THOSE DAMN FRENCH….William Safire is on an anti-French crusade (here and here), and the good folks at have the goods on his dishonest Francophobic screed.

But Safire is an amateur. Check out this attack on everyone’s favorite republic:

….the dissoluteness of youth, the wanton and wicked reviling of magistrates…the cherishing of seditious practices, the opposition to the laws of the country…the open practice of adultery and fornication, the multiplied instances of fraud and swindling…the devotedness of thousands to a covetous pursuit of wealth…have encreased upon us, with a rapid accumulation, within a short space…And shall I lay open the source…?…an enthusiastic attachment, in multitudes of people in this country to the revolution and cause of the French. This attachment has given an easy introduction to the atheistical, infidel, and immoral principles of that people.

That was the Reverend Ashbel Green delivering his Fast Day sermon in 1799. Could those guys sling the invective, or what?

If you’re interested, and you really should be, this passage and the ones in the post below are from American Aurora, by Richard Rosenfeld, an immensely entertaining history of our near war with France in 1798-99, as told by stringing together excerpts from the Aurora, an anti-Federalist Philadelphia newspaper, and some of its competitors. It seems as though 900 pages of excerpts from old newspapers ought to be pretty tedious, but in Rosenfeld’s hands it’s anything but. It’s a fascinating look at history in the making, and gives you a real feel for how this particular episode of war frenzy played out. It’s a timely read.