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peals forth. The richly-attired priests, swinging their censers, pass in procession through the throng; the congregations shake hands and embrace and kiss; whilst the churches are all one blaze of light, outside as well as in, and cannons and rockets and bells all over the city join in testifying to the general joy.
During the night the ceremony of blessing food proceeds. All the pavement is covered with dishes in long lines, beside which the priests walk, sprinkling holy water. Now begins a period of banquetings and visitings and mutual congratulations, but the most extraordinary feature of the occasion is the universal kissing. Not only do relatives all kiss each other, but slight acquaintances must do the same. The peasants in the streets are seen rubbing their bearded faces together; the employés at public offices kiss each other and their superiors; generals and colonels kiss their subordinate officers and a deputation of the men; captains kiss all the men in their company. The Czar has a busy time of it. He has to kiss his retinue, Court, and attendants, and on parade repeat the same ceremony with his officers and a select body of privates. So with much kissing and much feeding and, in many quarters, too much drinking, Easter passes by.
We have as yet only made passing reference to the magnificent river on which St. Petersburg stands. By its breadth and the enormous volume of clear blue cold water. which it brings down to the Gulf of Finland, the Neva may fairly claim to take rank amongst the noblest rivers of Europe. It is crossed by only one stone bridge, a long structure, remarkable for its beauty of outline, connecting the southern part of the city with Basil Island. There are, however, numerous wooden bridges on piles, and several other floating bridges of boats. Active little steam-boats dart about and give ready communication with some of the more distant parts of the town.
The main stream, or Great Neva, is hemmed in by solid quays and embankments faced with massive blocks of red granite. The Neva is certainly the main artery of St. Petersburg, and great inconvenience results when the ice is too far weakened by the returning sun to be passable, and not yet sufficiently broken up to float away and leave a clear passage for navigation. All intercourse between the opposite portions of the city is for a time necessarily suspended. The breaking up of the ice is anxiously looked for. Ships laden with luxuries are waiting in the Baltic to approach the city. As soon as the ice has cleared away sufficiently to allow a boat to cross, the glad news is announced by a salvo of cannon from the citadel, and whatever may be the hour, the commandant and his attendants hurry to a boat and are rowed across to the Winter Palace on the southern shore. The commandant presents to the Emperor a large goblet filled with icy-cold water from the river, and states that his gondola, which has just crossed the Neva, is the herald of free communication by the river. The Czar quaffs the icy draught to the health of the capital, and returns it filled with silver coins to the commandant. It is said that this cup showed a tendency to grow larger every year, until a fixed sum was decided upon as the price to be paid for this chilly draught.
The chief promenades of St. Petersburg are the streets and quays already mentioned. There is also a pretty Summer Garden which is a favourite lounge. The old-fashioned custom once affected by the sons and daughters of Russian merchants and tradesmen, of
choosing in these gardens on Whit-Monday their partners for life, has fallen into desuetude. The adjoining square is the Russian Champ de Mars in which reviews are held.
The markets of the Russian metropolis afford many characteristic scenes. The principal one is the Gostinnoi-Dovor in the Nevski Prospect, a colossal building for the sale of
almost everything. The Senaya Ploschad, or Hay Market, is the principal provision market, in which foreigners are amused with the frozen animals and birds offered for sale. This market-place was the scene of a striking occurrence in 1831, when the cholera was raging in St. Petersburg and 1,500 deaths were occurring daily. The people got an idea that the foreign doctors, who were numerous in the city, were poisoning them by wholesale. They assembled in crowds on the Senaya market-place, which is surrounded by low cabarets, in which the wildest rumours had been credited by half-drunken moujiks. Terrible shouts
arose and the crowds were brandishing their axes, and the respectable classes were fearful that a massacre was about to take place, when the Emperor Nicholas heard what was passing. He did not hesitate a moment, but jumped into a carriage and drove at once into the thick of the angry crowd. He descended in the midst of the rioters, walked intrepidly along their ranks, scanning them as he passed, then mounting the steps of a church, made but one sign to the people, and in a moment the 14,000 mutineers just now so eager to desolate the city with fire and sword sank on their knees as one man.
In the midst of the profound silence that ensued the Czar's sonorous voice was heard from one end of the market-place to the other. "Wherefore," he cried, "are you revolting against Heaven? Are you not the children of Holy Russia? and do you pretend to imitate the revolutionists of other nations? Brothers, be yourselves once more! It is God who afflicts us. Instead of murmuring against the chastisement, let us acknowledge the power of Him who inflicts it, and supplicate Him to arrest the scourge that is ravaging our country." Then the Emperor knelt down, bowed his forehead to the granite steps, and the repentant crowd, after uniting in his prayers, silently and respectfully withdrew.
But it is time to draw our sketch of the great Northern city to a close. Of its literary, artistic, and scientific institutions we have not spoken, nor of its various arrangements for active benevolence to the unfortunate or afflicted. In these respects it would present few distinctive traits, although in all of them it has attained a highly commendable development. Much that displays itself in the daily life as well as in the institutions of St. Petersburg is still transitional. The new is still struggling with the old. Russia is preparing for a future, but he would be a rash man who would attempt to forecast the outcome of the forces now asserting themselves within her boundaries. If the capital stands firm upon its thousands of piles, in spite of pessimist prophets, it no doubt has a brilliant prospect before it as the capital of the Russia of the future.
Early History-Situation-Cities within the City-On the Walls-Beauty and Decay-THE TARTAR CITY-The Gates-Military Defences-General Appearance-The Observatory-Temple of Letters-Street Scenes-Tribunal of Rites-Temple of Confucius-Life and Teaching of the Philosopher-Temple of the Thousand Lamas-THE YELLOW CITY-The Bell Tower-Temple of Fa-qua-Sea of Roses-The Coal Mountain-A Tragic Story-Buddhist Temples-THE RED, OR PROHIBITED CITY-Imperial Palace-The Grand Place-Elephant Stables-Roman Catholic Mission Stations-The Jesuits-THE CHINESE CITY-Streets and Shops, Trades and Tradesmen, Buyers and Sellers-The Place of Execution-The Altar of Heaven-The Altar of Shinnung, Founder of Agriculture-Chinese Beggars-Pekin after Dark-Marriages and Funerals-Environs of Pekin-European Cemeteries-Altars, Temples, and Palaces-The Great Wall of China-Canal System.
CCORDING to Chinese authorities, a city, or
town of some sort, has existed for nearly three thousand years at or near the site of the present capital of China. We learn from Marco Polo that the city was large and splendid in the thirteenth century, and since his day adventurous travellers and missionaries transmitted to Europe from time to time some meagre and imperfect descriptions of the mysterious capital. But the Western world knew very little for certain of Pekin until, in 1860, the victorious troops of England and France marched through the An-ting Gate, and dictated to Prince Kung, the representative of the Emperor, the terms of peace which inaugurated a new era in the foreign relations of the Chinese Empire.
Nothing is really known of the origin and early history of Pekin. It was existing, under the name of Yew-chan, during the first ten centuries of the Christian
era, and probably long before. In 1111 A.D., Wan-wang, of the Chan dynasty, made his brother Prince of Yen. This prince built himself a city, which he called Yen-king, on a site now partly occupied by the western portion of the Chinese city. But in 1200 a.D. the great chief of the Mongol Tartars, Genghis Khan, swept down upon China, and carried all before him. His grandson, Kublai Khan, destroyed Yen-king, and built instead the city of King-ching, known to mediæval geographers as Cambalu, the capital of Cathay. This was the city which Marco Polo saw in its youthful prime, and of which he gave such wonderful descriptions to his incredulous fellow-citizens. The Mongol dynasty reigned here till 1368 A.D., when its power was crushed by the Chinese, led on to revolt and victory by the son of a labourer, Choo Yuen Chang, who, under the name of Hung-woo, became the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty. Pekin for awhile sank to the rank of a provincial town, until the third Ming Emperor, Yung-lo, having extended his dominion over Cochin-China, Tonquin, and Tartary, made this city the seat of his Court and the capital of his vast empire. In 1544 the Emperor Kia-tsing walled in the extensive Chinese suburb which had sprung up to the south of the Tartar city, and since that day the cities which (as we shall presently explain) make up Pekin have retained their present dimensions without change. The ornamental marble-work that once formed part of the ancient capital of the Princes of Yen is seen mingled amongst the foundation-stones of the existing walls.
During the reign of the last Ming Emperor, Tsung-Ching, in the year 1612, Pekin was surrendered by treachery to the victorious rebel, Le Tsze Ching. The Emperor committed suicide. The Chinese general commanding on the adjacent frontier invited the Manchoo Tartars to aid him in ejecting the rebels from the Imperial city. The Manchoos readily agreed, defeated the rebel army sent to meet them, and marched on Pekin. At the news of their approach, Le set fire to the Imperial Palace and evacuated the city, but was overtaken, and his forces completely routed. While the Chinese were still rejoicing at the suppression of the rebellion they found that a fresh difficulty had arisen. The victorious Tartars did not see any necessity for going back to Manchooria. Though informed that their services were no longer required, and invited to retire, they refused to leave Pekin, and proceeded to elect Shun-che, a son of their own sovereign, Emperor of China. Shunche was the first monarch of the Ta-tsing dynasty, that still rules the land. For a time the adherents of the Ming dynasty made strenuous efforts to eject the invaders, but the new-comers gradually subdued the whole empire, and the shaven head with the pigtail, the symbol of Tartar sovereignty, became universally adopted. Shun-che divided the northern city of Pekin amongst his Tartar chieftains, and caused all Chinese to remove to the southern city; but in process of time this exclusiveness became less rigorously insisted on, and now in both cities, Chinese, Manchoos, and descendants of the Mongols are all found.
Pekin is situated in the midst of a vast alluvial plain, formed by deposits of the Yellow River, and is eighty-five miles north-west of the Gulf of Pechili, and nearly forty miles from the nearest point of the Great Wall, originally built to keep out of China the Tartars, who now form the ruling caste in the empire. There are two distinct cities, each with its own walls and fortifications. The southern, or Chinese City, called Wai-ching, is of an oblong shape, covering fifteen square miles. Immediately north of it, and connected