Monday, February 15, 2010

Is it me, or did 19th Century DC reporters have far too much time on their hands…

 From the Washington Post, Feb. 24, 1895, p. 17, "He Attracts Attention"

"Like a burst of sunshine in a shadowy place, he comes into the passing crowd and becomes a part of it.  Others skip with rapid feet, bending from heel to toe clad in brown and black and somber grays, but he plods steadily along with stiff ankles, like a boy on stilts.  His feet are covered with queer contraptions.  The soles are thick and unyielding; black velvet binds them at the sides, and buff silk constructs the uppers.  The lower limbs to the knee are swathed about with lightly gathered folds of white cloth that look all the world like bandages, and queerly made trousers of bluish satin continue loosely upward.  A full sleeved, ample-bodied garment of gray silk hangs from his shoulders, and down the back of it floats a long plait of hair as black as ink.  A small silk cap with a blue button on its top rests upon his head, and a pair of glasses with crystals as large as Mexican dollars reposes on his well-shaped nose, and serve as windows for the thoughtful, brown eyes to look through.  He thumps along with head erect on sloping shoulders, leaning forward with no evidence knowledge of the effect he is creating.  Some people turn and regard him with undisguised wonder.  They have bundles in their arms that will cause comment for a week out in the country.  Disrespectful gamins make remarks about rats and Japan.  Every woman wishes she had a gown made of silk like he has in his coat.  But his imperturbability never forsakes him.  He turns into a bookstore and selects the latest work in philosophy and scientific research.  He buys the last French and German periodicals.  Then he strolls out and swings along out the streets and up the Fourteenth street hill to the big stone pile at the top.  The servant salaams to the floor as Mr. Yei Shung Ho enters the Chinese legation."

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