Page:Inside Canton.djvu/185

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

painting, where artists were busy reproducing ancient pictures, which his erudite industry had exhumed from their venerable hiding-places.

We next went into a chemical laboratory, where, to our great surprise, they were making azotic acid. It is commonly believed that the Chinese themselves make no mineral acid; we had shared in that belief, and were glad to be now undeceived by our own eyes. Rondot made upon the spot a drawing of the furnace and the distilling apparatus, and he has described, in a paper of great interest, the processes in use at the laboratory of Pan-se-Chen. But there is nothing economical about the matter, for the producer maintained that a hundred grammes of this acid cost him over thirty shillings. The acid is used in our friend's establishment for making detonating silver, with which percussion caps are afterwards manufactured. The fact is, China competes too much with the barbarians! Pan-se-Chen carries on all these works from pure love of the arts and sciences. He devotes large sums of money to such undertakings, and generously distributes the products yielded and the different matters wrought under his auspices among the grandees of the empire and the learned among his own friends. Nevertheless, he can have an eye to business upon occasion. The mandarin of the red button—great dignitary as he is—is, like M. Jourdain, the son of a humble mer-