Friday, May 23, 2008

The Walls of Peking


The outer wall is about 27 miles in circumference. It was built centuries ago of mud and bricks. The inner and outer face are of the latter. Each brick is as big as a family Bible, and the interstices are filled up with mud and stones. The whole has long settled into a solid cement. Save for some damage done in one or two quarters by recent floods, this great wall is still intact. The gates number 18. They are insignificant, though finely arched, are not much wider than the streets and are only about 20 feet high. At night they are closed with great doors sheathed with iron.

The whole city forms two rough parallelograms, one being the Tartar city and the other the Chinese. There is another wall separating the two sections. The first is the Mantchu quarter par excellence; the second is given over to commerce inside the walls of the Tartar city — they are 60 feet thick at the base — are the government buildings, the foreign legations and the residences of the wealthy Tartars, which run around another high gray bricked wall, six miles (roughly) in circumference. This wall incloses the temples, pleasure grounds, and outer palaces of the sacred city, consecrated to the uses of the "Son of Heaven." Inside this block, again, is the Purple Forbidden City, the actual residence of the emperor and his court. — Fortnightly Review.

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