I must begin by acknowledging that in using the worn metaphor of the “temple of Plutus” just now, I knew little of what I was talking about.
The Bourse is not a temple; if it were it would necessarily be a church or something like one, and consequently would have been closed long ago by our most gracious sovereign, the Commune of Paris.
The Bourse, then, is open; but what is the good of that? you will say, for all those who haunt it now, could get in just as well through closed doors and opposing railings; spectres and other supernatural beings never find any difficulty in insinuating themselves through keyholes and slipping between bars. ’Poor phantoms! Thanks to the weakness of our Government, which has neglected to put seals on the portals of the Bourse, they are under the obligation of going in and coming out like the most ordinary individuals; and a Parisian, who has not learned, by a long intimacy with Hoffmann and Edgar Poe, to distinguish the living from the dead, might take these ghosts of the money-market for simple boursiers. Thank heaven! I am not a man to allow myself to be deceived by specious appearances on such a subject, and I saw at once with whom I had to do.
On the grand staircase there were four or five of them, spectres lean as vampires who have not sucked blood for three months; they were walking in silence, with the creeping, furtive step peculiar to apparitions who glide among the yew-trees in church-yards. From time to time one of them pulled a ghost of a notebook from his ghost of a waistcoat-pocket, and wrote appearances of notes with the shadow of a pencil. Others gathered together in groups, and one could distinctly hear the rattling of bones beneath their shadowy overcoats. They spoke in that peculiar voice which is only understood by the confreres of the magi Eliphas Levy, and they recall to each other’s mind the quotations of former days, Austrian funds triumphant, Government stock at 70 (quantum mutata ab illa), bonds of the city of Paris 1860-1869, and the fugitive apotheosis of the Suez shares. They said with sighs: “You remember the premiums? In former times there were reports made, in former times there were settling days at the end of the month, and huge pocket-book’s were so well filled, that they nearly burst; but now, we wander amidst the ruins of our defunct splendour, as the shade of Diomedes wandered amid the ruins of his house at Pompeii. We are of those who were; the imaginary quotations of shares that have disappeared, are like vain epitaphs on tombs, and we, despairing ghosts, we should die a second time of grief, if we were not allowed to appear to each other in this deserted palace, here to brood over our past financial glories!” Thus spoke the phantoms of the money market, and then added: “Oh! Commune, Commune, give us back our settling days?” From time to time a phantom, which still retains its haughty air, and in which we recognise a defunct of distinction, passes