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real root of the old abuses, by introducing the equal division of estates among the children, in lieu of the feudal system of primogeniture. A speech which he had prepared upon this subject was read from the tribune a few hours after his death, by Mr de Talleyrand, and the measure was adopted. This single law, independently of any other, contained within itself the whole revolution. Mirabeau retained his lofty and inflexible spirit, and the proud consciousness he always felt of his powers, to the last moment of his life. Hearing, just before he expired, the report of a cannon, What,' said he, are they celebrating already the funeral of Achilles ? His remains were entombed in the Pantheon, from which, however, they were subsequently removed upon the discovery of his understanding with the court. Whatever may be thought of his private morals, or even of his political principles, those who like him least must admit the splendor of his talents, and the aspiring grandeur of his character :

His form had not yet lost
All its original brightness, nor appeared
Less than archangel ruined, or the excess

Of glory obscured. The following account of the person of Mirabeau and his manner in debate is given by Lemercier, a living French writer of some distinction.

The appearance of Mirabeau was far from being attractive. His figure was clumsy and ungraceful; and it was difficult to see, for the first time, without repugnance, the cloudy, olive colored tint of his complexion, his cheeks ploughed with furrows, his haggard eyes buried in a deep excavation under his projecting forehead, his wide, ill shapen mouth, and his head and breast of a size quite disproportionate to the rest of his person. Nor was there


charm in his enunciation to make up

for these defects. His voice was hoarse, and he spoke with a perceptible southern accent. He generally began with slowness and hesitation, and it was not until he became in some degree warmed by his subject, that his manner assumed an ease and energy, corresponding with the copiousness and force of his conceptions. But no sooner did the superiority of his eloquence display itself, than his ugliness was forgotten. His whole person was animated by the fire and vigor of his genius, and put on an entirely new appearance. His massy stature seemed to correspond with the majesty of his language; his sunken eyes flashed with inspiration, and the muscles of his lips and forehead quivered and palpitated with the various changes of feeling, that succeeded each other in his discourse. Never, perhaps, was there seen a more imposing exhibition, than that of Mirabeau wielding his thunders in a hall, that contained three or four thousand auditors, and breaking down whole corporations at a blow. I should have been glad to observe how Napoleon, who thought he could subdue every hostile force by corruption or violence, would have dealt with this great moral colossus.

The reported speeches of Mirabeau, as we have already observed, are far from giving an adequate idea of the powers, which produced these prodigious effects. In fact, a report by another hand must necessarily be a very incorrect representation of an able speech. If the reporter, as is generally the case, be an indifferent writer, whose skill merely reaches to the grammatical arrangement of a sentence, and who has no thoughts and feelings in common with the orator, he brings down, of course, the

inspirations of the latter to his own level, and gives, as it were, the ground plat of a magnificent edifice. Il, on the contrary, his genius is equal or superior to that of the speaker, his report will still be incorrect, because it will be little more than a transcript of his own views on the same subject. Chatham, for example, was perhaps the greatest orator, taking the word in its proper sense, that ever appeared in England ; and Johnson was a reporter every way fitted, if the thing were possible, to give a just idea of his manner. But in the admirable report of his short and triumphant reply to the sneer of Walpole at his youth, we lose sight of the orator, and plainly recognize the sententious and epigrammatic style of the great moralist

. Still, however, a representation of this sort is better than none; as it is also the only one that can be had. The speech, of which the following report is given in this collection, was reckoned one of the most powerful efforts of Mirabeau, and is well suited by its length for the purpose of extraction. His object was to recommend the adoption, without examination, of a scheme proposed by Necker, then minister of the finances, and embracing several measures of a very desperate character, one of which was a property-tax of twenty-five per cent. His principal topic is the danger of immediate national bankruptcy.


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Gentlemen, we have heard a great many violent speeches; I shall endeavor to direct your attention to a few simple questions, and earnestly entreat you to listen to them.

Has not the minister of finances drawn a most alarming picture of our present situation ? Has he not told you that delay must aggravate the evil-that a day-an hour-a moment-may render it irremediable? Have we any other plan to substitute for the one he proposes ? One of this assembly answers, Yes! I conjure that member to recollect that his plan is unknown, that it would require time to explain and examine it, that were it now in discussion, its author may perhaps be mistaken; or if not, that we may think he is, and that, without the concurrence of public opinion, the greatest possible talents would be of no avail in the present circumstances. I, too, am far from thinking that Mr Necker has proposed the best possible ways and means ; but God forbid that at this critical moment I should place my views in opposition to his. However preferable I may think them, I know that it is in vain for me to pretend to his prodigious popularity, the reward of such distinguished services, to his long experience, to his reputation of the first financier in Europe, or to the singular and unprecedented good fortune, which has marked his career, more perhaps than that of any former statesman.

•We must therefore come back to the plan of Mr Necker.

• But why adopt it without deliberation? Do you think, then, that we have time to examine it in detail, to discuss the princi. ples, and go over all the calculations ? No, no, a thousand times,

We can only propose insignificant questions and superficial conjectures. What, then, shall we do by deliberating? Lose the decisive moment, involve ourselves in disputes about the details of a scheme, which we really do not understand, diminish, by our idle meddlings, the minister's credit, which is and ought to be greater than our own. Gentlemen, this course is certainly very impolitic. Is there even common honesty in it? Gentlemen, if we bad not proved our respect for the public faith, and our horror of bankruptcy by the most solemn declarations, I could almost venture to scrutinize the secret motives, secret perhaps even to themselves, of those who talk of deliberating upon this great sacrifice, when they must know, that unless made at once, it will be utterly ineffectual. And I would ask those, who seem to be accustoming themselves to the idea of bankruptcy, in preference to excessive taxes, whether a national bankruptcy is not itself the most cruel, the most unjust, the most ruinous of all possible taxes ? Gentlemen, one word more, a single word.

• Two centuries of misgovernment have opened a gulf of ruin, which threatens immediate destruction to the monarchy. This gulf must be closed. Take, then, the list of the proprietors of


the country; and select a certain number, whose property shall be sacrificed to pay the public debt. Choose the richest, that as few citizens as possible may be ruined; but be sure to choose enough. Come on then; here are two thousand individuals, who have sufficient property among them to make up the deficit. Strike; exterminate the whole; plunge them into the abyss ; it will then close ; the finances will be restored to order, and the kingdom to peace and prosperity. You recoil with horror from this idea ; and yet, inconsistent and pusillanimous souls that you are, you do not perceive, that in decreeing a national bankruptcy, or what is still worse, in making it inevitable without decreeing it, you disgrace yourselves by an act a thousand times more criminal; and, incredible as it may seem, criminal to no purpose. The other sacrifice, however horrible, would at least relieve you from your embarrassments. But do you think, that when you have declared yourselves bankrupt, you shall thereby be clear of debt? Will the thousands and millions, who lose in one moment, by this terrible blow and its consequences, all the comforts, perhaps the necessaries of life, allow you to enjoy quietly the advantages of your crime? Ye cool observers of the incalculable misery that such a consummation would bring upon France, ye selfish souls, who imagine that such convulsions of despair would pass off like the rest, and be only the shorter for their violence, are you very sure that so many millions of starving men will permit you to cover your tables with all the usual delicacies ? No! you must perish; and when you have lighted up this tremendous conflagration, you will find that you have sacrificed all your personal enjoyments, as well as your honor.

This, then, is the point, to which you are advancing. I hear much said of patriotism, appeals to patriotism, transports of patriotism. Gentlemen, why prostitute this noble word? Is it so very magnanimous to give up a part of your income, in order to save your whole property? This is simple arithmetic ; and he that hesitates deserves contempt, rather than indignation. Yes, gentlemen, it is to your immediate self-interest, to your most familiar notions of prudence and policy, that I now appeal. I say not to you now, as heretofore, beware how you give the world the first example of an assembled nation untrue to the public faith. I ask you not, as heretofore, what right you have to freedom, or what means of maintaining it, if, at your first step in administration, you outdo in baseness all the old and corrupt governments. I tell you, that unless you prevent this catastrophe, you will all be involved in the general ruin ; and that you are yourselves the persons most deeply interested in making the sacrifice which the government demands of you.

• I exhort you, then, most earnestly to vote these extraordinary New Series, No. 11. 12

supplies, and God grant they may prove sufficient. Vote them, I beseech you ; for even if you doubt the expediency of the means, you know perfectly well that the supplies are necessary, and that you are incapable of raising them in any other way. Vote them at once; for the crisis does not admit of delay; and if it occurs, we must be responsible for the consequences. Beware of asking for time; while you are lingering, the evil day will come upon you. Why, gentlemen, it was but a few days since, that upon occasion of some foolish bustle in the Palais Royal

, some ridiculous insurrection that existed nowhere but in the heads of a few weak or designing individuals, we were told with emphasis, Catiline is at the gates of Rome, and yet we deliberate. We know, gentlemen, that this was all imagination. We are far from being at Rome; nor is there any Catiline at the gates of Paris. But now we are threatened with a real danger; bankruptcy, national bankruptcy is before you ; it threatens to swallow up your persons, your property, your honor,--and yet you deliberate.

The turn at the close of the following extract has sometimes been cited as a happy movement. Mirabeau had proposed an address to the king, requesting him to remove the ministers. It was objected by the other side, that such a request would be an infringement of the royal prerogative, and would be inconsistent with the theory of the division of the supreme power into three branches; and the example of England, where the house of commons had recently petitioned the king to change his ministers, and the king had in consequence dissolved the house, was cited as a proof of the confusion in. troduced into public affairs by this system. The orator replies in the following terms to this part of the argument of his adversaries : - But, it is said,

will confound the three

powers. • We shall soon have occasion to examine this theory of three powers, which, properly analyzed, will perhaps show the ease, with which the mind mistakes words for things, and acquiesces in accustomed conclusions, without taking the trouble to examine the principles upon which they are founded. The valorous champions of the three powers will then inform us, if they can, what hey mean by this large phrase of three powers ; and how they can conceive of the judicial or even of the legislative power, as wholly distinct from the executive.

But you forget that the people, whose action you limit by the three powers, is itself the source of all power. You forget that you are disputing the right of the master to control his agents. You forget that we, the representatives of the people, we, in

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