Mr. Burke's animated description of the late Queen of France
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 splendour, 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 live to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men; in a nation of men of honour, 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. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex; that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, winch kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom.
The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone! It is gone-that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage while it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled courage while it mitigated ferocity; which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which, vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.