14 July 2018

Quote for Bastille Day -- the Reign of Terror

"Why, it was like reading about France and the French, before the ever-memorable and blessed Revolution, which swept a thousand years of such villainy away in one swift tidal-wave of blood -- one:  a settlement of that hoary debt in the proportion of half a drop of blood for each hogshead of it that had been pressed by slow tortures out of that people in the weary stretch of ten centuries of wrong and shame and misery the like of which was not to be mated but in hell.  There were two 'Reigns of Terror,' if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the 'horrors' of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with life-long death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heartbreak?  What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake?  A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror -- that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves."

Mark Twain


Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

I've never read this particular quotation before, but Twain is exactly right. Aux armes, citoyens!

14 July, 2018 05:33  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It's from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. There's a lot of good social and religious commentary in that book.

14 July, 2018 05:41  
Anonymous Professor Taboo said...

Well done Infidel, well done Mark Twain (one of my all-time favorite American novelists), and well done France or the common French -- despite some of the atrocities some committed once victory was achieved. But they certainly furthered the cause of "more refined" (not perfect) democracy in the West.

Infidel, did you know that Mark Twain was a staunch anti-Imperialist? And I'm not referring to the European Empires of exploitation. I'm referring to the U.S. becoming an Empire instead of a true Republic. That part of American history -- during Twain's lifetime -- was INCREDIBLY pivotal for us. Obviously we only became like the juggernauts of Europe, sadly, and sacrificed MANY of our core values and principles our nation was founded upon, all for the sake of mercantilism and global expansion.

Anyway, LOVE Twain! One of my favorites was/is "The Innocents Abroad." Such a GREAT portrayal of acute American tunnel-vision of the time, not too unlike today. Hahahahaha!

14 July, 2018 07:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Professor: I'm not surprised he was an anti-imperialist -- he thought far outside the box by the standards of his time. He seemed to have something of a blind spot about the Indians, though.

He was certainly among our greatest writers. Connecticut Yankee and The Prince and the Pauper are great books for anyone who wants to get a true feel for life in medieval times -- more effective than most histories.

14 July, 2018 09:18  
Blogger Adam said...

England was wise (even though the monarchy never intended it) to wean its way to a democracy with a figure-head powerless monarch. France got more autocratic (early French kings were rather weak and sometimes overshadowed by their own vassals) as time progressed. Never a good move.

14 July, 2018 20:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Adam: True. Russia went the same way as France, with even worse results.

15 July, 2018 01:54  

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