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Response to malaise (Reply #18)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 04:30 PM

24. More French Revolution Parallels....

....

Like the British revolution and like the revolution in the United States, the French revolution can be traced back to the ambitious absurdities of monarchy, The schemes of aggrandisement, the aims and designs of the Grand Monarch, necessitated an expenditure upon war equipment throughout Europe out of all proportion to the taxable capacity of the age. And even the splendours of monarchy were enormously costly, measured by the productivity of the time. In France, just as in Britain and in America, the first resistance was made not to the monarch as such and to his foreign policy as such, nor with any clear recognition of these things as the roots of the trouble, but merely to the inconveniences and charges upon the individual life caused by them. The practical taxable capacity of France must have been relatively much less than that of England because of the various exemptions of the nobility and clergy. The burthen resting directly upon the common people was heavier. That made the upper classes the confederates of the court instead of the antagonists of the court as they were in England, and so prolonged the period of waste further ; but when at last the bursting-point did come, the explosion was more violent and shattering.

During the years of the American War of Independence there were a few signs of any impending explosion in France. There was much misery among the lower classes, much criticism. and satire, much outspoken liberal thinking, but there was little to indicate that the thing as a whole, with all its customs, usages, and familiar discords, might not go on for an indefinite time. It was consuming beyond its powers of production, but as yet only the inarticulate classes were feeling the pinch. Gibbon, the historian, knew France well; Paris was as familiar to him as London; but there is no suspicion to be detected in the passage we have quoted that days of political and social dissolution were at hand. No doubt the world abounded in absurdities and injustices, yet nevertheless, from the point of view of a scholar and a gentleman, it was fairly comfortable, and it seemed fairly secure.

...

http://www.oldandsold.com/articles32n/history-line-57.shtml


That H.G. Wells could write....

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