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Visit the port of Foo-chow-foo Its foreign trade The advantages and disadvantages of the port Steamer "Confucius" Sail for Formosa An amateur watch kept Sea-sickness of mandarins Appearance of Formosa from sea Land on the island Rice-paper plant The natives Productions of the island Suggestions to the navy in these seas Sail for Shanghae Spring and spring flowers.
IN the beginning of March, 1854, having completed my shipments and investigations in the south, I engaged a passage in a schooner and sailed for the port of Foo-chow-foo, the capital city of the province of Fokien, on my way to the more northerly ports of Shanghae and Ningpo. My objects in taking Foo-chow-foo by the way were two-fold. In the first place, I was anxious to make arrangements for getting a large supply of tea-seeds from the best black-tea districts about Woo-e-shan, in the autumn, when they would be ripe; and secondly, I determined to try and procure some black-tea manufacturers from the same districts, through the agency of some influential friends at this port. The great American house of Messrs. Russell and Co., by means of energy and large capital, had opened up a connexion with these districts the year before, and had shipped extensively direct from the river Min to America the same description of black teas which formerly were carried overland across the Bohea mountains to Shanghae and to Canton. Mr. Cunningham, the head of that house at Shanghae, had promised me his assistance in the kindest manner, and Mr. D. O. Clark, who was conducting the business at Foo-chow, also entered warmly into my views on my arrival.
From the opening of Foo-chow in 1843 to the period mentioned, no foreign trade of any importance had been carried on at this port. Several merchants had tried it during these ten years; but as they were men of limited means not being able to send funds into the country to purchase teas from the manufacturers their exertions were not attended with success. When the rebels began to disturb and overrun the southern and central districts of the country, and when it seemed doubtful whether the tea-merchants would be able to bring their teas to Canton and Shanghae as formerly, Messrs. Russell and Co., with a clear-sightedness which does them the highest credit, foresaw that, owing to the power of the Government at Foo-chow, that port was likely to remain longer open than any of the others; and as it was no great distance from one great black-tea country a country which during the days of the East India Company's charter produced the finest teas exported they determined to make a vigorous effort to open up the trade. Having Chinese on their establishment whom they could thoroughly trust, these men were intrusted with a large amount of capital, and sent inland to the tea country during the manufacturing season, in order to buy up such teas as they required, and transmit their purchases down the river Min to Foo-chow-foo. In the mean time vessels were chartered to go to the same port to load with such teas and convey them to their destination.
The system thus planned and carried out met with the most complete success, and I believe Messrs. Russell and Co. reaped the reward to which they were most justly entitled. Other large houses of capital soon followed the example which had been set them, and now a very large export trade in black teas is carried on at Foo-chow-foo. This is one good result which has arisen out of the rebellion in China, although perhaps it would be difficult to mention another. Had there been no anticipated difficulty in getting down teas to Shanghae and Canton, it is scarcely likely the idea of opening Foo-chow would have occurred to Messrs. Russell and Co.
But it is doubtful if the advantages of the Foo-chow trade are as great as they would seem to be at first sight. No doubt all teas made in the Fokien district, south of the Bohea mountains, and near the source and course of the river Min, can be brought more easily and more cheaply to Foo-chow than to any other port. And moreover, as they come nearly the whole way by water, the chests may be expected to arrive in better order than when they have to be carried for many miles over mountains on the backs of coolies. And further, the new teas will always arrive very early, if this is an advantage.
These circumstances will no doubt be perfectly understood by merchants, and it is for them to say whether the disadvantages which I shall now notice are worth taking into consideration.
1st. The extensive sandbanks at the mouth of the Min, and the rapid currents in the river itself, have been urged by some as fatal objections to its safe navigation. In support of this view it is stated that since the opening of the trade several vessels and cargoes of great value have been completely lost, and insurance offices have been obliged to raise their rates of insurance.
At first sight this seems a very grave objection; but were it worth the merchant's while to conduct a large trade at Foo-chow, the dangers in navigation might be, if not removed entirely, rendered much less than they are, by means of permanent landmarks, buoys, &c. Besides small tug steamers would spring up, whose masters would soon gain a knowledge of the different passages, tides, and currents, and be able to take vessels out to or in from sea, in the most perfect safety. It is a disadvantage, no doubt, to have sandbanks, narrow passages, and rapid currents, but in this instance it does not seem to be insuperable.
2nd. The port of Foo-chow, although nearer to a black-tea district than any of the others open to foreigners, is only nearer to one district that which I have already noticed as being on the south side of the great Bohea mountain-range. The fine districts in Kiang-se, where the Monings or Ningchow kinds are produced, are all on the northern side of these mountains, and could be taken more readily south to Canton, over the Meling Pass, or north to Shanghae. In taking them to the latter place, the whole journey, except about twenty miles, is by water. What are called Hoopak and Hoonan teas can be brought down the Yang-tse-kiang all the way to Shanghae. And finally, with regard to tea, all the green-tea districts are much more accessible from Shanghae than from Foo-chow-foo.
3rd. The country lying between the sea and the great mountain-range in Fokien, in so far as is at present known, has no other articles of export except tea for which there is a demand in Europe and America.
4th. The river Min has its source amongst rugged and barren mountains, thinly populated: it does not lead into the heart of the empire; and hence it is doubtful if ever there will be an extensive market for foreign goods, such as there is at Shanghae or Canton.
Supposing therefore that it is possible to render the navigation of the Min comparatively safe, it appears that the port of Foo-chow has the advantage of being nearer one black-tea district than any of the other ports in China open to foreign trade. But the other kinds of black tea, and all the green ones, can be taken more readily and cheaply to other ports. These other ports have the advantage of other articles of export besides tea. Shanghae, for example, is on the borders of the great Hoo-chow silk country. And lastly, vessels will have to come empty to the Min, owing to the want of a market for imports, while they can go deeply laden, to such ports as Canton and Shanghae, with the manufactures of the west, which can be exchanged for the silk and tea of China. No doubt in the course of time arrangements can be made with the Chinese merchants to receive foreign goods at certain rates at such places as Shanghae, and to pay for such goods in tea, to be delivered at Foo-chow; and in this case there is only the disadvantage of an empty vessel having to be sent to that port.
The advantages and disadvantages of Foo-chow as a great port of trade have thus been fairly stated from an intimate knowledge of the country and its productions, and the merchant is left to draw his own conclusions. My own impression is that it has been rather overrated within the last year or two; that it is absurd to compare it with Shanghae as a commercial emporium, as some have done; but that, owing to there being some large and populous cities on the banks of the Min, such as Foo-chow itself, which is supposed to contain nearly half a million of inhabitants, Yen-pin-foo, Kein-ning-foo, &c., a considerable trade may ultimately be done in imports for the supply of these places. And teas from the south side of the Bohea mountains can always be brought cheaper, in better condition, and earlier in the season, to Foo-chow, than they can be had at any of the other ports.
Having completed the arrangement alluded to at the commencement of this chapter, I was anxious to proceed northward to Chekiang and Kiangnan. On making inquiries as to vessels for the northern ports, I found there was nothing of the kind in port except native craft boats and wood junks which were very unsafe, owing to the hordes of pirates which infested all parts of the coast. Owing to the unsettled state of the country and the weakness of Government at this time, it would have been an act of madness to have trusted myself in any of these vessels, unless I had been tired of my life, or had had an inclination to spend some months as a prisoner on some piratical island. As I was not weary of life, and had no fancy for the alternative of being imprisoned with thieves and robbers for my companions, I determined not to go to sea in a native vessel. I was strongly urged to this course by all the foreigners in Foo-chow, but they looked to me like "Job's comforters," for one and all were of opinion that it would be necessary for me to return again to Hongkong a distance of some four hundred miles, which I had just beat up against the monsoon before I would be able to get a vessel bound for the northern ports. My lucky star, however, happened to be in the ascendant. One fine morning a Portuguese lorcha came into port, bound north to Ningpo, convoying a number of junks to protect them from pirates. As this vessel was heavily armed, I determined to trust myself in her, and had gone on board to look at her accommodations, and to make arrangements about my passage-money.
"It never rains but it pours," says the proverb, which I cannot help thinking is a gross calumny, particularly on those soft spring showers which were at this time (April) falling on the east coast of China. The proverb proved true, however, in a figurative sense, in this instance, for, before I had made arrangements for a passage in the lorcha, the American steamer "Confucius" made her appearance from Shanghae, and soon came to an anchor amongst the Chinese junks a little below the town. As I suspected the steamer might have been chartered by Messrs. Russell and Co. in Shanghae, to carry some important news, I felt some diffidence in making any inquiries as to her destination. My friend Mr. Clark, however, who knew how anxious I was to get north, mentioned the circumstance to Captain Dearborn, and that gentleman most kindly came forward and offered me a passage without its having been asked. In the mean time, as there were numerous pirates on the coast, of whom the mandarins themselves were afraid, the Government chartered the steamer to convey money across to the island of Formosa, where a rebellion was going on, and where it was necessary to have money to carry on the war. I had thus an opportunity of paying a short visit to this beautiful and interesting island.
When we had taken the boxes of money on board with a guard of mandarins and soldiers, we got up our anchor and steamed down to the mouth of the Min. Our decks were covered with Chinese soldiers, and their baggage, consisting of baskets and trunks of clothes, arms of various kinds, such as bows and arrows, short swords, matchlocks, and bamboo shields; while mixed up with these in wild confusion were beds and mandarins' hats, with crystal and white buttons; there were also various eatables, such as sugarcane, &c., which the soldiers intended to consume during the voyage. Altogether, the scene thus presented was a striking one, and one which gave an idea of Chinese warlike life, not often presented to the eye of a foreigner.
When we arrived at the mouth of the Min we anchored for the night, as it was then too late to cross the sandbanks at the entrance. The coast here was swarming with pirates, both on land and at sea; and although on ordinary occasions a foreign vessel, and particularly a "fire-ship,"1 would have been safe enough, yet loaded as we were with boxes of sycee silver, the temptation to these lawless bands was stronger than usual, and rendered an attack far from unlikely. And had such an attack been made by two or three hundred men, armed with stinkpots and other combustibles, which they generally commence with in cases of this nature, the steamer and all its valuable cargo would have been an easy prize, owing to the small number of foreigners on board. If it ever happen that our mandarin passengers, or any of their brave soldiers who were on board at this time, should peruse these lines, I have to beg their pardon, with many low bows, for not taking their valour into consideration.
In addition to the captain, the engineer, and two or three officers belonging to the steamer, there were several passengers on board who had come down from Shanghae for the purpose of seeing the city of Foo-chow. Captain Dearborn very properly proposed that we should all take a share in the protection of the vessel, and that the best way to prevent an attack was to be prepared for one. The Chinese pirate is somewhat like a tiger in his habits, in so far as foreigners at least are concerned. He knows they will fight and defend themselves be has had several good lessons on this score and he will rarely attack them if he sees them prepared; but if he can catch them asleep, or take them unawares, he will leap upon them at once, and murder all who show the least resistance.
Knowing these things well, the passengers readily acceded to the proposal which had been made by the captain. The night from eight P.M. to four next morning was divided into four watches of two hours each, and as we numbered in all about eight or nine persons, there was enough to have two for each watch. The hours were now written out on small slips of paper, and thrown into a hat to be drawn for in the usual way.
When eight bells were struck, Captain Dearborn and Mr. Sturges, who were lucky enough to draw from eight to ten, mounted guard, and marched up and down the deck, armed with a pistol, cutlass, and matchlock, and ready to repel boarders and give any alarm if it was necessary. I was unlucky enough to draw the sleepy watch from twelve to two. We reported four bells to the chief officer, struck the intermediate hours, and sung out "all's well" in the most approved and seamanlike manner. Once or twice during the night it was necessary to warn boats to keep off when it was thought they were coming too near, but nothing occurred to create any alarm. Soon after four o'clock Mr. Floud, the engineer, commenced getting his steam up, and the steam-pipe began hissing and snorting and bidding defiance to pirates, however numerous or however bold.
Leaving the mouth of the river at daylight, we stood out to sea across the channel in the direction of the north-west end of Formosa, to which we were bound. The distance across the channel here is rather more than 100 miles; and as a stiff breeze was blowing from the north and a heavy sea on, our brave Chinese soldiers were doomed to suffer severely from sea-sickness. Huddled about the decks in every direction, unable to move or to eat, and perfectly indifferent to everybody and everything, they presented a most forlorn and wretched appearance. One old mandarin in particular happened to suffer more than any of the others. He was a stout, fat man, rather red in the face, and evidently accustomed to good living on shore. When we started, he was down in the cabin with the others, laughing and joking in the best of spirits; but as soon as we crossed the bar and felt a little motion, he began to put on a most serious countenance, and was evidently most uneasy. At last he could stand it no longer, and rushed up the cabin stairs to the deck. Every now and then we heard a loud groan, which told too plainly of the poor man's sufferings, sufferings, too, for which no one seemed to have any compassion. The next time I saw him he made a faint attempt to smile, but it ended in a kind of shudder as he rushed past me to the side of the vessel. I confess I pitied the poor fellow, and recommended him to have his bed on deck and to lie down. He took my advice and lay down amongst his retinue, many of whom were nearly as bad as himself, all distinction for the time being set aside, as they lay on the wet deck of the steamer, with the spray from the ocean dashing over them.
In the afternoon, shortly after we had lost sight of the shores of China, the high mountains of Formosa came into view. When seen from this position out at sea, the height of the mountains seems greater than that of those in the vicinity of Foo-chow-foo. Judging from the height of mountains well known, I imagine those now in view may be from 3000 to 4000 feet above the level of the sea. Some others in the interior of the island are said to be as high as 10,000 feet, but these did not come under our observation. Night came on as we neared the land, and we were told by the pilot that we must anchor until daylight, as he could not undertake to go in during the dark. In the mean time, the wind had died away, the sea was smooth, and all our Chinese friends, the old mandarin included, were on their legs and in the highest spirits, seemingly astonished at the rapidity with which we had crossed the channel.
Next morning at daylight we entered a river which leads up to an important town called Tamshuy, and dropped our anchor abreast of a small town near its mouth, amongst numerous other junks and small boats which seemed to be trading between China and Formosa. As soon as we had anchored, the mandarins sent their cards to the officials on shore, and soon afterwards left the vessel themselves, promising to return again to make arrangements for landing the treasure.
As this was my first visit to this fine island, and as I knew we had only a short time to stay, I lost no time in going on shore. Before leaving the vessel I had been examining with a spy-glass some large white flowers which grew on the banks and on the hill-sides, and I now went in that direction, in order to ascertain what they were. When I reached the spot where they were growing, they proved to be very fine specimens of Lilium japonicum the largest and most vigorous I had ever seen. As I was admiring these beautiful lilies, which were growing as wild as the primroses in our woods in England, another plant of far more interest caught my eye. This was nothing less than the rice-paper plant the species which produced the far-famed rice-paper of China, named by Sir W. Rooker Aralia papyrifera. It was growing apparently wild; but the site may have been an old plantation, which was now overgrown with weeds and brushwood. The largest specimens which came under my notice were about five or six feet in height, and from six to eight inches in circumference at the base, but nearly of an equal thickness all up the stem. The stems, usually bare all the way up, were crowned at the top with a number of noble-looking palmate leaves, on long footstalks, which gave to the plant a very ornamental appearance. The under side of each leaf, its footstalk, and the top part of the stem, which was clasped by these stalks, was densely covered with down of a rich brown colour, which readily came off upon any substance with which it came in contact. I did not meet with any plant in flower during my rambles, but it is probable the plant flowers at a later period of the year2 Numerous small plants were coming through the ground in various directions, which a Chinese soldier carefully dug up for me, and which I took with me to Shanghae, and deposited them in Mr. Beale's garden. These, with a few samples of the largest stems I could find, have been sent to England and India; the latter will prove an interesting addition to our museums of vegetable productions. The proportion of pith in these stems is very great, particularly near the top of vigorous growing ones, and it is from this pure white substance that the beautiful article erroneously called "rice-paper" is prepared.
The Chinese call this plant the Tang-tsaou. What it was, or to what part of the vegetable kingdom it belonged, was long a mystery to botanists, who were oftentimes sadly misled by imaginary Chinese drawings, as some of those which have been published will clearly show, now that our knowledge has increased. Indeed the only drawing I have seen in Europe, which has any claim to be considered authentic, is that brought from China by the late Mr. Reeves many years ago, and which I have seen in the library of the Horticultural Society of London.
The Tung-tsaou is largely cultivated in many parts of the island of Formosa, and with rice and camphor forms one of the chief articles of export. Mr. Bowring, who read a paper upon the rice-paper plant, before the China branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, informs us that the Canton and Fokien provinces are the chief consumers, and that the town of Foo-chow alone is supposed to take annually not less than 30,000 dollars worth of this curious and beautiful production. The cheapness of this paper in the Chinese market, as Mr. Bowring justly remarks, is evidence of the abundance of the plant in its place of growth, and more especially of the cheapness of labour. "That 100 sheets of this material (each about three inches square), certainly one of the most beautiful and delicate substances with which we are acquainted, should be procurable for the small sum of 1¼ d. or 1½ d., is truly astonishing; and when once the attention of foreigners is directed to it, it will doubtless be in considerable request among workers in artificial flowers in Europe and America, being admirably adapted to their wants." The larger sheets, such as those used by the Canton flower-painters, are sold for about 1½ d. each.
If the Tung-tsaou proves hardy in England, its fine foliage will render it a favourite amongst ornamental plants in our gardens. Judging, however, from its appearance when growing on its native island, and from the temperature of Formosa, I fear we cannot expect it to be more than a greenhouse plant with us.
Before I left China it had been completely naturalised on the island of Hong-kong. A noble plant was growing in the garden at head-quarters house, several very fine ones were observed in Messrs. Jardine's garden at East-point to which Mr. Bowring had introduced it, and younger plants were seen springing up in all directions.
It is really a most striking-looking plant, and highly ornamental. At all times the fine, broad palmate leaves which crown the stem have a noble appearance, and in the winter months its large panicles of flowers make it more interesting.
In going on shore I had landed near an old fort, like many others in China in a most ruinous condition, but still mounting a few old rusty cannon which seemed more for show than for use. The houses of the soldiers inside the fort were, with one or two exceptions, in ruins, and the men told me they had received no pay for a length of time. This was, no doubt, the case over all the island, and was probably the cause of the rebellion which had now broken out in various parts of the country, and which the money we took over was sent to quell.
Leaving the fort and its poverty-stricken guards, I went on to the town, or rather large village, which seems to be the seaport of Tam-shuy. Here I found the authorities receiving those mandarins who had been our fellow-passengers, and giving each a salute of three guns on landing. Some tradesmen were busily employed in fitting up a theatre in which a play was to be performed in the afternoon, also in honour of the new arrivals, and to which we were invited. The houses in the town were generally poor and mean-looking, and there seemed nothing in the shops except the simplest articles of food, such as fish, pork, sweet potatoes and various other vegetables in daily use among the population. However, as I have already remarked, this is only an insignificant seaport, and gives no idea of the more wealthy towns, which are known to exist inland.
As several vessels, which have been shipwrecked at different times on the coast of Formosa, have had their crews barbarously treated by the natives, the impression is abroad that it is far from being safe to land on any part of the island. Judging, however, from the short acquaintance I had with the people, I am inclined to believe the impression to be unfounded; unless, indeed, in cases of shipwreck, when they may not be trusted. But this is the same in China, and, perhaps, we might instance other places nearer home. Everywhere, both in the town and also in the country, I was civilly and even kindly received by the people. They begged me to enter their houses and sit down, and invariably set tea before me and offered me anything they had in use amongst themselves, and, during a clay's excursion, I did not hear a single disrespectful word from any of those with whom I came in contact.
The natives of Formosa are Chinese, and are under the control of the Governor of Fokien, whose head-quarters are in the city of Foo-chow-foo, on the river Min. In the interior of the island, however, and on its eastern shores, there exists a wild race, who acknowledge no such authority, and of whom little appears to be known. The Chinese tells us, these strange people live in trees like monkeys; but whether this be true or an exaggeration I have no means of stating.
The chief productions and exports of the island are rice and camphor. The rice junks arrive yearly in large numbers at Ningpo from Formosa. The camphor finds its way in native vessels to Amoy, Chinchew, and the Straits, and from thence is exported in large quantities to Europe. Coal is also abundant in many parts, and may at some future period become of great importance to our steam-ships which are now springing up in all directions in these seas.
The hills and valleys, even very near the sea, seem particularly rich and fertile, and I have no doubt that further inland the beauty and fertility are much more striking. Altogether, it is well worth the attention of any government; not with a view to annexation or conquest, but to develope its resources, more particularly with regard to coal for our steamers. A new day is beginning to dawn in the east; Japan and China will soon be opened to unfettered commerce; already steamers are making their appearance on these seas and rivers, and it is high time that we should know something of a beautiful island known to be rich and fertile and to have abundant supplies of coal which only require to be dug out of the earth.
We have had a whole fleet of men-of-war brigs and steamers of all sizes in China ever since the termination of the last war, and yet how little has been done to extend our knowledge of an island like this, or, with the exception of Japan, and this was only a year ago, of any part to the eastward of China beyond the 32° of north latitude. In the fruitless search made after the Russian fleet in 1855, the knowledge which we ought to have acquired long ago, but which we had not, might have done us good service.
Within the last year or two our vessels of war have had enough to do, and could not be, spared on a service of this kind. The disturbances in China and the piracy on the coast have kept the vessels stationed at the different ports fully employed, and well and nobly have they performed their duties; but some few years ago, I well remember seeing such vessels lying at their anchors with nothing in the world to do for months together, if not for years. In several instances their crews got sick, and when it was too late when numbers of the hands were dead or dying the anchors were got up, and the vessels put to sea. Let any one visit the little English burying-ground on the island of Chusan, and he will have a full confirmation of the truth of what I state. Had the commanders of these vessels been ordered to go to sea from time to time, to explore the northern Chinese coasts and those of Tartary, or to gain a more perfect knowledge of the resources of the islands of Formosa and Japan, a service of great value would have been rendered to commerce, and probably to science, the health of the crews would have been preserved, and numbers of lives saved.
The mandarins we took over to Formosa with the treasure had agreed to pay some two thousand dollars as charter-money for the steamer, and had also promised to give us a sufficient quantity of coal to take us back to the coast of China. It turned out, however, that the said coal had to be sent for some distance inland, and the captain was informed he would have to wait three or four days before he could be supplied. Time is nothing to the Chinese, but it was of great importance to a small tug-steamer. The Chinese were informed that we could not wait; an assertion which they received very coolly, now that themselves and their treasure had been brought safely across the channel. "If we could not wait, we must go; that was all."
During the day of our stay at this port the natives came off in swarms to look at the steamer. They were kindly treated by the officers, and their curiosity was gratified as much as possible. In the afternoon the mandarins brought their friends to see the vessel, and took away their boxes of silver. They were treated with tea and wine, and left us the best of friends. Just before dark, the steam being up, we left them to fight their own battles with the rebel power, and stood out to sea.
Having steamed rapidly all night, we found ourselves next morning at daybreak not a great distance from the entrance to the Min. It had been a stipulation with the Chinese authorities, when they chartered the vessel, that a messenger, who had been sent over in charge of the money, should be brought back, at least as far as the mouth of the river, in order to report that the sycee had been safely delivered and the conditions of the charter fulfilled. This man, whom I happened to meet afterwards, told me when he made his appearance at Foo-chow the authorities were perfectly astonished, and it was a most difficult matter to convince them that he had been further than the mouth of the river. They had calculated on his being absent a week at the least.
As we had now completed the contract undertaken with the mandarins in Foo-chow, and there being nothing else to detain the vessel, we steamed rapidly northward for the port of Shanghae. We were favoured with delightful weather for steaming; there was scarcely a ripple on the water all the way, and as our captain knew every nook and corner of the coast, we had a rapid and delightful voyage, which will long be remembered by that brave band of passengers who mounted guard that night at the mouth of the Min.
It was now spring in the north of China. At this season the weather in the provinces of Kiangnan and Chekiang is most delightful. It is not like an English spring with its easterly winds and cold and cheerless days; nor is it like an Indian one, which is not a spring at all, but rather a hot dry winter, with its leafless trees and burning sand. It is a real genuine spring, which tells one that winter has gone by; the air is cool yet soft, and rendered softer by mild April showers; every tree is bursting into leaf, and how deliciously green these leaves are when they first unfold themselves! The birds are singing in every bush and tree, and all nature seems to rejoice and sing aloud for joy.
In the north of China there are a number of plants which have their flower-buds very prominently developed in autumn, so much so that they are ready to burst into bloom before the winter has quite passed by, or, at all events, on the first dawn of spring. Amongst these Jasminum nudiforum occupies a prominent position. Its yellow blossoms, which it produces in great abundance, may be seen not unfrequently peeping out from amongst the snow, and reminds the stranger in these remote regions of the beautiful primroses and cowslips which grow on the shaded banks of his own land. Nearly as early as this, the pretty daisy-like Spiræa prunifolia, the yellow Forsythia viridissima, the lilac Daphne Fortunei, and the pink Judas-tree, become covered with blossoms, and make our northern Chinese gardens extremely gay. There are also some good camellias which flower at this time, but they are generally grown in pots under such shelter as mat-sheds and other buildings of a like kind can afford. Two of these varieties are particularly striking. Their flowers are of the most perfect form, and they have striped and self-coloured blossoms upon the same plant. These are now in Mr. Glendinning's nursery at Chiswick, and in a year or two will be common in every collection. The double-blossomed peaches, of which there are several very distinct varieties now in England, are perhaps the gayest of all things which flower in early spring. Fancy, if you can, trees fully as large as our almond, literally loaded with rich-coloured blossoms, nearly as large and double as roses, and you will have some idea of the effect produced by these fine trees in this part of the world.
A little later in the season, that is from the 20th of April to the beginning of May, another race of flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants succeed those I have named. The most conspicuous amongst them are Viburnum macrocephalum and dilatatum, with their large heads of snow-white flowers; Spiræa Reevesiana, and the double variety, which is more beautiful than the original species; Weigela rosea, now well known in Europe; Moutans of various hues of colour; Azaleas, particularly the lovely little "Amoena;" Kerria japonica, the lilac and white glycines, roses, Dielytra spectabilis, and Primula cortusoides. It will easily be believed that with such a host of Flora's beauties these Chinese gardens must be gay indeed. But perhaps the most beautiful sight of all is the Glycine sinensis, climbing upon and hanging down from other trees. I believe I noticed in my former works the fine effects produced by this climber when in such situations. I again observed numerous examples this spring, and cannot help drawing attention once more to the subject. The fine plant of this species upon the Chiswick garden-wall is much and justly admired; but imagine a plant equally large, or in some instances much larger, attaching itself to a tree, or even a group of trees, entwining itself round the stems, running up every branch, and weighing down every branchlet; and, in the end of April or beginning of May, covered with flowers, some faint idea may be formed of the fine effects produced by the glycine in its native country. I believe it would not succeed if managed in this way near London, or anywhere in the north; but the experiment would be worth a trial in some parts of Europe, where the summers are warmer than they are in England. As this description may meet the eye of readers in the United States of America, who are as fond of their parks and gardens as we are of ours, I cannot do better than recommend the experiment to them. Many of our northern Chinese plants succeed admirably in America. China and America are both situated on the eastern side of large continents, they are equally liable to the extremes of heat and cold, and consequently the shrubs and trees of one country are almost certain to succeed as well in the other, provided they are reared in the same latitudes, and grown in the same kind of soil.
1 The name given to steamers by the Chinese.
2 It flowers and seeds during the winter and spring months at Hong-kong and Calcutta.