Last week I recounted how I stumbled on a copy of Morse's School Geography at a flea market in southwestern Ontario. The book contains a map of Asia, which I reproduced in the last blog post, along with a re-typed version of the accompanying description. Here's the full map again:
If you'd like to go back and read the full post, you can find it here: https://lotusandpersimmon.com/lpshop/blog/101_morse-s-map-of-asia.html
Today we're going to zero in on 2 countries in particular: Japan and Far Eastern Russia, which Morse calls Russia in Asia.
Cartographically, it seems quite accurate, but the spelling of the place names seems eccentric to the modern eye.
Here is the 6-point description given in the book, along with the reading comprehension questions that pupils would have had to answer after reading:
1. Japan is a small but very populous empire, comprising Niphon and the adjacent islands.
2. Japan strongly resembles China in the character of its people and institutions.
3. The Portuguese formerly traded here extensively, and made many converts to Christianity, but were finally banished, and the new religion was suppressed.
4. No foreigners were then allowed to visit the empire but the Dutch, and they only at the port of Nangasaki, till 1854, when, by treaty, several ports were opened to the Americans.
5. Boodhism, introduced from China, prevails extensively; but a native form of idolatry, called Sinto, is the religion of the mass of the people.
6. The dairi, the spiritual head of the Sinto religion, formerly held absolute civil power; but the cube now rules and pays merely nominal reverence to the dairi.
JED’DO, the capital, on the east coast of Niphon, is one of the most populous cities in the world. Mea’co, farther south, is the residence of the dairi, and chief seat of literature.
Questions. —1. What is comprised in Japan? 2. What does it resemble? 3. What is said of the Portuguese? 4. Dutch? 5. religion? 6. government? Where, &c., Jeddo? &c.
I take Niphon to be Honshu, Jed'do to be Edo or modern Tokyo, and Mea'co to be Kyoto. The dairi is presumably the emperor and the cube the shogun.
Next, Russia in Asia:
And the accompanying description and questions:
1. Russia in Asia, or Siberia, is an almost unbounded expanse of level, frozen desert.
2. The rivers run so conveniently, that, except a few short portages, there is a continued navigable line across the country from Europe to the Pacific Ocean.
3. The most valuable products are gold, silver, copper, and iron from the mines of the Ural and Altay mountains, and rich furs from the wild animals of the frozen plains.
4. A few savages roam over the vast territory, subsisting by fishing and the chase, and paying tribute in furs to the Russians, who have forts at the principal points.
5. Siberia is the country to which the Russian government exiles the subjects who excite its jealousy.
6. TOBOLSK’, on the Tobol, is the chief emporium of Siberia, and principal residence of the distinguished exiles.
Irkutsk’, on the Angara, is the emporium of Eastern Siberia, and rival of Tobolsk in population, wealth, and polished society. Kiach’ta, on the Selinga, is the only point at which the Chinese allow the Russians to trade. Yakutsk’, on the Lena, and Okhotsk’, on the eastern coast, are the chief depôts of the fur-trade.
Questions. —1. For what is Siberia noted? 2. What facility for commerce? What is the route of traders (read from the map); 3. products? 4. inhabitants? 5. For what is Siberia used by the government? Where, and for what noted, Tobolsk? &c.
The spellings are mostly those we still use today, interestingly. However, what is Kiach'ta? If anyone knows, please comment below, on the L&P Facebook page, or under a relevant image in our gallery on Instagram (@lotusandpersimmon).
In the next post, we'll focus on the maps and descriptions of the Chinese Empire, including Korea, Tibet, and Mongolia.