Page:Inside Canton.djvu/115

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Hau-lin have decreed that the yiu is the precious stone par excellence, and that its semi-transparent appearance, its tints, which change from milky white to deep green—its hardness, greater than that of rock crystal, may furnish matter for comparisons without end. Thus the words which fall from the mouth of an emperor, or simply from a minister, are to the poets fragments of yiu polished with corundum; the tender avowal of a young girl is soft and pure as yiu; and it is moreover understood that the discourse of a man of science has certain qualities belonging to this stone—its heaviness, perhaps. We may conceive that a mineral celebrated in song for at least 4,000 years, with a perseverance that would be very fatiguing to any people but the Chinese, must be very generally appreciated, and that artists should very often make use of it. There exist, indeed, an immense number of jade jewels. The lapidaries, by means of the corundum, give to the silicate a thousand different forms, so that the most humble coolie, as well as the Emperor, possess objects formed of this material. The yiu is in China what gold is in Europe—it has not fallen in esteem by becoming popular; and though very often the bracelet of a waterman is of this precious stone, the wife of the mandarin and the mandarin himself does not disdain to wear a similar one.

The shop of Talkee-True contains all sorts of little trinkets of this stone—snuff-boxes, rings, pins, cups,