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scene,—new, strange, and bizarre as it is, -distinctly before the mind. The rich screen-work at the two ends of the saloon, the many-shaped and many-coloured lamps suspended from the ceiling, the native paintings which cover the walls, the Chinese maxims adorning the columns, the choice silks, gay with a hundred colours, and tastefully displayed over the cases along the north side, and the multitude of cases crowded with rare and interesting sights, form a tout-ensemble, possessing an interest and a beauty entirely its own, and which must be seen before it can be appreciated. The beauty of the general view, and the attractiveness of the whole exhibition, will be greatly enhanced by an improvement soon to be commenced. Mr. Dunn is about to have constructed an elegant fountain in the centre of the saloon, with a basin enlivened by gold fish, and surrounded by a row of Chinese plants and flowers. There will be a jet in the centre, and a waterfall on each side; and the whole will be illuminated at night with gas lights underneath. The scene cannot fail to be singularly brilliant and beautiful; and, during the hot summer months, the refreshing coolness diffused throughout the saloon, must make it ever a place of general resort.
III. The two Octagonal Glass Cases.
In our preliminary notices, we referred to these cases as being near the door. On this account, as well as on some others, they are, to a person entering, the most conspicuous objects in the saloon; and they contain some of the most splendid and costly articles in the whole Collection. They are about fifteen feet high, and are covered with an exact fac-simile of a Chinese roof, each corner of which terminates in a golden dragon, from whose fiery mouth depends a bell, such as we see in pictures and models of pagodas. The dragon is an imperial emblem in China, and this fact explains the frequency with which we see the figure in their various works of art. The case on the south side of the saloon, contains, and is nearly filled by, a superb lamp, used only upon occasions of state. This lamp is totally unlike any thing we have, and no description can convey an adequate idea of it. It is hexagonal, and cannot be much, if any, less than ten feet in height, and three feet in diameter at the two extremities. The frame is richly carved and gilt, and is covered with crimson and white silk, adorned with the most costly and beautiful embroidery. The trappings which depend from the bottom, and from a projecting portion of each corner of the upper part, are in keeping with the rest. There are no less than two hundred and fifty-eight crimson silk tassels, pendent from various parts. In short, this national lamp is as magnificent as carving, gilding, silks, embroidery, and bead-work, can make it. The bottom of the case is covered with numerous specimens of fans, an article in universal use. Gentlemen as well as ladies carry it, not laying it aside even in cold weather. The octagonal case on the opposite side of the saloon, contains a variety of interesting, and, to us, strange articles. We have here three national lamps, each made for a distinct purpose, a saddle and bridle, six Chinese candles, specimens of indigenous fruits in enamel and clay, divers specimens of embroidery, and a sample of their woollen fabrics. This last, which is spread out upon the floor, covering almost the whole of it, is not of wool alone, but has a mixture of cotton in it. It is a rather favour
able specimen of their skill in this kind of manufactures,
manship, but in other respects similar to that in the other case. There is another, differing materially in its form from these, but made chiefly of silk, which is much used in theatrical representations. This is of exquisite beauty, both in materials and manufacture. The third, again, differs totally from either of those before noticed. It is carried in marriage processions, and the gayness of its appearance harmonizes well with the joyousness supposed to characterize such occasions.
IV. Lamps and Lanterns.
We may as well, in this connexion, notice briefly the other lamps and lanterns in the Collection, of which there is a liberal supply. They depend from the ceiling in all parts of the saloon, and are of almost every imaginable form and size. In scarcely any thing do the taste and ingenuity of the Chinese appear to better advantage than in the manufacture of these curious and characteristic articles. They are made of horn, silk, glass, paper, and sometimes of a netting of fine thread overspread with a thick coating of varnish. The frame-work is often carved in the richest manner, the silk which covers it is elegantly embroidered or painted with landscapes representing nature in her gayest moods, and the various decorations lavished upon them are in a corresponding style. As a national ornament, peculiar to the Chinese, the lantern does not give place to any thing found in any other country.
The fondness of the Chinese for lamps and lanterns, and the universal use of them, constitutes one of the marked peculiarities in the customs of the race. The “Stranger in China” remarks, that a Chinaman and his lantern seem wedded together, and the former is rarely found without the latter. They are placed in the streets, temples, boats, &c., and are always to be seen in the hands of the pedestrians after dark. The same writer relates the following amusing anecdote, as affording a striking and original exemplification of both the power of habit and the national peculiarity above referred to. When Captain Maxwell passed the Bogue in the Alceste frigate, as he came up with the battery of Annahoy, the fort appeared well lighted, and a brisk cannonade was commenced upon the ship. However, after the first broadside had been fired upon the fortress, and when the vessel was scarcely a half musket-shot from it, the whole place was deserted, and the embrasures were quickly as dark as before. The Chinese were thoroughly frightened, and ran off with a most edifying precipitation. At the same time, instead of concealing their flight in the darkness of the night, each man seized his lantern, as he had done a hundred times before, and clambered with it up the steep side of the hill immediately behind the fort. The sight of so many bald-pated soldiers, with their long pig-tails dangling at their back, each with a great painted balloon in his hand, was extremely ludicrous, and took away any slight inclination the marines might have had to get a shot with their muskets at such excellent marks.