Page:Inside Canton.djvu/184

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183
INSIDE CANTON.

regular printing-office—a Chinese printing-office, of course; and Pan-se-Chen, or rather Callery, explained to us that this Cantonese Mæcenas caused to be struck off ancient inscriptions, and old maxims grown scarce, whose reproduction was generally desired among the learned. Three writers, who appeared to us very skilful, were tracing with the pencil ancient characters upon large slabs of marble. They were young men of intelligent appearance; they wore their long blue robes and their caps in student-fashion. Like our law and medical students, they exaggerated the fashion of their country. Their pigtails, absurdly long, trailed at their heels, the fingers of their right hands were armed, not with nails, but with claws; and they wore at the top of the back of the head a circlet of coarse hair, which was not by any means pleasing. As soon as a slab was covered with characters, the engravers took their place, and traced with the graver the hieroglyphic letters. We examined several of these stereotyped plates, and Pan-se-Chen ordered some impressions to be struck off in our presence. The process is very simple: By means of a very flexible brush the printer applies the ink, then with his right hand he spreads out a sheet of damp paper, and passes another brush, dry, across it. The impression was as sharp as we obtain with our finished presses. When we left his printing-office, Pan-se-Chen showed us into a studio for