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.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese, by William Alexander Published 1814