Figures of the Revolution

Figures of the Revolution

Figures of the Revolution

Figures of the Revolution

Excerpt

A year or two ago I paid a visit to one of our most famous statesmen. This distinguished veteran, still as vigorous as ever, had withdrawn somewhat disdainfully from public life. He was at last able to look back with satisfaction upon his life's work. At one period in his career he had fiercely championed the cause of the men of the Revolutionary era, who, he said, must either be praised or cursed "en bloc," a remark that has remained famous. To him and many of his generation, these men of whom Michelet, Quinet, Lamartine and even Thiers, wrote in ecstatic terms, were divinely inspired; to others, on the contrary, they appeared as shadowy forms and then but as demons belched forth from hell and not worthy of the slightest consideration.

The old politician, who had clung stubbornly to his convictions on this subject, surprised me when he said: "You have upset my ideas on the men of the Revolution; they were people like ourselves and were often liable to grave errors of judgment." I was not sure whether he was a little annoyed with me nor was I certain whether I should consider myself responsible--the idea was certainly flattering--for this change of front. One must have experience in rousing men to action and of ruling them in order to obtain a sound judg-

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