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IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age
of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was
the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter
of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the
other way-in short, the period was so far like the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received,
for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face,
on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a
queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it
was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves
and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.

It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and

Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured
period, as at this.

Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed
birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had
heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements
were made for the swallowing up of Lon-don and Westminster.
Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of
years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year
last past (supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs.
Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately come to the
English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in
America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to
the human race than any communications yet received through any
of the chickens of the Cock-lane brood.

France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her
sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness
down hill, making paper money and spending it. Under the
guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides,
with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his
hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body
burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do
honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his
view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough
that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were
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