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this matter innocent. The only question re- or made a report against any, or drew up an maining is, whether Barère was misted by his impeachment against any.": memory, or wrote a deliberate falsehood. Now, we affirm that this is a lie. We affirm
We are convinced that he wrote a deliberate that Barère himself took the lead in the profalsehood. His memory is described by editors ceedings of the convention against the Gironas remarkably good, and must have been bad dists. We affirm that he, on the twenty-eighth indeed if he could not remember such a fact of July, 1793, proposed a decree for bringing as this. It is true that the number of murders nine Girondist deputies to trial, and for putting in which he subsequently bore a part was so to death sixteen other Girondist deputies withgreat, that he might well confound one without any trial at all. We affirm that, when the another, that he might well forget what part of accused deputies had been brought to trial, and the daily hecatomb was consigned to death by when some apprehension arose that their elohimself, and what part by his colleagues. But quence might produce an effect even on the retwo circumstances make it quite incredible voluntary tribunal, Barère did, on the 8th of that the share which he took in the death of Brumaire, second a motion for a decree auMarie Antoinette should have escaped his re- thorizing the tribunal to decide without hearing collection. She was one of his earliest vic-out the defence; and, for the truth of every one tims. She was one of his most illustrious of these things so affirmed by us, we appeal to victims. The most hardened assassin remem- that very Moniteur lo which Barère has dared bers the first time that he shed blood; and the to appeal. widow of Louis was no ordinary sufferer. If What M. Hyppolyte Carnot, knowing, as he the question had been about some milliner must kuow, that this book contains such falsebutchered for hiding in her garret her brotherhoods as those which we have exposed, can who had let drop a word against the Jacobin have meant, when he described it as a valuable club-if the question had been about some old addition to our stock of historical information, nun, dragged to death for having mumbled passes our comprehension. When a man is what were called fanatical words over her not ashamed to tell lies about events which beads—Barère's memory might well have de-took place before hundreds of witnesses, and ceived him. It would be as unreasonable to which are recorded in well-known and acces. expect him to remember all the wretches whom sible books, what credit can we give to his ache slew, as all the pinches of snuff that he count of things done in corners? No historian took.
But though Barère murdered many who does not wish to be laughed at will ever hundreds of human beings, he murdered only cite the unsupported authority of Barère as one queen. That he, a small country lawyer, susficient to prove any fact whatever. The only who, a few years before, would have thought thing, as far as we can see, on which these himself honoured by a glance or a word from volumes throw any light, is the exceeding basethe daughter of so many Cæsars, should call ness of the author. her the Austrian woman, should send her from So much for the veracity of the Memoirs. In jail to jail, should deliver her over to the exe- a literary point of view, they are beneath criticutioner, was surely a great event in his life. cism. They are as shallow, flippant and afWhether he had reason to be proud of it or fected as Barère's oratory in the convention. ashamed of it, is a question on which we may They are also, what bis oratory in the convenperhaps differ from his editors; but they will tion was not, utterly insipid. In fact, they are admit, we think, that he could not have forgot- the mere dregs and rinsings of a bottle, of which ten it.
even the first froth was but of very questionWe, therefore, confidently charge Barère able flavour. with having written a deliberate falsehood; We will now try to present our readers with and we have no hesitation in saying that we a sketch of this man's life. We shall, of course, never, in the course of any historical re- make very sparing use, indeed, of his own searches that we have happened to make, fell memoirs; and never without distrust, except in with a falsehood so audacious, except only where they are confirmed by other evidence. the falsehood which we are about to expose.
Bertrand Barère was born in the year 1755, of the proceeding against the Girondists, at Tarbes in Gascony. His father was the Barère speaks with just severity. He calls it proprietor of a small estate at Vieuzac, in the an atrocious injustice perpetrated against the beautiful vale of Argelès. Bertrand always legislators of the Republic. He complains loved to be called Barère de Vieuzac, and flat. that distir.guished deputies, who ought to have tered himself with the hope that, by the help of been re-admitted to their seats in the Conven- this feudal addition to his name, he might pass tion, were sent to the scaffold as conspirators. for a gentleman. He was educated for the bar T'he day, he exclaims, was a day of mourning at Toulouse, the seat of one of the most celefor France. It mutilated the national repre. brated parliaments of the kingdom, practised sentation ; it weakened the sacred principle, as an advocate with considerable success, and that the delegates of the people were inviola- wrote some small pieces, which he sent to the ble. He protests that he had no share in the principal literary societies in the south of guilt. “I have had,” he says, “the patience France. Among provincial towns, Toulouse to go through the Moniteur, extracting all the seems to have been remarkably rich in indiffe. charges brought against deputies, and all the rent versifiers and critics. It gloried especially decrees for arresting and impeaching deputies. Nowhere will you find my name. I never
† Moniteur, 31st of July, 1793, and Nonidi, first Decade hronght a charge against any of my colleagues, or Brumaire, in the year 2.
* Vol. ii. 407.
in one venerable institution, called the Acade- ed his domestic life till some time after he be-
In 1785 he married a young lady of conside- parliaments on the Tuesday, for feudality in
He complains, indeed, that she was royalist, aristocrat, democrat, according to the too much attached to royalty and to the old su- prevailing sentiment of the coffee house or perstition; but he assures us that his respect drawing-room into which he had just looked, ior her virtues induced him to tolerate her pre- did Barère enter into public life. The statesjudices. Now Barère, at the time of his mar- general had been summoned. Barère went riage, was himself a royalist and a Catholic. down to his own province, was there elected He had gained one prize by flattering the one of the representatives of the Third Estate, throne, and another by defending the church. and returned to Paris in May 1789. It is bardly possible, iherefore, that disputes A great crisis, often predicted, had at last about politics or religion should have embitter- arrived. In no country, we conceive, have in
tellectual freedom and political servitude ex- from bombast down to buffoonry, was not isted together so long as in France, during the wholly without force and vivacity. He has seventy or eighty years which preceded the also one quality which, in active life, often last convocation of the orders. Ancient abuses gives fourth-rate men an advantage over firstand new theories flourished in equal vigour rate men. Whatever he could do, he could do side by side. The people, having no constitu- without effort, at any moment, in any abuntional means of checking even the most flagi. dance, and on any side of any question. There tious misgovernment, were indemnified for op- was, indeed, a perfect harmony between his pression by being suffered to luxuriate in moral character and his intellectual character. anarchical speculation, and to deny or ridicule His temper was that of a slave; his abilities every principle on which the institutions of the were exactly those which qualified him to be a state reposed. Neither those who attribute the useful slave. Of thinking to purpose, he was downfall of the old French institutions to the utterly incapable; but he had wonderful readipublic grievances, nor those who attribute it to ness in arranging and expressing thoughts furihe doctrines of the philosophers, appear to us nished by others. to have taken into their view more than one In the National Assembly he had no opporhalf of the subject. Grievances as heavy tunity of displaying the full extent either of his have often been endured without producing a talents or of his vices. He was indeed eclipsed revolution ; doctrines as bold have often been by much'abler men. He went, as was his propounded without producing a revolution. habil
, with the stream, spoke occasionally The question, whether the French nation with some success, and edited a journal called was alienated from its old polity the fol- the Point du Jour, in which the debates of the lies and vices of the viziers and sultanas Assembly were reported. who pillaged and disgraced it, or by the writ He at first ranked by no means among the ings of Voltaire and Rousseau, seems to us as violent reformers. He was not friendly to idle as the question whether it was fire or gun- that new division of the French territory powder that blew up the mills at Hounslow. which was among the most important changes Neither cause would have sufficed alone. Ty- introduced by the Revolution, and was esperanny may last through ages where discussion cially unwilling to see his native province disis suppressed. Discussion may safely be left membered. He was entrusted with the task free by rulers who act on popular principles. of framing reports on the woods and forests. But combine a press like that of London with Louis was exceedingly anxious about this a government like that of St. Petersburg, and matter; for his majesty was a keen sportsthe inevitable effect will be an explosion that man, and would much rather have gone withwill shake the world. So it was in France. out the veto, or the prerogative of making Despotism and license, mingling in unblessed peace and war, than without his hunting and union, engendered that mighty Revolution in shooting. Gentlemen of the royal household which the lineaments of both parents were were sent to Barère, in order to intercede for strangely blended. The long gestation was ac- the deer and pheasants. Nor was this intercomplished; and Europe saw, with mixed hope cession unsuccessful. The reports were sc and terror, that agonizing travail and that por- drawn, that Barère was afterwards accused of tentous birth.
having dishonestly sacrificed the interests of Among the crowd of legislators which at this the public to the tastes of the court. To one conjuncture poured from all the provinces of of these reports he had the inconceivable folly France into Paris, Barère made no contempti- and bad taste to prefix a punning motto from Virble figure. The opinions which he for the mo- gil, fit only for such essays as he had been in ment professed were popular, yet not extreme. the habit of composing for the Floral GamesHis character was fair; his personal advan
“Si canimus sylvas, sylvæ sint Consule dignæ." tages are said to have been considerable; and, from the portrait which is prefixed to these This literary foppery was one of the few things Memoirs, and which represents him as he ap- in which he was consistent. Royalist or Gipeared in the Convention, we should judge that rondist, Jacobin or Imperialist, he was always his features must have been strikingly hand- a Trissotin. some, though we think that we can read in them As the monarchical party became weaker cowardice and meanness very legibly written and weaker, Barère gradually estranged himby the hand of God. His conversation was self more and more from it, and drew closer lively and easy; his manners remarkably good and closer to the republicans. It would seem for a country lawyer. Women of rank and that, during this transition, he was for a time wit said that he was the only man who, on his closely connected with the family of Orleans. first arrival from a remote province, had that it is certain that he was entrusted with the indescribable air which it was supposed that i guardianship of the celebrated Pamela, afterParis alone could give. His eloquence, in- wards Lady Edward Fitzgerald; and it was deed, was by no means so much admired in asserted that he received during some years a the capital as it had been by the ingenious pension of twelve thousand francs from the academicians of Montauban and Toulouse. Palais Royal. His style was thought very bad; and very bad, Ai the end of September 1791, the labours if a foreigner may venture to judge, it con- of the National Assembly terminated, and tinued to the last. It would, however, be un- those of the first and last Legislative Assem just to deny that he had some talents for bly commenced. speaking an.l writing. His rhetoric, though It had been enacted that no member of the deformed by every imaginable fault of taste, National Assembly should sit in the legis
lative Assembly; a preposterous and mis- | insight into politics, produce an effect very
all hope of such a result. The deposition of with which, after the victory of the republiLouis was, in our opinion, the necessary con- cans, he and his family were treated. But this sequence of that coalition. The question was we say, that the French had only one alternanow no longer, whether the king should have tive, to deprive him of the powers of first an absolute veto or a suspensive veto, whether magistrate, or to ground their arms and subthere should be one chamber or two chambers, mit patiently to foreign dictation. The events whether the members of the representative of the tenth of August sprang inevitably from body should be re-eligible or not; but whether the league of Pilnitz. The king's palace was France should belong to the French. The in- stormed; his guards were slaughtered. He dependence of the nation, the integrity of the was suspended from his regal functions; and territory, were at stake; and we must say the Legislative Assembly invited the nation to plainly, that we cordially approve of the con- elect an extraordinary Convention, with full duct of those Frenchmen who, at that conjunc- powers which the conjuncture required. To ture, resolved, like our own Blake, to play the this Convention the members of the National men for their country, under whatever form of Assembly were eligible; and Barère was government their country might fall.
chosen by his own department. It seems to us clear that the war with the con The Convention mel on the twenty-first of tinental coalition was, on the side of France, at September, 1792. The first proceedings were first a defensive war, and therefore a just war. unanimous. Royalty was abolished by accla. It was not a war for small objects, or against mation. No objections were made to this despicable enemies. On the event were staked great change, and no reasons were assigned all the dearest interests of the French people. for it. For certainly we cannot honour with Foremost among the threatening powers ap- the name of reasons such apophthegms, as peared two great and martial monarchies, that kings are in the moral world what moneither of which, situated as France then was, sters are in the physical world; and that the might be regarded as a formidable assailant. history of kings is the martyrology of nations. It is evident that, under such circumstances, But though the discussion was worthy only of the French could not, without extreme impru- a debating-club of school-boys, the resolution dence, entrust the supreme administration of to which the Convention came seems to have their affairs to any person whose attachment been that which sound policy dictated. Ir to the national cause admitted of doubt. Now, saying this we do not mean to express an it is no reproach to the memory of Louis to opinion that a republic is, either in the abstract say, that he was not attached to the national the best form of government, or is, under ordicause. Had he been so, he would have been nary circumstances, the form of government something more than man. He had held abso- best suited to the French people. Our own lute power, not by usurpation, but by the acci- opinion is, that the best governments which dent of birth and by the ancient polity of the bave ever existed in the world have been kingdom. That power he had, on the whole, limited monarchies; and that France, in par. used with lenity. He had meant well by his ticular, has never enjoyed so much prosperity people. He had been willing to make to them, and freedom as under a limited monarchy. of his own mere motion, concessions such as Nevertheless, we approve of the vote of the scarcely any other sovereign has ever made Convention which abolished kingly govern. except under duress. He had paid the penalty ment. The interference of foreign powers had of faults not his own, of the haughtiness and brought on a crisis which made extraordinary ambition of some of his predecessors, of the measures necessary. Hereditary monarchy dissoluteness and baseness of others. He had may be, and we believe that it is, a very use. been vanquished, taken captive, led in triumph, ful institution in a country like France. And put in ward. He had escaped; he had been masts are very useful parts of a ship. But, if caught; he had been dragged back like a run the ship is on her beam-ends, it may be neces. away galley-slave to the oar. He was still a sary to cut the masts away. When once she state prisoner. His quiet was broken by daily has righted, she may come safe into port under affronts and lampoons. Accustomed from the jury rigging, and there be completely repaired. cradle to be treated with profound reverence, But, in the mean time, she must be hacked he was now forced to command his feelings, with unsparing hand, lest that which, under while men, whn, a few months before, had been ordinary circumstances, is an essential part of hackney writers or country attorneys, sat in her fabric, should, in her extreme distress, sink his presence with covered heads, and addressed her to the bottom. Even so there are politica. him in the easy tone of equality. Conscious emergencies in which it is necessary that of fair intentions, sensible of hard usage, he governments should be mutilated of their fair doubtless detested the Revolution; and, while proportions for a time, lest they be cast away charged with the conduct of the war against for ever; and with such an emergency the the confederates, pined in secret for the sight Convention had to deal. The first object of a of the German eagles and the sound of the good Frenchman should have been to save German Jrums. We do not blame him for France from the fate of Poland. The first this. But can we blame those who, being re- requisite of a government was entire devotion solved to defend the work of the National to the national cause. That requisite was Assembly against the interference of strangers, wanting in Louis; and such a want, at such a were not disposed to have him at their head in moment, could not be supplied by any public the fearful struggle which was approaching? or private virtues. If the king were set aside, We have nothing to say in defence or extenua- the abolition of kingship necessarily followed. tion of the insolence, injustice, and cruelty, In the state in which the public mind then was.