Page:Inside Canton.djvu/197

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nomenon seemed for a long time utterly inexplicable. Here, according to Pan-se-Chen, is the keyword of this feat of metallurgic sorcery:—

"The artist," said he, "cuts deeply with the graver into the smooth surface the same images which are executed in relief behind, and then fills up the hollows with an alloy of a density about equal to that of the metal used for the mirror itself, and polishes the whole. After this process it is impossible to detect, look as closely as you will, the spaces which have been cut away, and restored with alloy; but I do not know how it is that the image is reflected when the disk is exposed to the sun."

In France, a schoolboy in physical science could have told the savant, the man of letters, the great dignitary of the Flowery Land, that it is because the mirror and the alloy which has been employed to fill in the drawings in bas-relief, do not reflect the light in the same manner. The mirrors which possess this singular property are very rare in China, and very expensive. I do not know if the explanation which was given by our friend, is sanctioned by the Institute, but, while awaiting the orthodox decision of that learned body, I content myself with the above solution—because it is Chinese.

Numismatics are not neglected by the lettered sons of the Flowery Land, any more than the other sciences; but they cultivate this branch after their own fashion, and keep to their own coins. The