The French Revolution
Thomas Carlyle

Part 1 out of 16










Chapter 1.1.I. Louis the Well-Beloved

Chapter 1.1.II. Realised Ideals

Chapter 1.1.III. Viaticum

Chapter 1.1.IV. Louis the Unforgotten



Chapter 1.2.I. Astraea Redux

Chapter 1.2.II. Petition in Hieroglyphs

Chapter 1.2.III. Questionable

Chapter 1.2.IV. Maurepas

Chapter 1.2.V. Astraea Redux without Cash

Chapter 1.2.VI. Windbags

Chapter 1.2.VII. Contrat Social

Chapter 1.2.VIII. Printed Paper



Chapter 1.3.I. Dishonoured Bills

Chapter 1.3.II. Controller Calonne

Chapter 1.3.III. The Notables

Chapter 1.3.IV. Lomenie's Edicts

Chapter 1.3.V. Lomenie's Thunderbolts

Chapter 1.3.VI. Lomenie's Plots

Chapter 1.3.VII. Internecine

Chapter 1.3.VIII. Lomenie's Death-throes

Chapter 1.3.IX. Burial with Bonfire



Chapter 1.4.I. The Notables Again

Chapter 1.4.II. The Election

Chapter 1.4.III. Grown Electric

Chapter 1.4.IV. The Procession



Chapter 1.5.I. Inertia

Chapter 1.5.II. Mercury de Breze

Chapter 1.5.III. Broglie the War-God

Chapter 1.5.IV. To Arms!

Chapter 1.5.V. Give us Arms

Chapter 1.5.VI. Storm and Victory

Chapter 1.5.VII. Not a Revolt

Chapter 1.5.VIII. Conquering your King

Chapter 1.5.IX. The Lanterne

Book 1.VI.


Chapter 1.6.I. Make the Constitution

Chapter 1.6.II. The Constituent Assembly

Chapter 1.6.III. The General Overturn

Chapter 1.6.IV. In Queue

Chapter 1.6.V. The Fourth Estate



Chapter 1.7.I. Patrollotism

Chapter 1.7.II. O Richard, O my King

Chapter 1.7.III. Black Cockades

Chapter 1.7.IV. The Menads

Chapter 1.7.V. Usher Maillard

Chapter 1.7.VI. To Versailles

Chapter 1.7.VII. At Versailles

Chapter 1.7.VIII. The Equal Diet

Chapter 1.7.IX. Lafayette

Chapter 1.7.X. The Grand Entries

Chapter 1.7.XI. From Versailles





Chapter 2.1.I. In the Tuileries

Chapter 2.1.II. In the Salle de Manege

Chapter 2.1.III. The Muster

Chapter 2.1.IV. Journalism

Chapter 2.1.V. Clubbism

Chapter 2.1.VI. Je le jure

Chapter 2.1.VII. Prodigies

Chapter 2.1.VIII. Solemn League and Covenant

Chapter 2.1.IX. Symbolic

Chapter 2.1.X. Mankind

Chapter 2.1.XI. As in the Age of Gold

Chapter 2.1.XII. Sound and Smoke



Chapter 2.2.I. Bouille

Chapter 2.2.II. Arrears and Aristocrats

Chapter 2.2.III. Bouille at Metz

Chapter 2.2.IV. Arrears at Nanci

Chapter 2.2.V. Inspector Malseigne

Chapter 2.2.VI. Bouille at Nanci



Chapter 2.3.I. Epimenides

Chapter 2.3.II. The Wakeful

Chapter 2.3.III. Sword in Hand

Chapter 2.3.IV. To fly or not to fly

Chapter 2.3.V. The Day of Poniards

Chapter 2.3.VI. Mirabeau

Chapter 2.3.VII. Death of Mirabeau



Chapter 2.4.I. Easter at Saint-Cloud

Chapter 2.4.II. Easter at Paris

Chapter 2.4.III. Count Fersen

Chapter 2.4.IV. Attitude

Chapter 2.4.V. The New Berline

Chapter 2.4.VI. Old-Dragoon Drouet

Chapter 2.4.VII. The Night of Spurs

Chapter 2.4.VIII. The Return

Chapter 2.4.IX. Sharp Shot



Chapter 2.5.I. Grande Acceptation

Chapter 2.5.II. The Book of the Law

Chapter 2.5.III. Avignon

Chapter 2.5.IV. No Sugar

Chapter 2.5.V. Kings and Emigrants

Chapter 2.5.VI. Brigands and Jales

Chapter 2.5.VII. Constitution will not march

Chapter 2.5.VIII. The Jacobins

Chapter 2.5.IX. Minister Roland

Chapter 2.5.X. Petion-National-Pique

Chapter 2.5.XI. The Hereditary Representative

Chapter 2.5.XII. Procession of the Black Breeches



Chapter 2.6.I. Executive that does not act

Chapter 2.6.II. Let us march

Chapter 2.6.III. Some Consolation to Mankind

Chapter 2.6.IV. Subterranean

Chapter 2.6.V. At Dinner

Chapter 2.6.VI. The Steeples at Midnight

Chapter 2.6.VII. The Swiss

Chapter 2.6.VIII. Constitution burst in Pieces





Chapter 3.1.I. The Improvised Commune

Chapter 3.1.II. Danton

Chapter 3.1.III. Dumouriez

Chapter 3.1.IV. September in Paris

Chapter 3.1.V. A Trilogy

Chapter 3.1.VI. The Circular

Chapter 3.1.VII. September in Argonne

Chapter 3.1.VIII. Exeunt



Chapter 3.2.I. The Deliberative

Chapter 3.2.II. The Executive

Chapter 3.2.III. Discrowned

Chapter 3.2.IV. The Loser pays

Chapter 3.2.V. Stretching of Formulas

Chapter 3.2.VI. At the Bar

Chapter 3.2.VII. The Three Votings

Chapter 3.2.VIII. Place de la Revolution



Chapter 3.3.I. Cause and Effect

Chapter 3.3.II. Culottic and Sansculottic

Chapter 3.3.III. Growing shrill

Chapter 3.3.IV. Fatherland in Danger

Chapter 3.3.V. Sansculottism Accoutred

Chapter 3.3.VI. The Traitor

Chapter 3.3.VII. In Fight

Chapter 3.3.VIII. In Death-Grips

Chapter 3.3.IX. Extinct



Chapter 3.4.I. Charlotte Corday

Chapter 3.4.II. In Civil War

Chapter 3.4.III. Retreat of the Eleven

Chapter 3.4.IV. O Nature

Chapter 3.4.V. Sword of Sharpness

Chapter 3.4.VI. Risen against Tyrants

Chapter 3.4.VII. Marie-Antoinette

Chapter 3.4.VIII. The Twenty-two



Chapter 3.5.I. Rushing down

Chapter 3.5.II. Death

Chapter 3.5.III. Destruction

Chapter 3.5.IV. Carmagnole complete

Chapter 3.5.V. Like a Thunder-Cloud

Chapter 3.5.VI. Do thy Duty

Chapter 3.5.VII. Flame-Picture



Chapter 3.6.I. The Gods are athirst

Chapter 3.6.II. Danton, No weakness

Chapter 3.6.III. The Tumbrils

Chapter 3.6.IV. Mumbo-Jumbo

Chapter 3.6.V. The Prisons

Chapter 3.6.VI. To finish the Terror

Chapter 3.6.VII. Go down to



Chapter 3.7.I. Decadent

Chapter 3.7.II. La Cabarus

Chapter 3.7.III. Quiberon

Chapter 3.7.IV. Lion not dead

Chapter 3.7.V. Lion sprawling its last

Chapter 3.7.VI. Grilled Herrings

Chapter 3.7.VII. The Whiff of Grapeshot







Chapter 1.1.I.

Louis the Well-Beloved.

President Henault, remarking on royal Surnames of Honour how difficult it
often is to ascertain not only why, but even when, they were conferred,
takes occasion in his sleek official way, to make a philosophical
reflection. 'The Surname of Bien-aime (Well-beloved),' says he, 'which
Louis XV. bears, will not leave posterity in the same doubt. This Prince,
in the year 1744, while hastening from one end of his kingdom to the other,
and suspending his conquests in Flanders that he might fly to the
assistance of Alsace, was arrested at Metz by a malady which threatened to
cut short his days. At the news of this, Paris, all in terror, seemed a
city taken by storm: the churches resounded with supplications and groans;
the prayers of priests and people were every moment interrupted by their
sobs: and it was from an interest so dear and tender that this Surname of
Bien-aime fashioned itself, a title higher still than all the rest which
this great Prince has earned.' (Abrege Chronologique de l'Histoire de
France (Paris, 1775), p. 701.)

So stands it written; in lasting memorial of that year 1744. Thirty other
years have come and gone; and 'this great Prince' again lies sick; but in
how altered circumstances now! Churches resound not with excessive
groanings; Paris is stoically calm: sobs interrupt no prayers, for indeed
none are offered; except Priests' Litanies, read or chanted at fixed money-
rate per hour, which are not liable to interruption. The shepherd of the
people has been carried home from Little Trianon, heavy of heart, and been
put to bed in his own Chateau of Versailles: the flock knows it, and heeds
it not. At most, in the immeasurable tide of French Speech (which ceases
not day after day, and only ebbs towards the short hours of night), may
this of the royal sickness emerge from time to time as an article of news.
Bets are doubtless depending; nay, some people 'express themselves loudly
in the streets.' (Memoires de M. le Baron Besenval (Paris, 1805), ii. 59-
90.) But for the rest, on green field and steepled city, the May sun
shines out, the May evening fades; and men ply their useful or useless
business as if no Louis lay in danger.

Dame Dubarry, indeed, might pray, if she had a talent for it; Duke
d'Aiguillon too, Maupeou and the Parlement Maupeou: these, as they sit in
their high places, with France harnessed under their feet, know well on
what basis they continue there. Look to it, D'Aiguillon; sharply as thou
didst, from the Mill of St. Cast, on Quiberon and the invading English;
thou, 'covered if not with glory yet with meal!' Fortune was ever
accounted inconstant: and each dog has but his day.

Forlorn enough languished Duke d'Aiguillon, some years ago; covered, as we
said, with meal; nay with worse. For La Chalotais, the Breton
Parlementeer, accused him not only of poltroonery and tyranny, but even of
concussion (official plunder of money); which accusations it was easier to
get 'quashed' by backstairs Influences than to get answered: neither could
the thoughts, or even the tongues, of men be tied. Thus, under disastrous
eclipse, had this grand-nephew of the great Richelieu to glide about;
unworshipped by the world; resolute Choiseul, the abrupt proud man,
disdaining him, or even forgetting him. Little prospect but to glide into
Gascony, to rebuild Chateaus there, (Arthur Young, Travels during the years
1787-88-89 (Bury St. Edmunds, 1792), i. 44.) and die inglorious killing
game! However, in the year 1770, a certain young soldier, Dumouriez by
name, returning from Corsica, could see 'with sorrow, at Compiegne, the old
King of France, on foot, with doffed hat, in sight of his army, at the side
of a magnificent phaeton, doing homage the--Dubarry.' (La Vie et les
Memoires du General Dumouriez (Paris, 1822), i. 141.)

Much lay therein! Thereby, for one thing, could D'Aiguillon postpone the
rebuilding of his Chateau, and rebuild his fortunes first. For stout
Choiseul would discern in the Dubarry nothing but a wonderfully dizened
Scarlet-woman; and go on his way as if she were not. Intolerable: the
source of sighs, tears, of pettings and pouting; which would not end till
'France' (La France, as she named her royal valet) finally mustered heart
to see Choiseul; and with that 'quivering in the chin (tremblement du
menton natural in such cases) (Besenval, Memoires, ii. 21.) faltered out a
dismissal: dismissal of his last substantial man, but pacification of his
scarlet-woman. Thus D'Aiguillon rose again, and culminated. And with him
there rose Maupeou, the banisher of Parlements; who plants you a refractory
President 'at Croe in Combrailles on the top of steep rocks, inaccessible
except by litters,' there to consider himself. Likewise there rose Abbe
Terray, dissolute Financier, paying eightpence in the shilling,--so that
wits exclaim in some press at the playhouse, "Where is Abbe Terray, that he
might reduce us to two-thirds!" And so have these individuals (verily by
black-art) built them a Domdaniel, or enchanted Dubarrydom; call it an
Armida-Palace, where they dwell pleasantly; Chancellor Maupeou 'playing
blind-man's-buff' with the scarlet Enchantress; or gallantly presenting her
with dwarf Negroes;--and a Most Christian King has unspeakable peace within
doors, whatever he may have without. "My Chancellor is a scoundrel; but I
cannot do without him." (Dulaure, Histoire de Paris (Paris, 1824), vii.

Beautiful Armida-Palace, where the inmates live enchanted lives; lapped in
soft music of adulation; waited on by the splendours of the world;--which
nevertheless hangs wondrously as by a single hair. Should the Most
Christian King die; or even get seriously afraid of dying! For, alas, had
not the fair haughty Chateauroux to fly, with wet cheeks and flaming heart,
from that Fever-scene at Metz; driven forth by sour shavelings? She hardly
returned, when fever and shavelings were both swept into the background.
Pompadour too, when Damiens wounded Royalty 'slightly, under the fifth
rib,' and our drive to Trianon went off futile, in shrieks and madly shaken
torches,--had to pack, and be in readiness: yet did not go, the wound not
proving poisoned. For his Majesty has religious faith; believes, at least
in a Devil. And now a third peril; and who knows what may be in it! For
the Doctors look grave; ask privily, If his Majesty had not the small-pox
long ago?--and doubt it may have been a false kind. Yes, Maupeou, pucker
those sinister brows of thine, and peer out on it with thy malign rat-eyes:
it is a questionable case. Sure only that man is mortal; that with the
life of one mortal snaps irrevocably the wonderfulest talisman, and all
Dubarrydom rushes off, with tumult, into infinite Space; and ye, as
subterranean Apparitions are wont, vanish utterly,--leaving only a smell of

These, and what holds of these may pray,--to Beelzebub, or whoever will
hear them. But from the rest of France there comes, as was said, no
prayer; or one of an opposite character, 'expressed openly in the streets.'
Chateau or Hotel, were an enlightened Philosophism scrutinises many things,
is not given to prayer: neither are Rossbach victories, Terray Finances,
nor, say only 'sixty thousand Lettres de Cachet' (which is Maupeou's
share), persuasives towards that. O Henault! Prayers? From a France
smitten (by black-art) with plague after plague, and lying now in shame and
pain, with a Harlot's foot on its neck, what prayer can come? Those lank
scarecrows, that prowl hunger-stricken through all highways and byways of
French Existence, will they pray? The dull millions that, in the workshop
or furrowfield, grind fore-done at the wheel of Labour, like haltered gin-
horses, if blind so much the quieter? Or they that in the Bicetre
Hospital, 'eight to a bed,' lie waiting their manumission? Dim are those
heads of theirs, dull stagnant those hearts: to them the great Sovereign
is known mainly as the great Regrater of Bread. If they hear of his
sickness, they will answer with a dull Tant pis pour lui; or with the
question, Will he die?

Yes, will he die? that is now, for all France, the grand question, and
hope; whereby alone the King's sickness has still some interest.

Chapter 1.1.II.

Realised Ideals.

Such a changed France have we; and a changed Louis. Changed, truly; and
further than thou yet seest!--To the eye of History many things, in that
sick-room of Louis, are now visible, which to the Courtiers there present
were invisible. For indeed it is well said, 'in every object there is
inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of
seeing.' To Newton and to Newton's Dog Diamond, what a different pair of
Universes; while the painting on the optical retina of both was, most
likely, the same! Let the Reader here, in this sick-room of Louis,
endeavour to look with the mind too.

Time was when men could (so to speak) of a given man, by nourishing and
decorating him with fit appliances, to the due pitch, make themselves a
King, almost as the Bees do; and what was still more to the purpose,
loyally obey him when made. The man so nourished and decorated,
thenceforth named royal, does verily bear rule; and is said, and even
thought, to be, for example, 'prosecuting conquests in Flanders,' when he
lets himself like luggage be carried thither: and no light luggage;
covering miles of road. For he has his unblushing Chateauroux, with her
band-boxes and rouge-pots, at his side; so that, at every new station, a
wooden gallery must be run up between their lodgings. He has not only his
Maison-Bouche, and Valetaille without end, but his very Troop of Players,
with their pasteboard coulisses, thunder-barrels, their kettles, fiddles,
stage-wardrobes, portable larders (and chaffering and quarrelling enough);
all mounted in wagons, tumbrils, second-hand chaises,--sufficient not to
conquer Flanders, but the patience of the world. With such a flood of loud
jingling appurtenances does he lumber along, prosecuting his conquests in
Flanders; wonderful to behold. So nevertheless it was and had been: to
some solitary thinker it might seem strange; but even to him inevitable,
not unnatural.

For ours is a most fictile world; and man is the most fingent plastic of
creatures. A world not fixable; not fathomable! An unfathomable Somewhat,
which is Not we; which we can work with, and live amidst,--and model,
miraculously in our miraculous Being, and name World.--But if the very
Rocks and Rivers (as Metaphysic teaches) are, in strict language, made by
those outward Senses of ours, how much more, by the Inward Sense, are all
Phenomena of the spiritual kind: Dignities, Authorities, Holies, Unholies!
Which inward sense, moreover is not permanent like the outward ones, but
forever growing and changing. Does not the Black African take of Sticks
and Old Clothes (say, exported Monmouth-Street cast-clothes) what will
suffice, and of these, cunningly combining them, fabricate for himself an
Eidolon (Idol, or Thing Seen), and name it Mumbo-Jumbo; which he can
thenceforth pray to, with upturned awestruck eye, not without hope? The
white European mocks; but ought rather to consider; and see whether he, at
home, could not do the like a little more wisely.

So it was, we say, in those conquests of Flanders, thirty years ago: but
so it no longer is. Alas, much more lies sick than poor Louis: not the
French King only, but the French Kingship; this too, after long rough tear
and wear, is breaking down. The world is all so changed; so much that
seemed vigorous has sunk decrepit, so much that was not is beginning to
be!--Borne over the Atlantic, to the closing ear of Louis, King by the
Grace of God, what sounds are these; muffled ominous, new in our centuries?
Boston Harbour is black with unexpected Tea: behold a Pennsylvanian
Congress gather; and ere long, on Bunker Hill, DEMOCRACY announcing, in
rifle-volleys death-winged, under her Star Banner, to the tune of Yankee-
doodle-doo, that she is born, and, whirlwind-like, will envelope the whole

Sovereigns die and Sovereignties: how all dies, and is for a Time only; is
a 'Time-phantasm, yet reckons itself real!' The Merovingian Kings, slowly
wending on their bullock-carts through the streets of Paris, with their
long hair flowing, have all wended slowly on,--into Eternity. Charlemagne
sleeps at Salzburg, with truncheon grounded; only Fable expecting that he
will awaken. Charles the Hammer, Pepin Bow-legged, where now is their eye
of menace, their voice of command? Rollo and his shaggy Northmen cover not
the Seine with ships; but have sailed off on a longer voyage. The hair of
Towhead (Tete d'etoupes) now needs no combing; Iron-cutter (Taillefer)
cannot cut a cobweb; shrill Fredegonda, shrill Brunhilda have had out their
hot life-scold, and lie silent, their hot life-frenzy cooled. Neither from
that black Tower de Nesle descends now darkling the doomed gallant, in his
sack, to the Seine waters; plunging into Night: for Dame de Nesle how
cares not for this world's gallantry, heeds not this world's scandal; Dame
de Nesle is herself gone into Night. They are all gone; sunk,--down, down,
with the tumult they made; and the rolling and the trampling of ever new
generations passes over them, and they hear it not any more forever.

And yet withal has there not been realised somewhat? Consider (to go no
further) these strong Stone-edifices, and what they hold! Mud-Town of the
Borderers (Lutetia Parisiorum or Barisiorum) has paved itself, has spread
over all the Seine Islands, and far and wide on each bank, and become City
of Paris, sometimes boasting to be 'Athens of Europe,' and even 'Capital of
the Universe.' Stone towers frown aloft; long-lasting, grim with a
thousand years. Cathedrals are there, and a Creed (or memory of a Creed)
in them; Palaces, and a State and Law. Thou seest the Smoke-vapour;
unextinguished Breath as of a thing living. Labour's thousand hammers ring
on her anvils: also a more miraculous Labour works noiselessly, not with
the Hand but with the Thought. How have cunning workmen in all crafts,
with their cunning head and right-hand, tamed the Four Elements to be their
ministers; yoking the winds to their Sea-chariot, making the very Stars
their Nautical Timepiece;--and written and collected a Bibliotheque du Roi;
among whose Books is the Hebrew Book! A wondrous race of creatures: these
have been realised, and what of Skill is in these: call not the Past Time,
with all its confused wretchednesses, a lost one.

Observe, however, that of man's whole terrestrial possessions and
attainments, unspeakably the noblest are his Symbols, divine or divine-
seeming; under which he marches and fights, with victorious assurance, in
this life-battle: what we can call his Realised Ideals. Of which realised
ideals, omitting the rest, consider only these two: his Church, or
spiritual Guidance; his Kingship, or temporal one. The Church: what a
word was there; richer than Golconda and the treasures of the world! In
the heart of the remotest mountains rises the little Kirk; the Dead all
slumbering round it, under their white memorial-stones, 'in hope of a happy
resurrection:'--dull wert thou, O Reader, if never in any hour (say of
moaning midnight, when such Kirk hung spectral in the sky, and Being was as
if swallowed up of Darkness) it spoke to thee--things unspeakable, that
went into thy soul's soul. Strong was he that had a Church, what we can
call a Church: he stood thereby, though 'in the centre of Immensities, in
the conflux of Eternities,' yet manlike towards God and man; the vague
shoreless Universe had become for him a firm city, and dwelling which he
knew. Such virtue was in Belief; in these words, well spoken: I believe.
Well might men prize their Credo, and raise stateliest Temples for it, and
reverend Hierarchies, and give it the tithe of their substance; it was
worth living for and dying for.

Neither was that an inconsiderable moment when wild armed men first raised
their Strongest aloft on the buckler-throne, and with clanging armour and
hearts, said solemnly: Be thou our Acknowledged Strongest! In such
Acknowledged Strongest (well named King, Kon-ning, Can-ning, or Man that
was Able) what a Symbol shone now for them,--significant with the destinies
of the world! A Symbol of true Guidance in return for loving Obedience;
properly, if he knew it, the prime want of man. A Symbol which might be
called sacred; for is there not, in reverence for what is better than we,
an indestructible sacredness? On which ground, too, it was well said there
lay in the Acknowledged Strongest a divine right; as surely there might in
the Strongest, whether Acknowledged or not,--considering who made him
strong. And so, in the midst of confusions and unutterable incongruities
(as all growth is confused), did this of Royalty, with Loyalty environing
it, spring up; and grow mysteriously, subduing and assimilating (for a
principle of Life was in it); till it also had grown world-great, and was
among the main Facts of our modern existence. Such a Fact, that Louis
XIV., for example, could answer the expostulatory Magistrate with his
"L'Etat c'est moi (The State? I am the State);" and be replied to by
silence and abashed looks. So far had accident and forethought; had your
Louis Elevenths, with the leaden Virgin in their hatband, and torture-
wheels and conical oubliettes (man-eating!) under their feet; your Henri
Fourths, with their prophesied social millennium, 'when every peasant
should have his fowl in the pot;' and on the whole, the fertility of this
most fertile Existence (named of Good and Evil),--brought it, in the matter
of the Kingship. Wondrous! Concerning which may we not again say, that in
the huge mass of Evil, as it rolls and swells, there is ever some Good
working imprisoned; working towards deliverance and triumph?

How such Ideals do realise themselves; and grow, wondrously, from amid the
incongruous ever-fluctuating chaos of the Actual: this is what World-
History, if it teach any thing, has to teach us, How they grow; and, after
long stormy growth, bloom out mature, supreme; then quickly (for the
blossom is brief) fall into decay; sorrowfully dwindle; and crumble down,
or rush down, noisily or noiselessly disappearing. The blossom is so
brief; as of some centennial Cactus-flower, which after a century of
waiting shines out for hours! Thus from the day when rough Clovis, in the
Champ de Mars, in sight of his whole army, had to cleave retributively the
head of that rough Frank, with sudden battleaxe, and the fierce words, "It
was thus thou clavest the vase" (St. Remi's and mine) "at Soissons,"
forward to Louis the Grand and his L'Etat c'est moi, we count some twelve
hundred years: and now this the very next Louis is dying, and so much
dying with him!--Nay, thus too, if Catholicism, with and against Feudalism
(but not against Nature and her bounty), gave us English a Shakspeare and
Era of Shakspeare, and so produced a blossom of Catholicism--it was not
till Catholicism itself, so far as Law could abolish it, had been abolished

But of those decadent ages in which no Ideal either grows or blossoms?
When Belief and Loyalty have passed away, and only the cant and false echo
of them remains; and all Solemnity has become Pageantry; and the Creed of
persons in authority has become one of two things: an Imbecility or a
Macchiavelism? Alas, of these ages World-History can take no notice; they
have to become compressed more and more, and finally suppressed in the
Annals of Mankind; blotted out as spurious,--which indeed they are.
Hapless ages: wherein, if ever in any, it is an unhappiness to be born.
To be born, and to learn only, by every tradition and example, that God's
Universe is Belial's and a Lie; and 'the Supreme Quack' the hierarch of
men! In which mournfulest faith, nevertheless, do we not see whole
generations (two, and sometimes even three successively) live, what they
call living; and vanish,--without chance of reappearance?

In such a decadent age, or one fast verging that way, had our poor Louis
been born. Grant also that if the French Kingship had not, by course of
Nature, long to live, he of all men was the man to accelerate Nature. The
Blossom of French Royalty, cactus-like, has accordingly made an astonishing
progress. In those Metz days, it was still standing with all its petals,
though bedimmed by Orleans Regents and Roue Ministers and Cardinals; but
now, in 1774, we behold it bald, and the virtue nigh gone out of it.

Disastrous indeed does it look with those same 'realised ideals,' one and
all! The Church, which in its palmy season, seven hundred years ago, could
make an Emperor wait barefoot, in penance-shift; three days, in the snow,
has for centuries seen itself decaying; reduced even to forget old purposes
and enmities, and join interest with the Kingship: on this younger
strength it would fain stay its decrepitude; and these two will henceforth
stand and fall together. Alas, the Sorbonne still sits there, in its old
mansion; but mumbles only jargon of dotage, and no longer leads the
consciences of men: not the Sorbonne; it is Encyclopedies, Philosophie,
and who knows what nameless innumerable multitude of ready Writers, profane
Singers, Romancers, Players, Disputators, and Pamphleteers, that now form
the Spiritual Guidance of the world. The world's Practical Guidance too is
lost, or has glided into the same miscellaneous hands. Who is it that the
King (Able-man, named also Roi, Rex, or Director) now guides? His own
huntsmen and prickers: when there is to be no hunt, it is well said, 'Le
Roi ne fera rien (To-day his Majesty will do nothing). (Memoires sur la
Vie privee de Marie Antoinette, par Madame Campan (Paris, 1826), i. 12).
He lives and lingers there, because he is living there, and none has yet
laid hands on him.

The nobles, in like manner, have nearly ceased either to guide or misguide;
and are now, as their master is, little more than ornamental figures. It
is long since they have done with butchering one another or their king:
the Workers, protected, encouraged by Majesty, have ages ago built walled
towns, and there ply their crafts; will permit no Robber Baron to 'live by
the saddle,' but maintain a gallows to prevent it. Ever since that period
of the Fronde, the Noble has changed his fighting sword into a court
rapier, and now loyally attends his king as ministering satellite; divides
the spoil, not now by violence and murder, but by soliciting and finesse.
These men call themselves supports of the throne, singular gilt-pasteboard
caryatides in that singular edifice! For the rest, their privileges every
way are now much curtailed. That law authorizing a Seigneur, as he
returned from hunting, to kill not more than two Serfs, and refresh his
feet in their warm blood and bowels, has fallen into perfect desuetude,--
and even into incredibility; for if Deputy Lapoule can believe in it, and
call for the abrogation of it, so cannot we. (Histoire de la Revolution
Francaise, par Deux Amis de la Liberte (Paris, 1793), ii. 212.) No
Charolois, for these last fifty years, though never so fond of shooting,
has been in use to bring down slaters and plumbers, and see them roll from
their roofs; (Lacretelle, Histoire de France pendant le 18me Siecle (Paris,
1819) i. 271.) but contents himself with partridges and grouse. Close-
viewed, their industry and function is that of dressing gracefully and
eating sumptuously. As for their debauchery and depravity, it is perhaps
unexampled since the era of Tiberius and Commodus. Nevertheless, one has
still partly a feeling with the lady Marechale: "Depend upon it, Sir, God
thinks twice before damning a man of that quality." (Dulaure, vii. 261.)
These people, of old, surely had virtues, uses; or they could not have been
there. Nay, one virtue they are still required to have (for mortal man
cannot live without a conscience): the virtue of perfect readiness to
fight duels.

Such are the shepherds of the people: and now how fares it with the flock?
With the flock, as is inevitable, it fares ill, and ever worse. They are
not tended, they are only regularly shorn. They are sent for, to do
statute-labour, to pay statute-taxes; to fatten battle-fields (named 'Bed
of honour') with their bodies, in quarrels which are not theirs; their hand
and toil is in every possession of man; but for themselves they have little
or no possession. Untaught, uncomforted, unfed; to pine dully in thick
obscuration, in squalid destitution and obstruction: this is the lot of
the millions; peuple taillable et corveable a merci et misericorde. In
Brittany they once rose in revolt at the first introduction of Pendulum
Clocks; thinking it had something to do with the Gabelle. Paris requires
to be cleared out periodically by the Police; and the horde of hunger-
stricken vagabonds to be sent wandering again over space--for a time.
'During one such periodical clearance,' says Lacretelle, 'in May, 1750, the
Police had presumed withal to carry off some reputable people's children,
in the hope of extorting ransoms for them. The mothers fill the public
places with cries of despair; crowds gather, get excited: so many women in
destraction run about exaggerating the alarm: an absurd and horrid fable
arises among the people; it is said that the doctors have ordered a Great
Person to take baths of young human blood for the restoration of his own,
all spoiled by debaucheries. Some of the rioters,' adds Lacretelle, quite
coolly, 'were hanged on the following days:' the Police went on.
(Lacretelle, iii. 175.) O ye poor naked wretches! and this, then, is your
inarticulate cry to Heaven, as of a dumb tortured animal, crying from
uttermost depths of pain and debasement? Do these azure skies, like a dead
crystalline vault, only reverberate the echo of it on you? Respond to it
only by 'hanging on the following days?'--Not so: not forever! Ye are
heard in Heaven. And the answer too will come,--in a horror of great
darkness, and shakings of the world, and a cup of trembling which all the
nations shall drink.

Remark, meanwhile, how from amid the wrecks and dust of this universal
Decay new Powers are fashioning themselves, adapted to the new time and its
destinies. Besides the old Noblesse, originally of Fighters, there is a
new recognised Noblesse of Lawyers; whose gala-day and proud battle-day
even now is. An unrecognised Noblesse of Commerce; powerful enough, with
money in its pocket. Lastly, powerfulest of all, least recognised of all,
a Noblesse of Literature; without steel on their thigh, without gold in
their purse, but with the 'grand thaumaturgic faculty of Thought' in their
head. French Philosophism has arisen; in which little word how much do we
include! Here, indeed, lies properly the cardinal symptom of the whole
wide-spread malady. Faith is gone out; Scepticism is come in. Evil
abounds and accumulates: no man has Faith to withstand it, to amend it, to
begin by amending himself; it must even go on accumulating. While hollow
langour and vacuity is the lot of the Upper, and want and stagnation of the
Lower, and universal misery is very certain, what other thing is certain?
That a Lie cannot be believed! Philosophism knows only this: her other
belief is mainly that, in spiritual supersensual matters no Belief is
possible. Unhappy! Nay, as yet the Contradiction of a Lie is some kind of
Belief; but the Lie with its Contradiction once swept away, what will
remain? The five unsatiated Senses will remain, the sixth insatiable Sense
(of vanity); the whole daemonic nature of man will remain,--hurled forth to
rage blindly without rule or rein; savage itself, yet with all the tools
and weapons of civilisation; a spectacle new in History.

In such a France, as in a Powder-tower, where fire unquenched and now
unquenchable is smoking and smouldering all round, has Louis XV. lain down
to die. With Pompadourism and Dubarryism, his Fleur-de-lis has been
shamefully struck down in all lands and on all seas; Poverty invades even
the Royal Exchequer, and Tax-farming can squeeze out no more; there is a
quarrel of twenty-five years' standing with the Parlement; everywhere Want,
Dishonesty, Unbelief, and hotbrained Sciolists for state-physicians: it is
a portentous hour.

Such things can the eye of History see in this sick-room of King Louis,
which were invisible to the Courtiers there. It is twenty years, gone
Christmas-day, since Lord Chesterfield, summing up what he had noted of
this same France, wrote, and sent off by post, the following words, that
have become memorable: 'In short, all the symptoms which I have ever met
with in History, previous to great Changes and Revolutions in government,
now exist and daily increase in France.' (Chesterfield's Letters:
December 25th, 1753.)

Chapter 1.1.III.


For the present, however, the grand question with the Governors of France
is: Shall extreme unction, or other ghostly viaticum (to Louis, not to
France), be administered?

It is a deep question. For, if administered, if so much as spoken of, must
not, on the very threshold of the business, Witch Dubarry vanish; hardly to
return should Louis even recover? With her vanishes Duke d'Aiguillon and
Company, and all their Armida-Palace, as was said; Chaos swallows the whole
again, and there is left nothing but a smell of brimstone. But then, on
the other hand, what will the Dauphinists and Choiseulists say? Nay what
may the royal martyr himself say, should he happen to get deadly worse,
without getting delirious? For the present, he still kisses the Dubarry
hand; so we, from the ante-room, can note: but afterwards? Doctors'
bulletins may run as they are ordered, but it is 'confluent small-pox,'--of
which, as is whispered too, the Gatekeepers's once so buxom Daughter lies
ill: and Louis XV. is not a man to be trifled with in his viaticum. Was
he not wont to catechise his very girls in the Parc-aux-cerfs, and pray
with and for them, that they might preserve their--orthodoxy? (Dulaure,
viii. (217), Besenval, &c.) A strange fact, not an unexampled one; for
there is no animal so strange as man.

For the moment, indeed, it were all well, could Archbishop Beaumont but be
prevailed upon--to wink with one eye! Alas, Beaumont would himself so fain
do it: for, singular to tell, the Church too, and whole posthumous hope of
Jesuitism, now hangs by the apron of this same unmentionable woman. But
then 'the force of public opinion'? Rigorous Christophe de Beaumont, who
has spent his life in persecuting hysterical Jansenists and incredulous
Non-confessors; or even their dead bodies, if no better might be,--how
shall he now open Heaven's gate, and give Absolution with the corpus
delicti still under his nose? Our Grand-Almoner Roche-Aymon, for his part,
will not higgle with a royal sinner about turning of the key: but there
are other Churchmen; there is a King's Confessor, foolish Abbe Moudon; and
Fanaticism and Decency are not yet extinct. On the whole, what is to be
done? The doors can be well watched; the Medical Bulletin adjusted; and
much, as usual, be hoped for from time and chance.

The doors are well watched, no improper figure can enter. Indeed, few wish
to enter; for the putrid infection reaches even to the Oeil-de-Boeuf; so
that 'more than fifty fall sick, and ten die.' Mesdames the Princesses
alone wait at the loathsome sick-bed; impelled by filial piety. The three
Princesses, Graille, Chiffe, Coche (Rag, Snip, Pig, as he was wont to name
them), are assiduous there; when all have fled. The fourth Princess Loque
(Dud), as we guess, is already in the Nunnery, and can only give her
orisons. Poor Graille and Sisterhood, they have never known a Father:
such is the hard bargain Grandeur must make. Scarcely at the Debotter
(when Royalty took off its boots) could they snatch up their 'enormous
hoops, gird the long train round their waists, huddle on their black cloaks
of taffeta up to the very chin;' and so, in fit appearance of full dress,
'every evening at six,' walk majestically in; receive their royal kiss on
the brow; and then walk majestically out again, to embroidery, small-
scandal, prayers, and vacancy. If Majesty came some morning, with coffee
of its own making, and swallowed it with them hastily while the dogs were
uncoupling for the hunt, it was received as a grace of Heaven. (Campan, i.
11-36.) Poor withered ancient women! in the wild tossings that yet await
your fragile existence, before it be crushed and broken; as ye fly through
hostile countries, over tempestuous seas, are almost taken by the Turks;
and wholly, in the Sansculottic Earthquake, know not your right hand from
your left, be this always an assured place in your remembrance: for the act
was good and loving! To us also it is a little sunny spot, in that dismal
howling waste, where we hardly find another.

Meanwhile, what shall an impartial prudent Courtier do? In these delicate
circumstances, while not only death or life, but even sacrament or no
sacrament, is a question, the skilfulest may falter. Few are so happy as
the Duke d'Orleans and the Prince de Conde; who can themselves, with
volatile salts, attend the King's ante-chamber; and, at the same time, send
their brave sons (Duke de Chartres, Egalite that is to be; Duke de Bourbon,
one day Conde too, and famous among Dotards) to wait upon the Dauphin.
With another few, it is a resolution taken; jacta est alea. Old
Richelieu,--when Beaumont, driven by public opinion, is at last for
entering the sick-room,--will twitch him by the rochet, into a recess; and
there, with his old dissipated mastiff-face, and the oiliest vehemence, be
seen pleading (and even, as we judge by Beaumont's change of colour,
prevailing) 'that the King be not killed by a proposition in Divinity.'
Duke de Fronsac, son of Richelieu, can follow his father: when the Cure of
Versailles whimpers something about sacraments, he will threaten to 'throw
him out of the window if he mention such a thing.'

Happy these, we may say; but to the rest that hover between two opinions,
is it not trying? He who would understand to what a pass Catholicism, and
much else, had now got; and how the symbols of the Holiest have become
gambling-dice of the Basest,--must read the narrative of those things by
Besenval, and Soulavie, and the other Court Newsmen of the time. He will
see the Versailles Galaxy all scattered asunder, grouped into new ever-
shifting Constellations. There are nods and sagacious glances; go-
betweens, silk dowagers mysteriously gliding, with smiles for this
constellation, sighs for that: there is tremor, of hope or desperation, in
several hearts. There is the pale grinning Shadow of Death, ceremoniously
ushered along by another grinning Shadow, of Etiquette: at intervals the
growl of Chapel Organs, like prayer by machinery; proclaiming, as in a kind
of horrid diabolic horse-laughter, Vanity of vanities, all is Vanity!

Chapter 1.1.IV.

Louis the Unforgotten.

Poor Louis! With these it is a hollow phantasmagory, where like mimes they
mope and mowl, and utter false sounds for hire; but with thee it is
frightful earnest.

Frightful to all men is Death; from of old named King of Terrors. Our
little compact home of an Existence, where we dwelt complaining, yet as in
a home, is passing, in dark agonies, into an Unknown of Separation,
Foreignness, unconditioned Possibility. The Heathen Emperor asks of his
soul: Into what places art thou now departing? The Catholic King must
answer: To the Judgment-bar of the Most High God! Yes, it is a summing-up
of Life; a final settling, and giving-in the 'account of the deeds done in
the body:' they are done now; and lie there unalterable, and do bear their
fruits, long as Eternity shall last.

Louis XV. had always the kingliest abhorrence of Death. Unlike that
praying Duke of Orleans, Egalite's grandfather,--for indeed several of them
had a touch of madness,--who honesty believed that there was no Death! He,
if the Court Newsmen can be believed, started up once on a time, glowing
with sulphurous contempt and indignation on his poor Secretary, who had
stumbled on the words, feu roi d'Espagne (the late King of Spain): "Feu
roi, Monsieur?"--"Monseigneur," hastily answered the trembling but adroit
man of business, "c'est une titre qu'ils prennent ('tis a title they
take)." (Besenval, i. 199.) Louis, we say, was not so happy; but he did
what he could. He would not suffer Death to be spoken of; avoided the
sight of churchyards, funereal monuments, and whatsoever could bring it to
mind. It is the resource of the Ostrich; who, hard hunted, sticks his
foolish head in the ground, and would fain forget that his foolish unseeing
body is not unseen too. Or sometimes, with a spasmodic antagonism,
significant of the same thing, and of more, he would go; or stopping his
court carriages, would send into churchyards, and ask 'how many new graves
there were today,' though it gave his poor Pompadour the disagreeablest
qualms. We can figure the thought of Louis that day, when, all royally
caparisoned for hunting, he met, at some sudden turning in the Wood of
Senart, a ragged Peasant with a coffin: "For whom?"--It was for a poor
brother slave, whom Majesty had sometimes noticed slaving in those
quarters. "What did he die of?"--"Of hunger:"--the King gave his steed the
spur. (Campan, iii. 39.)

But figure his thought, when Death is now clutching at his own heart-
strings, unlooked for, inexorable! Yes, poor Louis, Death has found thee.
No palace walls or life-guards, gorgeous tapestries or gilt buckram of
stiffest ceremonial could keep him out; but he is here, here at thy very
life-breath, and will extinguish it. Thou, whose whole existence hitherto
was a chimera and scenic show, at length becomest a reality: sumptuous
Versailles bursts asunder, like a dream, into void Immensity; Time is done,
and all the scaffolding of Time falls wrecked with hideous clangour round
thy soul: the pale Kingdoms yawn open; there must thou enter, naked, all
unking'd, and await what is appointed thee! Unhappy man, there as thou
turnest, in dull agony, on thy bed of weariness, what a thought is thine!
Purgatory and Hell-fire, now all-too possible, in the prospect; in the
retrospect,--alas, what thing didst thou do that were not better undone;
what mortal didst thou generously help; what sorrow hadst thou mercy on?
Do the 'five hundred thousand' ghosts, who sank shamefully on so many
battle-fields from Rossbach to Quebec, that thy Harlot might take revenge
for an epigram,--crowd round thee in this hour? Thy foul Harem; the curses
of mothers, the tears and infamy of daughters? Miserable man! thou 'hast
done evil as thou couldst:' thy whole existence seems one hideous abortion
and mistake of Nature; the use and meaning of thee not yet known. Wert
thou a fabulous Griffin, devouring the works of men; daily dragging virgins
to thy cave;--clad also in scales that no spear would pierce: no spear but
Death's? A Griffin not fabulous but real! Frightful, O Louis, seem these
moments for thee.--We will pry no further into the horrors of a sinner's

And yet let no meanest man lay flattering unction to his soul. Louis was a
Ruler; but art not thou also one? His wide France, look at it from the
Fixed Stars (themselves not yet Infinitude), is no wider than thy narrow
brickfield, where thou too didst faithfully, or didst unfaithfully. Man,
'Symbol of Eternity imprisoned into 'Time!' it is not thy works, which are
all mortal, infinitely little, and the greatest no greater than the least,
but only the Spirit thou workest in, that can have worth or continuance.

But reflect, in any case, what a life-problem this of poor Louis, when he
rose as Bien-Aime from that Metz sick-bed, really was! What son of Adam
could have swayed such incoherences into coherence? Could he? Blindest
Fortune alone has cast him on the top of it: he swims there; can as little
sway it as the drift-log sways the wind-tossed moon-stirred Atlantic.
"What have I done to be so loved?" he said then. He may say now: What
have I done to be so hated? Thou hast done nothing, poor Louis! Thy fault
is properly even this, that thou didst nothing. What could poor Louis do?
Abdicate, and wash his hands of it,--in favour of the first that would
accept! Other clear wisdom there was none for him. As it was, he stood
gazing dubiously, the absurdest mortal extant (a very Solecism Incarnate),
into the absurdest confused world;--wherein at lost nothing seemed so
certain as that he, the incarnate Solecism, had five senses; that were
Flying Tables (Tables Volantes, which vanish through the floor, to come
back reloaded). and a Parc-aux-cerfs.

Whereby at least we have again this historical curiosity: a human being in
an original position; swimming passively, as on some boundless 'Mother of
Dead Dogs,' towards issues which he partly saw. For Louis had withal a
kind of insight in him. So, when a new Minister of Marine, or what else it
might be, came announcing his new era, the Scarlet-woman would hear from
the lips of Majesty at supper: "He laid out his ware like another;
promised the beautifulest things in the world; not a thing of which will
come: he does not know this region; he will see." Or again: "'Tis the
twentieth time I hear all that; France will never get a Navy, I believe."
How touching also was this: "If I were Lieutenant of Police, I would
prohibit those Paris cabriolets." (Journal de Madame de Hausset, p. 293,

Doomed mortal;--for is it not a doom to be Solecism incarnate! A new Roi
Faineant, King Donothing; but with the strangest new Mayor of the Palace:
no bow-legged Pepin now, but that same cloud-capt, fire-breathing Spectre
of DEMOCRACY; incalculable, which is enveloping the world!--Was Louis no
wickeder than this or the other private Donothing and Eatall; such as we
often enough see, under the name of Man, and even Man of Pleasure,
cumbering God's diligent Creation, for a time? Say, wretcheder! His Life-
solecism was seen and felt of a whole scandalised world; him endless
Oblivion cannot engulf, and swallow to endless depths,--not yet for a
generation or two.

However, be this as it will, we remark, not without interest, that 'on the
evening of the 4th,' Dame Dubarry issues from the sick-room, with
perceptible 'trouble in her visage.' It is the fourth evening of May, year
of Grace 1774. Such a whispering in the Oeil-de-Boeuf! Is he dying then?
What can be said is, that Dubarry seems making up her packages; she sails
weeping through her gilt boudoirs, as if taking leave. D'Aiguilon and
Company are near their last card; nevertheless they will not yet throw up
the game. But as for the sacramental controversy, it is as good as settled
without being mentioned; Louis can send for his Abbe Moudon in the course
of next night, be confessed by him, some say for the space of 'seventeen
minutes,' and demand the sacraments of his own accord.

Nay, already, in the afternoon, behold is not this your Sorceress Dubarry
with the handkerchief at her eyes, mounting D'Aiguillon's chariot; rolling
off in his Duchess's consolatory arms? She is gone; and her place knows
her no more. Vanish, false Sorceress; into Space! Needless to hover at
neighbouring Ruel; for thy day is done. Shut are the royal palace-gates
for evermore; hardly in coming years shalt thou, under cloud of night,
descend once, in black domino, like a black night-bird, and disturb the
fair Antoinette's music-party in the Park: all Birds of Paradise flying
from thee, and musical windpipes growing mute. (Campan, i. 197.) Thou
unclean, yet unmalignant, not unpitiable thing! What a course was thine:
from that first trucklebed (in Joan of Arc's country) where thy mother bore
thee, with tears, to an unnamed father: forward, through lowest
subterranean depths, and over highest sunlit heights, of Harlotdom and
Rascaldom--to the guillotine-axe, which shears away thy vainly whimpering
head! Rest there uncursed; only buried and abolished: what else befitted

Louis, meanwhile, is in considerable impatience for his sacraments; sends
more than once to the window, to see whether they are not coming. Be of
comfort, Louis, what comfort thou canst: they are under way, those
sacraments. Towards six in the morning, they arrive. Cardinal Grand-
Almoner Roche-Aymon is here, in pontificals, with his pyxes and his tools;
he approaches the royal pillow; elevates his wafer; mutters or seems to
mutter somewhat;--and so (as the Abbe Georgel, in words that stick to one,
expresses it) has Louis 'made the amende honorable to God;' so does your
Jesuit construe it.--"Wa, Wa," as the wild Clotaire groaned out, when life
was departing, "what great God is this that pulls down the strength of the
strongest kings!" (Gregorius Turonensis, Histor. lib. iv. cap. 21.)

The amende honorable, what 'legal apology' you will, to God:--but not, if
D'Aiguillon can help it, to man. Dubarry still hovers in his mansion at
Ruel; and while there is life, there is hope. Grand-Almoner Roche-Aymon,
accordingly (for he seems to be in the secret), has no sooner seen his
pyxes and gear repacked, then he is stepping majestically forth again, as
if the work were done! But King's Confessor Abbe Moudon starts forward;
with anxious acidulent face, twitches him by the sleeve; whispers in his
ear. Whereupon the poor Cardinal must turn round; and declare audibly;
"That his Majesty repents of any subjects of scandal he may have given (a
pu donner); and purposes, by the strength of Heaven assisting him, to avoid
the like--for the future!" Words listened to by Richelieu with mastiff-
face, growing blacker; answered to, aloud, 'with an epithet,'--which
Besenval will not repeat. Old Richelieu, conqueror of Minorca, companion
of Flying-Table orgies, perforator of bedroom walls, (Besenval, i. 159-172.
Genlis; Duc de Levis, &c.) is thy day also done?

Alas, the Chapel organs may keep going; the Shrine of Sainte Genevieve be
let down, and pulled up again,--without effect. In the evening the whole
Court, with Dauphin and Dauphiness, assist at the Chapel: priests are
hoarse with chanting their 'Prayers of Forty Hours;' and the heaving
bellows blow. Almost frightful! For the very heaven blackens; battering
rain-torrents dash, with thunder; almost drowning the organ's voice: and
electric fire-flashes make the very flambeaux on the altar pale. So that
the most, as we are told, retired, when it was over, with hurried steps,
'in a state of meditation (recueillement),' and said little or nothing.
(Weber, Memoires concernant Marie-Antoinette (London, 1809), i. 22.)

So it has lasted for the better half of a fortnight; the Dubarry gone
almost a week. Besenval says, all the world was getting impatient que cela
finit; that poor Louis would have done with it. It is now the 10th of May
1774. He will soon have done now.

This tenth May day falls into the loathsome sick-bed; but dull, unnoticed
there: for they that look out of the windows are quite darkened; the
cistern-wheel moves discordant on its axis; Life, like a spent steed, is
panting towards the goal. In their remote apartments, Dauphin and
Dauphiness stand road-ready; all grooms and equerries booted and spurred:
waiting for some signal to escape the house of pestilence. (One grudges to
interfere with the beautiful theatrical 'candle,' which Madame Campan (i.
79) has lit on this occasion, and blown out at the moment of death. What
candles might be lit or blown out, in so large an Establishment as that of
Versailles, no man at such distance would like to affirm: at the same
time, as it was two o'clock in a May Afternoon, and these royal Stables
must have been some five or six hundred yards from the royal sick-room, the
'candle' does threaten to go out in spite of us. It remains burning
indeed--in her fantasy; throwing light on much in those Memoires of hers.)
And, hark! across the Oeil-de-Boeuf, what sound is that; sound 'terrible
and absolutely like thunder'? It is the rush of the whole Court, rushing
as in wager, to salute the new Sovereigns: Hail to your Majesties! The
Dauphin and Dauphiness are King and Queen! Over-powered with many
emotions, they two fall on their knees together, and, with streaming tears,
exclaim, "O God, guide us, protect us; we are too young to reign!"--Too
young indeed.

Thus, in any case, 'with a sound absolutely like thunder,' has the Horologe
of Time struck, and an old Era passed away. The Louis that was, lies
forsaken, a mass of abhorred clay; abandoned 'to some poor persons, and
priests of the Chapelle Ardente,'--who make haste to put him 'in two lead
coffins, pouring in abundant spirits of wine.' The new Louis with his
Court is rolling towards Choisy, through the summer afternoon: the royal
tears still flow; but a word mispronounced by Monseigneur d'Artois sets
them all laughing, and they weep no more. Light mortals, how ye walk your
light life-minuet, over bottomless abysses, divided from you by a film!

For the rest, the proper authorities felt that no Funeral could be too
unceremonious. Besenval himself thinks it was unceremonious enough. Two
carriages containing two noblemen of the usher species, and a Versailles
clerical person; some score of mounted pages, some fifty palfreniers;
these, with torches, but not so much as in black, start from Versailles on
the second evening with their leaden bier. At a high trot they start; and
keep up that pace. For the jibes (brocards) of those Parisians, who stand
planted in two rows, all the way to St. Denis, and 'give vent to their
pleasantry, the characteristic of the nation,' do not tempt one to slacken.
Towards midnight the vaults of St. Denis receive their own; unwept by any
eye of all these; if not by poor Loque his neglected Daughter's, whose
Nunnery is hard by.

Him they crush down, and huddle under-ground, in this impatient way; him
and his era of sin and tyranny and shame; for behold a New Era is come; the
future all the brighter that the past was base.



Chapter 1.2.I.

Astraea Redux.

A paradoxical philosopher, carrying to the uttermost length that aphorism
of Montesquieu's, 'Happy the people whose annals are tiresome,' has said,
'Happy the people whose annals are vacant.' In which saying, mad as it
looks, may there not still be found some grain of reason? For truly, as it
has been written, 'Silence is divine,' and of Heaven; so in all earthly
things too there is a silence which is better than any speech. Consider it
well, the Event, the thing which can be spoken of and recorded, is it not,
in all cases, some disruption, some solution of continuity? Were it even a
glad Event, it involves change, involves loss (of active Force); and so
far, either in the past or in the present, is an irregularity, a disease.
Stillest perseverance were our blessedness; not dislocation and
alteration,--could they be avoided.

The oak grows silently, in the forest, a thousand years; only in the
thousandth year, when the woodman arrives with his axe, is there heard an
echoing through the solitudes; and the oak announces itself when, with a
far-sounding crash, it falls. How silent too was the planting of the
acorn; scattered from the lap of some wandering wind! Nay, when our oak
flowered, or put on its leaves (its glad Events), what shout of
proclamation could there be? Hardly from the most observant a word of
recognition. These things befell not, they were slowly done; not in an
hour, but through the flight of days: what was to be said of it? This
hour seemed altogether as the last was, as the next would be.

It is thus everywhere that foolish Rumour babbles not of what was done, but
of what was misdone or undone; and foolish History (ever, more or less, the
written epitomised synopsis of Rumour) knows so little that were not as
well unknown. Attila Invasions, Walter-the-Penniless Crusades, Sicilian
Vespers, Thirty-Years Wars: mere sin and misery; not work, but hindrance
of work! For the Earth, all this while, was yearly green and yellow with
her kind harvests; the hand of the craftsman, the mind of the thinker
rested not: and so, after all, and in spite of all, we have this so
glorious high-domed blossoming World; concerning which, poor History may
well ask, with wonder, Whence it came? She knows so little of it, knows so
much of what obstructed it, what would have rendered it impossible. Such,
nevertheless, by necessity or foolish choice, is her rule and practice;
whereby that paradox, 'Happy the people whose annals are vacant,' is not
without its true side.

And yet, what seems more pertinent to note here, there is a stillness, not
of unobstructed growth, but of passive inertness, and symptom of imminent
downfall. As victory is silent, so is defeat. Of the opposing forces the
weaker has resigned itself; the stronger marches on, noiseless now, but
rapid, inevitable: the fall and overturn will not be noiseless. How all
grows, and has its period, even as the herbs of the fields, be it annual,
centennial, millennial! All grows and dies, each by its own wondrous laws,
in wondrous fashion of its own; spiritual things most wondrously of all.
Inscrutable, to the wisest, are these latter; not to be prophesied of, or
understood. If when the oak stands proudliest flourishing to the eye, you
know that its heart is sound, it is not so with the man; how much less with
the Society, with the Nation of men! Of such it may be affirmed even that
the superficial aspect, that the inward feeling of full health, is
generally ominous. For indeed it is of apoplexy, so to speak, and a
plethoric lazy habit of body, that Churches, Kingships, Social
Institutions, oftenest die. Sad, when such Institution plethorically says
to itself, Take thy ease, thou hast goods laid up;--like the fool of the
Gospel, to whom it was answered, Fool, this night thy life shall be
required of thee!

Is it the healthy peace, or the ominous unhealthy, that rests on France,
for these next Ten Years? Over which the Historian can pass lightly,
without call to linger: for as yet events are not, much less performances.
Time of sunniest stillness;--shall we call it, what all men thought it, the
new Age of God? Call it at least, of Paper; which in many ways is the
succedaneum of Gold. Bank-paper, wherewith you can still buy when there is
no gold left; Book-paper, splendent with Theories, Philosophies,
Sensibilities,--beautiful art, not only of revealing Thought, but also of
so beautifully hiding from us the want of Thought! Paper is made from the
rags of things that did once exist; there are endless excellences in
Paper.--What wisest Philosophe, in this halcyon uneventful period, could
prophesy that there was approaching, big with darkness and confusion, the
event of events? Hope ushers in a Revolution,--as earthquakes are preceded
by bright weather. On the Fifth of May, fifteen years hence, old Louis
will not be sending for the Sacraments; but a new Louis, his grandson, with
the whole pomp of astonished intoxicated France, will be opening the

Dubarrydom and its D'Aiguillons are gone forever. There is a young, still
docile, well-intentioned King; a young, beautiful and bountiful, well-
intentioned Queen; and with them all France, as it were, become young.
Maupeou and his Parlement have to vanish into thick night; respectable
Magistrates, not indifferent to the Nation, were it only for having been
opponents of the Court, can descend unchained from their 'steep rocks at
Croe in Combrailles' and elsewhere, and return singing praises: the old
Parlement of Paris resumes its functions. Instead of a profligate bankrupt
Abbe Terray, we have now, for Controller-General, a virtuous philosophic
Turgot, with a whole Reformed France in his head. By whom whatsoever is
wrong, in Finance or otherwise, will be righted,--as far as possible. Is
it not as if Wisdom herself were henceforth to have seat and voice in the
Council of Kings? Turgot has taken office with the noblest plainness of
speech to that effect; been listened to with the noblest royal
trustfulness. (Turgot's Letter: Condorcet, Vie de Turgot (Oeuvres de
Condorcet, t. v.), p. 67. The date is 24th August, 1774.) It is true, as
King Louis objects, "They say he never goes to mass;" but liberal France
likes him little worse for that; liberal France answers, "The Abbe Terray
always went." Philosophism sees, for the first time, a Philosophe (or even
a Philosopher) in office: she in all things will applausively second him;
neither will light old Maurepas obstruct, if he can easily help it.

Then how 'sweet' are the manners; vice 'losing all its deformity;' becoming
decent (as established things, making regulations for themselves, do);
becoming almost a kind of 'sweet' virtue! Intelligence so abounds;
irradiated by wit and the art of conversation. Philosophism sits joyful in
her glittering saloons, the dinner-guest of Opulence grown ingenuous, the
very nobles proud to sit by her; and preaches, lifted up over all
Bastilles, a coming millennium. From far Ferney, Patriarch Voltaire gives
sign: veterans Diderot, D'Alembert have lived to see this day; these with
their younger Marmontels, Morellets, Chamforts, Raynals, make glad the
spicy board of rich ministering Dowager, of philosophic Farmer-General. O
nights and suppers of the gods! Of a truth, the long-demonstrated will now
be done: 'the Age of Revolutions approaches' (as Jean Jacques wrote), but
then of happy blessed ones. Man awakens from his long somnambulism; chases
the Phantasms that beleagured and bewitched him. Behold the new morning
glittering down the eastern steeps; fly, false Phantasms, from its shafts
of light; let the Absurd fly utterly forsaking this lower Earth for ever.
It is Truth and Astraea Redux that (in the shape of Philosophism)
henceforth reign. For what imaginable purpose was man made, if not to be
'happy'? By victorious Analysis, and Progress of the Species, happiness
enough now awaits him. Kings can become philosophers; or else philosophers
Kings. Let but Society be once rightly constituted,--by victorious
Analysis. The stomach that is empty shall be filled; the throat that is
dry shall be wetted with wine. Labour itself shall be all one as rest; not
grievous, but joyous. Wheatfields, one would think, cannot come to grow
untilled; no man made clayey, or made weary thereby;--unless indeed
machinery will do it? Gratuitous Tailors and Restaurateurs may start up,
at fit intervals, one as yet sees not how. But if each will, according to
rule of Benevolence, have a care for all, then surely--no one will be
uncared for. Nay, who knows but, by sufficiently victorious Analysis,
'human life may be indefinitely lengthened,' and men get rid of Death, as
they have already done of the Devil? We shall then be happy in spite of
Death and the Devil.--So preaches magniloquent Philosophism her Redeunt
Saturnia regna.

The prophetic song of Paris and its Philosophes is audible enough in the
Versailles Oeil-de-Boeuf; and the Oeil-de-Boeuf, intent chiefly on nearer
blessedness, can answer, at worst, with a polite "Why not?" Good old
cheery Maurepas is too joyful a Prime Minister to dash the world's joy.
Sufficient for the day be its own evil. Cheery old man, he cuts his jokes,
and hovers careless along; his cloak well adjusted to the wind, if so be he
may please all persons. The simple young King, whom a Maurepas cannot
think of troubling with business, has retired into the interior apartments;
taciturn, irresolute; though with a sharpness of temper at times: he, at
length, determines on a little smithwork; and so, in apprenticeship with a
Sieur Gamain (whom one day he shall have little cause to bless), is
learning to make locks. (Campan, i. 125.) It appears further, he
understood Geography; and could read English. Unhappy young King, his
childlike trust in that foolish old Maurepas deserved another return. But
friend and foe, destiny and himself have combined to do him hurt.

Meanwhile the fair young Queen, in her halls of state, walks like a goddess
of Beauty, the cynosure of all eyes; as yet mingles not with affairs; heeds
not the future; least of all, dreads it. Weber and Campan (Ib. i. 100-151.
Weber, i. 11-50.) have pictured her, there within the royal tapestries, in
bright boudoirs, baths, peignoirs, and the Grand and Little Toilette; with
a whole brilliant world waiting obsequious on her glance: fair young
daughter of Time, what things has Time in store for thee! Like Earth's
brightest Appearance, she moves gracefully, environed with the grandeur of
Earth: a reality, and yet a magic vision; for, behold, shall not utter
Darkness swallow it! The soft young heart adopts orphans, portions
meritorious maids, delights to succour the poor,--such poor as come
picturesquely in her way; and sets the fashion of doing it; for as was
said, Benevolence has now begun reigning. In her Duchess de Polignac, in
Princess de Lamballe, she enjoys something almost like friendship; now too,
after seven long years, she has a child, and soon even a Dauphin, of her
own; can reckon herself, as Queens go, happy in a husband.

Events? The Grand events are but charitable Feasts of Morals (Fetes des
moeurs), with their Prizes and Speeches; Poissarde Processions to the
Dauphin's cradle; above all, Flirtations, their rise, progress, decline and
fall. There are Snow-statues raised by the poor in hard winter to a Queen
who has given them fuel. There are masquerades, theatricals; beautifyings
of little Trianon, purchase and repair of St. Cloud; journeyings from the
summer Court-Elysium to the winter one. There are poutings and grudgings
from the Sardinian Sisters-in-law (for the Princes too are wedded); little
jealousies, which Court-Etiquette can moderate. Wholly the lightest-
hearted frivolous foam of Existence; yet an artfully refined foam; pleasant
were it not so costly, like that which mantles on the wine of Champagne!

Monsieur, the King's elder Brother, has set up for a kind of wit; and leans
towards the Philosophe side. Monseigneur d'Artois pulls the mask from a
fair impertinent; fights a duel in consequence,--almost drawing blood.
(Besenval, ii. 282-330.) He has breeches of a kind new in this world;--a
fabulous kind; 'four tall lackeys,' says Mercier, as if he had seen it,
'hold him up in the air, that he may fall into the garment without vestige
of wrinkle; from which rigorous encasement the same four, in the same way,
and with more effort, must deliver him at night.' (Mercier, Nouveau Paris,
iii. 147.) This last is he who now, as a gray time-worn man, sits desolate
at Gratz; (A.D. 1834.) having winded up his destiny with the Three Days.
In such sort are poor mortals swept and shovelled to and fro.

Chapter 1.2.II.

Petition in Hieroglyphs.

With the working people, again it is not so well. Unlucky! For there are
twenty to twenty-five millions of them. Whom, however, we lump together
into a kind of dim compendious unity, monstrous but dim, far off, as the
canaille; or, more humanely, as 'the masses.' Masses, indeed: and yet,
singular to say, if, with an effort of imagination, thou follow them, over
broad France, into their clay hovels, into their garrets and hutches, the
masses consist all of units. Every unit of whom has his own heart and
sorrows; stands covered there with his own skin, and if you prick him he
will bleed. O purple Sovereignty, Holiness, Reverence; thou, for example,
Cardinal Grand-Almoner, with thy plush covering of honour, who hast thy
hands strengthened with dignities and moneys, and art set on thy world
watch-tower solemnly, in sight of God, for such ends,--what a thought:
that every unit of these masses is a miraculous Man, even as thyself art;
struggling, with vision, or with blindness, for his infinite Kingdom (this
life which he has got, once only, in the middle of Eternities); with a
spark of the Divinity, what thou callest an immortal soul, in him!

Dreary, languid do these struggle in their obscure remoteness; their hearth
cheerless, their diet thin. For them, in this world, rises no Era of Hope;
hardly now in the other,--if it be not hope in the gloomy rest of Death,
for their faith too is failing. Untaught, uncomforted, unfed! A dumb
generation; their voice only an inarticulate cry: spokesman, in the King's
Council, in the world's forum, they have none that finds credence. At rare
intervals (as now, in 1775), they will fling down their hoes and hammers;
and, to the astonishment of thinking mankind, (Lacretelle, France pendant
le 18me Siecle, ii. 455. Biographie Universelle, para Turgot (by
Durozoir).) flock hither and thither, dangerous, aimless; get the length
even of Versailles. Turgot is altering the Corn-trade, abrogating the
absurdest Corn-laws; there is dearth, real, or were it even 'factitious;'
an indubitable scarcity of bread. And so, on the second day of May 1775,
these waste multitudes do here, at Versailles Chateau, in wide-spread
wretchedness, in sallow faces, squalor, winged raggedness, present, as in
legible hieroglyphic writing, their Petition of Grievances. The Chateau
gates have to be shut; but the King will appear on the balcony, and speak
to them. They have seen the King's face; their Petition of Grievances has
been, if not read, looked at. For answer, two of them are hanged, 'on a
new gallows forty feet high;' and the rest driven back to their dens,--for
a time.

Clearly a difficult 'point' for Government, that of dealing with these
masses;--if indeed it be not rather the sole point and problem of
Government, and all other points mere accidental crotchets,
superficialities, and beatings of the wind! For let Charter-Chests, Use
and Wont, Law common and special say what they will, the masses count to so
many millions of units; made, to all appearance, by God,--whose Earth this
is declared to be. Besides, the people are not without ferocity; they have
sinews and indignation. Do but look what holiday old Marquis Mirabeau, the
crabbed old friend of Men, looked on, in these same years, from his
lodging, at the Baths of Mont d'Or: 'The savages descending in torrents
from the mountains; our people ordered not to go out. The Curate in
surplice and stole; Justice in its peruke; Marechausee sabre in hand,
guarding the place, till the bagpipes can begin. The dance interrupted, in
a quarter of an hour, by battle; the cries, the squealings of children, of
infirm persons, and other assistants, tarring them on, as the rabble does
when dogs fight: frightful men, or rather frightful wild animals, clad in
jupes of coarse woollen, with large girdles of leather studded with copper
nails; of gigantic stature, heightened by high wooden-clogs (sabots);
rising on tiptoe to see the fight; tramping time to it; rubbing their sides
with their elbows: their faces haggard (figures haves), and covered with
their long greasy hair; the upper part of the visage waxing pale, the lower
distorting itself into the attempt at a cruel laugh and a sort of ferocious
impatience. And these people pay the taille! And you want further to take
their salt from them! And you know not what it is you are stripping barer,
or as you call it, governing; what by the spurt of your pen, in its cold
dastard indifference, you will fancy you can starve always with impunity;
always till the catastrophe come!--Ah Madame, such Government by
Blindman's-buff, stumbling along too far, will end in the General Overturn
(culbute generale). (Memoires de Mirabeau, ecrits par Lui-meme, par son
Pere, son Oncle et son Fils Adoptif (Paris, 34-5), ii.186.)

Undoubtedly a dark feature this in an Age of Gold,--Age, at least, of Paper
and Hope! Meanwhile, trouble us not with thy prophecies, O croaking Friend
of Men: 'tis long that we have heard such; and still the old world keeps
wagging, in its old way.

Chapter 1.2.III.


Or is this same Age of Hope itself but a simulacrum; as Hope too often is?
Cloud-vapour with rainbows painted on it, beautiful to see, to sail
towards,--which hovers over Niagara Falls? In that case, victorious
Analysis will have enough to do.

Alas, yes! a whole world to remake, if she could see it; work for another
than she! For all is wrong, and gone out of joint; the inward spiritual,
and the outward economical; head or heart, there is no soundness in it. As
indeed, evils of all sorts are more or less of kin, and do usually go
together: especially it is an old truth, that wherever huge physical evil
is, there, as the parent and origin of it, has moral evil to a
proportionate extent been. Before those five-and-twenty labouring
Millions, for instance, could get that haggardness of face, which old
Mirabeau now looks on, in a Nation calling itself Christian, and calling
man the brother of man,--what unspeakable, nigh infinite Dishonesty (of
seeming and not being) in all manner of Rulers, and appointed Watchers,
spiritual and temporal, must there not, through long ages, have gone on
accumulating! It will accumulate: moreover, it will reach a head; for the
first of all Gospels is this, that a Lie cannot endure for ever.

In fact, if we pierce through that rosepink vapour of Sentimentalism,
Philanthropy, and Feasts of Morals, there lies behind it one of the
sorriest spectacles. You might ask, What bonds that ever held a human
society happily together, or held it together at all, are in force here?
It is an unbelieving people; which has suppositions, hypotheses, and froth-
systems of victorious Analysis; and for belief this mainly, that Pleasure
is pleasant. Hunger they have for all sweet things; and the law of Hunger;
but what other law? Within them, or over them, properly none!

Their King has become a King Popinjay; with his Maurepas Government,
gyrating as the weather-cock does, blown about by every wind. Above them
they see no God; or they even do not look above, except with astronomical
glasses. The Church indeed still is; but in the most submissive state;
quite tamed by Philosophism; in a singularly short time; for the hour was
come. Some twenty years ago, your Archbishop Beaumont would not even let
the poor Jansenists get buried: your Lomenie Brienne (a rising man, whom
we shall meet with yet) could, in the name of the Clergy, insist on having
the Anti-protestant laws, which condemn to death for preaching, 'put in
execution.' (Boissy d'Anglas, Vie de Malesherbes, i. 15-22.) And, alas,
now not so much as Baron Holbach's Atheism can be burnt,--except as pipe-
matches by the private speculative individual. Our Church stands haltered,
dumb, like a dumb ox; lowing only for provender (of tithes); content if it
can have that; or, dumbly, dully expecting its further doom. And the
Twenty Millions of 'haggard faces;' and, as finger-post and guidance to
them in their dark struggle, 'a gallows forty feet high'! Certainly a
singular Golden Age; with its Feasts of Morals, its 'sweet manners,' its
sweet institutions (institutions douces); betokening nothing but peace
among men!--Peace? O Philosophe-Sentimentalism, what hast thou to do with
peace, when thy mother's name is Jezebel? Foul Product of still fouler
Corruption, thou with the corruption art doomed!

Meanwhile it is singular how long the rotten will hold together, provided
you do not handle it roughly. For whole generations it continues standing,
'with a ghastly affectation of life,' after all life and truth has fled out
of it; so loth are men to quit their old ways; and, conquering indolence
and inertia, venture on new. Great truly is the Actual; is the Thing that
has rescued itself from bottomless deeps of theory and possibility, and
stands there as a definite indisputable Fact, whereby men do work and live,
or once did so. Widely shall men cleave to that, while it will endure; and
quit it with regret, when it gives way under them. Rash enthusiast of
Change, beware! Hast thou well considered all that Habit does in this life
of ours; how all Knowledge and all Practice hang wondrous over infinite
abysses of the Unknown, Impracticable; and our whole being is an infinite
abyss, over-arched by Habit, as by a thin Earth-rind, laboriously built

But if 'every man,' as it has been written, 'holds confined within him a
mad-man,' what must every Society do;--Society, which in its commonest
state is called 'the standing miracle of this world'! 'Without such Earth-
rind of Habit,' continues our author, 'call it System of Habits, in a word,
fixed ways of acting and of believing,--Society would not exist at all.
With such it exists, better or worse. Herein too, in this its System of
Habits, acquired, retained how you will, lies the true Law-Code and
Constitution of a Society; the only Code, though an unwritten one which it
can in nowise disobey. The thing we call written Code, Constitution, Form
of Government, and the like, what is it but some miniature image, and
solemnly expressed summary of this unwritten Code? Is,--or rather alas, is
not; but only should be, and always tends to be! In which latter
discrepancy lies struggle without end.' And now, we add in the same
dialect, let but, by ill chance, in such ever-enduring struggle,--your
'thin Earth-rind' be once broken! The fountains of the great deep boil
forth; fire-fountains, enveloping, engulfing. Your 'Earth-rind' is
shattered, swallowed up; instead of a green flowery world, there is a waste
wild-weltering chaos:--which has again, with tumult and struggle, to make
itself into a world.

On the other hand, be this conceded: Where thou findest a Lie that is
oppressing thee, extinguish it. Lies exist there only to be extinguished;
they wait and cry earnestly for extinction. Think well, meanwhile, in what
spirit thou wilt do it: not with hatred, with headlong selfish violence;
but in clearness of heart, with holy zeal, gently, almost with pity. Thou
wouldst not replace such extinct Lie by a new Lie, which a new Injustice of
thy own were; the parent of still other Lies? Whereby the latter end of
that business were worse than the beginning.

So, however, in this world of ours, which has both an indestructible hope
in the Future, and an indestructible tendency to persevere as in the Past,
must Innovation and Conservation wage their perpetual conflict, as they may
and can. Wherein the 'daemonic element,' that lurks in all human things,
may doubtless, some once in the thousand years--get vent! But indeed may
we not regret that such conflict,--which, after all, is but like that
classical one of 'hate-filled Amazons with heroic Youths,' and will end in
embraces,--should usually be so spasmodic? For Conservation, strengthened
by that mightiest quality in us, our indolence, sits for long ages, not
victorious only, which she should be; but tyrannical, incommunicative. She
holds her adversary as if annihilated; such adversary lying, all the while,
like some buried Enceladus; who, to gain the smallest freedom, must stir a
whole Trinacria with it Aetnas.

Wherefore, on the whole, we will honour a Paper Age too; an Era of hope!
For in this same frightful process of Enceladus Revolt; when the task, on
which no mortal would willingly enter, has become imperative, inevitable,--
is it not even a kindness of Nature that she lures us forward by cheerful
promises, fallacious or not; and a whole generation plunges into the Erebus
Blackness, lighted on by an Era of Hope? It has been well said: 'Man is
based on Hope; he has properly no other possession but Hope; this
habitation of his is named the Place of Hope.'

Chapter 1.2.IV.


But now, among French hopes, is not that of old M. de Maurepas one of the
best-grounded; who hopes that he, by dexterity, shall contrive to continue
Minister? Nimble old man, who for all emergencies has his light jest; and
ever in the worst confusion will emerge, cork-like, unsunk! Small care to
him is Perfectibility, Progress of the Species, and Astraea Redux: good
only, that a man of light wit, verging towards fourscore, can in the seat
of authority feel himself important among men. Shall we call him, as
haughty Chateauroux was wont of old, 'M. Faquinet (Diminutive of
Scoundrel)'? In courtier dialect, he is now named 'the Nestor of France;'
such governing Nestor as France has.

At bottom, nevertheless, it might puzzle one to say where the Government of
France, in these days, specially is. In that Chateau of Versailles, we
have Nestor, King, Queen, ministers and clerks, with paper-bundles tied in
tape: but the Government? For Government is a thing that governs, that
guides; and if need be, compels. Visible in France there is not such a
thing. Invisible, inorganic, on the other hand, there is: in Philosophe
saloons, in Oeil-de-Boeuf galleries; in the tongue of the babbler, in the
pen of the pamphleteer. Her Majesty appearing at the Opera is applauded;
she returns all radiant with joy. Anon the applauses wax fainter, or
threaten to cease; she is heavy of heart, the light of her face has fled.
Is Sovereignty some poor Montgolfier; which, blown into by the popular
wind, grows great and mounts; or sinks flaccid, if the wind be withdrawn?
France was long a 'Despotism tempered by Epigrams;' and now, it would seem,
the Epigrams have get the upper hand.

Happy were a young 'Louis the Desired' to make France happy; if it did not
prove too troublesome, and he only knew the way. But there is endless
discrepancy round him; so many claims and clamours; a mere confusion of
tongues. Not reconcilable by man; not manageable, suppressible, save by
some strongest and wisest men;--which only a lightly-jesting lightly-
gyrating M. de Maurepas can so much as subsist amidst. Philosophism claims
her new Era, meaning thereby innumerable things. And claims it in no faint
voice; for France at large, hitherto mute, is now beginning to speak also;
and speaks in that same sense. A huge, many-toned sound; distant, yet not
unimpressive. On the other hand, the Oeil-de-Boeuf, which, as nearest, one
can hear best, claims with shrill vehemence that the Monarchy be as
heretofore a Horn of Plenty; wherefrom loyal courtiers may draw,--to the
just support of the throne. Let Liberalism and a New Era, if such is the
wish, be introduced; only no curtailment of the royal moneys? Which latter
condition, alas, is precisely the impossible one.

Philosophism, as we saw, has got her Turgot made Controller-General; and
there shall be endless reformation. Unhappily this Turgot could continue
only twenty months. With a miraculous Fortunatus' Purse in his Treasury,
it might have lasted longer; with such Purse indeed, every French
Controller-General, that would prosper in these days, ought first to
provide himself. But here again may we not remark the bounty of Nature in
regard to Hope? Man after man advances confident to the Augean Stable, as
if he could clean it; expends his little fraction of an ability on it, with
such cheerfulness; does, in so far as he was honest, accomplish something.
Turgot has faculties; honesty, insight, heroic volition; but the
Fortunatus' Purse he has not. Sanguine Controller-General! a whole pacific
French Revolution may stand schemed in the head of the thinker; but who
shall pay the unspeakable 'indemnities' that will be needed? Alas, far
from that: on the very threshold of the business, he proposes that the
Clergy, the Noblesse, the very Parlements be subjected to taxes! One
shriek of indignation and astonishment reverberates through all the Chateau
galleries; M. de Maurepas has to gyrate: the poor King, who had written
few weeks ago, 'Il n'y a que vous et moi qui aimions le peuple (There is
none but you and I that has the people's interest at heart),' must write
now a dismissal; (In May, 1776.) and let the French Revolution accomplish
itself, pacifically or not, as it can.

Hope, then, is deferred? Deferred; not destroyed, or abated. Is not this,
for example, our Patriarch Voltaire, after long years of absence,
revisiting Paris? With face shrivelled to nothing; with 'huge peruke a la
Louis Quatorze, which leaves only two eyes "visible" glittering like
carbuncles,' the old man is here. (February, 1778.) What an outburst!
Sneering Paris has suddenly grown reverent; devotional with Hero-worship.
Nobles have disguised themselves as tavern-waiters to obtain sight of him:
the loveliest of France would lay their hair beneath his feet. 'His
chariot is the nucleus of a comet; whose train fills whole streets:' they
crown him in the theatre, with immortal vivats; 'finally stifle him under
roses,'--for old Richelieu recommended opium in such state of the nerves,
and the excessive Patriarch took too much. Her Majesty herself had some
thought of sending for him; but was dissuaded. Let Majesty consider it,
nevertheless. The purport of this man's existence has been to wither up
and annihilate all whereon Majesty and Worship for the present rests: and
is it so that the world recognises him? With Apotheosis; as its Prophet
and Speaker, who has spoken wisely the thing it longed to say? Add only,
that the body of this same rose-stifled, beatified-Patriarch cannot get
buried except by stealth. It is wholly a notable business; and France,
without doubt, is big (what the Germans call 'Of good Hope'): we shall
wish her a happy birth-hour, and blessed fruit.

Beaumarchais too has now winded-up his Law-Pleadings (Memoires); (1773-6.
See Oeuvres de Beaumarchais; where they, and the history of them, are
given.) not without result, to himself and to the world. Caron
Beaumarchais (or de Beaumarchais, for he got ennobled) had been born poor,
but aspiring, esurient; with talents, audacity, adroitness; above all, with
the talent for intrigue: a lean, but also a tough, indomitable man.
Fortune and dexterity brought him to the harpsichord of Mesdames, our good
Princesses Loque, Graille and Sisterhood. Still better, Paris Duvernier,
the Court-Banker, honoured him with some confidence; to the length even of
transactions in cash. Which confidence, however, Duvernier's Heir, a
person of quality, would not continue. Quite otherwise; there springs a
Lawsuit from it: wherein tough Beaumarchais, losing both money and repute,
is, in the opinion of Judge-Reporter Goezman, of the Parlement Maupeou, of
a whole indifferent acquiescing world, miserably beaten. In all men's
opinions, only not in his own! Inspired by the indignation, which makes,
if not verses, satirical law-papers, the withered Music-master, with a
desperate heroism, takes up his lost cause in spite of the world; fights
for it, against Reporters, Parlements and Principalities, with light
banter, with clear logic; adroitly, with an inexhaustible toughness and
resource, like the skilfullest fencer; on whom, so skilful is he, the whole
world now looks. Three long years it lasts; with wavering fortune. In
fine, after labours comparable to the Twelve of Hercules, our unconquerable
Caron triumphs; regains his Lawsuit and Lawsuits; strips Reporter Goezman
of the judicial ermine; covering him with a perpetual garment of obloquy
instead:--and in regard to the Parlement Maupeou (which he has helped to
extinguish), to Parlements of all kinds, and to French Justice generally,
gives rise to endless reflections in the minds of men. Thus has
Beaumarchais, like a lean French Hercules, ventured down, driven by
destiny, into the Nether Kingdoms; and victoriously tamed hell-dogs there.
He also is henceforth among the notabilities of his generation.

Chapter 1.2.V.

Astraea Redux without Cash.

Observe, however, beyond the Atlantic, has not the new day verily dawned!
Democracy, as we said, is born; storm-girt, is struggling for life and
victory. A sympathetic France rejoices over the Rights of Man; in all
saloons, it is said, What a spectacle! Now too behold our Deane, our
Franklin, American Plenipotentiaries, here in position soliciting; (1777;
Deane somewhat earlier: Franklin remained till 1785.) the sons of the
Saxon Puritans, with their Old-Saxon temper, Old-Hebrew culture, sleek
Silas, sleek Benjamin, here on such errand, among the light children of
Heathenism, Monarchy, Sentimentalism, and the Scarlet-woman. A spectacle
indeed; over which saloons may cackle joyous; though Kaiser Joseph,
questioned on it, gave this answer, most unexpected from a Philosophe:
"Madame, the trade I live by is that of royalist (Mon metier a moi c'est
d'etre royaliste)."

So thinks light Maurepas too; but the wind of Philosophism and force of
public opinion will blow him round. Best wishes, meanwhile, are sent;
clandestine privateers armed. Paul Jones shall equip his Bon Homme
Richard: weapons, military stores can be smuggled over (if the English do
not seize them); wherein, once more Beaumarchais, dimly as the Giant
Smuggler becomes visible,--filling his own lank pocket withal. But surely,
in any case, France should have a Navy. For which great object were not
now the time: now when that proud Termagant of the Seas has her hands
full? It is true, an impoverished Treasury cannot build ships; but the
hint once given (which Beaumarchais says he gave), this and the other loyal
Seaport, Chamber of Commerce, will build and offer them. Goodly vessels
bound into the waters; a Ville de Paris, Leviathan of ships.

And now when gratuitous three-deckers dance there at anchor, with streamers
flying; and eleutheromaniac Philosophedom grows ever more clamorous, what
can a Maurepas do--but gyrate? Squadrons cross the ocean: Gages, Lees,
rough Yankee Generals, 'with woollen night-caps under their hats,' present
arms to the far-glancing Chivalry of France; and new-born Democracy sees,
not without amazement, 'Despotism tempered by Epigrams fight at her side.
So, however, it is. King's forces and heroic volunteers; Rochambeaus,
Bouilles, Lameths, Lafayettes, have drawn their swords in this sacred
quarrel of mankind;--shall draw them again elsewhere, in the strangest way.

Off Ushant some naval thunder is heard. In the course of which did our
young Prince, Duke de Chartres, 'hide in the hold;' or did he materially,
by active heroism, contribute to the victory? Alas, by a second edition,
we learn that there was no victory; or that English Keppel had it. (27th
July, 1778.) Our poor young Prince gets his Opera plaudits changed into
mocking tehees; and cannot become Grand-Admiral,--the source to him of woes
which one may call endless.

Woe also for Ville de Paris, the Leviathan of ships! English Rodney has
clutched it, and led it home, with the rest; so successful was his new
'manoeuvre of breaking the enemy's line.' (9th and 12th April, 1782.) It
seems as if, according to Louis XV., 'France were never to have a Navy.'
Brave Suffren must return from Hyder Ally and the Indian Waters; with small
result; yet with great glory for 'six non-defeats;--which indeed, with such
seconding as he had, one may reckon heroic. Let the old sea-hero rest now,
honoured of France, in his native Cevennes mountains; send smoke, not of
gunpowder, but mere culinary smoke, through the old chimneys of the Castle
of Jales,--which one day, in other hands, shall have other fame. Brave
Laperouse shall by and by lift anchor, on philanthropic Voyage of
Discovery; for the King knows Geography. (August 1st, 1785.) But, alas,
this also will not prosper: the brave Navigator goes, and returns not; the
Seekers search far seas for him in vain. He has vanished trackless into
blue Immensity; and only some mournful mysterious shadow of him hovers long
in all heads and hearts.

Neither, while the War yet lasts, will Gibraltar surrender. Not though
Crillon, Nassau-Siegen, with the ablest projectors extant, are there; and
Prince Conde and Prince d'Artois have hastened to help. Wondrous leather-
roofed Floating-batteries, set afloat by French-Spanish Pacte de Famille,
give gallant summons: to which, nevertheless, Gibraltar answers
Plutonically, with mere torrents of redhot iron,--as if stone Calpe had
become a throat of the Pit; and utters such a Doom's-blast of a No, as all
men must credit. (Annual Register (Dodsley's), xxv. 258-267. September,
October, 1782.)

And so, with this loud explosion, the noise of War has ceased; an Age of
Benevolence may hope, for ever. Our noble volunteers of Freedom have
returned, to be her missionaries. Lafayette, as the matchless of his time,
glitters in the Versailles Oeil-de-Beouf; has his Bust set up in the Paris
Hotel-de-Ville. Democracy stands inexpugnable, immeasurable, in her New
World; has even a foot lifted towards the Old;--and our French Finances,
little strengthened by such work, are in no healthy way.

What to do with the Finance? This indeed is the great question: a small
but most black weather-symptom, which no radiance of universal hope can
cover. We saw Turgot cast forth from the Controllership, with shrieks,--
for want of a Fortunatus' Purse. As little could M. de Clugny manage the
duty; or indeed do anything, but consume his wages; attain 'a place in
History,' where as an ineffectual shadow thou beholdest him still
lingering;--and let the duty manage itself. Did Genevese Necker possess
such a Purse, then? He possessed banker's skill, banker's honesty; credit
of all kinds, for he had written Academic Prize Essays, struggled for India
Companies, given dinners to Philosophes, and 'realised a fortune in twenty
years.' He possessed, further, a taciturnity and solemnity; of depth, or
else of dulness. How singular for Celadon Gibbon, false swain as he had
proved; whose father, keeping most probably his own gig, 'would not hear of
such a union,'--to find now his forsaken Demoiselle Curchod sitting in the
high places of the world, as Minister's Madame, and 'Necker not jealous!'
(Gibbon's Letters: date, 16th June, 1777, &c.)

A new young Demoiselle, one day to be famed as a Madame and De Stael, was
romping about the knees of the Decline and Fall: the lady Necker founds
Hospitals; gives solemn Philosophe dinner-parties, to cheer her exhausted
Controller-General. Strange things have happened: by clamour of
Philosophism, management of Marquis de Pezay, and Poverty constraining even
Kings. And so Necker, Atlas-like, sustains the burden of the Finances, for
five years long? (Till May, 1781.) Without wages, for he refused such;
cheered only by Public Opinion, and the ministering of his noble Wife.
With many thoughts in him, it is hoped;--which, however, he is shy of
uttering. His Compte Rendu, published by the royal permission, fresh sign
of a New Era, shows wonders;--which what but the genius of some Atlas-
Necker can prevent from becoming portents? In Necker's head too there is a
whole pacific French Revolution, of its kind; and in that taciturn dull
depth, or deep dulness, ambition enough.

Meanwhile, alas, his Fotunatus' Purse turns out to be little other than the
old 'vectigal of Parsimony.' Nay, he too has to produce his scheme of
taxing: Clergy, Noblesse to be taxed; Provincial Assemblies, and the
rest,--like a mere Turgot! The expiring M. de Maurepas must gyrate one
other time. Let Necker also depart; not unlamented.

Great in a private station, Necker looks on from the distance; abiding his
time. 'Eighty thousand copies' of his new Book, which he calls
Administration des Finances, will be sold in few days. He is gone; but
shall return, and that more than once, borne by a whole shouting Nation.
Singular Controller-General of the Finances; once Clerk in Thelusson's

Chapter 1.2.VI.


So marches the world, in this its Paper Age, or Era of Hope. Not without
obstructions, war-explosions; which, however, heard from such distance, are
little other than a cheerful marching-music. If indeed that dark living
chaos of Ignorance and Hunger, five-and-twenty million strong, under your
feet,--were to begin playing!

For the present, however, consider Longchamp; now when Lent is ending, and
the glory of Paris and France has gone forth, as in annual wont. Not to
assist at Tenebris Masses, but to sun itself and show itself, and salute
the Young Spring. (Mercier, Tableau de Paris, ii. 51. Louvet, Roman de
Faublas, &c.) Manifold, bright-tinted, glittering with gold; all through
the Bois de Boulogne, in longdrawn variegated rows;--like longdrawn living
flower-borders, tulips, dahlias, lilies of the valley; all in their moving
flower-pots (of new-gilt carriages): pleasure of the eye, and pride of
life! So rolls and dances the Procession: steady, of firm assurance, as
if it rolled on adamant and the foundations of the world; not on mere
heraldic parchment,--under which smoulders a lake of fire. Dance on, ye
foolish ones; ye sought not wisdom, neither have ye found it. Ye and your
fathers have sown the wind, ye shall reap the whirlwind. Was it not, from
of old, written: The wages of sin is death?

But at Longchamp, as elsewhere, we remark for one thing, that dame and
cavalier are waited on each by a kind of human familiar, named jokei.
Little elf, or imp; though young, already withered; with its withered air
of premature vice, of knowingness, of completed elf-hood: useful in
various emergencies. The name jokei (jockey) comes from the English; as
the thing also fancies that it does. Our Anglomania, in fact , is grown
considerable; prophetic of much. If France is to be free, why shall she
not, now when mad war is hushed, love neighbouring Freedom? Cultivated
men, your Dukes de Liancourt, de la Rochefoucault admire the English
Constitution, the English National Character; would import what of it they

Of what is lighter, especially if it be light as wind, how much easier the
freightage! Non-Admiral Duke de Chartres (not yet d'Orleans or Egalite)
flies to and fro across the Strait; importing English Fashions; this he, as
hand-and-glove with an English Prince of Wales, is surely qualified to do.
Carriages and saddles; top-boots and redingotes, as we call riding-coats.
Nay the very mode of riding: for now no man on a level with his age but
will trot a l'Anglaise, rising in the stirrups; scornful of the old sitfast
method, in which, according to Shakspeare, 'butter and eggs' go to market.
Also, he can urge the fervid wheels, this brave Chartres of ours; no whip
in Paris is rasher and surer than the unprofessional one of Monseigneur.

Elf jokeis, we have seen; but see now real Yorkshire jockeys, and what they
ride on, and train: English racers for French Races. These likewise we
owe first (under the Providence of the Devil) to Monseigneur. Prince
d'Artois also has his stud of racers. Prince d'Artois has withal the
strangest horseleech: a moonstruck, much-enduring individual, of Neuchatel
in Switzerland,--named Jean Paul Marat. A problematic Chevalier d'Eon, now
in petticoats, now in breeches, is no less problematic in London than in
Paris; and causes bets and lawsuits. Beautiful days of international
communion! Swindlery and Blackguardism have stretched hands across the
Channel, and saluted mutually: on the racecourse of Vincennes or Sablons,
behold in English curricle-and-four, wafted glorious among the
principalities and rascalities, an English Dr. Dodd, (Adelung, Geschichte
der Menschlichen Narrheit, para Dodd.)--for whom also the too early gallows

Duke de Chartres was a young Prince of great promise, as young Princes
often are; which promise unfortunately has belied itself. With the huge
Orleans Property, with Duke de Penthievre for Father-in-law (and now the
young Brother-in-law Lamballe killed by excesses),--he will one day be the
richest man in France. Meanwhile, 'his hair is all falling out, his blood
is quite spoiled,'--by early transcendentalism of debauchery. Carbuncles
stud his face; dark studs on a ground of burnished copper. A most signal
failure, this young Prince! The stuff prematurely burnt out of him:
little left but foul smoke and ashes of expiring sensualities: what might
have been Thought, Insight, and even Conduct, gone now, or fast going,--to
confused darkness, broken by bewildering dazzlements; to obstreperous
crotchets; to activities which you may call semi-delirious, or even semi-
galvanic! Paris affects to laugh at his charioteering; but he heeds not
such laughter.

On the other hand, what a day, not of laughter, was that, when he
threatened, for lucre's sake, to lay sacrilegious hand on the Palais-Royal
Garden! (1781-82. (Dulaure, viii. 423.)) The flower-parterres shall be
riven up; the Chestnut Avenues shall fall: time-honoured boscages, under
which the Opera Hamadryads were wont to wander, not inexorable to men.
Paris moans aloud. Philidor, from his Cafe de la Regence, shall no longer
look on greenness; the loungers and losels of the world, where now shall
they haunt? In vain is moaning. The axe glitters; the sacred groves fall
crashing,--for indeed Monseigneur was short of money: the Opera Hamadryads


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