Page:Inside Canton.djvu/132

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
131
INSIDE CANTON.

vate life of its inhabitants, living by themselves in the midst of its waters; when we see that this town, without its fellow in the world, is, like all the great centres of population, a microcosm in itself, in which nothing is absent that tends to the satisfaction of human wants, we become enthusiastic about the industrious people, who have thus contrived to appropriate the agitated bed of a river to all the exigencies of our nature.

The town of boats occupies a space of several leagues of the Tchou-kiang; it is divided into quarters like London and Paris, and like our great cities has its commercial streets, and its fashionable districts. The suburbs—that is to say, the part of the river which is inhabited by the lowest class—are composed of narrow, winding streets, all very much alike. They consist of lines of tankas, with their coverings of bamboo, moored sideways, and presenting all the appearance of the vessels I have described elsewhere in speaking of Macao. During the day, you never see a man in these boats; the women and children alone remain in the wretched dwelling, while the father is engaged up the river loading the vessels of the barbarians, or disembarking the merchandise contained in the junks which furnish Canton with its enormous supplies.

The fishermen's street adjoins the quarter inhabited by these laborious classes; their habitations are more vast than those of the poor carriers, and