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.
THE PAPER AGE
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.