Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/135

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creeks, and it may be taken for granted that no country in the world of equal extent is so well watered as this province of Kiangsu; it would also be difficult to find anywhere an equal extent of territory as rich, as fertile, and as densely populated.

The Grand Canal reflects far more credit on the monarchs who devised and executed it than does the much more famous Great Wall. Kublai Khan (1260) is generally credited with the construction of this most useful waterway, but, as a matter of fact, it existed, in parts, long before his day. The total length of the canal is 650 miles. It has always been of immense importance to the whole Empire and to this province in particular. In these days steam launches, towing a train of house-boats or junks, jostle each other on its southern reaches, and so a new and important trade is being developed.

Nanking, the official capital, is situated on the southern bank of the Yangtse, 200 miles west of Shanghai. It was the metropolis of China from a.d. 317 to 582, and again from A.D. 1368 to 1403. It is still the seat of the Viceroy of the Liang-kiang, who is the Governor-General of three provinces, and is consequently the rallying centre of a large concourse of officials, expectant and substantive. Nanking has always been famous in China for its scholars, wealth, and culture. The wall of the city is nearly 25 miles in circumference, and encloses a population of about half a million souls. The district exports quantities of raw silk and flowered satin.

"On the banks of the Grand Canal, 80 miles west of Shanghai, 12 miles east of the great lake, and 40 miles south of the Yangtse, stands Soochow, the silk metropolis of the Orient. Founded 500 b.c., it was laid out only 250 years after Romulus had traced the walls of the mistress of the ancient world, and from that date Soochow has been, and still is, a literary and commercial centre." This city is called the Venice of China, "Beautiful Soo," and has a population of about 700,000.

Chinkiang, at the juncture of the Grand Canal with