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English story

Democracy An American Novel

        Tác giả: by Henry Adams

First published anonymously, March 1880, and soon in various
unauthorized editions. It wasn"t until the 1925 edition that Adams
was listed as author. Henry Adams remarked (ironically as usual),
"The wholesale piracy of Democracy was the single real triumph
of my life."--it was very popular, as readers tried to guess who the
author was and who the characters really were. Chapters XII and
XIII were originally misnumbered.

TO tie a prominent statesman to her train and to lead him about
like a tame bear, is for a young and vivacious woman a more
certain amusement than to tie herself to him and to be dragged
about like an Indian squaw. This fact was Madeleine Lee's first
great political discovery in Washington, and it was worth to her all
the German philosophy she had ever read, with even a complete
edition of Herbert Spencer's works into the bargain. There could be
no doubt that the honours and dignities of a public career were no
fair consideration for its pains. She made a little daily task for
herself of reading in succession the lives and letters of the
American Presidents, and of their wives, when she could find that
there was a trace of the latter's existence. What a melancholy
spectacle it was, from George Washington down to the last
incumbent; what vexations, what disappointments, what grievous
mistakes, what very objectionable manners! Not one of them, who
had aimed at high purpose, but had been thwarted, beaten, and
habitually insulted! What a gloom lay on the features of those
famous chieftains, Calhoun, Clay, and Webster; what varied
expression of defeat and unsatisfied desire; what a sense of
self-importance and senatorial magniloquence; what a craving for
flattery; what despair at the sentence of fate! And what did they
amount to, after all?

They were practical men, these! they had no great problems of
thought to settle, no questions that rose above the ordinary rules of
common morals and homely duty. How they had managed to befog
the subject! What elaborate show-structures they had built up, with
no result but to obscure the horizon! Would not the country have
done better without them? Could it have done worse? What deeper
abyss could have opened under the nation's feet, than that to whose
verge they brought it?

Madeleine's mind wearied with the monotony of the story. She
discussed the subject with Ratcliffe, who told her frankly that the
pleasure of politics lay in the possession of power. He agreed that
the country would do very well without him. "But here I am," said
he, "and here I mean to stay." He had very little sympathy for thin
moralising, and a statesmanlike contempt for philosophical
politics. He loved power, and he meant to be President.

That was enough.

Sometimes the tragic and sometimes the comic side was
uppermost in her mind, and sometimes she did not herself know
whether to cry or to laugh.

Washington more than any other city in the world swarms with
simple-minded exhibitions of human nature; men and women
curiously out of place, whom it would be cruel to ridicule and
ridiculous to weep over. The sadder exhibitions are fortunately
seldom seen by respectable people; only the little social accidents
come under their eyes. One evening Mrs. Lee went to the
President's first evening reception. As Sybil flatly refused to face
the crowd, and Carrington mildly said that he feared he was not
sufficiently reconstructed to appear at home in that august
presence, Mrs. Lee accepted Mr. French for an escort, and walked
across the Square with him to join the throng that was pouring into
the doors of the White House. They took their places in the line of
citizens and were at last able to enter the reception-room. There
Madeleine found herself before two seemingly mechanical figures,
which mlght be wood or wax, for any sign they showed of life.
These two figures were the President and his wife; they stood stiff
and awkward by the door, both their faces stripped of every sign of
intelligence, while the right hands of both extended themselves to
the column of visitors with the mechanical action of toy dolls.
Mrs. Lee for a moment began to laugh, but the laugh died on her
lips. To the President and his wife this was clearly no laughing
matter. There they stood, automata, representatives of the society
which streamed past them. Madeleine seized Mr. French by the
arm.

"Take me somewhere at once," said she, "where I can look at it.
Here! in the corner. I had no conception how shocking it was!"

Mr. French supposed she was thinking of the queer-looking men
and women who were swarming through the rooms, and he made,
after his own delicate notion of humour, some uncouth jests on
those who passed by. Mrs. Lee, however, was in no humour to
explain or even to listen. She stopped him short:--

"There, Mr. French! Now go away and leave me. I want to be
alone for half an hour. Please come for me then." And there she
stood, with her eyes fixed on the President and his wife, while the
endless stream of humanity passed them, shaking hands.

What a strange and solemn spectacle it was, and how the deadly
fascination of it burned the image in upon her mind! What a horrid
warning to ambition!

And in all that crowd there was no one besides herself who felt the
mockery of this exhibition. To all the others this task was a regular
part of the President's duty, and there was nothing ridiculous about
it. They thought it a democratic institution, this droll a ping of
monarchical forms. To them the deadly dulness of the show was as
natural and proper as ever to the courtiers of the Philips and
Charleses seemed the ceremonies of the Escurial. To her it had the
effect of a nightmare, or of an opium-eater's vision, She felt a
sudden conviction that this was to be the end of American society;
its realisation and dream at once. She groaned in spirit.

"Yes! at last I have reached the end! We shall grow to be wax
images, and our talk will be like the squeaking of toy dolls. We
shall all wander round and round the earth and shake hands. No
one will have any object in this world, and there will be no other.
It is worse than anything in the 'Inferno.' What an awful vision of
eternity!"

Suddenly, as through a mist, she saw the melancholy face of Lord
Skye approaching. He came to her side, and his voice recalled her
to reality.

"Does it amuse you, this sort of thing?" he asked in a vague way.

"We take our amusement sadly, after the manner of our people,"
she replied; "but it certainly interests me."

They stood for a time in silence, watching the slowly eddying
dance of Democracy, until he resumed:

"Whom do you take that man to be--the long, lean one, with a long
woman on each arm?"

"That man," she replied, "I take to be a Washington
department-clerk, or perhaps a member of Congress from Iowa,
with a wife and wife's sister. Do they shock your nobility?"

He looked at her with comical resignation. "You mean to tell me
that they are quite as good as dowager-countesses. I grant it. My
aristocratic spirit is broken, Mrs. Lee. I will even ask them to
dinner if you bid me, and if you will come to meet them. But the
last time I asked a member of Congress to dine, he sent me back a
note in pencil on my own envelope that he would bring two of his
friends with him, very respectable constituents from Yahoo city, or
some such place; nature's noblemen, he said."

"You should have welcomed them."

"I did. I wanted to see two of nature's noblemen, and I knew they
would probably be pleasanter company than their representative.
They came; very respectable persons, one with a blue necktie, the
other with a red one: both had diamond pins in their shirts, and
were carefully brushed in respect to their hair. They said nothing,
ate little, drank less, and were much better behaved than I am.
When they went away, they unanimously asked me to stay with
them when I visited Yahoo city."

"You will not want guests if you always do that."

"I don't know. I think it was pure ignorance on their part. They
knew no better, and they seemed modest enough. My only
complaint was that I could get nothing out of them. I wonder
whether their wives would have been more amusing."

"Would they be so in England, Lord Skye?"

He looked down at her with half-shut eyes, and drawled: "You
know my countrywomen?"

"Hardly at all."

"Then let us discuss some less serious subject."

"Willingly. I have waited for you to explain to me why you have
to-night an expression of such melancholy."

"Is that quite friendly, Mrs. Lee? Do I really look melancholy?"

"Unutterably, as I feel. I am consumed with curiosity to know the
reason."

The British minister coolly took a complete survey of the whole
room, ending with a prolonged stare at the President and his wife,
who were still mechanically shaking hands; then he looked back
into her face, and said never a word.

She insisted: "I must have this riddle answered. It suffocates me. I
should not be sad at seeing these same people at work or at play, if
they ever do play; or in a church or a lecture-room. Why do they
weigh on me like a horrid phantom here?"

"I see no riddle, Mrs. Lee. You have answered your own question;
they are neither at work nor at play."

"Then please take me home at once. I shall have hysterics. The
sight of those two suffering images at the door is too mournful to
be borne. I am dizzy with looking at these stalking figures. I don't
believe they're real.

I wish the house would take fire. I want an earthquake. I wish
some one would pinch the President, or pull his wife's hair."

Mrs. Lee did not repeat the experiment of visiting the White
House, and indeed for some time afterwards she spoke with little
enthusiasm of the presidential office. To Senator Ratcliffe she
expressed her opinions strongly. The Senator tried in vain to argue
that the people had a right to call upon their chief magistrate, and
that he was bound to receive them; this being so, there was no less
objectionable way of proceeding than the one which had been
chosen. "Who gave the people any such right?" asked Mrs.

Lee. "Where does it come from? What do they want it for? You
know better, Mr. Ratcliffe! Our chief magistrate is a citizen like
any one else. What puts it into his foolish head to cease being a
citizen and to ape royalty?

Our governors never make themselves ridiculous. Why cannot the
wretched being content himself with living like the rest of us, and
minding his own business? Does he know what a figure of fun he
is?" And Mrs. Lee went so far as to declare that she would like to
be the President's wife only to put an end to this folly; nothing
should ever induce her to go through such a performance; and if
the public did not approve of this, Congress might impeach her,
and remove her from office; all she demanded was the right to be
heard before the Senate in her own defence.

Nevertheless, there was a very general impression in Washington
that Mrs.

Lee would like nothing better than to be in the White House.
Known to comparatively few people, and rarely discussing even
with them the subjects which deeply interested her, Madeleine
passed for a clever, intriguing woman who had her own objects to
gain. True it is, beyond peradventure, that all residents of
Washington may be assumed to be in office or candidates for
office; unless they avow their object, they are guilty of an
attempt--and a stupid one--to deceive; yet there is a small class of
apparent exceptions destined at last to fall within the rule. Mrs.
Lee was properly assumed to be a candidate for office. To the
Washingtonians it was a matter of course that Mrs. Lee should
marry Silas P. Ratcliffe. That he should be glad to get a
fashionable and intelligent wife, with twenty or thirty thousand
dollars a year, was not surprising. That she should accept the first
public man of the day, with a flattering chance for the
Presidency--a man still comparatively young and not without good
looks--was perfectly natural, and in her undertaking she had the
sympathy of all well-regulated Washington women who were not
possible rivals; for to them the President's wife is of more
consequence than the President; and, indeed, if America only
knew it, they are not very far from the truth.

Some there were, however, who did not assent to this good-natured
though worldly view of the proposed match. These ladies were
severe in their comments upon Mrs. Lee's conduct, and did not
hesitate to declare their opinion that she was the calmest and most
ambitious minx who had ever come within their observation.
Unfortunately it happened that the respectable and proper Mrs.
Schuyler Clinton took this view of the case, and made little
attempt to conceal her opinion. She was justly indignant at her
cousin's gross worldliness, and possible promotion in rank.

"If Madeleine Ross marries that coarse, horrid old Illinois
politician,"

said she to her husband, "I never will forgive her so long as I live."

Mr. Clinton tried to excuse Madeleine, and even went so far as to
suggest that the difference of age was no greater than in their own
case; but his wife trampled ruthlessly on his argument.

"At any rate," said she, "I never came to Washington as a widow
on purpose to set my cap for the first candidate for the Presidency,
and I never made a public spectacle of my indecent eagerness in
the very galleries of the Senate; and Mrs. Lee ought to be ashamed
of herself. She is a cold-blooded, heartless, unfeminine cat."

Little Victoria Dare, who babbled like the winds and streams, with
utter indifference as to what she said or whom she addressed, used
to bring choice bits of this gossip to Mrs. Lee. She always affected
a little stammer when she said anything uncommonly impudent,
and put on a manner of languid simplicity. She felt keenly the
satisfaction of seeing Madeleine charged with her own besetting
sins. For years all Washington had agreed that Victoria was little
better than one of the wicked; she had done nothing but violate
every rule of propriety and scandalise every well-regulated family
in the city, and there was no good in her. Yet it could not be
denied that Victoria was amusing, and had a sort of irregular
fascination; consequently she was universally tolerated. To see
Mrs. Lee thrust down to her own level was an unmixed pleasure to
her, and she carefully repeated to Madeleine the choice bits of
dialogue which she picked up in her wanderings.

"Your cousin, Mrs. Clinton, says you are a ca-ca-cat, Mrs. Lee."

"I don't believe it, Victoria. Mrs. Clinton never said anything of the
sort."

"Mrs. Marston says it is because you have caught a ra-ra-rat, and
Senator Clinton was only a m-m-mouse!"

Naturally all this unexpected publicity irritated Mrs. Lee not a
little, especially when short and vague paragraphs, soon followed
by longer and more positive ones, in regard to Senator Ratcliffe's
matrimonial prospects, began to appear in newspapers, along with
descriptions of herself from the pens of enterprising female
correspondents for the press, who had never so much as seen her.
At the first sight of one of these newspaper articles, Madeleine
fairly cried with mortification and anger. She wanted to leave
Washington the next day, and she hated the very thought of
Ratcliffe. There was something in the newspaper style so
inscrutably vulgar, something so inexplicably revolting to the
sense of feminine decency, that she shrank under it as though it
were a poisonous spider. But after the first acute shame had
passed, her temper was roused, and she vowed that she would
pursue her own path just as she had begun, without regard to all
the malignity and vulgarity in the wide United States. She did not
care to marry Senator Ratcliffe; she liked his society and was
flattered by his confidence; she rather hoped to prevent him from
ever making a formal offer, and if not, she would at least push it
off to the last possible moment; but she was not to be frightened
from marrying him by any amount of spitefulness or gossip, and
she did not mean to refuse him except for stronger reasons than
these. She even went so far in her desperate courage as to laugh at
her cousin, Mrs.

Clinton, whose venerable husband she allowed and even
encouraged to pay her such public attention and to express
sentiments of such youthful ardour as she well knew would
inflame and exasperate the excellent lady his wife.

Carrington was the person most unpleasantly affected by the
course which this affair had taken. He could no longer conceal
from himself the fact that he was as much m love as a dignified
Virginian could be. With him, at all events, she had shown no
coquetry, nor had she ever either flattered or encouraged him. But
Carrington, m his solitary struggle against fate, had found her a
warm friend; always ready to assist where assistance was needed,
generous with her money in any cause which he was willing to
vouch for, full of sympathy where sympathy was more than
money, and full of resource and suggestion where money and
sympathy failed. Carrington knew her better than she knew herself.
He selected her books; he brought the last speech or the last report
from the Capitol or the departments; he knew her doubts and her
vagaries, and as far as he understood them at all, helped her to
solve them.

Carrington was too modest, and perhaps too shy, to act the part of
a declared lover, and he was too proud to let it be thought that he
wanted to exchange his poverty for her wealth. But he was all the
more anxious when he saw the evident attraction which Ratcliffe's
strong will and unscrupulous energy exercised over her. He saw
that Ratcliffe was steadily pushing his advances; that he flattered
all Mrs. Lee's weaknesses by the confidence and deference with
which he treated her; and that in a very short time, Madeleine must
either marry him or find herself looked upon as a heartless
coquette. He had his own reasons for thinking ill of Senator
Ratcliffe, and he meant to prevent a marriage; but he had an
enemy to deal with not easily driven from the path, and quite
capable of routing any number of rivals.

Ratcliffe was afraid of no one. He had not fought his own way in
life for nothing, and he knew all the value of a cold head and
dogged self-assurance.

Nothing but this robust Americanism and his strong will carried
him safely through the snares and pitfalls of Mrs. Lee's society,
where rivals and enemies beset him on every hand. He was little
better than a schoolboy, when he ventured on their ground, but
when he could draw them over upon his own territory of practical
life he rarely failed to trample on his assailants.

It was this practical sense and cool will that won over Mrs. Lee,
who was woman enough to assume that all the graces were well
enough employed in decorating her, and it was enough if the other
sex felt her superiority. Men were valuable only in proportion to
their strength and their appreciation of women. If the senator had
only been strong enough always to control his temper, he would
have done very well, but his temper was under a great strain in
these times, and his incessant effort to control it in politics made
him less watchful in private life. Mrs. Lee's tacit assumption of
superior refinement irritated him, and sometimes made him show
his teeth like a bull-dog, at the cost of receiving from Mrs. Lee a
quick stroke in return such as a well-bred tortoise-shell cat
administers to check over-familiarity; innocent to the eye, but
drawing blood. One evening when he was more than commonly
out of sorts, after sitting some time in moody silence, he roused
himself, and, taking up a book that lay on her table, he glanced at
its title and turned over the leaves. It happened by ill luck to be a
volume of Darwin that Mrs. Lee had just borrowed from the
library of Congress.

"Do you understand this sort of thing?" asked the Senator abruptly,
in a tone that suggested a sneer.

"Not very well," replied Mrs. Lee, rather curtly.

"Why do you want to understand it?" persisted the Senator. "What
good will it do you?"

"Perhaps it will teach us to be modest," answered Madeleine, quite
equal to the occasion.

"Because it says we descend from monkeys?" rejoined the Senator,
roughly.

"Do you think you are descended from monkeys?"

"Why not?" said Madeleine.

"Why not?" repeated Ratcliffe, laughing harshly. "I don't like the
connection. Do you mean to introduce your distant relations into
society?"

"They would bring more amusement into it than most of its present
members,"

rejoined Mrs. Lee, with a gentle smile that threatened mischief.
But Ratcliffe would not be warned; on the contrary, the only effect
of Mrs.

Lee's defiance was to exasperate his ill-temper, and whenever he
lost his temper he became senatorial and Websterian. "Such
books," he began, "disgrace our civilization; they degrade and
stultify our divine nature; they are only suited for Asiatic
despotisms where men are reduced to the level of brutes; that they
should be accepted by a man like Baron Jacobi, I can understand;
he and his masters have nothing to do in the world but to trample
on human rights. Mr. Carrington, of course, would approve those
ideas; he believes in the divine doctrine of flogging negroes; but
that you, who profess philanthropy and free principles, should go
with them, is astonishing; it is incredible; it is unworthy of you."

"You are very hard on the monkeys," replied Madeleine, rather
sternly, when the Senator's oration was ended. "The monkeys
never did you any harm; they are not in public life; they are not
even voters; if they were, you would be enthusiastic about their
intelligence and virtue. After all, we ought to be grateful to them,
for what would men do in this melancholy world if they had not
inherited gaiety from the monkeys--as well as oratory."

Ratcliffe, to do him justice, took punishment well, at least when it
came from Mrs. Lee's hands, and his occasional outbursts of
insubordination were sure to be followed by improved discipline;
but if he allowed Mrs. Lee to correct his faults, he had no notion of
letting himself be instructed by her friends, and he lost no chance
of telling them so. But to do this was not always enough. Whether
it were that he had few ideas outside of his own experience, or that
he would not trust himself on doubtful ground, he seemed
compelled to bring every discussion down to his own level.
Madeleine puzzled herself in vain to find out whether he did this
because he knew no better, or because he meant to cover his own
ignorance.

"The Baron has amused me very much with his account of
Bucharest society,"

Mrs. Lee would say: "I had no idea it was so gay."

"I would like to show him our society in Peonia," was Ratcliffe's
reply; "he would find a very brilliant circle there of nature's true
noblemen."

"The Baron says their politicians are precious sharp chaps," added
Mr.

French.

"Oh, there are politicians in Bulgaria, are there?" asked the
Senator, whose ideas of the Roumanian and Bulgarian
neighbourhood were vague, and who had a general notion that all
such people lived in tents, wore sheepskins with the wool inside,
and ate curds: "Oh, they have politicians there! I would like to see
them try their sharpness in the west."

"Really!" said Mrs. Lee. "Think of Attila and his hordes running an
Indiana caucus?"

"Anyhow," cried French with a loud laugh, "the Baron said that a
set of bigger political scoundrels than his friends couldn't be found
in all Illinois."

"Did he say that?" exclaimed Ratcliffe angrily.

"Didn't he, Mrs. Lee? but I don't believe it; do you? What's your
candid opinion, Ratcliffe? What you don't know about Illinois
politics isn't worth knowing; do you really think those Bulgrascals
couldn't run an Illinois state convention?"

Ratcliffe did not like to be chaffed, especially on this subject, but
he could not resent French's liberty which was only a moderate
return for the wooden nutmeg. To get the conversation away from
Europe, from literature, from art, was his great object, and chaff
was a way of escape.

Carrington was very well aware that the weak side of the Senator
lay in his blind ignorance of morals. He flattered himself that Mrs.
Lee must see this and be shocked by it sooner or later, so that
nothing more was necessary than to let Ratcliffe expose himself.
Without talking very much, Carrington always aimed at drawing
him out. He soon found, however, that Ratcliffe understood such
tactics perfectly, and instead of injuring, he rather improved his
position. At times the man's audacity was startling, and even when
Carrington thought him hopelessly entangled, he would sweep
away all the hunter's nets with a sheer effort of strength, and walk
off bolder and more dangerous than ever.

When Mrs. Lee pressed him too closely, he frankly admitted her
charges.

"What you say is in great part true. There is much in politics that
disgusts and disheartens; much that is coarse and bad. I grant you
there is dishonesty and corruption. We must try to make the
amount as small as possible."

"You should be able to tell Mrs. Lee how she must go to work,"
said Carrington; "you have had experience. I have heard, it seems
to me, that you were once driven to very hard measures against
corruption."

Ratcliffe looked ill-pleased at this compliment, and gave
Carrington one of his cold glances that meant mischief. But he
took up the challenge on the spot:--

"Yes, I was, and am very sorry for it. The story is this, Mrs. Lee;
and it is well-known to every man, woman, and child in the State
of Illinois, so that I have no reason for softening it. In the worst
days of the war there was almost a certainty that my State would
be carried by the peace party, by fraud, as we thought, although,
fraud or not, we were bound to save it. Had Illinois been lost then,
we should certainly have lost the Presidential election, and with it
probably the Union. At any rate, I believed the fate of the war to
depend on the result. I was then Governor, and upon me the
responsibility rested. We had entire control of the northern
counties and of their returns. We ordered the returning officers in a
certain number of counties to make no returns until they heard
from us, and when we had received the votes of all the southern
counties and learned the precise number of votes we needed to
give us a majority, we telegraphed to our northern returning
officers to make the vote of their districts such and such, thereby
overbalancing the adverse returns and giving the State to us.

This was done, and as I am now senator I have a right to suppose
that what I did was approved. I am not proud of the transaction,
but I would do it again, and worse than that, if I thought it would
save this country from disunion. But of course I did not expect Mr.
Carrington to approve it. I believe he was then carrying out his
reform principles by bearing arms against the government."

"Yes!" said Carrington drily; "you got the better of me, too. Like
the old Scotchman, you didn't care who made the people's wars
provided you made its ballots.

Carrington had missed his point. The man who has committed a
murder for his country, is a patriot and not an assassin, even when
he receives a seat in the Senate as his share of the plunder. Women
cannot be expected to go behind the motives of that patriot who
saves his country and his election in times of revolution.

Carrington's hostility to Ratcliffe was, however, mild, when
compared with that felt by old Baron Jacobi. Why the baron should
have taken so violent a prejudice it is not easy to explain, but a
diplomatist and a senator are natural enemies, and Jacobi, as an
avowed admirer of Mrs. Lee, found Ratcliffe in his way. This
prejudiced and immoral old diplomatist despised and loathed an
American senator as the type which, to his bleared European eyes,
combined the utmost pragmatical self-assurance and overbearing
temper with the narrowest education and the meanest personal
experience that ever existed in any considerable government. As
Baron Jacobi's country had no special relations with that of the
United States, and its Legation at Washington was a mere job to
create a place for Jacobi to fill, he had no occasion to disguise his
personal antipathies, and he considered himself in some degree as
having a mission to express that diplomatic contempt for the
Senate which his colleagues, if they felt it, were obliged to
conceal. He performed his duties with conscientious precision. He
never missed an opportunity to thrust the sharp point of his
dialectic rapier through the joints of the clumsy and hide-bound
senatorial self-esteem. He delighted in skilfully exposing to
Madeleine's eyes some new side of Ratcliffe's ignorance. His
conversation at such times sparkled with historical allusions,
quotations in half a dozen different languages, references to
well-known facts which an old man's memory could not recall
with precision in all their details, but with which the Honourable
Senator was familiarly acquainted, and which he could readily
supply. And his Voltairian face leered politely as he listened to
Ratcliffe's reply, which showed invariable ignorance of common
literature, art, and history. The climax of his triumph came one
evening when Ratcliffe unluckily, tempted by some allusion to
Molière which he thought he understood, made reference to the
unfortunate influence of that great man on the religious opinions
of his time. Jacobi, by a flash of inspiration, divined that he had
confused Molière with Voltaire, and assuming a manner of
extreme suavity, he put his victim on the rack, and tortured him
with affected explanations and interrogations, until Madeleine was
in a manner forced to interrupt and end the scene. But even when
the senator was not to be lured into a trap, he could not escape
assault. The baron in such a case would cross the lines and attack
him on his own ground, as on one occasion, when Ratcliffe was
defending his doctrine of party allegiance, Jacobi silenced him by
sneering somewhat thus:

"Your principle is quite correct, Mr. Senator. I, too, like yourself,
was once a good party man: my party was that of the Church; I was
ultramontane.

Your party system is one of your thefts from our Church; your
National Convention is our OEcumenic Council; you abdicate
reason, as we do, before its decisions; and you yourself, Mr.
Ratcliffe, you are a Cardinal. They are able men, those cardinals; I
have known many; they were our best friends, but they were not
reformers. Are you a reformer, Mr. Senator?"

Ratcliffe grew to dread and hate the old man, but all his ordinary
tactics were powerless against this impenetrable eighteenth
century cynic. If he resorted to his Congressional practise of
browbeating and dogmatism, the Baron only smiled and turned his
back, or made some remark in French which galled his enemy all
the more, because, while he did not understand it, he knew well
that Madeleine did, and that she tried to repress her smile.

Ratcliffe's grey eyes grew colder and stonier than ever as he
gradually perceived that Baron Jacobi was carrying on a set
scheme with malignant ingenuity, to drive him out of Madeleine's
house, and he swore a terrible oath that he would not be beaten by
that monkey-faced foreigner. On the other hand Jacobi had little
hope of success: "What can an old man do?" said he with perfect
sincerity to Carrington; "If I were forty years younger, that great
oaf should not have his own way. Ah! I wish I were young again
and we were in Vienna!" From which it was rightly inferred by
Carrington that the venerable diplomatist would, if such acts were
still in fashion, have coolly insulted the Senator, and put a bullet
through his heart.


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