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This memoir was communicated to Malouet, and a conference took place between Mirabeau and him, at the Comte de Montmorin's. Malouet has left a Report of this conference which is found in Droz (vol. iii. p. 340.). The following is the most striking passage in this Report : His voice thundering as in the Tribune, his animated gestures, the abundance and justness of his ideas electrified me. I threw aside all my pre
judices, all my doubts, and I found myself sharing his con• viction, praising his project and his courage, exalting his means
of success, but my peroration vexed him, – You will repair better than any one the mischief you have done.' Mirabeau vehemently denied the imputation, and threw the blame upon the modérés ' like Malouet, who had not appreciated him, upon the Ministers, who had never moved without making a false step, and upon the stupid Assembly, which never rightly understood what it said or did.
We have before said that Mirabeau had an intuitive aptitude for dealing with a revolutionary crisis, and it is difficult to determine whether he were more fitted to set up a Revolution, or to guide it when once put in motion. No other scheme could possibly have been propounded at the time, when the memoir was given in, which would have had a greater chance of success; but we believe that the revolutionary spirit was then too universally explosive to have been kept down by pamphlets, newspapers, or personal agency, however ably written or dexterously exerted. The excited populace of Paris in those days, as in the present, could only be controlled by a large army, and the royal authority was wholly unprovided with military means for self-defence, or for the maintenance of public tranquillity.
The memoir is very defective on this point, and does not go beyond the mention of a body of household troops for the personal protection of the King and the Royal Family. It seems to us, that the most practical part of the scheme was the means to be employed for managing the Assembly; and as this branch would have been conducted under the immediate superintendence of Mirabeau, there was reason to have anticipated success; but without that superintendence the result was always problematical and so, indeed, it turned out.
The Queen very reluctantly consented to give her confidence to Comte de Montmorin, and used against the employment of Messrs. Talon and Semonville the language which had been held by Mirabeau himself against them. Mirabeau's great objection to these individuals had been their devotion and subjection to La Fayette; and when convinced that their sentiments towards the latter had entirely changed, he was ready to give them his confidence, more especially as one important part of their employment was to undermine the influence of La Fayette. Montmorin himself had been equally obnoxious to Mirabeau, as the attached colleague of Necker, and, like Talon and Semonville, connected with La Fayette; he had therefore at one time laboured to destroy the influence of all three with the Court, and it was not surprising that the Queen should have hesitated to accede at once to the change in the confidential agency proposed to her. La Marck had held the same language as Mirabeau, and although his representations had always had, from his unblemished personal character and social position, infinitely more weight with the Queen, he felt the difficulty in overcoming prejudices which he had himself created. We refer our readers to his note (p. 513.). Even while recommending the employment of Semonville, Comte de La Marck says of him — *This man is 6 another intriguant, dexterous, enterprising, greedy of money,
always calm in business, faithful from self-interest, a traitor o whenever he sees an advantage in being so, intimate with all * parties, without committing himself to any. After this character there can be no doubt that the initial S. used in a former letter meant Semonville.
The Editor has quoted at length (pp. 518 and 519.) from Droz a very curious account of an interview between Talon, then Lieutenant Civil, and Favras, in prison, a few days before the execution of the latter, for a plot to carry off the King to Peronne. Talon at this interview obtained possession of a document drawn up by Favras, which was his confession, and which would have deeply implicated Monsieur and the, Queen; he further succeeded in persuading the unfortunate Favras to submit to his fate in silence. We have ourselves heard that the document was in existence at the Restoration, and was voluntarily given up to Louis XVIII. La Marck, who saw the paper, does not attach as much importance to its contents as Droz, but he admits that Talon by keeping it secret had rendered a great service.
La Marck's letter of 30th December, 1790, contains an admirable report on the existing state of affairs at Paris; and that part which relates to the ministerial colleagues of Comte de Montmorin is particularly interesting. Dupont du Terre, the keeper of the seals, was a slave of the Lameths, and a dangerous enemy of the Queen, and owned to Comte de Montmorin that he should not, were the question to arise, oppose her being brought to trial — this man had been forced upon the King by La Fayette.
Duportail, the Minister of War, was not the minister of the King, but of the Military Committee of the Assembly. De
Mirabeau's imprudent Expenses.
Lessart, in the opinion of La Marck, was an abler man than the other two, but he was timid and irresolute. Even of Montmorin he says — He wants that decision and irresistible ascendency 'which mark the real statesman, and without which all other ' qualities are comparatively useless.' Thus one important element of Mirabeau's scheme - union among the members of the Ministry-did not exist, and perhaps no Ministry could have been formed at the time in which it would have sufficiently prevailed.
It was of the utmost importance to conceal Mirabeau's connexion with the Court, and more especially the pecuniary part of it: he was known to be very much embarrassed in his private fortune, and therefore any lavish expenditure of money by him in living or purchases would naturally excite attention, and justify suspicion of the quarter from whence he obtained the means. Notwithstanding these very obvious reasons for prudence and caution, Mirabeau, about this time, made large purchases of books, and through Duquesnoy suggested the acquisition of a country house. Talon was much alarmed and remonstrated, as did the Comte de La Marck. Mirabeau was offended by the interference of the former, of which he complained in a letter (p. 18.) to La Marck, and uses this expression with respect to Talon — Un tel Mentor est un peu mascarade pour moi.' He excuses the purchase of books as being an investment adding to the value of his library, which was the only part of his property free from incumbrance: his irritation led him to suspect that there was a wish to get rid of him, which he says persons who 'voguent de jour au jour,' and were not prepared to follow his plan, might naturally entertain.
Mirabeau's popularity was at this period, the month of January, 1790, undiminished, for he was elected commandant of a battalion of the National Guard, and a member of the administration of the departments; he accepted the former situation with the concurrence of Comte de Montmorin, but he had not time to wait for the sanction of the Court, and his forty-seventh note is (p. 9. vol. üi.) explanatory of his conduct. Mirabeau thought, as the commandants of the battalions of the National Guard when on duty were in the habit of accompanying the Dauphin in his walks, that use might be made of those opportunities for confidential communications to the Queen orally or in writing. He says, ' accustomed to do many things at once (and on that
account it may be said I do them very badly) I might at the * same time play at bowls or at nine pins, and the Dauphin ' would lose nothing in all that.'
In reading the Correspondence it is always a satisfaction to come to any letter of Comte de La Marck to Comte Mercy,
samed lose nothing correspondence La Marck
and we have a which Talon had tisfaction to the his Queen was
and we have a very interesting one of the 16th January, 1791. The audience which Talon had sought with the King was at last granted, and gave great satisfaction to the former. The difference in manner between Louis XVI. and his Queen was strongly marked on the occasion. "The King, in this audience,
showed his usual bonhomie and brusquerie. The Queen, who 6 came to it, was on the contrary full of quickness, tact, judge 'ment and grace. She even showed that measured reason • which you and I have so often recommended to her, and which
is so necessary in her present situation. It appears from this letter that little progress had been made in carrying Mirabeau's plan into execution. None of the travelling agents had set off, and the Atelier des Ouvrages, the manufactory of pamphlets, had not been established. In fact, the only part in action was the secret Police under Talon and Semonville, and that was likely to absorb large sums of money, as the persons employed expected to be 'gorged with gold. La Marck here truly observes, that the 'plan, perfect in theory, would be of very difficult execu. tion. The Comte gives very good reasons for this opinion, one of which is the character of Montmorin, whom he designates as the weakest man of his acquaintance, and yet this very man is notre unique ressort. There is in this letter a very serious charge against La Fayette, whom the Comte accuses of . having contributed by the most odious intrigues to augment " the distrust of the Emperor, and consequently of the Queen.' The Comte was almost alarmed at the recent increase of Mirabeau's popularity; for he feared, that if ever Mirabeau lost confidence in the Government, and placed all his glory in popularity, he would become insatiable of it. And you know as
well as I do, Mons. de Comte, what popularity is in a time of • Revolution. The Comte felt greatly discouraged, and indeed disgusted with the country, the men, the laws, and the manners. The King had no energy whatever, and Montmorin had with sorrow told the Comte, that when he spoke to his Majesty on public affairs and on his own position, the King seemed to take as little interest in what was said, as if the matters treated of related to the Emperor of China. La Marck continued his services, entirely from devotion to the Queen, and he deeply commiserated her condition. As a wife she ' was bound to a sluggish being, and as a queen she was placed 'on a tottering throne. The Comte de La Marck persuaded Montmorin to take the opportunity of his accompanying his sister Comtesse Starhemberg to Strasburg, to put him in communication with Mons. Bouillé, whose head-quarters were at Metz.
Mirabeau at length obtained the President's Chair of the
had wir The Kithe country felt greati, popularity.id
Flo take the berg to Straßbad-quarters v
Assembly. We do not find in the Correspondence any notice of a very able report of the then existing relations of France with Foreign Powers, which Mirabeau made in the name of the Diplomatic Committee on the day before his election as President the 28th of January, 1791. The object of the Report was to calm the irritation caused by the rumours, of the breaking out of war, which were for mischievous purposes circulated among the people. Droz says of Mirabeau's conduct in the President's Chair, that even his enemies admitted that no man • had presided over the Assembly with so much dignity. All admired his manner of directing the discussions, and his mode
of summing up the result; he often acted as a Moderator. • He always showed his respect for the Assembly and obtained
it for himself. The deputations which appeared at the Bar, were unusually numerous—he delighted to seize these occasions of oratorical success, and that success his answers to the deputations never failed to procure.'
The Comte de La Marck has not left among his papers his reports to Comte de Montmorin on the communications with the Marquis de Bouillé; and neither in his letter to the Queen (p. 59.), nor in that to Comte Mercy (p. 67.), do we find any statement which would supply the absence of the documents themselves. From the memoirs of De Bouillé we learn that he was made acquainted with Mirabeau's connexion with the Court, and that he entirely approved of the plan suggested by him, and was ready to give every aid to the execution of it. De Bouillé says that Mirabeau was to place the King in his hands either at Compiegne or Fontainbleau, where he would have surrounded him with the best troops. La Marck considered (we think without sufficient ground) that the successful departure of Mesdames from Paris showed that the King might easily have done the same; and if so, might, as was proposed, have reached Compiegne. At all events, the moment gave a better chance of success, than when the attempt at escape was actually made.
Comte Montmorin, in a letter of 9th February, informs Mirabeau that a committee of twelve, members of the Assembly, amongst whom were some of those included in Mirabeau's plan, was about to be formed, for the purpose of directing and bringing to a close the proceedings of the National Assembly. The Committee was to meet at La Fayette's. From this we might suppose that Montmorin had not been made acquainted with a previous meeting at Emmercy's between La Fayette and Mirabeau when this very project was discussed. The meeting was held on the 8th of February, the day of La