Nature of the Soil

THERE is no Part of China that can properly, be said to be barren ; and some Parts are naturally so fruitful, that they yield a Crop twice in a Year ; and others again owe their Fruitfulness to the indefatigable Toil of the Husbandmen. 

But as the Quantity of Land proper to be cultivated, is not very great in several mountainous Provinces, it is no wonder that those which are more fruitful, should scarcely be sufficient for the Maintenance of such a Multitude of Inhabitants. The mountainous Provinces are Yun nan, Koei tcbeou, Se tchuen and Fo kien ; as also the West of che Kiang, and the inland Parts of Qang tong and Qang si. The Province of Kiang nan has all the great District of Hoei tcheou, full of exceeding high Mountains, and almost uninhabitable. It is also the fame with respect: to three Parts in four of the Provinces of Chen ft and Chan ft. 

Near the great River of Kiang si is situate the most beautiful Part of the whole Empire ; nothing can be more delightful than those spacious Plains, which are so smooth and level, that they seem to be the Effect of Art rather than Nature. They abound with Cities and large Villages, which have the Advantage of an infinite Number of Canals, whose Water is clear and excellent, and the Navigation on them safe and pleasant. Nor is it a small Addition to the Pleasure, to behold the vast Variety of stately Barks, which are continually passing backward and forward. The Fields are cultivated with a Care and Labour, of which none but the Chinese are capable; and they are so fruitful withal, that in several Places they yield Rice twice a Year, and frequently Wheat and other Grain between the two Crops.