Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/233

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THE CHINESE EMPIRE

lating country, and the northern parts are chiefly occupied by the Tungting and low-lying alluvial land extending to the Yangtse, which forms its northern boundary. In brief, its most interesting and natural features are the Tungting Lake, the sacred Nan Yo or Hengshan Mountain, its three chief waterways, and its mountainous and wooded nature generally. Of its products the chief are timber, tea, and rice. It abounds in minerals, among which coal and iron predominate.

The Tungting Lake, now estimated to cover in summer or high-water season a surface of 5000 to 6000 square miles, is but a fraction of its former size. In winter its bed is only a series of mud flats with a few channels wandering between—the home of countless thousands of wild-fowl, swan, geese, and duck of all varieties. Owing to the continual silting up of the lake, particularly of the whole western and northern portion, where the many mouths of the Yuan and the Yangtse channels embouche into it, it has lost the importance as a waterway which at one time it had. The disorganisation of the Grain Transport Service and a reduced junk fleet must also be mentioned. An idea of this importance and of the amount of the traffic which used to cross its surface may be gathered from the fact that in 1732 on an islet of the lake there was erected by Imperial order a lighthouse and tower, showing 260 feet above the water, at a cost of some £70,000. In 1740 we read that twenty-eight lifeboats had to be maintained at this station. Owing, however, to the silting process, we find that in 1841 the station, long fallen into disuse and ruin, was abolished. I have met many men who recall cross-lake navigation, and there is little doubt that it is owing to silt and not to fear of navigation that the route has fallen into disuse. The waters of the Yangtse also by various openings find their way into the lake, and its thick yellow stream is distinctly noticeable as it flows past Yochow. The lake should act as a reservoir for the rivers of the province and serve to reduce the severity of floods to which the province is liable. In summer its