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"In Alsace the French are near the Rhine."CHAPTER III
It is interesting to see how the most comprehensive systems of the present century, even when most opposed to the metaphysical spirit, are still constructed on the plan long ago sketched by Plato. Alike in his classification of the sciences, in his historical deductions, and in his plans for the reorganisation of society, Auguste Comte adopts a scheme of ascending or descending generality. The conception of differentiation and integration employed both by Hegel and by Mr. Herbert Spencer is also of Platonic origin; only, what with the ancient thinker was a statical law of order has become with his modern successors a dynamic law of progress; while, again, there is this distinction between the German and the English philosopher, that the former construes as successive moments of the Idea what the latter regards as simultaneous and interdependent processes of evolution.
We want it to come very gradually in the distant future, when weAmongst others who arrived were the Duchesse de Fleury and Princesse Joseph de Monaco. The latter was a gentle, charming woman, whose devotion to her children was the cause of her death. After having escaped from France and arrived safely in Rome, she was actually foolish enough to go back to Paris with the idea of saving the remains of her fortune for her children. The Terror was in full force; she was arrested and condemned. Those who wished to save her entreated her to declare herself enceinte, by which many women had been spared. She would anyhow have gained a reprieve, and as it happened her life would have been saved, as the ninth Thermidor was rapidly approaching. But her husband was far away, and she indignantly refused, preferring death to such an alternative.
An aggressive capital! Palaces of concrete and stucco washed with yellow stand cheek by jowl with commission agencies and hovels, and all without a suspicion of style, not even giving one the impression of a southern city. In the streets, thick with dust, an all-prevailing turmoil as of a fair is prolonged to the latest hours of night. Red uniforms and "young England" tourist suits ending their career in rags on half-breed cooliesa wearisome staleness and total effacement of local colour, worse than commonplace; and then, above all, a very strong and nauseating smell of lotus and tallow, with an after-gust of something peppery and acrid.
We landed at Ramnagar, a marble palace looking like a fortified town, its massive walls rising[Pg 174] from the river and crowned by balconies and fairy kiosksa lacework of stone against the brilliant sky.