Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke

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Author: Edmund Burke

Antechamber of Regicide.

To those who do not love to contemplate the fall of human greatness, I do not know a more mortifying spectacle, than to see the assembled majesty of the crowned heads of Europe waiting as patient suitors in the antechamber of regicide. They wait, it seems, until the sanguinary tyrant Carnot shall have snorted away the fumes of the indigested blood of his sovereign. Then, when, sunk on the down of usurped pomp, he shall have sufficiently indulged his meditations with what monarch he shall next glut his ravening maw, he may condescend to signify that it is his pleasure to be awake; and that he is at leisure to receive the proposals of his high and mighty clients for the terms on which he may respite the execution of the sentence he has passed upon them. At the opening of those doors, what a sight it must be to behold the plenipotentiaries of royal impotence, in the precedency which they will intrigue to obtain, and which will be granted to them according to the seniority of their degradation, sneaking into the regicide presence, and with the relics of the smile, which they had dressed up for the levee of their masters, still flickering on their curled lips, presenting the faded remains of their courtly graces, to meet the scornful, ferocious, sardonic grin of a bloody ruffian, who, whilst he is receiving their homage, is measuring them with his eye, and fitting to their size the slider of his guillotine! These ambassadors may easily return as good courtiers as they went; but can they ever return from that degrading residence, loyal and faithful subjects; or with any true affection to their master, or true attachment to the constitution, religion, or laws of their country? There is great danger that they, who enter smiling into this Trophonian cave, will come out of it sad and serious conspirators; and such will continue as long as they live. They will become true conductors of contagion to every country which has had the misfortune to send them to the source of that electricity. At best they will become totally indifferent to good and evil, to one institution or another. This species of indifference is but too generally distinguishable in those who have been much employed in foreign courts; but in the present case the evil must be aggravated without measure; for they go from their country, not with the pride of the old character, but in a state of the lowest degradation, and what must happen in their place of residence can have no effect in raising them to the level of true dignity, or of chaste self-estimation, either as men, or as representatives of crowned heads.

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Chicago: Edmund Burke, "Antechamber of Regicide.," Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke in Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke Original Sources, accessed May 29, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4V9HLNAJV173T8J.

MLA: Burke, Edmund. "Antechamber of Regicide." Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke, in Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke, Original Sources. 29 May. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4V9HLNAJV173T8J.

Harvard: Burke, E, 'Antechamber of Regicide.' in Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke. cited in , Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke. Original Sources, retrieved 29 May 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4V9HLNAJV173T8J.