Página:Imbert de Saint-Amand Marie Antoinette.djvu/17

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PARIS AT THE BEGINNING OF 1792. 11

underneath their togas. The kings of tragedy, threatened by their political adversaries, have real poniards wherewith to defend themselves. Les Horaces, Brutus, La Mort ole Uésar, Barnevelt, Guil- laume Tell, Charles IX., are plays containing in each tirade allusio11s which inflame the boxes and the pit. The theatre is a tilting-ground. If the royalists are there in force, they cause the orchestra to play their favorite airs: _C'harmante Gabrielle, Vice I-Ienri Quatre.’ 0.’ Richard, 0.’ mon roi.’ The revolutionists protest, and sing their own chosen melody, the Qa ira. Sometimes they come to blows, swords are drawn, and, the play over, elegant women are dragged through the gutters. There is a general outbreak of insults and violence. The journals play the chief part in this universal madness. Some- times the press is eloquent, but it is oftener ribald or atrocious. To borrow an expression from Mon- taigne, “it lowers itself even to the worthless esteem of extreme inferiority.” The beautiful French tongue, once so correct and pure, is no longer recognizable. Vulgar words fall thick as hail. To the language of the Academy has suc- ceeded the jargon of the markets.

What a swarm! what a swirl! How noisy, how restless, is this revolutionary Paris! VVhat excited crowds fill the clubs, the Assembly, the Palais Royal, the gambling-houses, and the tumultuous faubourgs! Riotous gatherings, popular deputa- tions, detachments of cavalry, companies of foot-