The Great Wall of China

by Unknown

Letter T.

The important feature which the Great Wall makes in the map of China, entitles this vast barrier to be considered in a geographical point of view, as it bounds the whole north of China along the frontiers of three provinces. It was built by the first universal Monarch of China, and finished about 205 years before Christ: the period of its completion is an historical fact, as authentic as any of those which the annals of ancient kingdoms have transmitted to posterity. It was built to defend the Chinese Empire from the incursions of the Tartars, and is calculated to be 1500 miles in length. The rapidity with which this work was completed is as astonishing as the wall itself, for it is said to have been done in five years, by many millions of labourers, the Emperor pressing three men out of every ten, in his dominions, for its execution. For about the distance of 200 leagues, it is generally built of stone and brick, with strong square towers, sufficiently near for mutual defence, and having besides, at every important pass, a formidable and well-built fortress. In many places, in this line and extent, the wall is double, and even triple; but from the province of Can-sih to its eastern extremity, it is nothing but a terrace of earth, of which the towers on it are also constructed. The Great Wall, which has now, even in its best parts, numerous breaches, is made of two walls of brick and masonry, not above a foot and a half in thickness, and generally many feet apart; the interval between them is filled up with earth, making the whole appear like solid masonry and brickwork. For six or seven feet from the earth, these are built of large square stones; the rest is of blue brick, the mortar used in which is of excellent quality. The wall itself averages about 20 feet in height, 25 feet in thickness at the base, which diminishes to 15 feet at the platform, where there is a parapet wall; the top is gained by stairs and inclined planes. The towers are generally about 40 feet square at the base, diminishing to 30 feet a the top, and are, including battlements, 37 feet in height. At some spots the towers consist of two stories, and are thus much higher. The wall is in many places carried over the tops of the highest and most rugged rocks; and one of these elevated regions is 5000 feet above the level of the sea.

Military Mandarin.
The Great Wall of China.

Near each of the gates is a village or town; and at one of the principal gates, which opens on the road towards India, is situated Sinning-fu, a city of large extent and population. Here the wall is said to be sufficiently broad at the top to admit six horsemen abreast, who might without inconvenience ride a race. The esplanade on its top is much frequented by the inhabitants, and the stairs which give ascent are very broad and convenient.

Chinese Soldier.