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From this Palace of the Emperor, a Road which is almost strait, leads you to a little Town in the Midst of the whole Inclosure. 'Tis square j and each Side is. near a Mile long. It has Four Gates, answering the Four principal Points of the Compass; with Towers, Walls, Parapets, and Battlements. It has its Streets, Squares, Temples, Exchanges, Markets, Shops, Tribunals, Palaces, and a Port for Vessels. In one Word, every thing that is at Pekin in Large, is there represented in Minature.'
. You will certainly ask for what Use this City was intended? Is it that the Emperor may retreat to it as a Place of Safety, on any Revolt, or Revolution? It might indeed serve well enough for that Purpose; and possibly that Thought had a Share in the Mind of the Person who at first designed it; but its principal End was, to procure the Emperor the Pleasure of seeing all the Bustle and Hurry of a great City in little, whenever he might have a Mind for that Sort of Diversion.
The Emperor of China h too much a Slave to his Grandeur ever to shew himself to his People, even when he goes out of his Palace. He too fees nothing of the Town, which he passes through. All the Doors and Windows are shut up. They spread wide Pieces of Cloth every where, that nobody may fee him. Several Hours before he is to pass through any Street, the PeopIe••tfre forewarned of it; and if any should he found there whilst he passes, they would be handled very severely feyjbjs Guards. • Whenever he goes into the Country, two Bodies of Horse 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 Passengers. As the Emperors of China find themselves obliged to live in this strange fort of Solitude, they have always endeavoured to supply the Loss of all public Diversions, (which their high Station will not suffer them, to partake,) by some other Means or Inventions, according to their different Tastes and Fancies.
This Town, therefore, in these two last 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 several Times in the Year, all the Commerce, Marketings, Arts, Trades, Bustle, and Hurry, and even all the Rogueries usual in great cities. At the appointed Times, each Eunuch puts on the Dress of the Profession or Part which is assigned to him. One is a Shop-keeper, and another an Artifan; this is an Officer, and that a common Soldier: One has a Wheel-barrow given him to drive about the Streets; another, as a Porter, carries a Basket on his Shoulders. In a Word, every one has the disiinguishing Mark of his Employment. The Vessels arrive at the Port; the Shops are opened; and the Goods are exposed for Sale. There is one Quarter for . those who sell Silks, and another for those who sell Cloth; one Street for Porcelain, and another for Varnifhworks. You may be supplied with whatever you want. This Man sells Furniture of all Sorts ; that, Cloaths and Ornaments for the Ladies; a third D 2 has has all Kinds of Books for the learned and curious .There are Coffee-houses too, and Taverns of all Sorts, good and bad; beside a Number of People that cry different Fruits about the Streets, and a great Variety of refreshing Liquors. The Mercers, as you pass their Shops, catch you by the Sleeve, and press you to buy some of their Goods. 'Tis all a Place of Liberty and Licence; and you can scarce distinguish the Emperor himself from the meanest of his Subjects. Every body bauh out what he has to fell; some quarrel, others fight; and you have all the Confusion of a fair -about you. The public Officers come and arrest the Quarrellers; carry them before the Judges, in the Courts for Justice ; the Cause is tried in form; the Offender condemned to be bastinadoed; and •the Sentence is put in Execution; and that so effectually, that the Diversion of the Emperor sometimes costs the poor Actor a great deal of real Pain.
The Mystery of Thieving is not forgot, in this general Representation. That noble Employ is assigned to a considerable Number of the cleverest 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 least they :go through the Form of condemning him) to be -stigmatised, bastinadoed, or banished; according to the Heinousness of the Crime, and the Nature of the Theft. If they steal cleverly they have the Laugh on their Side; they are applauded, and the Sufferer is without Redress. However, at the
En End of the Fair, every thing of this Kind is restored to the proper Owner.
This Fair (as I told you before) is kept only for the Entertainment of the Emperor, the Empress, and his Mistresses. 'Tis very unusual 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 all retired to their several Apartments. The Goods which are exposed and sold here, belong chiefly to the Merchants of Pekin 'v -who put them into the Hands of the Eunuchs, to be fold in reality j so that the Bargains here are far from being all pretended ones. In particular, the Emperor himself always buys a great many Things; and you may be sure they ask him enough for them. Several of the Ladies too make their Bargains; and so do some of the Eunuchs. All this trafficking, if there was nothing of real mixt with it, would want a great deal of that earnestness and Life, which now make the Bustle the more active, and the Diversion it gives the greater.
To this Scene of Commerce, sometimes succeeds a very different one; that of Agriculture. There is a Quarter within the fame Inclosure, which is set apart for this Purpose. There you see Fields, Meadows, Farm-houses, and little scattered Cottages; with Oxen, Ploughs, and all the Necessaries for Husoandry. There they sow Wheat, Rice, Pulse, and all other Sorts of Grain. They make their Harvest, and carry in the Produce of their Grounds. In a Word, they here D'3 'imitate. imitate every thing that is done in the Country; and in every thing express a rural Simplicity, and all the plain Manners of a Country Life, as nearly as they possibly can. ... i. '},'..
Doubtless you have read of the famous Feast irr China, called the Feast of the Lanthqrns. It is always celebrated on the 15 th Day of the first Month. There is no Chinefe so poor, but that upon this Day he lights up his Lanthorn. They have them of all Sorts, Figures, Sizes} and Prices. On that Day all China As illuminated^ but the finest Illuminations of all are in the Emperor's Palaces; and particularly in these Pleasure-* grounds, which I have been describing to you. There is not a Chamber, Hall, or Portico, in. them, which has not several of these Lantborn*. hanging from the Ceilings. There are several upon all the Rivulets, Rivers, arid Lakes; made in the Shape of little Boats, which the Water* carry backward and forward. There are some upon all the Hills and Bridges, and almost upon all the Trees. These are wrought mighty prettily, in the Shapes of different Fishes, Birds, and .Beasts; Vases, Fruits/ Flowers'; and Boats" bt different Sorts and Sizes. Some are made of Silk; some of Horn, Glass, Mother of Pearl, and it Thousand other Materials. Some of them are painted; others embroidered; and of very different Prices. Thave seen some of them which could never have been made for a Thoufand Crowns'. It would be an endless Thing to endeavour to give you a particular Account of all their Forms, Ma. terials*