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moreover, supplied with massy towers or bastions at distances of about one hundred yards. One of the most elevated ridges crossed by the wall was 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. It far surpasses, in short, the sum total of all other works of the kind, and proved a useful barrier until the power of Zenghis Khan overthrew the empire of the Chinese.
The body of the wall* consists of an earthen mound, retained on each side by walls of masonry and brick, and terraced by a platform of square bricks. The total height, including a parapet of five feet, is twenty feet, on a basis of stone projecting two feet under the brick-work, and varying in height from two feet to more according to the level of the ground. The thickness of the wall at the base is twenty-five feet, diminishing to fifteen at the platform. The towers are forty feet square at the base, diminishing to thirty at the top, and about thirty-seven feet in total height. At particular spots, however, the tower was of two stories, and forty-eight feet high. The bricks are, as usual in China, of a bluish colour, about fifteen inches long, half that in width, and nearly four inches thick ; probably the whole, half, and quarter of the Chinese Chě, or covid. The blue colour of the bricks led to some doubt of their having been burned; but some ancient kilns were observed near the wall, and, since then, the actual experiment of Dr. Abel in 1816 has proved that the brick clay of the Chinese, being red at first, burns blue. The thinness of the parapet of the wall, about eighteen inches, justifies the conclusion that it was not intended to resist cannon: indeed the Chinese themselves claim no such antiquity for the invention of fire-arms. The above description confirms upon the whole that of Gerbillon, about a century before.
“ It is generally,” says he, * See plan, section, and elevation, from folio plates to Ema bassy,
than eighteen, twenty, or twenty-five geometrical feet high, but the towers are seldom less than forty."
The same missionary, however, informs us, that beyond the Yellow river to its western extremity, or for full one-half of its total length, the wall is chiefly a mound of earth or gravel, about fifteen feet in height, with only occasional towers of brick. Marco Polo's silence concerning it may therefore be accounted for by the supposition that, having seen only this imperfect portion, he did not deem it an object of sufficient curiosity to deserve particular notice; without the necessity of imagining that he entered China from the westward, to the south of the great barrier.
As a minute geographical description of each province of the empire would be out of place in this work, we will notice generally the points most deserving of attention in all
, commencing with those which lay in the route of the British embassies. The flat, sandy, and sterile province in which Peking is situated, offers little worthy of notice. The vast plain which surrounds the capital is entirely devoid of trees, but wood is procured from that long hilly promontory of Tartary, which forms the eastern boundary of the gulf of Leaoutung, and was named by Sir Murray Maxwell, the "regent's sword.” The most considerable town, next to Peking, is Tien-tsin, though it does not rank as a city: it forms the trivium, or point of junction between the canal, the capital, and the sea. Here are seen the immense piles, or hills of salt, described by Mr. Barrow, this being the depôt for the salt provided for the enormous consumption of Peking, and manufactured along the marshy borders of the sea.
On entering the adjoining province of Shantung to the south, the attention is soon drawn to the commencement of the canal; and on the lakes, or rather extensive swamps through which it is carried, are seen the fishing corvorants, birds which will be