Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/88

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lies for the most part within the tropics, has an agreeably variegated surface of plain and mountain, is well watered by four ample river systems, with several smaller ones, and has large areas of fertile soil. Its products are of great variety and value, comprising silk, sugar, indigo, rice, tea, tobacco, fruit, salt, and oil; and it exports also large quantities of fish, fresh vegetables, and live stock.

Its population was reckoned at the census of 1812 at about 19,000,000, and has greatly increased since. It is now taken at 31,865,251. The people present strongly marked features of natural character, with very considerable variations in different portions of the province. Three principal varieties of language are spoken, and these represent the most ancient forms of the language. The "Swatow Dialect," also called the "Tie-chiu Dialect" (from the local pronunciation of the name of the prefecture in which Swatow is situated), occupies about 140 miles of the coast-line, and extends from 40 to 60 miles inland in the eastern portion of the province. To the north and west of this district is found the "Hakka Dialect," which meets the "Tie-chiu Dialect" along an irregular line running from east to west, stretches eastward into the province of Fukien, northward into the provinces of Kiangsi and Hunan, and shades off into the "Mandarin Dialect" of Central China. The western and southern sections are occupied by the "Cantonese Dialect," also called the "Pun-ti Dialect," which in varying forms is spoken by more than half of the whole population.

The Hakkas have few large cities, and occupy for the most part scattered villages and hamlets in the mountainous districts, which are only capable of maintaining a rather sparse population. They are a manly and vigorous race, chiefly occupied in agriculture, but are better educated than those in the more crowded plains. At the same time, they are a turbulent and lawless people, and revolutionary and other secret societies flourish among them. Many of them go into other districts as blacksmiths and as barbers, and many find employment in the yamens as clerks and runners,