Page:Inside Canton.djvu/110

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
109
INSIDE CANTON.

from the same pattern. I have never myself known the real name of this merchant; but if you ever go to Canton, and wish to visit his shop, ask, in the quarter of the factories, of the first coolie or of the first European you may meet, for the house of Talkee-True, and certainly he will take you there.

The portrait of this celebrated merchant has often been sketched, but, oddly enough, those who have undertaken to paint him have merely produced a caricature without caring at all about the resemblance. To a great number of individuals a Chinese is simply a very ridiculous animal, and therefore, according to them, every grotesque painting must resemble him. Thus Talkee-True's shop is represented as a closet in an old house full of old rattletraps, and the master himself as an old mummy just escaped from his camphor winding-cloths, clad in old rags of the time of Ming, and wearing a false queue which he has picked out from a heap of bric-brac rubbish. Unfortunately, this picture has not even the merit of this sort of productions; it is not even an exaggeration of the truth.

The house of Talkee-True is one of the finest, and his shop is certainly the most elegant one in Physic Street; his curiosities, arranged in perfect order, are, which is rare in China, protected by glasses from the dust and from indiscreet hands. But it is true that he is old and ugly; he is seventy years of age at