Edward Harper Parker.

Up the Yang-tse online

. (page 1 of 30)
Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerUp the Yang-tse → online text (page 1 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



^* Upv'Vi.l







( *^$w *^*f $#?(«




- J "J-o{^

tfcC75 ^y-ASl.o *f-jD^M»s*



$^ *^n* %^^ ; ^"







5HJ i


Formerly H.B.M. Consul, Hoihow.




18 99.


The Yang-tse Goeges and Rapids in Hu-pei 1

The Rapids of the Uppee Yang-tse 20

The ' Vade-mecum ' of the Traveller through the Gorges
of the Great River 27

Special Observations 49

A Journey in North Sz Ch'dan, 52

Nan-Ch'uan and the Kung-t'an River 113

Up the Kia-ling River 174

The Great Salt Wells 204

North Kwei Chou 246

The Wilds of Hu-peh 275

Sz Ch'uan Plants 301

Index i



In publishing this reprint, I have expunged u
matter to the best of my ability, and T venture to call
tention to the Index, which has been compiled with

E. H. Parki





At daybreak on the morning of the 24th of November, 1S80, we
rolled over uncomfortably in our beds as the noisy crew made
preparations to start from I-ch'ang. Having had the advantage
of reading Blakiston's, Gill's, Rocher's and others' experiences
with Sz-ch'uan boat-crews, we had taken the precaution of
arranging to sleep on board, and to have everything ready to start
on the evening of the 23rd, thinking that, with this prevision, we
might at least count upon leaving some time, not later than
midnight the next day. This hope was, however, the less
sanguine in that the skipper had applied on the 21st for permis-
sion to substitute ' noon ' on the 24th for ' early dawn,' as had
been distinctly stipulated in the contract. The necessity of draw-
ing up a written contract has been touched upon by more than one
traveller upon this route; and, in endorsing their recommendations,
we may add, specifically, that no particular form of contract
appears to have been sanctioned by custom ; and, generally, that,
in this as in all matters in China, the European voyageur may rest
assured that, in every question which concerns his own comfort or
interests, his own wits will pull him through better than any
established native practice. In the present instance one distinct
proviso was that we should start at daybreak on the 24th ; another
that tender cent, of the total boat-hire should be dependent in aDy
case on the hirer's favour, and be certainly forfeited unless all the

2 Up the Yang-tsc.

baggage safely reached its destination. Ilalf the hire was to be
paid in advance ; one-fifth more after arrival at the K'wei Kwan
(K'wei-chou Fu); and the balance, including the optional portion,
after boat and freight should have arrived at Ch'ung-k'ing. In
due course we appeared on board ; furniture, baggage, and servants.
It is was at 10 p.m. on the 23rd; and, somewhat to our surprise,
we saw the whole crew asleep on the forward deck. We were
further agreeably disappointed (not to say incredulous) when the
skipper stepped into our sleeping apartment, redolent of pork and
wine, and inquired whether he might count upon our not delaying
him in any way nest morning, as he proposed to start before day-
break. In reply he was informed that, as far as we were concerned,
he was at liberty to start there and then; and with this understand-
ing we retired to our respective couches, or lairs.

The ordinary passage-boat which travels between I-ch'ang
and Ch'ung-k'ing is known as the K l wa-tsz ch'aan, and is disposed
in the following way. The forward deck, thirty feet long by
twelve across, is at night time the sleeping quarters of the crew
and trackers. A covering or awning of coarse mats, resting upon
short vertical poles fixed into sockets in the gunwales, and upon
longitudinal and horizontal bamboos supported lengthwise and
athwarts by those poles, after the fashion of a gabled house with-
out the main beam, is put up at night, and when the boat ' lays to '
from stress of weather, being stowed away on the roof of the pas-
senger accommodation at other times. On to this forward deck
the trackers likewise crowd at meal times, and under its movable
planks are stowed their clothes and frowsy bedding ; the rice in
bins, together with the other articles of food required during the
voyage ; and the contraband or smuggled merchandize which the
crew may choose to venture. In the middle of this deck is the
galley, always open except at night, and in this snug retreat abidea
the cook, or rather his lower regions, his visible upper half being
engaged from morn to night in boiling vast quantities of rice, and
in preparing messes fearful and savoury for the trackers and for
the skipper's family respectively. The men seem to feed, about
every three or four hours during the working day, on rice coaxed
down with a swill of bean-curd, cabbage, oil, and other rancid
things, either separate and varied, or in conglomeration. Three or

Oorges and Rapids in Ru-pei. 3

four times during the voyage, also, they get a ration of pork and
fowl, a treat known as shau shenfu or ' roast to the gods,' which ia
moreover repeated as an extra encouragement to them from time to
time at the expense of the skipper or the passenger, when they
have succeeded in passing a dangerous rapid, or achieved any other
exceptional success. About six feet from the prow is rigged
athwart-ships a powerful beam ; and connected with this by means
of strong ropes is the main sweep, which extends thirty feet or so
ahead, and, worked by three or four men, has a powerful effect in
veering the boat round in any particular direction. A similar
beam is rigged athwart-ships in front of the mast, and in support
of the mast, which runs up in front of the foremost passenger com-
partment. Side sweeps, worked by eight men apiece, move on
short stanchions attached to this latter beam.

Behind the mast are the passenger cabins, each about ten or
twelve feet square, by eight high, with the exception of the fourth or
hindmost, which is not so deep fore and aft as the other three. The
foremost we use as a sitting, dining, and guest room ; the second
as a bedroom ; and the other two as store and servants' rooms : when
carpetted or covered with sheepskin rugs, these compartments can
be made very tolerably comfortable. Beneath them are the bulk-
heads, in which the traveller's baggage is packed, each compart-
ment being separate, and as far watertight as any Chinese-made
compartment can be. Behind is a sort of after deck, which can be
covered in with mats like the forward deck, and which, besides
being what may be called the tiller-room, can also be used for
passengers' cooking, servants' promenade, and general miscellaneous
purposes. Sloping up again behind this is the poop, a mysterious
region, protected by doors, in which the skipper and his harem
dwell. The sail is the usual ragged affair, with bamboos in place
of reefs, and the mast-head serves besides to bear the strain of the
tracking rope, being relieved, however, by a second line passed
round two cat-heads fixed perpendicularly in front of the second
thwart-beam. The tracking is usually done with the fei-ta?i, or
' flying hawser,' a bamboo affair of two strands : the next-sized
hawser is called the erh-hsing-tan, or ' second-go hawser ;' and the
large* t, only used at the most dangerous rapids, the tso-lati, or
' sitting hawser.' From a book published by Rear- Admiral Ho

4 U/) the 1 'ang-tse.

Chin-shin* called the Using Ch'uan Pi Van, or the ' Sz Ch'uan
Traveller's J We Mecumf we have gathered a number of
valuable local terras which we shall give in the narrative. At
1-ch'ang we exchanged visits with his Excellency the Admiral,
and found him a personage of great frankness, and anxious to do all
in his power to oblige. We are indebted to him amongst other
things for a hnng ch'uan, or 'red-boat,' a handy little sampan
manned bj r a naval lieutenant and five stalwart braves, which
follows or precedes us alternately all the way, and makes
itself generally useful, whether in assisting trackers to dis-
engage their line, in carrying them to and from the shore, or in
rendering small services to ourselves, whom it is commissioned to
protect and to escort as far as Wu-shan on the frontiers of Sz
Ch'uan. The dilatory deputy who was sent down by the Sz Ch'uan
authorities to assist our boat up to Ch'ung-k'ing has not put in an
appearance yet : he himself, together with his reasons, will doubt-
less turn up some time or other, when it is to his advantage to be
to the front.


After tossing uneasily, alternately too hot and too cold, in
a superfluity of blankets, I rose to see how far so much yelling
and straining had brought us, thinking: that we must at
least have arrived at the mouth of the Ich'ang gorge, which
is only three miles from the city. I found, however, that two
hours vigorous yuloing with the two side sweeps had only brought us
half a mile along the left-hand bank ; another half hour's drifting
and pulling took us to the other side, near the river-otterf
fisheries, little more than opposite the Consulate, whence we
had started to the firing of guns three hours before. The crew, (in
which term in future we shall include the permanent staff of
eight, and the twenty-three hired trackers), were now regaled with
their first meal. The cook on these occasions has the bowls, basins,

*He has since changed bis adoptive surname of Ho for his real surname
of Lo.

t The livers of these animals have since been prescribed as a certain cure
for the malady of Prince Ch'un, the Emperor's father.

Gorges and Rapids in Hu-pei. 5

and chopsticks all ready : every man helps himself with a wooden
dipper to a fill of rice from the tuh ; each four or five share
the contents of a basin of tasty soup, hean-curd, cabbage, wooden-
looking peas, or other strange compound ; fish-like mouths place
themselves in position at the bowl edges ; a steady shovelling with
the chopsticks goes on ; chewing is eschewed ; and all is over.
Previous to entering the gorge, passed a temple called Kwan-
yin Mian, and a place called Tsz-yang, both on the right bank,
and rounded a nasty-looking corner where the water rushed past
some angry low-lying rocks in threatening fashion. On the left
bank at the entrance of the gorge is the village or boat-station of
Kan-chin, a place duly identified on the sketch-map of Admiral Ho.
The first aspect of this gorge, of which we had heard and read so much,
was somewhat disappointing. The scenery was undoubtedly fine, and,
to my thinking, resembled the best parts of the Rhine or the barely
second-rate Norwegian fiords more than anything else. So far
Switzerland was not to be mentioned, even in a whisper. The day's
journey was accomplished almost entirely by laborious tracking,
during which the regulation amount of agility, howling, and other
unnecessary display was got through by the crew. We had one or
two opportunities of taking a walk amongst the rocks, and at four
o'clock came to anchor, or rather made fast with hawsers fore
and aft to the bank, at a spot between PHng-sJum Pa and
ShiJi P'ai, just above the mid-gorge Customs Station at which
Blakiston appears to have anchored. In no place, thus far, did the
current seem to be particularly strong. Owing to the method
of progression employed, the Chinese junks which ascend the
gorges and rapids submit themselves to all the dangers which
exist. Hugging the banks, they have to sheer out at each
projecting rock, where, of course, they must encounter the brunt of
the current, and where, if rapid or shallow there be, it is most
probable they will find it. The rock passed, they are swept along
in the eddy which intervenes between this and the next jutting
rock, and, whilst thus drifting clumsily along, every favourable
position for the bow places the stern at a corresponding
disadvantage; and vice versa. One man, armed with a flexible
bamboo pole, is frequently all that stands between a rock and
apparent annihilation. A light draft, full-powered steamer, such

6 Up the Yang-tse.

as has been recommended for the navigation of the higher Yang-
tsz, would have the choice of any part of the deep channel ; and,
where it should become absolutely necessary to approach the banks,
would certainly be provided with powerful steering apparatus,
always available headway, boats and steel hawsers, and cool and
silent manipulators. On the way from Hankow to Ich'ang, our
steamer shot easily through races which seemed to give certain
junks there more trouble than anything we have encountered so far.
There was an ominous silence when we woke on the morning
of the 25th. The hsia-feng, or adverse wind — i.e. south-west — had
set in, and nothing could be done until it either dropped or changed
itself into a shang-feng, or favourable — i.e. north-east — wind. I
went for a walk on the North or left-bank, and after severe climb-
ing discovered a family in a sort of cave-house, perhaps 400 feet
above the river. The host offered me his long brass pipe, and gave
me the names of the places above-mentioned. A few cotton trees
were growing in the tiny patches of rocky soil which he had
terraced up, and two or three of the wood-oil (Eleococca verrucosa)
or thing trees found nutriment in the vicinity. The oil of this tree
is used as a varnish fur boats and furniture, and also, when mixed
with lime, sand, and clay, (san-ho-t'u), for manufacturing the
hard cement employed in building the forts, such as those at
Chinkiang and Canton. Looking down, I found the boat had sud-
denly started, and I was compelled to make my way for two miles
along the precipitous bank with the trackers. Directly we got on
board, at a projecting ledge which marked the limit of possible
tracking, a favourable wind sprung up, and in half an hour we
made as much progress as we had done the whole previous day.
Sailing past the Nan-t l o or Southern Eddy, we emerged in the
afternoon from the gorge proper at Ju-i, also called Wu-i, where
begins a rocky desert somewhat resembling the Consulate island
opposite Swatow (after a sand-bath) spread out along the Suez
Canal. During this and the next day the sand raised by the wind
almost concealed the surrounding scenery from our view, and gave
the country the appearance of being immersed in a fog. "We passed
the same afternoon Hung Shih, or 'Red Rock,' and Chiu-ming
Shih, or 'Life Rescue Rock,' and after a little more tracking
anchored or moored at a small village called Lei^'i Shih, or

Gorges and Rapids in Eu-pei. 7

1 Thunder-clap Rock.' All the places above mentioned appear in
the route-map called the Hsia-chiany Chiu-sheng T'u-chih, or
Sketch of Life Saving on the Yang-tsze Rapids and Gorges.
When, as frequently happens, the tow-line gets foul of the rocks,
the trackers are stopped by a tattoo of three strokes at a time on
the drum. This is called ia k'wan, or ' beating easy,' a term also
applied, according to Admiral Ho's book, to the quick tattoo by
which on other occasions the men are encouraged to redouble their
efforts. Fu-tsz is the term applied to the trackers, whether per-
manent, or hired and additional, (i'ien fu-tsz). The half-dozen or
80 of sailors who remain always on board the boat to handle the
sail, pay out the line, beat the drum, and so on, are termed hsia
shou, or 'hands:' the two masters or mates chia-cha?ig, or 'man-
agers.' Owing to the jumble of dialects spoken on the frontiers of
Hu Peh and Sz Ch'uan, it is difficult to be sure of the exact mean-
ing of these terms. Even the erudite Admiral, who occasionally
quotes the poet Tu to illustrate the dangers of the route, sometimes
uses characters which are manifestly wrong ; whilst the illiterate
boatmen and military escort officers are still less to be depended
upon. We anchored at 3.30 p.m., after a not very hard day's work,
on the afternoon of the 25th, and took advantage of the remaining
daylight to ramble over the hills and inspect the country home-
steads. The dialect of the people differs here very slightly from
that of Hankow ; but the upper even tone, which is so high and so
distinctly a monotone at that place, shews a tendency higher up to
'curl upwards' at the end, after the style of the still transitional
Hakka shang p'ing. There 9eems some reason to believe that the
Hakkas of Canton Province are the descendants of emigrants from
Sz Ch'uan, Hu Pei, and Kiang Si. Probably, if this be so, the con-
fusion caused by the madcap vagaries of Chang Hsien-tsung in Sz
Ch'uan, and the imperial butcheries which followed, both at the
close of the seventeenth century, would sufficiently account for this
wholesale immigration into the southern province. The houses
that I entered were much better built than those which one
encounters on the lower banks of the Great Paver. The reason
probably is that there is high ground on the upper river, where
it is possible to build without fear of inundation. When I walked
from Kewkiang to Hankow in the winter of 1S72, I noticed that

S Up the Yang-tsc

the dwellings improved greatly as soon as ever I got beyond the
reach of the summer overflows of the Yang-tsze.

An hour or so after starting on the morning of the 26th of
November, we passed two minor rapids called the Siau Lu-chio and
the Ta Lu-chio, or the 'Little' and 'Great Deer's Horns.' The
native sketch-map states that these places are only very dangerous
in summer aud autumn, and doubtless the ' strong rapid in June '
of Blakiston's larger chart refers to this spot. The two rapids are
separated from each other by only a few hundred yards. Our own
score or so of trackers pulled us successfully through with the mid-
dle-sized hawser. We reached Shan-tou-p'ing, or Hill Lozenge
Plain — the Shan-tow-pien of Blakistou — at noon, and received the
usual complimentary cards and salutes from the gunboats and red-
boats at the station. In addition to the red-boat which accompanies
us to the Sz C'h'uan frontier, other boats of the same description
escort us along their beats, varying from 30 to 50 li, (ten to six-
teen miles). The marines aud officers so far have all been Hu Nan
men. Admiral Ho boasted with pardonable pride of the exception-
ally large share taken by his co- provincials in both the civil and
the military government of China. We went on shore after tiffiu
and walked for a couple of miles along the sandy and rocky bank,
many of the boulders upon which were worn deep with the friction
of innumerable bamboo hawsers. These ropes will endure a much
greater pulling strain than any hempen article of the same calibre,
but they are not so limber, and consequently will not coil so quick-
ly and so small, nor will they stand a sudden cross-strain half so
well. A hempen hawser could never hold out against the severe
friction of the granite rocks, and would probably rot with the
rapid changes of temperature and with wet, whereas the water
strengthens the bamboo fabric. These latter are renewed at least
after each voyage down and up. At 3 p.m. we reached the rapid
of T'a 1'unq, or Otter's Cave, — the Kwa-dung of Blakiston. This
rapid does not appear to be more than a furlong in length, but it
was the most serious business we had as yet encountered, and we
watched with keen interest from the shore our ricketty looking
craft as she was slowly dragged through the seething waters. At

Gorges and Rapids in Hu-pei.

this place we took on thirty extra trackers, and requisitioned the
big hawser, about four inches in circumference. At least two hun-
dred yards of rope were paid out, and the trackers were out of
both sight and hearing of those on board the boat. But a couple
of men are always ready at a moment's notice to throw off their
clothes, spring into the water, and free the tow-line from any
obstacle in which it may catch. Men, too, are posted on prominent
boulders at distances from each other, to signal orders from the
boat, and likewise to keep the hawser free. Another hour's track-
ing and sailing and drifting in eddies, brought us to Mei-jen T'o,
or 'Beauty's Eddy,' after sailing through which we arrived at
Chii-ch'i, 'Crooked Creek,' or 'Lane Creek,' (variously written),
and He Yen or He Yai-tsz, both meaning 'Black Rock.' All the
above places are given in the Admiral's Itinerary, and also in the
Route Map above alluded to. And here I may state that I use no
names of places unless they are approved by the boatmen them-
selves. The Admiral's Itinerary gives the name of every single
place passed by the traveller on both north and south banks, and
contains at least a dozen others in each of the intervals between
every couple of names given by me. At He Yen we noticed five
white hay-cock looking mounds on the hill (left bank) which we
were informed marked the fang or ' stage.' We had, it was said,
achieved two great Vang, or 180 It from Ich'ang, the first great
'stage' being Hwang-ling Miau. Shortly after starting on the
morning of the 27th, we came to the entrance of the Niu-kan t
('Cow's Liver,' the Lu-kan of Blakiston), or Ma Fei ('Horse's
Lungs') Gorge. This place is also known as the K'ung Ling Hsict,
a term of doubtful etymology, by some of the boatmen unmistak-
ably pronounced T'ung Ling. Captain Gill selects this word as an
instance of the difficulty of obtaining the exact pronunciation of
Chinese places, and points out how his companion, Mr. Baber,
arrived at Liu Lin or ' Willow Grove.' In this case, however, the
words T'ung and K'ung are both used, though the latter is the
only one given in the two native books so often here cited, whilst
Liu Lin is another place at the entrance to the gorge. A rather
far-fetched derivation given by the author of the Sketch Map is
K'ung 'empty,' and Ling, an obscure character referring to some
part of a boat, ' because the boats have to empty themselves of

10 Up the 1 'ang-tse.

their cargoes occasionally.' I succeeded in taking a very fair
sketch of the entrance just before passing the three consecutive
rocks in mid-stream called the T'ou, Erh, and San Chit, or ' First,
Second, and Third Pearls.' The morning was still somewhat
misty, or it may have been dusty, yet not so much so as to
seriously mar the prospect, which was finer than anything even in
the latter part of the Ich'ang Gorge, and almost equal to a first-
rate fiord in Norway: perhaps on a par with Lake Thun, barring
the snow-capped mountains in the distance, which are so striking
an ornament of Swiss scenery. We were exceedingly fortunate in
having a favourable breeze all the way up the Cow's Liver, a gorge
which takes its name from an overhanging mass which is supposed
to, and indeed does, resemble somewhat the hepatic organ of that
ruminant. A solitary tree of considerable size, perched on the
summit of one of the hills on the left bank, and marked in the
native Route Map, was also easily identified. Above the Cow's
Liver Gorge are the three Ch'iny TUin, or ' Clear Rapids,' (also
called by some the Hsin T'an, or ' New Rapids.') At certain times
of the year, — the spring and late winter,— these rapids are perhaps
the most formidable on the Upper Tang-tsze. We were told,
notwithstanding, that we should find the Yeh T'an, on the other
side of Kwei-chou, much more dangerous. There are three rapids
at this place, known as Nos. 1, 2, and 3, counting from up-river.
We got out and walked whilst our boat was being towed up num-
bers three and two, and passed on the way a junk lying bottom-
upwards upon the bank, where she was undergoing repairs : her
cargo of cotton was being dried on the beach. No. 3 rapid is about
a quarter of a mile long, the worst part not taking up, perhaps,
more than one third this distance. At least two hundred yards of
tow-line were paid out, and the operation safely accomplished with
the assistance of about 50 extra coolies. No. 2 rapid gave very
little trouble. We then got into the boat, and closely scanned the
hazardous business of passing rapid No. 1, a terrible sloping race
of not more than 20 or 30 yards in length. The boat was moored
close to the shore, at the shore-edge of the rapid, and actually
touching it. Two middle-sized hawsers, each about 150 yards
long, were laid out amongst the stones, and the bow of the ship
was steadied by the strongest hawser, made fast to a rock, and

Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerUp the Yang-tse → online text (page 1 of 30)