"Formosa." The treaty ports of China and Japan. Compiled and edited by N.B. Dennys. Maps and plans by Wm. Fred Mayers, N.B. Dennys, and Chas. King. London: Trübner, 1867. Pp. 291-325.
General Geographical Description, &c.
[P. 291] The island of Formosa, one of the largest in the Eastern Seas, is situated between 22û and 26û North latitude and 120û and 122û East longitude, and is separated by a channel some hundred miles in width from the adjacent mainland of China, of which it is a political dependency. It forms the end of one of the many chains of islands which, from the Western part of Russian America to the Southern archipelagos, seem to fringe the Eastern coasts of the Asiatic continent with a succession of long loops, and terminates that of which the Japanese group, the Loochoos and the Meiaco-Sima group are the component parts.
The Chinese claim to have been the first discoverers of Formosa -- in A.D. 1430, -- and the discovery was then due to the accident of a shipwreck. But in any case no great honour can be claimed, for the bold outline of the Formosan mountain-ranges can plainly be seen on a clear day from the Chinese main[land]. In 1620, it is said in the Chinese Annals, the Japanese attempted to form a colony there; but previously to this date considerable numbers of Chinese must have crossed the channel and settled among the aborigines of the island, for when the Dutch arrived in 1634 and commenced to establish themselves, they found there communities of Chinese in sufficient number to cause them annoyance. The later, indeed, aided by the Fu-kien pirates under their dread chief Koksinga, in 1661 eventually ousted the Dutch from the strongly-built but ill-manned fortress which they had constructed to protect their new and thriving colonies.
[P. 292] Its name "Formosa" or the "Beautiful Island" was given by the Portuguese who first visited it, but the proper name by which the Chinese themselves designate it, is "T'ai-wan" [Chinese characters] or "Great Bay." Its length is about 210 miles, by 60 to 70 in its widest part, and it is intersected by a range of lofty mountains which follow the general direction of the island from North to South, forming a huge backbone or ridge, the highest peak of which -- Mount Morrison -- is 10,800 feet high. This chain is situated nearer the Eastern than the Western side of the island and descends in a deep slope on the former side to the sea. On the Western side the slope is much more gradual and is intersected by valleys which gradually lose themselves in the large undulating plain on which the Chinese have settled. The general direction of the island is from N.E. to S.W. and its shape that of a long oval running down to a point at the South, with a circumference of about 450 miles. The geology of the interior, which [h]as been but little explored, is comparatively unknown, but recent travellers speak of the existence of strata of slate and shale, and the traces of coal and other minerals discovered justify the belief that the mineral wealth of the country is very great. On the inhabited or Western side the soil in the plains is a rich alluvium, while the Southern portion, especially near Takow abounds in calcareous conglomerate full of fossil shells and remains of coral.
Vegetation, Fauna, &c. -- The vegetation of Formosa, coming as it does just within the tropics, is of a highly luxuriant character, abounding in bamboos of great size, and all the common trees of the tropical forests; while deer, bears, and an immense variety of birds ( a large number of the latter of new and undescribed species) are found in the interior. Among these latter the pheasant family takes a prominent part and an entirely new variety has been discovered by Mr. R. Swinhoe, formerly Consul at T'ai-Wan, who has done much to add to our know[ledge] of the fauna of the China seas. There is also a very fair field for the entomologist, but on the coast the specimens collected have been generally the same as those found in corresponding latitudes in China. The interior has not been well explored.
[P. 293] Aboriginal inhabitants. -- The mountainous part, and indeed the whole of the Eastern side of the island, is still in a state of barbarism and is inhabited by savage tribes, who make war their chief pursuit and are unrelenting in their hostility to the Chinese settlers. They are reported to be cannibal in many places, and in their feasts and superstitions they seem to resemble the Malays and the inhabitants of Polynesia. Their worship is of the simple barbarous kind common among the inhabitants of the uncivilized islands in the Eastern seas, the object of adoration in their case being a post decorated with three skulls, generally those of a deer, pig, and bear, although the offerings deemed acceptable in their temples in many places are the heads or pig-tails of the Chinese they have slain. They are much fairer and better featured than the latter, are armed with bows and arrows or with weapons of Chinese manufacture, and are great hunters. Owing, however, to the infrequency of exploring expeditions and the difficulties and dangers of the attempt, but little is known of these tribes, and what is told must be taken with a certain degree of reservation. A large number of the aborigines originally inhabiting the western side of the island are now settled in a half civilized state at a short distance from the coast and are a fine featured race and appear to agree well with the Chinese. These latter have possession of the whole of the plains, and are looked on as the possessors of the country, though they really occupy no more than a comparatively small portion, which is cultivated in the usual Chinese manner and occupied by villages and towns just such as are found in the Celestial Empire.
Harbours. -- The great objections to the island as a place of settlement for trade are, its want of harbours and the difficulty of intercommunication between the Northern and Southern portion by sailing vessels during the monsoons which blow with such violence in the Formosa channel. The harbours on the Eastern side are few and not very accessible or commodious; those on the opposite side are mere roadsteads in most cases, whilst the whole sea coast except in the extreme North appears to be a succession of sand banks and shoals. The rivers are few in number and shallow, winding with many a turn through the rich alluvial plain at the foot of the hill district. The ports open to foreign trade are all situated on the Western coast [p. 294] and are four in number, namely, Tamsui and Keelung on the North, and Tai-wan-foo and Takow on the South. The island is governed by a Chinese Tao-t'ai whose authority is delegated direct from Peking.
We extract from Mr Swinhoe's "Notes on Formosa" the following description of the Chinese portion of the island:
["]The district of Taiwan, or Chinese possessions in Formosa, is divided into four Hiens or departments under civil magistrates, and five Tings or sea-board divisions, under marine magistrates. The Hiens from south to north consecutively are the Fung-shan Hien, the Taiwan Hien, the Kia-e Hien, and the Changhwa Hien; and the Tings, the Taifang Ting, the Loo-keang Ting, the Tanshuy Ting, the Komalan Ting, and the Panghoo Ting. The first of these comprises the seaboard of the Taiwan and Fung-shan Hiens; the second, the seaboard of the Kia-e and Changhwa Hiens; the third, the whole of the northermost portion on the west side; the fourth, the whole of the possessions on the east side; and the fifth, the group of islands known as the Pescadores. On these different Hiens and Tings I will here extract a few notes from a Chinese work, published under the auspices of the Government many years since, entitled the "Statistics of Taiwan," a book which I seriously perused with a view to gather important imformation about this interesting island. The observations of the learned writers are, for the most part, more amusing than instructive. It commences with a general puff on the advantages of the colonies, in order, doubtless, to entice a larger flow of emigrants, thus -- "The district of Taiwan is a land of luxuriant vegetation, broad and level, and very fertile. The western and northern portions offer large tracts of champaign country, highly capable of cultivation. Hundreds of families of our people are already engaged there in husbandry, associated with the natives of the land. The Colonists are from different parts of the empire, no village claiming one surname (as in China), and no two men of the same heart. The aborigines are addicted to spirituous liquors and are blood-thirsty. They wear no caps, shoes, or clothes; and have no marriage or burial rites. Merchants and travellers resort to the colonies in numbers, and merchandize flows its endless round. Rice grows in excessive quantities, [p. 295] and is plentifully exported to China. The farmers have therefore no need of granaries to store away their grain."
"Taiwan Hien. The land of this district is of no extent, and is poor through long cultivation. It yields only one crop in the year. The colonists are fond of ornaments and fine clothes. The five grains (i.e. all grains) abound, and there is no lack of the necessaries of life. The men engage themselves in husbandry, but the women, instead of spinning, waste their time in embroidery. These people are compassionate and hospitable, regarding as their relations all who suffer from sickness or want.
"Fungshan (Phoenix hill) Hien comprises large tracts of level and waste lands, abounding in bamboos, fruit-bearing, and other trees. There is here well-watered ground, suitable for the plantation of early rice. This the Colonists have begun to turn to good account. Merchants have water-carriage for their goods, and broad roads enable them to use transport-carts drawn by oxen. Beyond the jurisdiction of this department in a southerly direction, natives from the Canton province (Teok-chew men) have settled and mix indiscriminately with the aborigines. These settlers are a riotous set, fond of litigation and fighting, and reckless of life.
"Ki[a]-e Hien was formerly known as the Choo-lo Hien, from its native name. The soil in this department is very rich, and grain when sown is left to nature to bring it to maturity, not needing the labour or attention of man. The colonists here also are fond of abusing and fighting one another. They are jealous and outvie each other in dress and ornaments; and in marriage ceremonies they take into consideration dowries, which last is a bad custom. Their good qualities, however, counterbalance the evil, for families live under the same roof to the number often of several generations. Disputes between neighbours are frequently settled by a friendly word. They share willingly with their friends anything they possess on the promise of repayment at a future day. Benighted travellers can gain admission and hospitality at the first door they apply at and few will refuse them shelter.
"Changhwa (manifest change) Hien. This department has been but recently established, and people, eager to enter a new field, flocked [p. 296] thither in multitudes. They soon formed roads and thoroughfares, and villages worthy of admiration; to the marts of which there are few commodities that do not find their way, but they rate at rather high prices. The habits of the colonists are similar to those of the citizens of the capital.
"Tan-shuy (Precipitating water) Ting comprises two subdivisions, Tan-shuy and Choo-tsan (Bamboo dyke). The villages here daily increase in size, and the smoke of cottage fires thickens. There are numerous settlers on the Tamsuy river; their habits are honest and economical, and few fights or lawsuits occur. Grain and other produce of the soil are cheap; but cloths, silks, furniture, and all imported goods are several times dearer than at the Capital.
"Pang-hoo-Ting (Pescadores) comprises a cluster of islands in the midst of the ocean, the soil of which is not adapted for rice or corn. It produces sesamum, sorghum, and vetches. The inhabitants build their houses of mud and straw, and depend on fishing for subsistence. They boil the sea into salt and distil spirits out of sorghum; they catch fish, crustacea, and mollusca for food, and dry them for exportation. Cloth, silk, yellow peas, and millet are imported thither from Taiwan."
The department of Komalan Ting was not established at the date of the publication of the statistics, and therefore no mention is made of it in that work.
The Viceroy of Fukien and Chekiang, governing Formosa as a Fu or Prefecture of the first-named province, is bound by law to visit the island once every three years. These formal visits are lucrative to the high functionary, though anything but agreeable to the subordinates he goes to visit, for if they do not come before him with handsome presents in their hands, they run the risk of being shelved for the first trivial offence. To meet the emergency, the mandarins in their turn put extra taxes on the people, and thus, at the expense of all classes, the exalted servant of the Emperor walks the paths of duty, and returns, unlike most other travellers, with a well-filled purse. Owing, however, to the present troubles in China more than a decade has passed since the last Viceregal visit to Taiwan. The T'ai-wan Tao (or chief authority of Taiwan) resides at the Fu or capital city. He is the highest magistrate [p. 297] and has to make a circuit of the departments once annually. The next civil authority is the T'ai-wan Fu or Prefect; then the T'ai wan Hien or District Magistrate; and lastly the Hai-fang T'ing, or Marine Prefect. These are the chief civil functionaries resident in the capital. The chief military and naval authority is the Chintai, who is at once commodore of the fleet and the commander-in-chief of the land forces. He also resides at the capital. The civil Mandarins of Formosa are paid their salaries from the land-rents and grain taxes. These salaries are of nominal value. The Taotai for instance only receives 1,600 taels, not £600 per annum; but his emoluments are large, those drawn from the taxes on camphor especially. The yearly income he is said to make out of this, the most important trade of the island, is of almost fabulous amount. The Chi-fu or Prefect, besides Court-fees, lines his pockets from the immense salt-monopoly of the island which he rules uncontrolled. He has salt-offices, or Yen-kwan, at every place of any importance, and the toll is enforced with great rigour. These offices have regular and constant couriers running between them and the capital. Foreign manufactured salt is not permitted to be imported, and vessels have been made to discharge their cargoes of it overboard before gaining admission into the ports.
The Hiens or District magistrates hold the Petty Assizes and adjudicate in all cases of secondary importance. In these courts, by legal fees, and a process of intimidation, they generally manage to make pecuniary matters go smoothly for their own interests.
The T'ings warm their nests by the exaction of exorbitant port dues, all of which are set against the current expenses of their office. They are empowered to lay hands on so many private vessels a year for the purpose of conveying rice to the imperial garner. These junks are paid a nominal freight, and often detained idle for months. This the junkmen are but too glad to escape by payment of a moderate squeeze. The system has led to an embargo being laid on all vessels that refuse to pay the toll or escape-money, and as use makes custom, the Chinese now regard this exaction of the mandarins simply as K'ow-fei, or Port charges.
[P. 298] Situation, means of access, &c. -- Commencing from the South the first port we come to is Takow in Lat. 22û 38' 3" N. and long. 130û 16' 30". This place is not at all times readily or directly accessible from the opposite ports of the mainland. Vessels occasionally leave Amoy direct for this place, but by far the larger number clear either from the last named port of Foo-chow to Tai-wan-foo, whence it is easy to reach Takow by an overland route, either on horseback, or in the common Chinese chair carried by coolies, the distance by land between the two places being only about 20 miles. Assuming however that we have reached the usual shallow anchorage at the entrance of the inner harbour of Takow, the first thing that strikes the visitor in looking round is the strange shape of the boats which are coming from the shore, usually called by Europeans Catamarans. They are simply large rafts of stout bamboos lashed together and propelled either by the common Chinese paddle or by a large bamboo sail fitted in the ordinary manner. They have a slight railing round them and also a large tub in which the passenger sits, and though they are repeatedly swept by the waves and look most frail and insecure they are doubtless the safest kind of boat in the heavy swells which lash the whole of the Formosan coast. They bear a strong resemblance to the Brazilian jangadas or cork-wood rafts which are found in the neighbourhood of Pernambuco. From the sea the prospect is not a very lovely one. On the left rises with a s[t]eep slope from the sea the rugged barren sides of Ape's Hill, some 1,100 feet in height, and on the right is a smaller one called Saracen's Head, bounded on the sea face by a line of precipitous cliffs rising directly from the water's edge. Between the two is a small green looking mound separated from Ape's Hill by a chasm and from the other by a deep channel about 60 yards wide which forms the entrance to the inner harbour. This is some 6 or 8 miles long by 2 or 3 across in the widest part, and forms a calm placid Lagoon, bounded on the North by a flat rich looking plain through which winds a little river and on the South by a low sand bank, reaching from Sa[r]acen's Head to a continuation of the above mentioned plain, on which the town, or rather village, of Takow is situated.
[P. 299] The neighbourhood of Takow is well peopled, and highly cultivated, the country abounding in bamboo and banyan groves, in the midst of which cluster the houses of the colonists. These people are mostly Amoy and Chinchew Chinese, and seem good-natured, contented, and happy. Beyond this great southern river to the foot of the mountain chain, the colonists are mostly from the Kwang-tung Province, near Swatow, and show but little submission to the mandarin rule, though the authorities have their emissaries as far south as Fang-leaou or Pong-le, just before the mountain chain slopes into the sea.
Takow present[s] the usual dirty appearance of a little Chinese town, and is only prevented from being very uninteresting by the numerous Banyan trees and shrubs which grow luxuriantly even in the barren sandy soil. Opposite this however on the other side of the Lagoon the scene is very different, for on the land side of Ape's Hill we see a rich tropical vegetation bordering the river, full of all the brilliant tints of bamboos, palms, mimosas and similar trees. Further inland extends the level plain cultivated with usual Chinese care, which the fertile soil rewards with abundant crops, dotted with groups of bamboos or sugar plantations and villages, and reaching to the low range of hills, which bound the near horizon. On very clear days, especially in the early morning, the purple tops of a lofty range of hills are seen far to the west, forming a noble background. The village itself is a long straggling place inhabited chiefly by fishermen, and with a few half-European houses occupied by foreign settlers: it possesses no buildings of importance either native or foreign, and is in fact simply a very ordinary specimen of a Chinese hamlet, extending perhaps for nearly a mile at intervals down the sandbar. There are one or two European buildings including a store on a small level spot at the foot of Ape's Hill on our right as we enter the harbour, but no attempt has been made to establish a regular settlement on that side.
Town of Peht'ow, sport, &c. -- The objects of interest presented by the port are but few, the only attraction being the beauty of its scenery and the opportunities it offers of a direct communication with the interior for exploring parties. There are but few towns near it. The chief, and indeed the largest in the district, is that of Peh-t'ow which is situated [p. 300] about 8 miles from the Eastern side of the Lagoon and is reached by first proceeding by boat to a little village called Ling-a-liau, and thence by a good road either on horseback or by chair through the rich fields of the plain. The town is not particularly noteworthy, being unwalled and of small extent. Another city, which has been partly deserted, about 5 or 6 miles to the North of Takow, was formerly the district capital, but from being commanded by a hill in which a number of robbers took refuge who could not be dislodged, was abandoned by the mandarins for the safer locality of Peh-t'ow. Capital snipe-shooting is to be got among the marshy flats on the borders of the little river and with but little trouble, the birds of both painted and common varieties being numerous and easy to find. The best places are arrived at by going up the river in a boat for about half a mile until a small creek, about 20 yards long, forms with the river a narrow sandy isthmus. Near this are some shallow marshes in which game abounds; birds are also found in many other places along the course of the stream. A magnificent view is to be obtained from the top of Ape's Hill, which is best ascended by landing in a small bay situated at a small distance from the European houses on that side and in which is a sulphur spring. The path winds irregularly up the hill from this point, and, steep as is the ascent, the glorious view over the adjacent country well repays the trouble of the climb.
Climate. -- The climate of Takow is hot but nevertheless healthy, and is never cold at any period of the year. There are no records of the prevalence of any special disease likely to affect the European settler.
Trade. -- Tako[w] was first thrown open to foreigners in 1864, and seems to possess capabilities which, could the island be fully explored, and its rich mineral wealth be worked would render it a most important port. The reports rendered by the foreign Customs employès since their establishment there, however, have been, compared with those from other ports, excessively meagre. It is therefore impossible to furnish as full an abstract as could be wished.
Imports. -- The principal articles of import at Takow are Cotton goods, opium, cloth and woollens, while numberless small articles, such [p. 301] as Bangles, Brass-ware, Ink stones, Isinglass, Prawns, &c., are included in the returns, but in such small quantities as scarcely to affect the total amount of duties received. In 1864, the totals of imports from foreign countries amounted to $382·754, while the imports from Chinese ports, embracing almost every conceivable article of domestic Chinese use, amounted to $346·208. Since that period there has been an increase of the imports in all branches, except certain varieties of Woollen goods, we but are unable to give Statistics. The total value of Imports during 1864 was $905·116. No statement of the total imports or exports appears in the Customs returns for 1865, in which, it may be noted, Tako[w] and Taiwan are included under one head.
Exports. -- The chief exports from both Takow and Taiwanfu are Sugar, Turmeric, and Sesamum seeds, but as is the case with imports a large number of petty articles are included in the returns. During 1864, native produce was exported to other parts of China to the amount of $608·616, the total value for the year being $617,991. Opium of course figures under both heads. During 1865, the export trade appears to have languished. The prohibition to export Rice, except to Amoy and Foochow under Pass, -- which Pass is difficult to obtain, -- deprived Takow of almost the only export which was available; and as regards Taiwan-fu the anchorage being an open roadstead, it is not safe for vessels to venture there during the S.W. Monsoon. From 21st June to 7th October 1865 only one vessel, a Schooner of 103 tons, cleared from that port. Though, since the latter date, several vessels have visited Taiwan-fu, the trade latterly has principally consisted in Imports. Two-thirds of the tonnage at Taiwan-fu during the quarter ending 31st December, 1865, cleared in ballast, and even as regards the remaining one-third, hardly any vessel carried away a full cargo. Of the total amount of duties collected in Taiwan-fu during the same period, only Haikwan Tls. 248.0.0.9, or rather less than one-tenth of the whole, consist of Export duties; the remaining nine-tenths are composed of Import and Coast Trade Duties.
As regards Takow, though business during the latter end of 1865 was pretty brisk, yet the return of duties was small. During the last quarter of the year, trade was nearly nil. For three months only [p. 302] 20 vessels cleared from this Port. On two occasions it was for a week at a time without a single vessel in the roadstead; two and three times it had only one or two, and during the whole quarter it had never more than four vessels present at one time. One can hardly expect a large return for the trade of this port during the N.E. Monsoon, as the importance of Takow arises from its being the Port of Taiwan-fu during the S.W. Monsoon. Upon the whole however, there appears to be a satisfactory increase of trade during 1865, and the increase would doubtless be greater in future if the Chinese Authorities could be induced to take off the restriction from the export of Rice; but though the crops of Rice in 1865 were very good, Rice remained dear, and the Taotai feared a rebellion if he ventured upon such a step.
The following table shews the Tonnage entered in 1865, as compared with the 14 months ended 31st December, 1864[:]
Flag 1864 1865
No. Tons No. Tons
American 13 1,584
Bremen 2 430 20 4,928
British 38 7,682 42 6,106
Danish 43 6,785 23 3,829
Dutch 3 705
French 2 539 4 1,066
Hamburg 33 7,626 25 5,885
Hanoverian 7 815 10 1,401
Hawaiian 1 150
Norwegian 3 654 3 636
Prussian 7 1,069 4 826
Portuguese 3 339
Spanish 1 193
Total 135 25,450 152 27,648
[P. 303] Situation, description, &c. -- Proceeding along the Western Coast towards the North the next port at which we arrive is Kok-si-kon (lat. 23û 6' N., and long. 129û 5' E.,) the port of T'ai-wan-foo, the chief city of the island. It is simply an open roadstead with an anchorage of about 6 fathoms, with a series of flat sandy banks on which the surf at all times breaks with violence, dividing it from a shallow muddy lagoon bordered by a flat plain.
The city of T'aiwanfoo is girt by a high battlemented wall some 6 miles in extent, and quadrangular; forming in fact a small and poor imitation of the wall of Peking. Within are the houses of the chief citizens, all the mandarins, and several temples dedicated to the three religions of the empire -- comprising Confucians, Buddhists, and Taouists. The open park-like spaces, with fine trees, green lanes, hedges, and ditches, give a refreshing and rural aspect to many parts of the large straggling town. There is a sullenness and a stillness about the place which is peculiarly ominous of the fact that what life the city one possessed is fast dying out, since the shoaling of the small rivers that lead under the wall has compelled vessels to seek harbours elsewhere on the line of coast. To seawards of the city-wall lies a large and extensive suburb containing the chief markets of the town, dirty and offensive in the extreme, but here the business of the town is done. Further to seaward, along the continually rising mud and sand-banks lies the village of Anping, clustered round the repaired ruins of the once great Formosan stronghold of the Dutch, "TE CASTEL ZELAND, GE BOWED ANNO 1630," as the inscription over the main entry or gateway leading into the fort on its northern side still tells.
It consisted of a central keep, built on a small hill probably partly artificial, in the form of a bastioned fort on a square of about 60 yards each way. This was surrounded at about 100 yards distance on the Northern side by a wall following the course of the shore and meeting the keep at its western and northern angles, its own angle being also protected by a kind of bastion. The walls were of great thickness [p. 304] though hollow in the centre, and were built of small bricks specially brought from Bavaria, and were also extensively loopholed. Now however, time and repeated earthquakes have done their work, and not one of the angles of the central keep remains; the other walls are split and broken, covering the ground with large fragments, and a large tree growing on the top of the wall of the keep waves its gnarled and knotted branches over the relics of the once strong fortress of Zelandia. Its history is by no means uneventful. It was first built as the seat of the Dutch power in Formosa when, in consideration of giving up the little group of islands called the Pescadores in the Formosa channel, they were allowed to retain the large island and trade with the ports of China on the mainland.
The Dutch records tell of a second fort, called Providentia, that the Hollanders built at a subsequent date near the mouth of the Formosa river, on the side opposite to the fort on the island of Taiwan. This fort, called the "Red-haired Houses," now stands inside the wall of the city of Taiwanfoo, over five miles from the coast, and about a mile from the bank of the present river, between which and the city wall the busiest and most extensive suburb of the capital has sprung up.
At this time the number of Chinese inhabitants were but few in number, and the Dutch were not sorry, when the Manchu Tartars invaded the empire of China in 1644, to find that the numbers of emigrants increased, and so made their possessions of greater value. A few years after, however the Chinese rebel chief called Kokshinga who had under his command a powerful fleet which he had used with some success, against the Manchu invaders on the coast, determined on seizing Formosa. The history of this celebrated pirate is recorded as follows:
"His father, Chunchilung, called by foreigners Iquon, born in a small village on the seashore in the Fokien territory near the city Anhai, was very poor, and as some say a tailor by trade. He first served the Portuguese in Macao and afterwards the Hollanders in Formosa; where soon after he bec[a]me a great merchant in the Japan trade and at last a pirate. Having from this small beginning gotten a great fleet of ships, he obtained by his political designs and grand undertakings to so great a treasure, that the Chinese Emperor was not able to stand [p. 305] in competition with him. For he only of all Chinese engrossed the commodities of India in his own hands, driving therewith a vast trade with the Portuguese at Macao; with the Spaniards on the Phi[l]ippine Islands; and with the Hollanders at Formosa and Batavia; and likewise with the Japanese. He only transported the Chinese commodities by his own people, bringing back the Indian and European in return for them; so that he began to grow so exceedingly rich that he could fit out a fleet of 3,000 sail.
"Yet this Chunchilung or Iquon, not contenting himself therewith, began to plot how to be Emperor of China. With this object in view he attempted to extirpate the reigning Ta Ming family, A.D., 1644, when the Tartars overran the whole Empire except three provinces, Foking, Kwangtung, and Kwangsi; and the more closely to hide his designs, he pretended to take up arms against the Tartars or enemies to the Chinese. At the same time he held correspondence with the Tartars, to whom he gave what intelligence he thought good for his own advantage. He was declared general by the Chinese Emperor Lungyen, of all his forces; and his brothers and friends being officers under him, he suffered the Tartars to come into the Empire, and they in turn made him King of Pingnan in South China, and loaded him with fine presents and provisions. But when the Tartars were about the return to Iquon went, as was his duty, to escort them some part of the way, having left his fleet in the haven before the city of Foo-chow. The Tartars insisted upon carrying him to Peking to the Emperor, where he was made prisoner and loaded with chains. His son, Koxinga and brothers, informed of his imprisonment took themselves again to the flight, and made all the seas near China by their piracies almost useless. The doings of the son were retaliated on the father when the news reached Peking. In A.D., 1657, when the Netherlands were then in Embassy, 15 additional chains were laid upon the captive Iquon for the bad report of his son Koxinga.
"By these bold pirates the Tartars on the coast of China were kept in continual alarms. The pirates had their strongholds in the Islands of Amoy and Quemo. The Chinese on the main[land] had submitted to the Tartars and in token shaved their heads. So to stop all provisions going to [p. 306] the enemy, the Tartars commanded all the villages and towns that stood along the seashore to be burnt to the ground, and the country laid waste, and no people suffered on pain of death to live within three leagues of the sea. By this means and likewise by the great losses which Koxinga sustained from the Tartars, assisted by the Netherlands, who set upon them both by sea and land, he found himself so straightened that in 1660, he sailed with all his forces to Tayowan aud Formosa, both which Islands, and also the castle Zelandia he took in March, A.D., 1661, after a siege of ten months: very cruelly were several of the Netherlanders dealt with; others against agreement kept in prison. Therefore in revenge of Koxinga's cruelties and also to regain the conquered places, a fleet was sent out the next year. The twelve "floating castles" as they were vauntingly styled, consisting of eight frigates and four sloops with 139 guns and 1284 men in all, failed to make any impression on Koxinga in his new Formosa stronghold, though with the aid of Tartar junks they succeeded in wresting from his people the Island of Amoy and Quemoy.
The usurper on his assumption of the Formosa throne found to hand large numbers of the follow-countrymen willing to be subjects to him, rather than to foreigners, and which it was easier to ply into a defensive kingdom than similar bodies of wild Aborigines would have been. Koksinga appears to have been as eminently fitted for a diplomatist as he had been for a rover of the seas, for he was not only able in a very short space of time to repel all future attacks of the Dutch, but managed by his statesmanship speedily to make his new kingdom a terror to the long-established monarchy of Fokien. He reigned only a year and nine months. In 1682 the Tartars seized upon the Provinces of the rebellions King of Fokien, who in a private quarrel had previously been weakened by a defeat sustained from the 2nd King of Formosa (Koksinga's son), and appointed a Viceroy to rule in his stead. This Viceroy by fair promises of rank contrived to persuade the boy-king of Formosa (Koksinga's grandson), to journey to Peking, where he was induced to resign his claims to the sovereignty of the island in favor of the Tartar Emperor, and in 1683 a Taotai or Perfect was deputed to [p. 307] T'aiwan. Thus the Rebel monarchy in Formosa experienced but a short-lived season of 22 years, and was then absorbed into what was becoming and has since become the great empire of the Manchu race.
Even since this time the Fort has remained in the hands of the Chinese, who have apparently occasionally made feeble efforts to repair the damage occasioned by earthquakes, but with so little success that it is now a mass of irreparable ruin and forms the quarry, so to speak, from which the materials for a little fishing village around it have been obtained.
Landing at the beach near the fort and passing through this village we arrive on a large alluvial plain, evidently very recently formed which is crossed at high water by two shallow rivulets and is always partially covered with water during the South-west monsoon. A small river lies on the left of one road and forms a medium of communication by flat bottomed boats with the city of T'ai-wan-foo which, after a walk of about 3 miles, we reach shortly after crossing by a ferry a branch of this tidal river above mentioned. The city itself is walled in the customary Chinese manner, with four gates and watch towers over them, the wall being about 16 to 20 feet high and surrounded by a large suburb which approaches close to its foot. In this suburb the houses of the few merchants are situated, in a small street turning off to the right as soon as you enter the first street. In the centre of the city is a small square fort which was built by the Dutch, but which, like Zelandia, is in a state of ruin and with its broken, tree-shaded wall simply forms a picturesque object from the walls. In the distance inland from the same point of observation the country presents the same level aspect, broken however by groups of bamboos and by cultivated fields which do not exist between the city and the sea. Tai-wan signifies "terrace bay," and, compared to the towns in the south of which we have spoken, the city is well built and has a population of about 70,000 inhabitants. It is rectangular in shape, of about 3/4 of a mile long by half a mile in width. Its exports are much the same as those of Takow but from its not being a safe anchorage in case of a gale the port does not present equal facilities for trade.
[P. 308] Among the sights that strike a visitor from South China to the plains of Chinese Formosa are the broad roads and carts drawn by buffaloes and cattle. These vehicles are very generally used for heavy land transport, the cart wheels being composed of thick planks of wood battened together, fashioned to the shape of a wheel. The loud jarring noise they make in passing is most disagreeable when heard near, but at a distance it is not unpleasant. The carts enter the open part of the city, but the busier streets of the town are narrow and paved as in South China, and not accessible to them.
There is a large examination hall at T'aiwanfoo with seats sufficient for one thousand competitors for the degree of Siu-tsai or Bachelor of Arts. The examinations are held triennially, for the higher degrees the candidates have to go to Peking. Military degrees are also conferred in the city. During the year 1865 the soldiery were going mad to be drafted for service against the rebels in China, and the crack of the matchlock too frequently disturbed the brooding silence of the city. Something might be said of the large sward, marked by its two poles and its temple-like house outside the N.E. gate of the city, where so many shipwrecked Europeans during the first China war were so cruelly decapitated, if there were anything peculiarly different in it from other similar places throughout China. T'aiwanfu is at the best nothing more than a Chinese town, which you see repeated with few essential changes in aspect throughout China.
"The two most prominent hills of the south cape are named Nansha and Ma-ke-tow, and are frequently capped with clouds. Chinese legends say that two spirits in the guise of men, the one clothed in vermillion, the other in white, used to play at chess on these hills, 'but of this there is now no evidence, except the existence of a large flat-topped stone shaped like a chess-board.' These hills have to be sighted by navigators on the voyage to the Philippines. A harbour runs between them, called Kweileangtsai, which affords good shelter to vessels from the N.E. monsoon. Southwards two hours sail lie the Hung-t'ow Seu (Red-headed Isles or Bashees), which are inhabited by savages, and not accounted Chinese territory. These islands produce copper, of which article all the domestic utensils of the natives are made. The Bashee Islands [p. 309] are claimed as dependencies of the Spanish possessions in the Phi[l]ippine Islands.
"Fifteen miles west of Fungshan city there are springs, whence boiling water constantly spouts out. These springs were visited by Padre Sainz, a resident Roman Catholic priest, who states that they are found about three leagues east of Ape's Hill. There are three classes of springs, one giving out brackish water, another hot water, and the third water mixed with a large quantity of earth of a leaden colour, possessing an odour of clay. The hot water was too warm to keep the hand in, but not boiling. The brakish water was not more saline than a glass of fresh water would be with a spoonful of salt dissolved in it. These waters were being spouted up in strong jets about a foot from the earth. It may here be remarked that hot mineral springs occur on the main[land], about six miles west of Amoy.
"Twenty miles south of Kia-e city, there exists a fire-hill (or volcano), whence water and fire burst out together. The fire emits no smoke, except when wood, or other combustibles are thrown upon it. In November, 1861, those on board ships lying off the port had a clear view of the central mountain chain, one peak of which was emitting smoke in large volumes. This is doubtless the volcano to which the Chinese writer refers, and which is also marked upon the Chinese Government map. There appears to be no other active volcano in Formosa, although Chinamen affirm that severe earthquakes frequently occur in the Kia-e district, the ground having in one recent instance opened up and engulfed seven men. The Atlas Chinesis on this subject observes (p.19): -- 'Besides typhoons terrible earthquakes occur. Anno 1654 happened a mighty earthquake on the 14th December, which continued with short intermissions for seven weeks together."
The following extracts from a communication respecting T'ai-wan-foo to a Hongkong journal, by the late W. Maxwell, Esq., will be found interesting: --
"The Prefectural city of T'ai-wan-foo, stands on a level plain of great extent, three miles from the sea cost, from which canals run right up to [p. 310] the West gate, so that produce landed from ships anchored in the roads can be brought right up, in boats, and discharged into the godowns of the hongs in the Western suburbs, where the bulk of the business is done. The city, containing about 70,000 inhabitants, is nearly five miles in circumference, having a wall about twenty feet in height built of brick and back with mud; but it is in a very delapidated state, there being at least twenty gaps in various places formed by earthquakes and the heavy rains which fall in summer; and, no attempt is made to repair these defects, through which a hostile army might pass into the city with ease and safety.
"The walk round the walls well repays the trouble. Inside, all round, are planted various kinds of trees and splendid bamboos, reaching to a height of about seventy feet. Standing on the wall and looking over the city you are struck with the number of trees scattered about, and the quantity of vacant space; not more than one half the ground inside the walls is built upon, the remainder being taken up with parks, gardens, lovely groves of bamboo, and wide spreading aged banians; close by the Eastern gate is a pretty grass park studded with some fine old tress, which recal[l] forcibly to one's mind the pretty parks surrounding some gentleman's seat in dear old England. Outside the East gate is a considerable suburb with orchards and market gardens; beyond are level, fertile fields waving with the yellow rice, and in the distance rise lofty hills 5,000 or 10,000 feet in height, part of the chain of mountains which intersects the island from N. to S. at from 30 to 40 miles from the West coast. Outside the North gate is a grass field of about 15 acres in extent, used both for a parade and execution ground. The corner nearest the gate contains the bleached skulls of nearly one hundred unfortunates who have perished there lately, some of them still bound round with mats full of lime, and placed in small wooden baskets as a warning to evil doers. At the North end stand the ruins of a house where the military mandarins used to sit and view the soldiers going through their evolutions. Outside the Great South gate is a vast graveyard of many acres in extent, glistening white with tombstones and chunam and having a dreary, sandy, and desolate look. Near the small South gate, outside the walls, is a temple to the Goddess [p. 311] of Mercy, a fine erection, but like all else in Formosa, fast falling into decay[.] Behind it is a Park containing seven or eight fine spotted deer, and one brown one of a peculiar species with a long tail and clumsy legs, more approaching a cow than a deer. Inside the temple is a rustic wooden bridge leading over what once was a small lake; but now, alas! the water has departed, and the turtle which used to move to and fro therein lie dead and rotting on the mud.
In front of the temple is a small sheet of water, very deep, where, in days long gone, flowerboats used to congregate, and a two storied building on its banks, called from its shape "the half-moon house," still stands, where the mandarins from the city used to banquet and listen to the water nymphs sweetly singing down below. The glory has now departed; instead of feast and song reign gloom and silence, for here men who have been unfortunate, and men who are tired of life put an end to their earthly career, and their miserable spirits are supposed to hover restlessly over the waters.
"Now let us pass inside the city and see the "lions" there. Entering by the S. gate the first thing that attracts the eye is the view in the distance of some large temples. Following the half-road, half watercourse, along which the buffalo carts that render day hideous by their creaking are driven, you come to a temple erected to the memory of Chin-Ch'ing-koh, the pirate who conquered Formosa. In it are placed tablets to the memory of the officers who died in battle, and nine large stone tablets about ten feet high and five feet broad, standing on the backs of as many stone turtles, record in Manchu and Chinese characters the glories of the Formosa campaign. Adjoining it is the temple of "Wan Sui," where the rulers pay their respects to the Emperor. Both these temples are now mere masses of ruins inside. The only real street in the town is the one leading from the West gate in an Easterly direction to the Taotai's Yamun, and in which are situated a number of very fair shops. In the Eastern half of the town, and in many parts in the Western half, the houses are embowered in Bamboos or trees, which give it quite a Malay look, as the houses, though forming streets, have thick fences or Cactus hedges in front. Not [p. 311] far from the Western gate stands a fort called "Fan-low" or "Mao-low," meaning Foreign or Red-haired house (with an upper story). It was erected by the Dutch during their occupation of the island in the 17th century, and for that time must have been a place of great strength. It is entered by a flight of steps through an arched entrance leading into the ground flat, which consists of two large, gloomy damp rooms, lighted by a small window about ten feet from the floor, looking more like a dungeon than a room in which people would live from choice. They are very much filled up with debris, and, on entering, the ear is assailed by a peculiar noise like the sound of a running stream, and the olfactory nerves offended by an unpleasant odour resembling that arising from newly dug guano. You stop, instinctively afraid of falling into some well or spring hidden from sight by the darkness, and it is only after some time spent in listening and surmising you find out that the sounds and smell proceeds from innumerable bats twittering all round. Through a hole in the roof where a stair was wont to be, you manage to scramble to the second storey, from which you get a fine view of the town, and you now see the site is well chosen, for it is on a small mound, the only one in this so level city.
"The walls of the second storey are nearly all broken down, the side and partition walls being visible, rising above the floor to the height of two or three feet. The walls are of great thickness, and outside is a kind of verandah or platform with portholes in the solid masonry through which guns could be worked, and there are the remains of turrets at the four corners. On top grow two or three large banian trees, from which it is evident the place must have been deserted for many years, probably from the time the Dutch were expelled [from] the island in 1661.
"The Examination Hall adjoining the Taotai's Yamun is another place of interest, with its stone benches and seats of slabs granite brought from Amoy, the place being capable of holding several thousand competitors for literary honours. In the same compound is a large plain tower built of red bricks, rising to a height of about 50 feet, in which used to be placed the gods who watch over literature.
"Knowing that some of our countrymen who had been wrecked in the island had been confined and had suffered here, from the first day of our [p. 313] arrival we set to work to find out the place or places of their incarceration, and see whether or not any traces of them could be found. One morning we happened to call at a large hong in the Western suburbs, and entered into conversation with an old man, a confidential clerk in the house. Finding him talkatively inclined, we led him on from one thing to another, and at length asked him is he remembered the time when a number of Foreigners were beheaded in the city. "Oh! yes" he said "I remember that day well, and a black day it was for Formosa. They were executed on the parade ground outside the North gate to the number of 197, on the 11th day of August 1842. They began the work about 9 A.M., and finished about noon. All the authorities and thousands of spectators were present; but before they had finished, the sky darkened, thunder and lightning with a tremendous storm of wind and rain set in, the rain lasting 3 days, all the watercourses and the country were flooded, houses, men, and cattle swept away, the number of the people drowned being estimated at 1,000 to 2,000. Ah! that was a judgment from Heaven for beheading the Foreigners; but it was done in revenge for your soldiers taking Amoy." On asking where they had been confined, he informed us that part were confined in the Prefectural Prison, and part in the "Hien Ts'ang" or district granary which, he said, was now all in ruins.
"The granary consisted of a number of small houses forming a square, many of them entirely ruined, and we wandered for some time amongst the rubbish and dilapidated houses, scanning with eager eyes the walls for writing. We had just about given it up, when, entering a house in repair at one of the corners of the square, we noticed a caricature done in pencil on the wall, then near to it a few letters of a word which we could not decipher. Looking further along the wall, judge of our joy at seeing an almanack and particulars distinctly traced in pencil on the wall in a very good business hand with the following inscription:
"The undermentioned were brought to this prison from the head military mandarin's house after being heavily ironed, on the 10th day of August: --
"F. Denhain, Master, G. Roope, 1st Mate, D. Partridge, 3rd do., S. Coen, Gunner, J. Seadore, Seacunnie, Jurnaul, Lascar, belonging to [p. 314] late brig Ann. She was wrecked on the island, March 10th 1842 at midnight, near Tamsui; also Syrang and Burra Tindal of the Nerbuddha transport, wrecked about September 1841 -- Frank Denham."
On another part of the wall of the same room was written Agosto 10-20 and on the wall opposite, D. Partridge, and the dates commenced at August 10th, and continued to August 22d, at which time most likely they were sent to Amoy, where four of them eventually arrived.
In another room was found a calendar with particulars under it, exactly the same as the one noticed above, written also by Frank Denham; but with Chinese pen instead of a pencil. He had evidently been separated from the others; the Chinese say because, from some marks of anchors, &c., punctured on his arm, they considered him a head man. Of those led out to execution only one escaped -- his name was Newmann, -- who, being intoxicated chin chinn'd vigorously, and turned head over hells before the mandarin, who said he was a good man and would not have him executed."
Climate. -- The climate is very fine, -- day, clear, bracing atmosphere, not so cold as Hongkong; but when it blows a N. Easter the air is filled with sand and dust, which keep very article of furniture in the houses in a very dirty state, and renders walking, while it lasts, very disagreeable.
Harbour. -- The port of T'aiwanfoo is only an open roadstead tolerably well protected in the N. E. monsoon by the Vilay shoals; but unsafe for vessels during the S. W. monsoon. The land mark for ships making the port is, as before mentioned, the old Dutch for Zelandia, on top of which grown a Banian tree which can be seen several miles out at sea. Ships anchor about three miles from shore, and in landing or shipping cargo have to pass through a surf on the bar between the shipping and the shore. In stormy weather goods cannot be landed. The principal exports are Rice and Sugar. Imports: Opium, Chinese medicines, and other miscellaneous native goods, but in small quantities.
[P. 315] Continuing our voyage up the Coast the next port we come to is Tamsui or "Fresh-water-town," which is situated in the Northern district, called Chang-hwa, and from possessing a more convenient harbour has a larger trade than the other ports we have mentioned. The harbour is on the Northern end of the island, and lies between a double peaked hill on the South west, which has an elevation of abut 1700 feet, and the Tamsui range of Mountains which rise to the height of 2800 feet and extend far into the interior. The anchorage itself being formed of shifting sand is insecure and has at its entrance, a bar with 10 feet of water on it at low tide with a rise of from 7 to 12 feet. A small river runs into it issuing from a gorge, at the head of which, some 13 miles distant, lies the city of Banka or [Chinese characters] Mangkiea, one of the largest towns in the North of the island. There are but few European residences in Tamsui, but it has a large export trade with the province of Fu-kien in coal, oil from the ground nut, sulphur, camphor and camphor wood, and good water and provisions of all kinds are to be obtained there. The port lies in Latitude 25û 10' N. and long. 101û 26' E.
So little can be said respecting the foreign settlement of Tamsui that it may be dismissed with a few brief words. In 1865 only two houses had agents at this port, nor at the present moment is it of any great importance as a place of European trade. The information to be found concerning it is extremely meagre, and ltttle can be added to the short notice we give above.
The old Dutch fort, of which one can find no European account, still stands in tolerable condition on a hill on the right bank of the Tamsui river, and affords a guide to the entrance to the harbour. The site on which it stands has in later times been enclosed with a curtain, and converted into a Chinese fort. A part of this has been leased as a site for the British consular residence. The fort itself is damp and deserted, and said by the natives to be haunted. It bears no inscription or record of the past. Another place of special interest at Tamsui is what is called the Foreigners' Cavern. This consists of a deep subterranean cavern on the side of a hill on the south bank. It is about four [p. 316] feet wide at its mouth, and is said never to have been penetrated to its end. It is said in past times to have been the retreat of aborigines, and afterwards of the Hollanders. A similar cavern also occurs at Kelung, and the two are said to unite.
Climate. -- From the latter portion of November to the first few days in May is the rainy season at Tamsui; and the two first things usually provided for a visit to N. Formosa, are a good umbrella and a strong pair of boots. The dampness of the air makes it unpleasantly cold, though the thermometer shows a high figure as compared with the same latitude on the China coast. It is well known that the season of the N. E. monsoons is one of continued -- almost cloudless -- sunshine on the coast of the main, from Foochow to Canton. There cannot therefore be any doubt that the cause of the constant rain in N. Formosa is its propinquity to the Kurosiwo, or Pacific Gulf Stream, over whose heated waters the north-easter blows before it reaches the island, and with its surcharge of moisture coming in contact with the lofty Formosan mountain range, and frequent high hills, is forced by their low temperature to precipitate on the island and twelve miles west to seaward. The wind then passes on to the South China coast, relieved of the most of its moisture, and does not there charge the clear pleasant winter sky with never ceasing clouds of rain. Though an apparent curse to the island of Formosa, the advantages of the Kurosiwo to Japan and China are undoubted.
Geology. -- From the bold appearance of the eastern, northern, and north-western coast, the coast-line may be said to be in the course of gradual recession, rather than of progression. The specimens of rock to be procured at Tamsui however, are not many or various, consisting chiefly of remains of modern shells and corals, and some bits of sponges, the portions of the limestone -- the prevailing rock of the neighbouring high hills -- hitherto obtained having no fossils in them to lend a clue to the formation. At Ape's Hill the lime used for domestic purposes is by the Chinese burnt out of the white nuggets of limestone that they unearth from the hill sides.
Places of interest in the neighbourhood. -- About two hours walk eastward of Ban-ka lies a large village through which runs one [p. 317] of the most laborious works of art upon which the Tamsui people have entered. The water supplied by the springs in this large marshy plain was found to be brackish and unwholesome and it was therefore thought advisable to bring down a mountain-stream to supply the population of the plains. Such a stream was found about 8 miles to the interior from Ban-ka, leaping down the side of a mountain into the river in what was then (some 40 years ago) savage territory. The savage hamlet in the neighbourhood was assaulted and the aborigines being driven away, a tunnel was cut into the foot of the mountain sixteen yards long, eight feet broad, and about fourteen feet deep, and the course of the stream was diverted by degrees into this. In the progress of the work the labourers were frequently attacked by the savages, and about sixty of their number killed before its completion. The water, which is very sweet and fresh, is led in a prepared channel, maintaining a depth of from three to four feet, into the village of Kieng-bay above-mentioned, which, being built on the two high banks of an affluent of the main river has an aqueduct to conduct the water across. It runs from bank to bank about thirty feet above the river. It is three sided, formed of thick wooden planks battened together with wood nailed quadrilaterally round it. The inside of the long box is lined with Chinese plaster and rendered water-tight; it is about five feet deep and eight broad, and is supported by 47 crutches. From Kieng-bay this water-supply is led on Ban-ka and thence on to Twa-loo-tea and Twa long pang, some five miles further.
The line of demarcation between savage and Chinese territory is at once observable by the fine wood-covered ranges that mark the hunting grounds of the original possessors of the island. The Chinese territory is almost entirely denuded of trees and cultivated on these interior hills chiefly with the tea-plant, introduced from China. The absence of the primitive wood has naturally wrought a vast difference between the flora and fauna of the two territories. Coarse grass has covered the cleared hills, and the place of the woodland birds, the deer, and the goat, has been supplied by larks and birds of the plain, and by pigs and hares. At a slight distance inland the river divides the two lands, across which the savages are in the habit of coming in boats ferried by [p. 318] Chinese, to barter. Across the river the lower wooded range is considered common land, and is not suffered to be crossed except by permission from the chief of the clan.
For further particulars respecting this port we must refer our readers to Mr. Swinhoe's "notes on Formosa" and "The surveying expedition of Commodore Perry" which are almost the only works of modern date published on this little-known island.
Trade. -- As before remarked in dealing with the trade of Takow, the reports from Formosa generally are meagre. The following remarks however, compiled partly from Mr. Swinhoe's trade report for 1865 and partly from his notes upon the island will serve to give a general idea of the imports and exports at this port.
The exports from Tamsui comprise the following articles: -- Rice, Indigo, Coarse Sugar, Jute Bark, Groundnut Cakes, Camphor, Coal, Grass-cloth, fibre, Camphor wood, Rattans, Tea, Rice-paper pith, Pickled vegetables, Small Pulse, Barley, Wheat, and Sulphur.
The Tea grown on the Tamsui Hills is not of a superfine quality, but it is stated that it would readily find a market in Australia, the Cape, and Singapore. It rules at a price of 10 dollars a pecul (£2 5s. per 133 lbs.) and is much imported by Chinese dealers at Amoy and Foochow to mix with the better class of Teas, and the mixed commodity is then sold to foreign merchants as Congous, Souchongs, &c. The taste of this Tea is reported to be very fair, but the objection to it is owing to the coarse mode in which the leaves are prepared and packed. As the hills, however, are at no great distance from the harbour, this could be improved by energetic speculators, who might themselves visit the spot on which the article is grown and make their own arrangements.
Rice. -- It is owing to the abundant production of this article that Formosa has justly earned the title of "the granary of China."
Sugar. -- Taiwanfoo has the advantage over Tamsui in this commodity, as it is grown in much larger quantities in that neighbourhood, and they understand there the refining process. The land at Tamsui is well adapted for the growth of the cane, and were it not for Swarow and Amoy usurping the market for North China, one might expect a good business in the exportation of this article from Formosa.
[P. 319] Jute is exported to the opposite ports on the Chinese coast for the manufacture of rope and cord.
Hemp. -- Under this head are classed both grass-cloth fibre and jute, the former being a much more valuable article than the latter, and yet the same rate of duty is charged according to the Tariff for both. This unjust levy leads the Chinese shippers of jute to engage for its freight in Chinese junks, thereby escaping duty altogether, greatly to the detriment of the interests of foreign vessels.
Grass-cloth Fibre, consisting of the bark of a species of Hemp, is grown and exported to China to weave into the summer grass-cloth. It is twisted for the trade into large skeins of different quality. Manufactured grass-cloth and other cloths are sent to Formosa to be dyed with the fresh Formosan indigo, which is famed for its bright and lasting tints. Much of this cloth is also dyed black in a solution of coarse sugar and alum; and some is dyed yellow with turmeric powder dissolved.
Rice-paper, used largely in China for paintings and fancy work is, a production peculiar to Formosa. It consists of the pith of the Aralia papyrifera, which grows wild in abundance on the Tamsui Hills. The pith is pared continuously round and round with a sharp knife, an the thin sheet so produced moistened and flattened. The sheets are then cut in squares of different sizes, and used for the manufacture of artificial flowers, as well as for painting on.
Rattans of rather a coarse kind are found in all parts of Formosa. A small Trade is done in them to the Chinese coast, where their low price often affords them a market before the finer but dearer kinds from the Straits.
Barley and Wheat are grown during the winter months. The flour produced by the latter is whiter and finer than that of the corn grown in South China.
Camphor. -- The manufacture of this article has for some years been monopolised by the Taot'ai the chief official of the island, and its sale farmed out to wealthy natives. In former years a good deal of the drug was clandestinely produced and smuggled across to China, where it was largely bought up by foreign speculators, and carried to Hongkong for shipment to Calcutta, at which place it finds the readiest [p. 320] market, being used by the natives of Hindostan for lubricating the body and other domestic purposes. But now its monopoly is so closely watched that almost the entire trade in it falls to the lucky individual whose Chinese agents can secure the monopoly. This bad system has occasioned the price of the article in Hongkong to increase considerably in value, and to make the profits accruing to the fortunate monopolist almost fabulous. The cost of the drug usually amounts to no more than $6 at its place of manufacture. The monopolist buys it from the Mandarin at 16 dollars the pecul, and sells it in Hongkong at 28 dollars. The gigantic laurel (Laurus Camphora) that yields the camphor, covers the whole line of high mountains extending north and south throughout Formosa; but as the greater part of this range is in the hands of the Aborigines, the Chinese are able to gain access only to those parts of the mountains contiguous to their own territories that are possessed by the more docile tribes. The trees as they are required are selected for the abundance of their sap, as many are too dry to repay the labour and trouble of the undertaking. A present is then made to the chief of the tribe to gain permission to cut down the selected trees. The best part of the tree is secured for timber, and the refuse cut up into chips. The chips are boiled in iron pots, one inverted on another and the sublimated vapour is the desired result. The camphor is then conveyed away in carts of rude construction, and stowed in large vats, with escape-holes at the bottom, whence exudes an oil, known as camphor-oil, and used by Chinese practitioners for its medicinal properties in rheumatic diseases. Samples of this oil have been sent home, and it may eventually become a desideratum in Europe. From the vats the camphor is stowed in bags to contain about a pecul each, and is thus exported. The Chinese government has empowered the Formosan authorities to claim on its account all the timber produced by the island for ship-building purposes; and it is on the plea that Taot'ai appropriates the prescriptive right of dealing in camphor. About 6,000 peculs of the drug are annually produced in the neighbourhood of Tamsui.
Woods. -- Besides the far-famed camphor-wood, of which there are several descriptions, Formosa is rich in a variety of timber. When collecting [p. 321] material at T'ai-wan-foo for the International Exhibition, Mr. Swinhoe sent to a large timber yard in the town for specimens of native woods and procured no less than 65 kinds. These he presented to the Kew Museum.
Petroleum or Rock Oil. -- At Tungshao, some few miles below Tamsui, wells of this oil occur. The following remarks on the oil are made by Messrs. Beven, Coll, and Harris: -- "It is very unlike the Rangoon earth oil from India, or the rock oil from American, but more like resin oil. From competent parties to whom we have shown the samples it is the opinion that the value would not exceed £15 per ton; but to test its properties accurately a few small casks ought to be sent home on trial, in which case great care should be taken to prevent leakage, as from its appearance it will force its way through the best package. The cold weather has a great effect upon it, and during the last few days it became perfectly chilled in the bottles, but the stoppers being in when it began to be liquid, the expansion was so sudden or great as to burst the bottles, though not one-third full."
Import Trade. -- The imports are mainly Chinese produce from the ports of Ningpo, Foochow, Chinchew, and Amoy, and through the same channel foreign goods have found their way, but the demand is small. The staple import, as throughout China, is opium, and to supply the 3,000,000 Chinese colonists of Formosa with this almost necessary of life a large flow is required. Many of the aborigines have also learned to smoke it, but they seldom manage to get more than the refuse of the pipe, or, as it is called opium dung.
Since the date to which the above remarks mainly apply additional merchants have arrived at Tamsui, and the Customs' Inspectorate has taken the port under its superintendence. All bids fair to create Tamsui in a few years a flourishing little port, and if the naval authorities would lessen the danger of navigation and the consequent number of wrecks, by providing a good survey of the coast, the world would have reason to be grateful to Lord Elgin's Treaty for having thrown open Formosa to British enterprise.
The employment of British bottoms is on the increase, but not to such an extent as one could hope. The total foreign tonnage for 1865 [p. 322] shows a fair increase. as also does the foreign trade, notwithstanding that the prohibition on the export of rice has continued in force throughout the year, exception having only been made in favour of vessels provided with passes from the high authorities of Formosa.
Currency. -- The currency of South Formosa is at 6.0 or 600 taels to every 1,000 dollars, the silver, moreover, being weighed in what the Chinese call "small scales," or at about 1 per cent short of the 6.0 full weight, according to the Canton Government scales. Merchants say that a loss is always quoted from Amoy on dollars exported thither.
[p. 323] The forth treaty port open in Formosa is Kelung, which lies to the North East of Tamsui, in latitude 25û 9' N. and longitude 121û 47' E. Kelung carries on a considerable trade with the River Min, Chinchew, Amoy and Tongsang, and was formerly a Spanish settlement, but was subsequently captured and held by the Dutch until they evacuated the island. It is situated on the shores of a bay between the capes of Foki and Peton, some 22 miles apart. In this bay is Kelung island, a tall black rock about 2 miles from the actual harbour. The scenery on the mainland behind the village is very striking with its series of undulating well wooded hills backed by a range of mountains, and it presents a marked contrast to that of the greater portion of the Western Coast of Formosa.
Foreign trade at this port is of such recent establishment that scarcely any particulars can be given of the locality, and few of the small number of Europeans who have visited it have preserved any memoranda of the peculiarities of the place. Until the visit of a Consular officer in 1861 to select ports for foreign trade its very name was almost unknown. In 1864 one solitary merchant and two Customs officers were the only foreign residents, and the "community" since that date has not appreciably increased.
Places of interest in the neighbourhood. -- The Kelung Cavern is situated on the south shore, at Mero Bay, where it runs into the soft sandstone rock. The entrance is about ten feet deep, by almost six broad, and seems as if excavated. Explorers have penetrated with lights some 400 or 500 yards, and a musket then fired reverberated a long way further. No stalactites occur in this cave, and altogether there is nothing very attractive about it to visitors, except its supposed connexion with the cave before mentioned at Tamsui. The ruins of an old Spanish fort still exist on the small island in Mero Bay, but there appears to be no particular history or legend connected with it.
The coal mines situated in a bay known to Europeans as "Coal Harbour" are of some interest. They are worked after the usual Chinese manner, horizontally, producing a small bituminous mineral. It is unsuitable for steamers, burning too rapidly and caking [p. 324] in the furnace. Not far from the Coal mines is the valley whence sulphur is obtained. At various places are jets of hot steam issuing from the ground, and in other, pools of liquid sulphur. The whole neighbourhood is impregnated with the stench and is said to be fatal to insect life. At the bottom of the valley runs a small stream strongly impregnated also with sulphurous fumes. This valley is well worth a visit from the chance visitor or resident.
Trade. -- The chief Trade of Kelung is in coal, of which it exports large quantities from the mines situated a short distance from the wretched little Chinese town, where the mineral seems to be very plentiful. Its other exports are much the same as those of Tamsui, but until the export coal trade becomes better developed it will not be of much importance. Gold is said to have been formerly found in this neighbourhood, but no traces of it can now be discovered.
General sketch of the flora & fauna of the island. -- The Zoology of Formosa is entirely of a Himalayo-Chinese type, Chinese on the plains and Himalayan on the mountains. Mountains of a similar height to those of Hindustan do not occur near the coast of China, but the Foochow hills and plateaux, ranging to 3000 feet, have been found to yield in botany and ornithology specimens more or less Himalayan, and doubtless if mountains of great height do occur in the interior of southern China, their products will be found to approach more nearly those of the Formosa range than those of the Himalayas. The southern half of Formosa falls within the tropics, yet we find no decided signs in its fauna of life peculiar to that latitude. The parrots and other tropical birds, which the Philippines yield so abundantly, are here not at all represented. The Barbets (Bucco), the Pericrocoti, and a few others usually considered as tropical occur it is true, but these are all represented in China and elsewhere outside the tropics. Similarly in botany the cocoanut and tropical palms yield place to the Areca palm and the Tree-Ferns, which also flourish beyond the tropics. The only tropical characteristic of the island is the occurrence of coral and coral-fish in the harbours of Sawo and Kelung, but the cause of these facts we may trace to the presence of the warm Gulf stream. These occur in the northern parts of the country well beyond the tropics, and not at [p. 325] all on the western side in the tropical portion. For the introduction of mammals such as the Hare and Hogdeer, identical with the Chinese animals, one must suppose contiguity in somewhat recent times of the island with the main of China. Some such theory would also be required to explain the introduction of many of the small short-winged birds that still exist in the level tracts of Formosa unchanged, or only triflingly so, by isolation. The bottom of the sea between the nearest point of Formosa and that of China consists of very old formation, that of Formosa of tertiary deposits. Northwards a connection might perhaps be traced in Kelung island, Pinnacle island, and a few others, which are said to be granitic. But with the Philippines, towards which numerous islands occur, a part connection might be imagined to have once existed, but such supposition is not in any way confirmed by the comparison of their faunas. With Japan, Formosan Zoology only affords one link, in a species of bird, Parus cinnamomeiventries, which having diminished in size and somewhat changed in colour, points to a not very recent period of introduction. But in the case of birds possessed of fair powers of flight, where islands intervene at no very great distances, the introduction can be easily accounted for, the curious fact being that not more allied forms are found.
With the foregoing extract from Mr. Swinhoe's notes we terminate our notice of the Treaty ports of Formosa. No ports are open to trade on the Eastern Coast, possessing, as it does, only a few small harbours occupied by half civilized aborigines, but it is to be hoped that the day is not far distant when its valuable mineral and vegetable wealth will be developed by European enterprise and be no longer allowed to remain useless, as it ever would, in the hands of the Chinese. What is probably the most valuable portion of the island is still comparatively unknown, except from the accounts of occasional explorers, but all agree in speaking most highly of the riches and beauty of the country and in considering the old Portuguese epithet of "Formosa," or "the beautiful," right well deserved. Readers desirous of more extensive information than is embodied in the foregoing remarks may be referred to the "Account of the Exploring Expedition under Commodore Perry" and the works of Mr. Swinhoe above quoted.