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this matter innocent. The only question remaining is, whether Barère was misled by his memory, or wrote a deliberate falsehood.
or made a report against any, or drew up an impeachment against any."
Now, we affirm that this is a lie. We affirm that Barère himself took the lead in the proceedings of the convention against the Giron dists. We affirm that he, on the twenty-eighth of July, 1793, proposed a decree for bringing nine Girondist deputies to trial, and for putting to death sixteen other Girondist deputies without any trial at all. We affirm that, when the accused deputies had been brought to trial, and when some apprehension arose that their eloquence might produce an effect even on the revoluntary tribunal, Barère did, on the 8th of Brumaire, second a motion for a decree authorizing the tribunal to decide without hearing
We are convinced that he wrote a deliberate falsehood. His memory is described by editors as remarkably good, and must have been bad indeed if he could not remember such a fact as this. It is true that the number of murders in which he subsequently bore a part was so great, that he might well confound one with another, that he might well forget what part of the daily hecatomb was consigned to death by himself, and what part by his colleagues. But two circumstances make it quite incredible that the share which he took in the death of Marie Antoinette should have escaped his recollection. 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 to which Barère has dared bers the first time that he shed blood; and the to appeal.t widow of Louis was no ordinary sufferer. If the question had been about some milliner butchered for hiding in her garret her brother who had let drop a word against the Jacobin club-if the question had been about some old nun, dragged to death for having mumbled what were called fanatical words over her beads-Barère's memory might well have deceived him. It would be as unreasonable to expect him to remember all the wretches whom he slew, as all the pinches of snuff that he took. But though Barère murdered many hundreds of human beings, he murdered only one queen. That he, a small country lawyer, who, a few years before, would have thought himself honoured by a glance or a word from the daughter of so many Cæsars, should call her the Austrian woman, should send her from jail to jail, should deliver her over to the executioner, was surely a great event in his life. Whether he had reason to be proud of it or ashamed of it, is a question on which we may perhaps differ from his editors; but they will admit, we think, that he could not have forgotten it.
We, therefore, confidently charge Barère with having written a deliberate falsehood; and we have no hesitation in saying that we never, in the course of any historical researches that we have happened to make, fell in with a falsehood so audacious, except only the falsehood which we are about to expose.
What M. Hyppolyte Carnot, knowing, as he must know, that this book contains such falsehoods as those which we have exposed, can have meant, when he described it as a valuable addition to our stock of historical information, passes our comprehension. When a man is not ashamed to tell lies about events which took place before hundreds of witnesses, and which are recorded in well-known and accessible books, what credit can we give to his account of things done in corners? No historian who does not wish to be laughed at will ever cit the unsupported authority of Barère as sufficient to prove any fact whatever. The only thing, as far as we can see, on which these volumes throw any light, is the exceeding baseness of the author.
So much for the veracity of the Memoirs. In a literary point of view, they are beneath critiCism. They are as shallow, flippant and affected as Barère's oratory in the convention. They are also, what his oratory in the convention was not, utterly insipid. In fact, they are the mere dregs and rinsings of a bottle, of which even the first froth was but of very questionable flavour.
We will now try to present our readers with a sketch of this man's life. We shall, of course, make very sparing use, indeed, of his own memoirs; and never without distrust, except where they are confirmed by other evidence.
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 flatthat distinguished 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 The 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 brought a charge against any of my colleagues, of Brumaire, in the year 2.
Vol. ii. 407.
+ Moniteur, 31st of July, 1793, and Nonidl, first Decade
in one venerable institution, called the Acade- | ed his domestic life till some time after he be
my of the Floral Games. This body held every year a grand meeting, which was a subject of intense interest to the whole city, and at which flowers of gold and silver were given as prizes for odes, for idyls, and for something that was called eloquence. These bounties produced of course the ordinary effect of bounties, and turned people who might have been thriving attorneys and useful apothecaries into small wits and bad poets. Barère does not appear to have In 1788, Barere paid his first visit to Paris, been so lucky as to obtain any of these precious flowers; but one of his performances was attended reviews, heard Laharpe at the Lyc mentioned with honour. At Montauban he um, and Condorcet at the Academy of Sciences, was more fortunate. The academy of that stared at the envoys of Tippoo Saib, saw the town bestowed on him several prizes, one for royal family dine at Versailles, and kept a joura panegyric on Louis the Twelfth, in which the nal in which he noted down adventures and blessings of monarchy and the loyalty of the speculations. Some parts of this journal are French nation were set forth; and another for printed in the first volume of the work before a panegyric on poor Franc de Pompignan, in us, and are certainly most characteristic. The which, as may easily be supposed, the philo- worst vices of the writer had not yet shown sophy of the eighteenth century was sharply themselves; but the weakness which was the assailed. Then Barère found an old stone in- parent of those vices appears in every line. scribed with three Latin words, and wrote a His levity, his inconsistency, his servility, were dissertation upon it, which procured him a seat already what they were to the last. All his in a learned assembly, called the Toulouse opinions, all his feelings, spin round and round Academy of Sciences, Inscriptions, and Polite like a weathercock in a whirlwind. Nay, the Literature. At length the doors of the Acade- very impressions which he receives through my of the Floral Games were opened to so his senses are not the same two days together. much merit. Barère, in his thirty-third year, He sees Louis the Sixteenth, and is so much took his seat as one of that illustrious brother- blinded by loyalty as to find his majesty handhood, and made an inaugural oration which some. "I fixed my eyes," he says, with a was greatly admired. He apologizes for re-lively curiosity on his fine countenance, which counting these triumphs of his youthful genius. I thought open and noble." The next time thas We own that we cannot blame him for dwell- the king appears, all is altered. His majesty's ing long on the least disgraceful portion of his eyes are without the smallest expression; he existence. To send in declamations for prizes has a vulgar laugh which seems like idiocy, an ignoble figure, an awkward gait, and the offered by provincial academies, is indeed no very useful or dignified employment for a look of a big boy ill brought up. It is the same bearded man; but it would have been well if with more important questions. Barre is for the parliaments on the Monday and against the Barère had always been so employed. parliaments on the Tuesday, for feudality in the morning and against feudality in the afterOne day he admires the English consti tution: then he shudders to think that, in the struggles by which that constitution had been obtained, the barbarous islanders had murder. ed a king, and gives the preference to the constitution of Bearn. Bearn, he says, has a sublime constitution, a beautiful constitution There the nobility and clergy meet in one house and the commons in another. If the houses differ, the king has the casting vote. A few weeks later we find him raving against the
In 1785 he married a young lady of considerable fortune. Whether she was in other respects qualified to make a home happy, is a point respecting which we are imperfectly informed. In a little work, entitled Melancholy Pages, which was written in 1797, Barère avers that his marriage was one of mere convenience, that at the altar his heart was heavy with sorrowful forebodings, that he turned pale as he pronounced the solemn "Yes," that unbidden tears rolled down his cheeks, that his mother shared his presentiment, and that the evil omen was accomplished. "My marriage," he says, "was one of the most unhappy of mar-principles of this sublime and beautiful constiriages." So romantic a tale, told by so noted a tution. To admit deputies of the nobility and liar, did not command our belief. We were, clergy into the legislature is, he says, neither therefore, not much surprised to discover that, more or less than to admit enemies of the na in his Memoirs, he calls his wife a most amia- tion into the legislature. ble woman, and declares that, after he had been united to her six years, he found her as amiable as ever. He complains, indeed, that she was too much attached to royalty and to the old superstition; but he assures us that his respect Barère went for 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. 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 hardly possible, therefore, that disputes about politics or religion should have embitter
In this state of mind, without one settled par pose or opinion, the slave of the last word, royalist, aristocrat, democrat, according to the prevailing sentiment of the coffee-house of drawing-room into which he had just looked,
came a husband. Our own guess is, that his
A great crisis, often predicted, had at last arrived. In no country, we conceive, hare in
In the National Assembly he had no oppor tunity of displaying the full extent either of his talents or of his vices. He was indeed eclipsed by much abler men. He went, as was his habit, with the stream, spoke occasionally with some success, and edited a journal called the Point du Jour, in which the debates of the Assembly were reported.
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 had 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 abun tional 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 furthe doctrines of the philosophers, appear to us nished by others. to have taken into their view more than onehalf of the subject. Grievances as heavy have often been endured without producing a revolution; doctrines as bold have often been propounded without producing a revolution. The question, whether the French nation was alienated from its old polity by the follies and vices of the viziers and sultanas 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 so 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 cowardice and meanness very legibly written by the hand of God. His conversation was lively and easy; his manners remarkably good for a country lawyer. Women of rank and wit said that he was the only man who, on his first arrival from a remote province, had that indescribable air which it was supposed that Paris alone could give. His eloquence, indeed, was by no means so much admired in the capital as it had been by the ingenious academicians of Montauban and Toulouse. His style was thought very bad; and very bad, if a foreigner may venture to judge, it continued to the last. It would, however, be unjust to deny that he had some talents for speaking an writing. His rhetoric, though deformed by every imaginable fault of taste,
As the monarchical party became weaker and weaker, Barère gradually estranged himself more and more from it, and drew closer and closer to the republicans. It would seem that, during this transition, he was for a time closely connected with the family of Orleans It is certain that he was entrusted with the guardianship of the celebrated Pamela, afterwards Lady Edward Fitzgerald; and it was asserted that he received during some years a pension of twelve thousand francs from the Palais Royal.
At the end of September 1791, the labours of the National Assembly terminated, and those of the first and last Legislative Assem. bly commenced.
It had been enacted that no member of the National Assembly should sit in the Lega
lative Assembly; a preposterous and mischievous regulation, to which the disasters which followed must in part be ascribed. In England, what would be thought of a parliament which did not contain one single person who had ever sat in parliament before? Yet it may safely be affirmed, that the number of Englishmen who, never having taken any share in public affairs, are yet well qualified, by knowledge and observation, to be members of the legislature, is at least a hundred times as great as the number of Frenchmen who were so qualified in 1791. How, indeed, should it have been otherwise? In England, centuries of representative government have made all educated people in some measure statesmen. In France, the National Assembly had probably been composed of as good materials as were then to be found. It had undoubtedly removed a vast mass of abuses; some of its members had read and thought much about theories of government; and others had shown great oratorical talents. But that kind of skill which is required for the constructing, launching, and steering of a polity was lamentably wanting; for it is a kind of skill to which practice contributes more than books. Books are indeed useful to the politician, as they are useful to the navigator and to the surgeon. But the real navigator is formed by the waves; the real surgeon is formed at bedsides; and the conflicts of free states are the real In the mean time, it became clear that the school of constitutional statesmen. The Na- constitution of 1791 would not work. It was, tional Assembly had, however, now served an indeed, not to be expected that a constitution apprenticeship of two laborious and eventful new both in its principles and its details would years. It had, indeed, by no means finished at first work easily. Had the chief magistrate its education; but it was no longer, as on the enjoyed the entire confidence of the people, day when it met, altogether rude to political had he performed his part with the utmost functions. Its later proceedings contain abun- zeal, fidelity and ability, had the representative dant proof that the members had profited by body included all the wisest statesmen of their experience. Beyond all doubt, there was France, the difficulties might still have been not in France any equal number of persons found insuperable. But, in fact, the experi possessing in an equal degree the qualities ne- ment was made under every disadvantage. cessary for the judicious direction of public The king, very naturally, hated the constitu affairs; and, just at this moment, these legislation. In the Legislative Assembly were men tors, misled by a childish wish to display their of genius and men of good intentions, but not own disinterestedness, deserted the duties which a single man of experience. Nevertheless, if they had half learned, and which nobody else France had been suffered to settle her own had learned at all, and left their hall to a se- affairs without foreign interference, it is possi cond crowd of novices, who had still to master ble that the calamities which followed might the first rudiments of political business. When have been averted. The king who, with many Barère wrote his Memoirs, the absurdity of good qualities, was sluggish and sensual, might this self-denying ordinance had been proved have found compensation for his lost preroga by events, and was, we believe, acknowledged tives in his immense civil list, in his palaces by all parties. He accordingly, with his usual and hunting-grounds, in soups, Perigord pies, mendacity, speaks of it in terms implying that and Champagne. The people, finding them he had opposed it. There was, he tells us, no selves secure in the enjoyment of the valuable good citizen who did not regret this fatal vote. reforms which the National Assembly had, in Nay, all wise men, he says, wished the Na- the midst of all its errors, effected, would not tional Assembly to continue its sittings as the have been easily excited by demagognes to first Legislative Assembly. But no attention acts of atrocity; or, if acts of atrocity had was paid to the wishes of the enlightened friends been committed, those acts would probably of liberty; and the generous but fatal suicide have produced a speedy and violent reaction. was perpetrated. Now the fact is, that Barere, Had tolerable quiet been preserved during a far from opposing this ill-advised measure, few years, the constitution of 1791 might, per was one of those who most eagerly supported haps, have taken root, might have gradually at; that he described it from the tribune as wise acquired the strength which time alone can and magnanimous; and that he assigned, as give, and might, with some modifications his reasons for taking this view, some of those which were undoubtedly needed, have lasted phrases in which orators of his class delight, down to the present time. The European and which, on all men who have the smallest coalition against the Revolution extinguished
insight into politics, produce an effect very similar to that of ipecacuanha. "Those,” he said, "who have framed a constitution for their country, are, so to speak, out of the pale of that social state of which they are the authors; for creative power is not in the same sphere with that which it has created.”
M. Hippolyte Carnot has noticed this untruth, and attributes it to mere forgetfulness. We leave it to him to reconcile his very charitable supposition with what he elsewhere says of the remarkable excellence of Barère's memory.
Many members of the National Assembly were indemnified for the sacrifice of legislative power, by appointments in various departments of the public service. Of these fortunate per. sons Barère was one. A high Court of Appeal had just been instituted. The court was to sit at Paris; but its jurisdiction was to extend over the whole realm, and the departments were to choose the judges. Barère was nominated by the department of the Upper Pyrenees, and took his seat in the Palace of Justice. He asserts, and our readers may, if they choose, believe, that it was about this time in contem plation to make him minister of the interior, and that, in order to avoid so grave a responsi bility, he obtained permission to pay a visit to his native place. It is certain that he left Paris early in the year 1792, and passed some months in the south of France.
with which, after the victory of the republicans, he and his family were treated. But this we say, that the French had only one alterna tive, to deprive him of the powers of first magistrate, or to ground their arms and submit patiently to foreign dictation. The events of the tenth of August sprang inevitably from the league of Pilnitz. The king's palace was stormed; his guards were slaughtered. He was suspended from his regal functions; and the Legislative Assembly invited the nation to elect an extraordinary Convention, with full powers which the conjuncture required. To this Convention the members of the National Assembly were eligible; and Barère was chosen by his own department.
all hope of such a result. The deposition of Louis was, in our opinion, the necessary consequence of that coalition. The question was now no longer, whether the king should have an absolute veto or a suspensive veto, whether there should be one chamber or two chambers, whether the members of the representative body should be re-eligible or not; but whether France should belong to the French. The independence of the nation, the integrity of the territory, were at stake; and we must say plainly, that we cordially approve of the conduct of those Frenchmen who, at that conjuncture, resolved, like our own Blake, to play the men for their country, under whatever form of government their country might fall.
It seems to us clear that the war with the con- The Convention met 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 acclaIt 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 have 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 governexcept 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 usebeen 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 necesaway 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, who, 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 drums. 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 ther was