There is nothing on which the leaders of the Republic, one and indivisible, value themselves more than on the chemical operations by which, through science, they convert the pride of aristocracy to an instrument of its own destruction — on the operations by which they reduce the magnificent, ancient country seats of the nobility, decorated with the feudal titles of Duke, Marquis, or Earl, into magazines of what they call revolutionary gun-powder. They tell us that hitherto things "had not yet been properly and in a revolutionary manner explored...." The strong chateaus, those feudal fortresses that were ordered to be demolished, attracted next the attention of your committee. Nature there had secretly regained her rights, and had produced saltpeter for the purpose, as it should seem, of facilitating the execution of your decree by preparing the means of destruction. From these ruins, which still frown on the liberties of the Republic, we have extracted the means of producing good; and those piles which have hitherto glutted the pride of despots and covered the plots of La Vendee will soon furnish wherewithal to tame the traitors and to overwhelm the disaffected.... The rebellious cities also have afforded a large quantity of saltpeter. 'Commune Affranchie' (that is, the noble city of Lyons reduced in many parts to an heap of ruins) and Toulon will pay a second tribute to our artillery ('Report', 1st February 1794) (Burke).
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