HONG KONG, Christmas Eve.

We returned this afternoon from Canton. After retiring I heard a well-known sound - the ubiquitous mosquito. It was rather odd to be compelled to rise and ring for our "boy" to put up mosquito-bars on Christmas evening, but it had to be done. We talked till late of home, and speculated upon what our friends would all be about away up there almost above our heads - "topside," as John Chinaman always expresses it. So far we have only one paper from home; no letters, these having been missed at Shanghai. The news of the triumph of hard money views rejoiced us greatly, as proving once more that in grave emergencies the good sense of the people of America can always be depended upon. One has only to visit the East to see what evils the silver basis entails upon a nation.

The economy practised in China is striking. A sweet potato is sold in halves, or even in quarters, if required; ferriage across the river in a boat - a stream as wide as the Ohio at Pittsburgh - costs one-fifth of a cent, and you can engage an entire boat for yourself for a cent, if you wish to be extravagant; poultry is sold by the piece, as we sell a sheep, the wings, breast, legs, all having their price, and even the very feet of a chicken being sold for soup. Common iron nails are laid out in lots of six each; these have been used and used again, no one knows how often; we see the people at work straightening old nails at every turn. You can buy one-tenth of a cent's worth (1 cash) of either fish, soup, or rice. Verily things are down to a fine point here!

In one of our strolls we came upon a string of ten blind beggars wandering through the narrow, crowded street, the hands of each upon the shoulders of the one in advance, the leader beating with his cane upon the stone pavement, and all beseeching alms. It was a strange sight. The Chinese Government gives to every blind person a small monthly pittance, and well-dressed passers, I observed, generally bestowed a cash upon the gang.

I have not said much about the temples of Canton or of China, as they are poor affairs compared with those of Japan; besides, one becomes sated with temples which are for the most part copies of one another; the pagodas are much more picturesque at a distance than when closely inspected. The Chinese actually prefer all their places to smack of age, and repair them reluctantly, so that all have a dilapidated air, which gives a very unfavorable impression to a stranger. At best, China has nothing whatever to boast of in the way of architecture. We did not see a structure of any kind which would attract a moment's notice, a few pagodas and temples, perhaps, excepted; but even these are poor and mean affairs.

The only temple worthy of mention I saw in any part of China is that of the Sages. In it we were shown tolerably good busts of five hundred of the most famous characters known to Chinese history - all the writers, statesmen, and rulers who have distinguished themselves for thousands of years. Among them, curiously enough, Marco Polo has by some means found a place. Compared with the hideous monsters worshipped in other temples, I regarded this deification of the illustrious dead with sincere satisfaction. No man can erect a house superior to what his rank or station in life justifies. A public officer prescribes the limit of expenditure, after investigating the affairs of the intending builder, as every one in China tries to conceal his wealth, fearing unjust exactions by the State. It is easy to see why no palaces are forthcoming. This is not "liberty;" but I suspect several of my friends who have erected palatial structures of late years have seen reason to wish that such a safeguard had existed when they began to build.

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