Page:Inside Canton.djvu/103

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great value, but at least in placing in the hands of the bard his modest offering, the giver fixes himself his price on the pleasure he has enjoyed. I know not what the poetic merit may be of the works which in Chinese literature occupy the place which the complaint of Henriette and of the Beau Dunois occupy in ours; but I can affirm that the airs to which these productions of the popular muse are set, are charming. From a grave and slow rhythm there bursts at intervals startling notes, like flashes of lightning traversing brilliant summer nights. These harmonies resemble those which Alpine shepherds improvise in their mountains. The inhabitants of mute ahd solitary plains find them wild and monotonous, for they do not recollect that in their native country these simple melodies are accompanied by the sonorous voice of hurricanes and the noise of torrents.

In the midst of this motionless crowd of dilettanti, of benevolent and interested spectators and of mere idlers, barbers shave, restaurateurs sell soups, bird-catchers display in their cages their singing and fluttering pupils; huntsmen, the gun over their shoulders, and their victims strung together on a long cord, make their offers to passengers, and thieves carry on their trade with ardour and success.

Whilst Madame de Lagrené, shut up in her chair, contemplates these various scenes, seeing with-