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Chapter IX.: ADJUSTMENT. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 4.
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Marguerite began to think that she and her family had better have staid in Paris, since violence as foul as any there, with less chance of redress, took place in the country. But as there were fewer marked for destruction in a thinly peopled than in a crowded district, the work of horror was sooner over; and within a few weeks, all was quiet around her dwelling. No judicial inquiry whatever mad made into the fate of the marquis; and night after night, ominous gleams were seen from afar, marking where life and property were being offered up in expiation of former tyranny. When every neighbouring chateau that was empty had been sealed up and guarded by the people from being entered by its owners; and when every inhabited one had been dismantled or converted into a pile of blackened ruins, there was a truce. The gentry sighed over the abolition of feudalism; the peasantry gloried in the destruction of the aristocracy; and both, looking no farther than their own borders, supposed that all was over, and the state of the country,—miserable as it was,— settled.
Charles and his brother knew too well what was passing in Paris to acquiesce in this belief; but they were glad of the good effects it seemed to produce in quieting the minds, and therefore fixing the outward circumstances of their neighbours. People went about their regular business once more, prices grew steady in the markets, and the mysterious, dishonest sort of bargaining which had gone on immediately after the destruction of the chateaux, was seen no more. No golden timepieces now passed from hand to hand, in exchange for the coarsest articles of clothing or furniture; and if polished tables, or morsels of curious old china were seen here and there in the hovels of half-starved peasants, they were not put up for sale, and did not answer the purpose 'of further perplexing the values of things. Seeing that Marguerite began to feel pretty much at her ease once more, going to rest without presentiments of being roused by fire, and venturing, with only the children, to transact her necessary purchases among the peasantry, Charles began to try whether he could make anything of his business at Paris; and set out, in order that he might be on the spot to take advantage of the first symptoms of tranquillity to meet the demand which would then certainly arise.
He went to Paris before winter was quite over; and found more promise of a settlement of public affairs than at any time since the commencement of the revolution. Yet he would not hear of his family joining him, till it should be known whether or not king, parliament, and people would cordially agree in the new constitution which was then in preparation. When there was not only a promise of this, but all arts and artificers were actually put in requisition to render the spectacle of taking the oath as magnificent as the occasion required, there was no further pretence for Charles's prudence to interfere with the hopefulness which now seemed rational enough. He sent a summons to Marguerite to return and witness the festival from which her loyalty and his patriotism might derive equal gratification. But Marguerite was detained in the country by her father's illness,— his last; and the children were deprived of the power of saying afterwards that they had witnessed in Paris the transactions of that day which was regarded at the time as the most remarkable in the annals of France.
That day, the 14th of July, 1790, was appointed to be a high festival throughout the kingdom: Charles passed it in the Champ de Mars; Marguerite by the dying bed of her father; the children, under the guardianship of their uncle Antoine, among the rejoicing peasantry; and Steele, who had returned to Bordeaux when Charles settled himself again in Paris, took the opportunity of visiting La Haute Favorite for the first time after so many vicissitudes.
It seemed to them all a strange,—to the superstitious among them, an ominous circumstance that they should be thus separated on the occasion when all were called upon to recognize the social agreement under which they and their successors were to live.
A gleam of the afternoon sun shone in upon the face of Marguerite's father as he dozed, and made him turn restlessly on his couch. His daughter hastened to shut it out, and the movement awoke him.
“One is fit only for the grave,” he said, “when the light which shines on all above it becomes painful.”
“Father! you are better,” said Marguerite, turning round astonished.
“No,” said he, faintly, “not better. I can not bear this light,—or this heat,—or—but no matter; it will presently be over.: But where is Charles .
“He will be here very soon; but it is only two days since you became worse; and there has been no time for him to come yet. To-day he is waiting upon the king, and next he will wait on you.”
“On the king!” and the old man was roused at once. “And all the people? I fancied they had left off their duty. Who waits upon the king?”
“The whole nation,” Marguerite replied, sighing to herself, nation,”however, over her own view of the matter—that the king was, in fact, waiting upon the nation. She proceeded to tell what was doing in Paris, and remarked that she hoped they had finer weather there than here, where it had been a day of continued rain, till the gleam came which had wakened her father.
M. Raucourt was too ignorant of the events of the last two years to be able to comprehend the present proceeding. He could not see what the people had to do with the constitution; but laid the blame on his own weak brain, when assured that the loyal men of France were all consenting to the measure. Other tokens of ignorance were much more affecting to his daughter. He wished to be raised in bed, so that he might see his olive woods in the evening glow. They were no longer there, and his attention must be diverted to something else. He wished to behold the marquis de Thou passing the house for his daily ride.—The bones of him he asked for were mouldering under the ruins of his own abode.— “At least,” said M. Raucourt, “let me be carried to the window, that I may see the chateau. It looks so finely on the terrace! and it is so long since I saw it!”—Grass was growing on its hearths, and the peasants' children were playing hide and seek among its roofless halls.
“You have not asked for the children,” said Marguerite. “If you are so strong this after noon, perhaps you can bear to speak to them.” And they were sent for, and presently made their appearance from the river-side, full of what they had been seeing and doing. They told how one cannon was fired when the hour struck at which the royal procession was to set out, and another when the whole array was to be formed in the Champ de Mars, and others to represent the taking of the oath by the king, by the representatives of the parliament, and by Lafayette in the name of the people.
“And what is all this for?” asked the old man. “It is a beautiful spectacle, no doubt; but there were no such things in my time as the king and the people swearing at the same altar.”
“The people make the king swear, and some of them do not think he likes it,”—observed Julien, unmindful of his mother's signs. Pauline went on,
“No more than he liked being brought prisoner from Versailles, and having his guards' heads cut off.”
The little girl was terrified at the effect of her words. She in vain attempted to make up for them by saying that the king and queen were very well now; and that the people did not expect to be starved any more, and that every body was to be very happy after this day. The loyal old man said he should never be happy any more; and groaned and wept himself into a state of exhaustion from which he did not revive, though he lived two or three days longer.
“I wish,—I wish—” sobbed poor Pauline, “that the people had never meddled with the king——”
“Or the king with the people,” said Julien, “for that was the beginning of it all.”
“I am sure so do I,” said Marguerite, sighing. “It is little comfort to say, as Antoine does, that the world cannot roll on without crushing somebody.”
“If that somebody puts himself in the way, uncle said,” observed Julien.
“Everybody has been in the way, I think, my dear. All France is crushed.”
“Not quite, mamma. Uncle Antoine and Mr. Steele are sitting between the two big vines, and they say that everybody will be buying wine now that buying and selling are going to begin again.”
It was very true that the young men were enjoying their favourite retreat to the utmost; gilding it with the sunshine of their expectations, and making it as musical with the voice of hope as with the gay songs which were wafted from the revellers below.
They were not a little pleased when their anticipations were countenanced by a letter from Charles which reached his wife on the day of her father's death, and was not the less in accordance with her feelings for having been written before tidings of the old man's illness had reached Paris, and being, as usual, hopeful and happy.
“I have written to Antoine,” he said, “to urge all care in the approaching vintage, and all dispatch in the management of our immediate business. Good days are coming at last, unless despotism should bring on itself a new punishment, and rouse once more the spirit of faction, which has been laid to rest this day by that powerful spell, the voice of a united nation. It would astonish you to see how commercial confidence has already revived; and, as a consequence, how the values of all things are becoming fixed; and, again, as a consequence of this, how the intercourses of society are facilitated, and its peace promoted. It was the perception and anticipation of this which to me constituted the chief pleasure of the magnificent solemnity of this day. It was a grand thing to behold the national altar in the midst of an amphitheatre filled with countless thousands; but it was a grander to remember that these thousands were only the representatives of multitudes more who were on tiptoe on all our hills, in all our valleys, watching and listening for the token that they may trust one another once more, and exchange, for their mutual good, the fruits of their toil. It was touching to see the battalion of children,— ‘the hope of the nation,’ —coming forward to remind the state that it sways the fate of a future age; but it was more touching to think of our own little ones, and to believe that, by the present act, the reward of the social virtues we try to teach them is secured to them,—It was imputing to see one golden flood of light gush from a parting cloud, giving an aspect of blessing to what had before been stormy; but it was as an analogy that it struck us ail, and impelled us to send up a shout like the homage of worshippers of the sun. Has not a light broken through the dreariness of our political tempests? There may be,—let us hope there will be, from this day, order in the elements of our social state. Let but all preserve the faith they have sworn, and there will be no more sporting with life and property, no absurd playing with baubles while there is a craving for bread, no ruin to the industrious, and sudden wealth to such as speculate on national distress. We may once more estimate the labour of our peasantry, and the value of our own resources, and fix and receive the due reward of each. We may reach that high point of national prosperity in which the ascertainment and due recompense of industry involve each other; when the values of things become calculable, and mutual confidence has a solid basis.—I do not say that this prosperity will come, but I hope it will; and if all others have the same hope, it certainly will. It may be that the sovereign will lose his confidence, and go back. It may be that the parliament or the people will do the same; and then may follow worse miseries than we have yet known. But if they see how much social confidence has to do with social prosperity, they will refuse to disturb the tranquillity which has been this day established.
“And now, however you may sigh or smile a the spirit of hope which is in me and Antoine, what say you to it in the case of a nation? Are not its commercial exchanges a most important branch of its intercourses? Must not those exchanges be regulated by some principle of value, instead of being the sport of caprice? Is not that principle the due and equable recompense of labour, or (in business-like terms) the cost of production? Is not this recompense secured by the natural workings of interests—and can these interests work naturally without an anticipation of recompense—that is, without hope, inspiring confidence? Depend upon it, hope is not only the indispensable stimulus of individual action, but the elastic pressure by which society is surrounded and held together. Great is the crime of those who injure it; and especially heinous will be the first trespass on public confidence of any who have been in the Champ de Mars this day. As that which is national springs from that which is individual, I will add that Antoine and Steele are patriotic if they exult in the ripening beauties of Favorite; and if you would be patriotic too, gladden yourself with the promise of our children, and tell me, when we meet, that you trust with me that all will be well both with oar wines and our politics.”