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ROUSSEAU RECOMMENCES RIGHT.
Is it indeed with thy spinet and thy "Village Curate," poor musician, that thou art going to re-construct a world? Thou hadst a slender voice, some energy and warmth of language on thy arrival at Paris, rich in thy Pergolèse, in music, and in hope. It is long since then; soon thou wilt have lived half a century; thou art old; all is over. Why dost thou speak of regeneration to that dying society, when thou thyself art no more?
Yes, it was truly difficult, even for a man less cruelly treated by fate, to extricate his feet from the quicksand, from that deep mire where everything was swallowed up.
What was the resting-point whereon that strong man, finding a footing, stopped, held fast-and everything stood firm? What footing did he find? O feeble world, O ye of little faith, degenerate sons, forgetful of Rousseau and the Revolution?
He found it in what has grown too faint among you-in his heart. In the depths of his suffering he read, and read distinctly, what the middle ages were never able to read: A Just God. And what was said by a glorious child of Rousseau? Right is the sovereign of the world."
That splendid motto was uttered only at the end of the century; it is its revelation,-its profound and sublime formula.
Rousseau spoke by the mouth of another, by Mirabeau; yet it is no less the soul of Rousseau's genius. When once he severed himself from the false science of the time, and from a no less false society, you behold in his writings the dawn of a celestial effulgence,-Duty, Right!
Its sweet and prolific power shines forth in all its brilliancy in the profession of faith of the Vicar of Savoy. God himself subject to Justice, subject to Right!-Let us say rather that God and Right are identical.
If Rousseau had spoken in the terms of Mirabeau, his language would not have taken effect. Necessities change with the times. To a world ready to act, on the very day of action, Mirabeau said: 66 Right is the sovereign of the world," you are the subjects of Right.-To a world still slumbering, inert, feeble, and devoid of energy, Rousseau said, and said well : The general will is right and reason.". Your will is Right. Then arouse yourselves, ye slaves!
ROUSSEAU ACTS BY SENTIMENT.
"Your collective will is Reason herself." In other words, Ye are Gods!
And who, indeed, without believing himself God, could ever do anything great? Then it is that you may fearlessly cross the bridge of Arcola; then it is, that, in the name of duty, you sever yourself from your dearest affections, your heart.
Let us be God! The impossible becomes possible and easy. Then, to overthrow a world is a mere trifle; why, one creates a world.
This it is which explains how a feeble breath from a manly breast, a simple melody arising from the heart of the poor musician, raised the dead.
France is moved in her inmost soul. All Europe is changed by it. The vast massy German empire rocks on her old foundations. They criticise, but obey. Mere sentimentality," say
they, with an attempt to smile. And yet these dreamers follow it. The very philosophers, the abstractors of quintessence, take, in spite of themselves, the simple path of the poor Vicar of Savoy.
What, then, has happened? What divine light has shone, to produce so great a change? Is it the power of an idea, of a, new inspiration, of a revelation from above? Yes, there has been a revelation. But the novelty of the doctrine is not what affects us most. We have here a more strange, a more mysterious phenomenon,—an influence felt even by those who do not read, and could never comprehend. Nobody knows why, but since that glowing language impregnated the air, the temperature has changed; it seems as though a breath of life had been wafted over the world; the earth begins to bear fruits that she would never else have borne.
What is it? Shall I tell you? It is what vivifies and melts the heart; it is the breath of youth; and that is why we all yield to its influence. In vain would you prove to us that this language is weak, or overstrained, or of vulgar sentiment. Such is youth and such is passion. Such have we been, and, if we occasionally recognise therein the foibles of our early youth, we do but feel more vividly the sweet yet bitter charms of the time that will return no more.
Warmth and thrilling melody, such is the magic of Rousseau. His power, as it is in his "Emile" and the "Contrat Social,"
VOLTAIRE RESUMES THE FIGHT OF JUSTICE.
may be discussed and combated. But, by his "Confessions " and his "Reveries," by his weakness, he has vanquished us, and drawn tears from every eye.
Foreign, hostile geniuses were able to reject the light, but they have all felt the influence of the warmth. They did not listen to the words; but the music subdued them. The gods
of profound harmony, the rivals of the storm, which thundered from the Rhine to the Alps, themselves felt the allpowerful incantation of that sweet melody, that soft human voice,—the little morning ditty, sung for the first time beneath the vine at Charmettes.
That youthful affecting voice, that melody of the heart, is heard long after that tender heart has been buried in the earth. The "Confessions," which appeared after the death of Rousseau, seem a sigh from the tomb. He returns-rises from the dead, more potent, more admired, more adored than ever.
That miracle he shares in common with his rival, Voltaire. His rival?—No. Enemy?-No. Let them be for ever upon the same pedestal, those two Apostles of Humanity.*
Voltaire, nearly octogenarian, buried among the snows of the Alps, broken down by age and labour, nevertheless rises also from the dead. The grand thought of the century, inaugurated by him, is also to be closed by him; he who was the first to open, is also to resume and finish the chorus. Glorious century! Well does it deserve to be called for ever the heroic age of the mind. An old man on the verge of the grave; he has seen the others, Montesquieu, Diderot, and Buffon pass away; he has witnessed the extraordinary success of Rousseau,-three books in three years. And the earth was silent." Voltaire is not discouraged; behold him entering, lively and young, upon a new career. Where, then, is the old
Voltaire? He was dead. But a voice has roused him all alive from the tomb, that voice which had ever given him life,—the voice of Humanity.
* A noble and tender idea of Madame Sand, which shows how genius rises superior to those vain oppositions which the esprit de système creates for itself between those great witnesses, of truth not opposed, but harmonising. When it was lately proposed to raise statues to Voltaire and Rousseau, Madame Sand, in an admirable letter, requested that the two reconciled geniuses might be placed upon the same pedestal. Noble thoughts come from the heart.
VOLTAIRE BEGINS THE REVOLUTION.
Ancient champion, to thee the crown! Here thou art again, conqueror of conquerors. Throughout a century, in every kind of warfare, with every weapon and doctrine, opposite, contrary, no matter what, thou hast pursued, without ever deviating, one interest, one cause-holy Humanity. And yet they have called thee a sceptic! And they have termed thee changeable! They thought to surprise thee in the seeming contradictions of a flexible language ever serving the selfsame thought!
Thy faith shall be crowned by the very work of faith. Others have spoken of Justice, but thou shalt perform it; thy words are acts, realities. Thou defendest Calas and La Barre, thou savest Sirven, and dost annihilate the scaffold of the Protestants. Thou hast conquered for religious liberty, and moreover, for civil freedom, as advocate of the last serfs, for the reform of our barbarous legislation and criminal laws, which themselves were crimes.
Behold in all this the dawn of the Revolution. Thou dost make it, and see it. Look for thy reward, look, behold it yonder! Now thou mayest die; thy firm faith deserved that thou shouldst not take thy flight before thou hadst seen the holy land.
THE REVOLUTION COMMENCES.
WHEN those two men have passed, the Revolution is accomplished in the intellectual world.
Now it becomes the duty of their sons, legitimate and illegitimate, to expound and diffuse it in a hundred ways: some in eloquence and fiery satire, others will strike bronze medals to transmit it from hand to hand; Mirabeau, Beaumarchais, Raynal, Mably, and Sieyes, are now to do their work.
The Revolution is on her march, with Rousseau and Voltaire still in front. Kings themselves are in her train; Frederick, Catherine, Joseph, Leopold-that is the court of the two chieftains of the age. Reign, great men, ye true sovereigns of the world; reign, O my kings!
All appear converted, all wish for the Revolution; though every one, it is true, wishes it, not for himself, but for others.
ALL DESIRE THE REVOLUTION:
The nobility would willingly make it against the clergy, and the clergy against the nobility.
Turgot is the touchstone for all: he summons them to say whether they wish truly to amend; they all unanimously answer: No, let what ought to be done, be done!
Meanwhile, I see the Revolution everywhere, even in Versailles. All admit it to a certain limit, where it will not hurt them Louis XVI. as far as the plans of Fenelon and the Duke of Burgundy, and the Count d'Artois as far as Figaro ; he forces the king to allow the trying drama to be played. The queen wishes for the Revolution, at least in her palace, for the parvenus; that queen, devoid of prejudices, turns all her grand ladies out of doors, in order to keep her beautiful friend Madame de Polignac.
Necker, the borrower, himself discredits his loans by publishing the misery of the monarchy. A revolutionnaire by publicity, he believes he is so by his little provincial assemblies, wherein the privileged are to say what must be taken from the privileged.
The witty Calonne comes next, and being unable to glut the privileged even by breaking into the public treasury, he takes his course, accuses them, and hands them over to the hatred of the people.
He has accomplished the Revolution against the notables ; Lomenie, a philosophical priest, accomplishes it against the parliaments.
Calonne said admirably, when he avowed the deficit, and pointed to the yawning gulf: "What remains to fill it with? The abuses.'
That seemed clear to everybody; the only thing obscure was whether Calonne did not speak in the name of the very Prince of abuses, of him who sustained all others, and was the keystone of the whole wretched edifice? In two words, was Royalty the support or the remedy of those abuses denounced by the King's own creature.
That the clergy was an abuse, and the nobility an abuse, seemed but too evident.
The privilege of the clergy, founded on teaching, and the example they formerly set the people, had become nonsense; nobody possessed the faith less. In their last assembly, they