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service, to a Roman Catholic one. When it is known further that they use holy water, worship relics, have prayers for the dead, and practice celibacy and fasting, one is not surprised to hear that one of the early French Catholic missionaries amongst them came to the conclusion that the devil had forged a religion for them in imitation of that of the Jesuits. In one part of the outbuildings of this temple is a large shed containing a number of sacred pigs, and another with ducks and fowls, also considered sacred.
Passing from the temple, we may take the opportunity of being on this side of the river to see some good specimens of Chinese nursery-gardens, situated on the Fa-ti creek, a short distance up the river.
Entering one of the gardens by the picturesque porch on the side facing the creek, we are at once struck by the number and variety of plants arranged in a comparatively small space of ground, and by the great neatness and care with which they are managed. April is not the right month for seeing a show of flowers here, for the camellias and azaleas, the glory of Chinese gardens, are already over; yet there are some fine hibisci, some ixoras, a few roses, and several other kinds of flowers, of names unknown to us. One of the features of the garden is the collection of dwarfed and trained plants, much similar to those which we saw in Wampoo's garden at Singapore.
In one point we might take a hint in English gardens from the much-despised Chinaman : he keeps his plants in glazed pots of various colours and designs, we put ours in those unvarying brick-dust-coloured pots, whose general shape seems as unalterable as that of the chimneypot'hat. In these Chinese gardens we miss any attempt at rearing exotic or tropical plants; glass-houses are quite ignored by the Chinese gardeners, who devote themselves more particularly to the improvement of the plants and flowers natural to their own locality.
Almost opposite the Fa-ti gardens, up a creek on the left bank of the river, are the pleasure-gardens of a late distinguished citizen of Canton, Poon-tin-qua by name. They have been left since their late owner's death in a neglected state, and are consequently much spoiled; but there are still remains, more or less perfect, of pavilions, rockeries, and bridges over ornamental sheets of water, which show how picturesque they must once have been. They bring forcibly to mind those representations of Chinese gardens and scenery which exist on the willowpattern plate, and other familiar designs, from which we once fondly imagined that all China must be a pleasuregarden.
And now, leaving the suburbs of Canton, let us hire sedan-chairs and go into the main city. Crossing the creek which surrounds Shamien, and divides the European quarter from the native city, we pass through half a mile of narrow streets going eastwards; and then passing under a gateway, in the main city wall, we are fairly inside Canton proper.
The mere sight of the Canton streets must rank as one of the most curious and special city sights to be had anywhere. The streets are nearly all so narrow that there is barely room in them for two sedan-chairs to be carried past each other without touching; yet they are all paved with large slabs of stone, and lined with good, though small, shops, built of a blueish-gray brick. Each shop has the name and trade of its owner inscribed in large coloured characters on a board of from one to two feet in width, and six to fifteen feet in length. These boards are fixed upright, edgeways to the sides of the shop, or are allowed to swing freely from bars projecting from the
eaves; they give to the streets a very gay and picturesque appearance. Some of them have inscribed on them mottoes which illustrate the thrifty and proverb-loving character of the Chinese; as for instance, 'Gossipping and long sitting injure business;' Former customers have inspired caution; no credit given ;'Goods genuine, prices true ; ' *Trade circling like a wheel ;' and so on. The shops are all open at the front, consequently their wares are easily seen.
In some parts of the city shops of the same kind are all clustered together: there is, for instance, one street entirely filled with jade shops, another with druggists' stores, a third with shops full of curiosities, both real and fictitious. In other parts there is a strange mixture : a dealer in silk embroidery has his store next to a fishmonger, while across the street is a fan-shop, adjoining one devoted to fruit and vegetables. Perhaps the most attractive of all the shops are those filled with jade—that pale green stone from which nearly every ornament worn by a Chinese man or woman is made. Next to these come the shops for the sale of embroidery, feather fans, and mandarins' hats.
Here and there is a book-shop; a barber's establishment, where pig-tails are being dressed à la mode; another exclusively occupied with the sale of false hair; yet another, owned and conducted by a Chinese Madame Rachel; and occasionally we pass one where men are cleaning and preparing for sale the world-renowned birds’ nests.
Up and down the streets, in spite of their narrowness, hurries a constant crowd of Chinese, chiefly coolies, carrying all kinds of goods and parcels slung to bamboo poles ; shouting, panting, half running, giving or making way to and among each other, with a bustling eager manner, as if their life depended on the pace they go. Yet, all this
hot haste seems quite good-natured; there is no pushing and squeezing, no angry demands for room; and, from the total absence of wheeled vehicles, and animals other than dogs, there is no danger of being run over or knocked down by some impatient driver or rider. There is, indeed, one unpleasant feature in these busy streets, and that is the various odours which greet the passers-by, and make a scented handkerchief almost a life-preserver. In this respect Canton stands in much the same rank as every other Chinese town, as far as our experience goes; every other street is a "Lavender Lane,' and at many corners there is a conflict of three or more odoriferous breezes which may produce change of air, but certainly do not afford a variety which is charming.
We might spend many hours in examining all the interesting shops, and the nature of the wares displayed in each; and as many of them are manufactories as well as shops, we could employ no short time in watching how many of the wares are produced.
But we must move on, to see some of the public buildings of the city. Winding our way northwards from the river, through a maze of narrow and tortuous streets, we reach the entrance to what was once the Yamun, or official residence of the Tartar general of the garrison, but which is now occupied partly by the British consul and his staff. It is a picturesque old building, with high roof and far-projecting eaves, surrounded by green sward and trees, which again are surrounded by a high wall, effectually cutting it off from the busy streets outside.
As we walk down a pretty glade that runs down the middle of the park-like expanse, and see a deer start from a thicket on either side, and bound across the dell, we can hardly believe that we are in the centre of one of the most populous cities of China. The British consul has
certainly the pleasantest residence within the walls, or indeed within several miles of them.
The mention of a Tartar general in Canton may seem surprising; but it must not be forgotten that the present dynasty in China is one founded by the Manchow Tartars 230 years ago, and ever since their conquest of the country at that period Tartar soldiery have formed the garrisons of all the principal cities in the empire.
Close to the Yamun, but outside its park walls, is an ancient pagoda, the only large specimen of its kind in Canton. It is built in nine storeys of brick, and measures 180 feet in height, i.e. some twenty feet lower than the London Monument. It is said to be 1,300 years old, and like all old Chinese buildings is in a rather ruinous condition, the cornices which once ornamented each storey having entirely fallen away.
A mile to the north of this pagoda, beyond the Tartar quarter of the city, is the hill which helps to form the background of the city, as viewed from the river. On its summit is a roofed building, open at the front, called by Europeans the Five-storied Pagoda, though it does not appear to have any right to that title, which should only be applied to buildings erected as shrines for sacred relics of Buddh.
From the upper storey of this building we have a complete view over the low-lying city, which stretches from close to where we stand as far as to the river bank. The streets are so narrow that we can scarcely trace their course among the densely-packed mass of one-storied houses, but we can make out most of the circuit of the city walls. These are scarcely more than six miles in circuit, and though there are extensive suburbs outside them, this comparatively short distance is enough to show