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attire,-marched in solem order the states-general; the men to whom had been confided the happiness and the destinies of France. This was the first scene of the revolution, then on the eve of being accomplished. For the philosopher had prepared an age of action as the poet had prepared an age of philosophy.
One of the consequences of the policy of Richelieu and Louis XIV. was, that having made the crown of the spoliator of every class in the kingdom, every class imagined it had something to gain by despoiling the crown. The Parliament of Paris, which had once assisted the king against the aristocracy of the sword, passed naturally over to the people on that aristocracy being subdued, and raised at every interval, when the weakness of the sovereign or the force of the subject gave it power, the standard of magisterial revolt. The noblesse d'épée themselves, embued with that respect for their ancestors, which hereditary honours always inspire, looked back with jealousy to a time when their families enjoyed a kind of feudal independence, and felt something like pleasure in the humiliation of a power by which their own consequence had been humbled. Every class saw a chance, in the convocation of the States-General, for asserting its own privi
leges; every class therefore demanded that convocation.* But the separate motives which induced all parties to unite for this common object, divided them as soon as it was attained. The differing factions commenced a struggle for power-the famous meeting at the racket court decided to which faction power should belong.
And now the parliament, accustomed to aid the weaker party, united with the crown; while the military nobility under the Comte d'Artois recovered in this crisis the old spirit of their order, and at the head of an army would have rendered themselves at once independent of the people and the throne.-The 14th of July, which separated the officers from the soldiery, offered no resource to this body but a foreign camp and as the aristocracy of France united itself with the aristocracy of Europe, the emigration commenced: signal of a war which was to be waged between two opinions.
The succeeding epochs of the revolution are at short distances from each other, and bring us speedily to the great catastrophe. The natural consequences of the events of July confined the court to Paris, and confirmed the power of the
By the parliament, and the peers of France, by the states of Dauphiny, and by the clergy in the assembly of Paris.
assembly; the death of Mirabeau left Louis no alternative but an unconditional submission or flight his subsequent attempts at escape changed his condition from that of the monarch who had made concessions, into that of a captive who had to be grateful for a favour, and contrite for a fault. In this situation the dissolution of the national assembly left him.
With the national assembly perished the best portion of the revolution-rather learned than wise, rather vain than ambitious, rather democratic than loyal, rather loyal than aristocratic -more profound than practical, more zealous than able, more rhetorical than eloquent-virtuous, great, courageous-it has left a vast monument of enthusiasm, energy, disinterestedness, superb language, deep thought, and political incapacity.
It contained all that a great nation, stirred by a noble passion, could produce, without being educated for affairs-it proved the value of that education;-with more than the ideas necessary to form a good government, it wanted the tact which, in bodies that have long existed, becomes the instinct of conversation; and in setting for itself the trap in which Cromwell caught his opponents, displayed the most profound ignorance of the variable nature
of revolutions in general, as well as of the peculiar and characteristic disposition of the French people.* The national assembly was called upon, not merely to announce certain opinions —as I have been told in France, such opinions were already announced-it was called upon to give a durable form to these opinions, and in this, the most important part of its mission, it was egregiously, unfortunately, and perhaps inevitably unsuccessful.
Let us pause for a moment upon this epoch: it was then that you might have seen a man, his high brow wrinkled with study, his eye haggard with debauch-there he stands surrounded by wild and strange figures, in whose countenances you read, "Revenge upon our oppressors!" while their agitated lips pronounce words-destined to be so terrible, then so pure Liberty, justice for the great masses of
Depuis qu'on nous rassassie de principes," said Duport, the founder of the Jacobins, one of the leaders of the mountain, and the most practical politician of the assembly; "Depuis qu'on nous rassassie de principes, comment n'est on pas avisé que la stabilité est aussi un principe de gouvernement! veut-on exposer la France dont les têtes sont si ardentes et si mobiles, à voir arriver tous les deux ans une révolution dans les lois et dans les opinions."
mankind "—there he stands, his large hand clenched, his broad chest expanded, his great head erect and high, and rendered still more terrible by the profusion of hair, artfully arranged, so as to give effect to the formidable character of his person.
See him in the club of the Jacobins, which rings and resounds with his voice-or see him in those voluptuous fêtes which still linger about the court -in a room dazzling with light, abounding in shaded alcoves;-see him there, surrounded by opera dancers and actresses, familiar with roués and aristocrats, nervous under the influence of wine, society, and love—or see him, (so strange and so various are the attributes of this mortal)-see him in the quiet seclusion of his cabinet, the patron, the idol, and the preceptor of the most studious and disciplined youth of his time-communicating to them his ideas, profiting by their laboursand preparing, by the severe application of theories to facts, those profound and passionate displays with which he annihilated the ancient system, and would have renovated the new!
Such was Mirabeau, without whom, some have imagined the revolution of eighty-nine would not have been, by whom many have deemed that revolution might have been stopped.