Page:Inside Canton.djvu/219

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others are generally pretty. This is accounted for by a very simple fact. A Chinese woman is a work of art, and not a natural product! Infinite care, uninterrupted superintendence, and a special training, are necessary to make a Chinese beauty; and, as soon as the article has been painstakingly got up, it becomes the exclusive property of the wealthy. If it be a young girl of good station, she is sought in marriage by wealthy men; if of humbler rank, the same men buy her through the intervention of some matron, or perhaps after she has been submitted to the criticism of amateurs in a flower-boat or a flower-house.

In China there is nothing discreditable in the possession of a courtezan, or the position of a concubine. In a poor, but respectable home, parents will bring up their daughters for those positions, just as in France and England girls are educated for governesses, companions, or artists. This facility in disposing of the girls is the reason that the poorer population is, year by year, skimmed of its finest products in the fair sex; so that foreigners, who do not, in an ordinary way, penetrate into Chinese interiors or flower-houses, scarcely see the most favourable types of the race; and that the yellow-skinned traffickers who bring to Europe the girls of Kuang-ton, or Fo-kien, can only make recruits of unfortunates whose feet have been crushed in their infancy, and whose blighted beauty has deceived the hopes of their worthy parents. In a