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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.
robes,” as the Emperor’s garments are called.  These are forwarded annually, and are the peculiar tribute of the silk districts.  The banks of the Grand Canal are, in many parts through which it flows, strongly faced with stone, a precaution very necessary to prevent the danger of inundations, from which some parts of this country are constantly suffering.  The Yellow River so very frequently overflows its banks, and brings so much peril and calamity to the people, that it has been called “China’s Sorrow;” and the European trade at Canton has been very heavily taxed for the damage occasioned by it.

The Grand Canal and the Yellow River, in one part of the country, run within four or five miles of each other, for about fifty miles; and at length they join or cross each other, and then run in a contrary direction.  A great deal of ceremony is used by the crews of the vessels when they reach this point, and, amongst other customs, they stock themselves abundantly with live cocks, destined to be sacrificed on crossing the river.  These birds annoy and trouble the passengers so much by their incessant crowing on the top of the boats, that they are not much pitied when the time for their death arrives.  The boatmen collect money for their purchase from the passengers, by sending red paper petitions called pin, begging for aid to provide them with these and other needful supplies.  The difficulties which the Chinese must have struggled against, with their defective science, in this junction of the canal and the river, are incalculable; and it is impossible to deny them the praise they deserve for so great an exercise of perseverance and industry.

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THE GOLIAH ARATOO.

The splendid family of parrots includes about one hundred and sixty species, and, though peculiar to the warmer regions of the world, they are better known in England than any other foreign bird.  From the beauty of their plumage, the great docility of their manners, and the singular faculty they possess of imitating the human voice, they are general favourites, both in the drawingroom of the wealthy and the cottage of humble life.

The various species differ in size, as well as in appearance and colour.  Some (as the macaws) are larger than the domestic fowl, and some of the parakeets are not larger than a blackbird or even a sparrow.

The interesting bird of which our Engraving gives a representation was recently brought alive to this country by the captain of a South-seaman (the Alert), who obtained it from a Chinese vessel from the Island of Papua, to whom the captain of the Alert rendered valuable assistance when in a state of distress.  In size this bird is one of the largest of the parrot tribe, being superior to the great red Mexican Macaw.  The whole plumage is black, glossed with a greenish grey; the head is ornamented with a large crest of

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