Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/245

This page has been validated.
241
THE HANGCHOW BORE

miles farther in could not last long, and shortly after mdnight the strain broke down and the bore started somewhere between Rambler Island and Kanpu, and rushed up the river in a wall of water twelve feet high. Following the bore came the after-rush which carried the level up eight feet more. It is on this that the junks are swept up-stream as already noted. At 1:30 the after-rush ceased, but the water was still somewhat higher at Rambler than at Haining, and a gentle current continued up-stream. The water then began to fall at Rambler, while it continued to raise at Haining up to three o'clock, when the ebb set in. On the south bank, at any rate, for four or five miles inside the mouth of the river, the stream commences to run out strongly an hour before high water at Haining. The fall of the water in the ebbing tide is not particularly interesting, for there is no bore down-stream, although at one time there is an exceedingly swift current.

According to the reports of others, the height, speed and characteristic appearance of the bore's front are maintained for fifteen miles above Haining, after which the height decreases; and the wave passes Hangchow city about an hour and a quarter after passing Haining, soon after which it breaks up and gradually disappears, though an effect is reported to be felt at times at Yenchow, some forty miles farther up the river. At Hangchow the rise and fall does not exceed six or seven feet. At Haining, as we have seen, the flood usually lasts three hours; the ebb, nine. At Hangchow the flood continues for only one and a quarter hours and is nearly all in the bore proper.

When the moon is at the point in its orbit nearest the earth at the same time that it is full or new, or when there are strong northerly or easterly winds in the Chusan Archipelago, the bore generally arrives early off Haining, travels at a greater speed than usual, and is also higher. Natives have reported tidal waves at Haining with a height of over thirty feet. As we have already noted, the highest bore is generally expected on the eighteenth of the eighth moon of the Chinese calendar.

 

Chinese Fancies concerning the Bore

An account of Chinese fancies concerning the tides in general furnished by Professor Giles, may be found in Professor Darwin's book already referred to, and Captain Moore in his report notes a curious legend which ascribes the origin of the bore to the revengeful workings of the spirit of a certain popular general who was assassinated by the Emperor through jealousy of his growing power, and whose body was thrown into the Ch'ien-tang Kiang. Later the Emperor sought to check the devastation of the country which arose from this source by making appeasing sacrifices on the sea-wall; but without effect, and