Page:Inside Canton.djvu/112

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111
INSIDE CANTON.

future, which according to him will be worse. He thus appeals constantly to ancient customs and antique probity. His ideal would be to wake one morning in the midst of the Celestial Empire of twenty ages since.

As for me, having found between the Chinese civilisation and our own more resemblances than differences, I have also learned that certain Parisian individualities have their counterparts at the other extremity of the universe. Talkee-True, at six thousand leagues distance, is the reflection of a grocer who is well-known by his quaint antique whims and opinions, as celebrated in the comic journals. The shop in Physic Street, excepting the nature of the merchandise, is the "Provençal bazaar" of Canton. Nothing is wanting—neither good commercial maxims, nor moral inscriptions, nor wise saws in verse; but as diversity is one of the laws which rule our world, resemblances never reach to identity. Talkee-True is short and thin; the Parisian grocer is tall and fat.

Talkee-True receives daily at his house all the men of letters in Canton who are devoted to the study of antique curiosities, and all the barbarous collectors of Chinese antiquities. The arrival at this celebrated shop of a palanquin borne by four coolies, the aristocratic equipage of the Kingdom of Flowers, is an event so frequent that the old merchant hardly notices it. But once, when he saw a long file of sedan chairs