Goddesses & Reason

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… a New Religion! Demoiselle Candeille, of the Opera; a woman fair to look upon, when well rouged: she, borne on palanquin shoulder-high… Let the world consider it! This, O National Convention wonder of the universe, is our New Divinity; Goddess of Reason, worthy, and alone worthy of revering. Nay, were it too much to ask of an august National Representation that it also went with us to the ci-devant Cathedral called of Notre-Dame, and executed a few strophes in worship of her?

President and Secretaries give Goddess Candeille, borne at due height round their platform, successively the fraternal kiss; whereupon she, by decree, sails to the right-hand of the President and there alights. And now, after due pause and flourishes of oratory, the Convention, gathering its limbs, does get under way in the required procession towards Notre-Dame;–Reason, again in her litter, sitting in the van of them, borne, as one judges, by men in the Roman costume; escorted by wind-music, red nightcaps, and the madness of the world. And straightway, Reason taking seat on the high-altar of Notre-Dame, the requisite worship or quasi-worship is, say the Newspapers, executed; … It is the first of the Feasts of Reason; first communion-service of the New Religion.

But there is one thing we should like almost better to understand than any other: what Reason herself thought of it, all the while. What articulate words poor Mrs. Momoro, for example, uttered; when she had become ungoddessed again, and the Bibliopolist and she sat quiet at home, at supper? For he was an earnest man, Bookseller Momoro; and had notions of Agrarian Law. Mrs. Momoro, it is admitted, made one of the best Goddesses of Reason; though her teeth were a little defective.

from A History of the French Revolution by Thomas Carlyle

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