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The manure applied to the cotton lands of the Chinese is doubtless peculiarly well fitted for this kind of crop. It is obtained from the canals, ponds and ditches which intersect the country in every direction, and consists of mud which has been formed partly by the decay of long grass, reeds and succulent water-plants, and partly by the surface soil which has been washed down from the higher ground by the heavy rains. Every agricultural operation in China seems to be done with the greatest regularity, at certain stated times, which experience has proved the best; and in nothing is this more apparent than in the manuring of the cotton lands. Early in April the agricultural laborers all over the country are seen busily employed in cleaning these ponds and ditches. The water is first of all partly drawn off and then the mud is thrown up on the adjoining land to dry, where it remains for a few days until all the superfluous water is drained out of it, and is then conveyed away and spread over the cotton fields. Previous to this the land has been prepared for its reception, having been either plowed up with the small buffalo plow in common use in the country, and then broken and pulverized by the three-pronged hoe. In those instances where the farms are small and cannot boast of a buffalo and plow, it is loosened and broken up entirely by manual labor. When the mud is first spread over the land, it is, of course, hard or cloggy, but the first showers soon mix it with the surface soil, and the whole becomes pulverized, and it is then ready for the reception of the cotton seed. Road-scrapings and burnt rubbish are saved up with care, and used for the same purpose and in the same manner.
A considerable portion of the cotton lands either lie fallow during the winter months, or are planted with those crops which are ready for gathering prior to the sowing of the cotton seed. Frequently, however, two crops are found growing in the field at the same time. Wheat, for example, which is a winter crop, is reaped in the Shanghae district generally about the end of May, while the proper time for putting in the cotton seed is the beginning of that month or the end of April. In order, therefore, to have cotton on the wheat lands, the Chinese sow its seeds at the usual time amongst the wheat, and when the latter is reaped, the former is several inches above ground, and ready to grow with vigor when it is more fully exposed to the influence of sun and air. The Shanghae season, that is, from the late spring frosts to those in autumn, is barely long enough for the production and ripening of the cotton, as it is easily injured by frosts; and the Chinese farmer is thus obliged, in in order to gain time and obtain two crops from his ground in one year, to sow its seeds before the winter crop is ready to be removed from the ground. When it is possible to have the first crop entirely removed before the cotton is sown, it is much preferred, as the land can then be well worked and properly manured, neither of which can otherwise be done. The method of sowing one crop before the preceding one is ripe and removed from the land is very common in this part of the country; and even in autumn, before the cotton stalks are taken out of the ground, other seeds are frequently seen germinating and ready to take the place of the more tender crop.
In the end of April and beginning of May—the land having been prepared in the manner just described—the cotton seeds are carried in baskets to the fields, and the sowing commences. They are generally
sown broadcast, that is, scattered regularly over the surface of kle g and then the laborers go over the whole surface with their feet and tread them carefully in. This not only imbeds the seeds, but also acts like a roller to break and pulverize the soil. Germination soon comniences, the seeds rooting first in the manure which had been scattered dwer the ORNIA surface of the land. In some cases, the seed, instead of being som broadcast, is sown in drills or patches, but this mode is less common than the other. These patches are often manured with bruised oil-cake, which is the remains of the cotton seed after its oil has been extracted. The rains, which always fall copiously at the change of the monsoon, which takes place at this season of the year, warm and moisten the earth, and the seeds swell, and vegetation progresses with wonderful rapidity. Many of the operations in Chinese agriculture are regulated by the change of the monsoon.
The farmer knows from experience that when the winds, which have been blowing from the north and east for the last seven months, change to the south and west, the atmosphere will be highly charged with electric fluid, and the clouds will daily rain and re
fresh his crops.
The cotton fields are carefully tended during the summer months. The plants are thinned where they have been sown too thickly, the earth is loosened amongst the roots, and the ground hoed and kept free from weeds. If the season is favorable, immense crops are obtained, owing to the fertility of the soil; but if the weather happens to be unusually dry from June to August, the crop receives a check which it never entirely recovers, even although the ground after that period should be moistened by frequent showers. 1845 was a season of this kind, and the crop was a very deficient one compared with that of the previous year. The spring was highly favorable, and the plants looked well up to the month of June, when the dry weather set in, and gave them a check which they never recovered. Abundance of rain fell later in the season, but it was then too late, and only caused the plants to grow tall and run to leaf, without producing those secretions which ultimately go to the formation of flowers and seed.
The cotton plant produces its flowers in succession from August to the end of October, but sometimes, when the autumn is mild, blooms are produced even up to November, when the cold nights generally nip the buds, and prevent them from forming seed. In the autumn of 1844 this happened on the night of the 28th of October, when the thermometer sank to the freezing point, and then ice was found on the sides of the canals and ponds.
As the pods are bursting every day, it is necessary to have them gathered with great regularity, otherwise they fall upon the ground and the cotton gets dirty, which, of course, reduces its value in the market. Little bands of the Chinese are now seen in the afternoon in every field, gathering the ripe cotton, and carrying it home to the houses of the farmers. As the farms are generally small, they are worked almost entirely by the farmer and his family, consisting sometimes of three or even four generations, including the old gray-haired grandfather or great-grandfather, who has seen the crops of fourscore years gathered into his barns. Every member of these family groups has a certain degree of interest in his employment; the harvest is their own, and the more productive it is, the greater number of comforts they will be able to
afford. Of course, there are many cotton farms of larger size, where laborers are employed in addition to the farmer's family, but by far the greater number are small, and worked in the way I have just described. It is no unusual sight to see the family goats, too, doing their share of the work. Several of these animals are kept on almost every farm, where they are, of course, great favorites with the children, and often follow them to the cotton fields. Although the children, with their little hands, can gather the cotton as well as their elders, they are not strong enough to carry it about with them, and it is amusing to see their favorites, the goats, with bags slung across their backs, receiving the deposits of cotton, and bearing it home to the houses, evidently aware that they too are working for the general good.
However fine the crop may be, the Chinese are never sure of it until it is actually gathered in. Much depends upon a dry autumn, for, if the weather is wet after the pods begin to burst, they drop amongst the muddy soil, and are consequently much injured, if not completely destroyed. When the cotton reaches the farmyards, it is daily spread out on hurdles raised about four feet from the ground, and fully exposed to the sun.
As the object is to get rid of all the moisture, it is, of course, only put out in fine weather, and is always taken into the house or barn in the evening. When perfectly dry, the process of separating it from the seeds commences. This is done by the well-known wheel with two rollers, which, when turned round, draws or sucks in the cotton, and rejects the seeds. It is a simple and beautiful contrivance, and answers well the end for which it is designed. The cotton is now sent to market, and a portion of the seeds are reserved for the next year's crop.
Early in the fine autumnal mornings the roads leading into Shanghae are crowded with bands of coolies from the cotton farms, each with his bamboo across his shoulders, and a large sack of cotton swung from each end. With these they hurry into the town, for the purpose of disposing of them to the merchants, who have numerous warehouses from which they send the cotton to the other provinces of the empire. These coolies, or small farmers—for many of them bring their own produce to market themselves—are very independent in their dealings. Having reached the first warehouse, the cotton is exposed to the view of the merchant, who is asked what price he intends to give for that particular quality; and should the sum offered be below the owner's expectations, he immediately shoulders his load and walks away to another merchant. At this season it is almost impossible to get along the streets near the sides of the river where the cotton warehouses are, owing to the large quantities of this commodity which are daily brought in from the country. It is bought up by the large cotton merchants, who empty it out in their warehouses, and then repack it in a neat and compact manner before it is conveyed on board the junks.
Before the cotton is converted into thread for the purpose of weaving it is cleaned and freed from knots by the well-known process common in our possessions in India. This is done by an elastic bow, the string of which, being passed under a portion of the cotton placed on a table, throws it into the air by the vibration which is kept up by the workman, and separates the fiber without at all breaking or injuring it. At the same time the wind, caused by the sudden vibrations, carries off the dust and other impurities. After this process the Chinese cotton is particu
larly pare and soft, and is considered by good judges not to be surpassed by any in the world. It is much superior to that imported to China from Hindostan, and always commands a higher price in the Chinese market.
Every small farmer or cottage reserves a portion of the produce of his fields for the wants of his own family. This the female members clean, spin and weave at home. In every cottage throughout this district the traveller meets with the spinning-wheel and the small hand-loom, which used to be common in our own country in days of yore, but which have now given way to machinery. These looms are plied by the wives and daughters, who are sometimes assisted by the old men or young boys, who are unfit for the field. Where the families are numerous and industrious, a much greater quantity of cloth is woven than is required for their own wants, and in this case the surplus is taken to Shanghae and the adjacent towns for sale. A sort of market is held every morning at one of the gates of the city, where these people assemble and dispose of their little bundles of cotton cloth. Money is in this manner realized for the purchase of tea and other necessaries, which are not produced by the farms in this particular district.
When the last crops are gathered from the cotton fields, the stalks are carried home for fuel, Thus every part of it is turned to account; the cotton itself clothes them, and affords them the means of supplying themselves with all the necessaries of life; the surplus seeds are converted into oil; the stalks boil their frugal meals, and the ashes even—the remains of all-are strewed over their fields for the purpose of manure. But even before this takes place, the system I have already noticed-of sowing and planting fresh crops before the removal of those which occupy the land—is already in progress. Clover, beans and other vegetables are frequently above ground in the cotton fields before the stalks of the latter are removed. Thus the Chinese in the northern provinces lengthen by every means in their power the period of growth, and gain as much as they possibly can from the fertility of their land. The reader must bear in mind, however, that the soil in this district is a rich deep loam, which is capable of yielding many crops in succession without the aid of a particle of manure. Nature has showered her bounties on the inhabitants of the Chinese empire with no sparing hand; the soil is not only the most fertile in China, but the climate is capable of rearing and bringing to perfection many of the productions of the tropics as well as the whole of those found in all the temperate regions of the globe.---FORTUNE'S Tea Districts of China, vol. 1, chap. xii.
THE MANCHESTER COTTON SUPPLY ASSOCIATION.
ANNUAL REPORT FOR 1861.
The fourth annual meeting of the Cotton Supply Association was held in the Town Hall, Manchester, on Tuesday, the 11th June. John CHEETHAM, Esq., President of the Association, occupied the chair. Among the gentlemen present were EDMUND ASHWORTH, Esq., Vice-President; Malcolm Ross, Esq., Treasurer; Hugh Masos, Esq.; John PLATT, Esq., Chairman of the Manchester Cotton Company; HENRY ASHWORTH, Esq.; Thomas EMMOTT, Esq. ; WILLIAM WANKLYN, Esq.; THOMAS CLEGG, Esq.; Wright TURNER, Esq.; Josiah RADCLIFFE, Esq.; WILLIAM ARMITAGE, Esq.; Jonn CHEETHAM, Jun., Esq.; Dr. FORBES, of India; Dr. Beke, the Abyssinian traveller; HENRY JORDAN, Esq., Commissioner from the Government of Queensland, Australia ; Rev. Mr. TOWNSEND, from Abbeokuta, Africa ; Rev. JAMES STEWART; Rev. W. ARTHUR; A. Binyon, Esq.; J. M. DUNLOP, Esq. ; EDMUND HOWARTI, Esq. ; E. C. HOWARD, Esq.; CHARLES SCHUSTER, Esq.; Dr. RASSAERTS, French Consul; R. A. Barlow, Esq.; W. HAYMAN, Esq.; A. IRELAND, Esq.; J. GARNETT, Esq.; JOSEPH LEESE, Esq. ; J. Smitu, Esq.; J. C. OLLERENSHAW, Esq.; T. HEPPELL, Esq., Engineer to the Madras Railway; David CHADWICK, Esq.; Mr. G. R. HAYWOOD, Secretary, &c., &c.
Mr. G. R. HAYWOOD, having read a portion of the report which had been previously circulated among the gentlemen present, the Chairman said :
Gentlemen : It is now four years since the association, whose claims we are this morning to advocate, appeared before the public of this town and neighborhood. The principle upon which that association was founded was, that it was unwise in a great manufacturing trade of this country, upon the continuance and extension of which so large an amount of population and of varied interests were concerned—it was most unwise that year after year this great trade should continue in almost total dependence upon one source of supply for its raw material. It was further said, in reference to that principle, that that great source of supply was connected with a mode of employing labor which could not (if we are believers in truth and righteousness) ultimately be continued, but might, at some moment unexpected to us all—it was fondly hoped to be a distant period then-fail and break down, leaving us in the direst emergency. I certainly, for one, little thought that within four years from that time these two objects on which we formed this association would combine together to illustrate the soundness of our principle and the wisdom of our project. We have had, after the largest crop of cotton which America ever produced, as sudden a collapse, larger in extent and amount than ever was similarly witnessed; and to that simple fact alone you have mainly owing the very considerable advance which has taken place in the price of the raw material. But we have, in addition, the totally unexpected and sudden spectacle of that country, arrayed into two hostile parties, and we look on with amazement, with regret and with terror, at the probable results which may flow