Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/123

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By the Venerable Archdeacon A. E. Moule, B.D.,
Church Missionary Society.

The province of Chekiang contains 36,670 square miles. It is the smallest of the eighteen provinces of China proper; and yet this small area equals the whole of Lancashire and all the midland and southern counties of England. The province measures 260 English miles from east to west, and 380 from north to south. It is equal in size to Portugal, and is twice as large as Denmark; Ireland could lie within its boundaries, and the vast Victoria Nyanza is scarcely large enough to float Chekiang. The population is extremely hard to estimate. The latest statistics, published in the Statesman's Year-Book, give 11,580,692 as the estimated population; but older estimates, both Chinese and English, gave a population of 26,000,000.

The province is one of great historic and antiquarian interest. It formed the extreme southern boundary of Old China, the provinces and districts farther south being in early days regarded as outside and barbarous states. Chekiang has from olden times been the stage upon which some of the principal acts in Chinese history have been performed. Shun, the semi-mythical patriarchal emperor of 4000 years ago, the Cincinnatus of China, called from the fields to reign, is said to have ploughed his father's acres with an elephant not far from the city of Yüyao, 40 miles west of Ningpo; whilst two or three miles outside the walls of Shaohing stands the tomb of the