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the hero god of SHAN-SI.

The Hero god of Shan-SI is the mythical Emperor Yao, who
in the dawn of Chinese history, some 4,000 years ago, had his
capital at P'ing-yang, His altars are no more divine, but the
province abounds in memorials of his greatness. His remains,
enclosed in a coffin of gold, lined with silver, are slung by massive
chains in unfathomable waters in a mountain cavern, whose
deadly vapours prevent the entrance of curious mortals. Perhaps
the veneration of the people would now be gladly transferred to
any hero who could bring back some of the water which then
prevailed ; and the neglected brazen cow which the superstition
of a bygone age caused to be erected at the bridge of Iloa-
chow, to swallow up the recurring floods, would again command
the adoration of the multitude if the stream over which it is
the guardian were once more flooded by the mountain rills.


The Fen river, which flows by the capital and principal towns
of the south of the province, carries the rainfall in its uncertain
and shallow channel to the Yellow River, but its .torrent-like
propensities prevent any but a very inconsiderable traflic being
carried on it. Its banks are lined with mining villages,
and the singular abundance of coal and iron may in future years
render Shan-si one of the richest provinces, not only of the
Empire, but of the world.

The natural inlet to Shan-si is from the Yellow River, where
the Fen joins that stream at Tung-kuan, and the magnitude and
frequency of the cities thence north to T'ai-yuen, is sufficient
indication that this was the great commercial route in former



times. The want, however, of engineering art, the power-
lessness of the natives to deal with the caprices of the Yellow
River, or the existence of such a trivial obstacle as a broken
bridge — which was observed by a scientific foreign traveller,
(Mr. J. Morrison, C.E.) — has thrown Shan-si into compulsory
commercial relations withCuiH-Ll, notwithstanding the enormous
difficulties of access over the mountains with that province. The
opening of Tien-tsin to foreign trade has now compelled the
permanent adoption of the mountain route for commerce ; and a
rugged pass, which should only have been used by smugglers,
brigands, or desperate traders, had the Yellow River been kept
navigable from the sea, has now become virtually the only road
to which Shan-si can trust for ordinary commerce, or extra-
ordinary supplies in times of distress or famine.


The Ku-kuan mountain pass, commencing at the town of
Huai-lu Hien, in ClllH-Ll, about 117 miles from Pao-ting Fu, ex-
tends about 130 miles to Szu-tieh Hien, some twenty-nine miles
from T'ai-yuen Fu, and is thus graphically described by an
observant traveller {Rev. Jonathan Lees) : —

"Much of the road is along the dry bed of torrents whose
violence has impelled benevolent individuals to inscribe on the
roads the timely warning against taking refuge from storms under
ledges liable to be swept by sudden torrents : ' Beware of the
mountain water.' A route started ages ago has been in incessant
use ever since, and a track has thus been worn by mere attrition.
There is not the slightest approach to a grade. The traveller is
often confronted by precipices hundreds of feet in height, and is
seldom out of sight of apparently bottomless gullies. In the
autumn and winter the valley roads generally follow the beds of
streams, but what becomes of the roads when the streams are
full is a standing puzzle to the traveller." The condition of this
pass during the famine winters, when torrents were prayed for
but did not come, will be described below.


The southern portion of the province of Chih-li, where
THE FAMINE WAS PRINCIPALLY FELT, consists of an almost
uniform plain, extending from the Peiho River in the north to
the borders of Shan-tung, Ho-nan, and Shan-si, inthesouthand
west. It is traversed in a south-westerly direction by the Grand
Canal, or rather by the Wei River, which assumes that name
after its junction with the Canal proper near Chang-kia K'eo,
and by the Pu-tou River (and its affluents), which, rising in the
Shan-si mountains near \Vu-t'ai Shan, flows in a south-westerly
direction to Chen-ting, and thence to Tien-tsin, when it empties
itself into the Peiho. This enormous plain was once famous for
its fertility, but since the floods of 1871-75, when it was nearly
covered with water, owing to the bursting of the Canal and
Peiho, its character has been changed. The floods destroyed
nearly all trees which had been left standing, the usual ditches
for irrigation were obliterated, the river-courses altered, and
when the inundation was succeeded by the rainless years of
1876-77, the plain became parched up and incapable of bearing
even a moderate crop. Dr. Frazer, a gentleman of many years'
experience at Tien-tsin, asserts that the appearance and character
of the country, as far as his observations extended, has undergone
a complete transformation since the floods. The herbage and
crops are now poor and coarse, and the farms very much less
productive. The inhabitants, once well-to-do and contented,
are poverty-stricken and improvident. The hares and foxes
have greatly diminished in number, and the little ground-squir-
rels, which once swarmed on the plains as they do in Mongolia,
have entirely disappeared. The winter winds playing on the
parched surface of the ground, which is annually most carefully
denuded of the dried rushes and grass, gather up vast dust
storms, which in the spring cover and kill the young vegetation ;
and the ground becomes covered with a white saline exudation
fatal to all fertility. At Chu-]u Hien is a considerable tract of
land so thoroughly impregnated with salt, that if the soil is
mi.\ed with water and left to dry in the sun, a considerable crust
of salt results, and the soil can be used again for the same pur-
pose if undisturbed for a year or so. It would be interesting if a
scientific survey could be made, and the remarkable changes
noted, which have taken place during the last century in the

various water-courses of this province. Some streams have dis-
appeared to develop in other directions, and the large lake
named Pei-hu, noted in the Jesuits' maps, no longer exists.

ASPECT OF affairs IN 1S77.

In November, 1877, the aspect of affairs was simply terrible.
The autumn crops over the whole of Shan-si, and the greater
portion of Chiii-li, Ho-nan, and Shen-si had failed. No
rain had fallen, and the heavens were pitilessly blue. Tien-tsin
was inundated with supplies from every available port. The
Bund was piled mountain high with grain, the Government store-
houses were full, all the boats were impressed for the conveyance
of supplies towards Shan-si and the Ho-chien districts of Chih-
li, carts and waggons were all taken up, and the cumbersome
machinery of the Chinese Government was strained to the utmost
to meet the enormous peril which stared it in the face. The
water-courses were crowded with boats, the roads were blocked
with carts. Refugees to the amount of some 100,000 poured
into Tien-tsin, and were housed in hoTels made of mud and
millet stalks in the various suburbs.

Typhus fever was rampant, and in the villages of Ta-chih-ku,
set apart for the reception of the destitute, it was not an un-
common event for from four to six hundred wretches to die in a
single night after the setting in of the cold weather.

On the 6th January a fire broke out at Ta-pei-an — in a reluge
provided exclusively for women. The officer in charge on dis-
covering the flames locked the only door and ran away. Two
thousand and seven hundred women were consequently burned
to death in three hours. A foreigner passing at the time of the
conflagration luckily made an aperture through the wall, or the
tale of victims would have been nearly five thuosand.

Corpses were scattered all over the plain, the foreign settle-
ment swarmed with starving beggars, who, while they excited
the commiseration of observers by sweeping out of the dust the
grain which leaked from the cargo, did not fail to improve the
occasion, when apparently unobserved, by digging knives into
the grain sacks, and having filled their capacious sleeves from
the resulting stream, running away to feast on their booty. The
loss on the various grain stuffs during their conveyance from Tien-
tsin to Huai-lu Hien was very great, but not so large as that
sustained during its transit over the Ku-kuan Pass. That moun-
tain trail, for road it can hardly be called, is divided into the
following sections and distances by ruined guard-houses : —

Huai-lu Hien to E. gate

E. gate to N. gate

N. gate to Wall (Ku-kuan)

Ku-kuan to W. gate . . .

W. gate to Ping-ting Chau

Ping-ting to S. gate

S. gate to Szu-tieh

32 li

65 li


40 li



180 li

In all, reckoning 3 // to the mile, 130 English miles in length*

the winter and spring of 1877-78

the most frightful disorder reigned supreme along this route.
Huai-lu Hien, the starting-point, was filled with officials and
traders, all intent on getting their convoys over the
pass. Fugitives, beggars, and thieves absolutely swarmed.
The ofilcials were powerless to create any sort of order among
the mountains. The track was frequently worn out, and until a
new one was made, a dead block ensued. Camels, oxen, mules,
and donkeys were hurried along in the wildest confusion ; and so
many perished or were killed by the desperate people in the
hills for the sake of their flesh, that the transit could only be
carried on by the banded vigilance of the interested owners of
grain, assisted by the trained bands or militia, which had been
hastily got together, but some of whom were armed with breech-
loaders. The carriage of salt to Shan-si was prohibited by the
governor, owing to the scarcity of pack animals. Night travelling
was out of the question. The way was marked by the carcases
or skeletons of men and beasts, and the wolves, dogs, and foxes
soon put an end to the sufferings of any wretch who lay down to
recover from, or die of his sickness in those terrible defiles. *

* "Journeys in North China." By the Rev. A. Williamson.




and if the officials could not prevent it, they could wani the way-
farers that the Imperial authority was still potent enough to exert
itself on such culprits as came within its grasp, for human heads
formed a constant decoration . in conspicuous places along the
route. Broken carts, scattered grain-bags, dying men and ani-
mals, so frequently stopped the way, that it was often necessary
to prevent for days together the entry of convoys on the one
side, in order to let the trains from the other come over. No idea
of employing the starv-
ing people in making
a new or improving
the old road ever pre-
sented itself to the
authorities, and pas-
sengers, thankful for
their escape from the
dangers of the journey,
were lost in wonder
that the enormous
traffic was possible.

At Szu-tieh the path
ceases, and the travel-
ler towards T'ai-3men
Fu, already impressed
with the magnitude
of the famine, would
begin to realize in their
fulness the


-No. 1.



Industry had stop-
ped, no sound of wel-
come or reprobation
reached him from the
villages as he passed
along — only every-
where the silence of
stupefied misery to
which no alleviation
could come. Starved
men, crawling along
and seeking for as
sistance which they
did not expect, died
on the roadside in the
bitter cold. Women
barely able to support
the burden, were seen
carrying their dead
children for burial
where the dust or snow
was thick enough to
conceal them. Mag-
pies, crows, hawks,
and dogs, were feast-
ing undisturbed on
corpses which no one
cared' to bury ; and
gangs of desperadoes,
living in the security
of the hills, rendered
the passage of the
roads a terror to those who tried them unarmed, or in no con-
siderable numbers.

A famine village could be detected at once by the absence of
bark on the few trees which generally surrounded them, or of
woodwork in most of the houses. Children lying about in shel-
tered corners, conspicuous for their enormously distended
stomachs, the result of existing on the roots of rushes, on poison-
ous barks or leaves, and fat clay, were awaiting the inevitable
end. While in the ruined houses the dead, the dying, and the
living were found huddled together on the same stone bed.

During the four bad years everything saleable had been dis-
posed of, the beasts of burden had been killed and eaten, and the


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The PilgHin setting out on his journey, and leaving home aiid friends behina.

domestic dog?, driven by hunger to feast on the corpses every-
where to be found, were eagerly caught and devoured when the
chance occurred, by the starving people. Women and girls
were sold in troops to traffickers, who took the opportunity of
making money in this abominable manner, and suicide was so
common as hardly to excite attention. The mass of correspon-
dence sent by foreigners and natives who became engaged in the
work of relief, contains descriptions so revolting to every feeling
of human nature, that they had better remain buried where they
are. One feature, however, that of


deserves a passing
notice. Residents in
China, from their
knowledge of the sub-
lime contempt which
the Chinese usually
show for death, are
loth to believe that
any extremity would
induce them to partakg
of human flesh ; but
with every desire to
disbelieve in the hide-
ous statements of late
so common, the impar-
tial inquirer must con-
fess to their truth.
During the T'ai-ping
rebellion, cannibalism
was pretty common,
especially at the final
siege of Nan-king, and
foreign residents at
Shang-hai may recall
the account which ap-
peared in the papers
there of the capture,
and subsequent roast-
ing, of a rebel leader,
and of the consump-
ticn, by the Imperial
soldiery, to make them
brave, of the heart and
other organs of the
murdered man. But
the real T'ai-ping
rebels, and most ot the
Imperial braves in the
war of the rebellion
were little better than
savages, ' and the
stigma of their mis-
deeds could hardly be
applied to the general
inhabitants of China.

Reference to the
horrible particulars
contained in Bishop
Tagliabue's and the
Rev. Mr. Hill's reports
must satisfy the in-
quirer on this revolt-
ing subject. A Chi-
nese statement for-


warded by Mr.Richard gives the names of eleven villages in which
two-fifths of the dead were eaten ; in one of them, An-chang, as
many as nine-tenths ; but no period is mentioned, and the report
is doubtless exaggerated. The vengeance of both the authorities
and people seems to have been exercised on the wretched offen-
ders, who were only obeying the supreme law of self-preservation,
and the fact is patent, from the severity of the punishments re-
corded, that cannibalism is received with as much detestation in
China as it it would be in Western countries.

The mortality continued so frightful during last winter and
spring, that pits were dug outside the towns, into which the un-
coffined dead were flung. Professional beggars all died, not a



play-actor remained in tire province, and one Protestant distri-
Ijutor states, with no little satisfaction, that the heathen priests
had disappeared in consequence of the famine.


The Chinese officials were not idle in the meanwhile in their
efforts for relief. Tseng Kuo-Chuan, the governor, an able
and benevolent man, brother of the famous Viceroy Tseng Kuo-
fan, and uncle to the minister to England and France, continually
memorialised the throne concerning relief, suggesting the sale of
offices and even a foreign loan as a means for raising the necessary
funds. On the nth November, 1S77, the Gazette contained a
memorial in which he states: "All the hopes that had been
entertained of an autumn harvest have been extinguished by the
continual drought, and it has not even been possible to get the
seed into the ground for the autumn sowing. The great extent
of the countiy and the long duration of the drought, have com-
bined to stri]D the southern section of the province absolutely
bare. There remains neither the bark of trees, nor the roots of
wild herbs, to be eaten. The land is filled with the sound of
lamentation, and the corpses of those who have perished by star-
vation are to be seen on every wayside." He further states
"that seventy-six sub-prefectures, departments, and districts
were under the dreadful visitation. No less than three or four
millions of people were reduced to absolute want."

In December, ten more districts were added to the list, and the
price of grain-stuffs still advancing, Tseng again implores the
throne, that the money, taels 200,000 allotted him by decree
might be sent, and that KlANG-si and Hu-peh should contribute
60,000 piculs of rice. In January, 1878, Tseng informs the
Emperor that 1,000 people are dying daily, and that six millions
must be at once relieved. The special Famine Commissioner
sent to co-operate with Tseng memorialises on the i6th February,
reporting " that the soil of Shan-si 'was baked to the consis-
tency of a brick, and that at two districts alone, Tseng-tai and
Sang-cheng, there were 430,000 applicants for relief. That all
the furnaces in the iron districts were suspended. The roads,"
says he, "are lined with corpses in such numbers as to distance
all efforts for their interment ; whilst women and children, starv-
ing and in rags, know not where to look for the means of keep-
ing body and soul together. The distinctions drawn a short
time ago in respect of the degree of impoverishment in individual
cases have now disappeared. All are equally reduced to utter

Mr. Timothy Richard writing from T'ai-yuen on the 1st
of January, 1878, but whose letter was not received until
February, says : " The names of eight or nine millions
of people are down for relief, viz., Ho-NAN two, Shen-si
and Chih-li about one, and Shan-si five or six millions.
The people sell their lands, pull down their houses,
sell their wives and daughters, eat roots and carrion, and even
the use of clay and refuse is nothing strange, but a constant oc-
currence. The news has reached us from more than one source
that children are being boiled and eaten."

The Viceroy of Chih-li made vigorous efforts to co-operate
with Tseng, and at the same time to relieve the starving thou-
sands of his own province. His urgent and very practical
memorials to the throne were at once assented to, and . a sum of
about half a million sterling, and a large quantity of grain, were
collected for distribution in Chih-li.


in giving the relief seems to have given general satisfaction,
although, as might be expected, instances of fraud, to which it is
useless to make further reference, were not infrequent. The
nearness of Tien-tsin, and the enormous quantity of grain stuffs
to be obtained there, rendered the relief of Chih-li comparatively
easy. The case was widely different in Shan-si, whither a total
of four millions of taels was sent from Peking and the provinces,
besides huge quantities of grain. To show the difficulties which
had to be overcome, an example may be given. To meet the
distress still existing at the beginning of 1879 at P'ing-yang and
fifty-six neighbouring districts (hiens), a final grant was ordered
from Shan-tung of 1,200,000 tow of grain, and 200,000 taels
for the expense of transportation via Huai-lu and the Ku-kwan
pass. The governor, however, requires taels 1,000,000, the cost

of carriage from Huai-lu to P'ing-yang being 48 cash per catty
plus fee to the guard. The transport of 1,300,000 tow of fourteen
catties will therefore amount to 806,400,000 cash, or taels
672,000, at the rate of 1,400 cash per tael for one portion of the
journey only. The cost of conveyance from Shan-tung through
Chih-li to Huai-lu, and from P'ing-yang to the outlying districts,
probably an equal amount, must be added to this, and the autho-
rities will require to borrow the sum required before the grain
can be brought to them. Owners of carts and pack animals care-
fully abstain from visiting the Shan-tung frontier, where they are
sure of impressment by the authorities ; and every obstacle
imaginable seems to have stood, and still stands in the way of
getting at the relief so plentifully provided.


On 14th March, 1878, a meeting was held at Her Majesty's
Consulate to consider the request made by the Shanghai
Committee, through the Rev. Mr. Muirhead, that a committee
should be formed at Tien-tsin to co-operate with Shanghai ;
receive and forward to their destination funds sent for famine
relief, and generally to aid in the scheme. The following
gentlemen consented to act : —

R. J. Forrest, H.M's Consul

G. Detring, Commissioner of Customs
O. N. Denny, U.S. Consul ;
W. Forbes, British Merchant ;


and a representative of each of the Protestant missions.

It was at the same time resolved that the distribution should be
entirely unsectarian in its character, and that distress should be
the only claim to the funds, and to distress only would they be
given. While it was admitted that the province of Shan-si,
from its greater extremity of distress and distance from any
relief base, merited the earliest attention, it was resolved, if funds
permitted and opportunity served, to attempt some distribution of
relief in the province of Chih-li.

distribution of the relief funds.

The chief difficulty was to find a sufficient number of distribu-
tors, and it was necessary to trust entirely to the various
missionary bodies for agents in the work. Many came forward
with great alacrity ; and as funds began to flow in fast, the work
was begun by forwarding taels 15,000 in charge of the Rev.
David Hill to T'ai-yuen Fu, where the Rev. Timothy Richard
had already commenced relief with funds supplied from other
sources. From the departure of Mr. Hill the work went on
steadily and well, until the partial success of the autumn crops
practically ended the famine. A total sum of taels 125,487,858
has to date passed through the hands of the Tien-tsin Committee,
of which a small balance still remains for distribution.

It must be borne in mind that there was neither organization
nor plan, and but little experience to assist either the Committee
or distributors. "When called upon to deal with the magnificent
charity confided to them, the need was so urgent that the promp-
test action was necessary ; and it should be a satisfaction to the
contributors to know that at the conclusion of the work but few
mishaps have occurred, fewer mistakes, and that the money has,
with the exception of a small peixentage, reached and relieved
the people for whom it was intended.

MODE OF distribution.

A question of no little difficulty presented itself at first starting,
whether the distribution should be in grain or money. Inquiry
proved that the various food staples were still to be purchased
in all the great trading centres, although of course the price was
enormous. The discount on bills of exchange for Shan-si
and other afflicted districts was great, and much uncertainty
prevailed whether the inland banks would be able to meet the
drafts on them, when presented, at all events in the time named.
The Tien-tsin Committee, however, after mature inquiry, came
to the conclusion that it would be impossible to send grain con-
voys to Shan-si except at enormous risk and expense,^ and it
was agreed to send money. The Chinese authorities said they
would find bills, and at a better rate than Mr. Forbes offered to
get them for, but after some delay it was discovered they could



not do so ; the hard silver was therefore sent in carts under the
protection of an officer and some troops provided by the Taotai.
The Committee paid all expenses, which, with a present to the
guards on their return journey, did not amount to a quarter of

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