It were best to leave behind
All hopes of an æsthetic kind,
Eye, ear, or nose small joy will find
Upon the plain of Chihli.
Look not for lake or rippling rill.
Or giant tree, or wood-crowned hill.
Or sweet wild-flower, or aught to thrill
Your artist sense in Chihli.
As a set-off, however, to this depressing flatness of the land, the climate may fairly claim to be the most invigorating and healthiest in China. The summer months are hot, the winters often intensely cold, with a cloudless sky almost all the year round.
For administrative purposes the province is divided, according to Consul Playfair's The Cities and Towns of China, into 11 prefectures, 3 sub-prefectures, 6 independent departments, 17 departments, and 124 districts. Of these beyond the Great Wall there are 1 "fu" or prefecture, 1 "ting" or sub-prefecture, 1 department or "chow," and 3 districts or "hsiens."
The principal cities are Peking, Paotingfu, Tientsin, Jehho, Tungchow, Chentingfu, Shanhaikwan, and Hochien. For nearly one thousand years, through varying fortunes with each change of dynasty, Peking has been the metropolis of the Empire. Paotingfu is the capital of the province, and, before treaties with foreign powers existed, was the residence of the Governor-General. During Li Hung-chang's viceroyalty, for convenience of intercourse with consuls and diplomatists, the yamen was transferred to Tientsin. Paotingfu witnessed the murder of several American and English missionaries during the Boxer year, and for this crime was visited by the allied troops, and severe punishment inflicted upon its responsible officials.
Tientsin, memorable as the place where Lord Elgin signed the Treaty of 1858, where the massacre of 1870 took place, and which shared with Peking the siege and bombardment of 1900, stands next to Shanghai in the volume of its trade and the extent of its foreign population.