Morse's Map of China

Morse's Map of China

Today we continue with our examination of the East Asian pages in the 26th edition of Morse's School Geography, which was published in 1858.  I purchased an original copy of it at a local flea market a couple of weeks ago.  Regular readers of this blog will have seen the earlier posts on Asia, Far Eastern Russia, and Japan.  This post is devoted to what Morse calls 'The Chinese Empire,' which he divides into 4 parts: China Proper, Chinese Tartary (which includes Manchuria and Mongolia), Corea (sic), and Thibet (sic).  Modern day Koreans won't like that Korea gets lumped in with China, but there's a reason for it that you'll soon see.

With no further ado, here are the maps, descriptions, and comprehension questions for students to answer after reading.  I've preserved Morse's spelling and punctuation:


1. The Chinese empire is, next to the Russian, the most extensive on the globe, and has a greater population than any other.

2. It embraces, 1. China Proper; 2. Corea; 3. Chinese Tartary; 4. Thibet.

Questions. —1. Extent and population? 2. divisions?


1. China Proper is chiefly a vast plain, well watered, fertile, and highly cultivated.  The climate is colder than in Europe in the same latitudes.

2. Rice is the staple production; but the most noted product is tea, of which more than 60,000,000 pounds are exported annually to Europe and the Americas.  

3. Agriculture is more carefully conducted than in any other country, but with less skill than in Europe.

4. In the manufacture of fine porcelain, rich silks, ornamented work in ivory, &c., the Chinese excel Europeans.

5. The art of printing from a wood-cuts was practised in China prior to the invention of printing in Europe.

6. The government is jealous of foreigners, who are permitted to trade only at a few points.

7. The Chinese are very timid, and wholly unable to contend in war with Europeans.

8. China was conquered many centuries ago by the Mandshur Tartars, who still rule, but have left the laws, manners, and institutions to a great extent unchanged.

9. The emperor is an absolute despot, but rules in a patriarchal spirit; and, in his proclamations, blames himself for all the evils which afflicts people.

10. Reverence for parents is strongly inculcated, and abusive language to a father is a capital offence.

11. The officers of government are called mandarins, and are divided into nine ranks, according to their learning, which alone is regarded as a qualification for office. 

12. A mandarin is not allowed to hold office in his native province, and is rarely suffered to remain in one place more than three years.  

13. The religion which generally prevails is that of Fo, a species of Boodhism, distinguished here, as elsewhere, by numerous idols, pagodas, and priests, and much mummery.  

14. A custom prevails of binding the feet of girls till they cease to grow, small feet being the pride of Chinese girls.

15. The Great Wall of China, on its northern frontier, is 1500 miles long, 30 feet high, and so broad at the top that six horsemen can ride abreast.  It is carried over rivers on arches, over mountains and valleys, and has towers at every little interval, having been designed to protect China Proper from the incursions of the Tartars.

16. The Imperial Canal is 600 miles long from the river of Pekin to the Kian-ku’, just below Nankin.

17. COREA is dependent on China, but almost nothing is known of the country or its inhabitants, the government manifesting the same jealousy of foreigners as in China and Japan.

PE’KIN, the capital of China, near the Great Wall, is one of the largest cities in the world.  Nankin’, near the mouth of the Kian-ku, is the first city in manufactures, and noted for its porcelain tower, nine stories high.  Canton’, near the mouth of a river in the southeast, was till lately the only port at which Europeans were allowed to trade.  Maca’o is an island in the estuary of the same river, occupied by the Portuguese.


1. Chinese Tartary is divided into, 1. Mandshuria, or the country of the Mandshur Tartars. 2. Mongolia, or the country of the Mongol Tartars. 3. Cashgar.

2. The Mandshur Tartars are worshipers of the Grand lama, but little is known about them or their country.

3. The Mongols comprise the Calmucks, Eluths, Sifans, &c., and are also worshipers of the Grand Lama.

4. Cashgar is a flourishing Mohammedan kingdom, on a wide, fertile, and very beautiful plain.

Maimatchin, on the northern frontier, is the only place at which the Russians are permitted to trade.  Yarkand, on the Yarkand river, is the largest city in the kingdom of Cashier, and the chief emporium of Central Asia.

Questions. —1. How is Chinese Tartary divided? 2. What is said of Mandshur Tartars? 3. of Mongols? 4. of Cashgar? Where, &c., Maimatchin? 


1. Thibet’, or Tibet’, is the residence o the Grand Lama, who is worshiped throughout Eastern Asia.

2. The founder of this worship was Boodh, and from him it is named Boodhism. In China it is called the worship of Fo, and in Tartary, Shamanism.

3. The great doctrine is the transmigration of the soul. The priests pretend that when the Grand Lama dies his soul passes into the body of an infant, whom they discover by certain signs, and immediately exalt to the throne.

4. The Thibetans are chiefly a pastoral people, but in some populous distracts are far advanced in the arts.  

5. The yak, or Tibet ox, has a tail of long, glossy hair, in great demand in India as a flap; and from the hair of the Tibet goat are made the fine Cashmere shawls.

Las’sa, on the Sanpoo, the residence of the Grand Lama, is the resort of pilgrims from all parts of Asia.  

Questions. —1. For what is Thibet noted? 2. Who founded this worship? 3. Its great doctrine? 4. occupation of the Thibetians? 5. famous animals? Where, &c., Lassa?

As pointed out at the top, Corea (it was customary to spell it with a C until the early 20th century) is lumped in with China Proper.  The country, then called Joseon, was a client state of the Qing Empire, rather than a constituent part of it, but as of 1858 there would have been no sources for Morse to draw on for information.  The first contemporary book about Korea, Charles Dallet's History of the Korean Church, which includes a nearly 200-page introduction to the country (translated from the French by me for this blog) would not appear until 1874, and the first works about the country by English speakers not until some years after that.  

More maps and descriptions about other parts of Asia will be posted soon.  Please check back regularly!  You can also get updates by 'liking' the Lotus & Persimmon page on Facebook.

Posted on 15/08/2017 by David Gemeinhardt Maps, Countries, Korea, China 0

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