One of these three guns is of a slightly ruder type than the other two. Both the others contain a mechanical feature which this ruder gun lacks, the ratchet on the under-side of the bottom of the boxing of the breech-cavity for engaging the point of an elevating pawl when in battery. A convenient mechanical contrivance like this could not have been introduced into ordnance and then omitted from professional work without providing a substitute, unless the traditions and models of former work had been lost.
Chinese practice, still more than European, would respect the ancient and approved ways, and anybody would leave the better structure alone.
We may then, at this stage of the inquiry, and simply to settle the order of reading from latest to earliest, regard the gun without the ratchet as of earlier date than the guns with ratchets.
THE GUN OF 1680.
All three guns bear inscriptions which have been translated by the accomplished scholar Wong-Chin-Foo, of New York. One of those with ratchets presents the longest inscription—55 characters. This reads: