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Chapter 62

WHAT PROVIDENCE HAS DONE


But Providence,--Providence goes about it differently. It places the thing luminously before your eyes, and says, "Behold!"

A man arrives some fine morning,--and such a man! The first comer, the last comer, without past, without future, without genius, without renown, without prestige. Is he an adventurer? Is he a prince? This man has his hands full of money, of bank-notes, of railroad shares, of offices, of decorations, of sinecures; this man stoops down to the office-holders, and says, "Office-holders, betray your trust!"

The office-holders betray their trust.

What, all? without one exception?

Yes, all!

He turns to the generals, and says: "Generals, massacre."

And the generals massacre.

He turns towards the irremovable judges, and says: "Magistrates, I shatter the Constitution, I commit perjury, I dissolve the sovereign Assembly, I arrest the inviolate members, I plunder the public treasury, I sequester, I confiscate, I banish those who displease me, I transport people according to my fancy, I shoot down without summons to surrender, I execute without trial, I commit all that men are agreed in calling crime, I outrage all that men are agreed in calling right; behold the laws--they are under my feet."

"We will pretend not to see any thing," say the magistrates.

"You are insolent," replies the providential man. "To turn your eyes away is to insult me. I propose that you shall assist me. Judges, you are going to congratulate me to-day, me who am force and crime; and to-morrow, those who have resisted me, those who are honor, right, and law, them you will try,--and you will condemn them."

These irremovable judges kiss his boot, and set about investigating l'affaire des troubles.

They swear fidelity to him, to boot.

Then he perceives, in a corner, the clergy, endowed, gold-laced, with cross and cope and mitre, and he says:--

"Ah, you are there, Archbishop! Come here. Just bless all this for me."

And the Archbishop chants his Magnificat.


Victor Hugo