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 M.A.'s favorite operas/music? 
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Post M.A.'s favorite operas/music?
I am an American and love American History and obviously French history (Marie Antoinette More than anything else.) That said, I love watching operas that American figures watched such as Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. I don't know, for me it is like, if I ever met them I would be able to say we saw the same movie. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, now I feel the same way about Louis XVI and most importantly M.A. Does anyone Know what her favorite operas/ music was? I would love to feel like I am listening or watching the same story they did.

Please list anything you know. I know I am asking experts after my short time here.

-Mike D.

Total Royalist. Long live Marie Antoinette!

Sun Feb 18, 2007 12:14 pm
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Marie-Antoinette liked very much the musics of Gluck (her harpsichord professor when she was young in Schöbrunn), Saliéri and Grétry Particularly. Mozart too, but less than Gluck her favourite :D

Indeed she loved opera too...but I don't know which opera...

Quelle grandeur!

Sun Feb 18, 2007 12:21 pm
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Thank you again Louis-Charles

I am looking for Christoph Willibald Von Gluck right now, according to your advice.

God Bless
-Mike D.

Total Royalist. Long live Marie Antoinette!

Sun Feb 18, 2007 12:44 pm
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I am reading right now that this was M.A.'s teacher when she was a child in Vienna and that he booked 6 stage shows with the "opera managers in Paris." This has brought a new part to my study. I think you know what I mean as an M.A. enthusiast. Thank you once again.

Total Royalist. Long live Marie Antoinette!

Sun Feb 18, 2007 12:57 pm
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Yes I understand well :wink:

I love Gluck's musics too!

Quelle grandeur!

Sun Feb 18, 2007 1:12 pm
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She also loved the music of Saint Georges.

te voir encore me rappelle à la vie

Sun Feb 18, 2007 3:11 pm
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Some of Gluck's works, Orfeo, Alceste, Psyche, Iphigenie. I've read M.A. gave a 'mild welcome' to Piccini and his La Buona Figliola. I am reading Beaumarchais The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro which were controversial at the time and Marie-Antoinette performed as 'Rosine' in The Barber of Seville, at her theatre in the Petit Trianon. Other performances at that theatre are posted in the topic 'Trianon' in Marie-Antoinette on this forum. :D

Sun Feb 18, 2007 4:25 pm
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Post Marie Antoinette's favourite music
Marie Antoinette was particularly fond of the music of the Wallon (Belgian) composer André Modeste Grétry, who was from Liège. There is a DVD which is really quite charming called "la petite musique de marie Antoinette" which was recorded in the very theatre where MA performed plays and opéra comique, next to the Petit Trianon at Versailles. This DVd includes period music by Grétry and Gossec, which MA listened to performances of. In fact this very composer got MA and the Royal Family indirectly into trouble as the orchestra played the piece by Grétry entitled "Richard Coeur de Lion" at the famous October 1789 banquet given at Versailles in honour of the Flanders regiment by the National Guards. This piece was seen by the Revolutionaries as a "royalist hymn", especially the chorus "Richard, O mon Roi". The music apparently greatly moved the King and Queen that evening but it was no doubt more the show of solidarity by the assembled company than the music itself that brought on that show of emotion. As ever MA lived to regret it....revolutionary spies were posted everywhere, including at that banquet, where the "cocarde tricolore" was supposedly trampled underfoot.

"Fidelité et constance, sans espoir de récompense."

Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:23 pm
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A very complete description.

I forgive all my enemies the harm they have done me.

Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:43 pm

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Post Re: M.A.'s favorite operas/music?
Bringing up a very old thread...
La Reine is featured on a new Haydn music CD including a track named for her (Symphony #85):
This looks interesting!

Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:30 am
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Post Re: M.A.'s favorite operas/music?
Ironically, one of her favorite tunes became the source for the bloodthirsty revolutionary tune "Ca Ira":

The music of this song was born first: in 1786, Bécourt, violinist at the Beaujolais theater composed a pretty contradance which he called the National
Carillon. Queen Marie-Antionette loved this air which she often played on the harpsichord.

(originally on _, now gone)

Ca Ira

(it will go). Called emphatically Le Carillon National of the French Revolution (1790). It went to the tune of the Carillon National, which Marie Antoinette was for ever strumming on her harpsichord. ... a-ira.html

Jim Chevallier
North Hollywood, CA

Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:40 am
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Post Re: M.A.'s favorite operas/music?
Later taught to her poor son along with the sing at the top of his voice in the courtyard of the Temple prison

"Fidelité et constance, sans espoir de récompense."

Sun Sep 06, 2009 4:32 pm
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Post Re: M.A.'s favorite operas/music?
This leads me to a question: I always read about the "Ca ira"; but what was it, exactly?
Sorry for my ignorance :oops:

Vera incessu patuit dea

Thu Sep 10, 2009 5:39 pm
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Post Re: M.A.'s favorite operas/music?
A revolutionary rallying song, brutal and coarse. Basically it means everything will be ok and the aristocrats will hang from the "lanternes", which was the name for Parisian lampposts which served as potences.

"Fidelité et constance, sans espoir de récompense."

Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:59 pm
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Post Re: M.A.'s favorite operas/music?
This quite lengthy post should on my Sundries site:

But I'm a bit behind in updating that, so here's more than you probably ever wanted to know about the "Ca Ira":
- SONGS: The "Ça Ira"

One of the most bloodthirsty songs of the French Revolution appears to be
have been inspired by a phrase from the less-than-sanguinary Ben Franklin, and
sung to one of Marie-Antoinette's favorite melodies. Such were the
contradictions of the time...

The title, in its simplest translation, means "That Will Go". But a common
exchange in French, as in many Latin languages, is "How's it going?" "It's
going" ("Comment-ça va" "Ça va."), meaning more closely "How are things doing?"
"They're doing OK." The future version implies "they will go OK", that is,
"they will succeed'. With this, there is a hint of the reflexive phrase "Ça me
va bien", that is, "That suits me" (literally, "That goes me well") or
"That's fine with me", or in the future tense, "That will suit me" or "That will be
fine with me".

Supposedly the title comes from a phrase, possibly quoted by Lafayette, that
Franklin repeated after several battles: "Ça ira... Ça tiendra" ("It will
succeed... It will hold.") It would make sense for the phrase to come from a
foreigner's un-idiomatic French; the more typical French construction would be
"Ça va aller" (literally, "it is going to go").

"The tune was taken from the *Carillon National* (air de contredanse),
composed by Bécourt. It is said that the expression is derived from a saying of
Franklin (1706-90), who, when asked what would become of the American Republic,
answered, "Ca ira, ca ira." - *Chronique de Paris*, May 4, 1792, p. 499.
Franklin's words are given as "Ca ira, ca tiendra" (That will succeed, that will
last, in G. de Cassagnac's *Histoire des Girondins*, etc. (E. Dentu) vol. I,
p. 373."
"Famous Sayings and Their Authors" (88)

Another source tells the tale a little differently:

"The title and the theme of the refrain of this song were inspired by a
linguistic tic of Benjamin Franklin's. The great man was gently mocked, having,
during the war of American Independence, never ceased repeating mechanically,
as if to give himself courage: "It'll work out! It'll work out!"

"The music of this song was born first: in 1786, Bécourt, violinist at the
Beaujolais theater composed a pretty contradance which he called the National
Carillon. Queen Marie-Antionette loved this air which she often played on the


Some sources say that a streetsinger named Ladré wrote lyrics around the
first phrase, set to the tune of "Le Carillon National" . Originally, these were
simply martial in tone, but the Parisians then improvised new lyrics which
included the song's most memorable line: "Les aristocrates à la lanterne",
which has often been translated as "The aristocrats to the lamppost". Both nouns,
however, require further explanation (for which see below). When Edith Piaf
- probably the one modern singer most qualified to sing the song - sang it in
a Sacha Guitry film ("« Si Versailles m’était conté »"), she used yet
different lyrics, with overtones of more recent history.

Wikipedia offers both the original and then the "sans-culottes" versions of
the lyrics, along with decent English translations (the original was quickly
dated - Lafayette's popularity for instance went up and down - and today could
use extensive footnoting.)


The version Edith Piaf sang in "Si Versailles m'était conté":

_ (

clearly was rewritten by someone with subsequent history in mind (still
using the same unbeatable refrain):

"Here it is three hundred years they've promised us
They would grant us bread,
Here it is three hundred years they've partied
And kept whores
Here it is three hundred years that we are crushed
Enough of lies and phrases,
We no longer want to die of hunger.

Ah! Ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
The aristocrats to the lantern.
Ah! Ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
The aristocrats, we'll hang them!

Here it is three hundred years they make war
To the sound of fife and drum,
While letting us die miserably.
That could not last forever.
Here it is, three hundred years that they take our men
THat they treat us like beasts of burden,
That could not last forever.


Your punishment is being readied
Because the people are taking back their rights.
You really took advantage of us.
That is all finished, sir kings,
You can no longer count on our heads
We're going to treat ourselves to yours,
Because we are the ones who will make the law.


Musically, the song (which can be heard on the Wikipedia page) is most
remarkable for its refrain. The verses, though they have a suitably martial air,
are set to a fairly straightforward marching tune. The refrain, however, has a
staccato, hammering rhythm that would not be out of place in some of today's
more aggressive pop music (it also, to use an obscure reference, has some of
the raw energy of the Ramayana Monkey Chant, a ritual chant in which a crowd
of Balinese villagers mimic the cries of Hanuman's army of attacking
monkeys.) The sound value of the title phrase also adds to the effect: after the
first sibilant consonant, all the other sounds (including the Parisian 'R') are
made with an open mouth, so that the phrase almost becomes a primitive,
pre-verbal shout.

Otherwise, there's that vivid and to-the-point phrase: "Les aristocrates à
la lanterne".

An English reader might reasonably think (and many no doubt have) that this
meant to hang nobles from lampposts. The image is reinforced by the fact that
many modern lampposts have a gibbet-like arm extending at a right angle from
the post itself. But most late French eighteenth century streetlamps
literally were, as in the French word, lanterns - lanterns hung (conveniently enough,
when one wanted to hang someone) from ropes across each street. A
contemporary English source makes this plain:

"Lanterne, s.f. the lantern. A mode of punishment hastily adopted by the
people at the beginnning of the french revolution; which was, by hanging such
persons as were obnoxious to the cause with the ropes from which the
street-lanterns were suspended.."
William Dupré, "Lexicographia-neologica Gallica: The Neological French
Dictionary", 1801 (161)
( ... :1789-1801)

A period image of such a lamp can be seen in Mercier's "Costume des moeurs
et de l'esprit" (on Gallica) - see the second image after page 14. This image
shows one rope hung across the street and another holding the lamp from it.
Presumably the lantern was lowered and the rope holding it put around the
person's neck to hang them - so, strictly speaking, they were hung by or in the
place of the lantern, rather than from it.

In Paris, the closest thing to a lamppost at the time would have been the
few lamps attached to the walls, somewhat like this one in Lyons:


Was Gillroy imagining or remembering one of these when he portrayed a
"lanterne" in his "The Zenith of French Glory; – The Pinnacle of Liberty. Religion,
Justice, Loyalty & all the Bugbears of Unenlightened Minds, Farewell!"?

( ... ges/33.jpg)

Hester Lynch Piozzi, who might have known something of Paris, also used the
term "lantern-post" in referring to this process:

"an incensed multitude were about to hang him at the lantern-post for
opposing their rebellious and sacrilegious projects, crying *A la lanterne!* a la
lanterne* with him..."
Hester Lynch Piozzi, "British Synonymy: Or, An Attempt at Regulating the
Choice of Words in Familiar Conversation" (17)

Though more than one such hanging was entirely improvised, some may have
occurred on an actual gibbet:

"The *lanterne de la Grève, a street-lamp hung against a gibbet, at the
corner of the *rue de la Vannerie*, and the *place de la Grève*, where several
summary executions took place." (The Abbot Maury apparently responded to the
threat of being hung from this by saying, "Well, and when you have hanged me to
the lamp, will you see any better there?") "Famous Sayings and Their

This gibbet might then be the "Streetlamp" referred to in this title: "Grand
deuil des fermiers-généraux ou Fête des patriotes du fauxbourg
Saint-Antoine, sur la suppression des entrées : pour être célébré le 8 mai 1791, sur les
débris de la Bastille, de-là au Champ de Mars, et ensuite au Réverbère
régénérateur, place de Grêve, où seront déposées les cendres des Barrières, avec un
marbre noir, portant ces mots: ci-gissent à-la-fois tous les maux de la
France, clergé, judicature, noblesse et finance"

"Great mourning for the tax farmers or Feast of the patriots of the faubourg
Saint-Antoine, on the elimination of entries [tax payments?]: to be
celebrated May 8, 1791, on the debris of the Bastille, from there to the Champ de
Mars, and then to the regenerating Streetlamp, place de Grêve, where the ashes
of the Barriers will be deposed, with a black marble stone, bearing these
words: here lies all at one all France's evils, clergy, judiciary, nobility and

Just as, in Revolutionary Paris, a streetlight did not generally imply a
lamppost, nor did the term "aristocrat" necessarily mean a noble:

"Aristocrate, s. m. aristocract. This term, which is entirely new to the
french language, implies a person attached from principle to a constitutional
aristocracy, and who is the partisan and defender of it." (Dupré, 22)

"the term aristocrat was applied to mark out and stigmatize every party
which aimed at destroying liberty and equality amongst the French people, and a
republican constitution; to the party of federalists who were for parcelling
out the state, and to all those who were suspected of joining the
counter-revolutionary party, from their wealth or connexions, or from the probability of
the loss they might sustain."

In other words, just as the terms "Communist" and "Fascist" have been
applied in recent decades to people who had no conscious association with the
movements referred to, "aristocrat" early became a catch-all term for anyone
thought to be opposed to the Revolution (whatever that meant at each given

Schama explains how far this contradiction could go:

"Increasingly such outsiders were identified by the treasonable epithet
"aristocrats", even when their actual origin was from the commons or when their
accuser was himself of noble birth. Conceivably then a *ci-devant* [formerly]
noble patriot could actually accuse a lowborn broker of being an "aristocrat"
just because, say, he had once worked for the General Farm." ("Citizens",

This may be one of the reasons many in subsequent generations have (however
vaguely) thought that most of those killed during the Revolution were nobles,
when in fact far more were commoners (if, by the standards described above,

The song survived several governments - according to the Wikipedia, the more
bloodthirsty version "survived past the Reign of Terror, and during the
Directory it became mandatory to sing it before shows. It was forbidden under the

What is worse, it was ultimately 'captured' by the English:

"Used as the Quick March of the 14th Regiment of Foot, which became The
Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire who attacked the French to it at the
battle of Famars and were awarded it as a battle honour and Regimental quick
march and is now adopted by the Yorkshire Regiment."

This mishap (and national embarrassment) is only part of the song's lore, of
which a few more samples follow.


One would think that singing this song under the Revolution would have been
a sure way to show civic spirit. Not necessarily....

"The Committee of Public Safety accused the inhabitants [of Calais] of an
Anglo-mania, and in the first paroxisms of their resentment, ordered Joseph Le
Bon, one of the most ferocious of their instruments of extermination, to visit
this guiltless town, and to re-organize the constituted authorities. In
general, during those days of cruelty and of mourning, the visit of a
Conventional Deputy was the same thing as a visit of the Public Executioner; and of all
the men who had distinguished themselves by unfeeling severities, Le Bon
stood foremost in the dismal catalogue. A time before his arrival at Calais, he
had perpetrated most horrible cruelties at Arras. The following anecdote will
sufficiently dilineate the fierceness of this man's character, Two young
ladies of Arras, neither of them twenty years of age, were practising on the
piano-forte on the morning when the news of the surrender of Valenciennes reached
that city: it happened unfortunately for them that Le Bon passed by their
window at the time. He listened attentively, and heard the music of Ca ira, a
well known popular air in France, and which, one would have imagined, would
have been a proof of their civism. Far different was the opinion of Le Bon.
These beautiful girls were arrested, tried, and condemned the next day; and,
notwithstanding their youth, innocence, and beauty, were executed on the
following morning for "playing on the piano on the day that unfavourable news
arrived, and thereby shewing that they rejoiced at the defeats of the Republic."

The atrocity of this action struck even the Jacobins with horror. It was
stated to the Revolutionary Tribunal, in their behalf, that Ca Ira was a
republican march, which had often animated their armies on the day of battle, and as
they had taken no share whatever in the political divisions of the Republic,
it was evident that they must have been well affected, since they were not
aware that their domestic occupations would undergo so severe an examination."
To these remarks Le Bon replied, that the most popular air might be
converted into a vehicle of mischief, and that the time which these young persons had
selected for playing Ca Ira was a proof of their evil dispositions. "They
played Ca Ira," said he, "not for the French, but for the Austrian army. They
had heard of the unfortunate surrender of Valenciennes, and therefore they
meant by Ca Ira, that the Austrians should advance, and capture more of our
fortresses. If they had not this in their minds, why did they not play the Reveil
du Peuple ?" Such were the arguments which induced the jurors to condemn to
death these unfortunate young persons, and so delicate was the thread on
which human existence was suspended during those moments of wretchedness and
terror. Indeed, the effect was so violent on the minds of the people, that the
name of Liberty became odious to them, and a vast majority sighed for the return
of that ancient despotism, under which they had lived secure, though
degraded as men."
Henry Redhead Yorke, "Letters from France in 1802" (15-16)

The 1911 Brittanica says that Le Bon was so severe in his actions that he
was condemned to death by a revolutionary tribunal "and executed at Amiens on
the 24th Vendemiaire in the year IV. (l0th October 1795). Whatever Le Bon's
offences, his condemnation was to a great extent due to the violent attacks of
one of his political enemies, Armand Guffroy; and it is only just to remember
that it was owing to his courage that Cambrai was saved from falling into the
hands of the Austrians."


A visitor to Philadelphia described (March 25, 1793) a very profitable
application of this revolutionary song:

"I would just inform you that a "new entertainment" has lately been
exhibited here. -It consists of two figures representing men as large as life called
*Automatons*. By means of the works and springs within their bodies they
perform the most remarkable feats of dexterity and activity immaginable and excel
in agility any rope or wire dancer I have ever beheld - No person is near
them during their performance nor do they touch anything except a bar of iron to
which they suspend themselves by their arms and over which they play their
pranks. The method used to set them in motion is by winding up [the] spring
within them as you would those of a watch or clock and this must be done twice
during the performance which last [sic] just one hour.

One of these figures is inte[ended] to represent an *Aristocrat* and the
other a *Sans Culotte*. The former cons[sistently] refuses to dance the tune of
the "Ca Ira" or the "Carmagnole" which as you know are Republican airs. In
short they so nearly resemble human nature in looks, gesture, in attitude and
action that as a person wittily observed they only want to be animated with
some of the fire Prometheus stole from heaven to make them perfect men in every
respect. To a Philosophic or reflecting mind I consider these artificial men
as one of the greatest curiosities ever exhibited in this County as they are
a remarkable and striking proof to what an amazing extent the powers of
Philosophical mechanism may be carried. They are the work or production of the
celebrated and ingenious Mr. Blanchard well known to the world for his *airy
flights* and Balloon *expeditions*. He intends shortly to remove to New York
with them after the shew is over here but the crowds of people that still
continue to visit them is immense. I suppose on an average take one evening with
another he receives a hundred dollars every night.-"

A note gives the bill for this show:

"A New Entertainment
By Mess. L'Egalite.
The citizen Sans Culotte and Mr. Aristocrat will have the honor to exhibit
their talents before the public on Tuesday the 4th of this month, and will
continue so to do every evening when there is no play. The exhibition which will
not last above an our, will begin at 8 o'clock precisely, at the Long Room
under Mr. Poor's Young Ladies Academy, in Cherry Alley between Third and
Fourth Streets, No 9 near the Synagogue and the sign of the White Lamb.
Entrance half a dollar.
These two Automata (the only ones which ever apppeared on the Continent)
exceed all that has been exhibited of this kind in Paris. If they give
satisfaction to the Public, the views of the author, who remains unknown, will be
answered.' *General Advertiser*
A letter from Ezekiel Forman to John Rockhill, quoted in "Americans and
Politics in Philadelphia, 1794" in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and
Biography (X:185-186)

(Part of this account can also be found in Peter Dr. Thompson's "Rum Punch &
Revolution: Taverngoing & Public Life in Eighteenth Century Philadelphia",
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998 (202) )

The Ca Ira was probably not often sung in New York, especially in later
years, but in one instance at least it served to express part of a shared
anti-English bond:

"Ten years [November 20, 1793] had now passed since we had witnessed the
embarkation of the no longer hostile British troops, and the slow and dispirited
retreat of the fleets of England, reluctantly turning their prows from the
beautiful harbour they had entered in triumph. It was the tenth twenty-fifth of
November on which the inhabitants of New-York had celebrated the day of the
departure of their invaders and the return of their exiles. The day was
devoted, as usual, to rejoicing. The guns from the batteries were echoed by the
ships of war of the French republic visiting the harbour; and Citizen Genet,
the first ambassador from republican France, waiting on the governor, the same
who had guided the state through the scenes of war, delivered an address, in
which we remember this passage: "The same all-powerful arm which delivered
your country from tyranny is now manifesting its& as the protector of the
French people." That same evening, *The Grecian Daughter* was repeated. We had
joined in the enthusiasm of the day, we had witnessed the scene at the
governor's house in Pearl Street, we now witnessed the scenes at the theatre in John
Street, the most impressive of which were *before* the curtain.

One of the side boxes was filled by French officers from the ships of war in
the harbour. The opposite box was filled with American officers. All were in
their uniforms, as dressed for the rejoicing day. French officers and
soldier-sailors (we find the expression in a note made at the time), and many of
the New-York militia, artillery, infantry, and dragoons, mingled with the crowd
in the pit. The house was early filled. As soon as the musicians appeared in
the orchestra, there was a general call for "*Ca ira*." The band struck up.
The French in the pit joined first, and then the whole audience. Next followed
the Marseillois Hymn. The audience stood up. The French took off their hats
and sung in a full and solemn chorus. The Americans applauded by gestures and
clapping of hands. We can yet recall the figure and voice of one Frenchman,
who, standing on a bench in the pit, sung this solemn patriotic song with a
clear, loud voice, while his fine manly frame seemed to swell with the
enthusiasm of the moment. The hymn ended, shouts of *Vivent la Francois* Vivent !
Les Americains!* were reiterated until the curtain drew up, and all was
William Dunlap, "History of the American Theatre", 1833 (I:203-205)

Finally, a somewhat less favorable reference to it came a few years later:

"*New York, February 6, 1798.-Sir, Accept of a few observations on the
attacks which have lately been made on you and your writings...

When you became a political writer in this country, no man had then the
boldness of *even attempting* to stem the strong and increasing tide of French
principles; not only the press, but the pulpit, went along with the polluted
stream; the voice of the sovereign people echoed from street to street, with the
murderous notes of Ca Ira and the Marseillois Hymn; every massacre of which
we got accounts from Europe, produced a new civic feast; and, strange to
tell, some of the teachers of our holy religion administered at some of their
wild and frantic orgies; the bells of our churches, formerly used for sacred
convention, were set a-ringing upon every real or supposed victory of the
*terrible Republic*; their guade and pageantry of folly, liberty caps, and
tri-coloured flags, were daily exhibited to a mobility, who overawed the rational
part of the community; indeed, every sensible man stood appalled, in these times
of melancholy recollection.

About that period, and at crisis, you determinedly stepped forward the
*opposer* of these *anarchs*, and you have ever since..."
A letter from an "Antigallican", quoted in William Cobbett, "Porcupine's
Works: Containing Various Writings and Selections", 1801 (75-76)

-- end quote --

"A good king is a miserly king. I would rather be ridiculous to courtiers
than oppressive to the people."
Louis XII (1462-1515)
Quoted in "Famous Sayings and Their Authors" (88)

Jim Chevallier
North Hollywood, CA

Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:26 pm
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