By Lieut. Hon. H. N. Shore, R.N.

Some ten miles north of Peking, in a valley where silence reigns supreme, is situated one of the most remarkable and imposing burial grounds in the world. Here, nestling along the slopes of the inclosing mountains, which form a natural amphitheater, are a series of vast mausoleums where lie buried the emperors of the last Chinese dynasty. This was the celebrated Ming dynasty, which continued from 1366 till 1644, when, after a sanguinary struggle lasting for twenty-seven years, it succumbed to the Manchu Tartars, who, under the title of the Tsin dynasty, have occupied the throne to the present time.

THE AVENUE.
THE AVENUE.

It has been very truly remarked of the Chinese that they have probably expended more labor over their public works than any other nation of antiquity; and assuredly when any great national work is undertaken, however rare the occurrence, it is invariably carried out on a scale of unparalleled magnificence. It was, therefore, only fitting that the tombs containing the emperors of their own native dynasty should be constructed on a scale commensurate with the wealth and extent of the empire whose destinies they swayed for nigh 300 years. The valley contains altogether thirty tombs, each of which stands in the center of a wooded inclosure several acres in extent, surrounded by a high wall, with an imposing gateway. The largest and most celebrated is that of Yen-wang, whose body reposes in a lofty building resting on an immense brick mound pierced by a slanting tunnel, whose curious acoustic properties entitle it to be ranked as a "whispering gallery." In front of the mausoleum is a hall measuring 220 ft. long by over 90 ft. broad, which contains the emperor's tablet.

The roof of this building is supported in the center by thirty-two pillars, composed of single trees 60 ft. high and over 11 ft. in circumference, which are said to have been brought from Corea. The transport of these enormous blocks must have been a work of no ordinary difficulty, more especially in the absence of good roads. According to the description of a missionary who recently witnessed the moving of a somewhat similar object, it would seem that the Chinese followed the practice of the ancient Egyptians, as depicted on their tombs, and in a country where labor is abundant such a method would be natural.

An inscription near the entrance states that this tomb, among others, was repaired by the Emperor Kienlung, who reigned in the early part of last century; but like every other ancient building in China at the present day, it is fast going to ruin for the want of ordinary care, large trees being permitted to grow out of the very roof itself, although there are several attendants residing in the inclosure; while, doubtless, certain officials are entrusted with the care of this splendid mausoleum, and draw their salaries regularly. But laisser faire is the order of the day everywhere in the neighborhood of Peking, and nothing is ever repaired nowadays by any chance.

THE ROAD TO PEKING.
THE ROAD TO PEKING.

A part of the original scheme, which shows the magnificent scale on which the whole thing was planned and executed, was a fine paved road, carried over streams and rivers by marble bridges and extending the whole way from Peking, a distance of ten miles. On approaching the valley where the tombs repose the road passes under three handsome "pailaus," or gateways, and then through one of the most imposing avenues that was ever constructed. This avenue, which extends for about two-thirds of a mile, is flanked on either side with colossal stone figures at intervals of about 50 yards, representing men and animals in the following order: Six men, apparently warriors and priests, in pairs, standing; four horses, four griffins, four elephants, four camels, and four lions, the first pair in each set standing, the second recumbent. As the Chinese have never achieved any great distinction in the art of sculpture, the representations of animal life are, needless to say, somewhat caricatured. But the conception of the whole was magnificent, and the effect of this long avenue of colossal figures standing in silent grandeur is as impressive as anything that ever emanated from the genius of the Chinese race. - Ill. Naval and Military Magazine.