« السابقةمتابعة »
spicuous in the city? Start not, reader, when you are told that they are pawnbrokers' warehouses ! What a roaring trade must be that of mine uncle' in Canton! There would seem to be room enough in those buildings to deposit in pawn the clothes of all Canton.
And, indeed, such is almost the case. Every Chinaman above the poorest rank supplies himself with a stock of warm clothes, often furs, to be worn in the winter. When cold weather comes on, instead of lighting a fire he puts on one of his winter suits; as the weather grows colder, he puts on another; and so on, till by mid-winter he is enveloped in a series of layers of clothes. At the return of spring he commences a cautious and gradual process of ‘peeling ; ' and as a rule, being a man of little spare capital, he prefers to put his stock of clothes, when peeled off, in pledge, to keeping them through the summer. Hence the origin and dimensions, in Canton, of the buildings belonging to the fraternity of the three golden balls.
To retrace our steps from this digression, let us turn from the city and look at the other half of the view before us—that of the river. If the majority of the Cantonese live on land, there is at all events a large minority who live on the water. The river, where it runs past the city is covered with a thick swarm of junks and boats of a hundred different sizes and shapes. Indeed, the catalogue of the crafts that may be seen in one glance on the Canton river would match in length the celebrated Homeric catalogue of the Grecian fleet. Anchored nearly in midstream, just below the city, are the huge and unwieldlylooking merchant-junks, which make their yearly voyage to Singapore or to Shanghae, arranging their times of starting so as to have the monsoon in their favour both in going and returning. Higher up the river, each arranged in their respective stations, are the swift passenger-boats
which ply regulary between Canton, Hongkong, and Macao; the slower vessels of a similar character whose routes lie up the river into the interior of the province among a network of canals; and the long and heavy saltjunks, which carry the yearly tribute of that article northwards through the Grand Canal to Pekin.
Ranged close into the river bank, opposite the little island called the Dutch Folly, are the so-called 'Flowerboats,' large flat-bottomed junks, with gaudily-painted wooden houses built upon them, serving as restaurants and houses of entertainment. In another quarter, below the town, and near where the banks are composed of a series of paddy-fields, are the duck-boats, on each of which a Chinaman finds room for his own dwelling-shed and for the roosting-places of 1,000 or more ducks, which wander about in the paddy-fields during the day and return at his call to their boat at night.
Plying backwards and forwards across the river, and moving in and out among all these different junks, are a multitude of smaller boats, ferrying passengers and goods from one point of the river to another. Conspicuous among
them is the small slipper-boat, so called from its shape; and last and least comes the tiny canoe which only affords room for one man with a few bundles of vegetables, baskets of eggs, or other merchandise. Most of these ferry-boats are managed by women, both old and young. In many of them may be seen an elderly matron sculling at the stern while one or two younger damsels sit' forward, pulling in approved style, their hair done up in elaborate chignons and ornamented with jade-stone, or trimmed, as according to a recent fashion in England, in a straight fringe across the forehead. All these ferry-boats, excepting the very smallest, form dwellings for their owners; and it is a curious sight towards evening to see them drawn up along
the river bank, or up the creeks, in rows of three or four deep, with their occupants enjoying the evening meal, ladling into their mouths with chop-sticks bowlsfull of rice, or partaking of a more varied fare of vegetables, bits of pork, fish, or meat of a more questionable nature. The boat population of Canton is probably numbered by tens of thousands, and forms no inconsiderable portion of the whole population of the city. In the municipal and magisterial regulations they are treated as a totally distinct class, and no intermarriage is allowed between them and the people on shore.
Passing up through this maze of busy boat-life, we land on the granite river-wall which makes such a handsome front to the European quarter of Shamien. Shamien, twelve years ago, was a mud bank; now it is an artificial island half a mile in length by 300 yards at its greatest breadth, but containing only some fifteen or twenty houses, occupied by about sixty Europeans. Since the river-ports on the Yang-tse-Keang were opened, much of the foreign trade, which formerly came overland from the interior provinces to Canton, has been diverted to them; and consequently the trade of Canton bas decreased, nor is the number of Europeans now stationed there as large as it was ten years ago.
We find it difficult, when in Canton, to realise that we are in the same latitude as Calcutta. The latter place, when we left it three weeks ago, was rapidly getting very hot, while here the cool season is by no means over; indeed, it is pleasant to sleep with a blanket over one, and the thermometer at mid-day does not get above 72.°
Though we find hospitable friends in Shamien, and take up our head-quarters there, there is too much of interest and novelty in the native city to allow us to spend
A CHINESE MARKET.
much time among the Europeans. Canton has the reputation of being the wealthiest, best built, and cleanliest city in China, so that all its qualities are hardly to be appreciated in a less period than several days. We must remember, however, that all things go by comparison; and perhaps, instead of inserting cleanliest' as one of the epithets of the city, we should have been nearer the truth with “ least dirty ;' for as to their being a single city in China which could be called absolutely cleanly, that is more than improbable.
We can begin our round of the city and its suburbs by crossing over the river from Shamien to the Honam quarter. Landing at a rather tumble-down little quay, we commence walking through a succession of narrow streets, paved with stones, and lined on either side with brick-built shops and small houses.
We pass through one section, almost entirely occupied by meat and vegetable-shops. In the former there are some curious specimens of fish, flesh, and fowl. Besides an abundance of pork, ducks, geese, chickens, and fresh fish, we may see here and there a suspended bundle of harvest rats sun-dried, along with ducks that have gone through a similar process, joints of white meat, which our Chinese attendant makes us understand are of canine origin, and certain dried legs and shoulders which one cannot help fancying have once been tamepussy. In the fish-shops are bowls of water containing live eels and other fish, live frogs, and fresh sea-snails, which are not unlike large periwinkles. Certainly the Chinese diet is of a miscellaneous kind; and while there is little doubt that the wealthy classes are great epicures, there is less doubt that the poor people are generally very foul feeders.
We can pass easily from nature to art, and within a short distance of this market find several streets lined
with shops, full of the wares of lacquer and ivory for which Canton has long been justly celebrated. There are poor kinds of ivory and lacquer-work, even in Canton ; but if we go into the better class of these shops, we are sure to find a most inviting and perfect collection of card-cases, fans, paper-cutters, glove-stretchers, caskets, puzzles and ornaments of many kinds, both tasteful and grotesque.
Not far from the Ivory Quarter is the Honam Temple, celebrated among the Chinese Bhuddists as one of their most sacred and richest buildings of the kind. The temple, together with its adjoining buildings and grounds, covers a very large space. The temple itself is the central building of the enclosure, and immediately round it are the buildings in which the priests, eighty in number, live; round these again is a large garden, partly cultivated, partly left waste, and partly devoted to a burning-ground for the bodies of the poorer priests, and a burying-ground for the richer. In the main hall of the temple are three colossal gilt statues of the three Buddhs—Past, Present, and Future; and surrounding these are gilt images of various Buddhist saints, all very handsomely executed.
The three central statues represent the Buddhs in the orthodox squatting position, the faces expressing that abstract contemplation which is supposed to be the perpetual condition of the deity and of his perfected followers. In this, and in their massive simplicity, they call to mind the sedate-faced statues of some of the Egyptian deities.
The priests' buildings seemed very dirty, and the priests even more so. Some of them we witness going through a service in one of the principal halls of the temple ; and as we notice their costume, their strings of beads, their chanting in procession, and their genuflexions, we can not help being struck with the similarity, in form of the