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Le conseiller Courtin lui demanda de quel charme elle s’était servie pour ensorceler la reine: Galigaï, indignée contre le conseiller, et un peu mécontente de Marie de Médicis, répondit: « Mon sortilège a été le pouvoir que les âmes fortes doivent avoir sur les esprits faibles. » Cette réponse ne la sauva pas; quelques juges eurent assez de lumières et d’équité pour ne pas opiner à la mort; mais le reste, entraîné par le préjugé public, par l’ignorance, et plus encore par ceux qui voulaient recueillir les dépouilles de ces infortunés, condamnèrent à la fois le mari déjà mort et la femme, comme convaincus de sortilège, de judaïsme et de malversations. La maréchale fut exécutée (1617), et son corps brûlé.
Counselor Courtin asked her what magic she had used to cast a spell upon the queen: Galigaï, outraged against the counselor and a bit miffed with Maria de Medici, answered: “My magic spell was the power that strong spirits may have upon the weak.” This response did not save her, several judges were intelligent and just enough not to support the penalty of death, but the rest, influenced by public prejudice, by ignorance and still more by those who sought to reap the plunder of those unfortunates, sentenced both the already deceased husband and his wife to death—for sorcery, Judaism and miscreancy. The maréchale was executed (1617) and her body burned.
–Jean-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), Essai sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations et sur les principaux faits de l’histoire, depuis Charlemagne jusqu’à Louis XIII, ch clxxiv, 7ème lettre (1756) in Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, vol. xii/3 (S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”