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springs. A servant of the ambassador, who was an invalid at the time, and had not strength to avoid the violence of the shocks, actually suffered a concussion of the brain.
The Chinese occasionally travel on horseback, but their best land-conveyance by far is the sedan, a vehicle which certainly exists among thern in perfection. Whether viewed in regard to lightness, comfort, or any other quality associated with such a mode of carriage, there is nothing so convenient elsewhere. Two bearers place upon their shoulders the poles, which are thin and elastic, and in shape something like the shafts of a gig connected near the ends; and in this manner they proceed forward with a measured step, an almost imperceptible motion, and sometimes with considerable speed. Instead of pannels, the sides and back of the chair consist of woollen cloth for the sake of lightness, with a covering of oil-cloth against rain. The front is closed by a hanging-blind of the same materials in lieu of a door, with a circular aperture of gauze to see through. The Europeans at Macao furnish theirs with Venetian blinds, and never make use of any other carriage. Private persons among the Chinese are restricted to two bearers, ordinary magistrates to four, and the viceroys to eight; while the Emperor alone is great enough to require sixteen. They divide the weight by multiplying the number of shoulder-sticks applied to the poles (as represented in a vignette to Staunton's embassy), in an instance where the number of bearers would be sixteen; and this rule is made applicable to the conveyance of the heaviest burthens by coolies or porters. The Chinese constantly remind one of ants, by the manner in which they conquer difficulties through dint of mere numbers; and they resemble those minute animals no less in their persevering and unconquerable industry.
There is no country of the same extent in which horses are so little used for the purposes of either carriage or draft, and this seems to arise, in some measure, from their grudging to animals that food which the earth otherwise provides for man. Their horses are in general miserable stunted creatures, of the smaller order of ponies, and almost always in the worst condition; nor is the caparison in most cases much better than the beast. The rider is wedged into a high saddle of the usual Oriental character, of which every part, stirrups included, is extreinely heavy and cumbrous. The bridles ought to be of stitched silk, but they are often of rope; and tufts of red horse-hair are sometimes suspended from the chest of the animal. Where no rivers or canals afford the conveniences of water-carriage, the roads, or rather broad pathways, are paved in the south for horses, chairs, and foot-passengers; but no wheelcarriages were met with by the embassies except in the flat country towards Peking.
Official persons are accommodated with lodging on their journeys in buildings called Koong-kuân, or Government hotels, and where one of these does not exist, the priests of the Budh sect are called upon to provide for them in their temples. The gods appear sometimes to be treated with little ceremony on these occasions. In 1816, a portion of the great temple on the side of the river opposite to Canton was appropriated to the British embassy, and fitted up for them, at the requisition of the factory, in a very handsome style, altogether different from the mode in which they had been commonly lodged in the interior. Nothing surprised the Chinese more than the number of comforts and conveniences which the English seemed to require, and the quantity of their baggage. One of their own nation travels with little more than a hard pillow rolled up in a thin mattress,
or a mat; and as for his wardrobe, he carries it all on his back, that is, when not travelling by water. In the latter mode of carriage, the great officers of Government sometimes convey no small quantity of goods, and, as their baggage is exempted from search, it is said that the privilege is often abused to smuggle opium.
There is no post regulated by the Government, for facilitating the general intercourse of its subjects; though one would imagine that a system of the kind might be made very serviceable by this jealous autocracy, (as it has by some others,) in promoting the special objects of its police. The Government expresses are forwarded by land along a line of posts, at each of which a horse is always kept ready; and it is said that when the haste is urgent, a feather is tied to the packet, and the express is called a fei-ma, “flying-horse," on which occasions the courier is expected to go at the rate of about a hundred miles a day, until relieved. In this manner a despatch from Peking reaches Canton, or vice versa, a distance of 1,200 miles, in a fortnight or twelve days. A letter from the Emperor himself is carried by an officer of some rank in a hollow tube, attached to his back. They have no telegraphs, but the embassies frequently observed that three conical, or rather sugar-loaf beacons were erected on the most conspicuous ports, to serve as signals by day or night, with the assistance of lighted wood or straw in the hollow chimneylike interior.
There is printed for general use a very accurate itinerary of the empire, containing the distances in Chinese ly from town to town; and one of these, on being compared with the actual distances on the map, as travelled by the last embassy, was found to correspond with sufficient exactness. But the greatest public accominodation consists in the arrangements
for the conveyance of goods, which are regulated in the best manner. The public porters are under the management of a head man, who is responsible for them. The wages for the number agreed for are paid to him in advance, upon which he furnishes a corresponding number of tickets, and, when the work is done, these are delivered as vouchers to the several porters to carry back and receive their money. The ordinary pay is one mace, or under 8d. per diem; and so trust-worthy are these poor people, that not a single article was known to be lost by the embassies in all the distance between the northern and southern extremes of the empire.
But, putting speed out of the question, there certainly is no country in the world in which travelling by water is so commodious as in China; and it seems reasonable to attribute this circumstance to the universal prevalence of that mode of locomotion. Indeed, all the river craft of this people may be said to be unrivalled. The small draft of water, and, at the same time, great burthen and stiffness of their vessels, the perfect ease with which they are worked through the most intricate passages,
and most crowded rivers, and the surprising accommodation which they afford, have always attracted attention. The Arab, Ibn Batuta, whose travels we have before noticed, in describing the inland trading vessels of the Chinese, states that they were moved by “large oars, which might be compared to great masts (in respect of size), over which five-and-twenty men were sometimes placed, who worked standing.” He evidently alludes to the enormous and very powerful sculls, which are worked at the stern of their vessels, exactly as he describes at the present day.
From its situation, in the line of the vessel's course, this machine takes up no room in the passage of their crowded rivers and canals,--an advan