Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XVIII.: CONSTERNATION AND CONSPIRACY OF TYRANTS. - The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires
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CHAP. XVIII.: CONSTERNATION AND CONSPIRACY OF TYRANTS. - Constantin-François Chasseboeuf, marquis de Volney, The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires 
The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires, 3rd ed. (London: J. Johnson, 1796).
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CONSTERNATION AND CONSPIRACY OF TYRANTS.
Meanwhile, scarcely had the solemn cry of liberty and equality resounded through the earth, than astonishment and apprehension were excited in the different nations. In one place, the multitude, moved by desire, but wavering between hope and fear, between a sense of their rights and the habitual yoke of slavery, betrayed symptoms of agitation: in another kings, suddenly roused from the sleep of indolence and despotism, were alarmed for the safety of their thrones: every where those classes of civil and religious tyrants, who deceive princes and oppress the people, were seized with rage and consternation; and concerting plans of perfidy, they said to one another: “Woe be to us, should this fatal cry of liberty reach the ear of the multitude, and this destructive spirit of justice be disseminated.”....And seeing the standard waving in the air: “What a swarm of evils, cried they, are included in these three words! If all men are equal, where is our exclusive right to honours and power? If all men are, or ought to be free, what becomes of our slaves, our vassals, our property? If all are equal in a civil capacity, where are our privileges of birth and succession, and what becomes of nobility? If all are equal before God, where will be the need of mediators, and what is to become of the priesthood? Ah! let us accomplish without a moment’s delay the destruction of a germ so prolific and contagious! let us employ the whole force of our art against this calamity. Let us sound the alarm to kings, that they may join in our cause. Let us divide the people; let us engage them in war, and turn aside their attention by conquests and national jealousy. Let us excite their apprehensions respecting the power of this free nation. Let us form a grand league against the common enemy. Let us pull down this sacrilegious standard, demolish this throne of rebellion, and quench this fire of revolution in its outset.”
And in reality, the civil and religious tyrants of the people entered into a general combination, and having gained, either by constraint or seduction, multitudes on their side, they advanced in an hostile manner against the free nation. Surrounding the altar and the throne of natural law, they demanded, with loud cries: “What is this new and heretical doctrine? What this impious altar, this sacrilegious worship?....True believers and loyal subjects! Would you not suppose that to day truth has been first discovered, and that hitherto you have been involved in error? Would you not suppose that these men, more fortunate than yourselves, have alone the privilege of being wise? And you, rebel and guilty nation, do you not feel that your chiefs mislead you? That they adulterate the principles of your faith, and overturn the religion of your fathers? Tremble lest the wrath of heaven be lighted against you; and hasten by speedy repentance to expiate your error.”
But inaccessible to seduction as to terror, the free nation kept silence: it maintained an exact discipline in arms, and continued to exhibit an imposing attitude.
And the legislators said to the chiefs of nations: “If when we went on with our eyes hood-winked, our steps did not fail to be enlightened, why, now that the bandage is removed, should we conceive that we are involved in darkness? If we, who prescribe to mankind to exert their faculties, deceive and mislead them, what can be expected from those who desire only to maintain them in blindness? Ye chiefs of nations, if you possess truth communicate it: we shall receive it with gratitude; for with ardour we pursue it, and with interest shall engage in the discovery. We are men, and may be deceived; but you also are men and as fallible as ourselves. Assist us in this labyrinth, in which the human species has wandered for so many ages: assist us to dissipate the illusion of evil habits and prejudice. Enter the lists with us in the shock of opinions which dispute for our acceptance, and engage with us in tracing the pure and proper character of truth. Let us terminate to day the long combat of error: let us establish between it and truth a solemn contest: let us call in men of every nation to assist us in the judgment: let us convoke a general assembly of the world; let them be judges in their own cause; and in the successive trial of every system, let no champion and no argument be wanting to the side of prejudice or of reason. In fine, let a fair examination of the result of the whole, give birth to universal harmony of minds and opinions.”