“It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in—glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendor, and joy. Oh! what a Revolution! And what a heart must I have to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever.”〖3. H. C., xxiv, 212-213.〗

Thus Burke proudly looked down on the miseries of France, while Voltaire had admiringly looked up to the prosperities of England. And we who come more than a century later, while recognizing their preeminence as men of letters, may perceive that as thinkers they were perhaps a little too near their objects. Burke’s arguments are always admirable but unconvincing; while Voltaire’s often justified praise of the English reposes on an obvious failure to understand them.

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