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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/230

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

capital city, the preservation of the West Lake as a water-supply, the building of public roads, institutions of learning and canals, and, in view of the present considerations the most worthy of all, the long sea-wall which stands to-day as the greatest monument to his skill and efficiency in caring for the public weal. Its erection was begun probably about 911 or 915 A.D. It extends from Hangchow to Chuansha near the mouth of the Whang-pu (the river on which Shanghai is situated), a distance of one hundred and eighty miles. It is a stupendous piece of work and deserves an equal share of fame with the Grand Canal and the Great Wall of China, for its engineering difficulties were certainly infinitely greater.

Unfortunately there appears to be no record of how these difficulties were really overcome, although as usual the native historian

PSM V72 D230 Map of waterways near hangzhou 1906.png

Water-ways near Hangchow. The High-level Canals shown Dark.
(From Decennial Reports C. I. M. C, 1892-1901, Shanghai, 1906.)

has felt impelled to leave a rather poetic narrative concerning an achievement so vital to the inhabitants of so large a region. Considerably abbreviated, it is to the effect that by petitioning Heaven to withhold the tides for two months and inditing a poem to the Water Dragon, beseeching the loan of the water's control for a brief time, the energetic and dauntless Prince Ch'ien was enabled to prevent the thousand sprites and the one hundred demons from bringing in the tides by having five hundred skilled archers shoot three thousand specially prepared arrows directly into the oncoming billows. Each man took up six arrows, one for each billow, and when they had shot five arrows straight into as many lofty waves, the waters suddenly turned and fled! Whereupon the Prince quickly drove great piles along the river bank, among which strong creels of bamboo were woven.