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Today's Stichomancy for David Letterman

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Illustrious Gaudissart by Honore de Balzac:

or importunity. I am no longer a commercial traveller. I was one, and I glory in it; but to-day my mission is of higher importance, and should place me, in the minds of superior people, among those who devote themselves to the enlightenment of their country. The most distinguished bankers in Paris take part in this affair; not fictitiously, as in some shameful speculations which I call rat-traps. No, no, nothing of the kind! I should never condescend--never!--to hawk about such CATCH-FOOLS. No, Monsieur; the most respectable houses in Paris are concerned in this enterprise; and their interests guarantee--"

Hereupon Gaudissart drew forth his whole string of phrases, and

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass:

was told to "be kind to little Tommy"--an injunction I scarcely needed, for I had already fallen in love with the dear boy; and with these little ceremonies I was initiated into my new home, and entered upon my peculiar duties, with not a cloud above the horizon.

I may say here, that I regard my removal from Col. Lloyd's plantation as one of the most interesting and fortunate events of my life. Viewing it in the light of human likelihoods, it is quite probable that, but for the mere circumstance of being thus removed before the rigors of slavery had fastened upon me; before my young spirit had been crushed under the iron control of the


My Bondage and My Freedom
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Astoria by Washington Irving:

governor exerted some sort of sway, but it was of a peculiar and characteristic kind; it was the tyranny of the table. They were obliged to join him in his "prosnics" or carousals, and to drink "potations pottle deep." His carousals, too, were not of the most quiet kind, nor were his potations as mild as nectar. "He is continually," said Mr. Hunt, "giving entertainments by way of parade, and if you do not drink raw rum, and boiling punch as strong as sulphur, he will insult you as soon as he gets drunk, which is very shortly after sitting down to table."

As to any "temperance captain" who stood fast to his faith, and refused to give up his sobriety, he might go elsewhere for a

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 Sportsman by Xenophon:

[16] See "Il." viii. 283l Paus. i. 42. 1-4.

[17] Or Alcathous, who rebuilt the walls of Megara by Apollo's aid. Ov. "Met." viii. 15 foll.

[18] Reading {o protos}; or if with L. D. {tois protois}, "what time Heracles was distributing to the heroes of Hellas (lit. the first of the Hellenes) prizes of valour, to Telamon he gave."

[19] See Hom. "Il." v. 640; Strab. xiii. 595.

[20] See Diod. iv. 32; i. 42.

Of Meleager[21] be it said, whereas the honours which he won are manifest, the misfortunes on which he fell, when his father[22] in old age forgot the goddess, were not of his own causing.[23]