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The Famine in China., Issue 7962, 18 July 1889
The Famine in China.
Further details of the great famine in North China are given in letters from missionaries at Chefoo and other places. They show that about 80,000 people are being fed by the missionaries. The Rev. Paul D. Bergen writes from Chefoo on February 16: —" I have just returned from a trip beyond the district city of Cbi-Yang. In the market town of Wang Chia Ch'uan the most bitter need begins to be felt. Here I saw the people in the fields plucking up the frozen wheat sprouts, and here women have publicly hawked their children in the Btreets, saying: * Who will buy this boy ? I can't feed him any longer, and I don't want to hear him crying about for want of food.' Here I was surroumded by a ordvrd of half •
famished people (who at first sigh t_ of the foreigner concluded at once that relief had come) on their knees begging for aid, and crying out: • Don't leave all these people to starve to death.' My route lay along the inner embankment on the north bide of the river, and the desolation which met the eye on every hand was in the last degree oppressive. Everything speaks of poverty, bitter and unrelieved. Between these two banks is a great expanse of sand, dotted hero and there with a few hovels of the same character as those on the embankment. I went down into one of these villages at the morning meal and examined their food. It is a combination of dry bean leaves (such as they commonly use for fuel) pulverised, and millet chaff, the latter being a luxury which they can afford to use but sparingly. This, with water, is their only diet, except in special cases. It is needless to say 'that with such nourishment as this many die of gradual starvation, coupled with cold and exposure. Great numbers from this region have scattered in various directions, having not even this food, and become vagrants, not from choice, but necessity. Turning toward the south the outlook is, if possible, still worse, for here at our feet rolls again that terrible Yellow River, now filled with piled-up ice and already recommencing its career of destruction, for it spreads across the entire space between the outer south embankment and the inner north one, a distance of from seven to ten li. Here are lines of villages caught in the ice, some of them half submerged, with the ice piled in huge fragments about their walls. The water returned about the 25th of the twelfth moon, and came down on these villages in the night, so that the people had barely time to escapa from their beds to the housetops. Here, during tho most of the night, they were exposed to the severo weather until most of them were badly frozen. One man told mo that his daughter lost one of her feet from that night's cold. Most of these people lost the little they had. Proceeding along the embankment, we meet families escaping from tho district, wheeling all that remains of their goods on a small barrow. I recollect seeing one old man and his wife, both over seventy years of ago, he wheeling the barrow, and she with a rope over her shoulder and staff in hand, hobbling along, pulling tho barrow to the best of her ability. Just as we passed they stopped for a rest, and as I heard their deep sighs of wearinesr, and noted the worn expression of their wrinkled faces, I felt that theirs indeed was a bitter lot, and could not but desire intensely to possess the ability and discretion to alleviate successfully their troubles." The Rev. Dr J. L. Nevins, writing from Chefoo, says:—"The amount of suffering that cannot be relieved by'our best efforts is simply heartrending. , . . In one village which I visited a week ago the condition of the people surpasses my powers of description. They seemed to have given up all hope. Their faces, wan and sallow by starvation, were darkened by the shadow of a hopeless despair; a silence like death prevailed in the village. The people eat still in their house or lay upon their k'angs in mute suspense, as it seemed, av aiting their end. Alas ! help was too late for many in that village."
The Famine in China., Issue 7962, 18 July 1889
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