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chamber, and shouted « Vive Barnave!” whilst Mirabeau, hissed
pour rapprocher les opinions, que d'avouer nettement sur quoi l'on est d'accord et sur quoi l'on differe; les discussions amicales valent mieux, pour s'entendre, que les insinuations calomnieuses, que les inculpations forcenées, que les peines de rivalité; que les machinations de l'intrigue et de la malveillance. On répand, depuis plusieurs jours, que la section de l'Assemblée qui veut le concours de la volonté royale dans l'exercice du droit de paix et de guerre, est parricide de la liberté publique ; on répand les bruits de perfidie, de corruption : on invoque les vengeances populaires pour soutenir la tyrannie des opinions... (Here he looked sternly at Barnave.)... Ét moi aussi on voulait, il y a quelques jours, me porter en triomphe, et maintenant on crie dans les rues, la grande conspiration du Comte de Mirabeau. Je n'avais pas besoin de cette leçon pour savoir qu'il est peu de distance du capitole à la roche Tarpèïenne ; mais l'homme qui combat pour la raison et pour la patrie ne se tient pas si aisément vaincu. (Mirabeau cast a haughty look at the Lameths.) Celui qui a la conscience d'avoir bien mérité de son pays et surtout de lui être utile, celui que ne rassasie pas une vaine célébrité, qui dédaigne les succès d'un jour pour la véritable gloire, cet homme porte avec lui la récompense de ses services, le charme de ses peines, le prix de ses dangers ; il ne doit attendre sa moisson et sa destinée, la seule qui l'intéresse, la destinée de son nom, que du temps, juge incorruptible qui fait justice à tous. Je rentre donc dans la lice armé de mes seuls principes et de la fermeté de ma conscience. Je vais poser à mon tour le véritable point de la difficulté avec la netteté dont je suis tapable. Je prie de mes adversaires, qui ne m'entendront pas, de
m'arreter, afin que je m'explique plus clairement; car je suis décidé à déjouer les reproches tant répétés de subtilités, d'evasion, de subterfuge; et, s'il ne tient qu'à moi, cette journée devoilera le secret de nos loyautés respectives."
He then refuted, in a victorious manner, the objections of Barnave; he maintained his former system afresh, and urged it with redoubled force. He saw in the eyes of his audience the certainty of his triumph; and stopping rather abruptly, he finished in an ordinary and inexpressibly contemptuous tone with these words:
“ Il me semble, Messieurs, que le vrai point de la difficulté est parfaitement connu; que M. Barnave n'a point du tout abordé la question. Ce serait un gain trop facile maintenant que de le poursuivre dans les détails, où s'il a fait voir quelque talent, il n'a jamais montré la moindre connaissance d'homme d'Etât ni des affaires humaines. Il a déclamé longuement contre les maux que peuvent faire et qu'ont fait les rois ; il s'est bien gardé de remarquer que, dans notre constitution, le monarque ne peut plus ètre despote ni rien faire arbitrairement; il s'est bien gardê surtout de parler des mouvemens populaires.
Mirabeau left the tribune amidst a thunder of applause, which continued almost instinctively for many minutes after he had resumed his seat. His triumph was complete.
There is no doubt of Mirabeau's negotiations with the Court, and there is nothing to be found in them which does him any dishonour. Laporte, intendant of the civil list, was the medium of communication. Mirabeau's remarks on the state of parties, in and out of the Assembly, are profound; and his advice to the King wise and beneficial. Whether he actually received any money is not easy to be known: that he bargained for some permanent advantages to himself is probable. Madame de Stäel, a witness not likely to favour the sarcastic enemy of Necker, says, that she had in her possession a letter in the hand-writing of Mirabeau, which was intended for the King ; in it he offered his utmost services to establish a powerful and dignified, but at the same time, a limited monarchy in France. The truth is, Mirabeau laboured to free and regenerate his country, and then wished to guide its destinies as minister of it himself.
His intrigues were suspected: the attempts he made to pass a decree that any deputy of the Assembly might take an office and retain his seat, were in vain ; the Aristocrates, Constitutionalists, and Jacobins, all united to oppose it. The object was too clear to escape their vigilance. They were afraid of such a minister as Mirabeau, if allowed to exercise his influence over the Assembly as a member. Vernier moved, that a law should be made against emigrants. Mirabeau said, it was impossible, and demanded
leave to speak : it was refused : he persisted in his demand; “ What kind of dictatorship is this?” cried Goupil, “ which M. de Mirabeau affects to exercise over the Assembly ?”—“ I beg those who interrupt me,” replied Mirabeau, “ to recollect, that I have combated the despotism both of kings and ministers, and that I shall certainly not crouch under that of a club. I beg M. Goupil to recollect that once upon a time he affected to despise a certain Catiline, against whose dictatorship he now protests." The Jacobins were furious, and roared for an adjournment. Mirabeau forgot, for a moment, the gradation necessary to the part which he was determined to play, and thundered with a voice of empire, “Silence aux trente voix.” The Jacobins were silent accordingly, and the adjournment was negatived.
Mirabeau was continually challenged by the impetuous members of the old noblesse, and his answers to some of them are very humourous. To one he said, after the manner of Bessus, “ Je le veux bien ; mais comme je ne puis me battre tant que stitution ne sera pas faite, je tiens siste de ceux qui me font l’honneur de me jeter le gant, et je vais vous inscrire.” To another, « Il n'est pas juste, que j'expose un homme d'esprit comme moi contre un sot comme vous. Yet no one suspected his courage *
His style of oratory was various according to the occasion ; at one time, displaying in easy luxuriance the boundless treasures of his knowledge and imagination ; at another, inflamed with passion, overbearing all opposition, short, rapid, and furious. He had perhaps the greatest theme and the most noble theatre that ever fell to the lot of any orator, and he effected more remarkable changes by dint of eloquence than are related of any modern speaker. He frequently abandoned the prescribed forms of public debate, and imitated Demosthenes in a direct attack or personal denunciation. He was once interrupted by a member who complained that Mirabeau was always assailing him with irony ; Mirabeau looked at him for a minute, and then said with a very slow and articulate pronunciation,-“ Puisque vous n'aimez pas l'ironie, je vous lance le profond mépris.” Being called to order upon one occasion, he turned round sharply upon the person, and replied, “ J'y suis, monsieur ; c'est vous qui le troublez.” He possessed the greatest excellence of oratory, which consists in rarely or never trusting an argument to its bare logical sufficiency, but in investing it with a garb of imagery, and in animating it with the spirit of human earnestness. He personified his thoughts, and impassioned his abstractions. He knocked directly at the door of the affections of his audience, and never stayed to trifle in the vestibule of their fancies. His eloquence acted all at once; the speech came en masse ; there were no dreary intervals of parration, or deduction, or calculation, but every thing was amalgamated, and beaten into one mighty thunderbolt of reason, anger, ridicule, and invective.
* It is said, that Mirabeau, when a boy of fourteen years of age, was taken to visit the Prince of Conti, who asked him what he would do if he, the Prince, were to strike him, Monseigneur, n'escrait!"~" But suppose," said the Prince, “the King were to strike you!"_"Cette question," replied Mirabeau, ''eût étéfort embarassante avant l'invention des pistolets à deux coups."
Tres imbris torti radios, tres nubis aquosæ.
Fulgores nunc terrificos, sonitumque, metumque
Miscebat-flammisque sequacibus iras. His power at the moment of his victory over the Jacobins was immense; his popularity approached to an idolatry for his person. He was tall, thick, and ugly, yet he reigned more indisputably in the hearts of the fair sex than he did even in the tribune. The girls embraced him as he walked in the streets; threw ribbons around his neck, and scattered flowers before his feet. He gave himself
up to the most destructive excesses, and sunk himself to apathy in the mad voluptuousness which the finest women in Paris were proud to participate with him. At the same time he never ceased from his intellectual toils; his ambition was never lulled; his reason was never intoxicated, never asleep. He saw with
accuracy the exact position in which he was placed, and understood the relative strength and intentions of the various parties with precision. He restrained the Aristocrates within bounds, and repressed the furies of the democratical faction; he might have strengthened the hands of the King; he might have quelled the clubs; he might have saved France !
But death came and snatched him from the earth, when his life was invaluable, and his loss irreparable. His debauches racked him with pain; his mind became lethargic, his energies languid. He had recourse to baths impregnated with corrosive sublimate ; a species of treatment which permitted him to attend his duties in the Assembly, but which demanded the severest regimen. Mirabeau observed none. An orgy at La Coulon's, an opera dancer, in which he combined every sort of excess with every mean of exciting it, gave him his mortal blow. A violent fever was the consequence; the acrid particles of the sublimate, not being able to escape through the pores on account of the unnatural tension of the body, turned their dreadful influence inwards on the vital system, and actually poisoned the very sources of life.
Mirabeau felt that his end was approaching, and submitted to it with fortitude. The news of his illness agitated Paris to the centre: the doors of his house were surrounded with an immense multitude, who kept a profound silence, and watched for the announcement of the hourly bulletin of his health. Barnave headed
a deputation of the Jacobins to wait upon him; for the Jacobins themselves dared not resist the torrent of public opinion so de cidedly expressed. One young man, having heard that an infusion of new blood might prove serviceable, came and offered his life for that frantic purpose. Mirabeau loved life like an epicurean, but nothing could for a moment shake the fixedness of his soul. He was dignified and imaginative to the last. “ You are a great physician,” said he to Cabanis ; “ but there is a greater physician than you-he who made the wind which destroys every thing, the water which penetrates and fertilizes every thing, the fire which vivifies every thing." He ordered the windows to be opened wide on the day of his death ;—“My friend,” said he to Cabanis, ". I shall die this day; when a man has arrived at this point, there remains but one thing to do—to languish in perfumes, to enwreath the head with flowers, to surround the senses with music, that so he may enter sweetly into that sleep from which he shall never more arise.” He then talked about the actual state of France, and developed the secrets of the various parties which had operated the revolution : “ I carry in my heart,” added he, “ the mourning of the monarchy which is now falling a prey to the hatred of the factious.” He speculated also on the affairs of Europe;
56 Ce Pitt,” said he, “ est le ministre des préparatifs; il gouverne avec ce dont il menace plutôt qu'avec ce qu'il fait; si j'eusse vécu, je crois que je lui aurais donné du chagrin.
He became speechless, but still remained perfectly sensible. His sufferings were excruciating, and taking up a pen he wrote legibly the word Dormir. He twice or thrice wrote to
express quest that they would give him opium; he fell back again apparently dead, when some artillery being discharged in the neighbourhood, the dying Mirabeau raised himself up on one arm, opened his eyes, smiled, and said with a clear and almost exulting voice,“ Sont-ce déjà les funérailles d'Achille ?--J'ai pour un siècle de courage, et je n'ai plus pour un instant de force.” He sunk with the effort, and expired.
The theatres were closed, the shops shut, the people silent. The National Assembly decreed that the body of the deceased orator should be carried to the new church of Sainte-Geneviève, which was then for the first time entitled the Pantheon. Barrère pronounced his eulogy in the tribune, and moved that the deputies should attend the funeral. “ We will all go," was the cry. No monarch was ever carried to his long home with such imposing magnificence; it was rather an apotheosis than a human entombment. The representatives of the people, all the public functionaries, twelve thousand of the national guard, and more than four thousand citizens in mourning formed the procession. A slow and melancholy music told of departed greatness ; the thousand torches,