Page:Inside Canton.djvu/166

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165
INSIDE CANTON.

the doors of our theatres, ranged themselves on each side to make way for us. In this style, we reached a magnificent canal which Pan-se-Chen told us was called Han-Leou-Han, from the multitude of flower-boats which are found there, ranged in their order. Indeed, the two quays were bordered by magnificent Han-Leu; the long line of these palaces stretching out far into the distance, and giving quite a fairy-like aspect to the quarter.

Chinese tapers, imprisoned in thin cages of gauze, shut up in little cells of translucid pearl, shed of course only a muffled light. This dim lustre, while it shows objects to the beholder, tinges them with a still and slumberous hue. The larger structures, athwart the arabesques and carven openings of whose four façades this white, pale light stole dimly, would have resembled temples of the god of eternal repose, had it not been for the strange noises which issued from their depths, and rang loudly overhead. The prolonged beating of gongs, the incessant explosion of rockets, and the vibrations of brazen strings, made these monuments alive, so that they suggested those noisy places of resort with us where people dance with frenzy, carried away by an excitement which will never have any sway over the apathetic inhabitants of the Land of Flowers. It is, I think, the contrast between these loud, obtrusive noises, and the languid