The French Revolution eBook

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

BOOK 3.III.

THE GIRONDINS

Chapter 3.3.I.

Cause and Effect.

This huge Insurrectionary Movement, which we liken to a breaking out of Tophet and the Abyss, has swept away Royalty, Aristocracy, and a King’s life.  The question is, What will it next do; how will it henceforth shape itself?  Settle down into a reign of Law and Liberty; according as the habits, persuasions and endeavours of the educated, monied, respectable class prescribe?  That is to say:  the volcanic lava-flood, bursting up in the manner described, will explode and flow according to Girondin Formula and pre-established rule of Philosophy?  If so, for our Girondin friends it will be well.

Meanwhile were not the prophecy rather that as no external force, Royal or other, now remains which could control this Movement, the Movement will follow a course of its own; probably a very original one?  Further, that whatsoever man or men can best interpret the inward tendencies it has, and give them voice and activity, will obtain the lead of it?  For the rest, that as a thing without order, a thing proceeding from beyond and beneath the region of order, it must work and welter, not as a Regularity but as a Chaos; destructive and self-destructive; always till something that has order arise, strong enough to bind it into subjection again?  Which something, we may further conjecture, will not be a Formula, with philosophical propositions and forensic eloquence; but a Reality, probably with a sword in its hand!

As for the Girondin Formula, of a respectable Republic for the Middle Classes, all manner of Aristocracies being now sufficiently demolished, there seems little reason to expect that the business will stop there.  Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, these are the words; enunciative and prophetic.  Republic for the respectable washed Middle Classes, how can that be the fulfilment thereof?  Hunger and nakedness, and nightmare oppression lying heavy on Twenty-five million hearts; this, not the wounded vanities or contradicted philosophies of philosophical Advocates, rich Shopkeepers, rural Noblesse, was the prime mover in the French Revolution; as the like will be in all such Revolutions, in all countries.  Feudal Fleur-de-lys had become an insupportably bad marching banner, and needed to be torn and trampled:  but Moneybag of Mammon (for that, in these times, is what the respectable Republic for the Middle Classes will signify) is a still worse, while it lasts.  Properly, indeed, it is the worst and basest of all banners, and symbols of dominion among men; and indeed is possible only in a time of general Atheism, and Unbelief in any thing save in brute Force and Sensualism; pride of birth, pride of office, any known kind of pride being a degree better than purse-pride.  Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood:  not in the Moneybag, but far elsewhere, will Sansculottism seek these things.

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The French Revolution from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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