Knowest thou that old queen of the world who is on the march always and wearies never? Every uncurbed passion, every selfish pleasure, every licentious energy of humanity, and all its tyrannous weakness, go before the sordid mistress of outearful valley, and, scythe in hand, these indefatigable labourers reap their eternal harvest. That queen is old as time, but her skeleton is concealed in the wreckage of women's beauty, which she abstracts from their youth and love. Her skull is adorned with lifeless tresses that are not her own. Spoliator of crowned heads, she is embellished with the plunder of queens, from the star-begemmed hair of Berenice to that-white, but not with age-which the executioner sheared from the brow of Marie Antoinette. Her livid and frozen body is clothed in faded garments and tattered winding-sheets. Her bony hands, covered with rings, hold diadems
and chains, scepters and crossbones, jewels and ashes. When she goes by, doors open of themselves; she passes through walls; she penetrates to the cabinets ofkings; she surprises the extortioners of the poor in their most secret orgies; she sits down at their board, pours out their wine, grins at their songs with her gumless teeth, takes the place of the lecherous courtesan hidden behind their curtains.
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