The Revolution came;...
The Revolution came; events succeeded each other with precipitation; the
parliamentary families, decimated, pursued, hunted down, were dispersed.
M. Charles Myriel emigrated to Italy at the very beginning of the
Revolution. There his wife died of a malady of the chest, from which she
had long suffered. He had no children. What took place next in the fate
of M. Myriel? The ruin of the French society of the olden days, the fall
of his own family, the tragic spectacles of '93, which were, perhaps,
even more alarming to the emigrants who viewed them from a distance,
with the magnifying powers of terror,--did these cause the ideas of
renunciation and solitude to germinate in him? Was he, in the midst of
these distractions, these affections which absorbed his life, suddenly
smitten with one of those mysterious and terrible blows which sometimes
overwhelm, by striking to his heart, a man whom public catastrophes
would not shake, by striking at his existence and his fortune? No one
could have told: all that was known was, that when he returned from
Italy he was a priest.