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View from the Drum Tower

palace, city, peking, bell and roofs

VIEW FROM THE DRUM TOWER One of the most comprehensive views of the Tartar City of Peking is obtained from the old Drum Tower, standing north of Coal Hill and the Winter Palace, and quite close to the beautiful Bell Tower. Entrance is obtained by a low door, leading to a long straight stone staircase, dark as night ; to go up this staircase one should have a candle or torch. Climbing it, and reaching the chamber above, one is well rewarded. From the balcony, on all sides, can be seen the city stretching out. To the north, past the Bell Tower and over a mass of roofs, can be seen the northern walls, and, beyond, the undulating land stretching away to the Yellow Temple. To the east are more houses, with the higher roofs of temples appearing among them. To the west, far off, are seen the western hills ; and to the south, at one's feet, is the long straight street leading up to one of the gates of the Imperial City. Behind that rises " Coal " or " Prospect " Hill, crowded with pavilions. Rising out of the trees to the right is the Dagoba, within the Winter Palace, and nearer one can see gleaming water connecting with the Lotus Lake, and making, by canal, a waterway between this and the Summer Palace fifteen miles away. To the left are the yellow roofs of 172 the Winter Palace itself. Away beyond all this you can see the farther walls, with towering Chien-Men and other gateways, and even the far woodlands in which are the Temples of Heaven and of Agriculture. Peking in all its beauty of building and woodland and mystery is at our feet, and it would be hard to find a fairer pros pect. One wants to look only at what is there, and the beauty of it, and try to forget all the past horrors which have been perpetrated here.

Looking over this, the Forbidden City, one knows little of all that is enacted under those hiding roofs and walls. From this projecting terrace (which is made by the upper section of this tower being smaller, by so much, than the lower half) I made my drawing, which may give some idea of the place. The custodian did

not at first seem quite sure about allowing me to work here, but I knew what this meant and went on with the work. At the end of my first sitting he demanded extra payment ; I treated him to a few severe words of English and to very little extra money, and found him much more civil on my next visit. At this time I also carried on my picture of the Bell Tower, which was done just outside the fencing of the Drum Tower.

Here I was viewed with suspicion by the police. The constable—if one can call a Chinese policeman by that name—discussed the matter with my boy, who told me he wanted my card, which I handed out. Visiting cards are a most useful article in China, and seem to cover many doubts. Soon this man brought a superior officer, who examined me and my work with great care, and asked many questions of the boy—where I stayed, how long I had been in Peking, &c. There was a change in the officials when I next appeared at this place, for I had been told that an edict in my favour had been issued by the Empress Dowager, admitting me to the Summer Palace. I found this had been published in the native papers, and my boy got to know of it and immediately demanded that his master should be respect fully treated. So when I reached the Drum Tower, the attendant, instead of barring the way till he got his fee, threw open the door and bowed me in, though he took the fee when I offered it. When I went down to work at the Bell Tower, the police saluted and sent the crowd off helter-skelter. My boy smiled serenely at me, as much as to say he knew how to manage things. It was quite remarkable how henceforth, wherever I worked in Peking, the police cared for me and were most helpful and respectful.