Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/139

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
83
THE PROVINCE OF KIANGSU

plant from the foreign firm which had the concession, and then immediately tore up the rails. The line was relaid and opened to traffic in 1898. The railway is being carried westward to Soochow, which section is now nearly completed. The other sections to Nanking and to Wuhu are in course of construction and will be rapidly pushed to completion. The Chinese are now as keen to get railways as they were formerly opposed to them. The poor as well as the rich subscribe eagerly for shares, and those who reckoned that the Chinese were too poor to build their own railways without foreign assistance are likely to get a surprise. Another important railway, one from Nanking to Tientsin, is projected, but the concessionaires have been so dilatory in commencing the work, that the Chinese are now clamouring for the retrocession of the permission to construct the line.

When these railways are finished Kiangsu will have two great trunk lines running east and west and north and south through the province; it is safe to prognosticate that there will be an immense development of trade in consequence of these increased facilities for transport.

From the printing presses of Shanghai books, magazines, and newspapers pour forth in an unresting stream. The older literature of China's dreamy sages is being pushed aside, and text-books on subjects of which the ancients never dreamed are being circulated literally by the hundred thousand. The works of Spencer, Huxley, and Montesquieu; Ivanhoe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Sherlock Holmes, and a host of other books equally modern have been translated and are being read with avidity by the younger generation of China's scholars.

In a word, Kiangsu is the wealthiest, the most cultured, and the most progressive of the eighteen provinces. Not only so, but this province sets the fashion for all China. What is done here to-day will be the rage in the most distant parts of this great Empire in a few months or at most a few years' time. This emphasises the importance of the province from an educational and evangelistic standpoint.