ORACLES OF NOSTRADAMUS - French Revolution
THE VULGAR ADVENT. [I. 160.]
Century VI.--Quatrain 74.
La. dechassée 1 an regne tournera,
Ses ennemies trouvés des conjurés:
Plus que jamais son temps triomphera,
Trois et septante à mort trop asseurés.
She who was proscribed will return to the kingdom,
Her enemies will be treated as conspirators;
More than ever her time (or empire) will triumph;
Seventy-three years its deathly domination is assured.
THE Revolution (la dechassée), repressed in 1816, shall again obtain the government. Its enemies will be treated as conspirators, and it will be stronger than ever. Seventy-three years are assured to its death-like rule. I give this as M. le Pelletier does, but I see no reason whatever to think that it is correct. Garencières makes it apply to Charles II. of England, and the seventy-three put to death are those who abetted the murder of his father. This is very vague. Garencières reads Le dechassé. Here we may remark that Napoleon himself [p. 280] dates his nobility from the battle of Montenotte, 1797, Seventy-three years added to this yields us the remarkable date of the fall of his dynasty at Sedan, 1870,
Century I.--Quatrain 3. (September 22, 1792.) [I. 162.]
When the litter is turned topsy-turvey by the typhoon,
Men will mask their faces with the cloak of hypocrisy.
The republic will be troubled by new-risen men;
The white and red will judge by contraries.
This means that the royalists (les blancs) and the republicans (les rouges) will judge of everything from utterly opposed points of view. What was top will become bottom, when the blast blows the litter over; and, new men rising to power, the rest will cover their faces with hypocrisy, as men do with their cloaks in a storm. Compare the phrase à l'envers with p. 154.
Century II.--Quatrain 30. [I. 163.]
There will be one who will revive the infernal gods
Of Hannibal, a terror to mankind.
Never arrived by Babel note horror
Nor worse day's work than will fall upon Roman Catholics.
The meaning is, Napoleon shall arise, who will reawaken the solemn curse on Rome uttered by Hannibal, when he called the infernal gods to witness his hatred to her, to the terror of all mortals. Not Babel at the dispersion brought on the world more horror, nor days of more evil-ploughing for the present or seed-sowing for the future than shall fall upon the Roman world by him. This is much better than to limit it to an ecclesiastical area merely. We shall see that Charles V. is a sort of prototype of Napoleon, and Garencières adduces Charles V. as fulfilling this prophecy. Hannibal is also a prototype of Napoleon in attacking Italy by crossing the Alps.
Century I.--Quatrain 14. (1789-1793.) [I. 164.]
Songs, chants, and refrains of the slavish mob,
Whilst the Princes and King are captive in prison,
Shall be received in the future as oracles divine
By headless idiots deprived of judgment.
Songs--such as the Marseillaise while the King and Princes are imprisoned in the Temple,--songs of the mob (gent esclave) are received by brainless fools for divine utterances, even prayers (divines oraisons). Vox populi, vox Dei, is always the fools' blasphemous formula, when swine
chose Barabbas for Pontifex or Generalissimo. A cruelly entreated people; whose burdens are aggravated by wickedness in high places needlessly, above and beyond the grief, which every man is born to by the act of birth into a world of sickness, sorrow, and injustice; sighs heavily at this unduly heaped-up burden, and that sigh, that vox populi, runs upward like a lightning conductor to elicit fire from the clouds, coming back charged with electricity and thunder,--a vox Dei of terrible divinity. But when scum rises to the direction, as with the Revolutionists, and is followed by some brutalized sabreur aggrandizing himself as king of chaos and disorder, with shouts of subservient applause from the smutty mob, saying, "Herod, thou art a god," the vox populi that split the welkin once, is now the vox infernorum demonum, the whole upspring and outcome of which is bestiality and lawlessness enthroned in defiance of the decalogue and heaven. Thenceforth the appeal of all good men and sane is, "Ye who worship God, good and alone from eternity, down with them." The men must work and serve. This fiat is in the air, is in the sea, is on the earth. It is the vox naturæ, in comparison with which the people's voice, vox populi, is nothing, beyond a momentary troubling of the silences.
The following quatrain I give for what it may be thought worth. M. le Pelletier thinks it to relate to the creation of assignats, December 19, 1789. It would be a pity to lose sight of his identification, if even some should presume it to be incorrect.
Century I.--Quatrain 53. (December 19, 1789.) [I. 165.]
Las! qu'on verra grand peuple tourmenté,
Et la loi saincte en totale ruine;
Par autres loix route la Chrestienté;
Quand d'or d'argent trouvé nouvelle mine.
Alas! how great a people shall tormented be,
And holy law in utter ruin laid:
By newer laws all Christendom is vexed,
With a new mine of gold and silver found.
We shall see, alas! the French people (grand peuple) agitated, the Catholic religion (la loy saincte) totally ruined, all Christendom put under new laws, when the National Assembly decrees that four hundred million assignats shall .be issued (nouvelle mine d'or, etc.), secured on the property of the clergy, in the interests of the Revolution.
Older commentators applied this to the paper-money schemes of Law 1716; and Garencières finds the fulfilment in the discovery of the Spanish-American gold and silver mines.
A properly regulated paper-money issue, based on the taxation of a State, having absolutely no intrinsic value whatever in itself, could undoubtedly be converted into a circulating medium that would work more smoothly than any metallic one can, because the market value of the ore, employed as now in coinage, is perpetually introducing a fluctuation of values that conflicts with the nominal standard of the coin, so that the standard is never uniform. The currency required would never amount to a tenth part of the taxation leviable. Paper could therefore be destroyed at the Bank of England, or issued exactly according to the needs of trade and commerce. Fluctuation in the market value of metals would no longer affect the circulating medium in the least. Thus might one cause of recurrent panics be removed for ever. But can bank directors or ministers be trusted with such a responsibility? This hinges on honesty, and there is none to spare.
Century VII.--Quatrain 14. (1789-1793.) [I. 166.]
Faux exposer viendra topographie,
Seront les cruches 1 des monumens ouvertes,
Pulluler secte, sancte philosophie,
Pour blanches noires, et pour antiques vertes.
Topography will soon be falsified,
The urns and sepulchres stand violate,
Sects swarm, and babbling sentiment
Black put for white, and green fruit for the ripe.
The curse be on them for changing old landmarks. The provinces turned into departments (by decree of the Assembly, December 22, 1789). The sepulture of Kings violated at St. Denis. Unholy sects will swarm, and a sentimental philosophy, of Rousseau and other maddened sophists, usurping the office of religion, black will stand for white, and green, crude fruit be substituted for the ripe.
Century IV.--Quatrain 24.
Ouy soubs Terre Sainte Dame 2 voix feinte,
Humaine flamme pour Divine voit luire:
Fera des sœurs de leur sang terre tainte,
Et les saints temples par les impures destruire.
Hear from the ground a voice of Halidom,
A human flame pretending light divine.
The blood of sisters stains the earth to red,
And holy temples the impure destroy.
This, I think, refers to the sentimental advocacy of the Rights of man, as substitutionary of religion and faith in the literary movement of the eighteenth century. It would comprise Rousseau's gospel of dirt and sentimentality, Voltaire's substitution of wit for wisdom, and the science of the encyclopædists floating disoriented upon the waters of un,, certainty, in lieu of the deep thought of the solitary thinkers that preceded them. These last were men who, heretofore walking humbly and without association in conspiracy, interrogated the universe, divinely sown with riddles in great abundance by a hand invisible, until they fell asleep into that hand, and awoke to the illuminated answers.
The blood of sisters was the wholesale slaughter of women that distinguished the Revolution, whilst church altars were desecrated by naked women, set there to personate the goddess of impure reason, feigning la sante dame.
The quatrain 25 that follows this in the text of Nostradamus I now give; but this verse 24, so far as I have seen, has never been commented upon nor has the connection been pointed out. Yet this stanza furnishes the reasons why the stars became overclouded to a people that were benighted, par ces raisons, as the reader will perceive by the second line that succeeds this.
Century IV.--Quatrain 25. [I. 167.]
The infinite stars are links that light to doubt,
And drop the pall of night upon the soul:
The eye and front of man,--and soul,--grown cerebral,
God and His host withdraw; and with them prayer!
M. le Pelletier considers that Nostradamus attributes these effects to the reasonings hostile to the faith that improved optical instruments will introduce, as they suggest a plurality of worlds. I quite admit that in many minds this has been the tendency. Almost any discovery, giving a new hint as to infinitude, launches a number of inferior but vigorous brains into new lines of reasoning. We then get great multiplication of secondary volumes, which supply minced Aristotle or chaff to represent any amount of sausage-meat required by the reading public. Of course the further you can see by the telescope the further you put heaven away from the earth-dweller, and he loves it the less; for it is the near things we love, and not the remote. The heart is not universal, and cannot be stretched to it. I look upon the telescope, to an ordinary man, as a drain-pipe, through which he can run off and lose the moisture of his soul and live the worse for it afterwards; to the multitude of men, useless; to the scientific man, a means of inflation and puffing up; and to the really serious and isolated thinker, as the threshold of infinitude that may, though it has hardly yet done so, answer a few out of the ten million astral riddles sown in space. The last-named individual alone may benefit a little by it. But I question if anything at all of this was present to Nostradamus.
He seems to me, in these two closely interlinked quatrains, to enlarge much upon the theme of St. Paul (Rom. i. 28) that, as at the French Revolution, "they did not like
to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind;" or one void of judgment, "to do things which are not convenient." So that the earth gave out deceptive voices to them, and false lights for Divine light, to slay women and desecrate the temples; and then that the very stars visible to the eye, which should teach faith to all, will for these reasons veil themselves and leave nothing to mankind but the darkness of night. Pure materialism follows, God and His host withdraw, and prayer is no more heard upon the earth.
Century I.--Quatrain 60. [I. 168.]
Un empereur naistra près d'Italie,
Qui à l'Empire sera vendu bien cher:
Diront avec quels gens il se ralie,
Qu'on trouvera moins prince que boucher.
An emperor shall be born near Italy,
Bought by the Empire at a bankrupt rate:
You'd say the herd, he gathers to himself,
Denote him butcher rather than a prince.
An emperor shall be born in Corsica--Napoléon Bonaparte. His advent to the throne of France will prove prodigiously costly to her. It is enough to make one say, from the tribe he surrounds himself with, that he is more like a butcher far, with the steel dangling at his side, and slaughter-man apprentices, than a prince.
It is natural that Bouys, who has hunted Nostradamus for quatrains that will serve for adulation of Napoleon, has passed this over, sub silentio, entirely. Garencières, speaking of this, says it is a prophecy for the future, for that until now (1672) no such emperor has been heard of, born near Italy, that cost so much and proved a butcher.
Century VI.--Quatrain 23. [I. 169.]
The rampart of tradition battered down,
The people rise against their King anoint':
Peace, a new Saint, and sacred laws made worse,
Paris was never in such disarray.
The traditions of the French monarchy are thrown to the ground and the people rise against the King, Louis XVI. Peace will succeed the anarchy when Napoleon comes to power. Pius VII., to flatter the Emperor, will interpolate the ritual on the 15th of August with a new saint, the fête of St. Napoleon, 5 who was martyred under Diocletian. The Emperor's interference will hurt the Church greatly, and foreign armies (1814-1815) will reduce Paris to extremities she has never before undergone.
As to the fête of St. Napoleon, the story runs that when it was first instituted its impropriety, if not blasphemy, was
much discussed in Catholic circles. An Irish priest from Rome was one day communicating the strange fact at a dinner-table in Dublin, when an Irish gentleman exclaimed with vehemence, "What d----d impudence!" "No, no!" said the priest, "what you mean to call it is the Blessed Assumption," for that day falls on the 15th of August.
Century I.--Quatrain 31. [I. 170.]
War draws her length in Gaul for many a day,
Beyond the course of Castula the Queen;
Uncertain victory will crown three thrones,
The Eagle, Cock-moon, Lion-sun, on coin.
Civil war and foreign will last in France long after the ephemeral Republic has perished. Victory, always uncertain, will crown three houses in succession. They will coin money with the Imperial eagle of Napoleon; the revolutionary Gallic cock appearing with the house of Orleans, instituted by revolution, and adding the crescent of Mahomet for successes in Algeria; whilst the Lion represents Louis XVIII. and Charles X. of the Capetian Monarchy, with the sun representing Catholicism. Le Pelletier says the Sun symbolises Christianity, and the moon Mahomet or Antichrist. Myself I think it would be best to consider the sun
as the symbol of Christ; the moon as the symbol of atheistic democracy or Antichrist.
This Garencières thought to be interpretable in his time He reads the second line,
"Outre la course du Castulon monarque,"
as, after the death of the King of Spain a Castilian monarch. The eagle as Charles V. [a further analogy with Napoleon]. Henry II., contemporary with Nostradamus, and Soliman, which three crowns met under Leo with uncertain odds in war.
The quatrain that follows this is:
Century I.--Quatrain 32.
Le grand Empire sera tost translaté,
En lieu petit qui bientost viendra croistre,
Lieu bien infime d'exigue comté,
Où au milieu viendra poser son sceptre.
The great Empire will soon be translated into a little place that quickly, will expand. An unworthy spot, a mere county, from the midst of which he will come to lay aside his sceptre.
Garencières interprets this of Charles V., who, three years before his death, resigned Spain and the Low Countries to Philip II., his son, and the empire to his brother Ferdinand. He then shut himself up in the Escurial, in Castile, a monastery; which the son afterwards enlarged into a grand palace. accounted by Spaniards as the eighth wonder of the world. But I am not aware that any one has yet pointed out that it fits Napoleon as patly just as it can Charles. His empire was cramped into Elba--Æthalia, the soot island (lieu bien infime); a mere countship was his monarchy there. It soon
grew again into an empire, but he only came out of its midst to resign his sceptre a second time and for ever.
After these prelusory flourishes relating to the Vulgar Advent and French Revolution, we are now to enter upon a more special theme; the murder of the King, and the ragged beggars' festival and brawl, called the First Republic of the Sans Culottes.
198:1 Romance, dechassé, driven away.
199:1 Versée, for renversée.
199:2 In this high-wind of revolution men will mask their countenances with the cloak of hypocrisy.
199:3 Latin, vexata, troubled.
199:4 Oncques, never, nunquam.
199:5 Romance, ne, ni, nor.
199:6 The order is "Qu'avant oncq' plus d'horreur ni plus pire à Babel qu'il n'adviendra aux Remains par les journaux." This is M. le Pelletier's reading, and he interprets it of Voltaire, the encyclopedists and journalists of the seventeenth century, who assailed the faith and the Church of Rome. But surely the one like Hannibal was Napoléon, and the journaux in this old speech does not stand for journals and newspapers that had no existence, and therefore no name in the time of Nostradamus Journal meant a day's work, such as could, in ploughing, be done by a man with two oxen.
200:1 Latin, per, whilst.
200:2 Latin, pro, for.
203:1 Cruches = urns, Cinerary urns. Garencières read urnes.
203:2 Sainte Dame I take to be equivalent to our English Halidom, consisting of Holy and Dome--a terminative seen in kingdom and Christendom, and signifying rule or lordship. It has also been written as Holidame, as if referring to the Virgin Mary. Of course, if that were the correct etymology, it would furnish the exact rendering of Sainte Dame: but, as it is, it is equivalent. A voice feigning that of the Blessed Virgin may well be represented by a voice feigning that of religion and faith. I take this from Garencières, and not the texte-type.
204:1 Sublimis, high, elevated.
204:2 Latin, obnubilare, to cloud, obscure.
204:3 Romance, comprins, compris, contained in.
204:4 Sens = sans, without.
204:5 Chief = chef, God.
207:1 Latin, munimen, rampart.
207:2 Rapis, anagram, for Paris.
207:3 Latin, nunquam, never.
207:4 Arroi, for desarroi, disorder.
207:5 "On désigne quelquefois sous ce nom un habitant d'Alexandrie dont le véritable nom est Néopol, qui fut martyrisé sous Dioclétien. Outre ce Saint, dont la vie est complètement inconnue, les bollandistes font mention d'un Napoléon, brilliant cavalier, neveu dc Cardinal Fossa-Nuova, qui se tua en tombant de cheval à Rome en 1218. Saint Dominique, temoin de la douleur du pauvre cardinal, ressuscita le jeune homme. Napoléon reconnut ce bienfait en menant une vie fort chretienne et, quand il fut mort pour tout de bon, l'Église le béatifia. Toutefois, il n'avait pas sa place fixe dans le calendrier. Ce fut Pie VII. qui lui assigna pour sa fête la date du 15 août, dans le but sans doute de plaire à Napoléon Bonaparte."--"Grand Dictionnaire Universel du dixneuvième Siècle," par M. Pierre Larousse, tom. xi. p. 804. Paris: 1874.
208:1 Latin, tantum, so much.
208:2 Romance, outre, beyond.
208:3 Latin, castula, tunic. It was a kind of petticoat worn by women next the skin, and fastened under the breasts, which it left exposed. It stands here for the goddess of Republican Liberty, which is generally represented in this dress of the Roman virgins.
208:4 Latin, incerta, uncertain.