The French Revolution

The French Revolution

Thomas Carlyle

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Chapter 1.1.I.

Louis the Well-Beloved.

President Henault, 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-aime (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-aime fashioned itself, a title higher still than all the rest which this great Prince has earned.' (Abrege Chronologique de l'Histoire de France (Paris, 1775), p. 701.)
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 Chateau 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.' (Memoires de M. le Baron Besenval (Paris, 1805), ii. 59-90.) 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.
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  • Thomas Carlyle Cover

    (Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, 1795 - Londra 1881) scrittore inglese. Nato da una povera famiglia di contadini calvinisti scozzesi, fu indirizzato alla carriera ecclesiastica, che abbandonò per lo studio della filosofia e della letteratura, interessandosi soprattutto alla cultura tedesca. Al romanzo filosofico Sartor Resartus (1833-34), zibaldone allegorico e autobiografico, fortemente satirico, seguirono numerose opere storiche, fra cui i tre volumi della Rivoluzione francese (The french revolution, 1837), Gli eroi, il mito degli eroi e l’eroico nella storia (On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history, 1841); i saggi sul Cartismo (Chartism, 1839) e Passato e presente (Past and present, 1843); i monumentali volumi dedicati a Cromwell (Lettere e discorsi di Oliver Cromwell, Oliver Cromwell’s... Approfondisci
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