2 DECEMBER 1899, Page 19

Lord Charles Beresford read a most instructive paper before the

Institution of Mechanical Engineers yesterday week on the openings for that calling in China. He illustrated the condition of the Chinese roads, which were perfect two thousand years ago, but had not been re- paired since, by the following anecdote. "He complained of them to an American, who replied, Yes, Sir, the roads are very bad. There was a mule drowned in the road outside my Embassy the other day." As for the methods adopted in the Chinese arsenals, he described how, on observing to a very clever Mandarin, in charge of a river fort, that the powder used would blow the breeclipiece off a 67 ton gun, the Mandarin "nodded, smiled, and answered, 'Yes, it does.' The last time the gun was fired, he said, it killed fourteen men; so then they loaded another gun and fired it, and that time twenty-four men were killed." In another place he discovered a battery of five guns placed in echelon, so that the men working one gun would infallibly have been killed by the discharge of the next. On this the Mandarin's comment was : "Yes, some men would no doubt be killed; but the shot would reach the enemy." In another place the gun was actually loaded in the magazine, and the last time it was fired blew it up with a loss of fifty lives. And yet the Chinese were excellent mechanical workmen if they had good foremen over them. When Lord Charles himself put a boring machine right, the workmen said that England pro- duced the most wonderful Mandarins in the world ; adding, "We have many, but there is not one of them who under- stands a bit about the machinery in the shop." In industry, as in warfare, China is strangled with red tape.