Page:Inside Canton.djvu/101

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

These orders were perfectly executed. Madame de Lagrené was the first lady who could, in all security contemplate the singular assemblage which, for twelve hours of the day, is to be seen at this place. It is there where are really throned the eternal heroes of the plebs! those who in all times have best comprehended its gross instincts, its incurable ignorance, its stupid credulity—fortune-tellers, charlatans, and singers of doleful ditties. It is on encountering, in every part of the world, these exploiters of the imbecility of the masses, that one becomes convinced of the unity of the human race, and feels one's heart affected by immense commisseration and sadness.

The necromancers of Canton do not, like the ancient enchanters, wear a pointed hat studded with stars and crescents; they are not even clothed with the long black gown, and they resemble only the classic sorcerers of the West by the spectacles which magisterially bestride their noses. They have even subjected this cabalistic completement of their costume to a certain improvement. Their supposed eyeglasses are often of smoked quartz, which gives to their physiognomy a very sinister aspect. By the side of these diviners are exhibited the pretended instruments of their profession—dirty books, black banners riven by thunder, mathematical instruments, pincers, a writing desk, and paper to make calculations, and write their sentences. It is round