In view of the inexperience and fanaticism of the revolutionists, and the dreadful evils which took place after the fall of the monarchy, we should say that the Revolution was premature, and that substantial reforms might have been gained without violence. But this is a mere speculation. One thing we do know,—that the Revolution was a national uprising against injustice and oppression. When the torch is applied to a venerable edifice, we cannot determine the extent of the conflagration, or the course which it will take. The French Revolution was plainly one of the developments of a nation’s progress. To conservative and reverential minds it was a horrid form for progress to take, since it was visionary and infidel. But all nations are in the hands of God, who is above all second causes. And I know of no modern movement to which the words of Carlyle, when he was an optimist, when he wrote the most original and profound of his works, the “Sartor Resartus,” apply with more force: “When the Phoenix is fanning her funeral pyre, will there not be sparks flying? Alas! some millions of men have been sucked into that high eddying flame, and like moths consumed. In the burning of the world-Phoenix, destruction and creation proceed together; and as the ashes of the old are blown about do new forces mysteriously spin themselves, and melodious death-songs are succeeded by more melodious birth-songs.”
Yet all progress is slow, especially in government and morals. And how forcibly are we impressed, in surveying the varied phases of the French Revolution, that nothing but justice and right should guide men in their reforms; that robbery and injustice in the name of liberty and progress are still robbery and injustice, to be visited with righteous retribution; and that those rulers and legislators who cannot make passions and interests subservient to reason, are not fit for the work assigned to them. It is miserable hypocrisy and cant to talk of a revolutionary necessity for violating the first principles of human society. Ah! it is Reason, Intelligence, and Duty, calm as the voices of angels, soothing as the “music of the spheres,” which alone should guide nations, in all crises and difficulties, to the attainment of those rights and privileges on which all true progress is based.
Dumont’s Recollections of Mirabeau; Carlyle’s French Revolution; Carlyle’s article on Mirabeau in his Miscellanies; Von Sybel’s French Revolution; Thiers’ French Revolution; Mignet’s French Revolution; Croker’s Essays on the French Revolution; Life of Lafayette; Loustalot’s Revolution de Paris; Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution; Carlyle’s article on Danton; Mallet du Pau’s Considerations sur la Revolution Francaise; Biographie Universelle; A. Lameth’s Histoire de l’Assemblee Constituante; Alison’s History of the French Revolution; Lamartine’s History of the Girondists; Lacretelle’s History of France; Montigny’s Memoires sur Mirabeau; Peuchet’s Memoires sur Mirabeau; Madame de Stael’s Considerations sur la Revolution Francaise; Macaulay’s Essay on Dumont’s Recollections of Mirabeau.