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prise, however, a few minutes afterwards my breakfast was placed upon the table, as if I had eaten nothing. Sing-Hoo now presented himself, and asked what he was to give the landlord for the treatment we had received, observing at the same time that he would make no charge. Of course I was obliged to give the man a handsome present. Half suspecting that Sing-Hoo or the coolies had been at the bottom of the Tein-sin affair, I desired him to take care and discourage everything of the kind for the future. I knew that I had still a long journey before me and many expenses, and it would not do for me to run short of money by the way.
I was now on the outskirts of the great black-tea country of Fokien. I observed large quantities of tea-plants under cultivation. They were generally to be found on the lower sides of the hills, and also in the gardens of the villagers. About ten o'clock in the forenoon we arrived at Tsong-gan-hien, a large town in the midst of the black-tea country, where nearly all the teas of this district are packed and prepared for exportation. Tsong-gan-hien, according to observations made by the Jesuits many years ago, is situated in latitude 27° 47' 38'' north. It stands in the midst of a fertile plain of small extent, surrounded by hills, and is in the district of Kein-ningfoo, a city to which I have already alluded in my journey up the river Mia.
The walls of the city are about three miles in circumference. Both these and the ramparts are in many parts ruinous and overgrown with weeds.
Chap. XII. TSOXG-UAX-HIEN. 221
They seem hoary with age, and were doubtless built in more warlike times than the present. The population may amount to one hundred thousand inhabitants, but I have no means of forming a correct estimate. The suburbs, which I include in this calculation, are very large and populous, and extend a considerable way down the sides of the river.
This city abounds in large tea-hongs, in which the black teas are sorted and packed for the foreign markets. All those coolies whom I had met on my journey across the mountains were loaded here. Tea merchants from all parts of China where teas are consumed or exported come to this place to make their purchases of tea and the necessary arrangements for its transport. Canton men in particular come in great numbers, as they carry on a large trade with foreigners both at Canton and Shanghae. I saw many of them walking about in the streets, but for obvious reasons avoided them as much as possible. They are easily distinguished by their features from the natives of Fokien, as well as from the more northern Chinese.
The plain in which the town of Tsong-gan-hien is situated is not of great extent. Hills are seen apparently surrounding it on all sides, on some of which the tea-shrub is extensively cultivated. Many of these hills have a most barren appearance, although there are here and there very fertile spots on their sloping sides. Tea is also cultivated extensively in the lowlands, but these are invariably well raised above the banks of the river. It will be better, however, to collect into one chapter the remarks I have to make upon the tea cultivation in this important part of the country.
As I arrived at Tsong-gan-hien early in the day, I stopped there only three hours. This was sufficient to enable me to take a survey of the town, and to obtain some refreshment both for myself and my men. At the end of that time I got into my chair and took the road for Woo-e-shan, which was only forty or fifty le further on. As soon as we were clear of the town the road seemed entirely different from that which we had been travelling on before. The fact is we had left the great tea highway,—that had ended at the town we just passed. Our road was now more narrow and less frequented. The travellers in chairs, the coolies with tea-chests on their shoulders, and all that motley band which we had seen on our journey across the mountains, had disappeared, and we were now journeying alone.
Chap. XIII. WOO-E-SHAN. 223
Woo-e-shan — Ascent of the hill — Arrive at a Buddhist temple — Description of the temple and the scenery — Strange rocks — My reception — Our dinner and its ceremonies — An interesting conversation— An evening stroll — Formation of the rocks — Soil — View from the top of Woo-e-shan — A priest's grave — A view by moonlight—Chinese wine—Cultivation of the tea-shrub—Chains and monkeys used in gathering it — Tea-merchants — Happiness and contentment of the peasantry.
As soon as I was fairly out of the suburbs of Tsonggan-hien I had my first glimpse of the far-famed Woo-e-shan. It stands in the midst of the plain which I have noticed in the previous chapter, and is a collection of little hills, none of which appear to be more than a thousand feet high. They have a singular appearance. Their faces are nearly all perpendicular rock. It appears as if they had been thrown up by some great convulsion of nature to a certain height, and as if some other force had then drawn the tops of the whole mass slightly backwards, breaking it up into a thousand hills. By some agency of this kind it might have assumed the strange forms which were now before me.
Woo-e-shan is considered by the Chinese to be one of the most wonderful, as well as one of the most sacred, spots in the empire. One of their manuscripts, quoted by Mr. Ball, thus describes it: "Of all the mountains of Fokien those of Woo-e are the finest, and its water the best. They are awfully high and rugged, surrounded by water, and seem as if excavated by spirits; nothing more wonderful can be seen. From the dynasty of Csin and Han, down to the present time, a succession of hermits and priests, of the sects of Tao-cze and Fo, have here risen up like the clouds of the air and the grass of the field, too numerous to enumerate. Its chief renown, however, is derived from its productions, and of these tea is the most celebrated."
I stood for some time on a point of rising ground midway between Tsong-gan-hien and Woo-e-shan, and surveyed the strange scene which lay before me. I had expected to see a wonderful sight when I reached this place, but I must confess the scene far surpassed any ideas I had formed respecting it. There had been no exaggeration in the description given by the Jesuits, or in the writings of the Chinese, excepting as to the height of the hills. They are not "awfully high;" indeed, they are lower than most of the hills in this part of the country, and far below the height of the mountain ranges which I had just crossed. The men who were with me pointed to the spot with great pride, and said, "Look, that is Woo-e-shan! have you anything in your country to be compared with it?"
The day was fine, and the sun's rays being very powerful I had taken up my position under the spreading branches of a large camphor-tree which grew by the roadside. Here I could willingly have