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We hear a great outcry against the cupidity and the egotism of the age!
For my own part, I see the world, Paris especially, peopled with Deciuses.
Open the thousand volumes, the thousand newspapers of all sorts and sizes, which the Parisian press vomits forth every day on the country—are they not all the work of minor saints?
How vividly they depict the vices of the times! How touching the tenderness they display for the masses! How liberally they invite the rich to share with the poor, if not the poor to share with the rich! How many plans of social reforms, social ameliorations, and social organizations! What shallow writer fails to devote himself to the wellbeing of the working classes? We have only to contribute a few shillings to procure them leisure to deliver themselves up to their humane lucubrations.
And then they declare against the egotism and individualism of our age!
There is nothing which they do not pretend to enlist in the service of the working classes—there is positively no exception, not even the Customhouse. You fancy, perhaps, that the Customhouse is merely an instrument of taxation, like the octroi or the toll-bar? Nothing of the kind. It is essentially