Skip to Content

Two Points of View

 The extraordinary lack of apprehension by the superficially “educated” middle-class mind, even of a woman of genius in her own limited sphere, as compared with the depth of insight and forcible characterisation of a great scientific thinker informed by and applying the materialist philosophy is strikingly instanced by the following extracts:—

Sarah Bernhardt
, according to the “Strand Magazine" for August, when contrasting her first impression of fashionable life in London with life in Paris. says:

    “The carriage road between the riding track and the foot passengers was filled with dogcarts, open carriages of various kinds, mail coaches, and very smart cabs. There were powdered footmen, horses decorated with flowers, sportsmen driving, ladies, too, driving admirable horses. All this elegance, this essence of luxury and this joy of life, brought back to my memory tho vision of our Bois du Boulogne, so elegant and so animated a few years before, when Napoleon III. used to drive through in his carriage, nonchalant and smiling. Ah! how beautiful it was in those days—our Bois de Boulogne, with the officers caracoling in the Avenue des Acacias, admired by our beautiful society women!   "The joy of Life was everywhere—the love of Love enveloping Life with infinite charm. I closed mv eyes, and I felt a pang at my heart as tho awful recollections of 1870 crowded to my brain. He was dead—our gentle Emperor with his shrewd smile; dead, vanquished by the sword, betrayed by Fortune, crushed with grief."

Karl Marx exposes the real Bonaparte (this “gentle Emperor") in the following characteristic and forcible passage in his work, “The Eighteenth Brumaire” (see p. 41):

    “Along with ruined roués of questionable means of support and questionable antecedents, along with the foul and adventure seeking dregs of the bourgeoisie, there were vagabonds, dismissed soldiers, discharged convicts, runaway galley slaves, sharpers, jugglers, lazzaroni, pickpockets, sleight-of-hand performers, gamblers, procurers, keepers of disorderly houses, porters, literati, organ-grinders, rag-pickers, scissors grinders, tinkers, beggars—in short, that whole undefined, dissolute, kicked-about mass that the Frenchmen style “la Bohéme.” With this kindred element, Bonaparte formed the stock of the “Society of December 10," a “benevolent association,” in so far as, like Bonaparte himself, all its members felt the need of being benevolent to themselves at. the expense of the toiling nation. The Bonaparte, who here constitutes himself Chief of the Slum-Proletariat; who only here finds again in plenteous form the interests which he personally pursues; who, in this refuse, offal and wreck of all classes, recognises the only class upon which he can depend unconditionally—this is the real Bonaparte, the Bonaparte without qualification.”