Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/157

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By the Rev. Thomas Bryson, London Missionary Society.

Chihli, as the name "Direct Rule" implies, is the seat of the supreme government of the Empire, and therefore the most important of all the provinces of China. Some foreign maps (see Encyclopædia Britannica) erroneously limit its northern boundary by the Great Wall. That monumental landmark really divides the province into two nearly equal parts, the northern portion being occupied by a thinly scattered Mongol population, under the jurisdiction of Mongol princes, but subject also to the authority of Chinese officials who reside in the towns beyond the Great Wall.

The province is bounded on the north by the Hsilamulun river, a tributary of the Liao ho, and Inner Mongolia; on the west by Shansi; on the south-west by Honan; on the south-east by Shantung; and on the west by the Gulf of Pechihli and the Manchurian province of Shengking.

Confining our attention to the part south of the Great Wall, we notice the prevailing physical feature of the province is its Dutch-like dead level, subject to inundation in the wet season and from frequent bursting of the river embankments. The delta on the east is the flattest portion of that vast plain which, beginning near the capital, stretches southward for 700 miles through Honan to the Yangtse valley. The late Rev. Jonathan Lees has for ever described the sensations of the traveller who takes his first "Winter's Ride through Chihli."