The French Revolution eBook

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

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The French Revolution from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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