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Hangchow Settlement Lin Yin Temples

lake, stone, beautiful, fine and past

HANGCHOW SETTLEMENT LIN YIN TEMPLES Arrival at Hangchow Settlement—Mosquitoes—The West Islands—Lin Yin Temples—The Whistling Stone.

At kashing we again got on to a train of boats behind a steam launch, and started at midnight to Hangchow, the neighbourhood of which place was the principal object of this trip. Here we were greeted by the British Consul, who had been advised of my coming by my friends in Shanghai. The Consul ate stands by itself across the Grand Canal from the British Settlement and Japanese Concession. We spent but one night here, and a lively one it was. Our boat swarmed with the largest mosquitoes I have seen, strong and muscular too, judging by the way they bit me through my clothing. I was glad when morning came and we moved off, to get as near as possible to what I felt would be my principal sketching ground.

The West Lake was originally little more than a morass. A past dynasty, who favoured this beautiful part of their country by frequent residence, made of the marsh a beautiful lake, extending from the west wall of the city, some miles along the valley. It is crossed and ' divided up by causeways, and here the character of the Chinese is shown in combining utility and beauty.

These causeways are covered with turf, which form a fine galloping ground, and a narrow paved walk for pedestrians. Many willow trees give shade and add to the sylvan beauty, and every here and there one comes to a quaint high-backed bridge with the ruins of an old gateway on the top.

The ponies go up and down the steps of these bridges as to the manner born , but my friend, to whom riding was a new experience, had grave doubts as to whether he would reach the other side or be thrown into the lake. Dotted about are islands, one group in particular, joined together by zigzag stone bridges, with pavilions, tea-houses, and temples which are at once memorial to some dead notable, a.nd a pleasant resort to-day.

The lake stretches far along, and the hills rise higher on either side, and now and then a ruined pagoda is seen, relics of the time when the Chinese got their pleasure by ascending those high places, and enjoying a bird's-eye view of the country round. Their pictures of both past and

present are drawn as from some such place. An old Chinese proverb says :— " There is Heaven above And Soochow and Hangchow below," and I felt the truth of this when I saw the beauty spread out before me.

The lake scenery is quite different from anything which we have at home. Gaily painted pleasure-boats move slowly across the water, causing a gentle ripple on its calm and peaceful surface.

Let me take my readers past the beds of lotus, with their lovely pink flowers ; let us sail under the bridges, to the opposite side to the beautiful pailau in front of the Imperial Library, with its red-coloured walls ; let us enter this place of seclusion, and look at the fine building with its many thousands of books, which now stands where was once an imperial palace. On past the Red Pagoda, now in ruins, to the head of the lake. Let us wander for a few miles to the Lin Yin Temples, where we shall find archi tecture not to be surpassed anywhere. Here we may see a small stone pagoda, which seems as though it were the model for a larger building, and, farther on, large pillars the sole relics of a once stately entrance to noble temples. Even the remaining temples, though but a fragment of what existed here, are fine examples, and contain some good bronze incense-burners, &c., and a few fine porcelain jars. Let us follow the stream up the valley to the Cave Temples, with their gods cut out of the solid rock. A weird place ! The priest, who seems to be in charge, must have rather cold quarters if he sleeps here, for these, I should think, are partly natural caves, and are very much enlarged by human work ; but, like other caves, they are damp and dark and dismal. The priest, however, seemed cheerful enough as he offered to sell us joss • sticks.

From this place we went on to the Whistling Stone, and my friends tried hard, blowing at the two holes, but were unable to produce the whistle from which the stone takes its name. I preferred looking on, and keeping my breath for a better purpose.

Words fail to describe all the beautiful scenes in this part of China.