The French Revolution eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,095 pages of information about The French Revolution.

Nor esteem it small what those Bill-stickers had to do in Paris:  above Three Score of them:  all with their crosspoles, haversacks, pastepots; nay with leaden badges, for the Municipality licenses them.  A Sacred College, properly of World-rulers’ Heralds, though not respected as such, in an Era still incipient and raw.  They made the walls of Paris didactic, suasive, with an ever fresh Periodical Literature, wherein he that ran might read:  Placard Journals, Placard Lampoons, Municipal Ordinances, Royal Proclamations; the whole other or vulgar Placard-department super-added,—­or omitted from contempt!  What unutterable things the stone-walls spoke, during these five years!  But it is all gone; To-day swallowing Yesterday, and then being in its turn swallowed of To-morrow, even as Speech ever is.  Nay what, O thou immortal Man of Letters, is Writing itself but Speech conserved for a time?  The Placard Journal conserved it for one day; some Books conserve it for the matter of ten years; nay some for three thousand:  but what then?  Why, then, the years being all run, it also dies, and the world is rid of it.  Oh, were there not a spirit in the word of man, as in man himself, that survived the audible bodied word, and tended either Godward, or else Devilward for evermore, why should he trouble himself much with the truth of it, or the falsehood of it, except for commercial purposes?  His immortality indeed, and whether it shall last half a lifetime, or a lifetime and half; is not that a very considerable thing?  As mortality, was to the runaway, whom Great Fritz bullied back into the battle with a:  “R—­, wollt ihr ewig leben, Unprintable Off-scouring of Scoundrels, would ye live for ever!”

This is the Communication of Thought:  how happy when there is any Thought to communicate!  Neither let the simpler old methods be neglected, in their sphere.  The Palais-Royal Tent, a tyrannous Patrollotism has removed; but can it remove the lungs of man?  Anaxagoras Chaumette we saw mounted on bourne-stones, while Tallien worked sedentary at the subeditorial desk.  In any corner of the civilised world, a tub can be inverted, and an articulate-speaking biped mount thereon.  Nay, with contrivance, a portable trestle, or folding-stool, can be procured, for love or money; this the peripatetic Orator can take in his hand, and, driven out here, set it up again there; saying mildly, with a Sage Bias, Omnia mea mecum porto.

Such is Journalism, hawked, pasted, spoken.  How changed since One old Metra walked this same Tuileries Garden, in gilt cocked hat, with Journal at his nose, or held loose-folded behind his back; and was a notability of Paris, ‘Metra the Newsman;’ (Dulaure, Histoire de Paris, viii. 483; Mercier, Nouveau Paris, &c.) and Louis himself was wont to say:  Qu’en dit Metra?  Since the first Venetian News-sheet was sold for a gazza, or farthing, and named Gazette!  We live in a fertile world.

Chapter 2.1.V.

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The French Revolution from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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