Time of sunniest stillness;—shall we call it, what all men thought it, the new Age of Gold? Call it at least, of Paper; which in many ways is the succedaneum of Gold. Bank-paper, wherewith you can still buy when there is no gold left; Book-paper, splendent with Theories, Philosophies, Sensibilities,—beautiful art, not only of revealing Thought, but also of so beautifully hiding from us the want of Thought!
Paper is made from the rags of things that did once exist; there are endless excellences in Paper. Hope ushers in a Revolution,—as earthquakes are preceded by bright weather. On the Fifth of May, fifteen years hence, old Louis will not be sending for the Sacraments; but a new Louis, his grandson, with the whole pomp of astonished intoxicated France, will be opening the States-General. There is a young, still docile, well-intentioned King; a young, beautiful and bountiful, well-intentioned Queen; and with them all France, as it were, become young. By whom whatsoever is wrong, in Finance or otherwise, will be righted,—as far as possible.
Is it not as if Wisdom herself were henceforth to have seat and voice in the Council of Kings? Turgot has taken office with the noblest plainness of speech to that effect; been listened to with the noblest royal trustfulness. Intelligence so abounds; irradiated by wit and the art of conversation.
Philosophism sits joyful in her glittering saloons, the dinner-guest of Opulence grown ingenuous, the very nobles proud to sit by her; and preaches, lifted up over all Bastilles, a coming millennium. O nights and suppers of the gods! Man awakens from his long somnambulism; chases the Phantasms that beleagured and bewitched him. Behold the new morning glittering down the eastern steeps; fly, false Phantasms, from its shafts of light; let the Absurd fly utterly forsaking this lower Earth for ever. By victorious Analysis, and Progress of the Species, happiness enough now awaits him.
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Kings can become philosophers; or else philosophers Kings. Let but Society be once rightly constituted,—by victorious Analysis. The stomach that is empty shall be filled; the throat that is dry shall be wetted with wine. Labour itself shall be all one as rest; not grievous, but joyous. Wheatfields, one would think, cannot come to grow untilled; no man made clayey, or made weary thereby;—unless indeed machinery will do it?
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Gratuitous Tailors and Restaurateurs may start up, at fit intervals, one as yet sees not how. But if each will, according to rule of Benevolence, have a care for all, then surely—no one will be uncared for.
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We shall then be happy in spite of Death and the Devil. Sufficient for the day be its own evil. Cheery old man, he cuts his jokes, and hovers careless along; his cloak well adjusted to the wind, if so be he may please all persons. The simple young King, whom a Maurepas cannot think of troubling with business, has retired into the interior apartments; taciturn, irresolute; though with a sharpness of temper at times: he, at length, determines on a little smithwork; and so, in apprenticeship with a Sieur Gamain whom one day he shall have little cause to bless , is learning to make locks.
Unhappy young King, his childlike trust in that foolish old Maurepas deserved another return. But friend and foe, destiny and himself have combined to do him hurt. Meanwhile the fair young Queen, in her halls of state, walks like a goddess of Beauty, the cynosure of all eyes; as yet mingles not with affairs; heeds not the future; least of all, dreads it. Weber and Campan  have pictured her, there within the royal tapestries, in bright boudoirs, baths, peignoirs, and the Grand and Little Toilette; with a whole brilliant world waiting obsequious on her glance: fair young daughter of Time, what things has Time in store for thee!
The soft young heart adopts orphans, portions meritorious maids, delights to succour the poor,—such poor as come picturesquely in her way; and sets the fashion of doing it; for as was said, Benevolence has now begun reigning.
In her Duchess de Polignac, in Princess de Lamballe, she enjoys something almost like friendship; now too, after seven long years, she has a child, and soon even a Dauphin, of her own; can reckon herself, as Queens go, happy in a husband. There are Snow-statues raised by the poor in hard winter to a Queen who has given them fuel. There are masquerades, theatricals; beautifyings of little Trianon, purchase and repair of St. Cloud; journeyings from the summer Court-Elysium to the winter one.
There are poutings and grudgings from the Sardinian Sisters-in-law for the Princes too are wedded ; little jealousies, which Court-Etiquette can moderate. Wholly the lightest-hearted frivolous foam of Existence; yet an artfully refined foam; pleasant were it not so costly, like that which mantles on the wine of Champagne! In such sort are poor mortals swept and shovelled to and fro. With the working people, again it is not so well. For there are twenty to twenty-five millions of them.
Every unit of whom has his own heart and sorrows; stands covered there with his own skin, and if you prick him he will bleed. O purple Sovereignty, Holiness, Reverence; thou, for example, Cardinal Grand-Almoner, with thy plush covering of honour, who hast thy hands strengthened with dignities and moneys, and art set on thy world watch-tower solemnly, in sight of God, for such ends,—what a thought: that every unit of these masses is a miraculous Man, even as thyself art; struggling, with vision, or with blindness, for his infinite Kingdom this life which he has got, once only, in the middle of Eternities ; with a spark of the Divinity, what thou callest an immortal soul, in him!
Dreary, languid do these struggle in their obscure remoteness; their hearth cheerless, their diet thin. For them, in this world, rises no Era of Hope; hardly now in the other,—if it be not hope in the gloomy rest of Death, for their faith too is failing.see
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Untaught, uncomforted, unfed! At rare intervals as now, in , they will fling down their hoes and hammers; and, to the astonishment of thinking mankind,  flock hither and thither, dangerous, aimless; get the length even of Versailles. For let Charter-Chests, Use and Wont, Law common and special say what they will, the masses count to so many millions of units; made, to all appearance, by God,—whose Earth this is declared to be. Besides, the people are not without ferocity; they have sinews and indignation. The Curate in surplice and stole; Justice in its peruke; Marechausee sabre in hand, guarding the place, till the bagpipes can begin.
And these people pay the taille! And you want further to take their salt from them! And you know not what it is you are stripping barer, or as you call it, governing; what by the spurt of your pen, in its cold dastard indifference, you will fancy you can starve always with impunity; always till the catastrophe come! Or is this same Age of Hope itself but a simulacrum; as Hope too often is? Cloud-vapour with rainbows painted on it, beautiful to see, to sail towards,—which hovers over Niagara Falls? In that case, victorious Analysis will have enough to do.
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For all is wrong, and gone out of joint; the inward spiritual, and the outward economical; head or heart, there is no soundness in it. As indeed, evils of all sorts are more or less of kin, and do usually go together: especially it is an old truth, that wherever huge physical evil is, there, as the parent and origin of it, has moral evil to a proportionate extent been.
Before those five-and-twenty labouring Millions, for instance, could get that haggardness of face, which old Mirabeau now looks on, in a Nation calling itself Christian, and calling man the brother of man,—what unspeakable, nigh infinite Dishonesty of seeming and not being in all manner of Rulers, and appointed Watchers, spiritual and temporal, must there not, through long ages, have gone on accumulating!
It will accumulate: moreover, it will reach a head; for the first of all Gospels is this, that a Lie cannot endure for ever. In fact, if we pierce through that rosepink vapour of Sentimentalism, Philanthropy, and Feasts of Morals, there lies behind it one of the sorriest spectacles.
You might ask, What bonds that ever held a human society happily together, or held it together at all, are in force here? It is an unbelieving people; which has suppositions, hypotheses, and froth-systems of victorious Analysis; and for belief this mainly, that Pleasure is pleasant. Hunger they have for all sweet things; and the law of Hunger; but what other law? Within them, or over them, properly none!
Their King has become a King Popinjay; with his Maurepas Government, gyrating as the weather-cock does, blown about by every wind. Above them they see no God; or they even do not look above, except with astronomical glasses.
The Church indeed still is; but in the most submissive state; quite tamed by Philosophism; in a singularly short time; for the hour was come. Our Church stands haltered, dumb, like a dumb ox; lowing only for provender of tithes ; content if it can have that; or, dumbly, dully expecting its further doom. Foul Product of still fouler Corruption, thou with the corruption art doomed! Meanwhile it is singular how long the rotten will hold together, provided you do not handle it roughly.
Great truly is the Actual; is the Thing that has rescued itself from bottomless deeps of theory and possibility, and stands there as a definite indisputable Fact, whereby men do work and live, or once did so. Widely shall men cleave to that, while it will endure; and quit it with regret, when it gives way under them.