Page:Inside Canton.djvu/169

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produced upon our minds. We expressed our rapture in strong terms, upon which this wealthy functionary drew a deep sigh, and exclaimed:—

"Ah! Canton! Canton! It is indeed the abode of pleasure! Well does the proverb say: 'Young man, go not to Canton; old man, go not to Sou-Tchuen.' The atmosphere respired here, saturated with perfume, tremulous with the musical murmurs of passion, is as fatal to inexperienced youth as the icy breath of our northern provinces is to feeble age!"

"I cannot deny," said Callery, "that the bosom of the Tchou-kiang by night offers one of the finest spectacles to be seen in the world; but, leaving out the flower-boats, I don't see that your city is any richer in pleasures than other parts of the Celestial Empire."

Pan-se-Chen fidgetted on his seat, and exclaimed with great warmth, "What! Indeed, but we can command here a profusion of all the delights which are only parsimoniously scattered elsewhere. Every year we receive ship-loads of the girls of Sou-tchou-Fou and Nankin; and even Mongolia supplies us with her contingent of blooming young Tartars. Our cooks are celebrated all over the empire. Where but here did they invent those exquisite dishes—the brainless duck, and the empty-hearted force-meat balls? Our fruits excite envy wherever nice things are loved; when the shells of the lit-chi