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Indeed they fay, that the Country we pafled is but a bad Country; and that, though the Journey is near 2000 Miles, there is but little to be met with on the Way that might deferve much Attention: Not even any Monuments, or Buildings, except fome Temples for their Idols; and thofe built of Wood, and but one Story high: The chief Value and Beauty of which feemed to confift in fome bad Paintings, and very indifferent Varnim-works. Indeed any one that is juft come from feeing the Buildings of France and Italy, is apt to have but little Tafte, or Attention, for whatever he may meet with in the other Parts of the World.
However, I muft except, out of this Rule, the Palace of the Emperor of Pekin, and his PleafureHoufes; for in them every thing is truly great and beautiful, both as to the Defign and the Execution; and they ftruck me the more, becaufe I had never feen any thing that bore any manner of Refemblance to them in any Part of the World that I had been in before. .
I fhould be very glad, if I could make fuch a Defcription of thefe, as would give you any juft Idea of them; but that is almoft impoffible; becaufe there is nothing in the whole, which has any Likenefs to our manner of Building, or our Rules of Architecture. The only way to conceive what they are, is to fee them; and if I can get any Time, I am refolved to draw fome Parts of them as exactly as I can, and fend them into Europe.
F 2 The
The Palace is, at leaft, as big as [r] Dijon; which City I choofe to name to you, becaufe you are fo well acquainted with it. This Palace confifts of a great Number of different Pieces of Building; detached from one another, but difpofed with a great deal of Symmetry and Beauty. They are feparated from one another by vaft Courts, Plantations of Trees, and Flower-Gardens. The principal Front of all thefe Buildings fbines with Gilding, Varnifliwork, and Paintings; and the Infide is furnifhed and adorned with all the moft beautiful and valuable Things that could be got in China, the Indies, and even from Europe.
As for the Pleafure-houfes, they are really charming. They ftand in a vaft Compafs of Ground. They have raifed Hills from Twenty to Sixty Foot high; which form a great Number of little Valleys between them. The Bottoms of thefe Valleys are watered with clear Streams; which run on till they join together, and form larger Pieces of Water and Lakes: They pafs thefe Streams, Lakes, and Rivers, in beautiful and magnificent Boats: I have feen one, in particular, Seventy-eight Feet long, and Twenty-four Feet broad, with a very handfome Houfe raifed upon it. In each of thefe Valleys, there are Houfes about the Banks of the Water, very well difpofed; with their different Courts, open and clofe
[>] A handfome City in France; and the Capital one in the Province •f Burgundy; between Three and Four Miles round.
Porticos, Parterres, Gardens, and Cafcades; which, when viewed all together, have an admirable Effect upon the Eye.
They go from one of the Valleys to another, not by formal ftrait Walks as in Europe; but by various Turnings and Windings, adorned on the Sides with little Pavillions and charming Grottos; and each of thefe Valleys is diverfified from all the reft, both by their manner of laying out the Ground, and in the Structure and Difpofition of its Buildings.
All the Rifings and Hills are fprinkled withTrees; and particularly with Flowering Trees, which are here very common. The Sides of the Canals, or lefler Streams, are not faced (as they are with us) with fmooth Stone, and in a ftrait Line; but look rude and ruftic, with different Pieces of Rock, fome of which jut out, and others recede inwards; and are placed with fo much Art, that you would take it to be the Work of Nature. In fome Parts the Water is wide, in others narrow; here it ferpentifes, and there fpreads away, as if it was really puflied off by the Hills and Rocks. The Banks are fprinkled with Flowers, which rife up even through the Hollows in the Rock work, as if they had been produced there naturally. They have a great Variety of them, for every Seafon of the Year.
Beyond thefe Streams there are always Walks, or
rather Paths, paved with fmall Stones; which lead
from one Valley to another. Thefe Paths too are
F 3 irregular?
irregular; and fometimes wind along the Banks of the Water, and at others run out wide from them.
On your Entrance into each Valley, you fee its Buildings before you. All the Front is a Colonnade, •with Windows between the Pillars. The Woodwork is gilded, painted, and varnifhed. The Roofs too are covered with varnifhed Tiles of different Colours; red, yellow, blue, green, and purple; which, by their proper Mixtures, and their Manner of placing them, form an agreeable Variety of Compartimcnts and Defigns. Almoft all thefe Buildings are only one Story high; and their Floors are raifed from Two to Eight Feet above the Ground. You go up to them not by regular Stone Steps, but by a rough Sort of Rock-work, formed as if there had been fo many Steps produced there by Nature. The Infide of the Apartments anfwers perfectly to their Magnificence without. Befide their being very well difpofed, the Furniture and Ornaments are very rich, and of an exquifite Tafte. In the Courts and Patfages, you fee Vafes of Brafs, Porcelain, and Marble filled with Flowers; and before fome of thefe Houfes, inflead of naked Statues, they have feveral of their hieroglyphical Figures of Animals, and Urrts with Perfumes burning in them, placed upon Pedeftals of Marble.
Every Valley, as I told you before, has its Pleafure-houfe; fmall indeed in Refpect to the whole Inclofure; but yet large enough to be capable of receiving the greateft Nobleman in Europe, with all his
Retinue. Several of thefe Houfes are built of CeJar, which they bring, with great Expence, at the Diftance of 1500 Miles from this Place. And now how many of thefe Palaces do you think there are, in all the Valleys of the Inclofure? There are above 2OO of them, without reckoning as many other Houfes for the Eunuchs; for they are the Perfons who have the Care of each Palace, and their Houfes are always juft by them; generally at no more than Five or Six Feet Diftance. Thefe Houfes of the Eunuchs are very plain; and for that Reafon are always concealed, either by fome Projection of the Walls, or by the Interpofition of their artificial Hills.
Over the running Streams there are Bridges, at proper Diftances, to make the more eafy Communication from one Place to another. Thefe are moft commonly either of Brick, or Free ftone, and fometimes of Wood, but are all raifed high enough for the Boats to pafs conveniently under them. They are fenced with Ballifters finely wrought, and adorned with Works in Relievo; but all of them varied from one another, both in their Ornaments and Defigns. Do not imagine to yourfelf, that thefe-Bridges run on, like ours, in ftrait Lines: On the contrary, they generally wind about and ferpentize to fiich a Degree, that fome of them, which, if they went on regularly, would be no more than Thirty or Forty Feet long, turn fo often and fo much as to make their whole Length 100 or 200 Feet. You fee fome of them which, either at the Midft, or at the Ends, have little Pavillions for People to reft themfelves in; F 4 fupported