Imatges de pàgina

west coast of South America at Payta, 50 south of the equator, and at Coquimbo, 30° south, were found to be the same, 63° Fahr.

As a result of the many careful and systematic deep-sea investigations, there is an almost universal consensus of opinion among leading scientists in favour of the permanence of the great ocean basins. Geologists divide the world into three areas :

(1) The abysmal area, from 1,000 fathoms below the sea level downwards.

(2) The transitional area, from 1,000 fathoms below the sea level upwards to the sea level.

(3) The continental area, including all dry land.

For practical purposes the sea level may be taken as a constant figure, although, even in the same latitudes of one and the same ocean it is not always the same distance from the centre of the globe. The waters of the ocean are attracted by the proximity of huge land ridges, just as the water in a glass is drawn up at the edges. It is calculated that the surface of the Pacific Ocean is 2,000 feet nearer the earth's centre at the Sandwich Islands than on the coast of Peru. At the present epoch the sea level stands at such a height in the transitional area that its rise or fall would flood or lay bare the largest surface of land. If the level rose only 100 fathoms, fourteen million square miles of land would be submerged. If it sank to the same extent, ten million square miles would be exposed. The enormous disproportion between the mean height of the land and the mean depth of the ocean makes it impossible to believe that the land at present above the sea level has ever formed the bottom of oceans as deep and vast as those now existing, a very moderate upheaval of which would suffice to bring about a universal deluge.




It is a matter of common knowledge in China that Li Hungchang, when deprived of his viceroyalty and ordered to Peking, was compelled to distribute among the Court officials and others no less a sum than eight million taels, equivalent to about one million sterling, in order to protect himself against the attacks of his political enemies. With the exception of the vastness of the amount there was nothing unusual in this proceeding, as Li has the best reason for knowing, for as a matter of fact he has at stated intervals been long in the habit of paying a very heavy tax on his many incomings to satisfy the cravings of the voracious distributors of patronage at Peking

The East is the home of bribery and corruption, and probably in no country have these become so generally recognised a feature of official life as in China. There they flourish and abound, unchecked by morality and uninterfered with by the chief authorities, except on rare occasions when threatened exposés compel the Emperor to assume the appearance of virtuous indignation. It is true that in other Oriental countries, from Eastern Europe to Korea, they exist as part of the natural order of things: the pashas of Turkey exact all that they safely can from the fellaheen, just as Korean mandarins eke out their scanty pay from the tills of the merchants and shopkeepers within their jurisdiction; but it has been reserved to China to add a refinement to this universal system of extortion by providing a class which fattens on the illegal gains of their brethren in office.

By the political constitution of the country the Emperor is assisted in the administration of the Empire by a host of Ministers, secretaries, and subordinates. To these must be added a vast crowd of palace officials, all of whom are poorly paid, and who, like their confrères in the provinces, are dependent on what they can exact from others to support the necessary dignity of their offices. But compared with their provincial colleagues these are at a distinct disadvantage. In a provincial government every member of the hierarchy of officials, from the viceroy down to the lowest district magistrate, exercises sway over a greater or less extent of territory. The wealthier the people within his jurisdiction the better for him. A rich man is, for several reasons, more easily amenable to pressure than a less well-todo one. Apart from the fact that he has more funds at his command, he is naturally less willing to encounter the danger of official wrath, which too often brings in its train imprisonment and torture, than one who is inured to hardship by a needy mode of life. He has also a position to maintain, which would suffer loss by the infliction of any indignity, and, further, it is always within the power of the mandarins so to interfere with the prosecution of his business as considerably to check any future accumulation of wealth.

All this is part of the acknowledged system, for which, though bad in every way, there is undoubtedly some excuse to be made. The official incomes of the mandarins are not sufficient, even with the exercise of the severest economy, to provide for the necessary expenses pertaining to their offices. . So fully recognised is this fact that in addition to his legal salary each mandarin receives an anti-extortion allowance, which in most cases is about thirty times as large as his salary. Even with this addition, however, the incomes are disproportionately low, and are quite inadequate to support the dignity of the service. The viceroy of a province, for example, receives about 6,0001. a year, a sum which does not do much more than pay the countless clerks, secretaries, messengers, and hangers-on who crowd his Yamên, and all of whom are entirely dependent on his private purse.

In such conditions it has surpassed the wit of Chinamen to find more than one way out of the difficulty. The mandarins must live and the people must pay. Many centuries have so moulded the views and ideas of both oppressed and oppressors that they have been led to regard the existing system as a natural dispensation of Providence, and it is only when the screw is put on beyond the point of endurance that the people consider themselves entitled to complain.

That the wealth often accumulated by provincial officials is enormous there is abundant evidence to show. The fact that Li was, as mentioned above, able to pay down a million sterling and to remain a man of immense wealth speaks for itself. Li entered on official life with nothing, or less than nothing, for he probably had to borrow money to buy his first appointment. Fifty years in the public service have thus enabled him to accumulate a fortune which in the richest countries would be called colossal. Not every one, however, is either able or willing to turn an official career to so very practical a purpose. Li and his brother, the late viceroy of the two Kwang provinces, have earned for themselves an unenviable notoriety for the acquisition of other people's wealth. Not long ago a censor memorialised the Throne on the subject, and drew a striking comparison between the disinterested honesty of a certain viceroy, Tso Tsungt'ang, and the grasping avarice of the Li brothers. The memorial was published in the official Peking Gazette, which serves in China the same useful purpose that the London Gazette does among ourselves. Nothing appears in its columns without the sanction of the Government, and its utterances acquire, therefore, a greater VOL. XL--No. 233


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significance than would be the case were they to appear in the columns of an ordinary newspaper. Hence the censor's accusations are noteworthy, and he frames his charges in these words :

The brothers Li have grown wealthy from the proceeds of several tens of years of viceregal power, and the money spent by them to purchase official rank for their sons and nephews is but as grains from well-filled granaries or as drops from the occan's expanse.

If we bring Li to Tso's side and compare the two, if we notice the immense wealth, the power and influence of the scions of the Li and Ts'ên clans (Ts'ên was another offender), and then look at the honest poverty of the more illustrious Tso, it would not take much shrewdness or farsightedness to judge who has been the more honest to the Throne and the greater patriot to his country.

The vast body of provincial officials are probably neither so grasping as the Lis nor so pure-handed as the redoubtable Tso; but they one and all recognise the advantage which they enjoy of having districts to govern and people on the spot to squeeze. The Peking officials are not so happily situated. They have no local jurisdiction, and consequently have no rich merchants or shopkeepers on whom they can draw to supply their wants. Other victims have, therefore, to be found, and just as in nature the devourers of small animals and insects become in their turn the food of larger creatures, so the provincial magnates are called upon to provide support for the members of the central Government. One, and a most unfortunate, result of this general system is that the superior attractions of the provinces induce all the more able and ambitious mandarins to seek service outside the capital, and the direction of the central Government is thus left mainly in the hands of reactionary and less enterprising officials. In all other countries the ablest men are chosen to advise their sovereigns in council, but in Chinese topsy-turveydom the process is reversed, and while the provincial satraps are as a rule able and energetic men, whatever else they may be, the Ministers at Peking are for the most part men who have no other claim to their positions than that of having brought themselves to the notice of the Emperor by the profession of cheap patriotism and ultraConfucianist views.

Politically the effect of this result is unfortunate, and as regards foreign relations disastrous. The members of the Tsungli Yamên, whose duty it is to transact all foreign business, are composed, with the exception of Li Hungchang, who has been lately appointed to the office, of men whose circle of knowledge is confined almost entirely to the limits of the Empire. They know nothing of the geography or history of foreign countries, and are utterly ignorant of the relative strength and importance of the European nations. Their geographical knowledge has hårdly advanced beyond that primitive stage in which China is represented as occupying the greater part of the earth's surface, while all other nations appear as satellites dancing attendance on the Heavenly Empire. This is

bad enough, but the most hopeless feature of the position is that, though their ignorance is stupendous, they have no desire to learn better.

It is no exaggeration to say that the vast majority of those who rule the destinies of China have not advanced one step in the direction of progressive ideas since the establishment of the legations at Peking, nearly forty years ago. If the representatives of the foreign Powers could speak out they would have a dismal tale to tell of the obstructive incompetency and the idle impertinences of the officials of the Tsungli Yamên. To men of high-bred culture visits to the Yamên are hours of torture. The mandarins take a delight in flouting and irritating them by all the countless tricks of which Chinamen are past masters, and the more important the business in hand the more trivial are the subjects which they choose to discuss to the exclusion of it.

It is a well-known fact that in 1874 a war between China and Japan on the subject of Formosa was averted by the wisdom and friendly benevolence of the late Sir Thomas Wade. By a happy chance he became, late one afternoon, aware of the terms which would satisfy Japan, and without a moment's hesitation he determined to call at the house of one of the most enlightened members of the Yamên, to put him in possession of the facts. The official in question received him courteously, and undertook that the Japanese terms should be accepted by the Government if Sir Thomas would induce the Japanese minister, who was in the act of leaving Peking, to reopen negotiations. Pleased at the success of his endeavours, Sir Thomas called at the Yamên on the following morning, naturally expecting to be received with cordiality by the representatives of a nation which he had saved from the consequences of a disastrous war.

The ministers present, however, made no reference to his friendly intervention, and talked of the weather, the kind of tea they were drinking, and other equally trivial matters, without giving their visitor a chance of broaching the serious topic of the day. This went on for some half-hour or more, until Sir Thomas, losing patience, asked whether they had not heard of his negotiations of the previous day and the happy result which had been arrived at. They answered 'yes, they had,' and there the matter ended for the moment.

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acknowledged the inestimable service which had been rendered them; and nothing further would have been said on the subject had not the official on whom Sir Thomas had called the day before chanced to come in, when he repeated the thanks to which he had already given expression. This same policy of tantalising impertinence is pursued now, as then, and at the present moment the anti-foreign element is more than usually rampant at the capital. The man who has the main direction of affairs is a certain Wêng, the quondam tutor of the Emperor and a Confucianist of the Confucianists. For some years

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