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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/231

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others could not restrain their wrath. It is easy to understand how greatly men of sense were shocked by the insolence which his isolation evinced. There was one extenuating circumstance: Lord Clancharlie had never had any brains. Every one agreed on that point.


It is disagreeable to see one's fellow-creature obstinate. Imitations of Regulus are not popular, and public opinion holds them in some derision. Stubborn people are so many reproaches, and we have a right to laugh at them. Besides, to sum up, are these perversities, these rugged notches, really virtues? Is there not a good deal of ostentation in these excessive parades of self-abnegation and honour? Are they not mere show and pretence? Why this pretence of solitude and exile? To carry nothing to extremes is the wise man's maxim. Oppose if you choose, blame if you will, but decently,—crying out all the while, "Long live the King!" The greatest of virtues is common-sense. What falls ought to fall, what succeeds ought to succeed. Providence acts advisedly; it crowns him who deserves the crown. Do you pretend to know better than Providence? When matters are settled; when one régime has replaced another; when success is the scale in which truth and falsehood are weighed,—then doubt is no longer possible. The honest man goes over to the winning side; and although it may happen to serve his fortune and his family, he does not allow himself to be influenced by that consideration, but thinking only of the public weal, holds out his hand heartily to the conqueror.

What would become of the State if no one consented to serve it? Would not everything come to a standstill?