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CARLYLE’S FRENCH REVOLUTION 1837 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XX - Essays on French History and Historians 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XX - Essays on French History and Historians, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by John C. Cairns (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985).
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CARLYLE’S FRENCH REVOLUTION
London and Westminster Review, V & XXVII (July, 1837), 17-53. Headed: “The French Revolution: A History. In three volumes. By Thomas Carlyle. Small 8vo. [London:] Fraser, 1837.” Running titles: “The French Revolution.” Signed “A.” Not republished. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution, in the same review [as ‘Taylor’s Statesman,’ by Mill and George Grote] for July 1837. (No. 10 and 53.)” (MacMinn, 48.) The copy (bound sheets) in Mill’s library. Somerville College, has no corrections or emendations.
In the extensive quotations, the footnotes that Mill takes from Carlyle are signalled by “[TC].”
For comment, see l-lv and xcix-c above.
Carlyle’s French Revolution
this is not so much a history, as an epic poem; and notwithstanding, or even in consequence of this, the truest of histories. It is the history of the French Revolution, and the poetry of it, both in one; and on the whole no work of greater genius, either historical or poetical, has been produced in this country for many years.
It is a book on which opinion will be for some time divided; nay, what talk there is about it, while it is still fresh, will probably be oftenest of a disparaging sort; as indeed is usually the case, both with men’s works and with men themselves, of distinguished originality. For a thing which is unaccustomed, must be a very small thing indeed, if mankind can at once see into it and be sure that it is good: when, therefore, a considerable thing, which is also an unaccustomed one, appears, those who will hereafter approve, sit silent for a time, making up their minds; and those only to whom the mere novelty is a sufficient reason for disapproval, speak out. We need not fear to prophesy that the suffrages of a large class of the very best qualified judges will be given, even enthusiastically, in favour of the volumes before us; but we will not affect to deny that the sentiment of another large class of readers (among whom are many entitled to the most respectful attention on other subjects) will be far different; a class comprehending all who are repelled by quaintness of manner. For a style more peculiar than that of Mr. Carlyle, more unlike the jog-trot characterless uniformity which distinguishes the English style of this age of Periodicals, does not exist. Nor indeed can this style be wholly defended even by its admirers. Some of its peculiarities are mere mannerisms, arising from some casual association of ideas, or some habit accidentally picked up; and what is worse, many sterling thoughts are so disguised in phraseology borrowed from the spiritualist school of German poets and metaphysicians, as not only to obscure the meaning, but to raise, in the minds of most English readers, a not unnatural nor inexcusable presumption of there being no meaning at all. Nevertheless, the presumption fails in this instance (as in many other instances); there is not only a meaning, but generally a true, and even a profound meaning; and, although a few dicta about the “mystery” and the “infinitude”[*] which are in the universe and in man, and such like topics, are repeated in varied phrases greatly too often for our taste, this must be borne with, proceeding, as one cannot but see, from feelings the most solemn, and the most deeply rooted which can lie in the heart of a human being. These transcendentalisms, and the accidental mannerisms excepted, we pronounce the style of this book to be not only good, but of surpassing excellence; excelled, in its kind, only by the great masters of epic poetry; and a most suitable and glorious vesture for a work which is itself, as we have said, an epic poem.
To any one who is perfectly satisfied with the best of the existing histories, it will be difficult to explain wherein the merit of Mr. Carlyle’s book consists. If there be a person who, in reading the histories of Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon (works of extraordinary talent, and the works of great writers)[*] has never felt that this, after all, is not history—and that the lives and deeds of his fellow-creatures must be placed before him in quite another manner, if he is to know them, or feel them to be real beings, who once were alive, beings of his own flesh and blood, not mere shadows and dim abstractions; such a person, for whom plausible talk about a thing does as well as an image of the thing itself, feels no need of a book like Mr. Carlyle’s; the want, which it is peculiarly fitted to supply, does not yet consciously exist in his mind. That such a want, however, is generally felt, may be inferred from the vast number of historical plays and historical romances, which have been written for no other purpose than to satisfy it. Mr. Carlyle has been the first to shew that all which is done for history by the best historical play, by Schiller’s Wallenstein,[†] for example, or Vitet’s admirable trilogy,* may be done in a strictly true narrative, in which every incident rests on irrefragable authority; may be done, by means merely of an apt selection and a judicious grouping of authentic facts.
It has been noted as a point which distinguishes Shakespeare from ordinary dramatists, that their characters are logical abstractions, his are human beings: that their kings are nothing but kings, their lovers nothing but lovers, their patriots, courtiers, villains, cowards, bullies, are each of them that, and that alone; while his are real men and women, who have these qualities, but have them in addition to their full share of all other qualities (not incompatible), which are incident to human nature.[*] In Shakespeare, consequently, we feel we are in a world of realities; we are among such beings as really could exist, as do exist, or have existed, and as we can sympathise with; the faces we see around us are human faces, and not mere rudiments of such, or exaggerations of single features. This quality, so often pointed out as distinctive of Shakespeare’s plays, distinguishes Mr. Carlyle’s history. Never before did we take up a book calling itself by that name, a book treating of past times, and professing to be true, and find ourselves actually among human beings. We at once felt, that what had hitherto been to us mere abstractions, had become realities; the “forms of things unknown,” which we fancied we knew, but knew their names merely, were, for the first time, with most startling effect, “bodied forth” and “turned into shape.”[†] Other historians talk to us indeed of human beings; but what do they place before us? Not even stuffed figures of such, but rather their algebraical symbols; a few phrases, which present no image to the fancy, but by adding up the dictionary meanings of which, we may hunt out a few qualities, not enough to form even the merest outline of what the men were, or possibly could have been; furnishing little but a canvas, which, if we ourselves can paint, we may fill with almost any picture, and if we cannot, it will remain for ever blank.
Take, for example, Hume’s history; certainly, in its own way, one of the most skilful specimens of narrative in modern literature, and with some pretensions also to philosophy. Does Hume throw his own mind into the mind of an Anglo-Saxon, or an Anglo-Norman? Does any reader feel, after having read Hume’s history, that he can now picture to himself what human life was, among the Anglo-Saxons? how an Anglo-Saxon would have acted in any supposable case? what were his joys, his sorrows, his hopes and fears, his ideas and opinions on any of the great and small matters of human interest? Would not the sight, if it could be had, of a single table or pair of shoes made by an Anglo-Saxon, tell us, directly and by inference, more of his whole way of life, more of how men thought and acted among the Anglo-Saxons, than Hume, with all his narrative skill, has contrived to tell us from all his materials?
Or descending from the history of civilization, which in Hume’s case may have been a subordinate object, to the history of political events: did any one ever gain from Hume’s history anything like a picture of what may actually have been passing, in the minds, say, of Cavaliers or of Roundheads during the civil wars? Does any one feel that Hume has made him figure to himself with any precision what manner of men these were; how far they were like ourselves, how far different; what things they loved and hated, and what sort of conception they had formed of the things they loved and hated? And what kind of a notion can be framed of a period of history, unless we begin with that as a preliminary? Hampden, and Strafford, and Vane, and Cromwell, do these, in Hume’s pages, appear to us like beings who actually trod this earth, and spoke with a human voice, and stretched out human hands in fellowship with other human beings; or like the figures in a phantasmagoria, colourless, impalpable, gigantic, and in all varieties of attitude, but all resembling one another in being shadows? And suppose he had done his best to assist us in forming a conception of these leading characters: what would it have availed, unless he had placed us also in the atmosphere which they breathed? What wiser are we for looking out upon the world through Hampden’s eyes, unless it be the same world which Hampden looked upon? and what help has Hume afforded us for this? Has he depicted to us, or to himself, what all the multitude of people were about, who surrounded Hampden; what the whole English nation were feeling, thinking, or doing? Does he shew us what impressions from without were coming to Hampden—what materials and what instruments were given him to work with? If not, we are well qualified, truly, from Hume’s information, to erect ourselves into judges of any part of Hampden’s conduct!
Another very celebrated historian, we mean Gibbon—not a man of mere science and analysis, like Hume, but with some (though not the truest or profoundest) artistic feeling of the picturesque, and from whom, therefore, rather more might have been expected—has with much pains succeeded in producing a tolerably graphic picture of here and there a battle, a tumult, or an insurrection; his book is full of movement and costume, and would make a series of very pretty ballets at the Opera-house, and the ballets would give us fully as distinct an idea of the Roman empire, and how it declined and fell, as the book does. If we want that, we must look for it anywhere but in Gibbon. One touch of M. Guizot removes a portion of the veil which hid from us the recesses of private life under the Roman empire, lets in a ray of light which penetrates as far even as the domestic hearth of a subject of Rome, and shews us the government at work making that desolate;[*] but no similar gleam of light from Gibbon’s mind ever reaches the subject; human life, in the times he wrote about, is not what he concerned himself with.
On the other hand, there are probably many among our readers who are acquainted (though it is not included in Coleridge’s admirable translation) with that extraordinary piece of dramatic writing, termed “Wallenstein’s Camp.”[†] One of the greatest of dramatists, the historian of the Thirty Years’ War,[*] aspired to do, in a dramatic fiction, what even his genius had not enabled him to do in his history—to delineate the great characters, and, above all, to embody the general spirit of that period. This is done with such life and reality through ten acts, that the reader feels when it is over as if all the prominent personages in the play were people whom he had known from his childhood; but the author did not trust to this alone: he prefixed to the ten acts, one introductory act, intended to exhibit, not the characters, but the element they moved in. It is there, in this preliminary piece, that Schiller really depicts the Thirty Years’ War; without that, even the other ten acts, splendid as they are, would not have sufficiently realized it to our conception, nor would the Wallensteins and Piccolominis and Terzskys of that glorious tragedy have been themselves, comparatively speaking, intelligible.
What Schiller must have done, in his own mind, with respect to the age of Wallenstein, to enable him to frame that fictitious delineation of it. Mr. Carlyle, with a mind which looks still more penetratingly into the deeper meanings of things than Schiller’s, has done with respect to the French Revolution. And he has communicated his picture of it with equal vividness; but he has done it by means of real, not fictitious incidents. And therefore is his book, as we said, at once the authentic History and the Poetry of the French Revolution.
It is indeed a favourite doctrine of Mr. Carlyle, and one which he has enforced with great strength of reason and eloquence in other places, that all poetry suitable to the present age must be of this kind:[†] that poetry has not naturally any thing to do with fiction, nor is fiction in these days even the most appropriate vehicle and vesture of it; that it should, and will, employ itself more and more, not in inventing unrealities, but in bringing out into ever greater distinctness and impressiveness the poetic aspect of realities. For what is it, in the fictitious subjects which poets usually treat, that makes those subjects poetical? Surely not the dry, mechanical facts which compose the story; but the feelings—the high and solemn, the tender or mournful, even the gay and mirthful contemplations, which the story, or the manner of relating it, awaken in our minds. But would not all these thoughts and feelings be far more vividly aroused if the facts were believed, if the men, and all that is ascribed to them, had actually been; if the whole were no play of imagination, but a truth? In every real fact, in which any of the great interests of human beings are implicated, there lie the materials of all poetry; there is, as Mr. Carlyle has said, the fifth act of a tragedy in every peasant’s death-bed;[‡] the life of every heroic character is a heroic poem, were but the man of genius found, who could so write it! Not falsification of the reality is wanted, not the representation of it as being any thing which it is not; only a deeper understanding of what it is; the power to conceive, and to represent, not the mere outside surface and costume of the thing, nor yet the mere logical definition, and caput mortuum of it—but an image of the thing itself in the concrete, with all that is loveable or hateable or admirable or pitiable or sad or solemn or pathetic, in it, and in the things which are implied in it. That is, the thing must be presented as it can exist only in the mind of a great poet: of one gifted with the two essential elements of the poetic character—creative imagination, which, from a chaos of scattered hints and confused testimonies, can summon up the Thing to appear before it as a completed whole: and that depth and breadth of feeling which makes all the images that are called up appear arrayed in whatever, of all that belongs to them, is naturally most affecting and impressive to the human soul.
We do not envy the person who can read Mr. Carlyle’s three volumes, and not recognize in him both these endowments in a most rare and remarkable degree. What is equally important to be said—he possesses in no less perfection that among the qualities necessary for his task, seemingly the most opposite to these, and in which the man of poetic imagination might be thought likeliest to be deficient; the quality of the historical day-drudge. A more pains-taking or accurate investigator of facts, and sifter of testimonies, never wielded the historical pen. We do not say this at random, but from a most extensive acquaintance with his materials, with his subject, and with the mode in which it has been treated by others.
Thus endowed, and having a theme the most replete with every kind of human interest, epic, tragic, elegiac, even comic and farcical, which history affords, and so near to us withal, that the authentic details of it are still attainable; need it be said, that he has produced a work which deserves to be memorable? a work which, whatever may be its immediate reception, “will not willingly be let die;”[*] whose reputation will be a growing reputation, its influence rapidly felt, for it will be read by the writers; and perhaps every historical work of any note, which shall hereafter be written in this country, will be different from what it would have been if this book were not.
The book commences with the last illness of Louis XV which is introduced as follows:
President Hénault, remarking on royal Surnames of Honour how difficult it often is to ascertain not only why, but even when, they were conferred, takes occasion in his sleek official way to make a philosophical reflection. “The Surname of Bien-aimé (Well-beloved),” says he, “which Louis XV bears, will not leave posterity in the same doubt. This Prince, in the year 1744, while hastening from one end of his kingdom to the other, and suspending his conquests in Flanders that he might fly to the assistance of Alsace, was arrested at Metz by a malady which threatened to cut short his days. At the news of this, Paris, all in terror, seemed a city taken by storm: the churches resounded with supplications and groans; the prayers of priests and people were every moment interrupted by their sobs; and it was from an interest so dear and tender that this Surname of Bien-aimé fashioned itself, a title higher still than all the rest which this great Prince has earned.”*
So stands it written; in lasting memorial of that year 1744. Thirty other years have come and gone; and “this great Prince” again lies sick; but in how altered circumstances now! Churches resound not with excessive groanings, Paris is stoically calm, sobs interrupt no prayers, for indeed none are offered, except Priests’ Litanies, read or chanted at fixed money-rate per hour, which are not liable to interruption. The shepherd of the people has been carried home from Little Trianon, heavy of heart, and been put to bed in his own Château of Versailles: the flock knows it, and heeds it not. At most, in the immeasurable tide of French Speech (which ceases not day after day, and only ebbs towards the short hours of night), may this of the royal sickness emerge from time to time as an article of news. Bets are doubtless depending, nay some people “express themselves loudly in the streets.”† But for the rest, on green field and steepled city, the May sun shines out, the May evening fades, and men ply their useful or useless business as if no Louis lay in danger.[*]
The loathsome deathbed of the royal debauchee becomes, under Mr. Carlyle’s pencil, the central figure in an historical picture, including all France: bringing before us, as it were visibly, all the spiritual and physical elements which there existed, and made up the sum of what might be termed the influences of the age. In this picture, and in that of the “Era of Hope” (as Mr. Carlyle calls the first years of Louis XVI,)[†] there is much that we would gladly quote. But on the whole we think these introductory chapters the least interesting part of the book; less distinguished by their intrinsic merit, and more so by all the peculiarities of manner which either are really defects, or appear so. These chapters will only have justice done them on a second reading, once familiarized with the author’s characteristic turn of thought and expression, we find many passages full of meaning, which, to unprepared minds, would convey a very small portion, if any, of the sense which they are not only intended, but are in themselves admirably calculated to express, for the finest expression is not always that which is the most readily apprehended. The real character of the book, however, begins only to display itself when the properly narrative portion commences. This, however, is more or less the case with all histories, though seldom to so conspicuous an extent.
The stream of the narrative acquires its full speed about the hundred and sixty-fifth page, and the beginning of the fourth book. The introductory rapid sketch of what may be called the coming-on of the Revolution, is then ended, and we are arrived at the calling together of the States General. The fourth book, first chapter, opens as follows:
The universal prayer, therefore, is to be fulfilled! Always in days of national perplexity, when wrong abounded and help was not, this remedy of States General was called for; by a Malesherbes, nay by a Fénélon:* even Parlements calling for it were “escorted with blessings.”[*] And now behold it is vouchsafed us, States General shall verily be!
To say, let States General be, was easy; to say in what manner they shall be, is not so easy. Since the year 1614, there have no States General met in France, all trace of them has vanished from the living habits of men. Their structure, powers, methods of procedure, which were never in any measure fixed, have now become wholly a vague Possibility. Clay which the potter may shape, this way or that:—say rather, the twenty-five millions of potters; for so many have now, more or less, a vote in it! How to shape the States General? There is a problem. Each Body-corporate, each privileged, each organised Class has secret hopes of its own in that matter; and also secret misgivings of its own,—for, behold, this monstrous twenty-million Class, hitherto the dumb sheep which these others had to agree about the manner of shearing, is now also arising with hopes! It has ceased or is ceasing to be dumb; it speaks through Pamphlets, or at least brays and growls behind them, in unison,—increasing wonderfully their volume of sound.
As for the Parlement of Paris, it has at once declared for the “old form of 1614.” Which form had this advantage, that the Tiers Etat, Third Estate, or Commons, figured there as a show mainly, whereby the Noblesse and Clergy had but to avoid quarrel between themselves, and decide unobstructed what they thought best. Such was the clearly declared opinion of the Paris Parlement. But, being met by a storm of mere hooting and howling from all men, such opinion was blown straightway to the winds; and the popularity of the Parlement along with it,—never to return. The Parlement’s part, we said above, was as good as played. Concerning which, however, there is this further to be noted, the proximity of dates. It was on the 22nd of September that the Parlement returned from “vacation” or “exile in its estates;” to be reinstalled amid boundless jubilee from all Paris. Precisely next day, it was that this same Parlement came to its “clearly declared opinion:” and then on the morrow after that, you behold it “covered with outrages;” its outer court, one vast sibilation, and the glory departed from it for evermore.† A popularity of twenty-four hours was, in those times, no uncommon allowance.
On the other hand, how superfluous was that invitation of Lornénie, the invitation to thinkers! Thinkers and unthinkers, by the million, are spontaneously at their post, doing what is in them. Clubs labour: Société Publicole; Breton Club; Enraged Club, Club des Enragés. Likewise dinner-parties in the Palais Royal; your Mirabeaus, Talleyrands dining there, in company with Chamforts, Morellets, with Duponts and hot Parlementeers, not without object! For a certain Neckerean lion’s-provider, whom one could name, assembles them there;‡ —or even their own private determination to have dinner does it. And then as to pamphlets—in figurative language, “it is a sheer snowing of pamphlets; like to snow up the Government thoroughfares!”[†] Now is the time for friends of freedom; sane, and even insane.
Count, or self-styled Count, d’Aintraigues, “the young Languedocian gentleman,” with perhaps Chamfort the Cynic to help him, rises into furor almost Pythic; highest, where many are high.* Foolish young Languedocian gentleman, who himself so soon, “emigrating among the foremost,” must fly indignant over the marches, with the Contrat Social[*] in his pocket,—towards outer darkness, thankless intriguings, ignis-fatuus hoverings, and death by the stiletto! Abbé Sieyès has left Chartres Cathedral, and canonry and book-shelves there; has let his tonsure grow, and come to Paris with a secular head, of the most irrefragable sort, to ask three questions, and answer them. What is the Third Estate? All. What has it hitherto been in our form of government? Nothing. What does it want? To become something.[†]
D’Orleans, for be sure he, on his way to Chaos, is in the thick of this,—promulgates his Deliberations;† fathered by him, written by Laclos of the Liaisons Dangereuses.[‡] The result of which comes out simply. “The Third Estate is the Nation.”[§] On the other hand, Monseigneur d’Artois, with other Princes of the Blood, publishes, in solemn Memorial to the King, that, if such things be listened to, Privilege, Nobility, Monarchy, Church, State, and Strongbox are in danger.‡ In danger truly: and yet if you do not listen, are they out of danger? It is the voice of all France, this sound that rises. Immeasurable, manifold, as the sound of outbreaking waters: wise were he who knew what to do in it,—if not to fly to the mountains, and hide himself!
How an ideal, all-seeing Versailles Government, sitting there on such principles, in such an environment, would have determined to demean itself at this new juncture; may even yet be a question. Such a Government had felt too well that its long task was now drawing to a close, that, under the guise of these States General, at length inevitable, a new omnipotent Unknown of Democracy was coming into being, in presence of which no Versailles Government either could or should, except in a provisory character, continue extant. To enact which provisory character, so unspeakably important, might its whole faculties but have sufficed; and so a peaceable, gradual, well-conducted Abdication and Dominedimittas have been the issue!
This for our ideal, all-seeing Versailles Government. But for the actual irrational Versailles Government? Alas! that is a Government existing there only for its own behoof, without right, except possession, and now also without might. It foresees nothing, sees nothing; has not so much as a purpose, but has only purposes,—and the instinct whereby all that exists will struggle to keep existing. Wholly a vortex, in which vain counsels, hallucinations, falsehoods, intrigues, and imbecilities whirl; like withered rubbish in the meeting of winds! The Oeil-de-Boeuf has its irrational hopes, if also its fears. Since hitherto all States General have done as good as nothing, why should these do more? The Commons indeed look dangerous; but on the whole is not revolt, unknown now for five generations, an impossibility? The Three Estates can, by management, be set against each other; the Third will, as heretofore, join with the King, will, out of mere spite and self-interest, be eager to tax and vex the other two. The other two are thus delivered bound into our hands, that we may fleece them likewise. Whereupon, money being got, and the Three Estates all in quarrel, dismiss them, and let the future go as it can! As good Archbishop Loménie was wont to say: “There are so many accidents; and it needs but one to save us.”—How many to destroy us?
Poor Necker in the midst of such an anarchy does what is possible for him. He looks into it with obstinately hopeful face; lauds the known rectitude of the kingly mind; listens indulgent-like to the known perverseness of the queenly and courtly;—emits if any proclamation or regulation, one favouring the Tiers Etat; but settling nothing; hovering afar off rather, and advising all things to settle themselves. . . .[*]
But so, at least, by Royal Edict of the 24th of January,* does it finally, to impatient expectant France, become not only indubitable that national deputies are to meet, but possible (so far and hardly further has the royal regulation gone) to begin electing them.[†]
The next Chapter is “The Election.”
Up then, and be doing! The royal signal-word flies through France, as through vast forests the rushing of a mighty wind. At Parish Churches, in Townhalls, and every House of Convocation; by Bailliages, by Seneschalsies, in whatsoever form men convene, there, with confusion enough, are primary assemblies forming. To elect your electors; such is the form prescribed: then to draw up your “Writ of Plaints and Grievances (Cahier de plaintes et doléances),” of which latter there is no lack.
With such virtue works this Royal January Edict; as it rolls rapidly, in its leathern mails, along these frost-bound highways, towards all the four winds. Like some fiat, or magic spell-word;—which such things do resemble! For always, as it sounds out “at the market-cross,” accompanied with trumpet-blast, presided by Bailli, Seneschal, or other minor functionary, with beefeaters; or, in country churches, is droned forth after sermon, “au prône des messes paroissiales,”[‡] and is registered, posted, and let fly over all the world,—you behold how this multitudinous French people, so long simmering and buzzing in eager expectancy, begins heaping and shaping itself into organic groups. Which organic groups, again, hold smaller organic grouplets: the inarticulate buzzing becomes articulate speaking and acting. By Primary Assembly, and then by Secondary, by “successive elections,” and infinite elaboration and scrutiny, according to prescribed process,—shall the genuine. “Plaints and Grievances” be at length got to paper; shall the fit National Representative be at length laid hold of.
How the whole People shakes itself, as if it had one life, and, in thousand-voiced rumour, announces that it is awake, suddenly out of long death-sleep, and will thenceforth sleep no more![*] The long looked-for has come at last; wondrous news, of victory, deliverance, enfranchisement, sounds magical through every heart. To the proud strong man it has come, whose strong hands shall no more be gyved, to whom boundless unconquered continents lie disclosed. The weary day-drudge has heard of it, the beggar with his crust moistened in tears. What! To us also has hope reached; down even to us? Hunger and hardship are not to be eternal? The bread we extorted from the rugged glebe, and, with the toil of our sinews, reaped and ground, and kneaded into loaves, was not wholly for another, then, but we also shall eat of it, and be filled? Glorious news (answer the prudent elders), but all too unlikely!—Thus, at any rate, may the lower people, who pay no money taxes and have no right to vote,* assiduously crowd round those that do, and most halls of assembly, within doors and without, seem animated enough.[†]
Has the reader often seen the state of an agitated nation made thus present, thus palpable? How the thing paints itself in all its greatness—the men in all their littleness! and this is not done by reasoning about them, but by showing them. The deep pathos of the last paragraph, grand as it is, is but an average specimen, as, indeed, is the whole passage. In the remaining two volumes and a half there are scarcely five consecutive pages of inferior merit to those we have quoted. The few extracts we can venture to make, will be selected, not for peculiarity of merit, but either as forming wholes in themselves, or as depicting events or situations, with which the reader, it may be hoped, is familiar.† For the more he previously knew of the mere outline of the facts, the more he will admire the writer, whose pictorial and truly poetic genius enables him for the first time to fill up the outline.
Our last extract was an abridged sketch of the State of a Nation: the next shall be a copious narrative of a single event: the far-famed Siege of the Bastille. How much every such passage must suffer by being torn from the context, needs scarcely be said; and nothing that could be said, could, in this case, make it adequately felt. The history of the two previous days occupies twenty-two pages, rising from page to page in interest. We begin at noon on the fourteenth of July:
All morning, since nine, there has been a cry every where. To the Bastille! Repeated “deputations of citizens” have been here, passionate for arms; whom de Launay has got dismissed by soft speeches through portholes. Towards noon, Elector Thuriot de la Rosière gains admittance; finds de Launay indisposed for surrender; nay disposed for blowing up the place rather. Thuriot mounts with him to the battlements; heaps of paving-stones, old iron and missiles lie piled; cannon all duly levelled; in every embrasure a cannon,—only drawn back a little! But outwards, behold, O Thuriot, how the multitude flows on, welling through every street; tocsin furiously pealing, all drums beating the générale; the Suburb Saint-Antoine rolling hitherward wholly, as one man! Such vision (spectral yet real) thou, O Thuriot, as from thy Mount of Vision, beholdest in this moment: prophetic of what other Phantasmagories, and loud-gibbering Spectral Realities, which thou yet beholdest not, but shalt! “Que voulez-vous?” said de Launay, turning pale at the sight, with an air of reproach, almost of menace. “Monsieur,” said Thuriot, rising into the moral-sublime, “What mean you? Consider if I could not precipate both of us from this height,”—say only a hundred feet, exclusive of the walled ditch![*] Whereupon de Launay fell silent. Thuriot shews himself from some pinnacle, to comfort the multitude becoming suspicious, fremescent, then descends; departs with protest; with warning addressed also to the Invalides,—on whom, however, it produces but a mixed indistinct impression. The old heads are none of the clearest; besides, it is said, de Launay has been profuse of beverages (prodigua des boissons). They think, they will not fire,—if not fired on, if they can help it; but must, on the whole, be ruled considerably by circumstances.
Wo to thee, de Launay, in such an hour, if thou canst not, taking some one firm decision, rule circumstances! Soft speeches will not serve; hard grape-shot is questionable, but hovering between the two is unquestionable. Ever wilder swells the tide of men; their infinite hum waxing ever louder, into imprecations, perhaps into crackle of stray musketry,—which latter, on walls nine feet thick, cannot do execution. The outer drawbridge has been lowered for Thuriot; new deputation of citizens (it is the third, and noisiest of all) penetrates that way into the outer court: soft speeches producing no clearance of these, de Launay gives fire; pulls up his drawbridge. A slight sputter,—which has kindled the too combustible chaos, made it a roaring fire-chaos! Bursts forth Insurrection, at sight of its own blood (for there were deaths by that sputter of fire), into endless rolling explosion of musketry, distraction, execration;—and over head, from the fortress, let one great gun, with its grape-shot, go booming, to shew what we could do. The Bastille is besieged!
On, then, all Frenchmen that have hearts in their bodies! Roar with all your throats, of cartilage and metal, ye Sons of Liberty; stir spasmodically whatsoever of utmost faculty is in you, soul, body or spirit; for it is the hour! Smite, thou Louis Tournay, cartwright of the Marais, old-soldier of the Regiment Dauphine, smite at that outer drawbridge-chain, though the fiery hail whistles round thee! Never, over nave or felloe, did thy axe strike such a stroke. Down with it, man; down with it to Orcus, let the whole accursed Edifice sink thither, and Tyranny be swallowed up for ever! Mounted, some say on the roof of the guard-room, some “on bayonets stuck into joints of the wall,” Louis Tournay smites, brave Aubin Bonnemère (also an old soldier) seconding him: the chain yields, breaks; the huge drawbridge slams down, thundering (avec fracas).[†] Glorious: and yet, alas, it is still but the outworks. The Eight grim Towers, with their Invalides’ musketry, their paving stones and cannon-mouths, still soar aloft intact;—ditch yawning impassable, stone-faced; the inner drawbridge with its back towards us: the Bastille is still to take!
To describe this siege of the Bastille (thought to be one of the most important in History) perhaps transcends the talent of mortals. Could one but, after infinite reading, get to understand so much as the plan of the building! But there is open Esplanade, at the end of the Rue Saint-Antoine; there are such Forecourts, Cour Avancé, Cour de l’Orme, arched Gateway (where Louis Tournay now fights); then new drawbridges, dormant-bridges, rampart-bastions, and the grim Eight Towers: a labyrinthic mass, high-frowning there, of all ages from twenty years to four hundred and twenty;—beleaguered, in this its last hour, as we said, by mere Chaos come again![*] Ordnance of all calibres; throats of all capacities; men of all plans, every man his own engineer: seldom since the war of Pygmies and Cranes[†] was there seen so anomalous a thing. Half-pay Elie is home for a suit of regimentals; no one would heed him in coloured clothes half-pay. Hulin is haranguing Gardes Françaises in the Place de Grève. Frantic patriots pick up the grape-shots: bear them, still hot (or seemingly so), to the Hôtel-de-Ville:—Paris, you perceive, is to be burnt! Flesselles is “pale to the very lips,” for the roar of the multitude grows deep. Paris wholly has got to the acme of its frenzy; whirled, all ways, by panic madness. At every street-barricade, there whirls simmering, a minor whirlpool,—strengthening the barricade, since God knows what is coming: and all minor whirlpools play distractedly into that grand Fire-Mahlstrom which is lashing round the Bastille.
And so it lashes and it roars. Cholat the wine-merchant has become an impromptu cannoneer. See Georget, of the marine service, fresh from Brest, ply the King of Siam’s cannon.[‡] Singular (if we were not used to the like). Georget lay, last night, taking his ease at his inn;[§] the King of Siam’s cannon also lay, knowing nothing of him, for a hundred years. Yet now, at the right instant, they have got together, and discourse eloquent music. For, hearing what was toward, Georget sprang from the Brest Diligence, and ran. Gardes Françaises also will be here, with real artillery: were not the walls so thick!—Upwards from the Esplanade, horizontally from all neighbouring roofs and windows, flashes one irregular deluge of musketry,—without effect. The Invalides lie flat, firing comparatively at their ease from behind stone; hardly through portholes, shew the tip of a nose. We fall, shot; and make no impression!
Let conflagration rage; of whatsoever is combustible! Guard-rooms are burnt, Invalides’ mess-rooms. A distracted “Perukemaker with two fiery torches” is for burning “the saltpetres of the Arsenal;”[¶] —had not a woman run screaming, had not a Patriot, with some tincture of Natural Philosophy, instantly struck the wind out of him (butt of musket on pit of stomach), overturned barrels, and stayed the devouring element. A young beautiful lady, seized escaping in these Outer Courts, and thought falsely to be de Launay’s daughter, shall be burnt in de Launay’s sight; she lies swooned on a paillasse: but again a Patriot, it is brave Aubin Bonnemère the old soldier, dashes in, and rescues her. Straw is burnt; three cartloads of it, hauled thither, go up in white smoke, almost to the choking of Patriotism itself; so that Elie had, with singed brows, to drag back one cart, and Réole the “gigantic haberdasher” another.[∥] Smoke as of Tophet;[**] confusion as of Babel;[††] noise as of the Crack of Doom![‡‡]
Blood flows; the aliment of new madness. The wounded are carried into houses of the Rue Cerisaie; the dying leave their last mandate not to yield till the accursed Stronghold fall. And yet, alas, how fall? The walls are so thick! Deputations, three in number, arrive from the Hôtel-de-Ville; Abbé Fauchet (who was one) can say, with what almost superhuman courage of benevolence.* These wave their Town-flag in the arched Gateway: and stand, rolling their drum; but to no purpose. In such Crack of Doom, de Launay cannot hear them, dare not believe them: they return, with justified rage, the whew of lead still singing in their ears. What to do? The Firemen are here, squirting with their fire-pumps on the Invalides’ cannon, to wet the touchholes; they unfortunately cannot squirt so high; but produce only clouds of spray. Individuals of classical knowledge propose catapults. Santerre, the sonorous brewer of the suburb Saint-Antoine, advises rather that the place be fired, by a “mixture of phosphorus and oil-of-turpentine spouted up through forcing pumps:” O Spinola-Santerre,[*] hast thou the mixture ready? Every man his own engineer! And still the fire-deluge abates not; even women are firing, and Turks; at least one woman (with her sweetheart), and one Turk.† Gardes Françaises have come: real cannon, real cannoneers. Usher Maillard is busy, half-pay Elie, half-pay Hulin rage in the midst of thousands.
How the great Bastille Clock ticks (inaudible) in its Inner Court there, at its ease, hour after hour; as if nothing special, for it or the world, were passing! It tolled One when the firing began; and is now pointing towards Five, and still the firing slakes not.—Far down, in their vaults, the seven Prisoners[†] hear muffled din as of earthquakes, their Turnkeys answer vaguely.
Wo to thee, de Launay, with thy poor hundred Invalides! Broglie is distant, and his ears heavy: Besenval hears, but can send no help. One poor troop of Hussars has crept, reconnoitring, cautiously along the quais, as far as the Pont Neuf. “We are come to join you,” said the Captain; for the crowd seems shoreless. A large-headed dwarfish individual, of smoke-bleared aspect, shambles forward, opening his blue lips, for there is sense in him; and croaks: “Alight then, and give up your arms!” The Hussar-Captain is too happy to be escorted to the barriers, and dismissed on parole. Who the squat individual was? Men answer, It is M. Marat, author of the excellent pacific Avis au Peuple![‡] Great truly, O thou remarkable Dogleech, is this thy day of emergence and new-birth, and yet this same day come four years—!—But let the curtains of the Future hang.
What shall de Launay do? One thing only de Launay could have done: what he said he would do. Fancy him sitting, from the first, with lighted taper, within arm’s length of the powder-magazine; motionless, like old Roman Senator, or bronze Lamp-holder; coldly apprising Thuriot, and all men, by a slight motion of his eye, what his resolution was:—Harmless he sat there, while unharmed; but the King’s fortress, meanwhile, could, might, would, or should, in nowise, be surrendered, save to the King’s Messenger: one old man’s life is worthless, so it be lost with honour; but think, ye brawling canaille, how will it be when a whole Bastille springs skyward!—In such statuesque, taper-holding attitude, one fancies de Launay might have left Thuriot, the red Clerks of the Bazoche, Curé of Saint-Stephen and all the tagrag-and-bobtail of the world, to work their will.
And yet, withal, he could not do it. Hast thou considered how each man’s heart is so tremulously responsive to the hearts of all men, hast thou noted how omnipotent is the very sound of many men? How their shriek of indignation palsies the strong soul, their howl of contumely withers with unfelt pangs? The Ritter Gluck confessed that the ground-tone of the noblest passage, in one of his noblest Operas, was the voice of the populace he had heard at Vienna, crying to their Kaiser, Bread! Bread![*] Great is the combined voice of men, the utterance of their instincts, which are truer than their thoughts, it is the greatest a man encounters, among the sounds and shadows, which make up this World of Time. He who can resist that, has his footing somewhere beyond time. De Launay could not do it Distracted, he hovers between two, hopes in the middle of despair, surrenders not his fortress, declares that he will blow it up, seizes torches to blow it up, and does not blow it. Unhappy old de Launay, it is the death-agony of thy Bastille and thee! Jail, jailoring and jailor, all three, such as they may have been, must finish.
For four hours now has the World-Bedlam roared call it the World-Chimaera, blowing fire! The poor Invalides have sunk under their battlements, or rise only with reversed muskets: they have made a white flag of napkins, go beating the chamade, or seeming to beat, for one can hear nothing. The very Swiss at the Portcullis look weary of firing, disheartened in the fire-deluge, a porthole at the drawbridge is opened, as by one that would speak. See Huissier Maillard, the shifty man! On his plank, swinging over the abyss of that stone-ditch; plank resting on parapet, balanced by weight of patriots,—he hovers perilous such a dove towards such an ark! Deftly, thou shifty Usher, one man already fell, and lies smashed, far down there, against the masonry! Usher Maillard falls not deftly, unerring he walks, with outspread palm. The Swiss holds a paper through his porthole, the shifty Usher snatches it, and returns. Terms of surrender Pardon, immunity to all! Are they accepted?—“Foi d’officier, on the word of an officer,” answers half-pay Hulin,—or half-pay Elie, for men do not agree on it, “they are!” Sinks the drawbridge,—Usher Maillard bolting it when down; rushes-in the living deluge the Bastille is fallen! Victoire! La Bastille est prise!*
We quote next the passage on the Burning of Châteaux. Mr. Carlyle gives rather a different account from what English people have been used to, of that feature of the Revolution:
Starvation has been known among the French commonalty before this, known and familiar. Did we not see them, in the year 1775, presenting, in sallow faces, in wretchedness and raggedness, their Petition of Grievances, and, for answer, getting a brand-new gallows forty feet high?[†] Hunger and darkness, through long years! For look back on that earlier Paris riot, when a great personage, worn out by debauchery, was believed to be in want of blood-baths; and mothers, in worn raiment, yet with living hearts under it, “filled the public places”[*] with their wild Rachel-cries,—stilled also by the gallows. Twenty years ago, The Friend of Men (preaching to the deaf) described the Limousin peasants as wearing a pain-stricken (souffre-douleur) look, a look past complaint, “as if the oppression of the great were like the hail and the thunder, a thing irremediable, the ordinance of nature.”* And now, if in some great hour, the shock of a falling Bastille should awaken you; and it were found to be the ordinance of art merely; and remediable, reversible!
Or has the reader forgotten that “flood of savages,” which, in sight of the same Friend of Men, descended from the mountains at Mont d’Or? Lank-haired haggard faces; shapes rawboned, in high sabots; in woollen jupes, with leather girdles studded with copper-nails! They rocked from foot to foot, and beat time with their elbows too, as the quarrel and battle which was not long in beginning went on; shouting fiercely; the lank faces distorted into the similitude of a cruel laugh. For they were darkened and hardened: long had they been the prey of excise-men and tax-men, of “clerks with the cold spurt of their pen.” It was the fixed prophecy of our old Marquis, which no man would listen to, that “such Government by Blind-man’s-buff, stumbling along too far, would end by the General Overturn, the Culbute Générale!”[†]
No man would listen, each went his thoughtless way;—and Time and Destiny also travelled on. The Government by Blind-man’s-buff, stumbling along, has reached the precipice inevitable for it. Dull Drudgery, driven on, by clerks with the cold dastard spurt of their pen, has been driven—into a Communion of Drudges! For now, moreover, there have come the strangest confused tidings; by Paris Journals with their paper wings; or still more portentous, where no Journals are,† by rumour and conjecture: Oppression not inevitable, a Bastille prostrate, and the Constitution fast getting ready! Which Constitution, if it be something and not nothing, what can it be but bread to eat?
The traveller, “walking up hill bridle in hand,” overtakes “a poor woman;” the image, as such commonly are, of drudgery and scarcity, “looking sixty years of age, though she is not yet twenty-eight.” They have seven children, her poor drudge and she: a farm, with one cow, which helps to make the children soup, also one little horse, or garron. They have rents and quit-rents, Hens to pay to this Seigneur, Oat-sacks to that; King’s taxes, Statute-labour, Church-taxes, taxes enough;—and think the times inexpressible. She has heard that somewhere, in some manner, something is to be done for the poor. “God send it soon; for the dues and taxes crush us down (nous écrasent)!”‡
Fair prophecies are spoken, but they are not fulfilled. There have been Notables, Assemblages, turnings out and comings in. Intriguing and manoeuvring; parliamentary eloquence and arguing, Greek meeting Greek in high places,[*] has long gone on; yet still bread comes not. The harvest is reaped and garnered, yet still we have no bread. Urged by despair and by hope, what can Drudgery do, but rise, as predicted, and produce the General Overturn?
Fancy, then, some five full-grown millions of such gaunt figures, with their haggard faces (figures hâves); in woollen jupes, with copper-studded leather girths, and high sabots,—starting up to ask, as in forest-roarings, their washed Upper-Classes, after long unreviewed centuries, virtually this question. How have ye treated us; how have ye taught us, fed us, and led us, while we toiled for you? The answer can be read in flames, over the nightly summer-sky. This is the feeding and leading we have had of you. Emptiness,—of pocket, of stomach, of head, and of heart. Behold there is nothing in us, nothing but what nature gives her wild children of the desert. Ferocity and Appetite, Strength grounded on Hunger. Did ye mark among your Rights of Man, that man was not to die of starvation, while there was bread reaped by him? It is among the Mights of Man.
Seventy-two Châteaus have flamed aloft in the Maconnais and Beaujolais alone this seems the centre of the conflagration, but it has spread over Dauphiné, Alsace, the Lyonnais; the whole south-east is in a blaze. All over the north, from Rouen to Metz, disorder is abroad, smugglers of salt go openly in armed bands the barriers of towns are burnt; toll-gatherers, tax-gatherers, official persons put to flight. “It was thought,” says Young, “the people, from hunger, would revolt,”[†] and we see they have done it Desperate Lackalls, long prowling aimless, now finding hope in desperation itself, everywhere form a nucleus. They ring the Church bell by way of tocsin, and the Parish turns out to the work.* Ferocity, atrocity, hunger and revenge: such work as we can imagine!
Ill stands it now with the Seigneur, who, for example, “has walled up the only Fountain of the Township;” who has ridden high on his chartier and parchment; who has preserved Game not wisely but too well.[‡] Churches also, and Canonries, are sacked, without mercy; which have shorn the flock too close, forgetting to feed it. Wo to the land over which Sansculottism, in its day of vengeance, tramps roughshod,—shod in sabots! Highbred Seigneurs, with their delicate women and littles ones, had to “fly half-naked,” under cloud of night; glad to escape the flames, and even worse. You meet them at the tables-d’hôte of inns; making wise reflections or foolish that “rank is destroyed,” uncertain whither they shall now wend.† The metayer will find it convenient to be slack in paying rent. As for the Tax-gatherer, he, long hunting as a biped of prey, may now get hunted as one, his Majesty’s Exchequer will not “fill up the Deficit,”[§] this season: it is the notion of many that a Patriot Majesty, being the Restorer of French Liberty, has abolished most taxes, though, for their private ends, some men make a secret of it.
Where this will end? In the Abyss, one may prophesy; whither all Delusions, are, at all moments, travelling; where this Delusion has now arrived. For if there be a Faith, from of old, it is this, as we often repeat, that no Lie can live for ever. The very Truth has to change its vesture, from time to time; and be born again. But all Lies have sentence of death written down against them, in Heaven’s Chancery itself, and, slowly or fast, advance incessantly towards their hour. “The sign of a Grand Seigneur being landlord,” says the vehement plain-spoken Arthur Young, “are wastes, landes, deserts, ling, go to his residence, you will find it in the middle of a forest, peopled with deer, wild boars and wolves. The fields are scenes of pitiable management, as the houses are of misery. To see so many millions of hands, that would be industrious, all idle and starving, oh, if I were legislator of France, for one day, I would make these great lords skip again!”* O Arthur, thou now actually beholdest them skip;—wilt thou grow to grumble at that too?
For long years and generations it lasted, but the time came. Featherbrain, whom no reasoning and no pleading could touch, the glare of the firebrand had to illuminate, there remained but that method. Consider it, look at it! The widow is gathering nettles for her children’s dinner; a perfumed Seigneur, delicately lounging in the Oeil-de-Boeuf, has an alchemy whereby he will extract from her the third nettle, and name it Rent and Law such an arrangement must end. Ought it? But, O most fearful is such an ending! Let those, to whom God, in His great mercy, has granted time and space, prepare another and milder one.[*]
We shall now give a still more striking scene; the opening of the “Insurrection of Women.”[†]
If Voltaire once, in splenetic humour, asked his countrymen. “But you, Gualches, what have you invented?”[‡] they can now answer: the Art of Insurrection. It was an art needed in these last singular times, an art, for which the French nature, so full of vehemence, so free from depth, was perhaps of all others the fittest.
Accordingly, to what a height, one may well say of perfection, has this branch of human industry been carried by France, within the last half century! Insurrection, which, Lafayette thought, might be “the most sacred of duties,”[§] ranks now, for the French people, among the duties which they can perform. Other mobs are dull masses, which roll onwards with a dull fierce tenacity, a dull fierce heat, but emit no light-flashes of genius as they go. The French mob, again, is among the liveliest phenomena of our world. So rapid, audacious; so clear-sighted, inventive, prompt to seize the moment; instinct with life to its finger-ends! That talent, were there no other, of spontaneously standing in queue, distinguishes, as we said, the French People from all Peoples, ancient and modern.
Let the reader confess too that, taking one thing with another, perhaps few terrestrial Appearances are better worth considering than mobs. Your mob is a genuine outburst of Nature, issuing from, or communicating with, the deepest deep of Nature. When so much goes grinning and grimacing as a lifeless Formality, and under the stiff buckram no heart can be felt beating, here once more, if nowhere else, is a Sincerity and Reality. Shudder at it, or even shriek over it, if thou must; nevertheless consider it. Such a Complex of human Forces and Individualities hurled forth, in their transcendental mood, to act and react, on circumstances and on one another; to work out what it is in them to work. The thing they will do is known to no man; least of all to themselves. It is the inflammablest immeasurable Fire-work, generating, consuming itself. With what phases, to what extent, with what results it will burn off, Philosophy and Perspicacity conjecture in vain.
“Man,” as has been written, “is for ever interesting to man; nay, properly there is nothing else interesting.”[*] In which light also, may we not discern why most Battles have become so wearisome? Battles, in these ages, are transacted by mechanism, with the slightest possible development of human individuality or spontaneity, men now even die, and kill one another, in an artificial manner. Battles ever since Homer’s time, when they were Fighting Mobs, have mostly ceased to be worth looking at, worth reading of, or remembering. How many wearisome bloody Battles does History strive to represent; or even, in a husky way, to sing,—and she would omit or carelessly slur-over this one Insurrection of Women?
A thought, or dim raw-material of a thought, was fermenting all night, universally in the female head, and might explode. In squalid garret, on Monday morning, Maternity awakes, to hear children weeping for bread. Maternity must forth to the streets, to the herb-markets and Bakers’-queues, meets there with hunger-stricken Maternity, sympathetic, exasperative. O we unhappy women! But, instead of Bakers’-queues, why not to Aristocrats’ palaces, the root of the matter? Allons! Let us assemble. To the Hôtel-de-Ville; to Versailles; to the Lanterne!
In one of the Guardhouses of the Quartier Saint-Eustache, “a young woman” seizes a drum,—for how shall National Guards give fire on women, on a young woman? The young woman seizes the drum; sets forth, beating it, “uttering cries relative to the dearth of grains.” Descend, O mothers, descend, ye Judiths, to food and revenge!—All women gather and go, crowds storm all stairs, force out all women the female Insurrectionary Force, according to Camille, resembles the English Naval one; there is a universal “Press of women.”[†] Robust Dames of the Halle, slim mantua-makers, assiduous, risen with the dawn, ancient Virginity tripping to matins, the Housemaid, with early broom; all must go. Rouse ye, O women, the laggard men will not act; they say, we ourselves may act!
And so, like snowbreak from the mountains, for every staircase is a melted brook, it storms, tumultuous, wild-shrilling, towards the Hôtel-de-Ville. Tumultuous, with or without drum-music, for the Faubourg Saint-Antoine also has tucked up its gown, and, with besom-staves, fire-irons, and even rusty pistols (void of ammunition), is flowing on. Sound of it flies, with a velocity of sound, to the utmost Barriers. By seven o’clock, on this raw October morning, fifth of the month, the Townhall will see wonders. Nay, as chance would have it, a male party are already there; clustering tumultuously round some National Patrol, and a Baker who has been seized with short weights. They are there; and have even lowered the rope of the Lanterne. So that the official persons have to smuggle forth the short-weighing Baker by back doors, and even send “to all the Districts” for more force.
Grand it was, says Camille, to see so many Judiths, from eight to ten thousand of them in all, rushing out to search into the root of the matter! Not unfrightful it must have been, ludicro-terrific, and most unmanageable. At such hour the overwatched Three Hundred are not yet stirring, none but some Clerks, a company of National Guards, and M. de Gouvion, the Major-General. Gouvion has fought in America for the cause of civil Liberty, a man of no inconsiderable heart, but deficient in head. He is, for the moment, in his back apartment, assuaging Usher Maillard, the Bastille-serjeant, who has come, as too many do, with “representations.” The assuagement is still incomplete when our Judiths arrive.
The National Guards form on the outer stairs, with levelled bayonets, the ten thousand Judiths press up, resistless, with obtestations, with outspread hands,—merely to speak to the Mayor. The rear forces them; nay, from male hands in the rear, stones already fly: the National Guard must do one of two things; sweep the Place de Grève with cannon, or else open to right and left. They open; the living deluge rushes in. Through all rooms and cabinets, upwards to the topmost belfry; ravenous; seeking arms, seeking Mayors, seeking justice;—while, again, the better-dressed speak kindly to the Clerks; point out the misery of these poor women; also their ailments, some even of an interesting sort.*
Poor M. de Gouvion is shiftless in this extremity;—a man shiftless, perturbed, who will one day commit suicide. How happy for him that Usher Maillard, the shifty, was there, at the moment, though making representations! Fly back, thou shifty Maillard, seek the Bastille Company; and O return fast with it; above all, with thy own shifty head! For, behold, the Judiths can find no Mayor or Municipal; scarcely, in the topmost belfry, can they find poor Abbé Lefevre the Powder-distributor. Him, for want of a better, they suspend there; in the pale morning light; over the top of all Paris, which swims in one’s failing eyes:—a horrible end? Nay, the rope broke, as French ropes often did, or else an Amazon cut it. Abbé Lefevre falls, some twenty feet, rattling among the leads; and lives long years after, though always with “a tremblement in the limbs.”†
And now doors fly under hatchets: the Judiths have broken the Armoury; have seized guns and cannons, three money-bags, paper-heaps; torches flare: in few minutes, our brave Hôtel-de-Ville which dates from the Fourth Henry, will, with all that it holds, be in flames![*]
Here opens a new chapter.
In flames, truly,—were it not that Usher Maillard, swift of foot, shifty of head, has returned!
Maillard, of his own motion, for Gouvion or the rest would not even sanction him,—snatches a drum; descends the Porch-stairs, ran-tan, beating sharp, with loud rolls, his Rogues’-march: to Versailles! Allons, à Versailles! As men beat on kettle or warming-pan, when angry she-bees, or say, flying desperate wasps, are to be hived; and the desperate insects hear it, and cluster round it,—simply as round a guidance, where there was none, so now these Menads round shifty Maillard, Riding-Usher of the Châtelet. The axe pauses uplifted; Abbé Lefevre is left half-hanged; from the belfry downwards all vomits itself. What rub-a-dub is that? Stanislas Maillard, Bastille-hero, will lead us to Versailles? Joy to thee, Maillard; blessed art thou above Riding-Ushers! Away then, away!
The seized cannon are yoked with seized cart-horses, brownlocked Demoiselle Théroigne, with pike and helmet, sits there as gunneress, “with haughty eye and serene fair countenance;” comparable, some think, to the Maid of Orleans, or even recalling “the idea of Pallas Athene.”‡ Maillard (for his drum still rolls) is, by heaven-rending acclamation, admitted General. Maillard hastens the languid march. Maillard, beating rhythmic, with sharp ran-tan, all along the Quais, leads forward, with difficulty, his Menadic host. Such a host—marched not in silence! The bargeman pauses on the river; all wagoners and coach-drivers fly; men peer from windows,—not women, lest they be pressed. Sight of sights: Bacchantes, in these ultimate Formalised Ages! Bronze Henri looks on, from his Pont-Neuf; the Monarchic Louvre, Medicean Tuileries see a day not theretofore seen.
And now Maillard has his Menads in the Champs Elysées (fields Tartarean rather); and the Hôtel-de-Ville has suffered comparatively nothing. Broken doors, an Abbé Lefevre, who shall never more distribute powder; three sacks of money, most part of which (for Sansculottism, though famishing, is not without honour) shall be returned:* this is all the damage Great Maillard! A small nucleus of order is round his drum, but his outskirts fluctuate like the mad ocean: for rascality male and female is flowing in on him, from the four winds; guidance there is none but in his single head and two drumsticks.
O Maillard, when, since war first was, had General of Force such a task before him, as thou this day? Walter the Penniless still touches the feeling heart but then Walter had sanction: had space to turn in, and also his Crusaders were of the male sex. Thou, this day, disowned of Heaven and Earth, art General of Menads. Their inarticulate frenzy thou must, on the spur of the instant, render into articulate words, into actions that are not frantic. Fail in it, this way or that! Pragmatical Officiality, with its penalties and law-books, waits before thee, Menads storm behind. If such hewed off the melodious head of Orpheus, and hurled it into the Peneus waters, what may they not make of thee:—thee rhythmic merely, with no music but a sheepskin drum!—Maillard did not fail. Remarkable Maillard, if fame were not an accident, and history a distillation of rumour, how remarkable wert thou!
Scarcely was Maillard gone, when M. de Gouvion’s message to all the Districts, and such tocsin and drumming of the générale, began to take effect. Armed National Guards from every District; especially the Grenadiers of the Centre, who are our old Gardes Françaises, arrive, in quick sequence, on the Place de Grève. An “immense people” is there; Saint-Antoine, with pike and rusty firelock, is all crowding thither, be it welcome or unwelcome. The Centre Grenadiers are received with cheering: “it is not cheers that we want,” answer they gloomily; “the nation has been insulted; to arms, and come with us for orders!” Ha, sits the wind so? Patriotism and Patrollotism are now one!
The Three Hundred have assembled: “all the Committees are in activity,” Lafayette is dictating despatches for Versailles, when a Deputation of the Centre Grenadiers introduces itself to him. The Deputation makes military obeisance, and thus speaks, not without a kind of thought in it. “Mon Général, we are deputed by the Six Companies of Grenadiers. We do not think you a traitor, but we think the Government betrays you, it is time that this end. We cannot turn our bayonets against women crying to us for bread. The people are miserable, the source of the mischief is at Versailles we must go seek the King, and bring him to Paris. We must exterminate (exterminer) the Regiment de Flandre and the Gardes-du-Corps, who have dared to trample on the National Cockade. If the King be too weak to wear his crown, let him lay it down. You will crown his Son, you will name a Council of Regency, and all will go better.”† Reproachful astonishment paints itself on the face of Lafayette, speaks itself from his eloquent chivalrous lips: in vain. “My General, we would shed the last drop of our blood for you; but the root of the mischief is at Versailles, we must go and bring the King to Paris; all the people wish it, tout le peuple le veut.”[*]
My General descends to the outer staircase, and harangues; once more in vain. “To Versailles! To Versailles!” Mayor Bailly, sent for through floods of Sansculottism, attempts academic oratory from his gilt state-coach; realises nothing but infinite hoarse cries of: “Bread! To Versailles!”[*] —and gladly shrinks within doors. Lafayette mounts the white charger; and again harangues, and reharangues: with eloquence, with firmness, indignant demonstration; with all things but persuasion. “To Versailles! To Versailles!” So lasts it, hour after hour;—for the space of half a day.
The great Scipio Americanus can do nothing; not so much as escape. “Morbleu, mon Général,” cry the Grenadiers serrying their ranks as the white charger makes a motion that way, “You will not leave us, you will abide with us!”[†] A perilous juncture: Mayor Bailly and the Municipals sit quaking within doors, My General is prisoner without: the Place de Grève, with its thirty thousand Regulars, its whole irregular Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau, is one minatory mass of clear or rusty steel, all hearts set, with a moody fixedness, on one object. Moody, fixed are all hearts, tranquil is no heart,—if it be not that of the white charger, who paws there, with arched neck, composedly champing his bit; as if no World, with its Dynasties and Eras, were now rushing down. The drizzly day tends westward, the cry is still. “To Versailles!”
Nay now, borne from afar, come quite sinister cries, hoarse, reverberating in longdrawn hollow murmurs, with syllables too like those of Lanterne! Or else, irregular Sansculottism may be marching off, of itself; with pikes, nay with cannon. The inflexible Scipio does at length, by aide-de-camp, ask of the Municipals. Whether or not he may go? A Letter is handed out to him, over armed heads; sixty thousand faces flash fixedly on his, there is stillness and no bosom breathes, till he have read. By Heaven, he grows suddenly pale! Do the Municipals permit? “Permit and even order,”[‡] —since he can no other. Clangour of approval rends the welkin. To your ranks, then; let us march!
It is, as we compute, towards three in the afternoon. Indignant National Guards may dine for once from their haversack, dined or undined, they march with one heart. Paris flings up her windows, claps hands, as the Avengers, with their shrilling drums and shalms tramp by, she will then sit pensive, apprehensive, and pass rather a sleepless night.* On the white charger, Lafayette, in the slowest possible manner, going and coming, and eloquently haranguing among the ranks, rolls onward with his thirty thousand. Saint-Antoine, with pike and cannon, has preceded him, a mixed multitude, of all and of no arms, hovers on his flanks and skirts; the country once more pauses agape. Paris marche sur nous.[§]
We cannot stop here. See the beginning of the next chapter.
For indeed, about this same moment, Maillard has halted his draggled Menads on the last hill-top; and now Versailles, and the Château of Versailles, and far and wide the inheritance of Royalty opens to the wondering eye. From far on the right, over Marly and Saint-Germain-en-Lay; round towards Rambouillet, on the left beautiful all; softly embosomed; as if in sadness, in the dim moist weather! and near before us is Versailles, New and Old; with that broad frondent Avenue de Versailles between,—stately-frondent, broad, 300 feet as men reckon, with four rows of elms; and then the Château de Versailles, ending in royal Parks and Pleasances, gleaming lakelets, arbours, Labyrinths, the Ménagerie, and Great and Little Trianon. High-towered dwellings, leafy pleasant places, where the gods of this lower world abide: whence, nevertheless, black Care cannot be excluded; whither Menadic Hunger is even now advancing, armed with pike-thyrsi!
Yes, yonder, Mesdames, where our straight frondent Avenue, joined, as you note, by Two frondent brother Avenues from this hand and from that, spreads out into Place Royale and Palace Forecourt, yonder is the Salle des Menus. Yonder an august Assembly sits regenerating France. Forecourt, Grand Court, Court of Marble, Court narrowing into Court you may discern next, or fancy, on the extreme verge of which that glass-dome, visibly glittering like a star of hope, is the—Oeil-de-Boeuf! Yonder, or nowhere in the world, is bread baked for us. But, O Mesdames, were not one thing good: That our cannons, with Demoiselle Théroigne and all show of war, be put to the rear? Submission beseems petitioners of a National Assembly; we are strangers in Versailles,—whence, too audibly, there comes even now sound as of tocsin and générale! Also to put on, if possible, a cheerful countenance, hiding our sorrows; and even to sing? Sorrow, pitied of the Heavens, is hateful, suspicious to the Earth.—So counsels shifty Maillard, haranguing his Menads, on the heights near Versailles.
Cunning Maillard’s dispositions are obeyed. The draggled Insurrectionists advance up the Avenue, “in three columns” among the four Elm-rows; “singing Henri Quatre,” with what melody they can; and shouting Vive le Roi.[*] Versailles, though the Elm-rows are dripping wet, crowds from both sides, with. “Vivent nos Parisiennes, Our Paris ones for ever!”[†]
We skip 20 pages, and pass to a later part of the same incident.
Deep sleep has fallen promiscuously on the high and on the low, suspending most things, even wrath and famine. Darkness covers the Earth.[‡] But, far on the north-east. Paris flings up her great yellow gleam, far into the wet black Night. For all is illuminated there, as in the old July Nights; the streets deserted, for alarm of war, the Municipals all wakeful, patrols hailing, with their hoarse Who-goes. There, as we discover, our poor slim Louison Chabray, her poor nerves all fluttered, is arriving about this very hour. There Usher Maillard will arrive, about an hour hence, “towards four in the morning.” They report, successively, to a wakeful Hôtel-de-Ville what comfort they can report, which again, with early dawn, large comfortable placards, shall impart to all men.[§]
Lafayette, in the Hôtel de Noailles, not far from the Château, having now finished haranguing, sits with his officers consulting: at five o’clock the unanimous best counsel is, that a man so tost and toiled for twenty-four hours and more, fling himself on a bed, and seek some rest. . .
The dull dawn of a new morning, drizzly and chill, had but broken over Versailles, when it pleased Destiny that a Bodyguard should look out of window, on the right wing of the Château, to see what prospect there was in Heaven and in Earth. Rascality male and female is prowling in view of him. His fasting stomach is, with good cause, sour, he perhaps cannot forbear a passing malison on them, least of all can he forbear answering such.
Ill words breed worse till the worst word came, and then the ill deed. Did the maledicent Bodyguard, getting (as was too inevitable) better malediction than he gave, load his musketoon, and threaten to fire, nay, actually fire? Were wise who wist! It stands asserted, to us not credibly. Be this as it may, menaced Rascality, in whinnying scorn, is shaking at all Grates: the fastening of one (some write, it was a chain merely) gives way. Rascality is in the Grand Court, whinnying louder still.
The maledicent Bodyguard, more Bodyguards than he do now give fire, a man’s arm is shattered. Lecointre will depose that “the Sieur Cardaine, a National Guard without arms, was stabbed.” But see, sure enough, poor Jerôme l’Heritier, an unarmed National Guard he too, “cabinet maker, a saddler’s son, of Paris,”* with the down of youthhood still on his chin,—he reels death-stricken; rushes to the pavement, scattering it with his blood and brains!—Allelew! Wilder than Irish wakes, rises the howl: of pity; of infinite revenge. In few moments, the Grate of the inner and inmost Court, which they name Court of Marble, this too is forced, or surprised, and bursts open: the Court of Marble too is overflowed, up the Grand Staircase, up all stairs and entrances rushes the living Deluge! Deshuttes and Varigny, the two sentry Bodyguards, are trodden down, are massacred with a hundred pikes. Women snatch their cutlasses, or any weapon, and storm-in Menadic:—other women lift the corpse of shot Jerôme; lay it down on the marble steps; there shall the livid face and smashed head, dumb for ever, speak.
Wo now to all Bodyguards, mercy is none for them! Miomandre de Sainte-Marie pleads with soft words, on the Grand Staircase, “descending four steps.”—to the roaring tornado.[*] His comrades snatch him up, by the skirts and belts; literally, from the jaws of Destruction; and slam-to their Door. This also will stand few instants; the panels shivering in, like potsherds. Barricading serves not: fly fast, ye Bodyguards; rabid Insurrection, like the hellhound Chase, uproaring at your heels!
The terrorstruck Bodyguards fly, bolting and barricading; it follows. Whitherward? Through hall on hall: wo, now! towards the Queen’s Suite of Rooms, in the furthest room of which the Queen is now asleep. Five sentinels rush through that long Suite; they are in the Anteroom knocking loud: “Save the Queen!” Trembling women fall at their feet with tears, are answered: “yes, we will die; save ye the Queen!”
Tremble not, women, but haste: for, lo, another voice shouts far through the outermost door, “save the Queen!” and the door is shut. It is brave Miomandre’s voice that shouts this second warning. He has stormed across imminent death to do it; fronts imminent death, having done it. Brave Tardivet du Repaire, bent on the same desperate service, was borne down with pikes; his comrades hardly snatched him in again alive.[†] Miomandre and Tardivet: let the names of those two Bodyguards, as the names of brave men should, live long.
Trembling Maids of Honour, one of whom from afar caught glimpse of Miomandre as well as heard him, hastily wrap the Queen; not in robes of state. She flies for her life, across the Oeil-de-Boeuf; against the main door of which too Insurrection batters. She is in the King’s Apartment, in the King’s arms; she clasps her children amid a faithful few. The Imperial-hearted bursts into mother’s tears: “O my friends, save me and my children, O mes amis, sauvez-moi et mes enfans!”[‡] The battering of Insurrectionary axes clangs audible across the Oeil-de-Boeuf. What an hour!
Yes, friends: a hideous fearful hour; shameful alike to Governed and Governor; wherein Governed and Governor ignominiously testify that their relation is at an end. Rage, which had brewed itself in twenty thousand hearts, for the last four-and-twenty hours, has taken fire: Jerôme’s brained corpse lies there as live-coal. It is, as we said, the infinite Element bursting in, wild-surging through all corridors and conduits.
Meanwhile, the poor Bodyguards have got hunted mostly into the Oeil-de-Boeuf. They may die there, at the King’s threshold; they can do little to defend it. They are heaping tabourets (stools of honour), benches and all moveables, against the door; at which the axe of Insurrection thunders. But did brave Miomandre perish, then, at the Queen’s outer door? No, he was fractured, slashed, lacerated, left for dead, he has nevertheless crawled hither; and shall live, honoured of loyal France. Remark also, in flat contradiction to much which has been said and sung, that Insurrection did not burst that door he had defended, but hurried elsewhither, seeking new Bodyguards.*
Poor Bodyguards, with their Thyestes’ Opera-Repast! Well for them, that Insurrection has only pikes and axes; no right sieging-tools! It shakes and thunders. Must they all perish miserably, and Royalty with them? Deshuttes and Varigny, massacred at the first inbreak, have been beheaded in the marble court, a sacrifice to Jerôme’s manes. Jourdan with the tile-beard did that duty willingly; and asked, If there were no more? Another captive they are leading round the corpse, with howl-chauntings: may not Jourdan again tuck up his sleeves?
And louder and louder rages Insurrection within, plundering if it cannot kill; louder and louder it thunders at the Oeil-de-Boeuf, what can now hinder its bursting in?—On a sudden it ceases; the battering has ceased! Wild rushing: the cries grow fainter; there is silence, or the tramp of regular steps; then a friendly knocking. “We are the Centre Grenadiers, old Gardes Françaises; open to us, Messieurs of the Garde-du-Corps; we have not forgotten how you saved us at Fontenoy!”† The door is opened; enter Captain Gondran and the Centre Grenadiers, there are military embracings; there is sudden deliverance from death into life.
Strange Sons of Adam! It was to “exterminate” these Gardes-du-Corps that the Centre Grenadiers left home, and now they have rushed to save them from extermination. The memory of common peril, of old help, melts the rough heart; bosom is clasped to bosom, not in war. The King shews himself, one moment, through the door of his apartment, with “Do not hurt my Guards!”—“Soyons frères, let us be brothers!” cries Captain Gondran;[*] and again dashes off, with levelled bayonets, to sweep the Palace clear.
Now too Lafayette, suddenly roused, not from sleep (for his eyes had not yet closed), arrives; with passionate popular eloquence, with prompt military word of command. National Guards, suddenly roused, by sound of trumpet and alarm-drum, are all arriving. The death-knell ceases: the first sky-lambent blaze of Insurrection is got damped down: it burns now, if unextinguished, yet flameless, as charred coals do, and not inextinguishable.[†]
And what (it may be asked) are Mr. Carlyle’s opinions?
If this means, whether is he Tory, Whig, or Democrat; is he for things as they are, or for things nearly as they are;[‡] or is he one who thinks that subverting things as they are, and setting up Democracy is the main thing needful? we answer, he is none of all these. We should say that he has appropriated and made part of his own frame of thought, nearly all that is good in all these several modes of thinking. But it may be asked, what opinion has Mr. Carlyle formed of the French Revolution, as an event in universal history; and this question is entitled to an answer. It should be, however, premised, that in a history upon the plan of Mr. Carlyle’s, the opinions of the writer are a matter of secondary importance. In reading an ordinary historian, we want to know his opinions, because it is mainly his opinions of things, and not the things themselves, that he sets before us; or if any features of the things themselves, those chiefly, which his opinions lead him to consider as of importance. Our readers have seen sufficient in the extracts we have made for them, to be satisfied that this is not Mr. Carlyle’s method. Mr. Carlyle brings the thing before us in the concrete—clothed, not indeed in all its properties and circumstances, since these are infinite, but in as many of them as can be authentically ascertained and imaginatively realized: not prejudging that some of those properties and circumstances will prove instructive and others not, a prejudgment which is the fertile source of misrepresentation and one-sided historical delineation without end. Every one knows, who has attended (for instance) to the sifting of a complicated case by a court of justice, that as long as our image of the fact remains in the slightest degree vague and hazy and undefined, we cannot tell but that what we do not yet distinctly see may be precisely that on which all turns. Mr. Carlyle, therefore, brings us acquainted with persons, things, and events, before he suggests to us what to think of them: nay, we see that this is the very process by which he arrives at his own thoughts; he paints the thing to himself—he constructs a picture of it in his own mind, and does not, till afterwards, make any logical propositions about it at all. This done, his logical propositions concerning the thing may be true, or may be false; the thing is there, and any reader may find a totally different set of propositions in it if he can; as he might in the reality, if that had been before him.
We, for our part, do not always agree in Mr. Carlyle’s opinions either on things or on men. But we hold it to be impossible that any person should set before himself a perfectly true picture of a great historical event, as it actually happened, and yet that his judgment of it should be radically wrong. Differing partially from some of Mr. Carlyle’s detached views, we hold his theory, or theorem, of the Revolution, to be the true theory; true as far as it goes, and wanting little of being as complete as any theory of so vast and complicated a phenomena can be. Nay, we do not think that any rational creature, now that the thing can be looked at calmly, now that we have nothing to hope or to fear from it, can form any second theory on the matter.
Mr. Carlyle’s view of the Revolution is briefly this: That it was the breaking down of a great Imposture: which had not always been an Imposture, but had been becoming such for several centuries.
Two bodies—the King and Feudal Nobility, and the Clergy—held their exalted stations, and received the obedience and allegiance which were paid to them, by virtue solely of their affording guidance to the people: the one, directing and keeping order among them in their conjunct operations towards the pursuit of their most important temporal interests; the other, ministering to their spiritual teaching and culture. These are the grounds on which alone any government either claims obedience or finds it: for the obedience of twenty-five millions to a few hundred thousand never yet was yielded to avowed tyranny.
Now, this guidance, the original ground of all obedience, the privileged classes did for centuries give. The King and the Nobles led the people in war, and protected and judged them in peace, being the fittest persons to do so who then existed; and the Clergy did teach the best doctrine, did inculcate and impress upon the people the best rule of life then known, and did believe in the doctrine and in the rule of life which they taught, and manifested their belief by their actions, and believed that, in teaching it, they were doing the highest thing appointed to mortals. So far as they did this, both spiritual and temporal rulers deserved and obtained reverence, and willing loyal obedience. But for centuries before the French Revolution, the sincerity which once was in this scheme of society was gradually dying out. The King and the Nobles afforded less and less of any real guidance, of any real protection to the people; and even ceased more and more to fancy that they afforded any. All the important business of society went on without them, nay, mostly in spite of their hindrance. The appointed spiritual teachers ceased to do their duty as teachers, ceased to practise what they taught, ceased to believe it, but alas, not to cant about it, or to receive wages as teachers of it. Thus the whole scheme of society and government in France became one great Lie: the places of honour and power being all occupied by persons whose sole claim to occupy them was the pretence of being what they were not, of doing what they did not, nor even for a single moment attempted to do. All other vileness and profligacy in the rulers of a country were but the inevitable consequences of this inherent vice in the condition of their existence. And, this continuing for centuries, the government growing ever more and more consciously a Lie, the people ever more and more perceiving it to be such, the day of reckoning, which comes for all impostures, came for this: the Good would no longer obey such rulers, the Bad ceased to be in awe of them, and both together rose up and hurled them into chaos.
Such is Mr. Carlyle’s idea of what the Revolution was. And now, as to the melancholy turn it took, the horrors which accompanied it, the iron despotism by which it was forced to wind itself up, and the smallness of its positive results, compared with those which were hoped for by the sanguine in its commencement.
Mr. Carlyle’s theory of these things is also a simple one: That the men, most of them good, and many of them among the most instructed of their generation, who attempted at that period to regenerate France, failed in what it was impossible that any one should succeed in: namely, in attempting to found a government, to create a new order of society, a new set of institutions and habits, among a people having no convictions to base such order of things upon. That the existing government, habits, state of society, were bad, this the people were thoroughly convinced of, and rose up as one man, to declare, in every language of deed and word, that they would no more endure it. What was, was bad; but what was good, nobody had determined; no opinion on that subject had rooted itself in the people’s minds; nor was there even any person, or any body of persons, deference for whom was rooted in their minds and whose word they were willing to take for all the rest. Suppose, then, that the twelve hundred members of the Constituent Assembly had even been gifted with perfect knowledge what arrangement of society was best:—how were they to get time to establish it? Or how were they to hold the people in obedience to it when established? A people with no preconceived reverence, either for it or for them; a people like slaves broke from their fetters—with all man’s boundless desires let loose in indefinite expectation, and all the influences of habit and imagination which keep mankind patient under the denial of what they crave for, annihilated for the time, never to be restored but in some quite different shape?
Faith, doubtless, in representative institutions, there was, and of the firmest kind; but unhappily this was not enough; for all that representative institutions themselves can do, is to give practical effect to the faith of the people in something else. What is a representative constitution? Simply a set of contrivances for ascertaining the convictions of the people; for enabling them to declare what men they have faith in; or, failing such, what things the majority of them will insist upon having done to them—by what rule they are willing to be governed. But what if the majority have not faith in any men, nor know even in the smallest degree what things they wish to have done, in what manner they would be governed? This was the condition of the French people. To have made it otherwise was possible, but required time; and time, unhappily, in a Revolution, is not given. A great man, indeed, may do it, by inspiring at least faith in himself, which may last till the tree he has planted has taken root, and can stand alone; such apparently was Solon,* and such perhaps, had he lived, might have been Mirabeau: nay, in the absence of other greatness, even a great quack may temporarily do it; as Napoleon, himself a mixture of great man and great quack, did in some measure exemplify. Revolutions sweep much away, but if any Revolution since the beginning of the world ever founded anything, towards which the minds of the people had not been growing for generations previous, it has been founded by some individual man.
Much more must be added to what has now been said, to make the statement of Mr. Carlyle’s opinions on the French Revolution anything like complete; nor shall we any further set forth, either such of those opinions as we agree in, or those, far less numerous, from which we disagree. Nevertheless, we will not leave the subject without pointing out what appears to us to be the most prominent defect in our author’s general mode of thinking. His own method being that of the artist, not of the man of science—working as he does by figuring things to himself as wholes, not dissecting them into their parts—he appears, though perhaps it is but appearance, to entertain something like a contempt for the opposite method; and to go as much too far in his distrust of analysis and generalization, as others (the Constitutional party, for instance, in the French Revolution) went too far in their reliance upon it.
Doubtless, in the infinite complexities of human affairs, any general theorem which a wise man will form concerning them, must be regarded as a mere approximation to truth; an approximation obtained by striking an average of many cases, and consequently not exactly fitting any one case. No wise man, therefore, will stand upon his theorem only—neglecting to look into the specialties of the case in hand, and see what features that may present which may take it out of any theorem, or bring it within the compass of more theorems than one. But the far greater number of people—when they have got a formula by rote, when they can bring the matter in hand within some maxim “in that case made and provided” by the traditions of the vulgar, by the doctrines of their sect or school, or by some generalization of their own—do not think it necessary to let their mind’s eye rest upon the thing itself at all; but deliberate and act, not upon knowledge of the thing, but upon a hearsay of it; being (to use a frequent illustration of our author) provided with spectacles, they fancy it not needful to use their eyes.[*] It should be understood that general principles are not intended to dispense with thinking and examining, but to help us to think and examine. When the object itself is out of our reach, and we cannot examine into it, we must follow general principles, because, by doing so, we are not so likely to go wrong, and almost certain not to go so far wrong, as if we floated on the boundless ocean of mere conjecture; but when we are not driven to guess, when we have means and appliances[†] for observing, general principles are nothing more or other than helps towards a better use of those means and appliances.
Thus far we and Mr. Carlyle travel harmoniously together; but here we apparently diverge. For, having admitted that general principles (or formulae, as our author calls them, after old Mirabeau, the crabbed ami des hommes)[‡] are helps to observation, not substitutes for it, we must add, that they are necessary helps, and that without general principles no one ever observed a particular case to any purpose. For, except by general principles, how do we bring the light of past experience to bear upon the new case? The essence of past experience lies embodied in those logical, abstract propositions, which our author makes so light of:—there, and no where else. From them we learn what has ordinarily been found true, or even recal what we ourselves have found true, in innumerable unnamed and unremembered cases, more or less resembling the present. We are hence taught, at the least, what we shall probably find true in the present case; and although this, which is only a probability, may be lazily acquiesced in and acted upon without further inquiry as a certainty, the risk even so is infinitely less than if we began without a theory, or even a probable hypothesis. Granting that all the facts of the particular instance are within the reach of observation, how difficult is the work of observing, how almost impossible that of disentangling a complicated case, if, when we begin, no one view of it appears to us more probable than another. Without a hypothesis to commence with, we do not even know what end to begin at, what points to enquire into. Nearly every thing that has ever been ascertained by scientific observers, was brought to light in the attempt to test and verify some theory. To start from a theory, but not to see the object through the theory; to bring light with us, but also to receive other light from whencesoever it comes; such is the part of the philosopher, of the true practical seer or person of insight.
Connected with the tendency which we fancy we perceive in our author, to undervalue general principles, is another tendency which we think is perceptible in him, to set too low a value on what constitutions and forms of government can do. Be it admitted once for all, that no form of government will enable you, as our author has elsewhere said, “given a world of rogues, to produce an honesty by their united action;”[*] nor when a people are wholly without faith either in man or creed, has any representative constitution a charm to render them governable well, or even governable at all. On the other hand, Mr. Carlyle must no less admit, that when a nation has faith in any men, or any set of principles, representative institutions furnish the only regular and peaceable mode in which that faith can quietly declare itself, and those men, or those principles, obtain the predominance. It is surely no trifling matter to have a legalized means whereby the guidance will always be in the hands of the Acknowledged Wisest, who, if not always the really wisest, are at least those whose wisdom, such as it may be, is the most available for the purpose. Doubtless it is the natural law of representative governments that the power is shared, in varying proportions, between the really skilfullest and the skilfullest quacks; with a tendency, in easy times, towards the preponderance of the quacks, in the “times which try men’s souls,”[*] towards that of the true men. Improvements enough may be expected as mankind improve, but that the best and wisest shall always be accounted such, that we need not expect; because the quack can always steal, and vend for his own profit, as much of the good ware as is marketable. But is not all this to the full as likely to happen in every other kind of government as in a representative one? with these differences in favour of representative government, which will be found perhaps to be its only real and universal pre-eminence: That it alone is government by consent—government by mutual compromise and compact; while all others are, in one form or another, governments by constraint: That it alone proceeds by quiet muster of opposing strengths, when that which is really weakest sees itself to be such, and peaceably gives way; a benefit never yet realized but in countries inured to a representative government; elsewhere nothing but actual blows can show who is strongest, and every great dissension of opinion must break out into a civil war.
We have thus briefly touched upon the two principal points on which we take exception, not so much to any opinion of the author, as to the tone of sentiment which runs through the book; a tone of sentiment which otherwise, for justness and nobleness, stands almost unrivalled in the writings of our time. A deep catholic sympathy with human nature, with all natural human feelings, looks out from every page of these volumes; justice administered in love, to all kind of human beings, bad and good; the most earnest exalted feeling of moral distinctions, with the most generous allowances for whatever partial confounding of these distinctions, either natural weakness or perverse circumstances can excuse. No greatness, no strength, no goodness or lovingness, passes unrecognized or unhonoured by him. All the sublimity of “the simultaneous death-defiance of twenty-five millions”[†] speaks itself forth in his pages—not the less impressively, because the unspeakable folly and incoherency, which always in real life are not one step from, but actually pervade, the sublimities of so large a body (and did so most notably in this instance) are no less perceptible to his keen sense of the ludicrous. We presume it is this which has caused the book to be accused, even in print, of “flippancy,” a term which appears to us singularly misapplied.[‡] For is not this mixture and confused entanglement of the great and the contemptible, precisely what we meet with in nature? and would not a history, which did not make us not only see this, but feel it, be deceptive; and give an impression which would be the more false, the greater the general vivacity and vigour of the delineation? And indeed the capacity to see and feel what is loveable, admirable, in a thing, and what is laughable in it, at the same time, constitutes humour; the quality to which we owe a Falstaff, a Parson Adams, an Uncle Toby, and Mause Headriggs and Barons of Bradwardine without end.[*] You meet in this book with passages of grave drollery (drollery unsought for, arising from the simple statement of facts, and a true natural feeling of them) not inferior to the best in Mr. Peacock’s novels; and immediately or soon after comes a soft note as of dirge music, or solemn choral song of old Greek tragedy, which makes the heart too full for endurance, and forces you to close the book and rest for a while.
Again, there are aphorisms which deserve to live for ever; characters drawn with a few touches, and indicating a very remarkable insight into many of the obscurest regions of human nature; much genuine philosophy, disguised though it often be in a poetico-metaphysical vesture of a most questionable kind; and, in short, new and singular but not therefore absurd or unpractical views taken of many important things. A most original book; original not least in its complete sincerity, its disregard of the merely conventional: every idea and sentiment is given out exactly as it is thought and felt, fresh from the soul of the writer, and in such language (conformable to precedent or not) as is most capable of representing it in the form in which it exists there. And hence the critics have begun to call the style “affected;”[†] a term which conventional people, whether in literature or society, invariably bestow upon the unreservedly natural.*
In truth, every book which is eminently original, either in matter or style, has a hard battle to fight before it can obtain even pardon for its originality, much less applause. Well, therefore, may this be the case when a book is original, not in matter only or in style only, but in both; and, moreover, written in prose, with a fervour and exaltation of feeling which is only tolerated in verse, if even there. And when we consider that Wordsworth, Coleridge, and others of their time, whose deviation from the beaten track was but a stone’s throw compared with Mr. Carlyle, were ignominiously hooted out of court by the wise tribunals which in those days dispensed justice in such matters, and had to wait for a second generation before the sentence could be reversed, and their names placed among the great names of our literature, we might well imagine that the same or a worse fate awaits Mr. Carlyle; did we not believe that those very writers, aided by circumstances, have made straight the way[*] for Mr. Carlyle and for much else. This very phenomenon, of the different estimation of Wordsworth and Coleridge, now, and thirty years ago, is among the indications of one of the most conspicuous new elements which have sprung up in the European mind during those years: an insatiable demand for realities, come of conventionalities and formalities what may; of which desire the literary phasis is, a large tolerance for every feeling which is natural and not got-up, for every picture taken from the life and not from other pictures, however it may clash with traditionary notions of elegance or congruity. The book before us needs to be read with this catholic spirit; if we read it captiously, we shall never have done finding fault. But no true poet, writing sincerely and following the promptings of his own genius, can fail to be contemptible to any who desire to find him so; and if even Milton’s Areopagitica,[†] of which now, it would seem, no one dares speak with only moderate praise, were now first to issue from the press, it would be turned from with contempt by every one who will think or speak disparagingly of this work of Mr. Carlyle.
We add one short extract more from near the end of the book; a summing up, as it were, of the morality of the great catastrophe:
The Convention, now grown Anti-Jacobin, did, with an eye to justify and fortify itself, publish lists of what the Reign of Terror had perpetrated—lists of persons guillotined. The lists, cries splenetic Abbé Montgaillard, were not complete. They contain the names of—how many persons thinks the reader?—Two Thousand all but a few. There were above four thousand, cries Montgaillard, so many were guillotined, fusilladed, noyaded, done to dire death; of whom nine hundred were women.[‡] It is a horrible sum of human lives, M. l’Abbé; some ten times as many shot rightly on a field of battle, and one might have had his Glorious-Victory with Te Deum. It is not far from the two-hundredth part of what perished in the entire Seven Years’ War. By which Seven Years’ War, did not the great Fritz wrench Silesia from the great Theresa; and a Pompadour, stung by epigrams, satisfy herself that she could not be an Agnes Sorel? The head of man is a strange vacant sounding-shell, M. l’Abbé, and studies Cocker to small purpose.[§]
But what if History, somewhere on this planet, were to hear of a Nation, the third soul of whom had not, for thirty weeks each year, as many third-rate potatoes as would sustain him? History, in that case, feels bound to consider that starvation is starvation: that starvation from age to age presupposes much: History ventures to assert that the French Sansculotte of ninety-three, who, roused from long death-sleep, could rush at once to the frontiers and die fighting for an immortal Hope and Faith of Deliverance for him and his, was but the second-miserablest of men! The Irish Sans-potato, had he not senses then; nay, a soul? In his frozen darkness, it was bitter for him to die famishing; bitter to see his children famish. It was bitter for him to be a beggar, a liar, and a knave. Nay, if that dreary Greenland-wind of benighted Want, perennial from sire to son, had frozen him into a kind of torpor and numb callosity, so that he saw not, felt not, was this, for a creature with a soul in it, some assuagement, or the cruellest wretchedness of all?
Such things were—such things are: and they go on in silence peaceably, and Sansculottisms follow them. History, looking back over this France through long times, back to Turgot’s time, for instance, when dumb Drudgery staggered up to its King’s Palace, and in wide expanse of sallow faces, squalor and winged raggedness, presented, hieroglyphically, its Petition of Grievances, and for answer got hanged on a “new gallows forty feet high,”[*] —confesses, mournfully, that there is no period to be met with, in which the general twenty-five millions of France suffered less than in this period which they name Reign of Terror! But it was not the Dumb Millions that suffered here; it was the Speaking Thousands, and Hundreds, and Units, who shrieked, and published, and made the world ring with their wail, as they could and should that is the grand peculiarity. The frightfullest Births of Time are never the loud speaking ones, for these soon die, they are the silent ones which can live from century to century! Anarchy, hateful as Death, is abhorrent to the whole nature of man, and so must itself soon die.
Wherefore let all men know what of depth and of height is still revealed in man, and, with fear and wonder, with just sympathy and just antipathy, with clear eye and open heart, contemplate it and appropriate it; and draw innumerable inferences from it. This inference, for example, among the first.—That “if the gods of this lower world will sit on their glittering thrones, indolent as Epicurus’ gods, with the living Chaos of Ignorance and Hunger weltering uncared for at their feet, and smooth Parasites preaching Peace, peace, when there is no peace,” then the dark chaos, it seems, will rise. . . . That there be no second Sansculottism in our earth for a thousand years, let us understand well what the first was: and let Rich and Poor of us go and do otherwise.[†]
[[*] ]For one passage using these very common Carlylian terms, see Vol. II, pp. 102-4.
[[*] ]David Hume, The History of England (1756-62), 8 vols. (London: Cadell, et al., 1823); William Robertson, The History of America (1777), The History of Scotland (1759), and The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V (1769), in Works, 6 vols. (London: Longman, et al., 1851), Vols. V-VI, I-II, and III-IV, respectively; and Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 6 vols. (London: Strahan and Cadell, 1776-88).
[[†] ]Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, Wallenstein, ein dramatisches Gedicht (1798-99), in Sämmtliche Werke, 12 vols. (Stuttgart and Tübingen: Cotta’schen Buchhandlung, 1818-19), Vol. IX, Pt. 2.
[* ][Louis Vitet,] Les Barricades [(Paris: Brière, 1826)], Les Etats de Blois [(Paris: Ponthieu, 1827)]; and La Mort de Henri III [(Paris: Fournier jeune, 1829)], three prose plays or rather series of dramatic scenes, illustrative of the League and the period of the religious wars in France. A work scarcely heard of in this country, but which well deserves to be so. The author, like so many of the rising literary notabilities of France (from M. Guizot downwards), is now unhappily withdrawn from literature, by place-hunting, and doctrinaire politics.
[[*] ]See Samuel Johnson, “Preface to Shakespeare,” in Works, 13 vols. (London: Buckland, et al., 1787), Vol. IX, pp. 242-6.
[[†] ]William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, V, i, 14-16 (in The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans [Boston’ Houghton Mifflin, 1974], p. 242).
[[*] ]François Pierre Guillaume Guizot, “Du régime municipal dans l’empire romain, au cinquième siècle de l’ère chrétienne, lors de la grande invasion des Germains en occident,” Essais sur l’histoire de France, 2nd ed. (Paris: Brière, 1824), pp. 1-51.
[[†] ]“Wallensteins Lager,” the first part of Schiller’s Wallenstein. Samuel Taylor Coleridge translated. The Piccolomini, or The First Part of Wallenstein; and The Death of Wallenstein, 2 vols. in 1 (London: Longman and Rees, 1800).
[[*] ]Geschichte des dreissigjährigen Kriegs (1791-93), Vol. VI of Sammtliche Werke.
[[†] ]See, e.g., “State of German Literature,” Edinburgh Review, XLVI (Oct., 1827), 335, “Biography,” Fraser’s Magazine, V (Apr., 1832), 257, and “Boswell’s Life of Johnson,” ibid. (May, 1832), 387.
[[‡] ]“Burns,” Edinburgh Review, XLVIII (Dec., 1828), 278.
[[*] ]John Milton, The Reason of Church Government Urged against Prelaty (1641-42), in The Prose Works, ed. Charles Symmons, 7 vols. (London: Johnson, et al., 1806), Vol. I, p. 119.
[* ][TC] [Charles Jean François Hénault, Nouvel] Abrégé Chronologique de l’Histoire de France [1744, 3 vols.] (Paris [ Prault, et al.], 1775), [Vol. II,] p. 701.
[† ][TC] Mémoires de M. le Baron Besenval, [4 vols.] (Paris [ Buisson], 1805-06), Vol. II, pp. 59-90 [the passage quoted in translation is from p. 63].
[[*] ]Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 3-4.
[[†] ]Ibid., p. 48.
[* ][TC] Montgaillard, [Histoire de France, 9 vols. (Paris: Moutardier, 1827),] Vol. I, pp. 461-2.
[[*] ]Alexandre Lameth, Histoire de l’assemblée constituante, 2 vols. (Paris: Moutardier, 1828-29), Vol. I, p. lxxiii (as rendered in English by Carlyle).
[† ][TC] [Joseph] Weber, [Mémoires concernant Marie Antoinette, 3 vols. (London: the Author, 1804-09),] Vol. I, p. 347. [For the concluding clause, see II Samuel, 4.22.]
[‡ ][TC] Weber, Vol. I, p. 360. [The reference is to Jean Baptiste Artaud.]
[[†] ]Besenval, Mémoires, Vol. III, p. 343.
[* ][TC] [Louis Emmanuel de Launay, comte d’Antraigues.] Mémoire sur les Etats-Généraux. See Montgaillard, Vol. I, pp. 457-9.
[[*] ]Jean Jacques Rousseau, Du contrat social, ou Principes du droit politique (Amsterdam: Rey, 1762).
[[†] ]Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, Qu’est-ce que le tiers état?, 3rd ed. ([Paris:] n.p., 1789), p. 3.
[† ][TC] “Délibérations à prendre dans les Assemblees des Bailliages” [attributed to Sieyès, not Laclos, published in Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d’Orléans, Instructions envoyées par M. le duc d’Orléans ([Paris: n.p., 1788]), pp. 11-66].
[[‡] ]Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos, Les liaisons dangereuses, 4 vols. (Amsterdam and Paris: Durand, 1782).
[[§] ]See, e.g., Sieyès, Qu’est-ce que le tiers état?, p. 154.
[‡ ][TC] Mémoire présenté au Roi par Monseigneur Comte d’Artois, M. le Prince de Condé, M. le Duc de Bourbon, M. le Duc d’Enghien, et M. le Prince de Conti (1788). (Given in Histoire parlementaire [de la révolution française (HP), ed. Philippe Joseph Benjamin Buchez and Prosper Charles Roux, 40 vols. (Paris: Paulin, 1834-38)], Vol. I, pp. 256-62.)
[[*] ]See Necker’s “Extrait du rapport fait au roi dans son conseil, le 27 décembre 1788,” in F.M. Kerverseau, G. Clavelin, et al., Histoire de la révolution de France, par deux amis de la liberté, new ed., 19 vols. (Paris: Garnery, and Bidault, 1792-1803), Vol. I, pp. 79-93. Carlyle refers to this work, one of his main sources, as “Deux Amis.”
[* ][TC] “Réglement du Roi pour la Convocation des Etats-Généraux à Versailles” [24 Jan., 1789] (reprinted, wrong dated, in HP, Vol. I, pp. 262-76).
[[†] ]Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 165-70, 172.
[[‡] ]“Réglement,” HP, Vol. I, p. 266.
[[*] ]Cf. Shakespeare, Macbeth, II, ii, 32 (in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 1320).
[* ][TC] “Réglement,” HP, Vol. I, pp. 267-307.
[[†] ]Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 173-4.
[† ]It may be hoped; scarcely, we fear, expected. For considering the extraordinary dramatic interest of the story of the Revolution, however imperfectly told, it is really surprising how little, to English readers, even the outline of the facts is known. Mr. Carlyle’s book is less fitted for those who know nothing about the subject, than for those who already know a little. We rejoice to see that a translation of Thiers is announced. As a mere piece of narrative, we know nothing in modern historical writing so nearly resembling the ancient models as Thiers’ History, we hope he has met with a translator who can do him justice. Whoever has read Thiers first, will be the better fitted both to enjoy and to understand Carlyle. [Louis Adolphe Thiers, Histoire de la revolution française, 10 vols. (Paris: Lecointe and Durey, 1823-27); trans. Frederick Shoberl, History of the French Revolution, 5 vols. (London: Bentley, 1838).]
[[*] ]Cf. Deux amis, Vol. I, p. 315.
[[†] ]Cf. ibid., pp. 317-18.
[[*] ]Cf. Shakespeare, Othello, III, iii, 93 (in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 1221).
[[†] ]See Homer, The Iliad (Greek and English), trans. A.T. Murray, 2 vols. (London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1924), Vol. I, p. 116 (III, 1-7).
[[‡] ]The reference is to Phra Narai.
[[§] ]Cf. Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I, III, iii, 80-1 (in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 870).
[[¶] ]Cf. Deux amis, Vol. I, p. 331.
[[∥] ]Cf. ibid., pp. 328-30.
[[**] ]See Isaiah, 30:33.
[[††] ]See Genesis, 11:9.
[[‡‡] ]Cf. Shakespeare, Macbeth, IV, i, 117 (in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 1330).
[* ][TC] Fauchet’s Narrative (Deux Amis, Vol. I, pp. 324-5).
[[*] ]Carlyle is combining the names of Ambrose Spinola, marquis de los Balbases, a general, and Antoine Joseph Santerre, a brewer.
[† ][TC] Deux Amis (Vol. I, pp. 318-20 [here a Greek, not a Turk, is mentioned]); [Jean Joseph] Dusaulx, [De l’insurrection parisienne, et de la prise de la Bastille, in Mémoires de Linguet, sur la Bastille, et de Dusaulx, sur le 14 juillet, ed. Saint Albin Berville and Jean François Barrière (Paris: Baudouin, 1821), passim, but including pp. 331n, 372n, 407-8,] &c.
[[†] ]Jean Béchade, Jean La Corrège, Bernard Laroche, Jean Antoine Pujade, le comte de Solages, Tavernier, and one Whyte (or De Witt).
[[‡] ]Jean Paul Marat, Avis au peuple, ou Les ministres dévoilés (1789), in HP, Vol. II, pp. 37-8.
[[*] ]This anecdote about Christoph Willibald von Gluck’s Iphigenia in Aulis is told by Guillaume Olivier de Corancez, in Journal de Paris, 21 Aug., 1788, pp. 1009-10.
[* ][Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 264-73.] [TC] Deux Amis, Vol. I, pp. 267-400. Besenval. [Mémoires,] Vol. III, pp. 410-34, Dusaulx, “Prise de la Bastille,” [in De l’insurrection parisienne,] pp. 291-301, Bailly, Memoires (Collection de Berville et Barrière), Vol. I, pp. 322ff.
[[†] ]See Charles Durozoir, biography of Turgot, in Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, ed. Louis Gabriel Michaud, 42 vols. (Paris: Michaud freres, 1811-28), Vol. XLVII, p. 78.
[[*] ]Jean Charles Dominique de Lacretelle, Histoire de France pendant le dix-huitième siècle (1808-26), 5th ed., 3 vols. (Paris: Delaunay, 1819), Vol. III, p. 175.
[* ][TC] Fils Adoptif, Mémoires de Mirabeau, Vol. I, pp. 364-94. [Honoré Gabriel Riqueti de Mirabeau, Mémoires biographiques, littéraires et politiques de Mirabeau, écrits par lui-même, par son père, son oncle et son fils adoptif, ed. Gabriel Lucas-Montigny, 8 vols. (Paris: Auffray, et al., 1834-35); the concluding passage is Carlyle’s rendering of a sentence on p. 394. The “Friend of Men” is Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, father of Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau; Gabriel Lucas-Montigny is the “fils adoptif.”]
[[†] ]Carlyle is drawing on Victor Riqueti de Mirabeau, “Lettre à la comtesse de Rochefort” (18 Aug., 1777), ibid., Vol. II, pp. 186-8.
[† ][TC] See Arthur Young, [Travels during the Years 1787, 1788, and 1789 (Bury St. Edmunds: Richardson, 1792)], pp. 137-50, &c.
[‡ ][TC] Ibid., p. 134.
[[*] ]Cf. Nathaniel Lee, The Rival Queens, or, The Death of Alexander the Great (London: Magnes and Bentley, 1677), p. 48 (IV).
[[†] ]Young, Travels, p. 141.
[* ][TC] See HP, Vol. II, pp. 243-6.
[[‡] ]Cf. Shakespeare, Othello, V, ii, 344 (in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 1240).
[† ][TC] See Young, pp. 149-51.
[[§] ]Ibid., e.g., pp. 66, 198, 275, 511-16, 558-60.
[* ][TC] Ibid., pp. 48, 12, 84, 48.
[[*] ]Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 314-19.
[[†] ]Ibid., p. 133 (the title of Bk. VII); the following quotation is not from the opening of Bk. VII, Chap. i, but from the opening of Bk. VII, Chap. iv, “The Menads,” p. 351.
[[‡] ]François Marie Arouet Voltaire, “Discours aux Velches, par Antoine Vadé” (1764), in Oeuvres complètes, 66 vols. (Paris: Renouard, 1817-25), Vol. XLI, pp. 214-17, and passim.
[[§] ]Carlyle is drawing on Weber, Mémoires, Vol. I, p. 381.
[[*] ]See Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795-96), in Werke, 55 vols. in 36 (Stuttgart and Tubingen: Cotta’schen Buchhandlung, 1828-33), Vol. XVIII, p. 158 (II, iv), see also Carlyle, “Biography,” p. 253.
[[†] ]See Camille Desmoulin’s account in HP, Vol. III, pp. 108-10: see also in the Apocrypha, Judith, 13:7-10.
[* ][TC] Deux Amis, Vol. III, pp. 141-65.
[† ][TC] Dusaulx, “Prise de la Bastille” [in De l’insurrection parisienne,] p. 282n.
[[*] ]Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 351-5.
[‡ ][TC] Deux Amis, Vol. III, p. 157.
[* ][TC] HP, Vol. III, p. 110 [, 72, 121].
[† ][TC] Deux Amis, Vol. III, p. 160-1.
[[*] ]Cf. ibid., p. 161.
[[*] ]Cf. ibid., p. 162.
[[†] ]Cf. ibid., p. 163.
[[‡] ]Cf. ibid., p. 164.
[* ][TC] Ibid., p. 165.
[[§] ]Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 356-8, 360-3. For the last quotation, see Deux amis, Vol. III, p. 176.
[[*] ]See Deux amis, Vol. III, p. 178.
[[†] ]Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 364-5.
[[‡] ]Cf. Isaiah, 60:2.
[[§] ]See HP, Vol. III, pp. 118-19.
[* ][TC] Déposition de [Laurent] Lecointre, ibid., pp. 111-15. [The quotations are on p. 115.]
[[*] ]Cf. Deux amis, Vol. III, p. 221.
[[†] ]Cf. ibid., p. 222.
[[‡] ]Cf. ibid., p. 225, and Ferrières; Vol. I, p. 324.
[* ][TC] [Jeanne Louise Henriette Genest] Campan. Memoires [sur la vie privée de Marie Antoinette, 2 vols. (London: Colburn and Bossange, 1823)], Vol. II, pp. 71-7.
[† ][TC] Toulongeon, [Histoire de France, 7 vols. (Paris: Treuttel and Wurtz, 1801-10).] Vol. I, p. 144.
[[*] ]Cf. Deux amis, Vol. III, p. 226.
[[†] ]Carlyle, Vol. I, pp. 385-6, 388-93.
[[‡] ]Cf. the title of William Godwin’s Things As They Are, or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794), 4th ed., 3 vols. (London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1816).
[* ]A more definite, as well as, we think, a juster idea of this great man, than we have met with elsewhere, may be found in Mr. Bulwer’s Athens; a book which, if it be completed as it has been begun, will, by its effect in correcting prejudices which have been most sedulously fostered, and diffusing true notions on one of the most interesting of all parts of the world’s history, entitle its author to no humble meed of praise. [Edward Lytton Bulwer, Athens, Its Rise and Fall, with Views of the Literature, Philosophy, and Social Life of the Athenian People, 2 vols. (London: Saunders and Otley, 1837); on Solon, Vol. I, pp. 315-73.]
[[*] ]See, e.g., Carlyle’s letter to Mill (13 June, 1833), in The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, ed. Charles Richard Sanders, et al., Vol. VI (Durham: N.C., Duke University Press, 1977), pp. 402-3.
[[†] ]Cf. Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II, III, i, 29 (in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 902).
[[‡] ]Victor Riqueti de Mirabeau, “Lettre au bailli de Mirabeau” (16 Feb., 1781), in Honoré Gabriel Riqueti de Mirabeau, Mémoires, Vol. III, pp. 151-2.
[[*] ]“Characteristics,” Edinburgh Review, LIV (Dec., 1831), 382.
[[*] ]Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1 (1776), in The Political and Miscellaneous Works, 2 vols. (London: Carlile, 1819), Vol. I, p. 3.
[[†] ]Carlyle, Vol. III, p. 4.
[[‡] ]See Sydney Morgan, “The French Revolution,” Athenaeum, 20 May, 1837, p. 353.
[[*] ]In, respectively, Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I and Part II, Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews, in Works, 12 vols. (London: Otridge and Rackham, et al., 1824), Vols. V-VI; Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, 9 vols. in 5 (London: Tonson and Millar, 1781), and Walter Scott, Old Mortality, in Tales of My Landlord, 4 vols. (Edinburgh: Blackwood; London: Murray, 1816), Vols. II-IV, and Scott, Waverley, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Constable; London: Longman, et al., 1814).
[[†] ]Morgan, “The French Revolution,” p. 353.
[* ]A curious instance of this occurred lately. Mr. D’Israeli, a writer of considerable literary daring, tried in his novel, Henrietta Temple, one of the boldest experiments he had yet ventured upon; that of making his lovers and his other characters speak naturally the language of real talk, not dressed-up talk; such language as all persons talk who are not in the presence of an audience. A questionable experiment—allowable as an experiment, but scarcely otherwise; for the reader does not want pure nature, but nature idealised; nobody wants the verbiage, the repetitions and slovenlinesses, of real conversation, but only the substance of what is interesting in such conversation, divested of these. There was much which might have been said by critics against Mr. D’Israeli’s experiment; but what did they say? “Affectation!”—that was their cry. Natural conversation in print looked so unnatural to men of artificiality; it was so unlike all their experience—of books! [For the anonymous criticism of Benjamin Disraeli’s Henrietta Temple (London: Colburn, 1837), see Literary Gazette (3 Dec., 1836), p. 771.]
[[*] ]See Isaiah, 40.3.
[[†] ](1644), in The Prose Works, Vol. I, pp. 286-331.
[[‡] ]Histoire de France, Vol. IV, p. 241.
[[§] ]Edward Cocker, Cocker’s Decimal Arithmetick (London: Richardson and Lacy, 1675); many later eds.
[[*] ]See p. 147n above.
[[†] ]Carlyle, Vol. III, pp. 433-5, the concluding allusion is to Luke, 10.37.