Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/228

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
172
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

province. Destroyed: Every building in the province. Burnt: Everything inflammable."

Since that time Szechuan has been repeopled and to-day the capital has a population of quite three hundred and fifty thousand, although the walls, that in the thirteenth century extended twenty miles, are now no more than twelve in length and enclose a good deal of waste land. The wonderful bridges described by Marco Polo, half a mile long and lined with marble pillars supporting the tiled roof, no longer exist, but the city still abounds in bridges of a humbler sort, for it is crossed by the main stream of the Min as well as by many smaller branches and canals, all alive with big and little craft. Chengtu is proud of its streets, which are well paved and broader and cleaner than common, and on the whole it is an attractive, well-built city.

The viceroy of the province has his seat here, and Szechuan shares with the metropolitan province of Chihli the honour of having one all to itself, and he is more truly a viceroy than the others, for the Mantzu and Tibetan territories lying to the west are administered through the provincial government and are in a way tributary to it. Even from far Nepal on the borders of India come the bearers of gifts to the representative of the emperor.

Ser Marco speaks of the "fine cloth and crêpes and gauzes" of Chengtu, and still to-day the merchants