Chinamen Out On A Picnic

Chinamen Out On A Picnic.

The Sacred Hogs

The Sacred Hogs.

Sorting Tea

Sorting Tea.

Chinese Merchants

Chinese Merchants.

A Chinese Farm   House

A Chinese Farm - House.

The Flowery Pagoda, Canton

The Flowery Pagoda, Canton.

The exact population of Canton is hard to determine. The number arrived at depends upon where one leaves off counting the three hundred suburban villages, each of which seems a part of the city. Bishop Harper, who lived here for forty years, says, that if one should plant a stake in the centre of Canton, and count all around it within a radius of ten miles, one would find an aggregate of three-and-a-half million people. One village, for example, eleven miles away, noted for silk and other manufactures, is thought to contain eight hundred thousand inhabitants.

Out of this wilderness of mediocrity there rose in one place a pagoda, which by contrast seemed to possess prodigious height; but such objects are exceptional. To understand what Canton is like, one must picture to himself a city which, with its suburbs, is larger and more populous than Paris, yet has not one handsome avenue, one spacious square, or even one street that possesses the slightest claim to cleanliness or beauty. Worse than this, it is a city without a single Chinese building in its whole extent that can be even distantly compared in architectural elegance with thousands of imposing structures in any other city of the civilized world. "But are there no European edifices in Canton?" the reader may perhaps inquire. Yes, one, which makes the contrast only more apparent. It is the Roman Catholic cathedral, whose lofty towers are, strangely enough, the first objects in the city which the traveler sees in sailing up the river from Hong-Kong. This handsome Gothic structure, built entirely of granite, rising from such a sea of architectural ugliness, at once called forth our admiration. To the Chinese, however, these graceful towers are objects of the utmost hatred. It angers them to see this area, which French and English conquerors obtained by treaty, still occupied by a Christian church. So far, it has escaped destruction; but there are those who prophesy its doom and say that the time will come when not one stone of it will be left upon another.

Cantonese Pawn   Shops

Cantonese Pawn - Shops.

There are, however, five or six other buildings in Canton, which rival the pagoda and the Catholic church in height. These hideous objects, which look like monstrous granite boxes set on end, are pawn-shops. One might conclude from their enormous size that half the personal property of the Cantonese was in pawn. They certainly are well patronized, for pawning clothes is such a common thing in China that hundreds of the Cantonese send here for safe-keeping their furs and overcoats in summer, and their thin summer clothes in winter, receiving money for them as from any pawn-broker. The Chinese mode of guarding these tall structures against thieves is certainly unique. Upon the roofs are piled stones to be dropped upon the heads of robbers, and also reservoirs of vitriol, with syringes to squirt the horrible acid on invaders.

Catholic Cathedral, Canton

Catholic Cathedral, Canton.

Astonished at this lack of imposing architecture, we asked if there were no temples in Canton. Assuredly there were - eight hundred of them, all more or less defaced and incrusted with dirt. One of the oldest and most sacred is called the "Temple of Five Hundred Gods," because within its walls are seated five hundred life - size images of gilded wood, representing deified sages of the Buddhist faith. But they are all coarse specimens of sculpture, and many are amusing caricatures. In front of each is a small jar of ashes, in which the worshiper burns a stick of incense in honor of his favorite god. Offerings of money, too, are sometimes made - but not of genuine money. The Chinese are usually too practical to use anything but imitation money made of gilded paper. I do not know what the gods think of this Oriental style of dropping buttons in the contribution - box, but the priests do not like this sort of currency. They are all "hard money" men.