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[232] and magnetic wires are so successful, that we get revolutions by driblets, and have something—at least the overthrow of a single monarchy—every day or two. But never was speculation more at fault. . . . . The truth is, we have no precedents to go by. History gives us military revolutions and political revolutions enough. But this is neither. It is a social revolution. The hordes that broke down the decaying civilization of the Old World, in the fourth and fifth centuries, did it by violence. The decaying civilization of our times is assailed by social theories, which, it is possible, the masses may introduce, by the mere fear of their numbers,—though this seems highly improbable,—but which, if introduced, would lay waste the world as much as is consistent with its present advancement, and, at any rate, create an incredible amount of human misery, and reduce, materially, the population of Christendom. But it seems to me much more likely that the old order will be maintained; and if it is, it can only be by reconstructing society through some strict despotism, either military or civil. One more strict or severe than now exists in France can hardly be imagined. But whether it be able to do anything for the formation of a government that will protect property and life, is very doubtful.

For the first month, during which we have an account of the progress of things in Paris,—or rather the first forty days,—the work of destruction and the dissolution of society has gone on faster than it ever did before, in any period of the world's history. Power has been wholly in the hands of an irresponsible mob, to whom the world had not been friends, nor the world's law, and who do not feel that they have any interest or business but to overturn everything that is established. The only question, therefore, is, how far things are to go on in this direction before a reaction takes place. The further they go, the severer must be the power that is to reconstruct society. Etc., etc.

It is lucky for you that I was interrupted just now by a visitor, who has taken up all the time I have free before this letter must go off. Otherwise you might have had more of the dissertation on social revolutions; but now, I will only add that, under the best aspect of things, it seems to me that the mischiefs to follow the convulsions of the last few weeks will be more lasting than those that followed the convulsions of 1789.


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