The police is so well regulated in all the large cities of China, that disturbances rarely, if ever, happen during the night. The watch is set at nine, and continues till five in the morning. A gate is placed at each end of the cross streets, which are all streight, and at right angles with the main streets; from each gate a watchman proceeds till he meets his brother watchman about the middle; at every half hour he beats the hollow bamboo tube, in his left hand, with the mallet in the right, striking the same number of blows as there may be half hours elapsed from nine o’clock: the blow gives a dead, dull sound, sufficiently audible, and to a stranger sufficiently disagreeable. Each watchman is also furnished with a paper lantern. At the great gates of cities, and at certain distances in the main streets are guard-houses, at which a party of soldiers are stationed to aid the police, if necessary; but this is rarely the case, as, in addition to the common watch, every tenth housekeeper in every street is made responsible for the orderly good conduct of his nine neighbours. In the day time there is plenty of noise, and quarrelling and scuffling among the lower orders of the Chinese.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese, by William Alexander Published 1814