The grand canal of China, or rather the water communication between the northern and southern extremities of the empire by a succession of canals and rivers, is certainly the first inland navigation in the world. The multitude of vessels, of every size and shape, is not to be estimated. The large one in the print is one of those which carried the British embassador and his suite up the Pei-ho to the neighbourhood of Pekin, which were in every respect comfortable and commodious. On passing bridges, which are very frequent in the neighbourhood of all towns and villages, the masts are usually lowered down; but many of the bridges are lofty enough to admit the smaller kind of barges to pass underneath with their masts standing. The bridges are almost as various in their shape and construction as the barges, and some of them by no means destitute of taste.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese, by William Alexander Published 1814