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shavings are carefully appropriated to that purpose. The annual produce must be considerable, in a country where some hundred millions of heads are kept constantly shaved. Dung of all animals, but especially nightsoil, is esteemed above all others; which appears from Columella to have been the case among the Romans. Being sometimes formed into cakes, it is dried in the sun, and in this state becomes an object of sale to farmers, who dilute it previous to use. They construct large cisterns or pits lined with lime-plaster, as well as earthen tubs sunk in the ground, with straw over them to prevent evaporation, in which all kinds of vegetable and animal refuse are collected. These, being diluted with a sufficient quantity of liquid, are left to undergo the putrefactive fermentation, and then applied to the land. They correct hard water by the addition of quicklime, and are not ignorant of the uses of lime as a manure. “The Chinese husbandman,” Sir George Staunton correctly observes, * “ always steeps the seeds he intends to sow in liquid manure, until they swell and germination begins to appear, which experience (he says) has taught him will have the effect of hastening the growth of plants, as well as of defending them against the insects hidden in the ground in which the seeds were sown. Perhaps this method has preserved the Chinese turnips from the fly. that is often fatal to their growth elsewhere. To the roots of plants and fruit-trees the Chinese farmer applies liquid manure likewise, as contributing much towards forwarding their growth and vigour.” With regard to fruit-trees, they have found that the best situations for planting them are by the sides of rivers. “ Few situations,” observes a paper in the Horticultural Transactions, “ combine so many advantages for the plantation of
* Embassy, vol. ii. p. 476.
orchards or fruit-trees as low grounds that form banks of rivers. The alluvial soil, of which they are generally composed, being an intermixture of the richest and most soluble parts of the neighbouring lands, with a portion of animal and vegetable matter, affords an inexhaustible fund of nourishment for the growth of fruit-trees.” *
The sides of Chinese rivers are commonly high embankments of rich mud, thrown up as dikes for the protection of the lands which have in a great measure been gained from the river. These banks are six or eight feet in breadth at the top, five or six in height, and descend to the water at an inclination deviating about 300 from the perpendicular. The roots are in this manner fed by the water without being swamped, and the rich appearance of the fruit-cultivation along the Canton river, in oranges, plantains, and other produce, seems to attest its efficiency : at the same time, the advantages of the system may be partly frustrated by the exposure of such situations to plunder from passing boats, where there is a crowded population ; and this may perhaps account in some measure for the perverse habit, which has been remarked in the Chinese, of plucking fruit before it is entirely ripe. The worst enemies of fruitcultivation near some parts of the south coast are the typhoons, which break and destroy the trees.
The highly ingenious mechanical contrivances adopted under various circumstances for the irrigation of lands have been already described in the nineteenth chapter. Occasionally a single bucket is used, attached to the extremity of a long lever, which is nearly balanced and turns upon an upright, as may be observed in some parts of our own and various other countries. Where the elevation of the bank over which water is to be lifted is
* Vol. vii. p. 135.
trifling, they sometimes adopt merely the following simple method :-A light water-tight basket or bucket is held suspended on ropes between two men, who, by alternately tightening and relaxing the ropes by which they hold it between them, give a certain swinging motion to the bucket, which first fills it with water, and then empties it
by a jerk on the higher level ; the elastic spring which is in the bend of the ropes serving to diminish the labour. This mode of irrigation is represented in the preceding cut from Staunton. - The rice grown by the Chinese is of a much larger grain than that which is common in India, and consists principally of two sorts, the white, or finer, and the red, or coarser kinds. They have a great prejudice in favour of their own native produce; but, when this is scarce, are ready enough to purchase what comes from abroad. The Canton government encourages the importation of foreign rice by exempting the ships which bring it from portcharges; but this advantage is in great measure rendered nugatory by the dishonesty and exactions of the lower mandarins, which have sometimes caused ships to proceed no farther than Lintin, where the rice has been sold to coasting-junks. At other times, however, this mode of avoiding a portion of the heavy expenses of the Canton river has occasioned an importation of from fifteen to twenty thousand tons in the ships of various nations—a small quantity, after all, for the demands of an enormous population. A considerable quantity of grain is used for fermented liquors and for distillation. The mandarins are such bad political economists as frequently to prohibit, when there are fears of scarcity, the appropriation of grain to these purposes; being ignorant that, if really required for food, the price would prevent its conversion to the other purpose ; and, above all, that such a use of it always maintains a surplus supply, which may be resorted . to in case of extremity.
The plough used in rice-cultivation is of the simplest construction. A sharp coulter, or blade, in front of the share, is found needless, as the ground is of a light loamy description, and they never have to cut through turf. The plough is in some parts of the country drawn through the soil by human strength; in others by oxen, asses, and mules, yoked together indiscriminately. The ploughshare terminates at the back in a curve, which serves as a mould-board to turn aside the earth. In the Canton province the soil of the rice-fields is ploughed by means of a
small buffalo, of a dark grey or slate colour, called by the Chinese Shuey-new, “ water-ox," from its propensity for muddy shallows, where it wallows in the mire, with habits more allied to some of the pachydermatous than the ruminating tribes. When sufficient rain has fallen in spring to allow the rice-fields to be laid under water, they are subjected to the plough in that condition, the buffalo and his driver wading through the wet and slime up to their knees -an operation to which the “water-ox” is admirably fitted by nature. After this a rake or harrow with a single row of teeth, and frequently a man standing on it, is dragged through the soil in order to break the lumps and clean the ground.
The rice is first of all sown in a small patch duly prepared and flooded with water, and subsequently transplanted to the fields where it is to grow. A short time previous to being sown the seed is immersed in liquid manure, which promotes its future growth, and renders it less obnoxious to worms or insects. In two or three days after being committed to the ground the young shoots appear, of a beautiful light-green colour, and when they have reached a proper height they are removed to the fields which had been prepared for their reception. The process of transplanting, as observed in the Chinese Repository,* exhibits a division of labour that is perfect. One person takes up the shoots, about six inches in length, and hands them to another, who conveys them to their destination. They are received by another party of labourers, standing ankle-deep in mud and water; some of whom dibble holes into which they drop the plants by sixes, while others follow to settle the earth about the roots; the distances between these tufts being six or eight inches every way. The field is then kept flooded accord
* Vol. iii. p. 231. . VOL. II.