SHAN-HAI-KWAN GREAT WALL First Sight of the Great Wall—Vandalism of Japanese Troops—Bad Weather Floods—Railway Bridges carried away—Hotel full of Train-bound Trav ellers—Uphill Ride to the Great Wall—Tradition about It.
My next journey was a short and easy one to Shan-hai-kwan, where I put up at the Railway Hotel (which might be much better). The rail way station (Imperial North China Railway) is about half a mile from the City The city itself is about three miles from the sea, on the shore of which are the great summer encampments for the foreign troops which have been in Northern China since 1900. A walk or drive soon brought me to the shore, where my eyes were gladdened by the sight of the Cameron Highlanders, who were enjoying themselves bathing and playing games.
At this point that amazing work, the Great Wall of China, ends at the sea, coming down over the mountains behind, and over the flat land below, in a zigzag line. Standing here, the sea behind and the old wall stretch ing out in front, one can get a good idea of what it was in past times, when kept in good order. Let the los eye follow it along on its sinuous course, winding about up hill and down dale, along the flat ground, crossing and bridging streams, passing by and forming an outwork of the Old City—then gradually rising and climbing up the steep sides of the mountains, lost to sight as it disappears over their top ; but you know it goes on, farther and farther, across this country that seems limitless. It was a big mind that conceived this idea. One may think it was easy to carry out in the days of autocratic rule, when a conquering despot had but to give the order, and his underlings carried it out by slave labour. Nevertheless, the Great Wall of China is one of the wonders of the world. Walking along the top of the wall, between the sea and city near where the Japanese have their encampment, I was surprised to come on what appeared a dreadful piece of vandalism. The Japanese seemed to be making some sort of rifle pit or targets for practice ; but actually they were removing material for this purpose from the Great Wall itself. In time of war there might be excuse for such an act ; but in time of peace I can find none for such wanton destruction of this world-wonder structure. I
cannot think the Chinese authorities were consulted. If the Japanese took it upon themselves in their arrogance to do this, those responsible should feel ashamed of their act. But, alas ! there is too much of this assump tioR of authority shown by the foreigner in China.
During my -stay at Shan-hai-kwan we had a return of the bad weather I had experienced at Pei-tai-ho. Rain fell in great quantity, and very soon the floods took a serious aspect. I was almost confined to the hotel for some days the road to the city became im passable, and the main street of the city itself was like a rushing river. With a fellow-guest from the hotel, I determined to walk along the railway westwards, as we heard that the flood in that direction was becoming great. With difficulty we got to a greatly swollen river, and crossed it on the railway, but found that on the farther side the water was already on the permanent way. We watched the evening mail-train to Newch wang come slowly through the flood, and then made our way back to the hotel. There I found an inquiry for me. It appeared the floods were so bad that at Pei-tai-ho the passengers could not leave the train, and had to travel on to Shan-hai-kwan to stay the night among them was my nephew from Tientsin. Next day there was further stoppage, and at night the mail was stopped at Shan-hai-kwan, and travellers were told they could go no farther. No less than ten bridges were swept away, and I heard tales of great iron girders torn away by the flood. It was only by great good fortune no lives were lost.
Many of the travellers were on their way to join the Siberian Railway, homeward bound, and were not only delayed but lost their berths, which were booked before hand. Some got back to Chinwangtao and Tientsin, and made their way by sea to other points ; but for days the hotel was very crowded, and the small service strained to the utmost. What hurts one benefits another ; and I made one friend here from the Legation at Peking, who, when I told him my chief object was to get permission to paint the Imperial Palaces, offered most kindly to write to our Minister, and so forward the matter.