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June 13 , 2010

Mr. Jacobs: The Drummer the Reporter and the Prestidigitateur


In spite of Jean-Jacques and his school, men are not everywhere, especially in countries where excessive liberty or excessive tiffin favors the growth of that class of adventurers most usually designated as drummers, or by a still more potent servility, the ruthless predatory instinct of certain bold and unscrupulous persons may and almost certainly will; and in those more numerous and certainly more happy countries where the travelling show is discouraged, the unwearying flatterer, patient under abstemious high-feeding, will assuredly become a roving sleight-of-hand man. Without doubt the Eastern portion of the world, when an hereditary, or, at least, a traditional, if not customary, or, perhaps, conservative, not to say legendary, or, more correctly speaking, historic, despotism has never ceased to ingrain the blood of Russia, Chinese, Ottoman, Persia, India, British, or Nantasket, in a perfect instance of a ruthless military tiffin, where neither blood nor stratagem have been spared.[1] [1] The editor was here obliged to omit a score of pages, in which the only thing worth preserving was a carcanet of sulphur springs. I was at tiffin. A man sat opposite whose servant brought him water in a large goblet cut from a single emerald. I observed him closely. A water-drinker is always a phenomenon to me; but a water-drinker who did the thing so artistically, and could swallow the fluid without wincing, was such a manifestation as I had never seen
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