This is the 14th of Goethe's Venetian Epigrams, some of which are political, some slightly erotic in nature. My loose translation is
- This country is an anvil, its Lord a Hammer,
- The people warped metal to be worked.
- Woe to the tin, beaten at random:
- All fails and never kettle is made.
Refers to the English attack on the Emerald Coast near Calais in 1770.
Perhaps refers to La Chalotais, president of the Breton Parlement.
Repaying loans to the Crown at a discount was not an unheard of tactic in the early modern era. It caused great uproar when it was mooted in England, in the reign of Charles II and never tried again there — perhaps accounting for Carlyle's superior tone. (William Pitt did suspend cash payments by the Bank of England in 1797, but Carlyle seems to consider that an act of desparate Whiggery.) Terray declared that the debt of the state would be paid two-thirds in silver and one-third in script.
The King of France was traditionally known as his "Most Christian Majesty"; the King of Spain as his "Most Catholic Majesty". The English have traditionally sneered at both honorifics.
I do not know to what this refers. The regulation of the price of grain and of debts payable in grain were important, and generally botched, economic issues of the 18th century in France.
Isaac Newton didn't get along particularly well with people. His favorite companion, especially when he was working, was a Pomeranian dog named Diamond. A famous anecdote involves an incident when the rambunctious Diamond knocked over a candle in Newton's rooms, burning years of manuscripts and notes. Newton's comment at the time is said to have been "O Diamond, you little know the mischief you have done!".
Carlyle plays on that anecdote here.
Carlyle is paraphrasing the Empiricists, a school of thinking that rose, in England at least, with John Locke and which continues to exert a strong influence.
According to the anecdote, the army of Clovis sacked the cathedral at Soissons and looted it. The Bishop Remigius (later Saint Remi) requested that one piece of the booty, a vase, be restored to him. When Clovis claimed the vase in order to return it, the soldier in whose possession it was shattered the vase, saying, "You may have only your share." Clovis pretended to ignore the insult, but a year later during an inspection of the ranks, shattered the man's head as Carlyle describes.
Besides the obvious point that English culture had been exclusively Catholic until about the birth of Shakespeare, there was also a heated discussion among 19th century scholars over the religion of John Shakespeare, his father, and the influence of Catholic principles in the plays, particularly Hamlet. It was, of course, illegal to practice the Roman rites in the England of Elizabeth and the Stuarts.
Pope Gregory VII excommunicated Henry IV when the Emperor demanded he resign the papacy (1076). The emperor came penitent to the Castle of Canossa in Italy to beg to be restored to the Church. Gregory made Henry wait for 3 days in the courtyard before admitting him and rescinding the ban. Carlyle's point — different than the one usually made with this anecdote — is that even the weakest of Popes (Gregory's seat was always precarious) was mighty when he represented the national faith.
The daughters of Louis XV were Adelaide, Victoire, Sophie and Louse. All were spinsters. Louise took orders. The three elder sisters were a source of friction in the courts of Louis XV and XVI.
Carlyle was fond of this phrase. He used it twice in this book and at least once in his history of Frederich the Great and once in Reminiscenses. Unfortunately, I do not recognize the reference.
Probably Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743-94), the founder of modern chemistry, who took the lucrative position of Farmer-General of the Taxes (a sort of chief tax-collector) in order to finance his laboratory.
Literally, the reign of Saturn returned. The rule of Saturn, before the revolt of Zeus and his siblings, was considered the Silver Age of the World.
Carlyle means the elder of the King's younger brothers, the Duke of Provence, who ascended the throne as Louis XVIII in 1815.
Louis XVI's second brother, the Duc d'Atois. He later ruled as Charles X.
Charles X assumed the throne in 1824. By 1827, the elected opposition threatened his throne. He tried to assume absolute power, but a popular revolt of 3 days' duration drove him to exile in 1830.
In 1776 free trade of corn (grain) was allowed. Before that, farmers were not allowed to sell grain until 3 months after harvest — sales during that period were the privilege of the noblesse.
Bread riots, often resulting in the execution of participants, were a regular feature of pre-revolution France and, according to some authors, almost daily occurrences in the reign of Louis XVI.
I think Carlyle may be quoting here from Hume, but I have not been able to track down the reference.
This may be a paraphrase of an aphorism attributed to Martin Luther.
Carlyle is quoting himself here.
Turgot came to the office Controller-General with the intent of putting into practice his views on free trade and the need for a broad tax base. Both quickly put him in conflict with the Church and the nobility. People close to the court enjoyed many economic privileges including monopolies, favorable trading rules and exemption from taxes. The Church's great wealth and income was essentially out of the control of the government. Especially obnoxious was Turgot's plans to levy taxes against hereditary nobles, many of whom were also powers within the Church. Their opposition drove Turgot from office in May, 1776.
Voltaire was not an democrat or an anti-monarchist. Carlyle's assertion that "the purport of this man's existence has been to wither up and annihilate all whereon Majesty and Worship for the present rests" is based on Voltaire's views on the Church and nobility which he saw as impeding the spiritual and physical progress of France and mankind in general.
Parties to law suits were expected to pay bribes to their judges. Beaumarchais paid Goezman 15 louis d'or only to lose both his money and his case when Goezman scornfully ruled against him. Beaumarchais' description of his shoddy treatment and the corrupt state of the French judiciary in his Mémoires generated widespread anger toward and contempt of the French courts.
This is a pun. Admiral Keppel's flagship was Victory. The French did get the worst of the battle.
After the Battle of Ushant, Philippe retired from the Navy at the insistence of his mother. He then gave himself over to leisure, politics and ambition. Most of his liberal ideas, which Carlyle suggests led him to endless woes, were developed during his visits to England after the war.
The siege of Gibraltar lasted from 1779 to 1783. During that time, the 5000-man British garrison under General Elliot withstood the combined efforts of the French and Spanish to dislodge them. The British caused great distress among the Spanish and French boats by firing red-hot balls down on them. The Noblemen named (Duc de Crillon, princes Nassau, Condè, Artois) were figureheads. The main result of the siege was to further divide France's meagre naval resources.
Edward Gibbon the historian fell in love with a Swiss Catholic girl Suzanne Curchod. His father would not permit their marriage, however, and Mme. Curchod eventually wed Jacques Necker who became Controller-General in the government of Louis XVI. Madame Necker was famous throughout Europe for her intellectual salons.
Besides the real-life Necker there was another famous clerk of Thelusson's involved in the French Revolution: the business-like character Mr. Lorry in Dickins's A Tale of Two Cities.
Small flat snuff boxes of the time were called Turgotine Platitudes as a pun on the plans of Turgot, which also fell flat.
Not all balloon exhibitions were successful. The attempt of Jean-François Pilatre de Rozier (1754-1785) in 1785 resulted in the balloon material catching fire and a fatal crash. Some drawings are extant.
This epithet was attached to Mirabeau's father, Victor Riqueti, the old Marquis de Mirabeau (1715-1789). He was the author of an essay called "The Friend of Men, or Treatise on Population" in 1756, in which he argued that the migration of the nobility into the cities and sale of their lands to commoners would unalterably change French society.
Mirabeau joined a regiment in his youth, but was cashiered for insubordination. He was imprisoned under sentence of death for a time in Belgium and later lived in exile in Amsterdam after running off with a young married woman.
This story is told several different ways, with blame pointed in several directions. The facts are that Paris jeweler Charles Bohmer created a 2800-carat diamond necklace valued at 1,600,000 livres for Madame du Barry. Louis XV died before he could pay for it, and Bohmer tried to interest the new Queen, Marie-Antoinette, in the piece. Although she is said to have tried it on, she refused to purchase it or have Louis XVI purchase it for her.
The Countess de la Motte, a noblewoman of the Valois who was "down on her luck" until she became the mistress of Cardinal Rohan, convinced Rohan to take possession of the necklace in the name of Marie-Antoinette. Rohan had the motive of wishing to ingratiate himself with the Queen; la Motte probably had in mind all along a theft. She went so far as to arrange a night meeting between Rohan and a prostitute who physically resembled the Queen.
The plot wasn't a very good one and fell apart when Bohmer went to Versailles to demand payment. Louis XVI and his queen were furious and demanded a trial. Though la Motte was convicted and sentenced to severe punishment — including whipping and branding — Rohan was acquitted.
The reputation of the Queen, who was not involved in the plot, never recovered from the rumors that spread to all classes and all parts of France during the trial.
Two companies of mounted Musketeers at Versailles — units whose officers were merely place-holders — were dismissed as an economy move early in the reign of Louis XVI.
This passage illustrates how radically Carlyle's times differ from our own. Carlyle obviously assumes that his readers know exactly who Calonne, D'Aiguillon and Lachalatais were. He also assumes we are familiar with whatever scandal it was in which they were involved. Today, few French and scarcely any non-French will know much of the personages, and the scandal must be searched for in rotting gossip tomes.
The reference is to the rod Aaron used to overcome the magic staffs of the Egyptian magicians, which had turned to serpents (Numbers 17).
Accounting was too imprecise for anyone to be sure, but the national debt was around 1.6 billion livres; and the annual deficit was 1.4 million, about 16% of the annual budget. Half of annual royal payments went to servicing the debt.
Tithes were a form of church property subject to sale. In fact, the most valuable thing about a parish was usually the right to its tithes. Over centuries, thousands of these ended in private hands and were bought and sold like any contract.
Although the Parlement of Paris was the first and most important of the French law courts, over time there were also established twelve provincial Parlements which acted as courts of appeal and which also heard cases involving local nobility. Besides their judicial rôle, the Parlements also issued arrêts de rèlement — regulatory decrees — dealing with local welfare.
Parlements sat in
During most of the 18th century there was friction between the royal government and the Parlements. The Parlements tended to resist innovation, particular with regard to the rights of the nobility and clergy. Louis XV's minister Maupeau suspended them in 1771 but they were restored by Louis XVI, perhaps in part because the sale of seats in these bodies was a source of royal income.
"Valour" and "Chicane" are personifications of valor and chicanery.
History has not upheld Carlyle's view of Lally's deserts. The general was dismissive of his officers, neglectful of his men and brutal to the natives of India. Few voices were raised in his defense when, still held prisoner in England, he was accused of treachery. The British granted him parole to stand trial in Paris, where he was condemned and executed, again with little dissent.
This D'Ormesson is the uncle of the man of the same name who was briefly controller.
The situation in Holland somewhat paralleled that in France. William V, the Stadtholder, whose wife was the sister of Frederick the Great of Prussia, found himself hard pressed by the Patriot party (the princes of Holland never enjoyed as strong a political position as did the Bourbon kings). The Prussians invaded in support of the Stadtholder and suppressed all opposition within a month's time. The suppression was short-lived, however. The Patriots, long supported by France and bouyed by the Revolution, returned to establish the Batavian Republic in 1795.
In the time of the dictator Camillus (early in the 4th cenury B.C.) the Gaulic tribes which had conquered most of northern Italy attacked Latium and sacked Rome itself. The Gaulic king, Brennus, is known for declaring "Vae victis!" ("Woe to the vanquished!"). The Roman Senate's reaction is described in the next paragraph.
The original Palladium was a statue of Pallas Athena kept at Troy. It was believed that as long as the statue was preserved, Troy could not fall. By extension a palladium is any safe-guarding artifact — in the case of Pau, the tortoise-shell cradle in which Henry of Navarre was said to have been rocked.
This allusion may not be particularly applicable to Loménie-Brienne. This story involved the centaur Nessus and the Greek demigod Hercules, who was travelling with his bride Deianeira when Nessus, inflamed with passion, carried her away. Hercules killed the centaur with arrows tipped with poison made from the blood of the monster Hydra. The dying Nessus told Deianeira that the blood of a centaur would work as a charm to ensure the love of her husband, and she dipped a cloth in the poisoned blood. Years later, doubting Hercules's affection, Dianeira made a shirt of the cloth. When Hercules put it on, it caused him terrible pain and he could not remove it. So afflicted, he killed himself.
In the latter days of the Roman Republic, the tribunes Tiberius and Gaius Gracci argued for land reform and more political and economic rights for the plebeians. Both were murdered on order of the aristocracy. Twenty years later, Gaius Marius, also a tribune but with a military command, effectively overthrew the power structure.
The wall-paper manufactory of Réveillon was a major employer on the east side of Paris. It employed 350-400 workers, mostly residents of the Faubourg St. Antoine, at higher than normal wages. On April 27 he announced that wages would be adjusted lower because the price of bread had fallen. Réveillon took refuge in the nearby Bastille while workers and others ransacked the factory and Réveillon's house. As many as 30 were killed in the riot and its suppression.
The Colossus of Memnon is one of two giant sculptures erected by the Pharoah Amenhotep in the 14th Century B.C. They were part of a cemetery complex which was leveled by earthquake around 130 B.C. The quake also caused cracks to form in the Colussus which began to emit whistling or singing sounds as the sun warmed it in the morning. When the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus repaired the cracks, the statue stopped singing.
It was the Greeks who associated the colossus with Memnon, the Ethiopian king who fought in the Trojan war. They also considered the singing statue an oracle and "translators" sprung up who would interpret the morning song.
It is said that the Persian emperor Ahasuerus (Xerxes), watching one million of his troops cross the Hellespont over a floating bridge on their way to invade Greece, wept uncontrollably. When asked the reason, he said he wept for his men who would not live one hundred years to see the fruits of their labour.
When Bailly was led to the guillotine, a cold and wet morning in November, the machine wanted repair and the condemned man stood waiting. The executioner's assistant commented, "Tu trembles, Bailly". The astronomer replied, "Oui, mon ami, mais c'est de froid" (Yes, my friend, but from the cold.)
Carlyle is quoting Lucan's Pharsalia, "victrix cause dis placuit, sed victa Catoni." (The winning cause was pleasing to the gods, the conquered one to Cato.)
The two were cousins, and are now frequently confused with one another because both were liberals and anglophiles. The confusion is made deeper because Liancourt assumed the title Duc de La Rochefoucault-Liancourt in 1792 on the death of his cousin who is more precisely referred to as Duc de Rochefoucault d'Enville.
"Cromwell-Grandison" was a nickname given Lafayette by Mirabeau. The idea was that Lafayette had all the ambition of an Oliver Cromwell inside him; but showed the world the face of Sir Charles Grandison, the title character of Samuel Richardson's 1753 novel, who was the model of the English Christian Gentleman.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. — John 3:14,15
The Deputies of the Third Estate never formally agreed to refer themselves as "the Commons", but by the second week of the stalemate at the beginning of States-General they were informally doing so. Carlyle doesn't make much of it, but the language was significant in changing their own perception of themselves as representative of 95% of the population, as opposed to 33% of the estates.
Rather than elect a speaker, the Third Estate appointed successive 'Deans' in the first three weeks of the Estates General. After June 3, the elected leader was Bailly.
On May 7, Mirabeau began publishing a Journal de Etats-Généraux, the banner of which contained the words Novus Rerum Nascitur Ordo ("a new order of things is born"). It was unlicensed and therefore illegal and suppressed. He continued, however, with the widely-read Letters of M. de Mirabeau to his Constituents.
A crowd of three thousand burst into the Opéra, where a performance of Grétry's Aspasie was beginning, and demanded that the theater be closed. The other theatres of Paris closed voluntarily.
The Paris Electors, realizing the need for organization in the huge city of Paris, decide to call the citizens of each district together. The only way to do this is to sound the alarm bells (tocsins), beat the drums and fire cannon.
The seven "Princes of the Blood" who sat as chairmen of the seven bureaus of the Assemblies of Notables were the King's two brothers (the comte de Artois and the comte de Provence), and the ducs de Bourbon, Orléans, Condé, Conti and Penthière.
According to Homer there was a tribe of Pygmies, — the word is derived from the Greek word for "cubit", a measure of about 13 inches — a people of the upper reaches of the Nile (some say India), who were annually beset by the migration of cranes which ate their crops. Each year was the occasion of bloody war between them.
On July 14, 1789, there were only seven prisoners in the Bastille: Jean de la Corrége; Jean Bèchade; Bernard Larouche; Jean-Antoine Pujade; DeWhitt; the Comte de Salages; and Tavernier.
De Launay resisted attempts to conduct him into the Hôtel-de-Ville. In the struggle he kicked one of his captors in the groin. The crowd pummeled, stabbed and finally shot the deposed governor. Desnot, a baker who was the target of the groin-kick, cut off de Launay's head with a pen knife.
"The admirable Doctor" Roger Bacon (1214-1294) is said to have created a talking head of brass which would respond to questions.
I think Carlyle has confused the two eldest sons of Jules Polignac here. The elder, Armand, was made Duc de Richelieu and faded from history. The middle son, Jules Armand, was imprisoned by Napoleon and pardoned in 1814. He was prime minister at the time of the July Revolution in 1830 and was still imprisoned at the time Carlyle wrote (1835).
In addition to the causes Carlyle cites, loss of small-holdings contributed greatly to the population of the hungry and dispossessed. The economic depression culminating in the crop failures of 1788 saw foreclosure on a massive scale. Three-quarters of the unemployed population in some areas was made up of dispossessed small-holders.
The worst famine of the 18th century was in 1709 when thousands died of starvation. The crop failures of 1774-5 and 1788 were partly ameliorated by imports from Poland and Egypt; they brought on hunger and distress but not death on a large scale.
The loss of the grain crop to hail in large parts of northern France in June and July, 1788, and of winter crops to the severe cold that lasted into April of 1789, drove the price of bread above 15 sous per 4-pound loaf, which, although it caused many workers and their families to go hungry, was not an historic high.
The reference is to Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, in which Falstaff, seeking to sound "royal" says he will "speak in passion, in King Cambyses' vein." Cambyses, in turn, was the protagonist of a much earlier morality play, A Lamentable Tragedy, Mixed full of Pleasant Mirth, Containing the Life of Cambyses, King of Persia.
During the last half of the 18th century many of the crumbling parchments documenting seignuerial rights were recopied and reregistered with the courts. Many peasants felt that additional and unwonted rights were asserted in the process, and doubtless some of them were right.
Mambrino's helmet, made of gold and able to render its wearer invisible, appears in the old French romances. Cervantes uses the idea in Don Quixote where the knight sees a barber with a basin over his head to protect him from rain and mistakes the pan for Mambrino's helmet. He "defeats" the barber, takes the "helmet" and wears it through several subsequent chapters. Carlyle is explicitly comparing Necker to Quixote.
Carlyle may also be making fun of the pseudo-Roman "helmets" affected by some of the Bastille Volunteers. They were often made from some sort of pot-metal.
One of the first signs of insurrection in the country side was the slaughter of game animals in the winter of 1788-89. Siegneurs, in many places, had exclusive rights to the hunt and peasants had to watch the protected quail, pigeons, hare and deer eat their crops. Deprived of a winter crop in 1789, they attacked the rabbits, birds and roe deer ostensibly to prevent them eating the seeds and sprouts of the spring planting. In cases where armed game wardens tried to prevent them, violence was sometimes done to the wardens.
The Abbé Raynal was, in 1791, one of the last of the liberal philosophers, or philosophes of the French Enlightenment. He was 80 years old when he sent to the Constituent Assembly an eloquent and blistering attack on the direction of the revolution. It makes stirring reading, but the main effect it seems to have had was to further enflame Charlotte Corday, the assassin of Marat.
An "hospodar" is a Slavonic nobleman. The unlucky noble whom Carra served was a prince of Moldavia.
Various adulterations were made to bread during the shortage of grain, and more were rumored to have been. One widely-believed story was that Plaster of Paris was added to loaves and when eaten would block the intestines.
Atreus, the son of Pelops of Mycenae, and the father of Menelaus and Agamemnon, had a long-running rivalry with his brother Thyestes. The latter seduced Atreus' wife and stole the Golden Fleece. Atreus got the Fleece and the throne of Mycenae back with divine help and banished Thyestes. When Atreus' wife confessed her infidelity, he invited Thyestes back to Mycenae and fed him his own two sons for dinner.
The first chapter of the book of Job tells how his seven sons and three daughters feasted together in a different son's house each day of the week. One of the woes visited on Job was in this message by a servant:Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house and it fell on the young people and they died. . . . (verses 18-19)
The devotees of Bacchus, including the Menads, carried a pole or staff called a thyrsus, usually tipped with a pine-cone. To be touched by the point of thyrsus was supposed to induce madness.
It's appropriate to note a few of the events in the life-cycle of the Palace of Versailles here:
- Louis XIII builds a hunting lodge in his deer park at Versailles.
- Louis XIV begins enlarging the house.
- The château becomes the official residence of the Court.
- The Opera is added.
- Louis XVI, the last royal resident, leaves Versailles for Paris.
- Louis-Philippe transforms the palace into a museum of "the Glories of France".
In one of the Greek creation myths, a great black bird named Nyx laid an egg and watched over it for millennia until it hatched. The left half of the shell became heaven, the right half the earth, and the fruit of the egg was Eros, the power of love. Eros caused the heaven and the earth to love one another and so began creation.
This verse is from Goethe's Die Weissagungen des Bakis (The Soothsayings of Bakis), a cycle of quatrains which I believe Goethe invented in the Persian style.
A rough translation might beWalls I see fallen, and walls set up again,
Here a prisoner, there a prisoner again.
Perhaps the world is but one large dungeon? Then truly free
Is only the mad man, who casts his chains into wreaths.
This is probably a reference to the tale of Aesop in which the frogs asked Zeus for a king and he sent them a log. Growing disgusted with an inert master they requested another and Zeus sent them a snake (or a heron, in another version) which devoured them. Carlyle almost certainly also has in mind 1 Samuel, Chapter 8, where the people of Israel beg for a king.
The palace of the Tuileries was begun in 1564 by Catherine de Medici, the widow of Henri II, but most of it was completed in the 1600s. It abutted the Louvre and boasted a large formal garden which still exists and bears the name. The name itself comes from the tile manufactures that existed there from the Middle Ages.
The Tuileries was the royal palace of Louis XIV until he completed his palace of Versailles in 1682. After the Sun King moved out of town, the palace lay mostly vacant (it was sometimes used as a theatre) until the Insurrection of the Women brought Louis XVI and his family back to it in October, 1789.
The palace was sacked in 1792, but Napoleon refurbished it. It was attacked again in 1848. Napoleon III restored it then , but it was once again looted and burnt in 1871. The hulk was allowed to stand until 1883, when it was demolished. The expanded gardens of the the Tuileries now occupy some of the space taken up by the palace.
The signal to begin the massacre of Protestants on St Bartholomew's Day (August 23, 1572) was supposed to be the ringing of the bell of the Louvre Palace.
October 10, 1789, Tallyrand (then still Bishop of Autun) proposed in the Assembly that property belonging to the Church be "nationalized": not necessarily seized, but used as collateral for loans to the government. The proposal was part of novel way of looking at the Church — as an organ of the state rather than as an independent entity. In this way of looking at things, well-educated priests might be used to teach and propagandize as well as preach; in return they would receive a government salary. This was not completely unprecedented; it had been attempted in Austria only a few years before. And the "Gallican" church had always been nationalistic. The Assembly voted these innovations into effect in November, 1789.
One of the first reforms taken up by the National Assembly was elimination of the myriad overlapping judicial, legislative, administrative and taxing jurisdictions of the old regime. The initial proposal by Thouret was to apply a nine-by-nine square grid on the country, forming 81 arbitrary entities. Cooler heads prevailed and a plan was approved for 83 departments, each roughly the same size; each with a major town or city near its center; and with "natural" boundaries — rivers, mountains, and other topographical features. The new departments were also given geographical names: Pas-de-Calais centered around Arras; Somme around Amiens; Oise around Beauvais; and so on.
On July 12, 1790, the National Assembly decreed a "constitutional article" which, among other things,
- Eliminated most of the bishoprics in France.
- Provided for the popular election of bishops or archbishops in Rouen, Bayeaux, Rheims, Besançon, Rennes, Paris, Bourges, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Aix, and Lyons.
- Granted salaries to parish priests.
- Required bishops and priests to reside where they preside.
Though thou shouldst bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him. (Proverbs 27:22).
The reference is to the Bickerstaff Papers, a series of satiric pieces by Jonathan Swift. These lines are from "An Elegy on the supposed Death of Partridge, the Almanack-Maker":
- Well, 'tis as Bickerstaff has guess'd,
- Tho' we all took it for a jest;
- Partridge is dead, nay more, he dy'd
- E're he could prove the good Squire ly'd.
- Strange, an Astrologer shou'd die,
- Without one Wonder in the Sky!
- Not one of all his Crony Stars
- To pay their Duty at his Herse?
- No Meteor, no Eclipse appear'd?
- No Comet with a flaming Beard?
- The Sun has rose, and gone to Bed,
- Just as if Partridge were not dead:
- Nor hid himself behind the Moon,
- To make a dreadful Night at Noon.
- He at fit Periods walks through Aries,
- Howe'er our earthly Motion varies;
- And twice a Year he'll cut th' Equator,
- As if there had been no such Matter.
Partridge, it seems, was both a shoemaker and an astrologer and Swift spends some time explaining what these seemingly disparate occupations have in common. The unlimited walking of Partridge are referred to in the lines
- Thus Partridge, by his Wit and Parts,
- At once did practise both these Arts;
- And as the boading Owl (or rather
- The Bat, because her Wings are Leather)
- Steals from her private Cell by Night,
- And flies about the Candle-Light;
- So learned Partridge could as well
- Creep in the Dark from Leathern Cell,
- And, in his Fancy, fly as fair,
- To peep upon a twinkling Star.
The Romans divided Egypt into four provinces. Proceeding south along the Nile, they were Lower and Upper Egypt and Lower and Upper Thebaid. Beginning in the 5th century, the arid and isolated Thebaids became the home of many orders of ascetic monks. Saint Simon was one of a particular order of monks who sat their entire lives on pillars — the Stylites. The peculiarity of Simon's pillar was that it grew higher and higher as the power of Simon's preaching grew.
The Hungarian Baron de Tott, a French Army officer, in his Memoires . . . sur les Turcs et les Tartares published around 1780, told of the Turkish custom of hanging a baker or two when the price of bread reached famine levels. It apparently happened often enough that master-bakers would pay an apprentice extra on the condition that he "take the fall" if required.
On October 21, 1789, the unfortunate François ran out of bread and was punished by revolutionary justice. The Paris municipal legislature — the Three Hundred — asked for and received from the Assembly an ordinance under which they could impose Martial law. From that time until the establishment of the Commune, a municipal official had only to unfurl a red flag in order to invoke special police powers for the National Guard.
Albrecht von Haller (1708-1777) experimented widely with "irritability", the property of muscle that causes it to contract. He was one of the first to distinguish between the nerve impulses that cause muscular contraction and the process of contraction itself. Since contraction was seen as the cause of all movement, there was a general theory that "irritability" was a central principal of animal life.
It was the congratulatory communications of the Revolutionary Society of London with the Constituent Assembly that launched Edmund Burke's fierce attack on the revolution and its sympathizers, Reflections on the French Revolution. Dr. Richard Price (1723-1791), a non-conformist minister, was the moral stalwart of the Society, and Earl Stanhope (father of the historian) was its political patron. The "Revolution" in the society's name is the Glorious English one of 1688, not the French of 1789.
After his glory days in the American Revolution, Jones was an admiral in the Russian Navy, where he did not prosper. Ill and with little funds, he returned to Paris in 1790, where he was remembered as a hero.
Carlyle depicts a young John Paul (he did not add the "Jones" until he reached America) on the Scottish shore looking ahead to his moment of glory off the York coast when Bonhomme Richard attacked Serapis. The Bonhomme was badly damaged, but Jones caused her to be lashed to the enemy ship and the fighting continued at close quarters. This is the occasion of Jones's famous refusal to surrender: "We have not yet begun to fight!".
The captain of Serapis eventually surrendered and Jones removed to that ship as the Bonhomme Richard sank.
One hundred years later, Bret Harte wrote this romanticized version of the action:
OFF SCARBOROUGH (September, 1779)Jones was voted a state burial by the Legislative Assembly, but for a long time the location of his grave was lost. His remains were returned to the United States in the 20th century and reside at the Naval Academy.
- "Have a care!" the bailiffs cried
- From their cockleshell that lay
- Off the frigate's yellow side,
- Tossing on Scarborough Bay,
- While the forty sail it convoyed on a bowline stretched away.
- "Take your chicks beneath your wings,
- And your claws and feathers spread,
- Ere the hawk upon them springs,—
- Ere around Flamborough Head
- Swoops Paul Jones, the Yankee falcon, with his beak and talons red."
- How we laughed!—my mate and I,—
- On the "Bon Homme Richard's" deck,
- As we saw that convoy fly
- Like a snow-squall, till each fleck
- Melted in the twilight shadows of the coast-line, speck by speck;
- And scuffling back to shore
- The Scarborough bailiffs sped,
- As the "Richard" with a roar
- Of her cannon round the Head,
- Crossed her royal yards and signaled to her consort: "Chase ahead"
- But the devil seize Landais
- In that consort ship of France!
- For the shabby, lubber way
- That he worked the "Alliance"
- In the offing,—nor a broadside fired save to our mischance!—
- When tumbling to the van,
- With his battle-lanterns set,
- Rose the burly Englishman
- 'Gainst our hull as black as jet,—
- Rode the yellow-sided "Serapis," and all alone we met!
- All alone, though far at sea
- Hung his consort, rounding to;
- All alone, though on our lee
- Fought our "Pallas," stanch and true!
- For the first broadside around us both a smoky circle drew:
- And, like champions in a ring,
- There was cleared a little space—
- Scarce a cable's length to swing—
- Ere we grappled in embrace,
- All the world shut out around us, and we only face to face!
- Then awoke all hell below
- From that broadside, doubly curst,
- For our long eighteens in row
- Leaped the first discharge and burst!
- And on deck our men came pouring, fearing their own guns the worst.
- And as dumb we lay, till, through
- Smoke and flame and bitter cry,
- Hailed the "Serapis:" "Have you
- Struck your colors?" Our reply,
- "We have not yet begun to fight!" went shouting to the sky!
- Roux of Brest, old fisher, lay
- Like a herring gasping here;
- Bunker of Nantucket Bay,
- Blown from out the port, dropped sheer
- Half a cable's length to leeward; yet we faintly raised a cheer
- As with his own right hand
- Our Commodore made fast
- The foeman's head-gear and
- The "Richard's" mizzen-mast,
- And in that death-lock clinging held us there from first to last!
- Yet the foeman, gun on gun,
- Through the "Richard" tore a road,
- With his gunners' rammers run
- Through our ports at every load,
- Till clear the blue beyond us through our yawning timbers showed.
- Yet with entrails torn we clung
- Like the Spartan to our fox,
- And on deck no coward tongue
- Wailed the enemy's hard knocks,
- Nor that all below us trembled like a wreck upon the rocks.
- Then a thought rose in my brain,
- As through Channel mists the sun.
- From our tops a fire like rain
- Drove below decks every one
- Of the enemy's ship's company to hide or work a gun:
- And that thought took shape as I
- On the "Richard's" yard lay out,
- That a man might do and die,
- If the doing brought about
- Freedom for his home and country, and his messmates' cheering shout!
- Then I crept out in the dark
- Till I hung above the hatch
- Of the "Serapis,"—a mark
- For her marksmen!—with a match
- And a hand-grenade, but lingered just a moment more to snatch
- One last look at sea and sky!
- At the lighthouse on the hill!
- At the harvest-moon on high!
- And our pine flag fluttering still!
- Then turned and down her yawning throat I launched that devil's pill!
- Then a blank was all between
- As the flames around me spun!
- Had I fired the magazine?
- Was the victory lost or won?
- Nor knew I till the fight was o'er but half my work was done:
- For I lay among the dead
- In the cockpit of our foe,
- With a roar above my head,—
- Till a trampling to and fro,
- And a lantern showed my mate's face, and I knew what now you know!
Many of the journals of the revolutionary era are extant. Even more of them must have been in Carlyle's time. Here are the newspapers referred to by Claude G. Bowers in his biography of Pierre Vergniaud (Macmillan,1950):
- L'Ami du peuple (Marat).
- L'Ami du roi (Abbé Royou).
- Les Annales patrotiques et littéraires (Carra).
- L'Anti-Fédéraliste (Robespierre).
- Bulletin du Tribunal révolutionnaire.
- La Chronique de Paris.
- Le Courrier des 83 départments.
- Le Défenseur de la Constitution.
- Journal de Bordeaux et du département de la Gironde
- Le Journal des débats et des décrets.
- Journal de la République française (Marat).
- Journal de Paris (Garat, Roederer).
- Le Logographe.
- Le Mercure universal.
- Le Moniteur.
- Le Patriote français (Brissot).
- Le Point du jour.
- Le Père deschesne (Hébert).
- Le Républicain français.
- Le Révolutions de France et de Brabant (Desmoulins).
- La Sentinelle (Louvet).
- Le Vieux Cordelier (Desmoulins).
- Correspondent picard (Baboeuf)
"Vorwäts, Racker, wollt ihr ewig leben?" (Forward! Do you want to live forever?) This is attributed to Frederich the Great, rallying his guard at the battle of Kolin, June 18, 1757.
The Lepithae were a semi-mythic people of Thessaly. They were cousins, but enemies, of the Centaurs. Lucian tells the story of a feast of the Lepithae in which a Cynic, laughed at by local buffoons, beats one of them, only to be beaten himself by a fool.
The Greek war of independence from Turkey was the foreign event that most gripped England and Europe after Napoleon. There was huge support for the rebel Greeks in both England and France. In return, the Greeks took arms and money (and occasionally a Byronic nobleman) from England; and reason from the French. Missolonghi was the miserable, disease-burdened capital of the Greek rebellion.
In the early 4th century, the emperor Constantine had firm hold of the eastern Roman Empire, but the west was split between two rivals, one of whom, Maxentius, claimed sole imperial authority. Constantine attacked and defeated Maxentius, whose capital was Milan. The decisive battle was at the Milvian Bridge in 312.
Before the battle, Constantine, already a Christian, prayed for a sign and saw a vision of a cross bearing the words "In Hoc Signis Vincit" (in this sign you will conquer). He ordered his banners remade with the sign of the cross and the words of the vision.
Both sides in this battle had received signs. Maxentius, a pagan, had asked the guardians of the Sybelline Books whether the day he had chosen was auspicious for battle. The priests of Sybelle told Maxentius "Illo die hostem Romanorum esse periturum" (On that day the enemy of the Romans will perish).
This is a quote from Wordsworth's Memorials of a Tour in Scotland, 1814. The section titled "In the Pleasure-ground on the Banks of the Brand, near Dunkeld" begins
- What He — who, 'mid the kindred throng
- Of Heroes that inspired his song,
- Doth yet frequent the hill of storms,
- The stars dim-twinkling through their forms!
The reference in the poem is to Ossian.
Benjamin Franklin died April 17, 1790 in Philadelphia, aged 84. The news reached Paris about 2 weeks later.
Hannibal is said to have used vinegar to dissolve the snow that blocked his path across the Alps. Carlyle may be thinking that the vinegar of his own marriage in some ways cleared the way for him as well. On the other hand, Carlyle seems to have deluded himself that his own marriage was quite normal and that Jane, his wife, was as happy as other women.
Stanislaus Leszczynski, 1677-1766, was a Polish nobleman forcibly installed on the throne of Poland by King Charles XII of Sweden. He never had strong support inside Poland and was deposed in 1709 when the Russians drove out the Swedes. He went to France where his daughter married Louis XV. After a short period (1733-1735) when he regained the Polish throne, by election this time, he was again forced out by Russian and Austrian pressure. The treaty of Vienna in 1735 ended this war of Polish Succession. In one of its provisions, Stanislaus was granted the duchy of Lorraine and Bar; the incumbent Duke, later the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, received Tuscany in exchange.
Leszczynski embellished Nanci, the ducal seat, with fine and tasteful architecture and was considered an able administrator.
According to the Vienna Treaty, the Duchy of Lorraine passed to the French crown on the death of Stanislaus. At the time of the Revolution it had been a French territory for only 23 years.
Firedamp is methane. Nitrous oxide is non-reactive at normal temperature and pressure, but acts as an oxidant at high temperatures. A mixture of methane and nitrous will explode if exposed to flame.
Carlyle obviously read this in the Nibelungenslied and translated it so. He uses the same phrase in his history of Frederick the Great. I do not know if the murder is that of the hero Siegfred from the first part of the poem, or of the Nibelungen at the palace of Attila the Hun from the second.
Charles the Bold (1433-1477) was the first owner of what has come to be known as the "Sancy Diamond", a 55-carat clear white stone that takes its name from a later owner, the Seigneur de Sancy. Charles lost the stone and his life in battle in Lorraine. The diamond was later purchased by the English King Charles II and was taken by the deposed James II into exile, after which it passes out of history.
Most general histories of the Revolution simply mention the military insurrections or, like Carlyle, describe one or two as examples. Hippolyte Taine provides an overview of the mutinies and their significance:. . . Already, on the 4th of June, 1790, the Minister of War announces to the Assembly that "the military body threatens to fall into a perfect state of anarchy." His report shows "the most incredible pretensions put forth in the most plain-spoken way — orders without force, chiefs without authority, the military chest and flags carried away, the orders of the King himself openly defied, the officers condemned, insulted, threatened, driven off; some of them even captive amidst their own troops, leading a precarious life in the midst of disgust and humiliations, and, as the climax of horror, commanders having their throat cut under the eyes and almost in the arms of their own soldiers."
It is much worse after the July Federation. Entertained, flattered, and indoctrinated at the clubs, their delegates, inferior officers and privates, return to the regiment Jacobins; and henceforth correspond with the Jacobins of Paris, "receiving their instructions and reporting to them." — Three weeks later, the Minister of War gives notice to the National Assembly that there is no limit to the license in the army. "Couriers, the bearers of fresh complaints, are arriving constantly." In one place "a statement of the fund is demanded, and it is proposed to divide it." Elsewhere, a garrison, with drums beating, leaves the town, deposes its officers, and comes back sword in hand. Each regiment is governed by a committee of soldiers. "It is in this committee that the detention of the lieutenant-colonel of Poitou has been twice arranged; here it is that 'Royal-Champagne' conceived the insurrection" by which it refused to recognize a sub-lieutenant sent to it. "Every day the minister's cabinet is filled with soldiers who are sent as representatives to him, and who proudly come and intimate to him the will of their constituents." Finally, at Strasbourg, seven regiments, each represented by three delegates, formed a military congress. The same month, the terrible insurrection of Nancy breaks out — three regiments in revolt, the populace with them, the arsenal pillaged, three hours of furious fighting in the streets, the insurgents firing from the windows of the houses and from the cellar openings, five hundred dead among the victors, and three thousand among the vanquished. — The following month, and for six weeks, there is another insurrection, less bloody, but more extensive, better arranged and more obstinate, that of the whole squadron at Brest, a mutiny of twenty thousand men, at first against their admiral and their officers, then against the new penal code and against the National Assembly itself. The latter, after remonstrating in vain, is obliged not only not to take rigorous measures, but again to revise its laws.
From this time forth, I cannot enumerate the constant outbreaks in the fleet and in the army. — Authorized by the minister, the soldier goes to the club, where he is repeatedly told that his officers, being aristocrats, are traitors. At Dunkirk, he is additionally taught how to get rid of them. Clamors, denunciations, insults, musket-shots — these are the natural means, and they are put in practice: but there is another, recently discovered, by which an energetic officer of whom they are afraid may be driven away. Some patriotic bully is found who comes and insults him. If the officer fights and is not killed, the municipal authorities have him arraigned, and his chiefs send him off along with his seconds "in order not to disturb the harmony between the soldier and the citizen." If he declines the proposed duel, the contempt of his men obliges him to quit the regiment. In either case he is got out of the way. — They have no scruples in relation to him. Present or absent, a noble officer must certainly be plotting with his emigrant companions; and on this a story is concocted. Formerly, to prove that sacks of flour were being thrown into the river, the soldiers alleged that these sacks were tied with blue cords (cordons bleus). Now, to confirm the belief that an officer is conspiring with Coblentz, it suffices to state that he rides a white horse; a certain captain, at Strasbourg, barely escapes being cut to pieces for this crime; "the devil could not get it out of their heads that he was acting as a spy, and that the little grey-hound" which accompanies him on his rides "is used to make signals." — One year after, at the time when the National Assembly completes its work, M. de Lameth, M. Friteau, and M. Alquier state before it that Lückner, Rochambeau, and the most popular generals, "no longer are responsible for anything." The Auvergne regiment has driven away its officers and forms a separate society, which obeys no one. The second battalion of Beaune is on the point of setting fire to Arras. It is almost necessary to lay siege to Phalsbourg, whose garrison has mutinied. Here, "disobedience to the general's orders is formal." There "are soldiers who have to be urged to stand sentinel; whom they dare not put in confinement for discipline; who threaten to fire on their officers; who stray off the road, pillage everything, and take aim at the corporal who tries to bring them back." At Blois, a part of the regiment "has just arrived without either clothes or arms, the soldiers having sold all on the road to provide for their debauchery." One among them, delegated by his companions, proposes to the Jacobins at Paris to "de-aristocratise" the army by cashiering all the nobles. . . .
As penitence after killing his friend Iphitus, Hercules allowed himself to be sold into slavery for three years to a barbarian, Omphale, queen of Lydia. Because the Greeks took many of their slaves from Asia Minor (Lydia occupied the north-west of modern Turkey), this must have seemed a particularly humiliating turn-about.
Among the Greek gods, Aeolus was the keeper of the winds. In his cave on an island near Sicily, he kept the north, south, east and west winds which he released as breezes or gales at the direction of the greater gods.
The Academie Française admitted but forty members. To become a member is to be one of the "Forty Immortals".
From Thomas Gray's English interpretation of the Norse Descent of Oden.
The reference is to Milton's description of Chaos in book II of Paradise Lost. Satan, escaped from Hell, must travel through the realm of Chaos and asks permission of its lords, "Chaos, and Old Night". To his polite request for safe passage,. . .thus the Anarch oldThe "Anarch Old" is Chaos.
With faultring speech and visage incompos'd
Answer'd. I know thee, stranger, who thou art,
That mighty leading Angel, who of late
Made head against Heav'ns King, though overthrown.
I saw and heard, for such a numerous host
Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded; and Heav'n Gates
Pourd out by millions her victorious Bands
Pursuing. I upon my Frontieres here
Keep residence; if all I can will serve,
That little which is left so to defend
Encroacht on still through our intestine broiles
Weakning the Scepter of old Night: first Hell
Your dungeon stretching far and wide beneath;
Now lately Heaven and Earth, another World
Hung ore my Realm, link'd in a golden Chain
To that side Heav'n from whence your Legions fell:
If that way be your walk, you have not farr;
So much the neerer danger; goe and speed;
Havock and spoil and ruin are my gain.
That is, January 21, 1793, the day of the King's execution.
The county of Venaissin and the principal city of the area, Avignon, became one of the most important regions in Europe in the 14th century when Avignon was the capitol of the western Roman Catholic Church. At that time, all of southwest France was Papal territory. After the end of the Schism, the count of Provence deeded his lands to the King of France; Avignon and Venaissin became an enclave, surrounded by France. Avignon was occupied and temporarily incorporated into France several times, last from 1768 to 1774, but at the start of the Revolution it was once again property of the Pope, a situation which was resented by many of the leading citizens. On June 17, 1790, a mob forced the election of a new municipality and expelled the papal legate; then petitioned the National Assembly for reunification with France. The Assembly refused several times, but finally, after a plebiscite, approved integration on September 14, 1791.
Charlemagne, encountering resistance from the western Saxons whom the Pope had charged him to convert to Christianity, is said to have beheaded some large number of them (Gibbons says 4500) on a bridge over the river Weser.
The Ear is a cave near Syracuse in Sicily. It has amazing acoustic properties such that a whisper at its extreme can be heard clearly at the entrance. Supposedly the dictator Dionysius kept prisoners there and was able to hear their plots.
The geography of the sections as constituted in 1790 is difficult to describe in text, but the only online map I've located does not show the divisions.
On the north bank along the river, from west to east, are Champs Élysées, Tuileries, Louvre, Arcis, Hôtel de Ville, Arsenal, and Quinze Vingts.
In an arc beginning north of Tuileries are Place Vendôme, Palais Royal, Bibliothèque, Halle aux Bleds, Oratoire, Postes, Place Louis XIV, Fontaine Monmerency, Bonne Nouvelle, Mauconseil, Innocents, Lombards, Ponceau, Beaubourg, Gravilliers, Roi de Sicile, Enfants Rouges, and finally Place Royale north of Arsenal.
An outer ring of sections, abutting the city wall, surrounds these intersections of the north bank. Beginning in the west, above Champs Élysées are Roule, Grange Batelière, Faubourg Montmartre, Poissoniere, Faubourg St. Denis, Bondy, Temple, Popincourt and finally Montreuil above Quinze Vingts.
South of the river but bordering it are (again from west to east) Invalides, Fontaine de Grenelle, Quatre Nations, Cordeliers, Thermes de Julien, Ste. Genevieve, Jardin des Plantes, and Gobelins. Outside these sections and bordering the southern wall are Croix Rouge, Luxumbourg, and Observatoire.
On the river islands are the sections Henri IV, Notre Dame and Ile St. Louis.
Anyone interested in French government from 1774 is bound to be confused by the comings and goings of ministers. The table below summarize as much of the tumult as I have been able to surmise:
From 1774 to 1788 Louis XVI's government seems to have been in the traditional European model, with nobles serving as Chancellor (minister of Justice), as Controller General of the Finances, and as ministers of war, navy, interior, foreign-relations and the royal house-hold. Variations occasionally arose. When Necker, who was not a noble, came into the government he could not be Controller, so he was given the title of Director-General of Finances.
Note: this table is incomplete.
Chancellor Finances Guerre Marine and Colonies Affaires étrangères Interior 1774 Miromesnil Turgot Montbarey Turgot,
Vergennes Malesherbes 1776 De Nuits,
Amelot de Chaillou 1780 Segur De Castries 1781 Joly de Fleury Dreux-Bréze 1783 Ormesson
La Luzerne Montmorin-Saint-Hérem Villedeuil 1788 Barentin Necker Puységur La Luzerne 1789 de Cicé Tour de Pin Breteuil
1790 Duport-Duterte Lambert
Duportail Fleurieu 1791 Tarbé Narbonne Thévenard
Cahier de Gerville
Laroux de Laville
Bigot de Croix
Terrier de Monciel
Coampion de Velleneuve
These are the twin dangers faces by Ulysses on his voyage through the Straits of Messina. Charybdis, a loud whirlpool that could suck up any ship that come too near, was easy to detect, so Ulysses hugged the opposite shore. Scylla, a six-headed dragon-like monster hiding in the shore cliffs swept down and seized 6 of the crew before anything could be done.
Since the time of Homer (and probably before), "between Scylla and Charydis" has meant a choice between unattractive options.
The Titans were a race of giants, sons of Ea, who challenged and were defeated by Zeus and the Olympians. After the defeat, Ea bore Typhon, greater and more terrible than any of the Titans. Hercules fought the Titans. And he killed the Nemean Lion, the son of Typhon. I'm not sure where or when he is supposed to have fought Typhon himself to the death, however.
The reference is to an experiment with electricity in which a dead animal's muscles are made to contract by application of current. It was a novelty at the time of the revolution. Carlyle uses the image often.
Luigi Galvani (1737-1798), a Bolognese anatomist and physiologist, first published his observations on the effect of electric current on nervous tissue in 1791. He found he could generate electric current by touching moist tissue with tools of different metals, a finding that led his friend Volta to the development of the voltaic battery.
In Carlyle's time, "to galvanize" more often meant "to excite to action" than "to coat with a electrolytic metal".
Carlyle certainly has in mind a saying of Bishop Warburton (1698-1779). Joseph Priestly, in his Memoirs, quotes Warburton as having written to Lord Sandwich that "Ortohdoxy is my doxy; heterodoxy is another man's doxy."
The Nibelungenslied is an epic German poem of the 13th century. It deals with a family of Burgundian kings — the Nibelungen — and their destruction. The main characters are Gunther, the senior king; his sister Grimhild (Kriemhild or Chrimhilde); Gunther's wife Brunhild; the hero Siegfried; Attila the Hun; and Baron Dietrich von Bern. Grimhild marries Siegfried, and, when he is murdered by one of the Nibelungen, Hagen, turns against the family. She flies to the court of Attila and marries him. Seven years later, in an effort to reconcile with her family, she invites the Nibelungen to a feast at the court of Attila where a fight breaks out and all the Nibelungs are killed.
Many details of the origins of the Nibelungs, their battles with the Giants, and so on, come from Scandanavian versions of the story. These were incorporated by Wagner in his opera cycle Das Ring des Nibelungens.
The reference is to the opening lines of the second Canto of the second part of Samuel Butler's satire on the religionists of the English Civil Wars, Hudibras. (Thanks to the help desk at the University of Buffalo Library for locating the source.) Butler wroteThe disputants cited by Butler are
- 'Tis strange how some mens' tempers suit
- (Like bawd and brandy) with dispute,
- That for their own opinions stand last
- Only to have them claw'd and canvast;
- That keep their consciences in cases,
- As fiddlers do their crowds and bases,
- Ne'er to be us'd, but when they're bent
- To play a fit for argument;
- Make true and false, unjust and just,
- Of no use but to be discust;
- Dispute, and set a paradox
- Like a straight boot upon the stocks,
- And stretch it more unmercifully
- Than HELMONT, MONTAIGN, WHITE, or TULLY,
- So th' ancient Stoicks, in their porch,
- With fierce dispute maintain'd their church;
- Beat out their brains in fight and study,
- To prove that Virtue is a Body;
- That Bonum is an Animal,
- Made good with stout polemic brawl;
- in which some hundreds on the place
- Were slain outright; and many a face
- Retrench'd of nose, and eyes, and beard,
- To maintain what their sect averr'd;
- All which the Knight and Squire, in wrath,
- Had like t' have suffered for their faith,
- Each striving to make good his own,
- As by the sequel shall be shown.
- Jan Baptista van Helmont, a Dutch physician and philosopher, 1577-1644, who traveled extensively in England.
- Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592), French philosopher, poet and essayist. His essays in particular were very influential in England and were quoted by both Shakespeare and Bacon.
- Thomas White (1593-1676), English Catholic conroversialist.
- (Perhaps) Cicero (Tully), although he is not thought of as disputatious in the sense of upholding extreme views.
Long-distance coaches frequently employed boys or men to ride on the near horses of tandem pairs to give better control of the team. When these postilions were used, there was usually not a coachman in the box.
This is a confusing reference. "Childeric Donothing" is almost certainly Childeric III whom Pippin, the mayor of his palace, overthrew in 751. The Merovingian king took no part in the administration — Pippin was the de facto ruler — so the change was significant only in a dynastic sense. Childeric was not killed, however, but sent to a monastery.
Carlyle appears to be quoting himself here. He uses the same epigram in his history of Friederich II.
It was the custom in Edinburgh, even after the Reformation, to hold a street procession on Saint Crispin's day. A figure representing Crispin, the patron saint of shoemakers (cordwainers), was dressed in 'regal' panoply made from shoemakers' scraps.
Lafayette, as commander-in-chief, granted amnesty to most of the soldiers and officers involved in the flight of the King. Only Bouillé and those who fled with him were excepted.
Ariosto, in Orlando Furioso speaks of the "limbus of the moon" in which is heaped all intentions that fail, all flattery, all promises of princes.
Brewer's quotes Pope's Rape of the Lock in illustration:"There heroes' wits are kept in ponderous vases,
And beaux' in snuff-boxes and tweezer-cases;
There broken vows and death-bed alms are found,
And lovers' hearts with ends of ribbon bound;
The courtier's promises and sick man's prayers,
The smiles of harlots, and the tears of heirs."
Carlyle gave much thought to the idea of the Able Man, which he related to the German word König, or King. In his 1840 lecture on The Hero as King he wrote that only the true "Able Man", recognized and elected by the people, could form a perfect government. In that lecture he uses Napoleon as an example. The reference to the "ablest to be chosen", then, is more derisive than it might first appear.
Carlyle is mistaken here. The Carnot he means is Lazare Nicolas, who was a member of the Committee of Public Safety and later a great general under Napoleon. His son, born in 1801, was Hippolyte (and in fact was just beginning to make a name for himself at the time Carlyle wrote.)
An excommunication in which the sinner is "separated from God at His second coming, so that he shall forever share the lot of Judas and Nero and he shall be made a stranger to the most holy body of our Lord Jesus Christ and he shall be subject to divine punishment on the day of the Last Judgment," according to the medieval Doctrine of Privileges. The term is used in 1 Corinthians 16:22, "If any love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Marnatha." The second word is more often transliterated "Maran-atha" and is supposed to be Syriac for "The Lord comes".
Eteokles and Polynikes were sons of Oedipus and Iocasta. When Oedipus was banished, the brothers were to share the throne of Thebes, alternating the rule each year. Eteokles refused to surrender the throne and Polynikes persuaded Adrastus, king of Argos, to assist him in recovering his rights. The coalition is often called "The Seven Against Thebes". The brothers killed each other in single combat.
There are two surviving Greek plays depicting these incidents: Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes and Euripedes's Phoenissae.
The reference is to Lawrence Stern's novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. In volume VI, Chapter VIII, part of a section called "The Story of Le Fevre", there is this dialogue concerning a brother-officer recuperating at Major Toby's house:— In a fortnight or three weeks, added my uncle Toby, smiling, — he might march. — He will never march, an' please your honour, in this world, said the corporal : — He will march ; said my uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed, with one shoe off : — An' please your honour, said the corporal, he will never march, but to his grave : — He shall march, cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a shoe on, though without advancing an inch, — he shall march to his regiment. — He cannot stand it, said the corporal; — He shall be supported, said my uncle Toby ; — He'll drop at last, said the corporal, and what will become of his boy ? — He shall not drop, said my uncle Toby, firmly. — A-well-o'-day, — do what we can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point, — the poor soul will die : — He shall not die, by G— , cried my uncle Toby.
These are two towns of Languedoc where Catholic violence against Protestants occurred in the 18th century.
These southern cities were scenes of violence when lower-class zeal for revolution exceeded the limits to which the local aristocracy was willing to go.
In the summer of 1790 it was rumored that a large anti-federalist force of aristocrats had assembled at Jalès in Languedoc. This force was much written of, but never actually observed.
A dinner was held in Birmingham (England) on July 14, 1791, to mark the second anniversary of the Bastille. About 90 gentlemen attended. A crowd of working-men (and many women and boys) broke all the windows of the meeting-house. Over the next days they raided, looted, and in some cases burned, the property of the men who had attended, including the house and laboratory of John Priestley. These were known as the "Church and King" riots.
The Declaration of Pilnitz, August 27, 1791, was intended by the Prussians and Austrians to pressure the French not to further restrict the rights of Louis XVI. It did so in very inflammatory language, however, and Brissot among others cried it up as a threat of arms against the Revolution. Part of the short declaration was. . . they [the emperor Leopold and the King of Prussia] will not refuse to employ . . . the most effective means, relative to their forces, in order to put the King of France in a position to affirm in the most perfect liberty, the basis of a monarchial government equally suitable to the rights of sovereigns and to the well-being of the French nation.
In fact the powers spent most of the conference discussing how they intended to carve up Poland and there was only lukewarm support for war against France, but the threat began the militarization of the Revolution.
Gustavus III (1746-1792), a vigorous and popular monarch, was assassinated by the Count Ankarstrom, June , 1792, in a disagreement over the place of the Swedish nobility in a rapidly-evolving nation.
This is an epithet Homer gives Odysseus. It means "clever" or "possessed of cunning". Other epithets applied to him are polytropos (much-travelled), polymechanos (skilled), and polytlemon (much-enduring).
The ancient Greeks called the area of modern Crimea, Cimmeria. It was inhabited by a fierce Persian people who were being pushed eastward by the Scythians. Cimmeria was said to hold an entrance to Hades: the crater of the Kara-Dag volcano. Carlyle combines the two images in the adjective Cimmerian: the invaders are diabolical "barbarians at the gate".
The Parliament of Scotland in the 16th and 17th century met infrequently and at great expense. Except on questions of extreme national importance, these Parlements merely rubber-stamped the bills prepared for their approval by a standing committee known as "The Lords of the Articles". The Lords of the Articles thus determined what legislation would be considered.
The Harmattan is a hot, dry, dusty seasonal weather pattern of the north-west coast of Africa. One etymology traces it from the Arabic word for "evil thing".
I do not know the origin of this phrase. It is used in Sterne's Tristram Shandy, volume 4, Chapter 9:"What a chapter of chances", said my father, turning himself about upon the first landing, as he and my uncle Toby were going down stairs — "what a long chapter of chances do the events of this world lay open to us!"in a way that makes the sense clear.
John Wilkes (1727-1797) is quoted as saying "The chapter of accidents is the longest chapter in the book."
There were several reasons why the Austrians and Prussians had not yet attacked France in the summer of 1792 despite the urgings of the emigres and France's own declaration of war. An important reason was that Louis was allowed the appearance of running his own government — the "smoking gun" that would trigger an invasion in support of the King was not there. But France was also not the most important issue on the minds of the Prussian and Austrian governments: they were absorbed in the partitioning of Poland.
By 1772, the Commonwealth of Poland was exhausted by 200 years of war and bankrupted by a century of Saxon and Russian domination. It was powerless to resist the seizure and division of about 25% of its land by Russia, Prussia and Austria. This is called the First Partition. This seizure caused a patriotic backlash in Poland and for 20 years the remainder of the Polish state resisted the three great powers. In 1792 a new, liberal constitution was declared; the Russians invaded, voiding the patriotic government, and in 1793 a Second Partition resulted in the division of about half the remaining territory of Poland among the same three powers.
In 1795, a third partition wiped Poland off the map.
Samson lived in Judea, near Philistia (which occupied roughly the modern Gaza Strip). He fell in love with Delilah, a Philistine who betrayed him. In later years, the Philistines seized the Ark of the Covenant in battle from King Saul.
A queer recreation of the English is church bell-ringing. The bells, from lowest to highest in tone, are rung in various modulating sequences, known as changes varying in length from a Plain Hunt of 20 seconds to a Peal of about 3 hours. The "bob" is a particular pattern. When rung through 6 bells, it is a bob-minor; with 8 it is a bob-major.
Following three short but intense internal religious wars, the Queen Dowager of France, Catherine de Medici, convinced her son Charles IX to take measures to control the growing power of Protestant in France. The main target was the great admiral and Protestant leader, Coligny, and the first attempt on his life was August 22, 1574: Coligny was slightly wounded by a musket shot. In the early morning hours of August 24, a troop of soldiers under the Duc de Guise invaded Coligny's home and killed him.
Some Catholic apologists insist that the killing was intended to stop there. But August 24 was the day of the wedding of King Henry of Navarre (later Henri IV) and Margaret de Valois, and Paris was filled with visiting Protestant noblemen who were also fallen upon over the next two days. On August 24 and 25, over 2000 Protestants were murdered in Paris alone.
The killing spread over much of France over the ensuing weeks. Some Protestant sources say 100,000 died in all; some Catholics give the figure as 4,000. A generally accepted number is 16,000 deaths.
In the Book of Tobit, one of the Apocrypha, the demon Asmodeus plagues Sara by successively killing her seven husbands before marriage could be consummated. Her 8th betrothed, Tobiah, is visited by the angel Raphael who tells him to prepare a dish of fish's blood and liver. Asmodeus is driven away by the smell and flies to Upper Egypt where he is pursued and bound by Raphael.
These were villages in the canton of Lucerne which saw important battles in the wars for Swiss independence in the 14th century. The military prowess and reputation developed by the Swiss in those wars made them for centuries after the preferred soldiers-for-hire of Europe.
Carlyle here undoubted has in mind Robert Southey's famous 1798 poem "The Battle of Blenheim", written before he became old and stodgy and the Poet Laureate. The battle of Blenheim was fought August 13, 1704, in Bavaria. Marlborough led the English coalition to victory over the Bavarians and French:
- IT was a summer evening,
- Old Kaspar's work was done,
- And he before his cottage door
- Was sitting in the sun,
- And by him sported on the green
- His little grandchild Wilhemine.
- She saw her brother Peterkin
- Roll something large and round,
- Which he beside the rivulet
- In playing there had found;
- He came to ask what he had found,
- That was so large, and smooth, and round.
- Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
- Who stood expectant by;
- And then the old man shook his head,
- And with a natural sigh,
- " 'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he,
- "Who fell in the great victory.
- "I find them in the garden,
- For there's many here about;
- And often when I go to plough,
- The ploughshare turns them out!
- For many thousand men," said he,
- "Were slain in that great victory."
- "Now tell us what 'twas all about,"
- Young Peterkin, he cries;
- And little Wilhemine looks up
- With wonder-waiting eyes;
- "Now tell us all about the war,
- And what they fought each other for.
- "It was the English," Kaspar cried,
- "Who put the French to rout;
- But what they fought each other for,
- I could not well make out;
- But everybody said," quoth he,
- "That 'twas a famous victory.
- "My father lived at Blenheim then,
- Yon little stream hard by;
- They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
- And he was forced to fly;
- So with his wife and child he fled,
- Nor had he where to rest his head.
- "With fire and sword the country round
- Was wasted far and wide,
- And many a childing mother then,
- And new-born baby died;
- But things like that, you know, must be
- At every famous victory.
- "They say it was a shocking sight
- After the field was won;
- For many thousand bodies here
- Lay rotting in the sun;
- But things like that, you know, must be
- After a famous victory.
- "Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,
- And our good Prince Eugene."
- "Why, 'twas a very wicked thing!"
- Said little Wilhemine.
- "Nay, nay, my little girl," quoth he,
- "It was a famous victory.
- "And everybody praised the Duke
- Who this great fight did win."
- "But what good came of it at last?"
- Quoth little Peterkin.
- "Why, that I cannot tell," said he,
- "But 'twas a famous victory."
Molay, along with de Charnay and one other of the remaining Knights Templar were burned out of the Temple in Paris on March 18, 1314. As Carlyle notes, the towers in which they were barricaded still stood when Louis XVI walked into the Temple a prisoner.
Much legend has grown up around Molay and the Templars and is still passed on through Freemasonry.
This is number 50 of Goethe's Venetian Epigrams (the quatrain introducing Volume 1 was number 14). It does not render as nicely into English as some of the other epigrams. Until I find a better one, my own weak translation is
- All you advocates of Liberty, I see it another way.
- Everyone is trying to achieve his own ends.
- If you want the goodwill of the masses, you must serve the masses.
- You want to know how dangerous that might be? Try it!
The god Pan, usually depicted as half man, half goat, was the spirit of Nature in the Greek myths. Though he loved music—he is often shown playing the syrinx, or pan-pipes — he also had to power to drive enemies into "panic" by the power of his great voice (or, some say, by blowing upon a conch shell). Pan was given credit for the Athenians' victory over the Persians at Marathon when his roar scattered the vast army of the invaders.
This phrase, one of the most famous in the History, appears to be Carlyle's own, even though he puts inside quotation marks. As noted before, Carlyle frequently quotes himself.
Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus, King of Ethiopia, and Cassiopeia. When Cassiopeia boasted that her daughter's beauty was greater than that of the Nereids, those sea-nymphs persuaded Poseidon to send a sea-monster to ravish the Ethiopian shores. The people demanded that Andromeda be sacrificed to appease the god and she was duly chained to a rock above the sea.
Perseus, wearing the winged sandles of Hermes and protected by Hermes' helmet which made him invisible, killed the monster and saved the maiden, whom he married.
Philoctetes was one of the Argonauts and a great archer. He inherited the bow and arrows of Hercules. Later he was one of the leaders of the Achaeans before Troy but was wounded early in the war and retired to Lemnos. The Greeks recalled him towards the end of the war because of an oracle that Troy could not be taken without him. His wound healed, he slew Paris; Troy fell soon after. Carlyle sees a parallel between this story and the events of Marat's career.
In 1803 Peltier, then the publisher of an anti-Bonapartist newspaper in London, was brought to trial at the insistence of the French ambassador for a libel against Napoleon. He was ably defended by Sir James Mackintosh and his acquittal is an important decision in the history of press freedom.
The St. Bartholomew massacre of French Protestants in Paris and the provinces in 1572; the massacre of the Armagnac faction in Paris in 1418; and the civil violence in Palermo in 1218, known as the "Sicilian Vespers'; are prominent among the many examples that Carlyle could have brought of countryman killing counryman. Estimates of the numbers killed in the September Massacres vary from 1,200 to 4,000; Carlyle (see Volume 3, Book 1, chapter vi) is quite firm in his believe that 1,089 — including 202 priests — were murdered.
This is a contraction of the expression "lucus non a lucendo", a saying that applies to seeming etymological anomalies. Literally it means that "lucus" (a dark wood) does not come from the verb "lucendere" (to light). Carlyle is saying that the expression "Christian era" has nothing to do with "Christ".
In one of the most famous passages of Barbaroux's Mémoires he describes a visit to his old teacher, Marat, in 1792. Marat suggested that the French were bad revolutionists and that he knew how to settle things. When Barbaroux pressed him, Marat said he would take 200 Neopolitan street thugs, with knives in one hand and muffs in the other as shields, and wander France murdering aristocrats. Marat thought it would be instructive to kill 260,000 aristocrats or so.
This passage is often cited as proof of Marat's insanity.
I assume this refers to the First Eclogue of Virgil in which Meliboeus, a simple but eloquent shepherd, is a character. (Meliboea was a coastal region of Thessaly known for rich purple dyes and not much civilization.)
Here are a few lines from the beginning of the poem:Meliboeus
... Such wide confusion fills the country-side.
See, sick at heart I drive my she-goats on,
And this one, O my Tityrus, scarce can lead:
For 'mid the hazel-thicket here but now
She dropped her new-yeaned twins on the bare flint,
Hope of the flock- an ill, I mind me well,
Which many a time, but for my blinded sense,
The thunder-stricken oak foretold, oft too
From hollow trunk the raven's ominous cry.
But who this god of yours? Come, Tityrus, tell.
The city, Meliboeus, they call Rome...
There are several folk tales of barbers shaving ghosts or little-people or magical strangers and being rewarded with hidden treasure. The Irish story of John Shea is one such.
Semele, a daughter of Cadmus, was secretly loved by Zeus who impregnated her. When Hera found out, she tricked Semele into compelling Zeus to appear to Semele in his true form; Semele was reduced to ashes. Her baby, the god Dionysus, was rescued and came to term sewn in the thigh of its father.
This is an example of Carlyle borrowing from Goethe (which he doubtlessly does elsewhere — I just happened to catch this one). Goethe makes the same point, in much the same words, in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre.
One of the first great practical applications of calculus was the description of planetary motion by Sir Isaac Newton. His model predicted very closely the orbits of the moon about earth and the planets about the sun. Very quickly, however, mathematicians began to wonder how the interaction of three gravitational bodies might interact; Newton's equations applied only to two entities. The problem became known as the Three Bodies Problem and a prize was offered for its solution. The prize remained unclaimed at the time Carlyle wrote his French Revolution, but was awarded to Jules Henri Poincaré some fifty years later.
One of Poincaré statements about the problem makes Carlyle's mention of it in the context of the history of the National Convention very apt: "It may happen", wrote Poincaré, "that small differences in the initial positions may lead to enormous differences in the final phenomena. Prediction becomes impossible."
Phalaris, Greek tyrant of Sicly around 560 B.C., is said to have devised a life-size brass bull into which he placed his enemies. Building a fire under the statue, he slowly roasted them to death. Their cries of pain resonated as if the bull were bellowing. When Phalaris was overthrown by Telemachus, he became the victim of his own torture device.
According to Cicero (De Legibus), "the name that Graecians gave to mournful songs."
The English entry into the war with France coincided with, but had little to do, with the execution of Louis XVI. The ostensible reason was France's abrogation of the 1785 Treary of Fontainbleu in which control of navigation on the Scheldt was given to Holland.
Peter Gottschalk, a hermit born near Amiens around 1050, became a charismatic travelling preacher on the lower Rhine. He was one of the early instigators and leaders of the First Crusade (1095), which began as a popular and social movement rather than a military mission.
The Society of Jesus, or Jesuit order, was founded by St. Ignatius in 1540. Ignatius and his 9 original companions envisioned a ministry to the poor, but each of them was a Master of the Sorbonne, and they quickly understood that control of education was a key in supporting the Universal Church in the wars of religion. By the 18th century, a majority French secondary schools were run by the Jesuits, and a large portion of the French nobility and upper middle class — even many Huguenots — had been trained by the priests of the order.
Jesuits have long been accused of casuistry, or specious argument. In large part this is because they seldom lost arguments. Jesuits have preferred to attack rather than defend, and because through rigorous training and education they tend to have the relavant facts at hand.
Most the the deputies now identified with the Gironde had Jesuit training.
Friederich von Schller, Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1801). Act III, scene vi.
The old story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice was memorably related by Carlyle's friend Goethe in 1797:I am now, — what joy to hear it!"Deucalion Deluges" refers to the Greek legend of Deucalion and Pyrrha who were among the few who survived the flood sent by Zeus to destroy the men of the Age of Bronze.
Of the old magician rid;
And henceforth shall ev'ry spirit
Do whate'er by me is bid;
I have watch'd with rigour
All he used to do,
And will now with vigour
Work my wonders too.Wander, wanderAnd now come, thou well-worn broom,
So that rightly
Flow the torrent,
And with teeming waters yonder
In the bath discharge its current!
And thy wretched form bestir;
Thou hast ever served as groom,
So fulfil my pleasure, sir!
On two legs now stand,
With a head on top;
Waterpail in hand,
Haste, and do not stop!Wander, wanderSee! he's running to the shore,
So that rightly
Flow the torrent,
And with teeming waters yonder
In the bath discharge its current!
And has now attain'd the pool,
And with lightning speed once more
Comes here, with his bucket full!
Back he then repairs;
See how swells the tide!
How each pail he bears
Straightway is supplied!Stop, for, lo!Ah, the word whose sound can straight
All the measure
Of thy treasure
Now is right! -
Ah, I see it! woe, oh woe!
I forget the word of might.
Make him what he was before!
Ah, he runs with nimble gait!
Would thou wert a broom once more!
Streams renew'd for ever
Quickly bringeth he;
River after river
Rusheth on poor me!Now no longerOh, thou villain child of hell!
Can I bear him;
I will snare him,
Ah, my terror waxes stronger!
What a look! what fearful sight
Shall the house through thee be drown'd
Floods I see that wildly swell,
O'er the threshold gaining ground.
Wilt thou not obey,
Oh, thou broom accurs'd?
Be thou still I pray,
As thou wert at first!Will enoughSee, once more he hastens back!
Never please thee?
I will seize thee,
Hold thee fast,
And thy nimble wood so tough,
With my sharp axe split at last.
Now, oh Cobold, thou shalt catch it!
I will rush upon his track;
Crashing on him falls my hatchet.
Bravely done, indeed!
See, he's cleft in twain!
Now from care I'm freed,
And can breathe again.Woe, oh woe!And they run! and wetter still
Both the parts,
Quick as darts,
Stand on end,
Servants of my dreaded foe!
Oh, ye gods protection send!
Grow the steps and grows the hail.
Lord and master hear me call!
Ever seems the flood to fill,
Ah, he's coming! see,
Great is my dismay!
Spirits raised by me
Vainly would I lay!"To the side
Of the room
As of old!
Spirits I have ne'er untied
Save to act as they are told."tr. Bowring
The Partians, who ruled the area now Persia and Iraq when the Romans first entered that part of the world, were reputed to be able to shoot arrows from their horses with equal effect backward or forward. They could effect as much damage to any enemy while fleeing as while advancing.
I believe Carlyle's meaning is that, just as the pillar on which St. Simon the Stylite sat grew larger along with the power of Simon's preaching, so Marat's head continued to grow.
This is a strange sentence. It is based on the story that Actaeon came upon Artemis and her nymphs bathing; in her rage she transformed him into a stag and he was killed by his own dogs. Carlyle is just being snide when he mentions the impossibility of the notably unchaste Théroigne becoming the virgin goddess Artemis; but I don't know what he is getting at when he turns the myth of Actaeon around: here, the dogs attack the goddess instead of the hunter.
This is sarcasm. If Camille's head were clearest, the rest were very muddled indeed.
It is now known to have been a type of psoriasis, which Marat may have picked up while hiding in the sewers in 1790 and 1791. I do not know what "unmentionable" disease Carlyle thought it was.
Codrus was the last King of Athens. When the Spartans invaded Athens about 1080 B.C., there was an oracle that Athens could prevail only if the enemy killed its king. Codrus, to preserve country, stole into the center of the Spartan camp and challanged the guards there; he was killed and Athens was saved.
Athens saw fit to elect no more kings; after Codrus, the office of Archon had the executive power.
The Roman mythological version of the Deluge had Jupiter and Mercury descend to earth to gauge the sinfulness of the world. Disguised as travellers, they were turned away from every door until they came to the hovel of Philomon, a farmer, and his wife Baucis. The couple fed the strangers and gave them shelter. Disgusted with everyone else, the gods call down a flood, saving only Baucis and Philomon, who become the parents of a new race.
Carlyle puts together a stew of hellish allusions here. Dis was the Roman god of the underworld — derived from the Greek Pluto. Depending on the account, there are up to 5 rivers in Hades. All accounts mention the river Styx, across which the dead must pass to reach the afterlife. The water of the river Lethe, from which the dead must drink, conveys forgetfulness. In the Odyssey, the rivers Cocytus and Pyriphlegethon are mentioned, which join to form the river Acheron. The Phlegethon, as the name implies, is a river of fire. The banks of Cocytus, the River of Lamentation, is the home of those who died and were not buried; they are condemned to wander there one hundred years.
Hébert accused the Queen of teaching the Dauphin to masturbate and of using him sexually.
This famous and evocative sentence occurred in a report read by Barère, as representative of the Committee of Public Safety, during the momentous Convention session of September 5, 1793, after the Section had marched on the Convention to demand enforcement of the Maximum and other revolutionary decrees. The "Order of the Day" in the convention was the agenda for the session.
The temple of Apollo at Delphi was where the ancients went to here truths known nowhere else. The priestess of the temple, known as the pythoness or pythia, was a conduit for oracles: infallible, if often cryptic, predictions; she had to pass into a trance — assumed to be a form of madness — to receive the prophecies. "Pythic mood", then, is that trance.
Two famous Catos of ancient history were Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Elder, or Cato the Censor), a Roman statesman (234-139 B.C.); and Cato the Younger, or Cato of Utica (95-46 B.C.). The first was respected during the Revolution as a model of civic devotion and moral rectitude. The latter opposed Julius Caesar and committed suicide after the battle of Thapsus rather than submit to the dictator.
A kind of mirage in which islands, mountains or buildings appear to hover over empty spaces, sometimes inverted. Such illusions are seen in the Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily. They are falled "Fata Morgana" after the with Morgan la Faye, in some legends the half-sister of King Arthur. She lived in a castle which could be seen but never entered. H.W. Longfellow wrote a haunting lyric on the subject of Fata-Morganas.
Danton, during the session of September 5, moved that the Sections should hold two large meetings per week, and that the men should be paid a wage for the time spent there.
The various Sibyls (there were many, from Spain to Jerusalem and over several centuries) often gave their prophecies in a fit a violent madness.
The port of Toulon, a city east of Marseilles with strong royalist sympathies, surrendered to the English on August 28, 1793 and was immediately occupied by British, Spanish and exiled French royalist forces. Two weeks later, the central government laid siege to the town. Generals Carteaux and Doppet were unsuccessful in attacking Toulon and were replaced (partly with the conivance of the young commander of an artillery battalion, Napoleon Bonaparte) by Dugommier. In an attack designed by Napoleon, the French occupied a fort that commanded the English ships in the harbor (December 17, 1793). The English abandoned Toulon the next day.
L'Orient, a first-rater of 120 guns, was the flagship of the French Fleet at the Battle of the Nile off the Egyptian coast in 1798. The English fleet under Admiral Nelson defeated the French, sinking l'Orient and 6 others ships of the line and reestablishing English control of the Mediterranean Sea.
The reference is to Paradise Lost, book I, where Milton has Satan stand and callHis legions, angel forms, who lay entrancedMilton may have visited Vallombrosa, a village and monastery in Tuscany, during the winter of 1637-1638.
Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades
High overarched embower . . . .
The Cabiri were minor fertility gods worshipped in the eastern Mediterranean. Their individual names are sometimes given as Axierus, Axiocersa, Axiocersus and Cadmilus; the last two, father and son, figure most prominently. Cabirii worship, especially on the island of Samothrace, was rumoured to be scandalous. Paphia is the name given to Aphrodite in her aspect as goddess of erotic love; the cult was centered in the island of Paphia.
When the English seized Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655, a few Spandiards and many of their slaves escaped to the mountains from which they made guerilla attacks on the English. The Spanish became known as "Maroons" probably from the Spanish word "cimmaron". Despite efforts to eliminate them, the Maroon population actually rose as slaves brought over by the English escaped. The Maroons continued to resist until about 1740.
French scientists did the basic research on the composition of iron, steel and cast-iron and the use and proportion of carbon in their manufacture. Berthollet, Monge and Vandermonde presented their findings in 1786. Steel was still very expensive to produce, however; the lowest cost and best quality material came from Sweden where iron ore and abundant coal for coke existed. The embargo enforced by the English on French ports prevented importation of foreign steel, and the techniques of Berthollet were put to work to produce small quantities of steel from French iron and coke.
This is one of the falsehoods Carlyle finds so objectionable in Prudhomme's Crimes of the Revolution:"Cavaignac and another deputy, Pinet," writes Prudhomme, "had ordered a box to be kept for them at the play-house at Bayonne on the evening they expected to arrive in that town. Entering very late, they found two soldiers, who had seen the box empty, placed in its front. These they ordered immediately to be arrested, and condemned them, for having outraged the national representation, to be guillotined on the next day, when they both were accordingly executed!"
— Letter XXXII, Memoirs of the Court at St Cloud
Spain negotiated a separate peace with France which was ratified in the Treaty of Bale, July 22, 1795. Spain forswore its alliance with England, recognized the Republic, and ceded various territories, including Haiti, to France.
These are all authors of questionable historic narratives.
- Mendez Pinto was a Portuguese who wrote of his 20-year voyage to India, Japan and Africa, during which he was "five times shipwrecked, thirteen times taken captive, and seventeen times sold as a slave. "
- Baron Münchäusen's memoirs gave a name to the psychological syndrome known as "factitious disorder."
- Cagliostro, real name Joseph Balsamo, was the most famous charlaton of the Age of Reason and has been described as an "arch-quack".
- George Psalmanazar was an English literary imposter who gained fame with his Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa (1704), which he made of whole cloth, even going to the trouble of inventing a fictitious language for the islanders.
"Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin" were the words written on the wall of the Babylonian king Belshazzar. The words, Aramaic, mean literally something like "counted and counted, weighed and divided". The prophet Daniel interpreted them to mean that Belshazzar's works had been evaluated and found wanting; and that his kingdom would be divided. (See the book of Daniel, Chap. 5.)
The Aztec emperor Montezuma I, during a year of extreme drouth (1450?), is supposed to have declared "the gods are thirsty" and sacrificed 20000 victims to appease the rain god Tialoc. The legends of Montezuma became the basis of much Spanish, French and English literature in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Anatole France used Camille's words as the title of a 1912 novel dealing with the Terror.
Camille had suggested Saint-Just held his head as if it were the Host at a celebration of Holy Communion. Saint-Just supposes that Camille might be like Saint Denis, who, after his execution is said to have walked some distance with his head in his hands.
I'm sure it's unrelated, but Delacroix built a church in Paris called Saint-Denis-du-Saint-Sacrement some 40 years later.
In Book II of the Odyssey, "Long-suffering Ulysses" tells of his visit to Hades where he has a poignant interview with his dead mother. Gades, the harbor of Cadiz, was the farthest the ancients sailed from the Mediterranean.
Hoity-toity is an adjective describing thoughtless, giddy behavior. It comes from an English dialect word "hoit" — to act the fool. Carlyle seems to use it in the sense of "topsy-turvy". It is most often used today in the sense of "pretentious".
E. Coittant was a prisoner in the Luxembourg in 1794. Some of his recollections are included in Mémoires sur les Prisons. It is unclear to me why Carlyle chooses to spell the name "Coitant", which is the third person plural past perfect of the Latin verb "coito". There may be a pun here; I don't know.
The Sanhedrin (from Greek synedrion) was a Jewish council or court, usually of 71 men, consisting of priests, scribes and elders. Jesus was tried before a Sanhedrin, as were His disciples John and Peter; Saint Stephen; and the apostle Paul. This form of tribunal is supposed to be ancient (it is mentioned in Numbers 11) but probably became permanent under the Maccabees.
Oliver Cromwell, urging his company across a stream at the first battle of Edgehill in 1642, is said to have exhorted them, "Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry."
At the end of the English Civil Wars, there was conflict between the mainly Presbyterian Parliament and the Army. On December 16, 1648, Col. Thomas Pride, on the orders of Gen. Ireton, drew up his regiment around the doors of the House of Commons and arrested 150 members most antagonistic towards the Army; these members were thereafter excluded from the House.
Aeolus was a minor Greek god whose charge was the keeping of the winds. He would release them on the order of the greater gods, usually to cause storm or ship-wreck. Aeolus kept the winds imprisoned in a cave or hall on an island near Sicily. The closely-confined gales created a place of proverbial noise and turmoil.
The painter Apelles is said to have driven himself to distraction trying to depict the foam on Alexander's horse. He threw his brush at the picture, accidentally creating just the effect he wanted.
Rachel, the wife of Jacob (later known as Israel), was jealous of her sister, Leah (also Jacob's wife) who had borne him 3 sons (Leah eventually gave him 5 sons and a daughter) while Rachel remained childless. She whined about the situation in Genesis, Chapter 30: "And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?"
There is a famous drawing by James Gillray of Barras being entertained by Thérésa Tallien and Josephine Beauharnais (the future Empress) dancing naked behind a translucent screen.
This phrase was replaced with "it has flown victorious, winged with rage" in later editions, probably because of what Carlyle found about the history of Vengeur after the first edition. See Carlyle's note at the end of Volume 3, Book V, Chapter 7.
In England, the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 was considered a bulwark of constitutional freedom. It provided a fixed period between the arrest of a person and his or her appearance before a magistrate competent to judge wether the prisoner had been properly detained. The law contained a provision that allowed Parliament to suspend it during times of internal unrest.
William Pitt, faced in 1794 political pressure from England's allies in Europe to suppress societies of French sympathizers. At the same time there was internal agitation for Parliamentary reform which would probably have destroyed his governing Whig coalition. (Pitt began his career as a reformer in the then-opposition party; his views changed somewhat when he came into government.) He asked Parliament to suspend Habeas Corpus, which it did May 23, 1794. The Act remained suspended until July 1, 1795; and periods of suspension were frequent until 1803.
In February, 1797, Pitt ordered the Bank of England to stop making payments in hard currency in order to conserve cash money for the war against France. It was an extreme and unpopular measure.
"Friends of the People" was a society of liberal Whigs interested in Parliamentary reform. It was started by Members of Parliament in April, 1792 and grew to 87 chapters by the end of that year. Thomas Muir, an Edinburgh lawyer, organized a national convention of the Scottish chapters; for his pains, Muir was arrested on charges of sedition. Defeated in Parliament and denigrated by Pitt's government as supporters of French republican nonsense, it fell apart in late 1793.
The term Chouan (Breton for "screech owl") was applied generally to the peasants who joined the Royalist rebellion in La Vendée. Originally it may have been a nickname of Jean Cottereau, one of the early leaders of the uprising; but by 1795 it referred to any of the non-noble rebels.
This is, of course a quote from The Tempest, Act IV, scene i, where Prospero explains to Ferdinand the scene that has gone before where the images of Ceres, Iris and Juno appear. It is very appropriate to the house of cards which Carlyle imagines the Jacobins to have been:You do look, my son, in a mov'd sort
As if you were dismay'd: be cheerful, sir:
Our revels now are ended: these our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind: We are such stuff
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The English call the war of 1756-1763 "The Seven-Years' War". In the United States it is known as the last "French and Indian War". The Treaty of Paris which ended the war in 1763 cost France most of its American colonies (notably Canada).
The war found France, Austria, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and (after 1761) Spain; pitted agains Prussia, Great Britain, and Hanover. Battles were fought in Europe, India and North America. It's causes were mainly unfinished issues of the War of Austrian Succession which ended with the Treay of Aachen in 1748.
In the European action—of most interest to Carlyle—the Prussians under Frederick the Great took then lost Bohemia; defended the possession of Silesia; lost Berlin to, and retook it from, the Russians (Russia made a separate peace in the Treaty of St. Petersburg of 1762). The bulk of the casualties of the war were in this theatre.
Sorel, the mistress of Charles VII, is credited with bringing the king out of lethargy and inspiring him to conquer Normandy and bring it under the French crown. Carlyle here contrasts Sorel with a Louis XV's mistress, Mme. Pompadour under whose ascendency the military defeats of the Seven Years' War occurred.
Baboeuf was one of the last leaders of the diminished Jacobins after 9 Thermidor. He continued to agitate for an economic settlement that took into account the poverty and hunger still endemic in France. His song, Mourant de faim, mourant de froid (dying of hunger, dying of cold) was an early version of the Wobbly songs of Joe Hill. Baboeuf was accused of plotting an insurrection for 22 Floréal, year IV and was arrested on the 21st along with Darthé, Buonarroti, Lindet, Amar, Vadier and Drouet. Baboeuf and Darthé were executed the next autumn.
On 18 Fructidor, near the end of Year V, General Augereau at the head of a guard assigned to "protect" the legislature, instead purged it of 130 royalist and conservative members. This action was blatantly unconstitutional and fatally undermined the constitution of 1795.
Only a few weeks after Augereau's purge of the legislature, a coup organized by Napoleon, Sieyés and Talleyrand overthrew the constitution of 1795 and, effectively, the First Republic. The short-lived Consulate was established, a government which endured until Napoleon finished consolidating his power. 19 Brumaire, year VII, marks the end of the French Revolution.
At the time Carlyle wrote, Louis-Philippe was in the mild part of his reign which extended from 1830 to 1848. He came to power after the July Revolution which forced Charles X (formerly comte d'Artois, Louis XVI's brother) to abdicate. Louis-Philippe styled himself "King of the French" rather than King of France, and he ruled unpretentiously. Louis-Philippe was the son of Philip Égalité, the duc d'Orleans, who plays such a large part in this story.