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Today's Stichomancy for Dr. Phil

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from At the Sign of the Cat & Racket by Honore de Balzac:

puzzled the conscientious idler. For instance, the cat's tail had been eaten into in such a way that it might now have been taken for the figure of a spectator--so long, and thick, and furry were the tails of our forefathers' cats. To the right of the picture, on an azure field which ill-disguised the decay of the wood, might be read the name "Guillaume," and to the left, "Successor to Master Chevrel." Sun and rain had worn away most of the gilding parsimoniously applied to the letters of this superscription, in which the Us and Vs had changed places in obedience to the laws of old-world orthography.

To quench the pride of those who believe that the world is growing cleverer day by day, and that modern humbug surpasses everything, it

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Sylvie and Bruno by Lewis Carroll:

At this moment it dawned on me that these words were not addressed to me, but that she was unconsciously thinking aloud. I moved away a few steps, and waited to follow her into the carriage, where I resumed the conversation.

"Shakespeare must have traveled by rail, if only in a dream: 'perturbed Spirit' is such a happy phrase."

"'Perturbed' referring, no doubt," she rejoined, "to the sensational booklets peculiar to the Rail. If Steam has done nothing else, it has at least added a whole new Species to English Literature!"

"No doubt of it," I echoed. "The true origin of all our medical books--and all our cookery-books--"

Sylvie and Bruno
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Firm of Nucingen by Honore de Balzac:

" 'Is it possible?' asked Desroches; 'why, he is tied more than ever to Mme. Roguin.'

" 'TIED--he?--You do not know him.'

" 'Do you know how Nucingen and du Tillet stand?' asked Desroches.

" 'Like this,' said Taillefer; 'Nucingen is just the man to swallow down his old master's capital, and then to disgorge it.'

" 'Ugh! ugh!' coughed Werbrust, 'these churches are confoundedly damp; ugh! ugh! What do you mean by "disgorge it"?'

" 'Well, Nucingen knows that du Tillet has a lot of money; he wants to marry him to Malvina; but du Tillet is shy of Nucingen. To a looker- on, the game is good fun.'

The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from The Cavalry General by Xenophon:


I come at length to certain duties which devolve upon the general of cavalry himself in person: and first and foremost, it concerns him to obtain the favour of the gods by sacrifices in behalf of the state cavalry; and in the next place to make the great procession at the festivals a spectacle worth seeing; and further, with regard to all those public shows demanded by the state, wherever held,[1] whether in the grounds of the Acadamy or the Lyceum, at Phaleron or within the hippodrome, it is his business as commander of the knights to see that every pageant of the sort is splendidly exhibited.

[1] Cf. Theophr. "Ch." vii. (Jebb ad loc. p. 204, n. 25).