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wide Pieces of Cloth every where, that nobody may fee him. Several Hours before he is to pafs through any Street, the People are forewarned of it; and if any ihould be found there whilft he paflis, they would be handled very feveiely by his Guards.' Whenever he goes into the Country, two Bodies of Horfe advance a good way before him, on each Side of the Road; both for his Security, and to keep the Way clear from all other Paflengers. As the Emperors of China find themfelves obliged to live in this ftrange fort of Solitude, they have always endeavoured to fupply the Lofs of all public Diverfions, (which their high Station will not fuffer them to partake,) by fome other Means or Inventions, according to their different Taftes and Fancies.
This Town, therefore, in thefe two laft Reigns, (for it was this Emperor's Father who ordered it to be built) has been appropriated for the Eunuchs to act in it, at feveral Times in the Year, al! the Commerce, Marketings, Arts, Trades, Buftie, and Hurry, and even all the Rogueries ufual in great Cities. At the appointed Times, each Eunuch puts on the Drefs of the Profeffion or Part which is afligned to him. One is a Shop-keeper, and another an Artifan; this is an Officer, and that a common Soldier: One has a Whesl-barrow given him to drive about the Streets; aonther, as a Porter, carries a Bafket en his Shoulders. In a Word, every one has the diftmguifLing Msvk of his Employment. The Veflels arrive at the Port; the Shops are open; and the Goods are expofed for Sale. There is
one one Quarter for thofe who fell Silks, and another for thofe who fell Cloth; one Street for Porcelain, and another for Varnifh-works. You may be fupplied with whatever you want. This Man fells Furniture of all Sorts; that, Cloaths and Ornaments for the Ladies; a third has all Kinds of Books for the learned and curious. There are Coffee-houfes too, and Taverns of all Sorts, good and bad; befide a Number of People that cry different Fruits about the Streets, and a great Variety of refrefhmg Liquors. The Mercers, as you pafs their Shops, catch you by the Sleeve, and prefs you to buy fome of their Goods. 'Tis all a Place of Liberty and Licence; and you can fcarce diftinguifh the Emperor himfelf from the meaneft of his Subjects. Every body hauls out what he has to fell; fome quarrel, others fight; and you have all the Confufion of a Fair about you. The public Officers come and arreft the Quarrellers j carry them before the Judges, in the Courts for Juftice j the Caufe is tried in form; the Offender condemned to be baftinadoed; and the Sentence is put in Execution; and that fo effectually, that the Diverfion of the Emperor fometimes cofts the poor Actor a great deal of real Pain.
The Myftery of Thieving is not forgot, in this general Reprefentation. That noble Employ is affigned to a confiderable Number of the clevereft Eunuchs, who perform their Parts admirably well. If any one of them is caught in the FacT:, he is brought to Shame, and condemned (at leaft they go through tho Form of condemning him) to be ftigmatifed, baftinadoed. tinadoed, or banifhed; according to the Heinoufnefs of the Crime, and the Nature of the Theft. If they fteal cleverly they have the Laugh on their Side; they are applauded, and the Sufferer is without Redrefs. However, at the End of the Fair, every thing of this Kind is reftored to the proper Owner.
This Fair (as I told you before) is kept only for the Entertainment of the Emperor, the Emprefs, and his Miftrefles. 'Tis very unufual for any of the Princes, or Grandees, to be admitted to fee it; and when any have that Favour, it is not till after the Women are aH retired to their feveral Apartments. The Goods which are expofed and fold here, belong chiefly to the Merchants of Pekin; who put them into the Hands of the Eunuchs, to be fold in reality; fo that the Bargains here are far from being all pretended ones. In particular, the Emperor himfelf always buys a great many Things; and you may be fure they afk him enough for them. Several of the Ladies too make their Bargains; and fo do fome of the Eunuchs. All this trafficking, if there was nothing of real mixt with it, would want a great deal of that Earneftnefs and Life, which now make the Buftle the more active, and the Diverfion it gives the greater.
To this Scene of Commerce, fometimes fucceeds a very different one; that of Agriculture. There is a Quarter within the fame Inclofure, which is fet apart for this Purpofe. There you fee Fields, Meadows, Farm-houfes, and little fcattered Cottages; with Oxen, Ploughs, and all the Neceflaries for Hufban'dry. There they fow Wheat, Rice, Pulfe, and all other Sorts of Grain. They make their Harveft, and carry in the Produce of their Grounds. In a Word, they here imitate every thing that is done in the Country ; and in every thing exprefs a rural Simplicity, and all the plain Manners of a Country Life, as nearly as they poffibly can.
Doubtlefs you have read of the famous Feaft in China, called the Feaft of the Lanthorns. It is always celebrated on the I5th Day of the firft Month. There is no Chinefe fo poor, but that upon this Day he lights up his Lanthorn. They have of them of all Sorts, Figures, Sizes, and Prices. On that Day all China is illuminated; but the fineft Illuminations of all are in the Emperor's Palaces; and particularly in thefe Pleafure-grounds, which I have been defcribing to you. There is not a Chamber, Hall, or Portico, in them, which has not feveral of thefe Lanthorns hanging from the Ceilings. There are feveral upon all the Rivulets, Rivers, and Lakes; made in the Shape of little Boats, which the Waters carry backward and forward. There are fome upon all the Hills and Bridges, and almoft upon all the Trees. Thefe are wrought mighty prettily, in the Shapes of different Fifhes, Birds, and Beafts; Vafes, Fruits, Flowers; and Boats of different Sorts and Sizes. Some are made of Silk; fome of Horn, Glafs, Mother of Pearl, and a Thoufand other Materials. Some of them are painted ; others embroidered; and of very different Prices. I have feen fome of them 4 which which could never have been made for a Thoufand Crowns. It would be an endlefs Thing to endeavour to give you a particular Account of all their Forms, Materials, and Ornaments. It is in thefe, and in the great Variety which the Chinefe fhew in their Buildings, that I admire the Fruitfulnefs of their Invention; and am almoft tempted to own, that we are quite poor and barren in Comparifon of them.
Their Eyes are fo accuftomed to their own Architecture, that they have very little Tafte for ours. May I tell you what they fay when they fpeak of it, or when they are looking over the Prints of fome of our moft celebrated Buildings? The Height and Thicknefs of our Palaces amazes them. They look upon our Streets as fo many Ways hollowed into terrible Mountains; and upon our Houfes, as Rocks pointing up in the Air, and full of Holes like Dens of Bears and other wild Beafts. Above all, our different Stories, piled up fo high one above another, feem quite intolerable to them; and they cannot conceive how we can bear to run the Rifk of breaking our Necks, fo commonly, in going up fuch a Number of Steps as is neceflary to climb up to the Fourth and Fifth Floors. "Undoubtedly, (faid the "Emperor Cong-by, whilfthewas looking over fome "Plans of our European Houfes,) this Europe muft "be a very fmall and pitiful Country; fince the In"habitants cannot find Ground enough to fpread out "their Towns, but are obliged to live up thus in the "Air." As for us, we think otherwife; and have Reafon to do fo.
Vol. I. G However,