Page:Works of Thomas Carlyle - Volume 03.djvu/20

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4

THE FEAST OF PIKES

[BK. I. CH. I.

his might direct, how happy for him that he was indeed wooden; and, doing nothing, could also see and suffer nothing! It is a distracted business.

For his French Majesty, meanwhile, one of the worst things is, that he can get no hunting. Alas, no hunting henceforth; only a fatal being-hunted! Scarcely, in the next June weeks, shall he taste again the joys of the game-destroyer; in next June, and never more. He sends for his smith-tools; gives, in the course of the day, official or ceremonial business being ended, a 'few strokes of the file, quelques coups de lime.[1] Innocent brother mortal, why wert thou not an obscure substantial maker of locks; but doomed in that other far-seen craft, to be a maker only of world-follies, unrealities; things self-destructive, which no mortal hammering could rivet into coherence!

Poor Louis is not without insight, nor even without the elements of will; some sharpness of temper, spurting at times from a stagnating character. If harmless inertness could save him, it were well; but he will slumber and painfully dream, and to do aught is not given him. Royalist Antiquarians still show the rooms where Majesty and suite, in these extraordinary circumstances, had their lodging. Here sat the Queen; reading,—for she had her library brought hither, though the King refused his; taking vehement counsel of the vehement uncounselled; sorrowing over altered times; yet with sure hope of better: in her young rosy Boy has she not the living emblem of hope? It is a murky, working sky; yet with golden gleams—of dawn, or of deeper meteoric night? Here again this chamber, on the other side of the main entrance, was the King's: here his Majesty breakfasted, and did official work; here daily after breakfast he received the Queen; sometimes in pathetic friendliness; sometimes in human sulkiness, for flesh is weak; and when questioned about business, would answer: 'Madame, your business is with the children.' Nay, Sire, were it not better you, your

  1. Le Château des Tuileries, ou récit etc., par Roussel (in Hist. Parl. iv. 195–219).