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The San Francisco Daily Morning Call, August 23, 1864


Being duly provided with passes, through the courtesy of our cultivated barbaric friend, Ah Wae, out side business-agent of the Ning Yong Company, we visited the new Chinese Temple again yesterday, in company with several friends. After suffocating in the smoke of burning punk and josh lights, and the infernal odors of opium and all kinds of edibles cooked in an unchristian manner, until we were becoming imbued with Buddhism and beginning to lose our nationality, and imbibe, unasked, Chinese instincts, we finally found Ah Wae, who roused us from our lethargy and saved us to our religion and our country by merely breathing the old, touching words, so simple and yet so impressive, and withal so familiar to those whose blessed privilege it has been to be reared in the midst of a lofty and humanizing civilization: "How do, gentlemen - take a drink ?" By the magic of that one phrase, our noble American instincts were spirited back to us again, in all their pristine beauty and glory. The polished cabinet of wines and liquors stood on a table in one of the gorgeous halls of the temple, and behold, an American, with those same noble instincts of his race, had been worshipping there before us - Mr. Stiggers, of the Alta. His photograph lay there, the countenance subdued by accustomed wine, and reposing upon it appeared that same old smile of serene and ineffable imbecility which has so endeared it to all whose happiness it has been to look upon it. That apparition filled us with forebodings. They proved to be well founded. A sad Chinaman - the sanctified bar-keeper of the temple - threw open the cabinet with a sigh, exposed the array of empty decanters, sighed again, murmured "Bymbye, Stiggins been here," and burst into tears. No one with any feeling would have tortured the poor pagan for further explanations when manifestly none were needed, and we turned away in silence, and dropped a sympathetic tear in a fragrant rat-pie which had just been brought in to be set before the great god Josh. The temple is thoroughly fitted up now, and is resplendent with tinsel and all descriptions of finery. The house and its embellishments cost about eighty thousand dollars. About the 5th of September it will be thrown open for public inspection, and will be well worth visiting. There is a band of tapestry extending around a council-room in the second story, which is beautifully embroidered in a variety of intricate designs wrought in bird's feathers, and gold and silver thread and silk fibres of all colors. It cost a hundred and fifty dollars a yard, and was made by hand. The temple was dedicated last Friday night, and since then priests and musicians have kept up the ceremonies with noisy and unflagging zeal. The priests march backward and forward, reciting prayers or something in a droning, sing-song way, varied by discordant screeches somewhat like the cawing of crows, and they kneel down, and get up and spin around, and march again, and still the infernal racket of gongs, drums and fiddles, goes on with its hideous accompaniment, and still the spectator grows more and more smothered and dizzy in the close atmosphere of punk-smoke and opium-fumes. On a divan in one hall, two priests, clad in royal robes of figured blue silk, and crimson skull caps, lay smoking opium, and had kept it up until they looked as drunk and spongy as the photograph of the mild and beneficent Stiggers. One of them was a high aristocrat and a distinguished man among the Chinamen, being no less a personage than the chief priest of the temple, and "Sing-Song" or President of the great Ning-Yong Company. His finger-nails are actually longer than the fingers they adorn, and one of them is twisted in spirals like a cork screw. There was one room half full of priests, all fine, dignified, intelligent looking men like Ah Wae, and all dressed in long blue silk robes, and blue and red topped skull caps, with broad brims turned up all round like wash-basins. The new temple is ablaze with gilded ornamentation, and those who are fond of that sort of thing would do well to stand ready to accept the forthcoming public invitation.

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