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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/237

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LORD CLANCHARLIE.

of the aristocracy, for that of the enemy, the people. This faithful man was a traitor. It is true that he was a traitor to the stronger side and faithful to the weaker; it is true that the camp repudiated by him was the camp of the conqueror, and the camp adopted by him the camp of the vanquished; it is true that by his treason he lost everything,—his political privileges and his home, his title and his country. He gained nothing but ridicule, he attained no benefit but exile. But what does all this prove? Merely that he was a fool. Plainly a fool and a traitor in one. Let a man be as great a fool as he likes, provided he does not set a bad example. Fools need only be civil, and in consideration thereof they may aim at being the basis of monarchies.

The narrowness of Clancharlie's mind was incomprehensible. His eyes were still dazzled by the phantasmagoria of the revolution. He had allowed himself to be taken in by the republic,—yes, and cast out. He was a disgrace to his country; the attitude he assumed was downright felony. Absence was an insult. He held aloof from the public happiness as from the plague. In his voluntary banishment he merely sought a refuge from the national rejoicing. Over the widespread gladness at the revival of the monarchy, denounced by him as a lazaretto, he was the black flag. What! could he thus look askance at order re-established, a nation exalted, and a religion restored? Why cast a shadow over such serenity? Take umbrage at England's contentment! Must he be the one blot in the clear blue sky? Protest against a nation's will; refuse his Yes to the universal consent,—it would be disgusting, if it were not the part of a fool.

Clancharlie could not have taken into account the fact that it did not matter if one had taken the wrong turn with Cromwell, so long as one found one's way