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formerly the home of the governor of the island, now occupied by
the village school ; beyond the town, the vine-covered fields ; toward
France, the waters of the Atlantic — these things to-day form a not
unpleasant picture. It certainly was not a disagreeable place of
exile, and in the mind of Mirabeau few unpleasant recollections
were to be connected with it. The governor of the island, the
Bailli d'Aulan, was not a harsh jailer, although the marquis had
instructed him that the young man " was fiery, wrongheaded, and
a liar by instinct." ^ The Comte de Broglie has called D'Aulan
" the happy king of the lie de Re, the happiest region of France."
He was z grand- croix, commander of the temple of Agen, marechal
de camp of the armies of the king, and "the delight of the island."
With his six feet of stature and his distinguished face, the Bailli
d'Aulan was a worthy representative of the king.^

It is not probable that Mirabeau was closely confined in the cit-
adel. Local tradition points to a room in the vicinity of the chapel
as the one that he occupied,'' but he soon won the favor of the gov-
ernor, and went and came much as he pleased. Although Gervin
remained with him, the surveillance did not prevent Mirabeau from
contracting debts nor even from corresponding with his mother,
from whom he received financial aid.'* All this was a violation of
the marquis's orders, but the son, as the father expressed it, "had
bewitched the Bailli d'Aulan — who contrary to my orders allows him

> Lom(Snie, III. 35.

2 The local histories of the island contain notes upon D'Aulan. It is from one of
these by M. Thedore Phelippot that I gathered the data upon D'Aulan found in the
text. The hospital of Saint-Honor6 at Saint-Martin possesses a rather striking portrait
of the bailli, which the sisters were kind enough to show to me. It is the face of a man
of abundant good-nature and one not likely to prove a harsh jailer. The marquis wrote
of him : " La reputation du Bailli d'Aulan est excellent ; c'est encore un nouveau temoin
que je me procure et un nouveau appui de decision dans tous les cas." Correspondance
Generale, V. 476. The marquis to the bailli, Fleury, September 21, 1768.

'The search for material both at Saintes and at Saint-Martin was disappointing.
The local archives in both of these places had been destroyed by fire a short time before
my visit. From Dr. Kemmerer, a resident of Saint-Martin and one of the historians of
the island, I learned that Mirabeau, according to tradition, occupied a room in the cita-
del next to the chapel, but as there were three equally near the chapel the information was
not very definite. The only change in the citadel, I was told, had been the construction
of an inner wall between the main entrance and the chapel. The building that Mirabeau
is supposed to have occupied is of stone, one story in height, with rooms not at all unat-
tractive. It was from the lips of an American that the commandant of the place learned
for the first time that Mirabeau had once been a prisoner in the citadel. I had a similar
experience with the commandant of the Fort de Joux on the eastern frontier.

^Manuscript of M. Mouttet, Mirabeau en Provence y 24-26 : " Je compte, ma chere
Maman, sur le petit secours pecuniaire que vous me promettez, le nouveau m'est necessaire
pour des dettes urgentes et forc^es que j'ai faites dans ce pays-ci."



Tlie Youth of Mirabeau 675

to promenade in the citadel — , my friends, and everybody." ' He was
not only permitted to promenade in the citadel, but even " to go to
the city (Saint-Martin or Rochelle) to dine in style."" The bailli
was not the only one that Mirabeau bewitched. A certain Cheva-
lier Brechant received the letters from his mother, and Mademoiselle
de Malmont, the sister of the lieutenant of the citadel, performed
a like service for him.'^

Mirabeau remained seven months on the lie de Re. At the end
of six months the marquis realized that it would be difficult to pro-
long the imprisonment. " The fact is," he wrote to the bailli on the
fifteenth of February, 1769, "that it is necessary to end this affair;
that I do not know how to keep his eldest brother in cage later
than the spring ; that he asks to go to Corsica and interests the
Bailli d'Aulan and my friends and Grevin in this request. I know
well that, once free, he will end in having himself locked up for
good before three months have passed ; but the theater of his follies
is his passage through Provence." * On the twenty-seventh of the
same month the marquis had decided to grant his son's request and
to allow him to join the expedition against Corsica. " What you
tell me, however," ran the letter, "causes me to decide upon my
course. I cannot keep M. de Pierre-Buffiere any longer in cage
and I cannot miss the occasion offered by Corsica ; so be assured
that next month he will pass through Provence, but so carefully
guarded and so rapidly that you will not even hear of it.""

A few days later the news of the decision had reached Mirabeau.
On the fifth of March, 1 769, he wrote to his mother : " My affairs
have taken a more favorable turn ; the Bailli d'Aulan, governor of
the He de Re, is soliciting the revocation of my lettre de cachet and
it appears to be decided that I shall go to Corsica in a short time." ^
The Bailli d'Aulan interested himself in securing the release of his
prisoner, but the important party in the transaction was the father.
This is demonstrated by an official document bearing the date of
March 13, 1769. "The twentieth of April, 1768," states the rec-
ord, " the son of M. le Marquis de Mirabeau obtained the rank of

1 Memoires de Mirabeau, I. 300. The marquis to the bailli. M. de Montigny
refers to a letter of February 15, 1769, for this quotation ; but this letter, found in the
collection that I have used, contains no such matter. The manner in which M. de
Montigny manipulates his quotations and confuses dates in his foot-notes is inconceivable
by any one that has not attempted to control his work by a comparison with the material
that he used.

2 Lomenie, III. 35, quoted from a letter of the marquis of January i, 1769.

3 Mouttet, Mirabeau e7i Provence, 24-26.

* Correspondance Generale, VI. 65, 66. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, Feb-
ruary 15, 1769.

^ Ibid., VI. 72. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, February 27, 1769.
' Mouttet, Mirabeau en Prm.'e7ice, 24—26.



676 F. M. Fling

second lieutenant in the cavalry regiment of Berri. He had served
in this regiment a year as a volunteer. He has been detained since
the past year in the citadel of Re for misconduct. M. le Marquis
de Mirabeau observes that his son has urgently requested permis-
sion to take part in the campaign against Corsica, and that M. de
Viomenil is willing to take charge of him and send him under fire.
He requests that he be attached as second lieutenant of infantry to
the legion of Lorraine. He desired that Monseigneur would kindly
grant to him some appointments ; he leaves that matter to his sense
of justice; he observes that his son has served for three years
without having any.' In order that his son may join the legion of
Lorraine, he asks that the revocation of the Icttre de cachet that
detains him in the citadel of Re be sent to M. le Chevalier
d'Aulan."

It follows from this document that Mirabeau was imprisoned for
misconduct, and was released at the request of his father. On the
very day when this record was made the marquis announced that
" the orders for his liberation have been sent," ^ indicating that he
was in close touch with all that was taking place. Hoping little
good from this latest experiment, the marquis, as usual, endeavored
through repression to diminish the evil consequences of it.

On the thirteenth of March the orders for Mirabeau's release
had been given and his route across France had been decided upon.
On the fourth of April, at the latest, he was to join the legion of
Lorraine at the Pont St. Esprit. He was to serve in the infantry.
"The Baron de Viomenil, colonel of this legion," wrote the mar-
quis, "has been represented to me as just the man that he needs,
and that service also for his fiery spirit, which imagines that it will
devour everything, but which will devour nothing but a plentiful
supply of saber strokes, if he has the nerve to face them. He has
been recommended to everybody, and I had an opportunity to dis-
cover how people like to compliment those who are in trouble.
M. de Vaux himself said to me that they would hang him at public
cost if he proved unworthy of his father, but that otherwise he
•would be favored by everybody. He is going then with Grevin.
He has orders to remain incognito until he has embarked ; I assure
you that that is very important, for he could not exist twenty-four
hours without getting into some kind of a scrape and replying to
an act of politeness with an insult." ^ The bailli replied that if M. de
Pierre-Buffiere passed that way and called upon him, he would re-

1 La Revolution Frangaise, XXIX. 259.

2 Correspondance Genirale, VI. 80, Si. The marquis to the bailH, Paris, March
13, 1769.

^ Ibid. ...



The Youth of Mirabeau 677

ceive him/ but the marquis assured his brother that he had given
orders to the best of his abihty that his son should pass incognito,
"and surely," he added, " he will not go to see you at Mirabeau." ^

Events seem to have justified the preventive measures taken by
the marquis. Drawing his information from Grevin, wno accom-
panied his son, he described the passage of the young man from
Rochelle to Toulon in most vigorous language : " This miserable
Pierre-Buffiere left the lie de Re a hundred times worse than he
entered it, not on account of his comrades, but because of the lapse
of his own folly. He fought at Rochelle, where he remained only
two hours. I have had news from poor Grevin from Saint-Jean-
d'Angely and from Puy. He says that he goes cursing, striking,
wounding, and vomiting a rascality that has no equal." ^ M. de
Montigny, citing a letter of Mirabeau to his brother-in-law, M. du
Saillant, asserts that in the duel fought at Rochelle Mirabeau was
not the aggressor. An officer, dismissed in disgrace from his regi-
ment, with whom Mirabeau refused to associate, was the real cause
of the trouble.^

The soul of the marquis was disturbed more, perhaps, by the
debts that his son contracted than by his escapades. " Without
paying for his pranks and a multitude of notes," he wrote, " he has
devoured more than ten thousand livres in the last eight months,
and the most of that time he has been in prison. . . . The villain-
ous notes of that man terribly wound my soul, although well pre-
pared and accustomed to vomit him up. . . . He has, in addition to
his other good qualities, that of borrowing from all hands : ser-
geants, soldiers, all are the same to him." ^

" After a painful journey, and even a perilous one in the moun-
tains of Auvergne and Vivarais, which he was obliged to cross in
snow twelve feet deep," Mirabeau finally reached Toulon and em-
barked on the eighteenth of April for Corsica.*^ To be rid, for some
time at least, " of an odious generation that keeps me without ceas-
ing with a sword above my head and coals under my feet," ' was a

'^ Ibid., VI. 83. The bailli to the marquis, Mirabeau, March 7, 1769.

'^ Ibid., VI. 83. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, March 20, 1769.

^ /bid., VI. 100. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, April 10, 1769.

*Memoires de Mirabemi, \. 2,02. M. de Pierre-Buffi^re to the Comte du Saillant,
March 20, 1769.

^ Correspondance Gen^rale, VI. 100. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, April 10,
1769.

^ Ibid. For the passage through the mountains see Montigny, Memoires de
Mirabeau, I. 303, who cites a letter of the marquis to the bailli of April 22, 1769. No
letter of that date is to be found in the collected correspondence.

' Correspondance Generale, VI. 100. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, April lo,
1769.

AM. HIST. REV., VOL. VIII. — 44.



678 F. M. Fling

great relief to the marquis. Grevin returned to Paris by way of
Mirabeau and remained for some time with the bailli, who thus had
an opportunity to study the man that had acted as a mentor to his
nephew. He "does not appear to me to be very admirable," was
the opinion that he expressed to his brother.' The marquis himself
referred to him as "jealous by nature,"^ and on another occasion
he criticized him for not maintaining a stricter surveillance over his
son at Saintes and on the lie de Re.*

The Corsican campaign was not of long duration. Mirabeau
landed the last of April, 1769, and the fighting was over in June.
Although he saw Httle active service, he proved that he had a real
genius for war and was a worthy descendant of Jean-Antoine. He
won the good opinion of his superior officers and the affection of
his associates. The major of the legion, the Chevalier de Villerau,
declared some years later that " he had never known a man with
greater talents than the Comte de Mirabeau for the profession of
arms, if time had rendered him discreet." * Mirabeau wrote in later
years that this man "loved me much and declared that I was a
great officer in embryo." ^

Here for the first time he displayed the talent for hard work
and the determination to master the thing in hand that were so
characteristic of the man. " What I am most of all," he once
wrote to his sister, " or I am much deceived, is a man of war,
because there alone I am cool, calm, gay without impetuosity, and
I feel myself grow in stature."'' He has himself described his
enthusiasm for his profession and his efforts to master its minute
details : " Reared in the prejudice of the service, fired with ambi-
tion, and avaricious for glory, robust, audacious, ardent, and yet
very phlegmatic,'' as I proved myself in all the dangers that I en-
countered, having received from nature an excellent and rapid coup
d'ceil, I had reason to believe myself born for the service. All my

'^ Ibid., VI. 209. The bailli to ttie marqui.s, Mirabeau, September 23, 1769:
** IMais rhomine ^ qui tu I'avais confie et qui a passe ici quelque temps ne m'a pas paru
bien admirable."

''■Ibid., VI. 139. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, May 30, 1769.

3 " Grevin et puis tous les superieurs de ce miserable ont laisse aller beau par le plus
bas de maniere." Ibid., VI. 146. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, June 14, 1769.

* Lom^nie, III. 38. The remark was made in 1787 and quoted in a letter of the
marquis.

^ Lettres Originates de Mirabeau, I. 162.

^ Mhnoires de Mirabeau, I. 329. Mirabeau to Madame du Saillant, September 11,
17S0.

' Lettres Originates de Mirabeau, II. 258 : "Si moi, qui te parle, me sens bien la
force d'en renverserquelques bataillons en sifflant dessus, c'est que la vie dure que j'ai
menee, et les exercises violens que j'ai aimes (nager, chasser, escrimer, jouer a lapaume,
courir k cheval) ont repare les innombrables sottises de mon education."



The YoutJi of Mirabeau 679

views had, then, been turned in this direction, and although my
mind, famished for every kind of knowledge, was interested in all
sorts of things,' five years of my life were devoted almost exclu-
sively to military studies ; there is not a book on war in any lan-
guage living or dead that I have not read ; I can show extracts
from three hundred military writers, extracts studied, compared, and
annotated, and memoirs that I wrote upon all parts of the profes-
sion from the greatest objects of war to the details of engineering,
of artillery, and even of the commissariat." ^

In the period between the close of the campaign and his return
to France Mirabeau was engaged in making a study of the island,
its inhabitants, manners and customs, and history. "He perceived
everywhere the traces of the devastations of the Genoese, the ves-
tiges of their crimes ; and by this mark of despotism he recognized
his enemy. His heart, palpitating with indignation, could not con-
tain itself; his imagination, filled with ideas, flowed over. He wrote ;
he traced a rapid sketch of the Corsicans and of the crimes of the
Genoese. This work was taken from him by his father ; it was very
incorrect, without doubt, but full of animation, of truth, of ideas,
and of facts carefully observed in a country of which no correct
notion had been given, because mercenary writers or fanatic enthu-
siasts had alone undertaken to speak of it." ^ The history dealt
chiefly with the forty years previous to the French occupation of
the island. He had also prepared a description of the island, which
he had studied "foot by foot," "with all possible political, economic,
and historical details." ^ The history, he claimed, was prepared at
the instigation of Buttafuoco.' "He took possession of the Cor-
sicans, he had all their papers." '' Mirabeau declared while at Vin-
cennes that the "deputies of the three estates of Corsica" besought
his father to allow the work to be printed, but the marquis refused.'
This statement should be confronted by the charge made by the
marquis that his son " seduced a man in order to get possession of

^ Mirabeau had been an omnivorous reader from his childhood up. He was, accord-
ing to M. de Montigny, " diis I'age de quatre ans . . . avide de lectures. II s'emparait
de tous les papiers qui lui tombaient sous la main." Mhnoires de Mirabeau^ 1. 243.
Mirabeau himself refers to his fondness for books while at school in Paris : "II empruntait
toutes sortes de livres, les lisait sans methode et sans autre objet que celui d'assouvir son
insatiable soif de savoir." Essai siir le Despotisme, xix.

^ Lettres Originates de Mirabeau, III. 21.

^ Essai stir le Despotisme, Ti-id.^ Lettres Originates de Mirabeau, I. 190.

* Mhnoires de Mirabeau, I. 317.

^ Correspondance Generale, VI. 330. The bailli to the marquis, Aix, May 21,
1770 ; Ibid., VI. 375-3S0. The bailli to the marquis, Aix, August 23, 1770.

^ Memoires de Mirabeau, I. 316. The marquis to the Comte du Saillant, May 14,
1770.

''Lettres Originates de Mirabeau, III. 173.



68o F. M. Fling

memoirs that a priest of the country had made ; he promised this
man to pay him well and to return the memoirs. This man wrote
a complaint to the late M. Gerardi, officer in the regiment Royal-
Italian, who informed the Due de Nivernois." ^

From evidence such as this it is impossible to get at the truth
of the affair. Mirabeau undoubtedly made a study of the island
and its people, even if the motives for doing so were not those given
by him in later years. It is not inherently impossible that he pro-
cured material in the way indicated by his father, for it is in keeping
with methods employed by him throughout his later life, but it
would be unscientific to state as a fact a thing that rested on a scrap
of third-hand evidence. The matter of first importance is, how-
ever, the early development of the inquisitive spirit that never allowed
him to rest ; that made a great questioner of him, a laborious stu-
dent, and an untiring investigator. It was no accident that made
Mirabeau a leader in the National Assembly ; he had prepared him-
self for leadership by twenty-five years of severe mental effort such
as few men are capable of

To make the Corsican episode typical, not even a love-affair was
lacking. From Vincennes he wrote of this early love to a woman
whose name has become inseparably associated with his. " Yes,
madame, yes," he wrote to Sophie de Monnier, "Maria Angela is
a very pretty name ; and when I was jealous of some one (a thing
that did not often happen, for I was very lukewarm) she addressed
injurious remarks to him, or struck him, or as an honest Italian she
gravely proposed to me to poniard him." We might have known
more of this affair but for the well-meaning censorship of M. de
Montigny. He declined to dwell upon Mirabeau's gallantries in the
island, " of which, happily, he has made public only a brief and suc-
cinct mention. Not that we have not had in our possession long
details, written by himself, of a very spirituelle originality ; but we
at first put them aside and afterward destroyed them, because, as
we were determined to keep within the bounds of the respect which
is due to our subject and our age, to the public, and to history, we
would add nothing to the facts, and above all to the suppositions of
this kind, which are already to too great an extent attached to the
name of Mirabeau." ^ M. de Montigny undoubtedly had a right to
destroy his property if he wished to ; moreover, the attitude of the
historian toward his subject will always differ from that of a son
toward his adopted father. The dictates of science are not always
to be reconciled with the dictates of affection.

1 Lomenie, III. 38, note 2.

^ Menioires de Mirabeau, I. 312.



The Youth of Mirabeau 68 1

Mirabeau was absent from France a little more than a year.
During this time he is seldom mentioned in the correspondence be-
tween the brothers. The marquis was arranging a marriage for his
daughter Louise at the time of Mirabeau's departure, and hoped to
carry the thing to a successful conclusion, "provided," he wrote to
the bailli, " this unhappy fool in Corsica, who devours me, will let
me get my breath." ' He sometimes regretted the loss of his
first-born son, " If providence," he exclaimed, "had intended to
grant me a period of repose at a reasonable age, it would have left
me the son that it gave me twenty-five years ago. The one (Boni-
face) who is now our only hope, is only fourteen and more of a child
than one is at three." ^

The bailli had held numerous conversations with Grevin about
his nephew and had reached conclusions that were not so pessimistic
as those of his brother. " From what Grevin has said to me in several
conversations about M. de Pierre-Buffiere," he wrote to the marquis,
" I do not see that there is anything desperate yet about his case.
Perhaps age and reason will straighten it all out. I do not hope
that he will ever be a man worthy of you on the side of the heart,
but an ordinary man. It is bad enough to place at that notch our
denomination that has never been there, but what is to be done
about it ? " ^ The marquis replied by criticizing " Grevin and all the
superiors of this miserable fellow " for letting him have his own way.*
He never doubted that the failure of his training was due to the
inborn badness of his son or the incapacity of his teachers and
superiors. As hopeless as the task seemed to be, he must do his
duty that he might be without reproach. " As long as I shall live,"
he wrote in June, 1769, "it will be my duty to follow and to assure
the lot of my children and of our house. If I can save this un-
happy eldest, I have told you that I would part with the one who
is after my own heart and I would give him to you. At fifty, you
will have begun the profession of father of a family. . . But, finally,
you will see Boniface ^ this autumn ; everything is as yet in the shell,
he is nothing. It is necessary to finish his education. We must
wait for the other, who would get away from the devil and who has
a dozen of them in his body, must keep an eye on him and restrain

' Correspondance GSnerale, VI. 115. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, April 28,
1769.

''■Ibid., VI. 130. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, May 18, 1769.

^ Ibid., VI. The bailli to the marquis, Mirabeau, June 2, 1769.

* Ibid., VI. 148. The marquis to the bailli, Paris, June 14, 1769.

5 Almost without exception he refers to the younger son as Boniface ; the older boy
is never called by his name, but is always referred to as " the eldest," " that miserable
being," " that unhappy fool," etc.



682 F. M. Fling

him, and be sure that the people of this age have only cold praise
for honesty in retirement. / zvas very much devoted to your father.
I have received so much of that. A well-born child can get on
without control, but a slippery subject is not held in check at a
distance, when he fears only letters and disapprobation, and he cer-
tainly has more people Hke himself in places of power and credit
than his father has." '

The marquis had evidently found the youth that " could get
away from the devil and had a dozen of them in his body " an ex-
traordinary child, even if extraordinarily bad and exceedingly diffi-
cult to control. The term " honesty in retirement" refers to the
marquis, whose talents were not sufficiently appreciated by the
government. The closing expressions of the letter would seem to
indicate that the marquis already foresaw the part that public officials
might take in the troubles between himself and his son. At Paris,


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