Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

report on the state of public opinion on the pro- copies, the Mémorial Antibritannique never, ceedings of the government, and generally on in its most prosperous times, had more than every thing which, in his judgment, it will be fifteen hundred subscribers ; and these subinteresting to the First Consul to learn. 'He may write with perfect freedom.

scribers were, with scarcely an exception, "He will deliver his reports under seal into persons residing far from Paris, probably General Duroc's own hand, and General Duroc Gascons, among whom the name of Barère will deliver them to the First Consul. But it is had not yet lost its influence. absolutely necessary that nobody should suspect A writer who cannot find readers, genethat this species of communication takes place; rally attributes the public neglect to any and, should any such suspicion get abroad, the

cause rather than to the true one; and Barère First Consul will cease to receive the reports of Citizen Barère.

was no exception to the general rule. His 'It will also be proper that Citizen Barère old hatred to Paris revived in all its fury. should frequently insert in the journals articles That city, he says, has no sympathy with tending to animate the public mind, particularly France. No Parisian cares to subscribe to against the English.'

a journal which dwells on the real wants

and interests of the country. To a Parisian During some years Barère continued to nothing is so ridiculous as patriotism. The discharge the functions assigned to him by higher classes of the capital have always been his master. Secret reports, filled with the devoted to England. À corporal from Lontalk of coffeehouses, were carried by him don is better received among them than a every week to the Tuileries. His friends French general. A journal, therefore, which assure us that he took especial pains to do attacks England has no chance of their supall the harm in his power to the returned port. emigrants. It was not his fault if Napoleon A much better explanation of the failure was not apprised of every murmur and every of the Memorial, was given by Bonaparte at sarcasm which old marquesses who had lost St. Helena. “Barère,' said he to Barry their estates, and old clergymen who had O'Meara, 'had the reputation of being a man lost their benefices, uttered against the im- of talent; but I did not find him so. I employperial system. M. Hyppolyte Carnot, we ed him to write; but he did not display ability. grieve to say, is so much blinded by party He used many flowers of rhetoric, but no solid spirit, that he seems to reckon this dirty argument; nothing but coglionerie wrapped wickedness among his hero's titles to public up in high-sounding language.' esteem.

The truth is, that though Barère was a Barère was, at the same time, an indefati- man of quick parts, and could do with ease gable journalist and pamphleteer. He set what he could do at all, he had never been a up a paper directed against England, and good writer. In the day of his power, he called the Mémorial Antibritannique. He had been in the habit of haranguing an explanned a work entitled, “France made great citable audience on exciting topics. The and illustrious by Napoleon. When the faults of his style passed uncensored; for it Imperial government was established, the old was a time of literary as well as of civil lawregicide \made himself conspicuous even lessness, and a patriot was licensed to violate among the crowd of flatterers by the peculiar the ordinary rules of composition as well as fulsomeness of his adulation. He translated the ordinary rules of jurisprudence and of into French a contemptible volume of Italian social morality. But there had now been a verses, entitled, "The Poetic Crown, com- literary as well as a civil reaction. As there posed on the glorious accession of Napoleon was again a throne and a court, a magistracy, the First, by the Shepherds of Arcadia.' a chivalry, and a hierarchy, so was there a He commenced a new series of Carmagnoles revival of classical taste. Honor was again very different from those which had charmed paid to the prose of Pascal and Massillon, the Mountain. The title of Emperor of the and to the verse of Racine and La Fontaine. French, he said, was mean ; Napoleon ought The oratory which had delighted the galleto be Emperor of Europe. King of Italy ries of the Convention, was not only as much was too humble an appellation ; Napoleon's out of date as the language of Villehardouin style ought be King of Kings.

and Joinville, but was associated in the pubBut Barère labored to small purpose in lic mind with images of horror. All the pe both his vocations. Neither as a writer nor culiarities of the Anacreon of the guillotine, as a spy was he of much use. He complains his words unknown to the Dictionary of the bitterly that his paper did not sell. While Academy, his conceits and his jokes, his the Journal des Débats, then flourishing Gascon idioms and his Gascon hyperboles, under the able management of Geoffroy, had had become as odious as the cant of the Pua circulation of at least twenty thousand ritans was in England after the Restoration.

Bonaparte, who had never loved the men Such treatment was sufficient, it might of the Reign of Terror, had now ceased to have been thought, to move the most abject fear them. He was all-powerful and at the of mankind to resentment. Still, however, height of glory; they were weak and univer- Barère cringed and fawned on. His letters sally abhorred. He was a sovereign, and it came weekly to the Tuileries till the year is probable that he already meditated a mat- 1807. At length, while he was actually rimonial alliance with sovereigns. He was writing the two hundred and twenty-third of naturally unwilling, in his new position, to the series, a note was put into his hands. It hold any intercourse with the worst class of was from Duroc, and was much more perJacobins. Had Barère's literary assistance spicuous than polite. Barère was requested been important to the government, personal to send no more of his Reports to the palace, aversion might have yielded to considerations as the Emperor was too busy to read them. of policy; but there was no motive for keep- Contempt, says the Indian proverb, pierces ing terms with a worthless inan who had even the shell of the tortoise; and the conalso proved a worthless writer. Bonaparte, tempt of the Court was felt to the quick even therefore, gave loose to his feelings. Barère by the callous heart of Barère. He had was not gently dropped, not sent into an humbled himself to the dust; and he had honorable retirement, but spurned and humbled himself in vain. Having been emiscourged away like a troublesome dog. He nent among the rulers of a great and victorihad been in the habit of sending six copies ous state, he had stooped to serve a master in of his journal on fine paper daily to the Tuil the vilest capacities; and he had been told eries. Instead of receiving the thanks and that, even in those capacities, he was not praises which he expected, he was dryly told worthy of the pittance which had been disdainthat the great man had ordered five copies fully fung to him. He was now degraded to be sent back. Still he toiled on ; still he below the level even of the hirelings whom cherished a hope that at last Napoleon would the government employed in the most infarelent, and that at last some share in the mous offices. He stood idle in the markethonors of the state would reward so much place, not because he thought any office too assiduity and so much obsequiousness. He infamous, but because none would hire him. was bitterly undeceived. Under the Impe- Yet he had reason to think himself forturial constitution the electoral colleges of nate; for, had all that is avowed in these Methe departments did not possess the right of moirs been then known, he would have rechoosing senators or deputies, but merely ceived very different tokens of the Imperial that of presenting candidates. From among displeasure. We learn from himself, that these candidates the Emperor named mem- while publishing daily columns of flattery on bers of the senate, and the senate named Bonaparte, and while carrying weekly budgmembers of the legislative body. The in-ets of calumny to the Tuileries, he was in habitants of the Upper Pyrenees were still close connexion with the agents whom the strangely partial to Barere. In the year Emperor Alexander, then by no means favor1805, they were disposed to present him as ably disposed towards France, employed to a candidate for the senate. "On this Napo- watch all that passed at Paris; was permitted leon expressed the highest displeasure; and to read their secret despatches; was consulted the president of the electoral college was di- by them as to the temper of the public mind and rected to tell the voters, in plain terms, that the character of Napoleon ; and did his best such a choice would be disgraceful to the to persuade them that the government was in department. All thought of naming Barère a tottering condition, and that the new sovea candidate for the senate was consequently reign was not, as the world supposed, a great dropped. But the people of Argelès ven- statesman and soldier. Next, Barère, still tured to name him a candidate for the legis- the flatterer and talebearer of the Imperial lative body. That body was altogether des- Court, connected himself in the same manner titute of weight and dignity; it was not per- with the Spanish envoy. He owns that with mitted to debate; its only function was to that envoy he had relations which he took vote in silence for whatever the government the greatest pains to conceal from his own proposed. It is not easy to understand how government; that they met twice a-day, and any man, who had sat in free and powerful that their conversation chiefly turned on the deliberative assemblies, could condescend to vices of Napoleon, on his designs against bear a part in such a mummery. Barère, Spain, and on the best mode of rendering

was desirous of a place even in those designs abortive. In truth, Barère's this mock legislature ; and a place even in baseness was unfathomable. In the lowest this mock legislature as refused to him. deeps of shame he found out lower deeps. It In the whole senate he had not a single vote. is bad to be a sycophant; it is bad to be a spy.

JUNE, 1844. 18

however,

But even among sycophants and spies there could be conciliated only by the restoration are degrees of meanness. The vilest syco- of Louis, and vanquished only by means of a phant is he who privily slanders the master on dictatorial power entrusted to Napoleon.whom he fawns; the vilest spy is he who They would not hear of Louis ; yet they would serves foreigners against the government of not hear of the only measures which could his native land.

keep him out. They incurred the enmity of From 1807 to 1814 Barère lived in obscu- all foreign powers by putting Napoleon at rity, railing as bitterly as his craven coward their head; yet they shackled him, thwarted ice would permit against the Imperial admin- him, quarreled with him about every trifle, istration, and coming sometimes unpleasantly abandoned him on the first reverse. They across the police. When the Bourbons re- then opposed declamations and disquisitions turned, he, as might be expected, became a to eight hundred thousand bayonets; played royalist, and wrote a pamphlet setting forth at making a constitution for their country, the horrors of the system from which the Res- when it depended on the indulgence of the toration had delivered France, and magnify- victor whether they should have a country; ing the wisdom and goodness which had dic- and were at last interrupted in the midst of tated the charter. He who had voted for the their babble about the rights of man and the death of Louis, he who had moved the decree sovereignty of the people, by the soldiers of for the trial of Marie Antoinette, he whose Wellington and Blucher. hatred of monarchy had led him to make war A new Chamber of Deputies was elected, even upon the sepulchres of ancient monarchs, so bitterly hostile to the Revolution, that there assures us with great complacency, that 'in was no small risk of a new Reign of Terror. this work monarchical principles and attach- It is just, however, to say that the King, his ment to the House of Bourbon are nobly ex- ministers, and his allies, exerted themselves pressed.' By this apostacy he got nothing, to restrain the violence of the fanatical roynot even any additional infamy; for his char- alists, and that the punishments inflicted, acter was already too black to be black- though in our opinion unjustifiable, were few ened.

and lenient when compared with those which During the hundred days he again emerged were demanded by M. de Labourdonnaye and for a very short time into public life; he was M. Hyde de Neuville. We have always chosen by his native district a member of the heard, and are inclined to believe, that the Chamber of Representatives. But though government was not disposed to treat eren that assembly was composed in a great mea- the regicides with severity. But on this point sure of men who regarded the excesses of the the feeling of the Chamber of Deputies was Jacobins with indulgence, he found himself so strong, that it was thought necessary to an object of general aversion. When the make some concession. It was enacted, President first informed the Chamber that M. therefore, that whoever, having voted in JanuBarère requested a hearing, a deep and in- ary 1793 for the death of Louis the Sixteenth, dignant murmur ran round the benches.— had in any manner given in an adhesion to After the battle of Waterloo, Barère propos- the government of Bonaparte during the huned that the Chamber should save France from dred days, should be banished for life from the victorious enemy, by putting forth a proc- France. Barère fell within this description. lamation about the pass of Thermopylæ, and He had voted for the death of Louis; and be the Lacedæmonian custom of wearing flowers had sat in the Chamber of Representatives in times of extreme danger. Whether this during the hundred days. composition, if it had then appeared, would

He accordingly retired to Belgium, and rehave stopped the English and Prussian armies, sided there, forgotten by all mankind, till the is a question respecting which we are left to year 1830. After the revolution of July he conjecture. The Chamber refused to adopt was at liberty to return to France, and he this last of the Carmagnoles.

fixed his residence in his native province. But The Emperor had abdicated. The Bour- he was soon involved in a succession of lawbons returned. The Chamber of Repre-suits with his nearest relations—"three fatal sentatives, after burlesquing during a few sisters and an ungrateful brother," to use his weeks the proceedings of the National Con- own words. Who was in the right is a quesvention, retired with the well-earned charac- tion about which we have no means f judgter of having been the silliest political as-ing, and certainly shall not take Barère's sembly that had met in France. Those word. The Courts appear to have decided dreaming pedants and praters never for a mo- some points in his favor and some against ment comprehended their position. They him. The natural inference is, that there could never understand that Europe must be were faults on all sides. The result of this either conciliated or vanquished; that Europe litigation was, that the old man was reduced

ary 1841.

to extreme poverty, and was forced to sell his of France, Merovingian, Carlovingian, and paternal house.

Capetian, had perpetrated in twelve centuAs far as we can judge from the few facts ries. Freedom was regarded as a great dewhich remain to be mentioned, Barère con- lusion. Men were willing to submit to the tinued Barère to the last. After his exile he government of hereditary princes, of fortuturned Jacobin again, and, when he came nate soldiers, of nobles, of priests; to any govback to France, joined the party of the ex- ernment but that of philosophers and philantreme left in railing at Louis Philippe, and thropists. Hence the imperial despotism, at all Louis Philippe's ministers. M. Casimir with its enslaved press and its silent tribune, Périer, M. de Broglie, M. Guizot, and M. its dungeons stronger than the old Bastile, Thiers, in particular, are honored with his and its tribunals more obsequious than the abuse; and the king himself is held up to old parliaments. Hence the restoration of execration as a hypocritical tyrant. Never- the Bourbons and of the Jesuits, the Chamber theless, Barére had no scruple about accept- of 1815 with its categories of proscription, the ing a charitable donation of a thousand francs revival of the feudal spirit, the encroachments a year from the privy purse of the sovereign of the clergy, the persecution of the Protestwhom he hated and reviled. This pension, ants, the appearance of a new breed of De together with some small sums occasionally Montforts and Dominics in the full light of doled out to him by the department of the In- the nineteenth century. Hence the admission terior, on the ground that he was a distressed of France into the Holy Alliance, and the war man of letters, and by the department of Jus- waged by the old soldiers of the tricolor tice, on the ground that he had formerly held against the liberties of Spain. Hence, too, a high judicial office, saved him from the the apprehensions with which, even at the necessity of begging his bread. Having sur-present day, the most temperate plans for vived all his colleagues of the renowned Com- widening the narrow basis of the French repmittee of Public Safety, and almost all his resentation are regarded by those who are colleagues of the Convention, he died in Janu- especially interested in the security of propHe had attained his eighty-sixth erty and the maintenance of order.

Half a year.

century has not sufficed to obliterate the stain We have now laid before our readers what which one year of depravity and madness has we believe to be a just account of this man's left on the noblest of causes. life. Can it be necessary for us to add any Nothing is more ridiculous than the manthing for the purpose of assisting their judg- ner in which writers like M. Hippolyte Carment of his character? If we were writing not defend or excuse the Jacobin administraabout any of his colleagues in the Committee tion, while they declaim against the reaction of Public Safety, about Carnot, about Robe which followed. That the reaction has prospierre, or St. Just, nay, even about Couthon, duced and is still producing much evil, is Collot, or Billaud, we might feel it necessary perfectly true. But what produced the reto go into a full examination of the arguments action? The spring flies up with a force which have been employed to vindicate or to proportioned to that with which it has been excuse the system of Terror. We could, pressed down. The pendulum which is we think, show that France was saved from drawn far in one direction swings as far in her forcign enemies, not by the system of the other. The joyous madness of intoxicaTerror, but in spite of it; and that the perils tion in the evening is followed by languor which were made the plea for the violent and nausea on the morrow. And so, in polpolicy of the Mountain, were to a great ex- itics, it is the sure law that every excess tent created by that very policy. We could, shall generate its opposite; nor does he dewe think, also show that the evils produced serve the name of a statesman who strikes a by the Jacobin administration did not ter- great blow without fully calculating the effect minate when it fell; that it bequeathed a long of the rebound. But such calculation was series of calamities to France and to Europe; infinitely beyond the reach of the authors of that public opinion, which had during two the Reign of Terror. Violence, and more generations been constantly becoming more violence, blood, and more blood, made up and more favorable to civil and religious free their whole policy. In a few months these dom, underwent, during the days of Terror, poor creatures succeeded in bringing about a a change of which the traces are still to be reaction, of which none of them saw, and of distinctly perceived. It was natural that there which none of us may see, the close; and, should be such a change, when men saw that having brought it about, they marvelled at those who called themselves the champions of it; they bewailed it; they execrated it; popular rights bad compressed into the space they ascribed it to every thing but the real of twelve months more crimes than the Kings cause—their own immorality and their own

ers.

profound incapacity for the conduct of great manners, and history, is the less excusable, affairs.

because, according to his own account, he These, however, are considerations to consorted much, during the peace of Amiens, which, on the present occasion, it is hardly with Englishmen of note, such as that eminent necessary for us to advert; for, be the de- nobleman Lord Greaten, and that not less fence which has been set up for the Jacobin eminent philosopher Mr. Mackensie Cæshis. policy good or bad, it is a defence which In spite, however, of his connection with cannot avail Barère. From his own life, these well-known ornaments of our country, from his own pen, from his own mouth, we he was so ill informed about us as to fancy can prove that the part which he took in the that our government was always laying plans work of blood is to be attributed, not even to torment him. If he was hooted at Saintes, to sincere fanaticism, nor even to misdirected probably by people whose relations he had and ill-regulated patriotism, but either to murdered, it was because the cabinet of St. cowardice, or to delight in human misery. James's had bired the mob. If nobody would Will it be pretended That it was from public read his bad books, it was because the cabispirit that he murdered the Girondists? In net of St. James's had secured the Reviewthese very Memoirs he tells us that he al- His accounts of Mr. Fox, of Mr. Pitt, ways regarded their death as the greatest of the Duke of Wellington, of Mr. Canning, calamity that could befall France. Will swarm with blunders, surpassing even the it be pretended that it was from public ordinary blunders committed by Frenchmen spirit that he raved for the head of the Aus- who write about England. Mr. Fox and Mr. trian woman? In these very Memoirs he Pitt, he tells us, were ministers in two differtells us that the time spent in attacking her ent reigns. Mr. Pitt's sinking fund was inwas ill spent, and ought to have been em- stituted in order to enable England to pay ployed in concerting measures of national subsidies to the powers allied against the defence. Will it be pretended that he was French republic. The Duke of Wellinginduced by sincere and earnest abhorrence ton's house in Hyde Park was built by the naof kingly government to butcher the living tion, which twice voted the sum of 200,0001. and to outrage the dead; he who invited for the purpose. This, however, is exclusive Napoleon to take the title of King of Kings, of the cost of the frescoes, which were also he who assures us, that after the Restoration paid for out of the public purse. Mr. Canhe expressed in noble language his attachment ning was the first Englishman whose death to monarchy, and to the house of Bourbon ? Europe had reason to lament; for the death Had he been less mean, something might of Lord Ward, a relation, we presume, of have been said in extenuation of his cruelty. Lord Greaten and Mr. Cæflis, had been an Had he been less cruel, something might immense benefit to mankind. have been said in extenuation of his mean- Ignorant, however, as Barère was, he knew ness. But for him, regicide and court-spy, enough of us to hate us; and we persuade for him who patronized Lebon and betrayed ourselves that, had he known us better, he Demerville, for him who wantoned alternate would have hated us more. The nation ly in gasconades of Jacobinism, and gascon- which has combined, beyond all example and ades of servility, what excuse has the largest all hope, the blessings of liberty with those charity to offer?

of order, might well be an object of aversion We cannot conclude, without saying some to one who had been false alike to the cause thing about two parts of his character, which of order and to the cause of liberty. We his biographer appears to consider as de- have had amongst us intemperate zeal for serving of high admiration. Barère, it is ad- popular rights; we have had amongst us also mitted, was somewhat fickle; but in two things the intemperance of loyalty. But we have he was consistent, in his love of Christianity, never been shocked by such a spectacle as and in his hatred to England. If this were the Barère of 1794, or as the Barère of 1804. so, we must say that England is much more compared with him, our fiercest demagogues beholden to him than Christianity.

have been gentle; compared with him, our It is possible that our inclinations may meanest courtiers have been manly. Mix bias our judgment; but we think that we together Thistlewood and Bubb Dodington, do not flatter ourselves when we say, that and you are still far from having Barère. Barère's aversion to our country was a senti- The antipathy between him and us is such, ment as deep and constant as his mind was that neither for the crimes of his earlier, nor capable of entertaining. The value of this for those of his later life, does our language, compliment is indeed somewhat diminished rich as it is, furnish us with adequate names. by the circumstance, that he knew very little We have found it difficult to relate his hisabout us. His ignorance of our institutions, tory without having perpetual recourse to

« PreviousContinue »