Riding a sturdy Chinese pony and with Ah Heng supervising his baggage, Morrison entered the Northern Gate in the huge, 50-feet-thick, battlemented walls of Peking to begin his labours as The Times correspondent. After the emptiness of the plains on his riverboat journey up the Peiho River from Tientsin, he was suddenly engulfed by the hubbub of the imperial capital’s two million souls, the overwhelming majority of them Taoist, Buddhist or Confucian and all of them anti-barbarian.
Morrison knew from his earlier visit that Peking was made up of four walled cities. The Chinese or Outer City to the south abutted the Tartar or Inner City to the north, while in the middle of the Tartar City stood the Imperial City, its walls and state buildings covered with distinctive pink tiles. In turn, the Imperial City enclosed the purple-