« PreviousContinue »
in reaping the rice, which seemed heavy and well filled in the ear. In several placesl observed that they had taken the pains to tie clumps of rice stalk together for mutual support. Sugar-cane is bound in the same way, and for additional security the outside canes are mutually supported by diagonal leaves, which serve at the same time to form them into a kind of fence. The leaves are not tied up round the stalks as in Bengal; the cane is slender, white, hard, and by no means juicy or rich ; yet, bating the black fungus powder, which is very prevalent, their surface _is healthy, and close growing in a remarkable degree. We arrived at Koe-Bo at eight o’clock, and finding we could get water conveyance for part of the way on which we were proceeding, we engaged a boat for that purpose. After a hearty breakfast we embarked at 10 A. M. amidst crowds of people who covered the banks of the river at the ghfit. On inquiry we found that the river on which we were proceeding in a W. N. \V. course, was the same which we passed at Gan-Ke-Luyu, and flowed to Suen-chee-foo. The boat was large, but light, and being flat-bottomed drew very little water. The stream was so shallow that it was only by tracing the deepest part of the channel from side to side of its bed that we were able to advance at all. This was done by poling; in several places the stream was deepened by throwing up little banks of sand so as to confine its course within a channel merely wide enough for the boats to pass through. I estimate the width from bank to bank at 200 yards, and should judge from the height at which sugar is cultivated above the level of the present surface, that the greatest depth in the rainy season does not exceed 10 feet. Being entirely fed by mountain torrents its rise must be often very sudden, but I did not observe any traces of devastation in its course. Its name, Ghan-ke or “ peaceful stream,” is probably derived from this circumstance; the valley on each side seemed well cultivated, the banks being principally occupied by sugar-cane. At every village the people poured as usual to see us out, vying with each other in marks of civility and kindness. The day, however, becoming very hot, we took shelter from the sun under the roof of the boat, to the disappointment of many who waded through the water to gratify themselves with a sight of the strangers. Coming at last to a high bank close to a populous town, they actually offered the boatman 400 cash if he would bring us to; and on his refusal, the boys began pelting the boat with clods and stones. On this Mr. Gurzmrr went on deck to remonstrate, and Mr. RYDER to intimidate with his gun. Betwixt both the effect was instantaneous, and the seniors of the crowd apologised for the rude manner in which the boys had attempted to enforce the gratification of their curiosity. We had been in vain all
yesterday and to-day looking out for aglinipse of tea plantations on some of the rugged and black looking hihsnlrlse in view, though at almost every place where we halted weiwere assureththat such were to be found hard by. At three 1’. M. we reached a tow'n‘f:i‘qar the foot of the pass by which we were to reach Taou-ee, the place-ov_f,o“ur destination. There we proposed selling our gold, which for the sakeiofulight ness I had brought with me in preference to silver, not doubting
should find little difficulty in exchanging it at its proper relative value;
whenever required. In this, however, we had been disappointed at our last abode, and we were therefore much vexed at learning from our conductors that the inhabitants of Aou-ee were of such a character that the less we had to do with them and the shorter our stay amongst them the better. Some proof of this we had as we were stepping on shore, being for the first time rudely questioned as to our destination and object, and why we had come armed; our reply to the latter query being, that we had armed ourselves with the resolution of resisting violence should it be offered by robbers or others, we were allowed to pass quietly on. The hill we had now to ascend was more rugged, and in some places more abrupt, than that over which we were first carried ; and though we hadset out at three o'clock, the sun had set longbefore we came to the end of our journey. The moon was unfortunately obscured by clouds, so that nothing could be more unpleasant than the unfortunate hits our toes were constantly making against stones, and the equally unfortunate misses where an unexpected step downwards made us with a sudden jerk throw our weight on one leg. At length we reached a village at the further end of the pass, the inhabitants of which were so kind as to light us on the remainder of our way, by burning bundles of grass, to the eminent danger of setting fire to their rice fields now ripe for the sickle. Arrived as Taou-ee we were hospitably received by the family of our guide, and soon surrounded by wondering visitors.
Mr. Gurznarr speedily selected one or two of the most intelligent of them, and obtained from them ready answers to a variety of questions regarding the cultivation of the plant. They informed him that the seed now used for propagating the plant was all produced on the spot, though the original stock of this part of the country was brought from Wae-eshan, that it ripened in the 10th or 11th month, and was immediately put into the ground where it was intended to grow, several being put together into one hole, as the greater part was always abortive. That the sprouts appeared in the 3rd month after the seeds were put into the ground, that the hole into which the seeds were thrown are from three to four inches deep, and that as the plants grow the earth
is gathered up a little r0uud'-_tl_1e_ii"-ro.ot; that leaves are taken from the plants when they are t_b(ée:.(i'ea1's old, and that there are from most plants four pluckings ip .the 'y.hal-. No manure is used, nor is goodness of soil consideredindfilbrxisequence, neither are the plants irrigated. Each shrub may yie'_l'd:about a Tael of dry tea annually (about the 12th of a po_u_n\d)."1_£ Mow of ground may contain three or four hundred plants. _~Th=e'l;.in('l. tax is 300 cash (720 dols.) per Mow. The cultivation and ga'i_liei'ing of the leaves being performed by families without the assistance of hired labourers, no rate of wages can be specified; but as the curing of the leaf is an art that requires some skill, persons are employed for that particular purpose, who are paid at the rate of 1 dl. per pecul of fresh leaf, equal to five dollars per pecul of dry tea. The fire-place used is only temporary, and all the utensils as well as fuel are furnished by the owner of the tea. They stated that the leaves are heated and rolled seven or eight times. The green leaf yields one-fifth of its weight of dry tea. The best tea fetches on the spot ‘23 dls. per pecul, (133§ lbs.) and the principal part of the produce is consumed within the province, or exported in baskets to Formusa. That the prevailing winds are north-westerly. The easterly winds are the only winds injurious to the plants. Hoar frost is common during the winter months, and snow falls occasionally, but does not lie long nor to a greater depth than three or four inches. The plant is never injured by excessive cold, and thrives from 10 to 20 years. It is sometimes destroyed by a worm that eats up the pith and converts both stem and branches into tubes, and by a gray lichen which principally attacks very old plants. The period of growth is limited to six or seven years ; when the plant has attained its greatest size. The spots where the tea is’planted are scattered over great part of the country, but there are no hills appropriated entirely to its culture. No ground in fact is formed into a tea plantation that is fit for any other species of cultivation, except perhaps that of the dwarf pine already alluded to, or the Camellia Obeifora. Mr. Gurzmrr understood them to say that the plant blossoms twice a year, in the eighth moon or September, and again in winter, but that the latter flowering is abortive. In this I apprehend there was some misapprehension, as seed of full size, though not ripe, were proffered to me in considerable quantities early in September, and none were found on the plants which we saw. I suspect that the people meant to say that the seeds take eight months to ripen, which accords with other accounts. We wished much to have spent the following day (the 13th) in prosecuting our inquiries and observations at Tawand and its neighbourhood, but this was rendered impractible by the state of our finances. We had plenty of gold, but no one could be found who
would purchase it with silver at any price. We therefore resolved on making the most of our time by an early excursion in the morning previous to setting out on our return.
We accordingly got up at day-break, and proceeded to visit the spot were the plants were cultivated. We were much struck with the variety of the appearance of the plants; some of the shrubs scarcely rose to the height of a cubit above the ground, and those were so very bushy that a hand could not be thrust between the branches. They were also very thickly covered with leaves, but these were very small, scarcely above % inch in length. In the same bed were other plants with stems four feet in height, far less branchy and with leaves 1-} to 2 inches in length. The produce of great and small was said to be equal. The distance from centre to centre of the plants was about 4% feet, and the plants seemed to average about twofeet in diameter. Though the ground was not terraced, it was formed into beds that were partly levelled. These were perfectly well dressed as in garden cultivation, and each little plantation was surrounded by a low stone fence, and a trench. There was no shade, but the places selected for the cultivation were generally in the bottoms of hills, where there was a good deal of shelter on two sides, and the slope comparatively easy. I should reckon the site of the highest plantations we visited to be about 700 feet above the plain, but those we saw at that height and even less appeared more thriving, probably from having somewhat better soil, though the best is little more than mere sand. I have taken specimens from three or four gardens. Contrary to what we had been told the preceding night, I found that each garden had its little nursery where the plants were growing to the height of four or five inches, as closely set as they could stand ; from which I conceive that the tea plant requires absolutely a free soil, not wet and not clayey, but of a texture that will retain moisture; and the best site is one not so low as that at which water is apt to spring from the sides of a hill,
nor so high as to be exposed to the violence of stormy weather.‘
There is no use in attempting to cultivate the plant on an easterly exposure, though it is sufficiently hardy to bear almost any degree of dry cold.
By half-past 10 A. we set out on our return, in chairs which we were fortunate enough to procure at this village, and reached the banks of the river at Aou-ee a little before one o’clock. In the first part of our way we passed by some more tea plantations on very sterile ground. One in a very bleak situation, with nothing but coarse red sand by way of soil, seemed to be abandoned. Our reception at Aou-ee was much more civil than it had been the preceding
day; the people suggested that we should remain there till aboat could be procured. The day, however, being tolerably cool, we crossed the river, and proceeded on foot along its banks to Kre-bo, where we arrived about four 1'. M. On the road a man who had seen us endeavouring to sell our gold the day before, told us he believed he could find us a purchaser. Mr. GUTZLAFF accordingly accompanied him to the house of a farmer, who after having agreed to give 18 dollars for 30 dollar's worth of gold, suddenly changed his mind, and said he would only give weight for weight. At Koe-Bo, however, we were more successful, procuring 18 dollars for the same 30 dollar’ worth of gold. On the road the villages poured forth their population as we moved along. At one place they were actually overheard by Mr. GUTZLAFF thanking our guides for having conducted us by that road, and proposing to raise a subscription to reward them. At Kre-bo we learned that some petty olficers had been inquiring after us, which frightened our guides, and made us desirous to hasten our return.
Having procured chairs we pushed on accordingly to Koe-eei, our first Y
resting place. where we arrived about seven P. M., and halted for the night. Next morning, the 14th, we mounted our chairs before day-break, but after goingalittle way the bearers let us down towaitforday-light, and we took the opportunity of going to look at a Chinese play which was in the course of performance hard by. There were only two actors but several singers, whose music to our barbarian ears was far from enchanting. Crossing the pass we met great numbers of people carrying salt in baskets hung in bangies, as in Bengal, a few with baskets full of the small muscle reared on the mud flats near the place of our landing. After getting into the plain we took a more direct road for Taou than that by which we had left it. The people forsook their work on the fields, and emptied their numerous villages to gaze at us. As the morning was cold I wore a pair of dark worsted gloves, which Ifound excited a good deal of speculation. The general opinion was, that I was a hairy animal, and that under my clothes my skin was covered with the same sort of fur as my hands. In China gloves are never worn. At length one more sceptical than the rest resolved to examinethe paw, and his doubt being thus further strengthened, he requested me to turn up the sleeve of my coat. I did so, at the same time pulling off a glove to the admiration of the multitude, who immediately set up a shout of laughter at those who had pronounced the strangers of a race half man and half baboons. We met some officers in chairs attended by soldiers, but they offered us no interruption, not even communicating with us. Our bearers, however, easily prevailed on theirs to exchange burthens, each party being thus enabled to direct