BUT the most excellent of all their Works relate to their Rivers and Canals, which are managed with the greatest Advantage to the Publick; insomuch that one may pass from Canton the most Southern City, to Peking the most Northern, without travelling above one Day by Land, and even not that, if one goes a little about by the Province of Quang si and Hou quang.
The great River Yang tse kiang traverses all China from West to East, and is join'd to the River Peho, which runs from Peking towards the South, through a famous artificial Canal; by this means there is an easy Communication between the Southern and Maritime Provinces with the Northern that border, upon Tartary, which is an inexhaustible Source of reciprocal Advances. This Canal, which has the Name of Yu liang ho, or, the Canal to convey Merchandizes, is very remarkable for its Length, which is 160 Leagues, but more so by the Levelness of the Land thro' which it is cut ; for there is neither Hill, nor Mountain, nor Rocky Soil, which gave them any Trouble to make a Passage through.
In the Province of Chan tong is a moderate River named Quen ho, whose Waters they have find means to divide; the Place of Separation is called Fou Choui miao] The Temple of the Division of the Waters, because it was consecrated by the Idolaters to Long Vang, who, according to the Bonzes, is Lord of the Waters. The greatest Part of it bends its Course Northward, and After many Turnings and Windings falls into the River of Peking. The other is, with vast Trouble and Expence, guided through low and marshy Lands, and by the Assistance of Dams and Sluices, is made subservient to different Purposes of Pleasure and Profit.
But that which most charms the Eye, is the infinite Number of large and beautiful Imperial Barks, which sail in numerous Fleets under the Command of a single Mandarin , loaded with the best Productions of different Provinces. It is commonly said that the Number of these Barks, which are maintained at the Publick Expence, amount to 10000. But upon strict Enquiry it appears there is not half of that Number, and even then it will be found surprising enough, if it be consider'd, that they are design'd only to supply the Imperial City with Provisions, and that the Burthen of many of them is Four-score Tuns at least.
Where there is no Danger of damaging the Grand Canal, these are small ones cut into it, for the more easy Carriage of all Sorts of Commodities; and where the land is not upon the same Level with the Canal, they cause their Boat to be hoisted up on a large slopping Stone, which being made slippery with Water, the Boats slide down with extreme swiftness; for this reason they are fashion'd much like a Gondola, and their Keels are made of exceeding hard Wood, proper to sustain the Weight of the Bark.