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RECOLLECTIONS




MIRABEAU.



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RECOLLECTIONS



MIRABEAU,



AND OF THE



TWO FIRST LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLIES



FRANCE.



BY



ETIENNE DUMONT



OF GENEVA.



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CAREY & LEA— CHESTNUT STREET
1833.



({ JUL ^ 1B8E



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CONTENTS



Preface by the English Editor. . . xviii

Preface by the Genevese Editor. . . . xxiii



CHAPTER I. y

Motives which induced the author to write these
Recollections. The revolution of Geneva in 1789,
determines his departure for Paris with M. Du-
roverai. Desire of taking advantage of M, Nec-
ker's return to office to do something in favour of
the Genevese exiles. Origin of the author's
acquaintance with Mirabeau. Journey to Paris
with Sir Samuel Romilly in 1788. Mirabeau's
residence in England in 1784. His activity and
industry as a writer. His reputation at Paris in
1788. First interview with Mirabeau. Some
traits of his private character. His work on the
Prussian monarchy. Major Mauvillon the princi-
pal author. Quarrel between M. de Calonne and
M. Necker about the deficit. M. Necker's answer.
Mirabeau forms the project of replying. Why he



Vi CONTENTS.

abandons it. Visit to Bicetre and the Salpetriere.
Romilly writes an energetic description of them.
Mirabeau translates it. Discussion between Mira-
beau, de Bourges and Claviere. Dupont de Ne-
mours. Anecdotes. Champfort. A saying of
Mirabeau on Champfort. General feeling in polite
circles at Paris. Some traits of the private cha-
racter of Sir Samuel Romilly. Note given to the
author by Mirabeau. . . . . . 41



CHAPTER II.

Journey from London to Paris in 1789. Elections
of deputies at the bailliages. Regulations for the
election, made whilst breakfasting at Montreuil-
sur-Mer. Success of these regulations. Inter-
view with M. Necker. Residence at Claviere's at
Surene. Committees at Claviere's and Brissot's.
The Duke de la Rouchefoucauld. Confusion of
ideas at this period. Saying of Lauraguais.
Right of representation claimed by Palissot. As-
sem.bly of the sections. Difficulty of proceeding.
Assembly of electors. M. Duval-d'Espremenil.
M. de Lauraguais, bourgeois of Paris, Opening
of the states-general. Aspect of the tiers-Hat.
Reflection upon the verification of the powers. 61



CHAPTER in.

How Mirabeau was situated in the assembly, on the
opening of the states-general- His bitterness



CONTENTS. VU

against the assembly. Conversations on this sub-
ject. The author engages him to be more mode-
rate. Intimacy between Mirabeau and Duroverai.
Little committees. Duroverai's plan for bringing
Necker and Mirabeau together. Adopted by Mal-
louet. Difficulty of an interview. It takes place.
Mirabeau's saying on Necker. Embassy to Con-
stantinople. Ottoman Encyclopaedia. Mirabeau's
first triumph at the tribune. Debut of Robespierre. .
Efiect of his speech. Saying of M. Reybaz con-
cerning him. Sieyes, his character and habits.
The bishop of Chartres. Anecdotes of this pre-
late • . . 73



CHAPTER IV.

Inaction of the tiers during the disputes of the orders.
Its effect upon the public. Motion of Sieyes upon
the title of the assembly. Title of national as-
sembly proposed. This question debated between
the author, Duroverai and Mirabeau. The latter
determines to oppose this title. Speech written by
the author in the hall of the assembly. Mirabeau
adopts it. Its effect upon the assembly. Author's
anxiety. Sieyes's motion carried. Its effect. Du-
roverai forms the plan of a royal session. Mallouet
undertakes to communicate it to Necker. This
plan concealed from Mirabeau. It is spoiled by
the influence of the court party. Royal session.
Its effect upon the assembly and the public. Re-
flections. Circumstance which determined Nec-
ker to absent himself. Mirabeau's anger against



viii CONTBNTSo

Duroveraio What he thinks of Necker. His
opinion upon the session. .... 92



CHAPTER V.

Agitation of the people after the royal session.
Cause of this agitation. Saying of Sieyes on the
Breton club. Attitude of the court. Arrival
of troops. Mirabeau's speech. Address to the
king. Mirabeau undertakes to write it. Con-
fides this task to the author. Anecdote. General
uneasiness. Supposed projects of the court. Mi-
rabeau fears being arrested. Character of the
king on his arrival. Death of the Marquis de
Mirabeau. Work upon the events of the revolu-
tion 112



CHAPTER VI.

Courrier de Provence. Its origin. Partnership
between the author. Duroverai and Mirabeau,
Success of this journal. Negligence and dishon-
esty of the bookseller. Annoyances. Embar-
rassment of Mirabeau. His connexion with
Madame le Jay. The journal has a new editor.
It begins to fall. New arrangements. Judg-
ments upon the Courrier de Provence. What
ultimately became of it. ... 126



CONTENTS. Ili IX



CHAPTER VII.



Complete union of the orders. Aspect of the as-
sembly. Address to the people. Mirabeau re-
quests the author to write it. Cause of its want of
success. Weakness of the assembly regarding the
tumults. Fear and mistrust of the government.
Cause of it. General opinion in favour of the re-
volution. Causes which led to an alteration in
their opinion. Work of Burke. Declaration of
the rights of man. Discussion. Opinion of the
author and of Mirabeau on this subject. Sitting
of the 4th of August. Reflection upon it. Anger
of Sieyes. His opinion. That of Mirabeau upon
the assembly. Effect of this sitting upon the peo-
ple 134



CHAPTER VIII.

Discussion upon the veto. Marquis de Caseaux and
his speech. Difficulties of Mirabeau in reading it.
Anecdote. Public opinion. Improper mode of
proceeding in the assembly. Impatience of show-
ing off. Love of making motions. Some traits
of French character. Compared with the English.
Regulations by Romilly. Rejected by the assem-
bly. Opinion of Brissot, Sieyes, &c. upon Eng-
land. Saying of Duroverai. Mirabeau applies it
to Mounier. ....... 148



#



CONTENTS,



CHAPTER IX.



Camille Desmoulins. LaClos. His connexion with
Mirabeau. Was Mirabeau acting in concert with
the Duke of Orleans ? Facts for and against.
Translation from Milton against royalty. Du-
roverai prevents its publication. Saying of Mira-
beau upon the events of Paris. His conduct on
the 4th and 5th of October. Aspect of the inte-
rior of the assembly. Anecdotes. Desertion of
several deputies. . . . . . 159



CHAPTER X.

Discussion upon finances. Mirabeau's reasons for
supporting M. Necker. Effect of his speech.
Singular compliment paid to Mirabeau by Mole.
Address to the nation. Mirabeau confides to the
author the task of writing it. Want of success of
this address. Mirabeau proposes a vote of thanks
to Lafayette and Bailly. What determined him.
Project for bringing Mirabeau into office. Motion
to prevent it. Civic inscription. Proposal of
Sieyes. Mirabeau brings it forward. Law con-
cerning bankrupts. Martial law. . . 173



CONTENTS. XI



CHAPTER XI.

Connexion of Mirabeau with the court. Confidence
on this subject. Plan of a counter-revolution by
Mirabeau. King's departure. Basis of the plan.
Appeal to the nation. Decrees of the assembly
annulled. Immediate convocation of another as-
sembly. Surprise of the author. His resolution.
Conversation and discussion of the plan. Mira-
beau promises to renounce it. Another mode is
adopted. The Marquis de Favras. His trial.
Uneasiness of Mirabeau. Discussion on church
property. P6Iin author of Mirabeau's speeches
on this subject. His connexion with Mirabeau.
Anecdotes. . ..... 186



CHAPTER XII.

Mirabeau's habits changed. His house. Luxury.
Expenses. He refuses to take his father's title.
Receives 20,000 francs a month. His connexion
with Prince Louis d'Aremberg. Quarrel between
Mirabeau, Clavifere and Duroverai. The author
reconciles them. Gradual election. Idea of the
author. Mirabeau's motion. Barnave opposes it.
Mirabeau abandons it. Reflections. . . 203



XII M CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XIIL

Author's departure. Motives. Barrere. Barnave.
Petion. Target. Mnlouet. Volney. Robes-
pierre. Morellet. Necker. Champfort. Re-
turn to Paris with Achille Duchatelet. His cha-
racter. Anecdotes. Conversation vi^ith Mirabeau.
His connexion with the queen. He directs the
court party. Report of diplomatic committee.
Author's share in it. Anecdote. Increased ex-
pense in Mirabeau's style of living. Remark of
the author. The Abbe Lamourette, Mirabeau
president of the assembly. Opinion thereon. Mi-
rabeau's ill health. His forebodings. Emotion
on taking leave of the author. He prophecies on
the fate of France. His death. . . .213



CHAPTER XIV.

Private life of Mirabeau. Anecdote on his mar-
riage. Correspondence with Madame Mounier.
How he wrote it. Portrait of Mirabeau. Con-
sidered as an author. Distinctive characteristic of
his writings. As a political author. His good
qualities. Defects. Compared with Fox, with
Barnave. His private habits. As member of the
assembly. Venality. Saying on this subject.
Despair at not enjoying a spotless reputation. Plis
vanity. Saying of the author. Public character
of Mirabeau. His object Designs, Cause of



CONTENTS. XIU

their failure. Charactoristic trait of his genius.
Political sagacity. Powers of prophecy. Know-
ledge of mankind. . . . . . 232



CHAPTER XV.

Detached anecdotes. Mirabeau's habit of giving
nicknames. How he designated Sieyes, d'Espre-
menil, Lafayette, Necker, Claviere. His opinion
of Washington. Saying concerning the assembly.
Annoyance at praise bestowed upon mediocrity.
Saying of the author on this subject. Viscount de
Mirabeau. Laughable answer. Personal courage
of Mirabeau. Adored by his domestics. Visit to
the Bastille. His friendship for Cabanis. Cause
of his death. Last moments. Legacy to the as-
sembly. Activity. Hopes of becoming minister. 251



CHAPTER XVL

Author's return to Paris. Flight of the king to
Varennes. Aspect of the assembly. Effect of
the king's flight upon the people. Shade of Mira-
beau. Project of a paper. Its object. Why re-
nounced- Paine at Paris. Confidence of Ducha-
telet. Placard in favour of the republic. Con-
dorcet becomes a republican. Claviere, Brissot,
Petion, &c. discuss the question. Origin of this
opinion. Condorcct's motives and influence.,
Lameth, Barnave, &c. join the king. The author
returns to London with Paine. Opinion on this



XIV CONTENTS.



writer. Details given by d'Andre on the assem-
bly. His complaints. Reflections. Supposed
dialogue between d'Andr6 and his servant, recited
by Sieyes. 265



CHAPTER XVn.

General reflections on the revolution. Its causes.
Nine causes of the faults of the assembly. Hete-
rogeneous composition. Bad mode of carrying on
proceedings. Immutability of constitutional de-
crees. Fear of a counter-revolution. Emigration.

• Affiliation and institution of the Jacobins. Wrong
measures of the court party, &c. Causes of the
fall of the constitution. Unity of the assembly.
Absolute independence. Ineligibility of the
members of the first assembly to the second. Im-
mutability of the constitutional laws. Opinion on
the national assembly. Author regrets his want
of memory and curiosity. .... 284



CHAPTER XVIII.

Arrival of Petion in London. Object of his journey.
How accomplished. D'Andre. His character.
His talents. Persecuted by Brissot. Some par-
ticulars concerning Brissot's character. Talley-
rand. Anecdotes. Object in coming to Lon-
don. Reception by the king and queen. Author
returns to Paris. Reasons. Accompanies Talley-
rand and Duroverai. ..... 294



CONTENTS, XV



CHAPTER XIX.

Arrival at Paris. Conversation with Talleyrand.
Anecdote on the consecration of the clergy. As-
pect of the legislative aasembly. Divided into
three parties. The king governed by the Feuil-
lans. Girondists. Their object. M. de Lessart.
Impeachment by Brissot. Author reproaches
Brissot. Reflections. De Graves. Anecdotes.
Author secretly consulted on the choice of a war
minister. Speech to bring the Girondists into
power, made by Gensonne. Petion's speeches.
Vergniaud. Guadet. Gensonne, Buzot. Rce-
derer. Condorcet. ..... 304



CHAPTER XX.

The author taken to Roland's. Character of the lat-
ter. Madame Roland. Memoirs. Servan. Lou-
vet. Lanthenas. Pache. Claviere is appointed
minister. His life and character. His ambition.
Activity. Madame Claviere. Her illness. Cause
of recovery. Legislative assembly and Giron-
dists. . . 322



CHAPTER XXL

Declaration of war against Austria. Reticences in
the memoirs of Dumouriez. Austrian committee,



XVI CONTENTS.

Brissot desirous of war. Duchatelet refutes the
objection of the desertion of old officers. Din-
ners at Claviere's and Dumouriez's. Gaiety of
Louvet and Dumouriez. The latter communicates
to the author his report on the war. Condorcet's
weakness. Appointment of an embassy to Eng-
land. Talleyrand. Chauvelin. Hesitation. Du-
mouriez puts an end to them. Garat. Embassy
badly received in London. Pitt and Chauvelin.
The embassy at Ranelagh. The public shun them.
The Duke of Orleans. .... 334



CHAPTER XXH.

Object of the embassy. Maintenance of peace.
Work of Garat. 10th of August. Talleyrand
goes to Paris. Presses the author to accom-
pany, him. Refusal. Motives. The Genevese
government request him to proceed to Paris.
Army at the gates of Geneva. Montesquiou.
Travels with an Irish quaker who is come to
France to make proselytes. Arrival at Paris. The
author determines Brissot and Clavi^re to support '
the Genevese treaty. Gasc sent by the republic.
Dinner at Claviere's. Lebrun's ode. Secret
confided to the author by Gensonne. Intrigues
by Grenus. The author proceeds to Geneva. 353

Appendix. . . . . . . . 369



PREFACE



ENGLISH EDITOR



There is no public character whose actions
have been more the subject of misrepresenta-
tion, and over v\^hom calumny has had greater
sv\^ay, than the Count de Mirabeau. He is
known in this country rather as one of the
most profligate promoters of the French revo-
lution, than as the most extraordinary man
of his age, in those surpassing endowments
of mind in which he far surpassed all the
great luminaries of that brilliant period; and
it has been reserved for Dumont, a man of
high character and unsullied principles, to
rescue his name from the blind obloquy by



XVlll PREFACE BY

which it has been so long and so unjustly ob-
scured.

With all his vices, and they were by no
means few, Mirabeau had many redeeming
qualities. The former have been exaggerated
with all the virulence of party hatred, while the
latter have been concealed with equal malignity.
This is unjust. A man, whatever be his errors,
should go to posterity with the benefit of his
good as well as the odium of his evil qualities.

In these Recollections, Dumont, the friend of
Mirabeau, has concealed nothing, nor has he "set
down aught in malice." He has not shrunk
from the task of exposing the blemishes of a
master-mind, at the same time that he exhibits
the splendour of its superior endowments. He
has candidly stated Mirabeau's good and bad
qualities without disguise, and while it will ap-
pear that there is much to despise, it will be
found that upon the whole, there is perhaps more
to admire. Justice has been rendered to an
erring but illustrious man.

With all his vices, Mirabeau was an ardent
patriot. The good of his country was mingled
even With his dying aspirations, and the love



THE ENGLISH EDITOR. xix

of France ceased in his heart but with his last
breath. His great powers of intellect and tran-
scendant eloquence maintained his popularity
through all the fluctuating changes attendant
upon one of the greatest political convulsions
ever recorded in history ; and by the ascendency
of his energetic mind, he awed Robespierre and
the jacobin anarchists into harmless insignifi-
cance. Had his life been spared, there is no
doubt that the French revolution would have
taken another direction, and the horrible ex-
cesses of the reign of terror never have blackened
the page of French political regeneration. His
death was the knell of the French monarchy ; —
the glory of a long line of kings was buried in
the grave of Mirabeau.

Dumont's Recollections contain the most
valuable materials for history. Facts hitherto
unknown, the secret causes of many of those
great and surprising events which have puzzled
the acutest research of the historian, are laid
open. However we may regret that the work
remains unfinished, we cannot but be thankful
for the abundance of information supplied by
these Recollections, every page of which is of



XX PREFACE BY

momentous interest. Our regret arises from
the very perfection of the work even in its un-
finished state ; and had Dumont found leisure
to fill up the periods connecting its different parts,
and to give his promised account of the revolu-
tions of Geneva, subsequent to that of 17S9,
and in which he was himself an actor, this
volume would form the completest compendium
of the French revolution ever given to the public.
In reflecting upon the events contained in
this book, the philosophic mind cannot but be
forcibly struck with the disproportion between
causes and effects in political convulsions, when
once the edifice of the state has begun to totter
upon its foundations. On these occasions, the
most insignificant circumstance, like the chance
spark which, unperceived, may slowly spread its
latent flame and ultimately destroy the noblest
edifice, often leads to astounding results, even to
the ruin of states and the overthrow of empires.
Such was the case in France ;— and such will
be the case in all revolutions proceeding from
the same causes. It is a lamentable fact that
governments founded upon the barbarous re-
mains of feudality — and most governments of



THE ENGLISH EDITOR. XXI

modern ages are in this predicament — naturally
divide the state into two classes, whose hostility
to each other is instinctive. A few privileged
individuals hold the reins of power, and for their
own interest and advantage, oppress the great
mass of the people. When at length the latter
discover and claim their just rights, those rights
should be fairly and frankly admitted, otherwise
the authority by whom they are withheld must
ultimately, even in the absence of tumult and
bloodshed, be crushed by the inert preponde-
rance alone of the discontented mass of the
population. Had this self-evident principle
been admitted by the blind and bigotted aristo-
cracy of France, no convulsions would have
taken place, nor would the freedom of the
French people have been cemented with blood.
The inveterate and unjust prejudices of the
nobles, and more particularly of the members
of the royal family — which even five and
twenty years of misfortune and exile could not
eradicate — ^led immediately to those first excesses
which showed the people their strength and
betrayed the weakness of the government. It
is singular that neither the fruits of experience,
nor the pangs of personal suflTering, can rectify



Xxii ENGLISH editor's PREFACE.

the warpings of the human mind ; and in the
feelings which, in 1789, induced the Count
d'Artois to convert the conciliatory object of the
royal session into the immediate cause of the
first revolutionary insurrections, may be traced
the same spirit of bigotry, which in 1830 led
him, as Charles X, to issue the ordinances by
which he lost his crown.

Numerous other examples might be adduced
which would form a collection of valuable les-
sons for kings and statesmen. But alas ! man
profits not by the experience of others — often-
times not by his own ; and it is not until we
have obstinately and wickedly brought on the
evil, that we choose, amid the pangs of tardy
and useless repentance, to open our eyes to
truth!

In oflfering Dumont's ideas to the public in
an English garb, it only remains for the English
editor to add that his sole aim has been to give
the author's meaning with clearness and preci-
sion. If he has failed, it is not from want of
zeal and attention.

G. H. C.

London, 29ih March, 1832.



PREFACE



BY THE



GENEVESE EDITOR



It is not my intention to write a biographical
notice of M. Etienne Dumont. Two illus-
trious authors, M. de Candolle and M. de Sis-
mondi, have already paid their tribute of admi-
ration to the memory of their departed friend
and fellow-countryman. I cannot do better
than refer the reader to the Bihliotheque uni-
verselle^^ and the Revue encyclopedique^-\ in
which they have deposited, with all the warmth
of friendship, the expression of their regret at

* Bihliotheque universelle, November 1829.
t Revue encyclopediqitc^ vol. 44, p. 258.



XXIV PREFACE BY

the loss which our country, science and litera-
ture have just sustained.

To render, however, the present work more
intelligible, it is necessary that I should trace,
in as rapid a sketch as possible, the principal
circumstances of the author's life, especially
those preceding the period to which the work
alludes. When I have explained his connexion
with politics and political men, long before 1789,
and the rank which he has since held, in the
literary world, it will be more easy to under-
stand how he, a stranger to France and to the
great acts of the French revolution, should have
been able to relate facts hitherto unknown, and
have acquired the right of passing judgment
upon men and events.

M. Etienne Dumont, of Geneva, spent the
early part of his life in his native country, where
his talents as a preacher gained him well de-
served renown. In 1783, he left Geneva, in
consequence of its political troubles, and went
to St Petersburgh to join some members of his
family who had settled there. During a resi-
dence of eighteen months in this city, he
was equally successful, and obtained the high



THE GENEVESE EDITOR. XXV

consideration due to his merit and noble cha-
racter.

He left St Petersburgh in 1785, and went
to London to reside with Lord Shelburne, then
a minister of state, who confided to him the
general education of his sons. Lord Shelburne,
afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne, soon dis-
covered the great talents of M. Dumont, whom
he made his friend. It was in the house of
this minister that he became acquainted with
some of the most illustrious men of the country ;
and amongst others, with Sheridan, Fox, Lord
Holland, Sir Samuel Romilly and Mr Brougham,
then a barrister, now Lord High Chancellor of
England.

His connexion with these distinguished in.
dividuals, founded upon friendship, similarity
of opinions and literary occupations, and the
pursuit of great objects of public utility, gave
them full opportunities of appreciating his high
worth. He was generally known to be a man
of profound knowledge, correct judgment, irre-
proachable character, and lively and brilliant
wit. Each did him justice during his life, and

D



XXVI PREFACE BY

they who have survived him continue to honour
his memory.

He formed a very particular intimacy with
Sir Samuel Romilly, a man equally distinguished
by his private virtues and his great talents as a
lawyer and a political orator. The friendship
which united these two men, increased daily,
nor did its activity cease till the death of Sir
Samuel Romilly. M. Dumont was inconsola-
ble for this loss, and never mentioned his de-
parted friend without tears.

In 1788, they undertook a journey to Paris
together, and it was under Sir Samuel Romilly 's
auspices that M. Dumont first became acquainted
with Mirabeau. During a sojourn of two months
in the French capital, he saw the latter every
day, and a certain affinity of talents and intel-
lect led to an ultimate connexion between two
men so opposed to each other in habits and cha-
racter. It was on his return from Paris, that
Dumont began his acquaintance with the cele-
brated Bentham, which had so complete an in-
fluence over his future opinions and writingSy
and fixed, as it were, his career as a writer on
legislation.



THE GENEVESE EDITOR. XXVH

Dumoiit, penetrated with a lively admiration
for the genius of this extraordinary man, and
profoundly struck with the truth of his theory
and the consequences to w^hich it so naturally
led, applied all his talents to make the writings
of the English publicist known, and devoted
the greater part of his life in rendering availa-
ble to the world at large, the exhaustless store
of knowledge which the ever active genius of


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