Corner, Arthur. "A tour through Formosa, from south to north." Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 22 (1878): 53-63.

A Tour through Formosa, from South to North. By Arthur Corner.

[P. 53] I had been staying for a few days in the neighbourhood of the Red Fort Zealandia, at Amping, lat. 23° N. long. 120° 10' E., having come over from Amoy with the idea of travelling into the interior of Formosa in order to see something of the other tribes of aborigines, some of whom I described in a journal of my visit to the south in the early part of the year.

I found the fort a mere heap of ruins, huge masses of masonry, which had formed the bastions and other works of the Dutch engineers, lying heaped around the base of the elevation on which the place was built, and only the large tree standing on it, with some Chinese houses, which form so good a land-mark for vessels approaching this otherwise very monotonous coast. The Chinese were breaking out the bricks from the concreted masses with much difficulty to build a modern earthwork about a mile off under the superintendence [p. 54] of a French engineer, M. Berthault, and it is said they wished to cut down the tree, but it is to be hoped this will be allowed to remain.

The new fort is an ordinary , simple, four-bastioned work, with brick revetments, the parapets being made of mud. The instability of this material, however, appears to have given the constructors some trouble, and it is doubtful whether it will last as long as the old work, which was built by the Dutch in the middle of the 17th century from bricks brought from Batavia.

About half-an-hour's walk inland from A[n]ping along the banks of a creek brings you to the city of Taiwanfoo, after passing a Chinese camp and some suburbs, where a few foreigners have business houses. The walls of the city are in a good state of repair, and enclose a space about six or nine miles round, I was told, although I did not go all the circuit. There appeared to be a large space not built on inside, and containing some very pretty park-like scenery, undulating grassy ground, and large trees. M. Berthault lives in a place like this in rather unpleasant proximity to a powder-magazine.

Just inside the walls is another Dutch fort, brick-built, but rather dilapidated; there was a date over the door which I made out to be 1654. It was here that the crew of a British vessel were confined some years ago, previous to being taken to the execution-ground outside the walls, and, all but one, decapitated by the Chinese authorities. The place is all solid vaulted brick-work, somewhat split in places by the growing roots of the banians, and inhabited only by owls and bats. It stands quite close to the main street, and there are houses up to the walls; I climbed up to the top with some difficulty, and had a good view of the city.

After making some brief preparations for the journey, consisting of the hire of a chair with a couple of bearers to take me to the foot of the hills, about four days' journey in a northerly direction, and the engagement of two burden-bearers to act as guides, I started on the morning of the 15th of February, and , getting clear of the city, passed the execution-ground mentioned before just outside the gate.

I took very little with me, as I meant to travel light -- blankets, a few tins of preserved provisions for a change from the Chinese diet, compass, aneroid, and sketch-book, as I intended to walk most of the way, and only took the chair over the flat country at first starting. I looked forward to being away about a fortnight, and in places where the use of a chair would be impracticable. I intended the trip merely as a kind of convalescent ramble through a very interesting country and people.

About 2 p.m. I passed the same broad stream which I crossed further south last year on a bamboo raft. The road led through hedges of screwpines, mimosa, and euphorbia; there were few birds to be seen, except several varieties of hawks, but the country afterwards became indented with deep dells, which were cultivated, and the water carefully embanked to prevent their being flooded, and about 4.50 I arrived at the village of Hoan a Chan.

Next morning I was away by 7 a.m. and passed the village of Hui Kang-boe at 8. The country was all cultivated, and the people were gathering the pea-straw, the coming crop of sweet potatoes growing up between the furrows of the gathered peas, and I saw fennel growing wild in the heaps. Hereabouts were many more birds: a large black bird with a forked tail was most common, a kind of robin, a thrush which sang the people called a "Tsui coe" (water-fowl), and a small bird like the tailor-bird. At 11.30 we passed a Kar Tang-A, where they were gathering ground-nuts, and arrived at E Kar Tang at 12.40. Plantations of sugar-cane were passed at intervals throughout the day, where the land was favourable to its cultivation, and during the afternoon we crossed two streams of considerable size, and arrived at Tsui Kut Than at 2.40. About 4.30 we reached the walled city of Kagee, where [p. 55] I stayed for the night. Kagee is on the Mandarin-road sketched on the latest Admiralty Chart, and from that point to the place I left it to make the hills no names of villagers are put down, the track as on the chart continuing along the low country to the westward in a northerly direction to Tamsui. There is a fine view of the hills to the eastward from the walls of Kagee.

17th. I started about 8, reached Tarniou at 10, and Toa-paw-na at 11.30. All these places which I name are much of the same character, and are called market towns; they consist generally of a long street, with shops under an arcade on either side, with farm produce, fish, and meat exposed for sale, and the street very dirty. We passed through a country cultivated at different levels, with large lakes of water on the higher ones, and carefully-made dams, with outlets unusually wide and well-constructed to provide for the overflow in times of flood. The Chinese are remarkably ingenious in their management of irrigation works, I have noticed, and some of these constructions were very striking. In places where there was a great fall, the floor of the sluice was paved with round stones embedded in cement, in others the banks were preserved by hurdles of split bamboo pegged into the turf and very wide, to prevent the rush of sudden inundations taking effect on the soft ground. The lakes were full of teal, which fluttered along the still surface of the water as the coolies disturbed them. We passed a place called Coo Koo-day, and arrived at Tao Lae at 4 p.m. Here I had to sleep at a Chinese inn, having previously passed the night at Missionary chapels, where you are sure to be comfortable. The native hostelery is simply beastly, and I slept in a place I should really have hesitated to put my horse into. At all these places you can buy food: they give you some stuff they call "thûng," a sort of soup with rice, salt, shrimps and ducks' eggs, and you can buy fowls' eggs and chickens, and sometimes goat; but their cooking is defective, and results in repletion without satisfaction.

I was not sorry to leave Tao Lae on the 18th at 7 a.m., and arrived at Kio Kiong at 9.30. We were now approaching the hills, and entering the first range by a plain between cliffs on either side of the broad and barren ground, formed of sand containing round stones of sandstone and slate of older formation. In the bed of a stream flowing through the wide expanse of river débris my coolies picked up some surface-coal, and it was a likely enough place to find it. At 11 we crossed the principal stream from the high mountains to the eastward, which appeared very grand, and on landing I made a sketch from the raft; and at 12 we reached Lim Kee Pau, where I had to leave my chair behind. I found it useful, although I had walked most of the way. Unless you have a chair of your own specially constructed, these Chinese affairs are very uncomfortable, but they hold your things, and are handy to get in if it rains.

Here I found by my barometer we had ascended about 567 feet above the sea-level, and the plain between the low outside range of hills was becoming narrower and the high ground more precipitous. We again crossed the stream mentioned before, which here assumed the impetuosity of rapids, running under high sandstone cliffs of a more compact formation than those of the lower range, and arrived at Chip Chip at 5 p.m. Chip Chip is in a ravine off the main stream, and is about 707 feet above sea-level. I tried another Chinese inn here, which was rather worse than Tao Lae.

From Chip Chip at 8 o'clock I again followed the course of the main stream, being joined by some country people going our way, and winding through the plain up the river, which we crossed twice on rafts as it rushed round the base of high sandstone precipices, from which some fine streams of clear water were flowing from caves, contrasting strongly with the water of the river, which was black with fine sand composed of disintegrated slate which was suspended in it. After some time we stopped at a shed at the foot of a [p. 56] path which led up the hills, and where they sold sugar-cane and other native refreshments, and then began to ascend. We climbed first over hills partially cleared of forest, and passed some Chinese cutting wood, with matchlocks placed ready for action in case of savage interference. We got into the forest, and met a party of aborigines who were friendly enough. I do not know whether they belonged to the hostile tribes, but the guides recommended that I should not walk in advance of the party, as there was sometimes some indiscriminate shooting going on here. There is some very beautiful scenery hereabouts as the path winds through the forest, and the magnificent tree-ferns, palms, wild bananas, and climbing-ferns are very luxuriant; some of the latter, with very bold fronds, covering trees some sixty feet high. At the top of one of the passes I found we had attained a height of 2082 feet, and after passing a small plain cultivated with tea-plant, arrived at Tsui Sia, a village on the Dragon Lake, at 2 p.m.

The lake is, I judge, about 3 miles long by 1 broad, its longest diameter being north and south; it is wooded to the water's edge on all sides, and has an outlet on the west side, close to the village I stayed at. The region of the lake is inhabited by a harmless tribe of aborigines, called by the Chinese "Tsui-hoans," or water-men. There is a respectable Chinese house in the place, where I put up, and was very comfortable. I went for a stroll round the banks of the lake, and made some sketches; the stillness of the scene was charming, and the seals were swimming about in all directions. I make the height of the lake 2366 feet above the sea-level, and it is a place anyone, be he sportsman, artist, naturalist, or geographer, might spend a month at.

The "Tsui-hoans" are altogether quiet people, although an indolent and poor spirited lot. They seem to belong to the same race as the other tribes, but contrast with them in want of manly form and intelligence. I had an opportunity of noticing this, as, while I was at Tsui Sia, a party of the inhabitants of the hills came down to the Chinese proprietor of my lodging, on some matters of business, and their appearance was very much the same, and their dress also, as those I had met and drawn at Kao Sia in the south. A number of the southern men were at Taiwanfoo when I was there, and I understood the Chinese were endeavouring to encourage them to become on friendly terms, no doubt with the view of getting the better of them regarding the boundary question.

The Tsui-hoan dress appears to be a series of cotton bags hung round their neck by the corners attached to thongs and laces, and they are altogether "sans culottes," the children being stark naked. The men have a profusion of cornelian necklaces, and a peculiar round ornament resembling the section of a large tooth or tusk; their head-dress is a leather scull-cap with an ornament in front made of the teeth of some animal; their hair is long and waving, and they wore no arms. Some of the boys are large-eyed and handsome, their colour a dusky red. The girls are certainly good-looking, and their dress is similar to the hill tribes in the south, a kind of cotton shirt or petticoat, with a strip woven in, of native manufacture, a short jacket, only reaching above the breasts with long sleeves, and leggings to the knee, and bare feet. Their hair is parted in the middle, and twisted in with some black cotton stuff, in the shape of a turban, round the head.

Fishing appears to be of their means of livelihood, and their canoes are formed of the hollow trunk of a tree, the stern end having a board across, and the bow being stuffed up with mud or turf. As, however, they always sit in the stern to paddle, the bow end is generally out of the water. They work with a single paddle shaped like a spear-head, much in the same way as the Malays in Singapore, and the boats are very similar, only larger. One of the canoes was made in two pieces, very curiously joined together. I think these [p. 57] canoes are strong confirmatory proofs of the Malayan origin of the Formosan aborigines.

I regretted I had not my sextant with me to determine the position of the lake, which has not been visited by many people, although several claim to have discovered it. It has been said the lake has no outlet; but this is clearly wrong, as we followed the course of the stream on the following day. To the eastward the hills rise very high, and are wooded to the summit of the most lofty, and we are here very near Mount Morrison, and within two days' march of the eastern side of the island, both which I intend to visit on the first opportunity.

The chief difficulty to be overcome would be to secure the services of some savage guides, and the permission of the people to proceed; and this is the reason, apart form the remoteness of the lake, that more people have not visited the place: it is so far out of the main road, and there is always a certain amount of fighting going on with the hill tribes. All the Pe-pau-hoans carry matchlocks and short swords, and are continually under apprehension of some interference. The next day, on my departure northward, we were joined by a party so armed, who accompanied us through the forest.

We started at 8, keeping along the east bank of the lake, and plunging into the woods, sometimes scrambling over hills, and again following the course of a stream over rocks and boulders, among fine trees, camphor and others, from which hung the creepers and long rattans; these latter, in their natural state, having a rough bark like cork. We came upon a pottery, now deserted, consisting of a long brick-built tunnel up the side of the hill, in which they burn the large red earth jars used for water and household purposes. We got out of the woods and our escort returned, and after wading a few streams we came upon the plain of Posia, and arrived at the village at 2 p.m. This village is almost entirely inhabited by professing Christians, and the principal building is the chapel, to which I went. The people were coming out from afternoon service, it being Sunday the 20th, which I had forgotten. The plain of Posia is only 351 feet above the sea-level, and we had been descending very rapidly from the lake. The river runs through a plain to the eastward of the village at a lower level to the great plateau, and both the higher and lower plains are under cultivation, the higher having two villages of Christians, viz., Twa Lam and Go Kum Swa, at each of which there is a large chapel. The people at all these places seem very glad to see foreigners, and you have to run the gauntlet of the whole community, who press to shake hands, and say "Peng Aan," "Peace be with you." Among these poor people and those north I noticed many cases of "goître." They appear to be mixed with the Chinese, but they have many characteristics of the aboriginal race, although they adopt the Chinese dress. Some people have suggested that the Pe-pau-hoan has some mixture of Dutch blood. How this may be I do not know, but it has not improved their appearance; some of them, the old women especially, being hideous, with low receding foreheads, enormously protruding under-jaw, full of black stumps of teeth, while some had the enormous ape-like long upper lip and receding under-jaw. All the women and children wear a kind of blue bonnet of cotton, very ugly, and their front hair is cut short in a fringe just over their eyes.

On the upper plain there were plantations of hemp (Boehmeria nivea) and these extended more or less from this point to Tamsui. Indigo I did not see, as the crops were out of the ground, but I noticed a practice of what is, I believe, considered high farming, viz., that of ploughing a crop of turnips into the ground for manure, and this operation seemed going on in many places. The name "nivea" to the hemp-plant seems very appropriate, when you observe the snowlike effect of a breeze of wind over a field of it, the contrast between the white under and dark upper side of the leaf being very striking.

[P. 58] The weather being rather cold in the evening, most of the old people appeared with little charcoal-stoves enclosed in baskets suspended to the waist under the outside garment; the old women carried this apparatus in front, while the men had it slung in the rear.

The people were engaged in making "Chiu," or distilled rice spirit, and I had an opportunity of seeing something of the process. The still is composed of a cast-iron hemispherical pan of Chinese manufacture, in common use all over the Empire for cooking; this is set over a clay-built furnace, and a tub inverted over it, having a wooden diaphragm with a central aperature, and an inverted cast-iron pan fastened in the interior. The whole is luted together when the still is charged, and as the steam from the mash rises through the hole in the diaphragm to the dome of the upper pan, it is condensed there by water applied above, and the condensed liquid runs down on to the diaphragm, which is placed slightly obliquely in the tub, and passes out through a small bamboo inserted in a hole in one of the staves. The mash is made of boiled and fermented rice, and it is said that the fermentation is assisted by the admixture of rice previously masticated by the old women, and that young women employed in this operation do not answer so well. There is, I believe, in human saliva some principal which promotes decomposition or fermentation, and it is quite probable the Chinese availed themselves of this nasty discovery to facilitate the process of wine-making. The liquor is of a light pinkish colour, with a hot alcoholic taste, and about as strong as bad sherry.

On the 21st I started again to get out of the plain of Posia, intending to reach Chao E Tun that evening, a distance of 50 li, according to Chinese measurement about 17 miles, but to my mind about 25, and this journey was about the most severe day's walking I had. Descending from the upper plain, which is only partially cultivated, and somewhat arid and sandy, we pursued the course of the stream in the lower plain which, winding under high banks to the northward, flows through the forest into which we plunged, and through which we were toiling the whole day. During our passage through the hills which separate Posia from the western plains, we ascended to a height of 2177 feet through very thick forest, and here the rattans, ferns, and orchids were growing very luxuriantly. I secured two specimens of the latter, which I have brought to Amoy alive, and I am endeavouring to get them into flower during the approaching summer, in hopes of their turning out something new to the botanical world. I killed a beautiful emerald-green water-snake in the forest. After emerging from the forest we came upon a broad plain with high sandstone cliffs, on which the stratification was very marked, and the jagged outline of the distant hills formed a capital land-mark. We reached Chao E Tun at 6.30, and went to a Chinese inn, which did not look very inviting, and induced me to search through the town for more convenient lodgings, but not being able to speak a word of the language, this business was somewhat embarrassing. The people at the inn were lying about smoking opium, and the place proposed for my occupation was a kind of loft open to the weather, and very dirty. In a tobacco-shop I met a respectable-looking man, who invited me to his house, where I was conducted to a similar kind of loft over the shop, where opium smoking in a domestic way was also being conducted, so that altogether I did not profit much by leaving the inn.

Next morning, 23rd, I was marching by 7.30 in a north-westerly direction, and at noon reached Ta-veh Ket, and arrived at Toa Sia at 4 p.m., having passed villages and farms all the way, and the farm people engaged in planting paddy in the extensive plains we traversed. There is a fine view of Mount Sylvia from here to the eastward, and a fine rapid stream of water [p. 59] flows past the village which serves to turn a primitive water-mill for stamping rice.

I did not leave Toa Sia until 2 p.m. next day, and after crossing the valleys of the two streams running west, arrived at Sai Sia at 6 p.m., having kept a northerly course all day. During the walk I passed several tea-plantations, and also some fields of poppies for opium, extensively cultivated on the mainland. The plants I saw were not the black poppy, but the variously coloured, red, purple, &c., and apparently very healthy plants.

The walking in the river plains, which we seemed to be traversing all day, was very bad, being over sand and boulders, and round stones about the size of your head, of slate or sandstone, and crossing streams, which I did on the bearers' backs, and then more round stones; you have o skip from one to another, which in nailed boots is dangerous and tiring, when there are miles of the same sort of ground to get over. From the cliff of the second river plain there is a fine view of the valley, which is under cultivation for rice. I now began to feel the effect of the change in temperature from passing out of the hills, and meeting the north-east monsoon, the climate in the forests being comparatively warm. I could have wished the season to have been different as the orchids would have been in flower, and many objects in the forest more attractive. As it was, there were but few blossoms to be seen; wild raspberry, guava, violets, mimosa, and an arum or two were the only flowers we saw.

My two guides live at Sai Sia, which is a small place in a valley on the north bank of the second river-plain we passed since leaving Toa Sia. This place is peculiar, from being very much shut in by surrounding cliffs, and the small Christian settlement are under continual dread of savage invasion. I understand it is in contemplation to abandon the place, and make a kind of exodus of Pe-pau-hoan Christianity to the head-centre at Posia. My two guides have large families here, and are deacons of the Church. I have heard of being priest-ridden, but fancy riding on a deacon's back, as I did through all the streams! Kar Pow, one of them, was a cheerful sort of fellow and most useful, and although I could not speak Chinese would understand what was wanted, and saved me often from that resource of travellers, viz., doing a thing yourself. The other man, A Tou Wye, was a morose, desponding sort of fellow, but a good walker. I found them both, as my only companions, very useful; but I regretted my want of the language, which prevented me from gaining information beyond ordinary observations. I had a book of the Amoy dialect, which is very good in its way, but the patois spoken here differs in so many ways that I found it rather tedious than otherwise to use it, and trying to the temper.

I left Sai Sia on the 25th at 9 a.m., and after climbing out of the valley commenced walking over the hills, which had been cleared of forest, and was strewn with stumps of camphor-trees and charred underwood. The young fern was growing through the burnt grass, and there was a fine breeze blowing in our faces, and after passing over the downs we traversed a beautiful valley and reached the banks of a river-bed with high cliffs looking down on the town of Bar-ne-keh, a place inhabited by Hakkalis. These people are a sort of gipsy race distributed over the continent, and especially the south, by Canton. At Bar-ne-keh I bought a large leopard-skin -- there are some very handsome animals of this description in the country. After walking over the plain through paddy fields for some distance we reached Sin Kong at 6 p.m. This place is much nearer the sea than I imagined I was, the weather having been misty during the day, and I was surprised to have some fresh fish served up for dinner. Sin Kong is laid down on the Admiralty Chart, and I had now got on to the Mandarin road again, which I had quitted at Kagee city.

I had some difficulty in getting away from Sin Kong, owing to my being [p. 60] footsore, and being desirous of obtaining a chair and bearers for the next stage. It now began to rain, but I was determined to proceed, so started on foot, as I could not get a chair, at 10, and crossing some sand-hills, in face of a driving rain, we reached a ferry across the mouth of a river with a bar, inside which some junks were anchored, and crossing came to a considerable town the name of which I forgot to note. Here I got a chair to Teuk Cham, and as the rain was very heavy the whole way since noon, when I chartered the chair, until 6 p.m., when I got to the inn, I did not see much of the country.

27th. -- I started at 8 a.m., taking on the chair as it was raining heavily. The country was mostly flat, with low ranges of downs. We crossed a river by a ferry guided by a long rattan stretched across the river without a splice; it was the longest rattan I had ever seen, and I should be afraid to estimate the length. The country was under cultivation for paddy, and the young plants were growing in beds, protected from the north wind by screens of reeds. These I first noticed in Sai Sia. They were ploughing in the turnip for manure about here. We reached Tieng Liek at 4 p.m., and as it had been raining all day the inn was welcome enough.

On the morning of the 28th I started from Tieng Liek at 7 a.m., and, as the rain had given over, walked the first stage. The ground, however, was very slippery and unpleasant, and walking not altogether desirable through the paddy fields. We reached Toa Hung at 9.30 a.m., and as the rain continued to hold off pressed on until about 4 p.m. I was not sorry to see the white houses and green verandahs of the foreign settlements of Toa Tu Tia. A broad river flowed between, which we crossed in a ferry-boat, and I soon found acquaintances and quarters, and some one to talk to after thirteen days of comparative silence. Toa Tu Tia is the residence of the mercantile agencies for the purchase of tea in the north of Formosa. Banka is the Chinese business town, a mile or two up the river, on the same bank as Toa Tu Tia, and Ho Bay is the shipping port at the embouchure of the river of Tamsui, where reside the British Consul and Chinese Customs authorities. There is a steam launch belonging to a firm there interested in the shipping trade, which plies between Toa Tu Tia and Ho Bay, and does the trip in an hour or two as the tide serves.

Between the latter places, and not very far from the river, are some sulphur springs, where the gas issues from the earth in a very remarkable manner, and will well repay a visit.

The route to Keelung, either by water or road, is most interesting. Here are extensive deposits of coal, and the Chinese authorities have wisely determined to work the mines on European principles, and are about to procure proper machinery for that purpose. I feel convinced, from the ground I traversed, there is more coal in Formosa than what is already discovered and worked, but about other minerals I am not so certain. If I have another opportunity I shall certainly try to go to Chok-e-Day from Posia, and under savage guidance may see more of the vegetable and mineral wealth of the island, which has as yet been very imperfectly explored.

Amoy, November 26th, 1876.

Since my last communication I found myself again in Formosa, and again visited by a different route the Lake and Posia, approaching from the north. I intended travelling down the East Coast, and passing through the savage territory from Chok-e-Day to Posia, but found it impracticable, and with much regret had to relinquish the idea. It seems extraordinary that so small an island, some 30 or 40 miles of country in savage occupation, should offer so many obstacles to exploration, but the difficulty lies in the jealousy of the people themselves. If you made friends with the tribe near Posia for instance, [p. 61] and you got guides to the extremity of their ground, the next tribe would regard you as an enemy, and hold no intercourse with you at all. There are not many Chinese or Pepauhoans who understand the savage dialect, which differs very much in parts of the island; communication takes place through the women in many cases, but it would be impossible to induce a Chinese or Pepauhoan to accompany you as an interpreter into the savage district.

On the latest Admiralty Chart there is a place marked Tau si Kak, a little distance from the coast, on the north-west side of the island. It is situated on the north bank of a broad river, and is, I should say, much farther inland than laid down in the chart. The savages visit this place to trade, as well as another place about four hours to the north called Talan. The tribe about here are very troublesome to some of their neighbours, and the plague of the Lek-hoan at Sai-sui, which is on the same river as Talan, but farther down some two hours' walk. The men of this people are certainly handsome, but short made, with large hands and feet. They carry the usual sword and matchlock, and are peculiar for extracting the two front teeth on either side of the central incisors of the upper jaw; they wear a linen coat open in front, and a sort of cloak, but only a narrow strip of some embroidery round their loins, which does not answer the purposes of decency.

From this region I passed on to Toa Sia, about four hours' walk, and from Toa Sia I proceeded to Posia by a different route to that I used when last here. I passed very soon into the hills, and walked two days without leaving the forest, spending one night on the round after fording a very broad and rapid stream, which I passed coming up at Chow E Tun, but of course much farther to the westward. I send you a sketch of the plain of Poia from bearings which I took, and at a small lake on the plain I was enabled to take observations of the position of the place with my sextant, and I make it in latitude 23° 46' N., and longitude about 121° 03' E. I will send the sketch by English mail, also a section of the island at about this point. From this plain there is visible a mountain of considerable height, whence the sea can be seen on the east side, and the whole distance cannot be more than 27 miles or thereabouts.

From Posia I went to the lake and got the position of that, which I place in latitude 23° 32' N.; longitude 120° 53'. I also send a sketch of the lake from bearings taken.

I now beg to offer some remarks on the Physical Geography of the island.

In Kelung Harbour, in the north of the island, facing the north-east, the following observations were made in the course of a year. (See Table on p.62.) From which figures we learn that during the south-west monsoon the barometer ranges lower, and the average rainfall is smaller, at the same time the difference in the maximum and minimum temperature is greater. On the other hand, in the north-east monsoon the barometrical indications are higher, the rainfall greater, and the temperature more even and cooler.

During the summer the winds in the immediate neighbourhood are local, and influenced by the high range of hills between Kelung and the direction from whence the wind comes. It seems probable that the heated currents of the Japan stream load the air with moisture, which is condensed by the cool currents of air from the northward. The Japan stream is merely a continuation of the equatorial current, caused by the diurnal motion of the earth, and falling against the continent of Asia on the eastern side is deflected to the north, the same as the Gulf Stream is against the coast of America. Formosa is so situated that it is particularly under the influence of rain-bearing winds, and the northern part especially is very much subject to the effects of condensation of aqueous air. Next mail I will send some further observations on the meteorology of the island, which for want of time I cannot do now.

[P. 62] Kelung.

 

Barometer

Rainfall

 

Thermometer

   
     

Max.

Diff.

Min.

 

January

Mean

30.19

Inches

16.68

62.40

9.01

53.39

North-East Monsoon

February

30.11

14.39

62.99

8.29

54.90

"

March

30.03

12.93

65.08

8.93

56.15

"

April

29.98

8.62

71.87

10.90

60.97

"

May

29.70

16.59

79.80

11.38

68.42

South-West Monsoon

June

29.71

4.37

86.99

12.27

74.72

"

July

29.60

3.62

88.11

12.19

75.92

"

August

29.62

8.63

87.40

10.41

76.99

"

September

29.71

8.20

87.22

10.05

77.17

"

October

29.92

6.62

79.78

8.55

71.23

"

November

30.15

6.58

70.00

8.12

61.88

North-East Monsoon

December

30.13

11.42

68.77

9.01

59.76

 

Amoy, December 5th, 1876.

Takao.

   

Barometer

   

Thermometer

   
 

Max.

Min.

Range

Max.

Min.

Range

 

January

30.23

29.94

29

79

55

24

North-East Monsoon

February

30.22

30.11

11

81

56

24

 

March

30.26

29.98

28

83

55

28

 

April

30.18

29.89

29

84

66

18

 

May

30.17

29.88

29

89

72

17

South-West Monsoon

June

30.07

29.84

23

86

79

7

 

July

30.08

29.49

59

91

77

14

 

August

30.01

29.50

51

89

77

12

 

September

30.06

29.79

27

87

80

7

 

October

30.25

29.90

35

86

71

15

 

November

30.30

30.05

25

84

60

24

North-East Monsoon

December

30.32

29.96

36

82

63

20

 

The above tables show the highest barometer and the lowest ranges as occurring during the north-east monsoon, together with the lowest temperature and highest ranges of the thermometer. On the other hand, during the [p. 63] months when the southerly winds prevail, the barometer is lower and the range greater, probably owing to passing typhoons, which, however, in this year above noted do not seem to have caused very low readings of the glass. The variations of temperature also are less. It has been found that a register of the readings of wind-gauges in the north of the island did not work satisfactorily, on account of local causes, and in the south I have not been able to obtain any regular observations; the prevailing winds, however, are the monsoons, and the direction of the great current of air, moving over the island at any given season, is only altered locally by such phenomena as typhoons or by the presence of high hills.

During the north-east monsoon the north and west coast is most subject to rain, and at the change of the monsoon the plains on the westward side seem to get more of it. Takao, however, does not get nearly so much rain as Tamsui, which enjoys an abundant rainfall, which the European inhabitants do not enjoy. As seafaring people say, the country under the lee of the mountain ranges, when either monsoon blows, is not subject to rain, although the hills themselves may be covered with vapour.