Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

a

in China, and the converts were numbered by hundreds of thousands. The successors of Ricci were well-informed and cultivated men, and to them Europe was long indebted for its chief authentic information as to China. They were well acquainted with mathematical and mechanical science, and made themselves so useful tlrat they rose in high favour at the Court. They diversified their employments by teaching and superintending the casting of cannon, and by constructing water-clocks and fountains. Schaal and Verbiest both cast cannon for the Emperor. The latter cast 130 pieces for Kanghi on one occasion, and afterwards 320 more, solemnly blessing them, and bestowing on every piece the name of saint.

The Jesuits were also possessed of considerable medical skill. They cured the Emperor of an ague with cinchona bark, and in his gratitude he gave them the ground occupied by the Pey-tang. But the next Emperor, Yung-chung, was jealous of the influence of the Jesuits in China, and gave as his ostensible reasons for expelling them that their doctrines were bad, leading to the disturbance of the relations of social life, to the congregating of men and women together, and to the reception of the latter in dark places by priests for purposes of confession. Some of the fathers managed to secrete themselves, while others found means of getting back to their flocks, but for over a hundred years the Christians experienced alternating seasons of favour and persecution, and many native Christians and some foreign teachers suffered martyrdom. During the latter half of the eighteenth century the celebrated Father Amiot was resident here from 1750 till his death in 1794, at the age of seventy-seven. His works on Chinese history and literature are numerous and profound; he was also a' mathematician, which procured him the warm favour of

a the Emperor, a lover of science. In 1826 there was one solitary Jesuit dwelling at the Pey-tang, from whom the Chinese Government bought the estate for 5,000 taels. In 1860 the French made the restoration of the Jesuit buildings an article in the treaty, but the Chinese pleaded that they had paid for the premises; whereupon the French offered to repay the money if the Chinese would restore the church and other buildings. This was, of course, impossible ; so under military pressure the ground was yielded back without payment.

A great many more temples, palaces of the nobility, and other buildings might be enumerated, but the mere names would be uninteresting, and the details would be very monotonous. But let the reader guard against illusions. Whilst Pekin is certainly one of those incomparable cities which, like Venice and Constantinople and Ispahan, resemble

other city upon earth, yet it is by no ineans all grandeur and beauty. The ordinary houses are never more than one storey in height. “In walking about the city," says Mrs. Collins, “objects betokening decay meet the eye on every side: massive archways of wood, finely carved, more or less out of the perpendicular, threaten you with destruction as you pass under them, notwithstanding the huge props by which they are supported. There are magnificent temples, the courtyards paved with marble, but overgrown with weeds, and fine gateways, the entrances to large palaces, with their once gorgeous painting unrenewed for years, and covered with dust. The streets in many places are filled with water, or intersected with what are intended for drains, deep enough to engulf a horse and its rider. A house in process of building is a thing unknown in Pekin; repairs, also, are very uncommon, and decay is the rule.”

[ocr errors]

no

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

A STREET IN PEKIN.

« PreviousContinue »