Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive
But to be young was very heaven!
As the heads fell during the Terror, he wrote:
Domestic carnage, now filled the whole year
With feast-days, old men from the chimney-nook,
The maiden from the busom of her love,
The mother from the cradle of her babe,
The warrior from the field – all perished, all –
Friends, enemies, of all parties, ages, ranks,
Head after head, and never heads enough
For those that bade them fall.
The French Revolution was truly the end of western civilisation. It was the end of monarchy and aristocratic privilege and the beginning of democracy, but it was also the beginning of totalitarianism and the killing of large numbers of human beings by bureaucracy and fanaticism. Only the Nazis and Communists would rival Robespierre in the blood lust and crimes against humanity.
All too often, we think we can impose freedom by force as institutional religion has imposed “truth”. France still lives by the ideology in its weight of bureaucracy and langue de bois, reflected by the speech of men of the Church.
I fail to understand those who worship Napoleon under the pretext that he created modern Europe and a rational code of law. He was little other than the first modern dictator who conquered and bullied until he lost fairly on the battlefield of Waterloo. Power corrupts and no one can rule without guilt.
Certainly, the old French monarchy was exhausted and the Aristocracy was corrupt and self-serving. The Church was in a mess like everywhere else in the so-called Age of Reason. I live in France and Europe, and I fear for the future. They are no longer killing people. Thank goodness! But the soul of this continent has died. May we learn from history!