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Peking Temple of Heaven

journey, jehol, marble, imperial and bridge

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PEKING TEMPLE OF HEAVEN Disappointment—Forbidden to Paint in Jehol Palace—Journey Abandoned—I go to the Temple of Heaven—Entrance, and Through the Parks—The Temple of the New Year—The Emperor's Robing Temple—The Sacrificial Altar— Peaceful Work.

The night before the day appointed for our start, I had a visit from a member of the Legation staff, bearing a passport for the journey to Jehol ; but with it the news that the permission to sketch within the palace precincts was refused. My friends of the Legation suggested that if I went to Jehol I should probably on the spot be able to arrange matters. But this seemed to my Western mind too slight a chance to depend on ; I did not feel that it was hopeful enough for me to make an arduous journey, seeing that the storms had made rivers unfordable, and the roads very bad, and a long roundabout route would have to be taken. After much discussion I reluctantly determined to abandon this journey. I asked Mr. Drysdale to write to me from Jehol and tell me anything he could.

But what annoyed me still more was that this refusal made it also apparently hopeless to attempt to get within the Imperial Palaces in or near Peking. " Red tape " exists in China, as in our own country ; and during the next few weeks I gave much thought as to how I was to untie that piece of red tape which kept a harmless artist from sketching, and showing to those at home, his ideas of the beauties of Chinese Imperial homes. I felt that to show them my intentions were solely artistic was my only way. Meantime I had Peking to levy for subjects for my pencil and brush, and a rich field it is ; none finer have I seen ; and at this time of the year, October, the weather is the most pleasant and reliable.

One of the first notable places I determined to paint was the Temple of Heaven. The entrance to this place is quite easy for a European—it simply means a ten-cent payment at each of the gates. The ordinary tourist who is going to see the many temples, all appertaining to the Temple of Heaven, has many payments to make.

The entrance to the Temple of Heaven is about two miles out in the Chinese city. I made the journey in rickshas, one for myself and one for my boy—a new boy, by the way, lent to me for the time by one of my friends in Tientsin. The boy carried most of my working materials. Leaving the hotel we crossed the canal, passed the American Legation, and skirting the great entrance to the Imperial Palaces, went out under the imposing Chien Men on to and over the beautiful marble bridge, through a great pailau, and away out to the long, straight, and wide road lined on either side by stalls and booths of all kinds, the shops behind these. The first part of this road is new macadam and good, but some distance out one comes to another marble bridge of very pretty design. This we do not cross, but went to one side and over a commonplace timber bridge, the marble bridge being kept for Imperial use. Then we began to bump along the old paved road. A little of this goes a long way ; but soon we turned off to the left, and reached the outer gate in the wall surrounding the grounds, where the greatest of China's great temples is placed.

Inside the gate, having duly paid my ten cents (about twopence), I found myself in what was like a large English park, with stretches of grass and great trees, and groups of black cattle which are bred and kept here for sacrificial purposes ; they are rather like " Black Angus " cattle. On through this park we sped in our rickshas till we reached another high wall, with the usual three gates, and from here we had to walk.

Another ten cents, and we enter, by a small side gate, more park land ; but we see signs of buildings, and soon come to another wall with more gates ; ten cents again, and we enter, to find ourselves in full view of the Temple of the Year. This great building is circular and stands high, with terraces and balustrades of marble, all carved and sculptured with designs of dragons, fish, and all the mythical creatures in which these mystical people delight.

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