CONFUCIAN TEMPLE AND HALL OF CLASSICS The " Stone Drums "—" The Spirits' Staircase "—The Hall of the Classics—The Porcelain Pailau—The Yellow Temple.
Within a stone's throw of the Lama Temple is that of Confucius, and adjoining it The Hall of the Classics. Both are now almost silent memories of the past. A few priests are to be seen at the first, which is much like other temples to the great teacher, whose word is law even now after more than two thousand years. In the courtyard are very fine old cypress trees, over a thousand years old, I was told. Here also are the ten " stone drums," in two rows of five stones in each row, said to be of unknown antiquity.
A thing to marvel over and admire is the extraordinarily beautiful " spirits' staircase " of white marble, with steps on either side of a great sculptured slab of marble, covered with a mass of beautiful carving—the dragon, of course, predominant.
The Hall of the Classics is still more quiet and neglected ; one has to bang loudly on the gates to make a dilatory attendant open them and receive his fee, and allow you to enter. Weed-grown and silent indeed is this Rlace, and perhaps it is this very silence, so rare in China, which made me think it such a delight ful place. Here I could sit for hours with not a soul to bother me ; and after the Lama Temple, with its crowds of Lamas and others always round me, this peace was very grateful. The hall itself is a fine building, raised on marble terraces and steps, with an old marble-balus traded pond all round, lotus-grown and still, which is crossed by marble bridges. The woodwork of the windows is very good and also the great pillars sup porting the double-eaved roof, the whole surmounted by a great gilt ball, the gold of which still glitters brightly in the sun.
All round are the hundreds of stone tablets on which is engraved the text of the Nine Classics. But a few yards inside the entrance-gate is a large porcelain pailau, the three arches of which are lined with white marble ; and to the green and yellow of the upper part it is covered with ornate roofs of yellow tiles, and is altogether a very gorgeous piece of work, somewhat similar to the one by the Lotus Lake in the Forbidden City.
Another fine group of buildings is the Yellow Temple, about two miles outside the northern wall. At the time of my visit, October 19o8, the Dalai Lama the pope of Lamaism and nominal ruler of Tibet—was lodged here, so that only part of the buildings could be seen, as his privacy was very strictly observed ; but we visited the white - marble monument erected by the Emperor Chien-lung over the clothes of the Teshu Lama who, while on a mission to Peking, died of smallpox, his body being sent back to Tibet. This is a very ornate
building, with a somewhat semi-Indian character, rather like one built by the same Emperor at the Summer Palace. It is surrounded by very fine fir trees, and seems to attract many visitors, native and foreign. I was, however, more attracted to the eastern portion of this temple—much damaged in the Boxer troubles, but grand in its barbaric splendour of marble staircases and wide terraces, leading to the great halls, placed in spacious courtyards ; the gorgeous yellow roofs having wonderful turned-up eaves that showed the timber-work beneath.
I saw a procession of Lama priests, in yellow vestments, coming out of one temple, quietly walking along the paved courtyard, and then ascending the grand staircase and disappearing into the great hall ; whence shortly after issued sounds of worship, a melancholy chant, then the beat of a drum and other weird sounds.
The Yellow Temple, where the Dalai Lama and his followers were lodged, was built as a lodging for the emissaries from Tibet when on missions from Tibet ; and in the outer portion of the eastern end were camped many of his followers. What wonderfully picturesque figures they are ! There they were, mingled among their ponies, tents, and booths, Chinese hawkers from Peking bargaining with, them ; the Tibetans eager to buy the various Chinese and Western commodities, the Chinese as eager to get the many little ornaments and curios which the Tibetans carried for sale or wore as ornaments. I succeeded in getting some strings of turquoise beads of beautiful colour.
There were also Mongolian horse-dealers, eager to offer us ponies, which looked sound though rough little animals.
During the stay of the Dalai Lama here, great numbers of Mongols came in to pay their reverence to him, and on the plain between the temple and the city many of them were to be seen, men and women, riding at great speed ; splendid riders they are, weird figures to meet. The women wear quantities of beads, and quaintly worked silver ornaments on their heads. At this time I often met a squad of these wild-looking people in the streets of the city ; they rode along noisily and seemed to treat the quiet citizens with contempt, and the citizens did not seem over anxious to have much to do with them.