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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/282

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

sixth a goddess holding a sword in one hand and an olive branch in the other, with the scroll, Bello et pace. Her father, James II. was blunt and cruel; she was brutal. At the same time she was really mild au fond,—a contradiction which only appears such. A fit of anger metamorphosed her. Heat sugar, and it will boil.

Anne was popular. England likes female rulers. France excludes them. Why? One reason is apparent at once; perhaps there is really no other. With English historians Elizabeth embodies grandeur; Anne, good-nature. As they will; be it so. But there is nothing delicate in the reigns of these women. The lines are heavy. It is gross grandeur and gross good-nature. As to their immaculate virtue, England is tenacious of it, and we are not going to oppose the idea. Elizabeth was a virgin tempered by Essex; Anne, a wife complicated by Bolingbroke.


III.

One idiotic habit of the people is to attribute to the king what they do themselves. They fight: whose is the glory? The king's. They pay: whose is the generosity? The king's. Then the people love him for being so rich. The king receives a crown from the poor, and gives them back a farthing. How generous he is! The colossus which is really only the pedestal contemplates the pygmy which is really the statue. How great this myrmidon is! He is on my back. A dwarf has an excellent way of making himself taller than a giant: it is to perch himself on his shoulders. But that the giant should allow it, there is the wonder; and that he should admire the height of the dwarf, there is the folly. Ah, the simplicity of mankind!