China defies the world to equal her in three important respects: age, population, and industries. As for the first, she undoubtedly has the oldest Government on earth. Even the Papacy is young compared with it; and as for our republic, it is a thing of yesterday. A Chinaman once said to an American: "Wait till your Government has been tried before you boast of it. What is a hundred years? Ours has stood the test of forty centuries. When you did not exist, we were. When you shall have passed away, we still shall be."
In point of numbers, too, the Chinese empire leads the world. Its area is nearly twice as large as that of the United States, and it has six times as many people. The governor of one Chinese province rules over sixty million souls. Have we a definite conception of what four hundred million human beings are? Arrange the inhabitants of our globe in one long line, and every fourth man will be a Chinaman.
As for her industries, Musa, the Saracen conqueror of Spain, once aptly said that Wisdom, when she came from heaven to earth, was lodged in the head of the Greeks, the tongue of the Arabs, and the hands of the Chinese. China was once what the United States is now - the birthplace of inventions. Paper was manufactured there in the third century of our era. Tea was produced a century later. If Europe had enjoyed communication with China, it would have learned the art of printing many centuries before it did; and who can say what might have been the result? A thousand years ago the Chinese made designs on wood. Printing from stone was a still earlier industry among them. In China, also, gunpowder was first invented - a thought by which, alas! so many thoughts have been destroyed. This same astonishing race produced the mariner's compass in the fourth century, porcelain in the third, chess and playing- cards in the twelfth, and silk embroideries in almost prehistoric times. An empire, therefore, of such vast antiquity, overwhelming population, and great achievements must be, despite its faults, a country of absorbing interest.
Emperor Of China.
A Chinese Temple.
The most delightful portion of the voyage from Japan to China lies in the Japanese Mediterranean, known as the Inland Sea. It is a miniature ocean, practically land-locked for three hundred miles, with both shores constantly in sight, yet strewn with islands of all shapes and sizes, from small and uninhabited rocks to wave-encircled hills, terraced and cultivated to their very summits. It seems as if volcanic action here had caused the land to sink, until the ocean rushed in and submerged it, leaving only the highest peaks above the waves.
We lingered here all day upon the steamer's deck, like passengers on the Rhine, fearing to lose a single feature of the varied panorama gliding by on either side. By night it was more glorious even than by day; for then, from every dangerous cliff flashed forth a beacon light; the villages along the shore displayed a line of glittering points, like constellations rising from the sea; and, best of all, at a later hour, moonlight lent enchantment to the scene, drawing a crystal edge along each mountain crest, and making every island seem a jewel on a silver thread.
The Japanese Mediterranean.
Wave - Encircled Hills.
When we emerged from these inland waters, we saw between us and the setting sun the stretch of ocean called the China Sea. At certain seasons of the year this is the favorite pathway of typhoons; and the Formosa Channel, in particular, has been a graveyard for countless vessels. Indeed, only three weeks before, a sister ship of ours - the "Bokhara," - had gone down here in a terrific cyclone. Yet when we sailed its waters nothing could have been more beautiful. Day after day this sea of evil omen rested motionless, like a sleek tigress gorged with food and basking in the sun.
Huge Sails Like The Wings Of Bats.