The original weapon of the Chinese, which by the way seems to be the offensive arms of most savages, is the bow. It is still preferred by them to the matchlock; and the Tartars are so fond of it, that it forms an essential part of the education of the young princes of the blood. Their bows are large, and require a considerable degree of strength, as well as a peculiar knack to string them. Even the Emperor wears a ring of agate on the right thumb for the string to press against in drawing the bow, which is the weapon he uses every summer in hunting tigers and other wild beasts in the forests of Tartary.
Of the Tartar horse another specimen has been given in this work. This represents a Tartar dragoon armed with the common instruments, the bow, and a short sabre. This corps is probably of little use beyond that of carrying dispatches, and assisting in the imperial hunts in the forests of Tartary. All the cavalry that were seen by the British Embassy had a mean, irregular, and most unsoldierlike appearance.
The military of China differs, as every thing else differs, from that of all other nations, in the nature of its establishment, its occupation, and its dress. They have two distinct armies, if they may be so called; the one composed entirely of Tartars, who are stationed in the several provinces on the Tartar frontier, and occupy all the garrison towns of the empire; the other composed of Chinese, who are parcelled out in the smaller towns and hamlets to keep the peace, by acting as constables, subordinate collectors of the taxes, guards to the granaries, and assisting in various ways the civil magistrate. Along the public roads, canals and rivers, are placed, at certain intervals, small square guard-houses, at which are stationed from six to twelve men, who are employed in settling disputes upon the rivers or roads, and also in conveying the public dispatches.
The annexed figure, either from the striped dress, or the furious looking head painted on the shield, has been called a tiger of war; but he is not so fierce as he appears to be, or as the name would imply; indeed the Chinese admit that the monstrous face, on the basket-work shield, is intended to frighten the enemy, and make him run away; like another Gorgon’s head to petrify those who look upon it. This corps of infantry, in its exercise, assumes all kinds of whimsical attitudes, jumping about and tumbling over each other, like so many mountebanks.
At certain distances, more or less remote according to the nature of the country, along the roads, and the banks of the interior navigations, are placed small parties of soldiers from five or six to a dozen, and sometimes more. They are employed in conveying the public dispatches, and in assisting the magistrates to quell disturbances. The immense army of China is for the most part parcelled out in this way. Near each of these posts is a tall wooden building from whence they can see and communicate by signals with the next stations. The men till the ground, and perform other kinds of labour; but are always expected to turn out in their holiday dress when an embassador or any of their ta-zin or great men happen to pass the station, on which occasion they generally fire three little petards stuck into the ground with the muzzle upwards as a salute.
Roman Soldiers Leaving Britain
German Knights (Fifteenth Century). from Drawings by Albert Durer.
Entry of the Roi de l'Epinette at Lille in the Sixteenth Century
.--From a Manuscript of the Library of Rouen.
Civic Guard of Ghent (Brotherhood of St. Sebastian)