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family, he actually says (without seeing the extent of the confession which the fact imports), that he would have suffered his son to die in the Bastile, had she wished it! This seems incredible, but the words follow:- Au nom de Dieu, laisse-moi donc en repos sur l'article de la prétendue ennemie. Eh! morbleu ! si elle 'l'eût été, il ne serait pas' (Mirabeau, the son) sorti de Vincennes. Sans elle' (says he, in another letter), il eût péri dans les fers; elle l'en a retiré.' Well might the Bailli answer by exclaiming, Quel aveu t'échappe !'

We now come to Mirabeau himself, whose Character is best painted in his story recorded by these letters, and the few additions made in the editor's own name. Yet, before extracting some passages from them, we must stop to sketch it after the life, which, we think, the work before us at length enables us to do.

Honoré Gabriel Mirabeau was endowed by nature with a quick and vigorous understanding, a lively imagination, passions more vehement than are almost ever seen in men with such intellectual powers, and a disposition naturally kindly and humane. His temperament led to the early unfolding both of his bodily and mental faculties; and there are few instances on record of children forming such manly ideas as he seems to have imbibed, even during his infancy. The peculiar circumstances in which he was, from his boyhood upwards, placed by the singular opinions, prejudices, and temper of his father, exercised a most powerful influence upon his whole conduct, and must have deeply affected his character in every material respect. Yet we may appreciate his merits and his faults, even through the artificial covering which was thus thrown over his nature; and although impetuosity of feelings, and a proportionate disregard of the obstacles, which he ought to have respected instead of overleaping, forms a predominant feature of his mind and his habits, we cannot fairly charge him with any of those faults which go mainly to form the vicious disposition. Forced first into estrangement from the society of his family, and afterwards into contempt of the parental authority, it must be admitted, that originally he had strong filial affections, and no desire at all to set at defiance a control which he held peculiarly sacred; nor is it to be forgotten, that when his two parents quarrelled, he resisted all attempts of the one to make him side against the other,-even when the restoration of his own liberty might have been the reward of such an offensive alliance against their common oppressor. Nay, the veneration for his father, which he had early imbibed, never was extinguished by any persecution; for we find him to the last feeling an intellectual superiority, which certainly did not exist, and always refraining from retaliating the charges brought against himself for his inde

corous life, by referring to the worse life of the Marquess." The parsimonious treatment to which his comfort and respectability in the world was all his life sacrificed, and which his father chose to reconcile with a family pride almost without a parallel, never made the son forget who and what he was, by descending to any act of meanness or dishonour; and while pressed by want of the common necessaries of life, and tortured by the far more unbearable sight of those he most loved suffering the same privations, his exertions to relieve himself were always confined to the work of honest, though obscure, industry; nor has any one of his innumerable enemies, domestic, political, or personal, ever charged him with even using, for the purpose of solicitation, that pen which was his only resource against want. The shifts and contrivances to which needy men, with strong passions, and in high stations, so often resort, and which would seem to justify in their case the uncharitable saying, that integrity and poverty are as hard to reconcile as it is for an empty sack to stand upright,have never been imputed to Mirabeau, at a time when his whole soul was engrossed by an overpowering passion, or his senses bewitched by a life of pleasure, or his resources brought to an ebb little above those of the menial or the peasant. It would have been well if the influence of disorderly passions had not plunged him into other excesses no less blamable, though not, perhaps, at all dishonest or mercenary. It is not the connexion he formed with Madame le Monnier to which we refer, because for that, in its commencement, there were many excuses. A girl of eighteen married to a man of seventy-five, and only nominally married, to this keeper, alternately confiding and jealous-now tempting her by indulgence and carelessness-now watching and restraining with tormenting and suspicious rigour -first awakened in Mirabeau's bosom the most irresistible of the passions, and all the more dangerous, for so often assuming the garb, and even uniting itself with the reality of virtuous propensities. The elopement which followed, and was caused by a dislike on both their parts to play the hypocrite, and live with him whom they were deceiving, proved altogether alien to the habits of French society; and severely outraged the feelings of those refined profligates, who, reckoning vice itself nothing, hold indecorum to be the worst of enormities; in other words, prefer

* One work alone, which attacked the Marquess, is said to be his. But the evidence of authorship is very scanty, and it seems hardly fair, on such grounds, to charge him with so great a departure from his general line of conduct.

the semblance to the reality of virtue, and forgive one offence if the worser crime of falsehood be added to veil it from public view. Accordingly, there was an outcry raised throughout all society, not in France only, but in Europe, at the unheard-of atrocity. A young woman had left her superannuated husband, whom she had, by the customs of aristocratic society, been compelled to take for her tyrant and tormentor, under the name of a husband, and had left him for one of an age near her own, and who sacrificed himself for her deliverance. The lovers had rebelled against those rules which regulated the vicious intercourse of nobles in legitimate France; they had outraged all the fine feelings of patrician nature, by refusing to lead a life of pretence, and treachery, and secret indulgence; they had even brought into jeopardy the long-established security of illicit intercourse, understood without being avowed; and the veil was thus about to be torn away from all the endearing immoralities that give occupation and interest to aristocratic life, and break the calm monotony of an existence which demands that it never shall be ruffled but by voluntary excitements. Hence all society (that is, all the upper and worthless portion of it) combined to a woman' against the hapless pair; Mirabeau was regarded as a monster; and the conduct of his father, who hunted him over all Europe, and then flung him into a prison for the best years of his life, was excused by all, and blamed by none; while no one ever thought of visiting with the slightest censure no one ever ven'hint a doubt, or hesitate dislike,' of that very father turning his wife, the mother of his daughters, out of doors, and installing a mistress in her room. The darker portion of Mirabeau's conduct relates to Sophie-not to Madame le Monnier. When, under that name, he dragged her before the public, and indulged a loose and prurient fancy, in providing for the worst appetites of licentious minds, he became justly the object of aversion, and even of disgust; and ranged himself with the writers of obscene works, but took the precedence of these in profligacy, by making his own amours the theme of his abandoned contemplations. It is the very worst passage in his history; and we are of opinion, that it is nearly the only one which admits neither defence nor palliation. The other grave charge to which he is exposed, of publishing the Berlin Correspondence, is, though on different grounds, alike without justification. In extenuation of it, we are bound to observe, that the whole object of his existence depended upon the supplies which it fur

The writings alluded to were the works of some of his hours of confinement during near four years of solitary imprisonment, and may

nished. His election in Provence would, without it, have been hopeless. But this is a sorry topic even of palliation.

We shall complete our view of Mirabeau's character, if we add that he joined to extraordinary talents, and a most brilliant fancy, powers of application rarely found in such union; that his vigorous reasoning, whether from some natural defect of judgment, or from the influence of feeling and passion, often proved an unsafe guide, even in speculation, still oftener in action; that, slave as he too generally proved to be to the love of indulgence, his courage was ever sustained above all suspicion ; that even his share of a virtue far more rare, true fortitude under calamity, surpassed that of most men; and that all the hardships he had undergone, and the torments he had suffered from so many forms of ingenious persecution, never for a moment infused any gall into a disposition originally and throughout benevolent and


Of his genius, the best monuments that remain are his Speeches, and even these were not always his own composition. Both Dumont, Durovery, and Pellenc, men of distinguished ability, did more than assist him in their production; but some of the finest are known to have been his own; and the greatest passages, those which produced the most magical effects, were the inspiration of the moment. His literary works were too often produced under the pressure of want, to be well digested, or carefully finished. The chief of them, his Monarchie Prussienne, is no doubt a vast collection of statistical facts; and as he had access to the whole of the information which was possessed by the government upon the subject, it is impossible to say that he has not so used his materials as to produce a work of value. Yet the arrangement is not peculiarly felicitous; nor are the proofs on which the statements rest sifted with much care; while the dissertations, which plentifully garnish it, are often very prolix, and founded upon economical principles, which, though generally sound, being, indeed, those of the modern system, are applied, as it were by rote, to any case, and made the ground of decision, without the least regard to the limitations that must practically be introduced into the rules, or the exceptions that occur to their application. As for his intimate friend Major Mauvillon's share in this work, the subject of so many exaggerations, he has himself frankly admitted that it was altogether subordinate, although

have been afterwards used from necessity. If that was the cause of giving such shameful effusions publicity, we may well say that the offence of the composition, in such circumstances, disgusting as it was, merits the least grave portion of the blame.

of great importance, nay essential, to the execution of the plan. The military details, especially, owe to his talents and experience their principal value. The Essai sur le Despotisme, his earliest political production, is, though severely judged by his own criticism, a work of extraordinary merit; and the Considerations sur Agiotage and the essay on Lettres de Cachet may probably be esteemed his best tracts. But we are here' speaking of those writings which partake not of the oratorical character; for to estimate Mirabeau's genius, we must look at the sudden and occasional productions of his pen, which resemble speeches more than books, and which, indeed, though never spoken, belong far more to the rhetorical than the literary or scientific class of writings. Among these the celebrated Réponse aux Protestations des Possedant Fiefs, published in February, 1788, and written, as it were, off-hand, justly deserves the highest place; and it would be difficult to match it in the history of French eloquence. The splendid peroration may serve to show its force.

"Dans tous les pays, dans tous les âges, les aristocrates ont implacablement poursuivi les amis du peuple; et si, par je ne sais quelle com. binaison de la fortune, il s'en est élevé quelqu'un dans leur sein, c'est celui-là surtout qu'ils ont frappé, avides qu'ils étaient d'inspirer la terreur par le choix de la victime. Ainsi périt le dernier des Gracques de la main des patriciens; mais, atteint du coup mortel, il lança de la poussière vers le ciel, en attestant les dieux vengeurs; et de cette poussière naquit Marius: Marius, moins grand pour avoir exterminé les Cimbres, que pour avoir abattu dans Rome l' aristocratie de la noblesse!

"Mais vous, communes, écoutez celui qui porte vos applaudissemens dans son cœur, sans en être séduit. L'homme n'est fort que par l'union, il n'est heureux que par la paix. Soyez fermes, et non pas opiniâtres; courageux, et non tumultueux; libres, mais non pas indisciplinés; sensibles, mais non pas enthousiastes; ne vous arrêtez qu'aux difficultés importantes, et soyez alors entièrement inflexibles: mais dédaignez les contentions de l'amour-propre, et ne mettez jamais en balance un homme et la patrie; surtout hâtez autant qu'il est en vous l'époque de ces Etatsgénéraux qu'on vous accuse d'autant plus âprement de reculer, qu'on en redoute davantage les résultats; de ces Etats-généraux où tant de prétentions seront déjouées, tant de droits rétablis, tant de maux réparés; de ces Etats-généraux enfin, où le monarque lui-même désire que la France se régénère.

"Pour moi, qui dans ma carrière publique n'ai jamais craint que d'avoir tort; moi qui, enveloppé de ma conscience et armé de principes, braverais l'univers, soit que mes travaux et ma voix vous soutiennent dans l'assem blée nationale, soit que mes vœux seuls vous y accompagnent, de vaines clameurs, des protestations injurieuses, des menaces ardentes, toutes les convulsions, en un mot, des préjugés expirans, ne m'en imposeront pas. Eh! comment s'arrêterait-il aujourd'hui dans sa course civique, celui

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