Wherefore we will, at all events, call this Reign of Terror a very strange one. Dominant Sansculottism makes, as it were, free arena; one of the strangest temporary states Humanity was ever seen in. A nation of men, full of wants and void of habits! The old habits are gone to wreck because they were old: men, driven forward by Necessity and fierce Pythian Madness, have, on the spur of the instant, to devise for the want the way of satisfying it. The wonted tumbles down; by imitation, by invention, the Unwonted hastily builds itself up. What the French National head has in it comes out: if not a great result, surely one of the strangest.
Neither shall the reader fancy that it was all blank, this Reign of Terror: far from it. How many hammermen and squaremen, bakers and brewers, washers and wringers, over this France, must ply their old daily work, let the Government be one of Terror or one of Joy! In this Paris there are Twenty-three Theatres nightly; some count as many as Sixty Places of Dancing. (Mercier. ii. 124.) The Playwright manufactures: pieces of a strictly Republican character. Ever fresh Novelgarbage, as of old, fodders the Circulating Libraries. (Moniteur of these months, passim.) The ‘Cesspool of Agio,’ now in the time of Paper Money, works with a vivacity unexampled, unimagined; exhales from itself ‘sudden fortunes,’ like Alladin-Palaces: really a kind of miraculous Fata-Morganas, since you can live in them, for a time. Terror is as a sable ground, on which the most variegated of scenes paints itself. In startling transitions, in colours all intensated, the sublime, the ludicrous, the horrible succeed one another; or rather, in crowding tumult, accompany one another.
Here, accordingly, if anywhere, the ‘hundred tongues,’ which the old Poets often clamour for, were of supreme service! In defect of any such organ on our part, let the Reader stir up his own imaginative organ: let us snatch for him this or the other significant glimpse of things, in the fittest sequence we can.
In the early days of November, there is one transient glimpse of things that is to be noted: the last transit to his long home of Philippe d’Orleans Egalite. Philippe was ‘decreed accused,’ along with the Girondins, much to his and their surprise; but not tried along with them. They are doomed and dead, some three days, when Philippe, after his long half-year of durance at Marseilles, arrives in Paris. It is, as we calculate, the third of November 1793.