A convulsive tremor shook the involuntary prophet,—it passed, and left his countenance elevated by an expression of resignation and calm. “Madame,” said he, after a long pause, “during the siege of Jerusalem, we are told by its historian that a man, for seven successive days, went round the ramparts, exclaiming, ’Woe to thee, Jerusalem,—woe to myself!’”
“Well, Cazotte, well?”
“And on the seventh day, while he thus spoke, a stone from the machines of the Romans dashed him into atoms!”
With these words, Cazotte rose; and the guests, awed in spite of themselves, shortly afterwards broke up and retired.
Qui donc t’a donne la mission s’annoncer au peuple que la divinite n’existe pas? Quel avantage trouves-tu a persuader a l’homme qu’une force aveugle preside a ses destinees et frappe au hasard le crime et la vertu?—Robespierre, “Discours,” Mai 7, 1794.
(Who then invested you with the mission to announce to the people that there is no God? What advantage find you in persuading man that nothing but blind force presides over his destinies, and strikes haphazard both crime and virtue?)
It was some time before midnight when the stranger returned home. His apartments were situated in one of those vast abodes which may be called an epitome of Paris itself,—the cellars rented by mechanics, scarcely removed a step from paupers, often by outcasts and fugitives from the law, often by some daring writer, who, after scattering amongst the people doctrines the most subversive of order, or the most libellous on the characters of priest, minister, and king, retired amongst the rats, to escape the persecution that attends the virtuous; the ground-floor occupied by shops; the entresol by artists; the principal stories by nobles; and the garrets by journeymen or grisettes.
As the stranger passed up the stairs, a young man of a form and countenance singularly unprepossessing emerged from a door in the entresol, and brushed beside him. His glance was furtive, sinister, savage, and yet timorous; the man’s face was of an ashen paleness, and the features worked convulsively. The stranger paused, and observed him with thoughtful looks, as he hurried down the stairs. While he thus stood, he heard a groan from the room which the young man had just quitted; the latter had pulled to the door with hasty vehemence, but some fragment, probably of fuel, had prevented its closing, and it now stood slightly ajar; the stranger pushed it open and entered. He passed a small anteroom, meanly furnished, and stood in a bedchamber of meagre and sordid discomfort. Stretched on the bed, and writhing in pain, lay an old man; a single candle lit the room, and threw its feeble ray over the furrowed and death-like face of the sick person. No attendant was by; he seemed left alone, to breathe his last. “Water,”