for many miles round. At intervals there are small villages adjoining the Government postal stations, and occasionally some Mongol houses are to be met with.
In this region the Mongols have
almost entirely abandoned their nomad
life, and we only saw two youarts, both of them in course of
Great herds of ponies and sheep were grazing on the plain, and
there was a little cultivation, but the Mongol is a bad farmer,
and the crops
were very poor. We were thankful, how-ever, to get from them
and what is more, ghee, the existence of which outside India we
had not before
suspected. They also, such is the abundance of cream,
manufacture a kind of
cheese called vaiphi, or milk skin, which is very good. It is
made by simmering
a bowlful of milk for hours together till the residuum is left
in the shape of
a cake about half an inch thick. When fresh and soft it is very
like Devonshire cream, and when dried it will keep for a long
time. In this
region the houses cease to have gabled roofs, having flat
terraces instead, as
in Egypt and other Oriental countries. The explanation is that
wood is scarce
in the north, and flat roofs can be constructed with a smaller
Tsitsihar is about 360 miles north of Kirin, and we did the journey in 18 days. We might have done it in less, but unfortunately the only agreement we could make with our carters was one for a daily wage, so, like true Chinese, they purposely delayed our progress. I strongly recommend any one travelling in China never to make an agreement of that kind. It will be far cheaper in the end, and far more satisfactory, to agree even to exorbitant terms for piece-work.
We had contemplated going as far as Aigun and Blagoveschensk, but except for an occasional Buddhist monument, exactly like those of Ladakh, the country was not very interesting, so we determined to visit the settlements north of the Sungari, which have been springing up in this region with great rapidity during the last few years. So we turned towards the south-west, and a journey of about 170 miles over entirely [page 552] bare steppe brought us to the flourishing town of Hulan. The steppe was like an undulating sea of grass, the crest of each wave being about four miles apart, and almost entirely uninhabited. In some places the soil is strongly impregnated with alkalies, from which by lixiviation various preparations of soda and saltpetre are made. The process is very rude, exactly akin to what may be seen any day in Ladakh and in Sind. Vast flocks of antelopes, hwang-yang, were occasionally met with, as well as large flocks of bustards, some of which we secured. Numerous varieties of cranes and wildfowl were also observed, but with the exception of the bustard they were all too shy to allow of our obtaining specimens.
The steppe comes to an end about 30 miles from Hulan, and the contrast between the uncultivated prairie which belongs to the Mongol dukes and the rich reclaimed tract beyond, which is in the jurisdiction of the Chinese, was very abrupt and very striking. The district we now entered has only been settled in comparatively recent years. It lies between a branch of the great Khingan range, which extends north-ward up to and beyond the river Amur, and the river Sungari. It is from 70 to 100 miles broad in the widest part, but proceeding eastwards the spurs approach nearer and nearer to the river till but a narrow strip is left. The immigration for some years past has been annually increasing. The principal towns are Hulan on the river of the same name, Pe-tun-lin-tzu 50 miles to the north-east, and Pa-yen-shu-shu about the same distance to the south-east of Pe-tun-lin-tzu. All these places offered a great contrast to the more ancient towns of Manchuria. The streets are crowded with shops, spacious, elegantly decorated, and full of goods of a better class than are seen in towns further south; building operations are going on as rapidly as in a London suburb, and everything bears evidence of growing and prosperous communities. It may be called the Manitoba of China. Unfortunately, the administration is still very imperfect, and the country is infested with banditti, who find an asylum in the mountains to the north. It is not fair to say that the authorities are blind to the existence of the pest, or that they fail to do anything towards putting it down. The greater part of the garrison of Tsitsihar itself is employed on outpost duty against the brigands, and at the large village of Chao-hu-wo-pu there was an officer on special duty with a flying column. Some French missionaries situated at Pa-yen-shu-shu and the vicinity told us that the number of robbers executed was very great, amounting in the last year or two to no less than 500 or 600; but all mandarins are not energetic, and all Manchu soldiers, especially those who have taken to gambling and dissipation, are not brave. One mandarin we heard of as conniving with the brigands at sacking an important town, and several instances were told us of soldiers who had surrounded brigands ignominiously letting them escape. In India these malefactors would be pursued into their [page 553] fastnesses, or the passes into the hills would be blockaded, and they would be starved out; but the mandarins reserve all action till the enemy actually come down to raid. It may be wondered therefore that colonisation should continue extending, for both life and property are most insecure But if settlers were deterred by dangers of the kind, Red Indians would be masters of North America to this day. They sack towns, villages, isolated distilleries and pawnbrokers' shops, and occasionally, as in Italy, they carry away men whom they suspect to be possessed of wealth; a ransom is then demanded, failing which the brigands invariably keep to their word, and send the victim's head back to his friends. Occasionally they try what the cutting off of an ear or nose may do to extract money when sending for it in the first instance. We ourselves, towards dusk one evening, met with a party of five all armed with rifles, on the high road to Pe-tun-lin-tzu, but we saw them at a distance and displayed our guns. Our carts were going at a trot, and they did not attempt to molest us. One of the missionaries told us afterwards that it is thought unlucky to interfere with “foreign devils." The towns and large villages, and all important places of business are as strongly fortified as possible, even to the mounting of small cannon on the tops of the walls, and most travellers carry arms of some kind. One kind of life-preserver was new to us. It consists of a series of heavy links of iron, with a piece about six inches long at the end, the whole attached to a short wooden handle, somewhat resembling a dog-whip. It gives a tremendous blow, but of course would be useless if the assailant closed. From Pe-tun-lin-tzu as far as San-sing, and even as far as Ninguta and Hunchun, the authorities sent an escort of soldiers with us, but they would not have been of much use had the brigands attacked, as they were always loitering behind or had cantered on ahead to secure themselves good accommodation.
There are three French missionaries established at Pa-yen-shu-shu and in the neighbourhood, all worthy specimens of their race and sacred profession. They received us with the greatest cordiality, and treated us to home-made claret and eau de vie, prepared by themselves from the wild grapes of the mountains, and very good liquor it was. Their congregations are not very large, but they are extending, and here, as elsewhere, it was evident these good Fathers enjoyed the thorough affection and confidence of their people; not that this is surprising, for they have devoted their lives to their work, and never contemplate returning to their native country. A few years ago a fourth missionary attempted to establish himself at Hulan, but he was attacked by a number of ruffianly soldiers, at whom, with great want of judgment, he fired a pistol and killed a mandarin. The result was, he himself was nearly beaten and tortured to death. It might have been expected that this incident would have led to the position of the other three missionaries becoming untenable, but it is creditabIe, both to the Chinese [page 554] and to the missionaries themselves, that they have suffered nothing in consequence.
The missionaries told us that the Solon Manchus who inhabit the hills to the north are still as savage as they were two hundred years ago, when even the women were described as riding and hunting exactly like the men. While we were at Hulan, three Chinese returned from the hills where they had been searching for a medicinal root, the survivors of a party of thirteen, nearly all of whom had been murdered by the Solons.
A march or two beyond Pa-yen-shu-shu the cultivation begins to fall off. The low ground is somewhat swampy, broken by a series of low undulations of gravelly, poor soil, and the price demanded by the Government does not offer sufficient inducements. Between Pei-yang-mu, the place at which the high road from Kirin crosses the Sungari, and San-sing, about 120 miles, cultivation is scanty and bad. Still, a great deal of good land is still left.
The next place of importance was San-sing, which is situated on the right bank of the Sungari, on a spit of land between the two rivers the Hurka or Mutan Chiang, and the Wu-kung. The first is about 150 yards broad, and for a mile below the confluence its clear blue waters can be seen flowing side by side with those of the muddy Sungari. The Wu-kung joins the Sungari about a mile further west, flowing along the base of a precipitous range of hills. It is about 50 yards broad, and at the time of our visit was ten feet deep, though occasionally it is shallow enough to ford. San-sing is about 150 miles above the place where it joins the Amur, and 300 from Khabaroska, the capital of the Russian Maritime Province. There is no road along its banks, but the stream is very deep, and navigable by large craft. The authorities do not permit immigrants from the south to settle below San-sing, and trade between that place and the Russian stations on the Amur is discouraged, which is a pity. The Amur is the natural outlet for the fertile districts North of Kirin, and were the Russian and Chinese officials, or perhaps I ought to say, the Russian and Chinese Governments, on a thoroughly friendly footing, a commerce valuable to both countries might easily be developed. To guard this great waterway into their country, the Chinese have erected a fort about seven miles below the town, at a point where the Sungari is very narrow. The fort is armed with five great Krupp guns, and the newest and most expensive sort of shells. A number of soldiers were hard at work in the fort, but most of the garrison, so we were informed, are kept out of mischief at a gold-mine, which is worked on behalf of the Government, a little distance off.
At San-sing we tried to make the acquaintance of the Yu-p'i-Tatzu, or Fish-skin Tartars, who wear clothes made of salmon-skin. They have now retired 100 miles down the Sungari, and only come up to [page 555] San-sing in the winter to make purchases, so we could not see any of them.
From San-sing we proceeded up the right bank of the Mutan Chian, as far as Ninguta, about 170 miles to the south. The scenery down this river must be very lovely in summer. It winds about in a deep valley between hills covered with dwarf oak, and which in most places come down to the water's edge, while on the east rises a chain of fine mountains, the tops of which are covered with lofty pine forests, and form the watershed of the Hurka and the Usuri. The fall of the river is very gradual, nor did we notice any rapids during the whole length of its course. Its average width is about 100 to 150 yards, the depth varying from five to ten feet, so that there are no fords. Occasionally it divides into three or four channels, the islands formed by which are covered with willows, which add greatly to the picturesqueness of the valley. The road, which was constructed about seven years ago, I believe, for military purposes, follows the old mule-track, and is in consequence barely fit for wheeled traffic. It crosses a constant series of spurs, some of which are extremely steep, and we had several accidents in crossing them. Between the spurs lie swamps which have been cause-wayed and bridged in places, but many of the bridges are broken down, and the quagmires have occasionally swallowed up the roadway. In addition to this the hill-sides themselves frequently form one connected morass, owing to the vast number of springs which rise high up on the mountain sides. Had not the first frosts of winter begun and the surface become hard, we should have found this road very difficult.
Forty miles from San-sing we stopped at Wei-tzu Ho, from which place the mule-track starts that was taken by the heroic M. Venault in his memorable journey to search for the murdered M. de la Brunière in the year 1850. At the present day even carts find their way across the mountains as far as the junction of the Moli with the Usuri. Up to Wei-tzu Ho cultivation is pretty general, but south of it the valley narrows, and population almost ceases. For upwards of 100 miles almost the only houses are those occupied by military outposts, each manned by from fifteen to twenty soldiers, whose duties are to carry the post, and, if necessary, capture brigands. They are garrisoned half from San- Sing and half from Ninguta. Those who have read Mr. Ravenstein's work, 'The Russians on the Amur,' may remember the following passage from M. de la Brunière's letter:-
" Towards the end of September, at the approach of winter, another kind of fish, called tamaha, appears in the Amur and Usuri. It comes from the sea in shoals of several thousands, and weighs from 10 to 15 lbs. in weight; the shape, and especially the flavour of its flesh, gave one reason to suppose it a kind of small salmon. God in His paternal providence, mindful even of those who do not glorify Him, gives it to the poor inhabitants of this country as an excellent preservative against the [page 556] rigours of winter. I state what I found by experience, without wine and without flour, supported by a very little millet and a morsel of the dried fish, I have suffered less from a continual cold of 51°, and which during many days exceeded 65°, than I did in the south of Liao tung, with better food and temperature of some 4 degrees below zero."
It so happened that the season
for catching these salmon was at its
height when we passed up the valley. The principal tributaries
of the Mutan Chiang
were dammed with weirs of wickerwork, on the far side of which
were coops connected
with the weir by small openings. When a shoal of fish is going
up, these coops
fill in a short time with almost a solid mass of salmon, and
they are hauled
out with a gaff as fast as the implement can be inserted. In a
few minutes we
saw a whole boat-load landed. The eaves of all the houses in
this region are at
this time hung with thousands of fish split open and drying in
the sun, which
when cooked are not at all bad eating.
At the eighth stage from San-sing, about twenty miles north of Ninguta, we halted a day at Yeh-ho, where the Ninguta garrison is stationed, Yeh-ho being the place where the road across the mountains to Lake Hinka and the Russian settlement of Nikolsk commences. There is a little trade between the two places, which shows signs of increasing. About thirteen miles further on the Mutan Chiang makes a sweep to the west, and the road crosses it. Seven miles further stands Ninguta, on the left bank of the river.
San-sing, as might be expected from the discouragement given to settlers, is not a very thriving town. Ninguta, on the contrary, is making great progress. The valley of the Mutan Chiang widens considerably from Yeh Ho, so that Ninguta is really in the centre of an extensive plain, connected with which are numerous fertile valleys, drained by affluents of the main river. There is little trade between San-sing and Ninguta, though the river is navigable for large boats the whole of the summer. Only three or four boats a year, we were told, come from San-sing laden with earthenware and fragile articles, and they return laden with melons and fresh vegetables. With Hunchun, on the other hand, the Ninguta trade may be called considerable, as there is not much cultivation about the latter place, and it depends for flour, wine, and other bulky necessaries of life almost entirely upon Ninguta.
At Ninguta we found one civilised institution, such as would hardly be expected in so remote a place, I mean a telegraph office. More for military than for commercial and general purposes, the Chinese are now busy connecting all their frontier stations with Pekin by telegraph. An office was opened at Hunchun only a few days before we arrived there, and the posts were lying ready for erection this season between San-sing and Ninguta. We met an officer of the Department between Kirin and Tsitsihar, surveying a line between Kirin and Aigun on the Amur, which also will be opened, I believe, in the course of [page 557] the present season. It seems rather like putting the cart before the horse, having telegraphs before the post-office, but from the Chinese point of view that circumstance is all in the telegraph's favour, as merchants use the line more than they otherwise would, and help to pay its expenses.
Hunchun by the road is about 180 miles south
of Ninguta. We crossed to
the right bank of the Mutan Chiang, a few miles below the city,
on the 28th
October. The season was by all accounts a very mild one, but
from this time the
weather got colder and colder. Leaving on October 29th, the
starting was 11° Fahr., and from that date onward till we had
almost got back to Mukden, it
varied from that to -14° Fahr. The days were very short,
so we had to rise before daylight and
commence our march even before the first streak of dawn. It was
healthy work. We dressed ourselves like our carters, in long
sheep-skin robes, reaching
down to the heels, with fox-skin caps that covered our ears and
necks, and when
riding on the carts we pulled on over our boots and trowsers a
gigantic loose pair
of top-boots, also made of sheep-skin. Fortunately we had very
little snow, or
we might have suffered serious detentions. It took nine days to
Ninguta to Hunchun. The road on the whole is a good deal better
than that from San-sing.
About 55 miles from Ninguta we crossed the range which divides
the valley of
the Mutan Chiang from the basin of the T'umen. It is 1460 feet
in height, and
covered with dense forest, principally birch and pine; amongst
the latter a
tree bearing an edible nut was conspicuous. After crossing two
steep but not very high, both under 800 feet, we came upon the
Kaya-ho, one of
the principal affluents of the T'umen, here about 50 yards
across. Leaving that
on our right, we went up an affluent called the Wang-ching Ho,
across three more
spurs, after which we found ourselves on the bank of the T'umen,
a little below
its confluence with the Kaya Ho, just in the centre of its great
The place where we first struck the T'umen, or, as the Chinese call it, the Kauli Chiang, is a basin several miles in diameter, completely surrounded by mountains, which bears the appearance of having at one time been a lake; for around the base of the hills are to be seen the remains of an ancient beach, as in the Jhelum valley in Kashmir, and little, isolated, elevated patches in the middle look as if they had been islands. The river has found its way out of this basin through a low range of hills by a narrow rocky defile. So close does the cliff approach the water that there is barely room for a cart to pass. Beyond, the valley again widens, and cultivation becomes general. On the opposite side of the river is Korea, and we could see a good deal of cultivation and a town called Ta-wen-chang, surrounded by a wall of considerable pretensions. The Jesuit Fathers have recorded their sensations on reaching the banks of the T'umen, "with nothing but woods and wild beasts on one side, while the other presents to the view all that art and labour [page 558] could produce in the best cultivated kingdom. They saw walled cities, and determined the situation of four of them, which bounded Korea on the north."
A few miles below the defile the road leaves the river on the right and passes the affluent called Mi Chiang, and the village of the same name. Twenty miles further on stands the town of Hunchun. It consists of an enclosure about 800 yards long by 400 yards broad, surrounded by a lofty stone wall, inside which is the General's yamen, and some inns and shops. The barracks are all outside, and so is the principal part of the bazaar. We recognised with pleasure that we were now within a measurable distance of civilisation, for the shops were full of foreign goods imported from Russia, such as kerosene lamps, clocks, glycerine soap, comfits, biscuits, chintz, English teacups, American canned fruit, and a quantity of miscellaneous goods. Three parts of them, I am glad to say, were English.
Hunchun is essentially a garrison town, though there are a few dealers in seaweed, toadstools, and medicinal roots, large quantities of which are sent to Ninguta and Kirin, and thence to all parts of China. There is also a considerable trade in deer-horns. Shortly after arrival we went to call on the General—an officer of distinguished service in the Tae-ping war. He received us with the greatest possible politeness and cordiality, and sent us a dinner which for excellence of cooking could not be surpassed by any restaurant in Europe. Perhaps we appreciated it the more, because from the time we left Pa-yen-shu-shu we had lived exclusively on a diet of pheasants, only occasionally varied by a wild goose or a blackcock. Throughout the whole of Eastern Manchuria pheasants swarm to an extent that is scarcely credible. Towards the end of harvest they collect from the mountains in the stubble, and I have seen occasionally 200 or 300 at a time rise from a single field. They lie very close, but are very strong on the wing, and they gave us very good shooting. In some parts too, wild geese swarmed in myriads. They generally kept high in the air, but occasionally flew low enough to allow of our securing one or two. As for the black game, they were as tame as barn-door fowls, perching in large flocks on the willow trees, and occasionally were good enough to allow us to go under the trees and pick out the finest of them sitting.
A considerable garrison is kept
at Hunchun; the barracks are surrounded
by trees, and the streets are cleaner than any Chinese town I
have seen. One
does almost think the General had attended a Sanitary
in India. Some of the troops are still armed with such
antiquated weapons as gingalls
(huge muskets, each of which takes two men to carry) and old
smooth-bores, while a vast number of fighting men are wasted in
which though very picturesque, are not likely to prove of
practical use against
[page 559] The Russian frontier, which has only recently been demarcated afresh by a Chinese and a Russian Commission, is not more than 8 or 10 miles from Hunchun. The road passes for five or six miles over an open plain, on which the Chinese have recently built two forts, and ascends a low range, an outwork of a lofty chain forming the watershed between the Tumen and the Suifun, which last river runs into the sea a little beyond Possiet harbour. Scarcely a mile from the crest of this ridge there is a brass pillar, with archaic Chinese characters recording the fact that the boundary was fixed there by Imperial command under Commissioner Wu a few months before we arrived; and about three miles beyond that the Russians have constructed an outpost for 200 or 300 Cossacks. We were not provided with passports, as we had no intention of travelling in Russian territory, but we wrote to the officer commanding, asking leave to pay him a visit, to hear the news from Europe, and to buy some stores and provisions. We received a most courteous answer, offering us the cordial but frugal hospitality of a Cossack. Accordingly we rode across, and found Colonel Sokalowsky busy with the construction of the new outpost. The whole place was like a bee-hive, for the Cossacks have to house themselves, and a fine barrack-room, together with subsidiary buildings, such as stables, hospitals, bakery, married quarters, officers' houses, and last, but not least, a great Russian bath were under construction. We were told the amount of the grant made for the entire work, and I am sure a British Royal Engineer would consider it ridiculously inadequate. The Colonel was himself his own architect, engineer, and clerk of the works, and his house was an arsenal in petto. On one side were ranged the carbines of his men, and around the room were nails, hinges, rope, twine, stirrup-irons, leather, in fact every kind of miscellaneous article required by his men for their houses, their horses or equipments. He showed us everything, and then gave us a capital dinner and a shake-down on the floor.
Next morning we rode off to the principal military station, Novaviyesk, fifteen miles further on, on the north shore of Possiet harbour. In summer it must be a lovely spot, surrounded by lofty mountains, with the ocean close by, but in winter it is desolate in the extreme. It bears a strong family likeness to a small Indian station, the shops, barracks, offices, and picturesque Greek church being located promiscuously, with quite the Indian want of system. The shops were quite as good as the ordinary Parsee shops, and we got all the luxuries we wanted. Possiet itself, a settlement of only thirty houses, is about two miles off as the crow flies, on the seaward side of the harbour, but by road round the head of the harbour the distance is ten miles. Novaviyesk is situated on the edge of a small stream. Two or three miles to the north, up a valley, is a colony of farmers, but they were not doing very well. The colonel informed us they did not grow enough food to support them- [page 560] selves, and the Government had to import flour to save them from starvation. A good many Koreans have taken up land in the vicinity, and the Russians consider them docile, industrious, and well behaved. We watched a party of young Cossacks being drilled, and others being instructed in gymnastics, and it was difficult to realise one was not back again in India. West of the harbour, at the point near the mouth of the Tumen where the Korean, Chinese, and Russian frontiers join, is another Russian outpost. On our return to the frontier we dined again with the colonel, meeting the Russian Imperial Commissioner, M. Methuen, who spoke English. He told us of the failure of the Home Rule movement in England, of the expulsion of the Orleans Princes and Prince Alexander of Bulgaria, and other things which were news to us, though ancient history to the rest of the world.
On our return to Hunchun the party divided. Mr. Younghusband and Mr. Fulford went back to Ninguta by the road we came, to pick up our servant whom we had sent from Kirin to the coast for letters, and to see the remarkable plain of stone, described by a former Consul in Manchuria, Mr. Adkins, while I went alone by a mule-track which leads across the hills to Omoso on the Kirin and Ninguta road. This route follows the course of an affluent of the Kaya Ho till it reaches the main range of the Chang-pai Shan. The road branches off at Liang-shui-chien-tzu, 30 miles from Hunchun, on the Ninguta road, and after about 50 miles of alternate ridge, valley, and swamp, it descends on the Wei-tzu Ho, at a place called Nan-kang-tzu, where are three barracks garrisoned by about 150 men. It follows a valley, about 4 or 5 miles wide, which is now being settled, for about 25 miles. After crossing two spurs, it rejoins the river bank, and follows the valley for about 30 miles further, to the foot of the main chain of mountains. Here is an easy pass called Ba-la-pa-ling, and the road then descends upon a plateau much higher than the valley just left, in which the Mutan Chiang and its tributaries take their source. This plateau is intersected by vast morasses, over some of which causeways have been recently constructed, but there is also a good deal of arable land, and settlers are to be found every few miles. The plateau I spoke of is divided into sections by numerous low spurs jutting out from the main chain, and occasionally singular isolated hills like islands are to be observed.
For about thirty-five miles the road keeps along the left bank of the Sha Ho, which falls into the Mutan Chiang not far from Tung-o-kang- tzu, a fair-sized village, where a small mandarin resides. About sixteen miles to the south-west of this place stands the town of Autun, now called Tung-hwa-hsien, a walled town with a small garrison, which I conceive may be identical with the place marked on the maps Odoli, from which place a mythical history relates that the Manchu dynasty originally sprang. Unfortunately I was unable to visit it. I was travelling with a long train of pack mules, the owners of which refused [page 561] to wait for me. Some modern authorities believe the existence of Odoli to be entirely imaginary. Pere Du Halde, however, describes it in considerable detail, as being very strong, accessible only by a narrow cause-way, which rises in the middle of the water, where may be seen great staircases of stone, with other remains of a palace; so that it yet remains to be seen whether this account was merely recorded by the Fathers who surveyed Manchuria from Chinese hearsay, or whether the ruins really exist. I enquired of everybody for Odoli, but the name was entirely unknown to them. This, however, is not surprising, as even the Manchus have forgotten he old Tartar nomenclature, and invariably call places by their Chinese names.
Sixteen miles beyond Tung-o-kang-tzu the road crosses the Mutan Chiang, there about 60 yards wide, at its junction with a stream called the Chu-erh-tao Ho, following the course of which the Kirin high road is struck at the large village of Omoso, six or eight miles further on. This highway crosses the watershed between the Sungari and the T’umen by the Ch'ang-tsai-ling, a lofty and steep pass, about 20 miles to the west of the village. A special guard of soldiers was given to protect me while crossing, as in spite of a number of soldiers being posted near the top, the forest-clad slopes of the range are the home of a band of brigands, the pursuit of which gives the soldiers perennial employment. A day or two before I arrived, the guard had penetrated the hills, and found the brigands' house, but the occupants were away, so the house was burned, and the soldiers returned. In 187l, when a Consul (Mr. Adkins) crossed this pass, he saw the dead bodies of some merchants, who had been killed by brigands, still lying on the side of the road.
About 20 miles from the foot of the pass the mule-track again left the main high road on the right, and crossed another range called Hai-ching-ling, almost as high, but not as steep, as the Ch'ang-tsai-ling, and another march beyond that brought me to Kirin. I was glad when this portion of the journey was over, for the mules went so slowly that we never started later than two in the morning, with the thermometer below zero, and continued marching till four or five the next afternoon.
Two days after I got to Kirin my companions, by hard marching, rejoined me. When returning to Ninguta, they had made the last two marches through the fertile valley of the Malan Ho, an affluent of the Mutan Chiang, and they had visited the remains of an old city called Tung-ching-chang. They describe it as having been a very large place, with lofty stone walls and good stone houses. The people have a tradition that it is of Korean origin, but others hold that it was the capital of the Bo-hai* [* Or Pei-hai] State, which about the 8th century A.D. was recognised by the then reigning dynasty of China, and was the capital city of the Kin dynasty before they established themselves as Emperors. [page 562] at Pekin. Monsignor Boyer, the coadjutor Bishop of Manchuria, who has been in the province more than thirty years, believes that this is the real site of the ancient Odoli, although the description does not correspond with that quoted above.
My companions had crossed the Plain of Stone, passing by Lake Piltan. The so-called Plain of Stone is a broad valley, formerly filled by a morass, over which a stream of lava has flowed, so that it bears the appearance of a solidified sea of molten metal. In some places the crust is deeply cleft by fissures at the bottom of which the water can be heard gurgling, which has given the Chinese the idea that there is a subterranean lake below. A good description of the Plain of Stone and of Lake Piltan may be found in Consul Adkins's report, published in the China Blue Book for 1872. West of the Ch'ang-tsai-ling, my two companions had followed the main road over the Lau-yeh-ling, which is about 10 miles shorter than the Ha-ching-ling, but not so easy to climb.
From Kirin we went to Kuan-chang-tzu, the most important commercial city in Manchuria, containing about 100,000 inhabitants. The cold weather traffic had begun, and there was as much life and bustle as in the city of London. We then went to Hsiau Pa-kia-tzu, the residence of Monsignor Boyer, and two of his colleagues, and stayed a day to see the college, schools, and church. The brigands were at work in this neighbourhood also. We saw a party of them that had just been captured, and heard of another which had visited an inn close by only the day before we arrived.
We then turned our faces southward, making for Mukden and Yingtzu with all the speed possible. Numerous high roads, in winter as hard and level as a billiard table, connect northern with southern Manchuria, and the traffic is very great. One day we counted upwards of 900 carts which we passed, most of them huge vehicles carrying upwards of a ton of goods, drawn by eight or nine mules or ponies.
During this part of the journey
we saw the greater part of Liao-tung.
Though it suffered recently from great floods it is very
and covered with flourishing towns and villages. Whatever the
merits or demerits
of Chinese rule, this province certainly has improved enormously
in the last
two centuries. In 1682 Pere Verbiest wrote that only "a few
lately been built within the inclosures of the old cities; few
of brick, and
most thatched, and in no order," and that "there remained not
least mark of a multitude of towns and villages that stood
before the (Manchu-Chinese)
wars," and in 1709 the Jesuit surveyors recorded, "The towns are
little note and thinly peopled, and without any defence except a
half ruined or made of earth, though some of them, as Ichow and
very well situate for trade." It is evident that the walls have
repaired [page 563] as there are now cities with really splendid
walls and in
tolerably good preservation, while inside and out they swarm
with a prosperous
At Mukden we spent a few days with our friends the Presbyterian missionaries, who are doing a very fine work in that neighbourhood. At Yingtzu we separated. Mr. Younghusband and Mr. Fulford went due west to Tientsin and Pekin by land. I myself was obliged to leave China without delay, and the river at Yingtzu being closed by ice, I proceeded southward to Port Arthur, which is open all the year round. Its Chinese name is Lu-shuan-kou and it is situated at the southern extremity of the promontory known on the Admiralty charts as Kwan-tung.[* Lit. East of the Great Wall, a term applied by the Chinese to Liau-tung generally.] I reached it after eleven days. In the neighbourhood of Yingtzu the country is low and flat, so much so that sea water is led over it at high tide, from which salt is manufactured. Further south the country is extremely hilly, and the land on the banks of the many streams are so liable to floods that the cultivated area bears but a small proportion to the whole.
One of the principal industries in these parts is the growth of Tusser [*In Chinese, T'u ssu,-- local or native.- -] silk. The worms are fed on the dwarf oaks with which the hill-sides are covered, and the cocoons are gathered and wound off in winter. At one filatory there were upwards of thirty or forty young men engaged in winding silk. They were crowded together in the most insanitary way, some of them working by candlelight during the day-time. At Sha Ho, which has the honour of being the first mission station in Manchuria, the resident missionary accompanied me to a mountain called Hsien-jen Shan, the Mountain of the Sages, a fine, craggy hill, partially covered with pine trees. A road winds for some distance up a fine wild glen, the bottom of which is filled with fine oaks, and ultimately ascends the mountain by stairs cut out of the solid rock to a curious cave high up on the face of the cliff. In this recess have been constructed several Buddhist temples, and two or three priests are always on duty. The view around of crags and precipices and pine-clad ravines is superb.
My next point was Ta-chiang Ho, a small port on the Yellow Sea, from which I followed a route previously described by Dr. Williamson to Kin-chao. At this place the promontory is barely a mile wide, and the Chinese are fortifying it. This part of the country abounds in remains attributed to the Koreans, who were masters of all the country as far North as Mukden in the time of the Tang dynasty, by whom, after very hard fighting, they were expelled in the year 645. One of these forts, still in perfect preservation, is about 120 yards square, with square flanking towers at the corners and in the middle of each side. The walls are 25 feet high, composed of stone at the bottom and fine large bricks, similar to those which may be seen in the Great [page 564] Wall of China. The gate is very strongly fortified. This fort was probably built as a protection for the port of Pi-tzu-wo against pirates. Moreover, on the top of every conspicuous hill is a watchtower composed of a solid pyramid of masonry, 40 feet square at the base, tapering off gradually to a rounded top about 40 feet from the ground. Around it is a wall about 15 feet high. The natives informed me that these were used as watchtowers and beacons, and that in former times signals could be exchanged by means of them from the end of the promontory as far north as Mukden, some 300 miles. The day before I reached Port Arthur and finished my journey I nearly met with a catastrophe. I had been warned against attempting to travel while it was snowing: a storm came on, but I persisted in pushing on. Before very long the whole country was buried under a sheet of white, and the track, which passed over very rough and broken ground, was completely obliterated, and not a sign of a house or dwelling-place could be seen. I knew that two missionaries had found themselves in such a predicament not far from the very place where I was only two years before, and they had been kept in the snow several days without food, so I began to feel uncomfortable. Fortunately, a cart came up belonging to a farmer in the neighbourhood, and he showed me the road to a cottage, where I was thankful to get shelter.
Port Arthur is situated to the
east of the Liao-ti Shan promontory, only
about sixty miles from Che-fu as a crow flies. The Chinese have
chosen it as
the headquarters of their northern fleet, and as the first line
of defence for
the capital. The harbour is a good one, with a very narrow
entrance to the sea,
and the Government has spent large sums in fortifying the coast
on each side of
it. There are thirteen forts, and the artillery officer in
command kindly let me
see one, which was armed with magnificent Krupp guns. Great
docks are also in
progress, while torpedoes, submarine mines, and similar
industries are also in
full swing. It is garrisoned by troops drilled by foreign
officers, so that
altogether it would be a hard nut for any nation to crack. Here
I found a
Chinese transport sailing for Che-fu, and in two days more my
tour was at an
end, and I had left Manchuria behind me.
From this imperfect account it may be easily gathered that before long Manchuria will cease to have any distinctive existence, and will soon constitute as integral and as thoroughly a Chinese portion of the Empire as Canton. She is at present in a transition state. The southern province is, and always has been Chinese to all intents and purposes. Manchu names and traditions may continue for long within the Imperial precincts at Pekin, but in their native country they will disappear. If China be wise she will carry out in the north and east the policy she has already begun in Liau-tung of sending her best, instead of her worst and most corrupt mandarins to a country which is of so much im- [page 565] portance, both politically and as a field for emigration and mining; she will foster, instead of repressing, colonisation in the Ch'ang-pai Shan mountains, and on the Russian border, as she will find a contented, well-to-do, loyal people a better defence against possible aggression than empty valleys and hills which are calling aloud for some one to come and occupy them. She will develope her mineral wealth, a royalty on which would amply pay for a better and therefore a more expensive administration, for in Manchuria as in China proper, the officials are infamously underpaid, a system which gives direct encouragement to corruption and every kind of abuse.
To any traveller who contemplates visiting Manchuria in the future, I would make a recommendation. He should make up his mind whether he wants sport or whether he wants exploration. If he wants sport, and chooses to devote himself to it, he could not do better than seek the Ch'ang-pai Shan in the early spring, go to Tang Ho-kou, and hunt in the hills around. He will get tiger, stag, bear, and numerous kinds of deer. Or better, perhaps, he might try the hills north of Pa-yen-shu-shu. If he prefers exploration, let him leave his rifles behind and go to the Pai-shan Mountain, explore the sources of the Yalu and T'umen as well as of the Sungari, and follow down the Korean boundary, which map-makers seem a little in doubt about. Then let him find Odoli, and hunt for a great wall, which Père du Halde says once existed between Korea and Manchuria, and for any other antiquities he may have a fancy for, and I as sure he will find it a very pleasant and interesting tour.
After the reading of the above paper, Sir THOS. WADE expressed a hope that all travellers in China would be careful, if possible, to record the names of the places visited in written Chinese. The paucity of distinct sounds in the language was necessarily the cause of great confusion. As to the country through which Mr. James had travelled to the north of Korea, it was the home of many races of which the history was more or less known for thirty centuries, and who had migrated westward. Korea, which was now bounded by the T'umen, in former ages spread right into the province of which Pekin was the capital. In the eastern end of that province there were still remains of ancient Korean cities. The authorities of all the three eastern provinces were obliged to present their reports to Court in Manchu as well as in Chinese. The whole Court at Pekin used the Manchu language en famille, and even Chinese officials when they had passed the highest degrees were commanded to study it, though they did not go very far. He deprecated the drawing of any distinction between Manchuria and the rest of China politically, whether in respect of its people or its officials. There was no reason to suppose that an inferior class of officials was sent there. In former days the provinces of Kirin and Tsitsihar were used, among other purposes, as places of exile for peccant officials, but they were administered by very high personages indeed, by cousins of the Emperor, and by officials possessing in every respect as high a status as any in the empire. It was one of the blood imperial who was governing Kirin in 1858 when General Muravief crossed the Amur and extorted a treaty from him conceding to Russia from the [page 566] Sea of Okotsk down to Vladivostock, some 20° of latitude. The then emperor had had on his hands for six years the Taeping rebellion, and had just got into a quarrel with England and France, but notwithstanding that he by no means surrendered the country with indifference: on the contrary, while he did not punish his cousin, he exposed the second in command for two months in a wooden collar on the banks of the Amur. Two years later, when the French and English armies had advanced to Pekin, and when General Ignatief was negotiating with regard to the frontiers, the pressure of circumstances surrounding the Imperial Court was such as to leave them no option but to concede whatever Russia chose to take. Still he did not believe that the Chinese now contemplated any attempt to recover the 20° of coast-line. They were spending vast sums upon the purchase of Krupp guns and the manufacture of arms, but there were very good reasons why they should do so. Ever since 1860 foreigners had been hammering away at China to adopt their steamers and railways, and bridges, and arms, and to drill troops; it therefore could not be wondered at that they were taking steps to defend themselves. He rejoiced to hear such an excellent account as Mr. James had given of the climate and country of Manchuria. One of the early writers said of it, “Although it is doubtful in what part of the world the Creator may have placed Paradise it is unquestionable that Paradise could not have been placed in Manchuria, and this I infer from the aridity of the soil and the frigidity of the climate." The tobacco of Manchuria was extremely esteemed in China, and was a source of considerable revenue at Pekin. There was a very heavy octroi laid upon it at Pekin, and it was a Government monopoly. But Manchuria by no means took the lead among the poppy producing provinces of the empire. He was glad of the opportunity of gainsaying the assertion that Englishmen introduced opium into China. It was introduced there by the Portuguese, near the end of the sixteenth century, and when its importation became so serious a question between China and England, it was already grown to an enormous extent in China itself. At the time of the war in 1839 the English importation into the country would not have supplied one per cent of the population, and within seven years of that date the poppy was ascertained to be cultivated in ten of the eighteen provinces; that grown in Kansu being spoken of as rivalling the foreign opium. He congratulated Mr. James on having penetrated the mystery of the Ch'ang Pai Shan, the Long White Mountains. Owing to a confusion between ch'ang, perpetual, and ch’ang, long the range had been supposed to be covered with eternal snow, which would have justified the assertion of different travellers that they were so many thousand feet high. The Chinese got rid of the question by sometimes saying they were 10,000 feet, and sometimes 100,000 feet high. Mr. James, however, had discovered that the whiteness was not owing to snow, but to a pumice stone. The lake which had been mentioned had a foremost place in the consideration of the present dynasty. The legend was that years ago three ladies were bathing there, when one was met by a stork, which laid some fruit on her lap, and she became the mother of the Manchu race, which now reigned in China. The Manchus therefore had brought themselves to regard the Ch'an Pai Shan as sacred ground, and it had been the subject of compositions both in prose and verse of the great emperor Kien-lung, who reigned in the middle of the last century. In a paper preserved in an admirable geography, prepared about 100 years ago, Odoli was specially mentioned by him as being about 500 miles to the east—probably north-east was meant—of a city called Hsing Ching, where were the tombs of all the early emperors of the dynasty, and which was famous in past ages as the capital of the race from which the Manchus were descended. He suspected that it would be found in the neighbourhood of Tung Ching Cheng, the eastern capital of an ancient power. He hoped that Mr. James's interesting journey would encourage [page 567] other travellers to make the attempt to decide the position of Odoli, in the existence of which he had the fullest faith.
Mr. JAMES said that Mr. Ross, the accomplished author of 'The Manchus,' was of opinion that the Manchus were unable to locate Odoli at all: on the other hand, M. Boyer, the Roman Catholic coadjutor bishop of Manchuria, thought, with Sir Thomas Wade, that Tung Ching Cheng was probably about the site of it. The description of Tung Ching Cheng did not, however, agree with that given by Père Du Halde, who said it was situated in the midst of a lake, with lofty staircases, and a causeway approaching it. Mr. Ross's researches led him to the conclusion that the cradle of the Manchu race was in the valley south, not east, of the Ch'ang Pai Shan, called Huatoola, at a place known as Lao-cheng, or old town, and afterwards at Hing-King, where there was at the present day only an insignificant yamen. Hing-King was situated a few miles to the east of Yung-ling, the tombs of the Emperor's ancestors, the place marked as Yenden or Shina-kina on the maps. It was certainly a fact that the Russians began exploring the mouth of the Amur as early as 1847, and in 1851 the towns of Nikolayevsk and Mariinsh were founded on the Lower Amur, followed by two others in 1853. But it was during the Crimean war they found how useful the river was. With regard to the Mandarins, when he was there the Governor-Generalship of Tsitsihar was vacant, the officer holding that post having, so it was said, just been dismissed for corruption; so, though it might be possible, he feared it was hardly likely that it was an exceptional state of things that he met with.
Mr. E. E. HOWORTH drew attention to the enormous amount of information published by the Russians in the 'Peking Mission.' In one volume which had been translated into German, there was a most elaborate discussion with regard to old sites, including Odoli, and the towns from which the Manchus sprang. One race, which had virtually disappeared from history, had a small fragment still remaining, the famous dynasty of the Khetans. There was one tribe, which supplied a large number of bannermen to the Chinese army, called the Solans. It would be interesting to know if Mr. James had come into contact with them, and had collected a vocabulary of any of their words. He believed there was no doubt that they were descendants from the old race which blended the Mongols and Manchurians proper.
Sir THOS. WADE said the Solans were regarded as the cream of the Manchus. With regard to Tung-ching-chan, the word ching indicated the residence of the Emperor, and at one time the Khetan dynasty had five capitals.
The PRESIDENT congratulated the
Society on having listened to such an extremely
interesting paper. Very little was known about Manchuria, and if
thought there was any difficulty about finding a field for
in the future, he should now be satisfied that there was plenty
of ground still
to be explored.