All people knew (or thought they knew) that he had made himself immensely rich; and, for that reason alone, prostrated themselves before him, more degradedly
and less excusably than the darkest savage creeps out of his hole in the ground to propitiate, in some log or reptile, the Deity of his benighted soul.
It is an index, moreover, of the dark secret of the artist's, and by extension, humanity's, tainted genetic heritage: "He was, in all his gradations of morbidity between the frankly nonhuman and the degradedly
human, establishing a sardonic linkage and evolution" (19).
In the background of The French Revolution, similarly, with its over-determined events and heroic attitudinizing, are France's "millions," alternately quiescent and restive, neglected and feared--a historical subject, according to Paine, "degradedly
thrown into the back-ground of the human picture, to bring forward, with greater glare, the puppet-show of state and aristocracy" (59).