Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

a

a

.

[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]

ments to Miss Webster, and sends a book

From The London Quarterly Review. in which her name and address were found A VISIT TO THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN AT written. On the 6th iostant, only three

PEKING, days before the end of the war, the regi. One of my chief objects in visiting Pe. ment under bis command formed part of king was, if possible, to see with my own a column thrown forward to Farmville by eyes the far.famed Temple of Heaven, General Ord, with the intention of ob- where, at mid-winter and mid-summer, structing Lee's advance until the main with the star-lit midnight heavens for sole body of the army of the James could come canopy, the emperor of China, as the highup. The loss of life which the success of priest of his people, and escorted by all the movement involved was very great, the great nobles of the empire, offers aod among those who perished was Cap. most solemn worship to Heaven only. tain Seymour, who had joined the regi- Though the great park which is set ment but a few months before and greatly apart for this purpose is most strictly distinguished himself, having been pro. guarded, the authorities being exceedingly moted on the field. He fought like a hero jealous of the admission of foreigners to and died a soldier's death. No letters or its hallowed precincts, I was fully deterpapers of any kind were on his person, mined, if possible, to be one of the few and do survivors in the command knew of who overcome the scruples of the attendhis home or friends; but the little book ants ! was found in his breast-pocket, and Colo- By singular good fortune I not only in. del R has deemed it proper to forward duced Dr. Edkins, of the London Mission it as stated.

(the great authority on autiquarian sub- . Appomattox Court House, Virginia:

jects), to be my escort, but, by deciding April 12th, 1865."

to make the grand effort on the very morn. ing after arriving in Peking, it happened

that we fixed on the very day when, as a I, the present scribe, have had singular mark of especial favor to the ex-president associations with the people and scenes of the United States, the Tartar officials of which I have just written. I was in bad agreed to allow General U. S. Grant China when the man I have called " Moul. and his suite to visit the temple. too" went on board the French steamer ; The attendants in charge of this jeal. indeed he came to my house before dio- ously guarded spot kocw only that on that ner to say good-bye. “Seymour” dined day many barbarians were to be admitted with me that same night and took his to the sacred preciocts, so when departure from my table. When I last reached the gate, about three hours before saw the lady I have called Miss Webster, the American party, we were admitted she was with her husband at a presiden- without any question or difficulty whattial reception in Washington, and every ever, and were able to go leisurely over one was asking who she was. I never the grounds, and every corner of the sa. thought of writing this story until a few cred buildings, concerning which, and all mooths ago, and then only because it ceremonies connected with them, Dr. Edmade such an impression on a small party kins is a mine of information. of clever men at the hospitable Union When the subject was first mooted on Club at San Francisco. One was the the night of my arrival, several of the merchant, now white-headed, in whose home party resolved to share the advenoffice“ Moulton” had been, and part of ture, and face whatever difficulties it might the narrative was new to him.

involve in the way of scrambling over “ Poor fellow,” said be; “I did not dilapidated walls and shirking or brib. want him to go to China, and it was hard ing officials, for truly of this terrestrial enough that he should die just as good heaven it may be said that it suffereth times were coming." This brought out violence, for few except the violent who other comments on my tale. The last take it by force ever enter within its gates, was made by a soldier-like man, with a So carts were ordered to be ready at peep gray moustache and an empty sleeve. of day, and we were all astir soon after

There is no poetical justice in that three A.M. The early dawn was most sequence of events,” said he. “ Your bad lovely, clear and comparatively cool; that man came off best of all, for he died an is, the thermometer fell to about 800 from honorable death, fighting for his country, the noonday temperature of 106° in the and there is no chance to do that nowa. shade. days. But, all the same, it is a very curi- To make you understand this morning's ous story.”

expedition, 1 must try to sketch a bird's.

we

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

eye view of the Great City, which covers a cian – and of their various subordinate space of about sixteen square miles. To sects, are scattered about both cities, each begin with, the Tartar City and Chinese inclosed by its owo high wall, so as effecCity are totally distinct, the former being tually to prevent its adding any feature to a great square city, and the latter forming the appearance of the city. a long oblong immediately to the south. But here at Peking there are several Each city is inclosed by a mighty wall, temples, each unique of its kind, where but the south wall of the Tartar City forms the emperor, assuming the character of the north wall of the Chinese Ciry; the high-priest, himself offers to the rulers of two together form twenty-five miles of this the universe the worship of his people. masonry for giants! The Tartar City has Of these exceptional temples, the most pine gates: two to the north, two to the important are the Temple of Heaven and east, two to the west, three to the south. the Temple of Agriculture, each occupyThese three last, consequently, open into ing a large walled enclosure within the the Chinese town which has seven gates walls of the Chinese City. The altar to of its own besides — not gates such as we the Earth lies on the north side of the understand in Britain, but stupendous Tartar City. That to the Sun also lies masses of masonry, like some fine old outside the walls, in a shady grove, on the border keep greatly magnified.

north-east side of the Tartar City, near the Within the Tartar City lies another great gate of the Rising Sun, and that of the walled square. This is the Imperial City Mood outside the western gate. At each in the heart of which, as a jewel in its set of these, and also at the Imperial Temple ting, another great square district is in. of Ancestors, the emperor in person, at. closed within very high pale-pink walls. tended by all his nobles, must at stated

This inner space is the Forbidden City seasons offer most solemn sacrifice and - in other words, the private grounds prayer on behalf of his people. And truly around the palace – wherein, guarded it would be difficult to conceive any naeven from the reverential gaze of his peo- tional act of worship more imposing than ple, dwells the Imperial Son of Heaven. the whole ceremonial attending the ImpeTo this palace the city owes its name Pe. rial ministrations, which seems to recall king (or, as the Chinese pronounce it, Pai- the patriarchal times of Melchizedek, king Ching, meaning literally North Palace; and high-priest. just as Nanking was the Southern Palace). This is most especially true of the ser

Within these sacred precincts no for. vices at the Temple of Heaven, where, eigners have ever been allowed to set prostrate on an elevated and roofless platfoot, though they may gaze from beyond form of pure white marble, the emperor a wide canal at the very ornamental arch. kneels in lowliest adoration of Shang.te, ways, and the double and triple curved the Superior Lord of Heaven, his courtiers rooss of many buildings rising above the and nobles kneeling reverently around on masses of cool, dark foliage. Each of lower terraces of the same platform (or these archways and buildings is roofed rather marble mound) — an open-air temwith brilliant golden-yellow tiles of porce- ple whose only roof is the starry canopy lain, which are positively dazzling in the of the midnight heavens. sunlight. The tall buildings on the oppo. In none of these temples is there any site side of the canal are similarly rooted, image to suggest idolatry, the celestial and denoting that they, too, are specially Im- terrestrial powers being alike represented perial property, yellow being emphatically only by simple wooden tablets, placed upihe Imperial color, the use of which is right in stands of carved and gilded wood, prohibited to all save Buddhist priests, precisely similar to those which bear the who not only wear the yellow robes, but names of the honored dead in every anare privileged to roof their temples with cestral hall throughout the empire. lo the yellow tiles, stamped with the Imperial fact, the one “heathenish” touch in this Dragon — I speak especially of the Lama very grand worship of the Lord of Heaven temples.

is that the tablets of the deceased emperWithin the Tartar City immediately to ors are ranged on either side of the tablet the south of the Imperial City lies the symbolizing Shang-te, the Supreme, and district assigned to the tributary nations that to them is rendered homage and sac. and foreign legations, while the London rifice only secondary to his own. Mission station lies nearer to the south- But the true meaning of this seemed to east gate. Various temples of the three be, that the offerings are not intended as religions which we have met all over atonement for sin, but as a spiritual ban. China – Buddhist, Taouist, and Confu- quet to which it is necessary to invite other

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

guests to do honor to the principal guest, events as the accession of a new emperor and, as the deceased emperors are held in or some extraordinary national event, such honor as to rank above all other there are three set days in the year spirits in the hierarchy of heaven, it fol. when these usually deserted grounds are lows that they are the only guests who thronged by all the nobles of the land – can be invited to share this banquet. namely, the summer and winter solstice,

The reigning emperor, while thus ador- when the great religious solemnities are ing the unseen powers with lowliest hu- performed at midnight at the roofless mility, nevertheless fills the position of southern altar, and the festival which one who is the earthly vicegerent of marks the begioning of spring, when the Shang-te, and who at the moment of death sacrifices are offered, at the earliest will mount the Great Dragon, which will glimpse of dawn, at the northern altar, on bear him to take his place in that worship- which is erected a perfectly circular woodful company.

en temple, in three stories, forming a sort Well, to return to our expedition that of telescopic pagoda, of which each story lovely early morning. Our route lay in a is smaller than the one below it, and is perfectly straight line along a broad street roofed with the loveliest bright blue en(so wide that an extemporary rag-fair of caustic tiles, the topmost roof rising to a booths occupies the centre all the way!) tall peak. This temple is called the Che. till we came to the Ha ta-mun, the south- nien-tien, Temple of Prayers for a Fruiteast gate, and so passed into the Chinese ful Year, which name is inscribed on a City, and through densely crowded streets, large tablet beneath the eaves of the toptill we reached such countrified suburbs most roof. that it was difficult to believe that we were The name of north and south altar is still within the walls of the city. When bere applied to two immense circular platwe had almost reached the central south forms or billocks (Yuen-Kew or round gate we came to a large open space with hillock, is the name of the southern altar) great walled enclosures on either side. formed by three terraces of beautifully That to the west is the Sian-pun-tian, or sculptured white marble piled one above the Temple of Agriculture. That to the the other. east is the park of Tian-Tian, or the Tem- On each occasion the emperor leaves ple of Heaven. These high red walls are his palace at sunset, in a car drawn by an roofed with yellow china tiles, each of elephant (I only hear of the existence of which ends in a circular tablet bearing the two elephants in China),* and escorted by Imperial dragon.

a train of about two thousand courtiers and There is nothing imposing about the attendants. A perfectly straight street approach - rather the contrary; we halted runs from his palace to the gate of the at a dilapidated gateway, where, as I be temple, passing through the Chien.mun, fore said, instead of slamming the door in which is the central south gate of the Tar. our faces and bargaining for much coin tar City, never opened on any other occa. (which is the usual maoner of receiving sion save these, or for any person except visitors at this Celestial Temple), the at. the emperor or one of the Imperial tablets. tendants passed us in with the utmost For that matter, it is not only in Peking courtesy, and we found ourselves in a that there is an objection to opening the large grassy park shaded by fine trees. south gate of a city. In times of drought, This is a walled park, three iniles in ciro especially, the south gate is kept closed, cumference, forming the pleasant pastures because the Chinese suppose that as the wherein the bullocks, sheep, and other an. sun's rays reach them from the south, so imals destined for sacrifice graze till their may the Fire God enter thence, and, espe. last hour draws near, without a thought of the slaughter house which lies hidden in a state festivals. The emperor Hien-fung owned thirty

* Elephants were imported solely to grace certain grove at the north-east corner. I found it eight elephants, but apparently the very variable climate difficult to realize that this cool, green, only one survived and it became necessary to import

does not suit them, for at the time of his death in 1861 shady park was actually within the walls new ones. Of those only two now survive. A third of a city where human beings cluster in died two years ago, and his body was thrown into the throngs as deose as bees on a swarming summer sun, poisoning the atmosphere for weeks!

city moat, there to putrefy at leisure beneath the midday! The first building we come to is Pieces of its thick hide were preserved for sale to perthe Hall of Fasting, in which the em.

sons visiting the Imperial elephant stables. These are

situated near the south wall of the Tartar City, and peror spends some hours in silence and have accommodation for forty-eight elephants, each in solitude, in preparation of spirit ere as- a separate stable, solidly built with walls six feet thick.

These cover a large extent of ground, where the elesuming his office as high-priest. Be- phants (when there are any) are exercised. The whole sides occasional services” marking such | is, however, in a very neglected coadition.

cially in the burning summer, may pro- One crowning point of good fortune las duce a conflagration which, in a town in the fact that this temple itself, which is chiefly built of wood, would be a matter usually so rigidly closed as to defy all too serious to risk.

bribery, to-day opened wide its portals, so On reaching the temple grounds, the we were able to examine the interior at emperor proceeds first to inspect all the our leisure. There is no ceiling, so you animals for sacrifice which are stabled in look right up into the pointed roof, the the outer park. He then retires to the interior of which is richly gilded. The Penitential Hall, where he is left alone, highest roof is supported by four very tall and, to assist his meditations, a small cop-round pillars, the second roof rests on per image of a Taouist priest, which had twelve medium columos, and the lowest been carried before him in the procession, roof on twelve shorter ones, all of wood, is placed on his right hand. The image and elaborately colored and gilded. On bears in one hand a tablet on which is the north side, facing the door, is an altar inscribed “Fast for three days," while the on which stands the simple wooden tablet other hand, with three fingers raised to the inscribed with the name of Shang.te, the lips, inculcates silence — the idea being supreme lord and master of heaven and that, unless the mind is filled with holy earth and all things. On either side are thoughts, the religious spirits will not al. ranged altars bearing the tablets of the tend the sacrifice. This image, which is eight deceased emperors, each upheld by only fifteen inches in height, was cast in a handsomely carved wooden stand reprethe year A.D. 1380, by order of Choo-tai. senting dragons. Except that these are tsoo, the founder of the Ming dynasty, in colored scarlet and gold, there is nothing order to remind him of the duty of solemn to relieve the severe simplicity of this inmeditation as a preparation for his priestly terior, which is precisely on the principle duties.

of all ancestral temples. When the appointed hour arrives, the Standing on the marble platform at the emperor proceeds to a robing tent, where door of the temple, we looked due south he washes his hands ceremonially aod along the paved road leading to the great assumes the sacrificial robes. Then, es south altar, which lies at a considerable corted by two hundred and thirty-four distance. Half-way between the two there musicians robed in heaven's blue, and an is another circular tower with a splendid equal number of dancers, who perform single.peaked roof of the same intensely slow and solemn religious dances, and rich blue tiles. It is surrounded by a cir. followed by all his princes and nobles, the cular wall of a pink-salmon color, roofed imperial high-priest passes on to the altars with lovely pale.green dragon-tiles, and of sacrifice.

its three great gateways have bandsome To these we now made our way, and curved roofs of the brightest yellow tiles presently came to another wall, completely edged with a row of the brightest green enclosing the sacred buildings. Here also dragon-tiles. All the coloring has special we found an open gate, and passed in un- symbolic signification. Blue roofs indichidden. We were now on the green cate buildings for the worship of Shang-te turf, and before us towered the triple roof only, yellow or browo have reference to of the three-storied temple on the great earth, while green, combining both, is northern altar — three roofs rising one deemed suitable for such buildings as the above the other pyramidally, and com. Hall of Fasting aod the buildings in posed of brilliant Albert-blue tiles, dazo which the musicians practise their choral zlingly bright in the early sunlight. But anthems. this also is enclosed by a square wall, At a considerable distance beyond the colored pale pink, and roofed with tiles of central blue-roofed building lies the great a lovely aqua-marine color, about the tiot triple terrace of white marble, which is of a thrush's egg.

the south altar, generally distinguished as Here again the door was open, and we the Altar of Heaven, the approach to passed in and found ourselves on a square which is beautified by two sets of three platform at the base of the great circular white marble Pai-lows — i.e., the squaretriple platform of white marble on which shaped triumphal arch — facing each of stands the aforesaid temple. Eight triple the four sets of stairs. flights of nine steps each lead to ihe Before proceeding thither we turned upper platforın. These somehow repre- aside into the dense grove of very large sent a mystic figure known as the eight old cypress-trees which forms a broad belt diagrams, the symbolism of which none of dark.green foliage on either side of this but a born Chinaman can fully grasp ! long roadway and of these altars. They are noble old trees, and their cool, deep Here four triple flights of nine steps shade was doubly delightful as the slant. each, instead of eight as at the north altar, ing rays of the morning sun were already lead to the summit. Each terrace is surstriking with extreme heat.

rounded by a very handsome balustrade, The objects of special interest which we sought in the depths of this arbor-vitæ pire-not a sacrifice to the sun however, but to watergrove were six great unhewn stone boul. demons, as a form of exorcism. It occurs in any disders which lie beneath one of the old trees, or indeed wherever the land has been afflicted with any

trict where many persons have been recently drowned, and are said to guard the fortunes of the serious epidemic, which may possibly have been caused present Imperial dynasty. Strange how by the malice of water-spirits. Then, just as we read

of the Persian Magi at the bidding of King Xerxes widespread are the survivals of primitive sacrificing white horses on the banks of the river Strystone-worship! Britain too has her king. mon, as an offering to the river on behalf of the Persian making stone, which is securely housed of a stream, a lake, or a canal, and there solemnly de

host, so do the Chinese bring a white horse to the brink beneath the coronation chair in her Tem- capitate it, burying its head below low-water mark, but ple of Heaven, commonly called West- reserving its carcase for food. The sacrificial butcher

a specially appointed layman, but both Buddhist and minster Abbey-a rude, water-worn stone Taouist priests take part in the religious ceremonial. which holds its time-honored place in the Sometimes a horse's head sculptured in stone may be stateliest ceremonial of the British em offering. Archdeacon Grey has had the good fortune

observed on the banks of a stream, symbolizing this pire !

to be present on two occasions when this remarkable A little farther on we came to a spring hood of Canton. The first time was at a village where

sacrifice has been offered in the immediate neighborof deliciously cool water; then, continuing several persons had been drowned, and it was supposed our walk through grassy glades beneath that the spirits of the neglected dead were in league

with the water-demons. So preparations were made the old cypresses and laburnum-trees, we for a very grand funeral service, which was held in a passed a store-house in which are kept large cemetery where multitudes of friendless poor were the musical instruments, the banners, and buried. Many altars were erected, at each of which

several priests of Taou chanted monotonous prayers tbe sacred triple umbrellas which figure in from morning till night, while all the women of the disa the state ceremonies. Then, finding a frict kept up an incessant wailing. This was continued

for three days and three nights. gateway which admitted us within another

Amongst the offerings brought for the use of the square piok wall roofed with yellow and neglected souls in the spirit-world were upwards of two edged with green tiles, we found ourselves hundred full-sized armchairs of bamboo wicker-work,

and life-sized pasteboard figures of attendants, besides standing at the base of the magnificent a multitude of other objects of which the etherealized white marble circular triple platforms, the essence was supposed to be valuable to the pauper summit of which is the Altar of Heaven, bonfire, and thus were fitted for the use of spirits,

All these were heaped together to form one vast and here it is that the grand midnight About forty thousand persons were present, and all services are held at mid-summer and mid- enjoyed a very gay religious fair, with very fine dramatic

representations in the temporary theatre, and brilliant winter.

processions of dragon-boats decorated with gorgeous Here (as at the great north altar), in a

The decapitation of a white horse was the crowning corner of the outer square wall at the base feature of the holy fair. of the circular terraces, are the furnace of On the second occasion the devoted white horse was

crowned with flowers, and bore on its back a wallet green porcelain (nine feet high by seven

containing thousands of paper charms folded in the wide) and eight great cup-shaped braziers form of a triangle, each bearing the name and seal of a of ornamental cast-iron. These are the goddess. These were purchased by the villagers to be altars of burnt-offering in which the vari. spirits. Therhorse was led to the brink of the river,

placed in their homes, as a sure defence against evil ous sacrifices are burnt - the green por. when an exorcist, dressed up to look most ferocious, celain furnace consuming the bullock, the demons who were supposed to be moving to and fro on

came and performed a wild dance, to terrify the watersilks, the jade, the incense, and other the stream. Then, the legs of the horse having been things offered to Shang.te, while the eight tied together, it was thrown to the ground and decapiiron braziers consume the sacrifices to jar, and a portion carried 10 the temple of the aforesaid

tated. Its blood was received in a large earthenware deceased emperors.

The hair and skins goddess, when all the villagers rushed tumultuously to of the beasts offered are buried in pits a had already purchased.

secure a sprinkling of blood on the charms which they little farther off. The animals sacrificed The rest of the blood was mixed with sand, and, with may be of all sorts which are used for the head and legs, was placed in a boat; beside these

portions of the sacrifice was laid a young man, bound human food, which in China is a tolerably hand and foot, with his face, hands, and feet painted comprehensive list, including, besides black, He represented the conquered water-devils! sheep and cattle, hares, deer, and pigs. gilded boats, in which were priests, both Buddhist and

This boat headed a long procession of richiy carved and lo earliest times horses were included

Taouist, and village warriors discharging matchlocks to a survival of the primitive great horse. terrify the water-devils, while the men in the first boat sacrifice – but they are now omitted, not sprinkle the waters as they advance with blood-stained being legitimate food for the banquet.* On reaching the village boundaries, the young man

was unbound, and leaping into the stream, swam ashore

amid a salvo of musketry. The horse's head was finally A very remarkable survival of the horse-sacrifice placed in an earthenware jar, and buried in the bed of is still occasionally practised in various parts of the em- the river,

banners of most costly silk.

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »