Imágenes de páginas

As to the inside, all the walls, instead of wainscot, were lined with hardened and painted tiles, like the little square tiles we call galley-tiles in England, all made of the finest China, and the figures exceeding fine, indeed, with extraordinary variety of colors, mixed with gold, many tiles making but one figure. but joined so artificially, the mortar being made of the same earth, that it was very hard to see where the tiles met. The floors of the rooms were of the same composition, and as hard as the earthen floors we have in use in several parts of England; as hard as stone, and smooth, but not burned and painted, except Some smaller rooms, like closets, which were all as it were paved with the same tile : the ceiling, and all the plastering work in the whole house, were of the same earth ; and, after all, the roof was covered with tiles of the same, but of a deep, shining black. This was a China warehouse, indeed, j. and literally to be called so ; and had Î not been upon the journey, I could have staid some days to see and examine the particulars of it. They told me there were fountains and fish-ponds in the garden, all paved on the bottom and sides with the same ; and fine statues set up in rows on the walks, entirely formed of the porcelain earth, and burned whole. As this is one of the singularities of China, so they may be allowed to excel in it; but I am very sure they excel in their accounts of it; for they told me such incredible things of their performance in crockery ware, for such it is, --that I care not to relate, as knowing it could not be true. They told me, in particular, of one workman that made a ship with all its tackle, and masts and sails, in earthern ware, big enough to carry fifty men. If they had told me he launched it, and made a voyage to Japan in it, I might have said something to it, indeed; but as it was, I knew the whole of the story, which was, in short, asking pardon for the word, that the fellow lied: So I smiled, and o nothing to it. This odd sight kept me two hours behind the caravan, for which the leader of it for the day fined me about the value of three shillings, and told me, if it had been three days’ journey without the wall, as it was three days within, he must have fined me four times as much, and made me ask pardon the next council-day : I promised to be more orderly ; and, indeed, I found afterwards the orders made for keeping all togethel were absolutely necessary for our common safety. In two days more we passed the great China wall, made for a fortification against the Tartars; and a very great work it is, going over hills and mountains in a needless track, where the rocks are impassable, and the precipices such as no enemy could possibly enter, or indeed climb up, or where, if they did, no wall could hinder them. They tell us its length is near a thousand English miles, but that the country is five hundred in a straight, measured line, which the wall bounds, without measuring the windings and turnings it takes; it is about four fathoms high, and as many thick in some places. I stood still an hour, or thereabouts, without trespassing our orders (for so long the caravan was in passing the gate) to look at it on every side, near and far off; I mean that was within my view ; and the guide of our caravan, who had been extolling it for the wonder of the world, was mighty eager to hear my opinion of it. I told him it was a most excellent thing to keep out the Tartars; which he happened not to understand as I meant it, and so took it for a compliment; but the old pilot laughed : “O, Seignior Inglese,” says he, “you speak in col. ors.”—“In colors l’” said I ; “what do you mean by that ''' —“Why you speak what looks white this way and black that way ; gay one way, and dull another. You tell him it is a good wall to keep out Tartars; you tell me by that it is good for nothing but to keep out Tartars. I understand you, Seignior Inglese; I understand you ; but Seignior Chinese understood you his own way.”—“Well,” says I, “seignior, do you think it would stand out an army of our country people, with a good train of artillery, or our engineers, with two companies of miners Would not they batter it down in ten days, that an army might enter in battalia; or blow it up in the air, foundation and all, that there should be no sign of it left "→" Ay, ay,” says he, “I know that.” The Chinese wanted mightily to know what I said, and I gave him heave to tell him a few

[ocr errors]

days after, for we were then almost out of their country, and he was to leave us in a little time aster this; but when he knew what I said, he was dumb all the rest of the way, and we heard no more of his fine story of the Chinese power and greatness while he staid. After we passed this mighty nothing, called a wall, something like the Picts' wall, so famous in Northumberland, built by the Romans, we began to find the country thinly inhabited, and the people rather confined to live in fortified towns and cities, as being subject to the inroads and depredations of the Tartars, who rob in great armies, and therefore are not to be resisted by the naked inhabitants of an open country. And here I began to find the necessity of keeping together in a caravan as we travelled, for we saw several troops of Tartars roving about ; but when l came to see them distinctly, I wondered more that the Chinese empire could be conquered by such contemptible fellows; for they are a mere horde of wild fellows, keeping no order, and understanding no discipline or manner of fight. Their horses are poor, lean creatures, taught nothing, and fit for nothing; and this we found the first day we saw them, which was after we entered the wilder part of the country. Our leader for the day gave leave for about sixteen of us to go a hunting, as they call it, and what was this but hunting of sheep ! however, it may be called hunting too, for the creatures are the wildest and swiftest of foot that ever I saw of their kind; only they will not run a great way, and you are sure of sport when you begin the chase, for they appear generally thirty or forty in a flock, and, like true sheep, always keep together when they fly. In pursuit of this odd sort of game, it was our hap to meet with about forty Tartars; whether they were hunting mutton as we were, or whether they looked for another kind of prey, we knew not; but as soon as they saw us, one of them blew a kind of horn very loud, but with a barbarous sound that I had never heard before, and, by the way, never care to hear again : we all supposed this was to call their friends about them, and so it was; for in less than ten minutes a troop of sorty or fifty

more appeared at about a mile distance; but our work was over first, as it happened. One of the Scots merchants of Moscow happened to be amongst us, and as soon as he heard the horn he told us that we had nothing to do out to charge them immediately, without loss of time; and drawing us up in a line, he asked if we were resolved. We told him we were ready to follow him; so he rode directly towards them. They stood gazing at us like a mere crowd, drawn up in no order, nor showing the face of any order at all; but as soon as they saw us advance, they let fly their arrows, which, however, missed us very hapYily; it seems they mistook not their aim, but their distance; §. their arrows all fell a little short of us, but with so true an aim, that had we been about twenty yards nearer, we must have had several men wounded, if not killed. Immediately we halted; and though it was at a great distance, we fired, and sent them leaden bullets for woeden arrows, following our shot full gallop, to fall in among them sword in hand, for so our bold Scot that led us directed. He was, indeed, but a merchant; but he behaved with that vigor and bravery on this occasion, and yet with such cool courage too, that I never saw any man in action fitter for command. As soon as we came up to them, we fired our pistols in their faces, and then drew; but they fled in the greatest confusion imaginable. The only stand any of them made was on our right, where three of them stood, and by signs, called the rest to come back to them, having a kind of cimeter in their hands, and their bows hanging to their backs. Our brave commander, without asking any body to follow him, gallops up close to them, and with his fusee knocks one of them off his horse, killed the second with his pistol, and the third ran away; and thus ended our fight; but we had this misfortune attending it, that all our mutton we had in chase got away. We had not a man killed or hurt; but as for the Tartars, there were about five of them killed; how many were wounded we knew not but this we knew, that the other party were so frightene

with the noise of our guns, that they made off, and never made any attempt upon us. We were all this while in the Chinese dominions, and there. fore the Tartars were not so bold as afterwards; but in about five days we entered a vast, great, wild desert, which held us three days’ and nights' march; and we were obliged to carry our water with us in great leathern bottles, and to encamp all night, just as I have heard they do in the desert of Arabia. asked our guides whose dominion this was in ; and they told me this was a kind of border, that might be called no man's land, being a part of Great Karakathay, or Grand Tartary; but, however, it was all reckoned as belonging to China, but that there was no care taken here to preserve it from the inroads of thieves, and therefore it was reckoned the worst desert in the whole march, though we were to go over some much larger. In passing this wilderness, which was at first very frightful to me, we saw, two or three times, little parties of the Tartars, but they seemed to be upon their own affairs, and to have no design upon us; and so, like the man who met the devil, if they had nothing to say to us, we had nothing to say to them ; we let them go. Once, however, a party of them came so near as to stand and gaze at us ; whether it was to consider if they should attack us or not, we knew not; but when we were passed at some distance by them, we made a rear-guard of forty men, and stood ready for them, letting the caravan pass half a mile or thereabouts before us; but after a while they marched off; only we found they saluted us with five arrows at their parting, one of which wounded a horse, so that it disabled him, and we left him the next day, poor creature, in great need of a good farrier ; they might shoot more arrows, which might fall short of us, but we saw no more arrows or Tartars that time. We travelled near a month after this, the ways not being so good as at first, though still in the dominions of the emperor df China, but lay for the most part in villages. Some of which

« AnteriorContinuar »