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Willehardouin and Joinville, but was associated in the public mind with images of horror. All the peculiarities of the Anacreon of the guillotine, his words unknown to the Dictionary of the Academy, his conceits and his jokes, his Gasconidioms and his Gascon hyperboles, had become as odious as the cant of the Puritans was in England after the Restoration. Bonaparte, who had never loved the men of the Reign of Terror, had now ceased to fear them. He was all-powerful and at the height of glory; they were weak and universally abhorred. He was a sovereign, and it is probable that he already meditated a matrimonial alli... ance with sovereigns. He was naturally unwilling, in his new position, to hold any intercourse with the worst class of Jacobins. Had Barère’s literary assistance been important to the government, personal aversion might have yielded to considerations of policy; but there was no motive for keeping terms with a worthless man who had also proved a worthless writer. Bonaparte, therefore, gave loose to his feelings. Barère was not gently dropped, not sent into an honourable retirement, but spurned and scourged away like a troublesome dog. He had been in the habit of sending six copies of his journal on fine paper daily to the Tuileries. Instead of receiving the thanks and praises which he expected, he was dryly told
that the great man had ordered five copies to
be sent back. Still he toiled on; still he cherished a hope that at last Napoleon would relent, and that at last some share in the honours of the state would reward so much assiduity and so much obsequiousness. He was bitterly undeceived. Under the imperial constitution the electoral college of the departments did not possess the right of choosing senators or deputies, but merely that of presenting candidates. From among these candidates the emperor named members of the senate, and the senate named members of the legislative bodies. The inhabitants of the Upper Pyrenees were still strangely partial to Barère. In the year 1805, they were disposed to present him as a candidate for the senate. On this Napoleon expressed the highest displeasure; and the president of the electoral college was directed to tell the voters, in plain terms, that such a choice would be disgraceful to the department. All thought of naming Barère a candidate for the senate was consequently dropped. But the people of Argelès ventured to name him a candidate for the legislative body. . That body was altogether destitute of weight and dignity; it was not permitted to debate; its only function was to vote in silence for whatever the government proposed. It is not easy to understand how any man, who had sat in free and powerful deliberative assemblies, could condescend to bear a part in such a mummery. Barère, however, was desirous of a place even in this mock legislature; and a place even in this mock legislature was refused to him. In the whole senate he had not a single vote. Such treatment was sufficient, it might have been thought, to move the most abject of mankind to resentment. Still, however, Barère cringed and fawned on. His letters came
weekly to the Tuileries till the year 1807. At length, while he was actually writing the two hundred and twenty-third of the series, a note was put into his hands. It was from Duroc, and was much more perspicuous than polite. Barère was requested to send no more of his reports to the palace, as the emperor was too busy to read them.
Contempt, says the Indian proverb, pierces even the shell of the tortoise; and the contempt of the court was felt to the quick even by the callous heart of Barère. He had humbled himself to the dust; and he had humbled himself in vain. Having been eminent among the rulers of a great and victorious state, he had stooped to serve a master in the vilest capacities; and he had been told that, even in those capacities, he was not worthy of the pittance which had been disdainfully flung to him. He was now degraded below the level even of the . hirelings whom the government employed in the most infamous offices. He stood idle in the market-place, not because he thought any office too infamous; but because none would hire him.
Yet he had reason to think himself fortu. nate; for, had all that is avowed in these Me. moirs been then known, he would have received very different tokens of the imperial displeasure. We learn from himself, that while publishing daily columns of flattery on Bonaparte, and while carrying weekly budgets of calumny to the Tuileries, he was in close connection with the agents whom the Emperor Alexander, then by no means favourably disposed towards France, employed to watch all that passed at Paris; was permitted to read all their secret despatches; was consulted by them as to the temper of the public mind and the character of Napoleon; and did his best to persuade them that the government was in a tottering condition, and that the new sovereign was not, as the world supposed, a great statesman and soldier. Next, Barère, still the flatterer and talebearer of the imperial court, connected himself in the same manner with the Spanish envoy. He owns that with that envoy he had relations which he took the greatest pains to conceal from his own government; that they met twice a day, and that their conversation chiefly turned on the vices of Napoleon, on his designs against Spain, and on the best mode of rendering those designs abortive. In truth, Barère's baseness was unfathomable. In the lowest deeps of shame he found out lower deeps. It is bad to be a sycophant; it is bad to be a spy. But even among sycophants and spies there are degrees of meanness. The vilest sycophant is he who privily slanders the master on whom he fawns; the vilest spy is he who serves foreigners against the government of his native land.
From 1807 to 1814 Barère lived in obscurity, railing as bitterly as his craven cowardice would permit against the imperial administration, and coming sometimes unpleasantly across the police. When the Bourbons returned, he, as might be expected, became a royalist, and wrote a pamphlet setting forth the | horrors of the system from which the Restora. |tion had delivered France, and magnifying the
wisdom and goodness which had dictated the charter. He who had voted for the death of Louis, he who had moved the decree for the trial of Marie Antoinette, he whose hatred of monarchy had led him to make war even upon the sepulchres of ancient monarchs, assures us with great complacency, that “in this work monarchical principles and attachment to the House of Bourbon are nobly expressed.” By this apostacy he got nothing, not even any additional infamy; for his character was already too black to be blackened. During the hundred days he again emerged for a very short time into public life; he was chosen by his native district a member of the Chamber of Representatives. But though that assembly was composed in a greatmeasure of men who regarded the excesses of the Jacobins with indulgence, he found himself an object of general aversion. When the President first informed the Chamber that M. Barère requested a hearing, a deep and indignant murmur ran round the benches. After the battle of Waterloo, Barère proposed that the Chamber should save France from the victorious enemy, by putting forth a proclamation about the pass of Thermopylae, and the Lacedaemonian custom of wearing flowers in times of extreme danger. Whether this composition, if it had then appeared, would have stopped the English and Prussian armies, is a question respecting which we are left to conjecture. The Chamber refused to adopt this last of the Carmagnoles. The Emperor had abdicated. The Bourbons returned. The Chamber of Representatives, after burlesquing during a few weeks the proceedings of the National Convention, retired with the well-earned character of having been the silliest political assembly that had met in France. Those dreaming pedants and praters never for a moment comprehended their position. They could never understand that Europe must be either conciliated or vanquished; that Europe could be conciliated only by the restoration of Louis, and vanquished only by means of a dictatorial power entrusted to Napoleon. They would not hear of Louis; yet they would not hear of the only measures which could keep him out. They incurred the enmity of all foreign powers by putting Napoleon at their head; yet they shackled him, thwarted him, quarrelled with him about every trifle, abandoned him on the first reverse. They then opposed declamations and disquisitions to eight hundred thousand bayonets; played at making a constitution for their country, when it depended on the indulgence of the victor whether they should have a country; and were at last interrupted in the midst of their babble about the rights of man and the sovereignty of the people, by the soldiers of Wellington and Blucher. A new Chamber of Deputies was elected, No bitterly hostile to the Revolution, that there was no small risk of a new reign of terror. It is just, however, to say that the king, his ministers, and his allies, exerted themselves to restrain the violence of the fanatical royalists,
and that the punishments inflicted, though in our opinion unjustifiable, were few and lenient
when compared with those which were demanded by M. de Labourdonnaye and M. Hyde de Neuville. We have always heard, and are inclined to believe, that the government was not disposed to treat even the regicides with severity. But on this point the feeling of the Chamber of Deputies was so strong, that it was thought necessary to make some concession. It was enacted, therefore, that whoever, having voted in January 1793 for the death of Louis the Sixteenth, had in any manner given in an adhesion to the government of Buônaparte during the hundred days, should be banished for life from France. Barère sell within this description. He had voted for the death of Louis; and he had sat in the Chamber of Representatives during the hundred days. He accordingly retired to Belgium, and resided there, forgotten by all mankind, till the year 1830. After the Revolution of July he was at liberty to return to France, and he fixed his residence in his native province. But he was soon involved in a succession of lawsuits with his nearest relations—“three satal sisters and an ungrateful brother,” to use his own words. Who was in the right is a question about which we have no means of judging, and certainly shall not take Barère's word, The courts appear to have decided some points in his favour and some against him. The natural inference is, that there were faults on all sides. The result of this litigation was, that the old man was reduced to extreme poverty, and was forced to sell his paternal house. As far as we can judge from the few facts which remain to be mentioned, Barère continued Barère to the last. After his exile he turned Jacobin again, and, when he came back to France, joined the party of the extreme left in railing at Louis Philippe, and at all Louis Philippe's ministers. M. Casimir Périer, M. de Broglie, M. Guizot, and M. Thiers, in particular, are honoured with his abuse; and the king himself is held up to execration as a hypocritical tyrant. Nevertheless, Barère had no scruple about accepting a charitable donation of a thousand francs a year from the privy purse of the sovereign whom he hated and reviled. This pension, together with some small sums occasionally doled out to him by the department of the Interior, on the ground that he was a distressed man of letters, and by the department of Justice, on the ground that he had formerly held a high judicial office, saved him from the necessity of begging his bread. Having survived all his colleagues of the renowned committee of public safety, and almost all his colleagues of the Convention, he died in January 1841. He had attained his eightysixth year. We have now laid before our readers what we believe to be a just account of this man's life. Can it be necessary for us to add any thing for the purpose of assisting their judgment of his character? If we were writing about any of his colleagues in the committee of public safety, about Carnot, about Robespierre, or St. Just, nay, even about Couthon, Collot, or Billaud, we might feel it necessary to go into a full examination of the arguments
which have been employed to vindicate or to excuse the system of Terror. We could, we think, show that France was saved from her foreign enemies, not by the system of Terror, but in spite of it; and that the perils which were made the plea for the violent policy of the Mountain, were, to a great extent, created by that very policy. We could, we think, also show that the evils produced by the Jacobin administration did not terminate when it fell; that it bequeathed a long series of calamities to France and to Europe; that public opinion, which had during two generations been constantly becoming more and more favourable to civil and religious freedom, underwent, during the days of Terror, a change of which the traces are still to be distinctly perceived. It was natural that there should be such a change, when men saw that those who called themselves the champions of popular rights had compressed into the space of twelve months more crimes than the kings of France, Merovingian, Carlovingian, and Capetian, had perpetrated in twelve centuries. Freedom was regarded as a great delusion. Men were willing to submit to the government of hereditary princes, of fortunate soldiers, of nobles, of priests; to any government but that of philosophers and philanthropists. Hence the imperial despotism, with its enslaved press and its silent tribune, its dungeons stronger than the old Bastile, and its tribunals more obsequious than the old parliaments. Hence the restoration of the Bourbons and of the Jesuits, the Chamber of 1815, with its categories of proscription, the revival of the feudal spirit, the encroachments of the clergy, the persecution of the Protestants, the appearance of a new breed of De Montforts and Dominics in the full light of the nineteenth century. Hence the admission of France into the Holy Alliance, and the war waged by the old soldiers of the tri-colour against the liberties of Spain. Hence, too, the apprehensions with which, even at the resent day, the most temperate plans for widening the narrow basis of the French representation are regarded by those who are especially interested in the security of property and the maintenance of order. Half a century has not sufficed to obliterate the stain which one year of depravity and madness has left on the noblest of causes. Nothing is more ridiculous than the manner in which writers like M. Hippolyte Carnot defend or excuse the Jacobin administration, while they declaim against the reaction which followed. That the reaction has produced and is still producing much evil, is perfectly true. But what produced the reaction? The spring flies up with a force proportioned to that with which it has been pressed down. The pendulum which is drawn far in one direction swings as far in the other. The joyous madness of intoxication in the evening is followed by languor and nausea on the morrow. And so, in politics, it is the sure law that every excess shall generate its opposite; nor does he deserve the name of a statesman who strikes a great blow without fully calculating the effect of the rebound. But such calculation was infinitely beyond the reach of the authors of the Reign of
Terror. Wiolence, and more violence, blocd, and more blood, made up their whole policy. In a few months these poor creatures succeeded in bringing about a reaction, of which none of them saw, and of which none of us may see, the close; and, having brought it about, they marvelled at it; they bewailed it; they exe crated it; they ascribed it to everything but the real cause—their own immorality and their own profound incapacity for the conduct of great affairs. These, however, are considerations to which, on the present occasion, it is hardly necessary for us to advert; for, the defence which has been setup for the Jacobin policy, good or bad, it is a defence which cannot avail Barère. From his own life, from his own pen, from his own mouth, we can prove that the part which he took in the work of blood is to be attributed, not even to sincere fanaticism, not even to misdirected and ill-regulated patriotism, but either to cowardice, or to delight in human misery. Will it be pretended that it was from public spirit that he murdered the Girondists? In these very Memoirs he tells us that he al. ways regarded their death as the greatest calamity that could befall France. Will it be pretended that it was from public spirit that he raved for the head of the Austrian woman? In these very Memoirs he tells us that the time spent in attacking her was ill-spent, and ought to have been employed in concerting measures of national defence. Will it be pretended that he was induced by sincere and earnest abhorrence of kingly government to butcher the living and to outrage the dead; he who invited Napoleon to take the title of King of Kings, he who assures us, that after the Restoration he expressed in noble language his attachment to monarchy, and to the house of Bourbon Had he been less mean, something might have been said in extenuation of his cruelty. Had he been less cruel, something might have been said in extenuation of his meanness. But for him, regicide and court-spy, for him who patronized Lebon and betrayed Demerville, for him who wantoned alternately in gasconades of Jacobinism, and gasconades of servility, what excuse has the largest charity to offer? We cannot conclude without saying something about two parts of his character, which his biographer appears to consideras deserving of high admiration. Barère, it is admitted, was somewhat fickle; but in two things he was consistent, in his love of Christianity, and in his hatred to England. If this were so, we must say that England is much more beholden to him than Christianity. It is possible that our inclinations may bias our judgment; but we think that we do not flatter ourselves when we say, that Barère's aversion to our country was a sentiment as deep and constant as his mind was capable of entertaining. The value of this compliment is, indeed, somewhat diminished by the circumstance, that he knew very little about us. His ignorance of our institutions, manners, and history, is the less excusable, because, according to his own account, he consorted much, during the peace of Amiens, with Englishmen of note, such as that eminent nobleman Lor"
Greaten, and that not less eminent philosopher Mr Mackenzie Coefhis. In spite, however, of his connection with these well-known ornaments of our country, he was so ill informed about us as to fancy that our government was always laying plans to torment him. If he was hooted at Saintes, probably by people whose relations he had murdered, it was because the cabinet of St. James had hired the mob. If nobody would read his bad books, it was because the cabinet of St. James had secured the reviewers. His accounts of Mr. Fox, of Mr. Pitt, of the Duke of Wellington, of Mr. Canning, swarm with blunders, surpassing even the ordinary blunders committed by Frenchmen who write about England. Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt, he tells us, were ministcrs in two different reigns. Mr. Pitt's sinking fund was instituted in order to enable England to pay subsidies to the powers allied against the French Republic. The Duke of Wellington's house in Hyde Park was built by the nation, which twice voted the sum of £200,000 for the purpose. This, however, is exclusive of the cost of the frescoes, which were also paid for out of the public purse. Mr. Canning was the first Englishman whose Reath Europe had reason to lament; for the death of Lord Ward, a relation, we presume, of Lord Greaten and Mr. Coef his, had been an immense benefit to mankind. Ignorant, however, as Barère was, he knew enough of us to hate us; and we persuade ourselves that, had he known us better, he would have hated us more. The nation which has combined, beyond all example and all hope, the blessings of liberty with those of order, might well be an object of aversion to one who had been false alike to the cause of order and to the cause of liberty. We have had amongst us intemperate zeal for popular rights; we have had amongst us also the intemperance of loyalty. But we have never been shocked by such a spectacle as the Barère of 1794, or as the Barère of 1804. Compared with him, our fiercest demagogues have been gentle; compared with him, our meanest courtiers have been manly, Mix together Thistlewood and Bubb Dodington, and you are still far from having Barère. The antipathy between him and us is such, that neither for the crimes of his earlier, nor for those of his later life, does our language, rich as it is, furnish us with adequate names. We have found it difficult to relate his history without having perpetual recourse to the French vocabulary of baseness. It is not easy to give a notion of his conduct in the Convention, without using those emphatic terms, guillotinade, noyade, fusillade, nitraillade. It is not easy to give a notion of his conduct under the consulate and the empire, without borrowing such words as mouchard and mouton. We, therefore, like his invectives against us much better than any thing else that he has written; and dwell on them, not merely with complacency, but with a feeling akin to gratitude. It was but little that he could do to pro
mote the honour of our country; but that little "
he did strenuously and constantly. Renegade, traitor, slave, coward, liar, slanderer, murderer, hack-writer, police-spy—the one small service which he could render to England, was to hate her: and such as he was may all who hate her be. We cannot say that we contemplate with equal satisfaction that fervent and constant zeal for religion, which, according to M. Hippolyte Carnot, distinguished Barère; for, as we think that whatever brings dishonour on religion is a serious evil, we had, we own, indusged a hope that Barère was an atheist. We now learn, however, that he was at no time even a sceptic, that he adhered to his faith through the whole Revolution, and that he has left several manuscript works on divinity. One of these is a pious treatise, entitled, “Of Christianity and of its Influence.” Another consists of meditations on the Psalms, which will doubtless greatly console and edify the church. This makes the character complete. Whatsoever things are false, whatsoever things are dishonest, whatsoever things are unjust, whatsoever things are impure, whatsoever things are hateful, whatsoever things are of evil report, if there be any vice, and if there be an infamy, all these things, we knew, were to: in Barère. But one thing was still wanting, and that M. Hyppolyte Carnot has supplied. When to such an assemblage of qualities a high profession of piety is added, the effect becomes overpowering. We sink under the contemplation of such exquisite and manifold perfection; and feel, with deep humility, how presumptuous it was in us to think of composing the legend of this beatified athlete of the faith, Saint Bertrand of the Carmagmoles. Something more we had to say about him. But let him go. We did not seek him out, and will not keep him longer. If those who call themselves his friends had not forced him on our notice, we should never have vouchsafed to him more than a passing word of scorn and abhorrence, such as we might fling at his brethren, Hébert and Fouquier Tinville, and Carrier and Lebon. We have no pleasure in seeing human nature thus degraded. We turn with disgust from the filthy and spiteful Yahoos of the fiction; and the filthiest and most spiteful Yahoo of the fiction was a noble creature when compared with the Barère of history. But what is no pleasure, M. Hyppolyte Carnot has made a duty. It is no light thing, that a man in high and honourable public trust, a man who, from his connections and position, may not unnaturally be supposed to speak the sentiments of a large class of his countrymen, should come forward to demand approbation for a life, black with every sort of wickedness, and unredeemed by a single virtue. This M. Hippolite Carnot has done. By attempting to enshrine this Jacobin carrion, he has forced us to gibbet it; and we venture to say that, from the eminence of infamy on which we have placed it, he will not easily take it down.
The wise men of antiquity loved to convey instruction under the covering of apologue; and, though this practice of theirs is generally thought childish, we shall make no apology for adopting it on the present occasion. A generation which has bought eleven editions of a poem by Mr. Robert Montgomery, may well condescend to listen to a fable of '#. A pious Brahmin, it is written, made a vow that on a certain day he would sacrifice a sheep, and on the appointed morning he went forth to buy one. There lived in his neighbourhood three rogues who knew of his vow, and laid a scheme for profiting by it. The first met him and said, “Oh, Brahmin, wilt thou buy a sheep? I have one fit for sacrifice.”—“It is for that very purpose,” said the holy man, “that I came forth this day.” Then the impostor opened a bag, and brought out of it an unclean beast, an ugly dog, lame and blind. Thereon the Brahmin cried out, “Wretch, who touchest things impure, and utterest things untrue, callest thou that cura sheep?”—“Truly,” answered the other, “it is a sheep of the finest fleece, and of the sweetest flesh. Oh, Brahmin, it will be an offering most acceptable to the gods.”—“Friend,” said the Brahmin, “either nou or I must be blind.” Just then one of the accomplices came up. “Praised be the gods,” said this second rogue, “that I have been saved the trouble of going to the market for a sheep? This is such a sheep as I wanted. For how much wilt thou sell it?” When the Brahmin heard this, his mind waved to and fro, like one swinging in the air at a holy festival. “Sir” said he to the new comer, “take heed what thou dost; this is no sheep, but an unclean cur.”—“Oh, Brahmin,” said the new comer, “thou art drunk or mad!” At this time the third confederate drew near. * Let us ask this man,” said the Brahmin, “what the creature is, and I will stand by what he shall say.” To this the others agreed; and the Brahmin called out, “Oh, stranger, what dost thou call this beast !”—“Surely, oh, Brahmin,” said the knave, “it is a fine sheep.” Then the Brahmin said, “Surely the gods have taken away my senses,”—and he asked pardon of him who carried the dog, and bought it for a measure of rice and a pot of ghee, and offered it up to the gods, who, being wroth at this unclean sacrifice, smote him with a sore disease in all his joints. Thus, or nearly thu., if we remember rightly, runs the story of the Sanscrit AEsop. The moral, like the moral of every fable that is
*The Omnipresence of the Deity, a Poem. By Ron Far Montoonsny. Eleventh Edition. London." 1830. 2. Satan, a Peen. By Ronrnor Monraoxteny. Second
Edition. London. 1830
worth the telling, lies on the surface. The writer evidently means to caution us against the practices of puffers,—a class of people who have more than once talked the public into the most absurd.errors, but who surely never played a more curious, or a more difficult trick, than when they passed Mr. Rober Montgomery off upon the world as a great poet. In an age in which there are so few readers that a writer cannot subsist on the sum arising from the sale of his works, no man who has not an independent fortune can devote himself to literary pursuits, unless he is assisted by patronage. In such an age, accordingly, men of letters too often pass their lives in dangling at the heels of the wealthy and powerful; and all the faults which dependence tends to produce, pass into their character. They become the parasites and slaves of the great. It is melancholy to think how many of the-highest and most exquisitely formed of human intellects have been condemned to the ignominious labor of disposing the commonplaces of adulation in new forms, and brightening them into new splendour. Horace invoking Augustus in the most enthusiastic language of religious veneration,-Statius flattering a tyrant, and the minion of a tyrant, for a morsel of bread, Ariosto versifying the whole genealogy of a niggardly patron, Tasso extolling the heroic virtues of the wretched creature who locked him up in a mad-house, these are but a few of the instances which might easily be given of the degradation to which those must submit, who, not possessing a competent fortune, are resolved to write when there are scarcely any who read. This evil the progress of the human mind tends to remove. As a taste for books becomes more and more common, the patronage of individuals becomes less and less necessary. In the earlier, part of the last century a marked change took place. The tone of literary men, both in this country and in France, became higher and more independent. Pope boasted that he was the “one poet” who had “pleased by manly ways;” he derided the soft dedica tions with which Halifax had been fed,asserted his own superiority over the pen sioned Boileau, and glorified in being not the follower, but the friend, of nobles and princes. The explanation of all this is very simple. Pope was the first Englishman who, by the mere sale of his writings, realized a sum which enabled him to live in comfort and in perfect independence. Johnson extols him for the magnanimity which he showed in inscribing his Iliad, not to a minister or a peer, but to Congreve. In our time, this would scarcely be a subject for praise. Nobody is astonished when Mr. Moore pays a complimert of this