Test 2


  1. Read the passage carefully. DO NOT PRINT ANYTHING OUT!!
  2. Select the correct answer for each question.
  3. Click on the Check button to see your score.
  4. The recommended time limit for this test is twenty minutes.

Extract from The Civilisation of China
Herbert A. Giles


It is a very common thing now-a-days to meet people who are going to "China," which can be reached by the Siberian railway in fourteen or fifteen days. This brings us at once to the question--What is meant by the term China?

Taken in its widest sense, the term includes Mongolia, Manchuria, Eastern Turkestan, Tibet, and the Eighteen Provinces, the whole being equivalent to an area of some five million square miles, that is, considerably more than twice the size of the United States of America. But for a study of manners and customs and modes of thought of the Chinese people, we must confine ourselves to that portion of the whole which is known to the Chinese as the "Eighteen Provinces," and to us as China Proper. This portion of the empire occupies not quite two-fifths of the whole, covering an area of somewhat more than a million and a half square miles. Its chief landmarks may be roughly stated as Peking, the capital, in the north; Canton, the great commercial centre, in the south; Shanghai, on the east; and the Tibetan frontier on the west.

Any one who will take the trouble to look up these four points on a map, representing as they do central points on the four sides of a rough square, will soon realize the absurdity of asking a returning traveller the very much asked question, How do you like China? Fancy asking a Chinaman, who had spent a year or two in England, how he liked Europe! Peking, for instance, stands on the same parallel of latitude as Madrid; whereas Canton coincides similarly with Calcutta. Within the square indicated by the four points enumerated above will be found variations of climate, flowers, fruit, vegetables and animals --not to mention human beings--distributed in very much the same way as in Europe. The climate of Peking is exceedingly dry and bracing; no rain, and hardly any snow, falling between October and April. The really hot weather lasts only for six or eight weeks, about July and August--and even then the nights are always cool; while for six or eight weeks between December and February there may be a couple of feet of ice on the river. Canton, on the other hand, has a tropical climate, with a long damp enervating summer and a short bleak winter. The old story runs that snow has only been seen once in Canton, and then it was thought by the people to be falling cotton-wool.

The northern provinces are remarkable for vast level plains, dotted with villages, the houses of which are built of mud. In the southern provinces will be found long stretches of mountain scenery, vying in loveliness with anything to be seen elsewhere. Monasteries are built high up on the hills, often on almost inaccessible crags; and there the well-to-do Chinaman is wont to escape from the fierce heat of the southern summer. On one particular mountain near Canton, there are said to be no fewer than one hundred of such monasteries, all of which reserve apartments for guests, and are glad to be able to add to their funds by so doing.

In the north of China, Mongolian ponies, splendid mules, and donkeys are seen in large quantities; also the two-humped camel, which carries heavy loads across the plains of Mongolia. In the south, until the advent of the railway, travellers had to choose between the sedan- chair carried on the shoulders of stalwart coolies, or the slower but more comfortable house-boat. Before steamers began to ply on the coast, a candidate for the doctor's degree at the great triennial examination would take three months to travel from Canton to Peking. Urgent dispatches, however, were often forwarded by relays of riders at the rate of two hundred miles a day.

The market in Peking is supplied, among other things, with excellent mutton from a fat-tailed breed of sheep, chiefly for the largely Mohammedan population; but the sheep will not live in southern China, where the goat takes its place. The pig is found everywhere, and represents beef in our market, the latter being extremely unpalatable to the ordinary Chinaman, partly perhaps because Confucius forbade men to slaughter the animal which draws the plough and contributes so much to the welfare of mankind. The staple food, the "bread" of the people in the Chinese Empire, is nominally rice; but this is too costly for the peasant of northern China to import, and he falls back on millet as its substitute. Apples, pears, grapes, melons, and walnuts grow abundantly in the north; the southern fruits are the banana, the orange, the pineapple, the mango, the pomelo, the lichee, and similar fruits of a more tropical character.


1. According to the author, what is a very common thing?
a) People are travelling on the Siberian Railway.
b) People are going to China.
c) People are unsure of the extent of China.
d) People do not understand the term "China".

2. How many definitions of the term "China" are given by the author?
a) One.
b) None.
c) More than two.
d) Two.

3. Why does the author limit his discussion to the "Eighteen Provinces"?
a) Because the other areas of the empire are too wide and expansive.
b) Because the other areas of the empire are not relevant to the discussion of civilisation.
c) Because the other areas of the empire have not been civilised.
d) Because Mongolia, Manchuria and Eastern Turkestan are not trading centres.

4. The question, "How do you like China?" is absurd:
a) because China is too large and varied.
b) because it is grammatically incorrect.
c) because no one takes the trouble to ask.
d) because China is not like Madrid or Calcutta.

5. Based on the information in the extract, how likely is it to snow in Canton?
a) As likely as seeing snow in the capital.
b) As likely as seeing cotton-wool fall from the sky.
c) Unlikely, even in the bleak winter.
d) Quite possible given the dampness in summer.

6. The author means to imply in his comments about monasteries on a particular Cantonese mountain that:
a) they are generally inaccessible.
b) they are really hotels for the rich.
c) they are glad of the money from guests.
d) they do not have any funds.

7. Before the railway, travelling in southern China was:
a) slow but comfortable.
b) fast but uncomfortable.
c) a) but not b).
d) both a) and b).

8. What can be said about the advent of steamers?
a) They did nothing to improve communications.
b) They made travelling long distances easier.
c) They carried mostly doctors.
d) They only ran for three years.

9. When the author uses the phrase "sheep will not live in southern China" he means that:
a) they are really unreasonable animals.
b) they are not suited to the climatic conditions.
c) they are not as palatable as goats.
d) they are forbidden animals.

10. Overall, the author intends to:
a) wander from point to point.
b) tell an interesting story.
c) argue a point of view.
d) describe and educate.

Your score is:

Note: The passage used in this test was downloaded from the Project Gutenberg Web Site and is used on the project designer's understanding that this material is in the public domain and can be freely utilised for a non-profit educational purpose.


Copyright 2000 Phillip Towndrow. All Rights Reserved.