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Augustine came, who made a difference between original and actual sin,
namely, that original sin is to covet, to lust, and to desire, which is
the root and cause of actual sin.

_Hints for Preachers_

The good preacher should know when to make an end. A preacher that will
speak everything that comes into his mind is like a maid that goes to
market, and, meeting another maid, makes a stand, and they hold together
a goose-market.

I would not have preachers in their sermons use Hebrew, Greek, or
foreign languages, for in the church we ought to speak as we use to do
at home, the plain mother tongue, which everyone is acquainted with. It
may be allowed in courtiers, lawyers, advocates, etc., to use quaint,
curious words. St. Paul never used such high and stately words as
Demosthenes and Cicero used.

Ambition is the rankest poison to the church when it possesses
preachers. It is a consuming fire.

When I preach I sink myself deep down. I regard neither doctors nor
magistrates, of whom are here in this church above forty; but I have an
eye to the multitude of young people, children, and servants, of whom
are more than two thousand. I preach to those. Will not the rest hear

_Time's Forelock_

It is said Occasion has a forelock, but it is bald behind. Our Lord has
taught this by the course of nature. A farmer must sow his barley and
oats about Easter; if he defer it till Michaelmas it were too late. When
apples are ripe they must be plucked from the tree or they are spoiled.
Procrastination is as bad as over-hastiness. There is my servant Wolf,
when four or five birds fall upon the bird-net he will not draw it; but
says, "Oh, I will stay until more come." Then they all fly away, and he
gets none.

Occasion is a great matter. Terence says well, "I came in time, which is
the chief thing of all." Julius Caesar understood Occasion; Pompey and
Hannibal did not. Boys at school understand it not, therefore they must
have fathers and masters, with the rod, to hold them thereto, that they
neglect not time and lose it. Many a young fellow has a school stipend
for six or seven years, during which he ought diligently to study, but
he thinks, "Oh, I have time enough yet." But I say, "No, fellow; what
little Jack learns not great John learns not." Occasion salutes thee,
and reaches out her forelock to thee, saying, "Here I am, take hold of
me." Thou thinkest she will come again. Then says she, "Well, seeing
thou wilt not take hold of my top, take hold of my tail," and therewith
she flings away.

_Modern Luxury_

Whereto serve or profit such superfluity, such show, such ostentation,
such extraordinary luxurious kind of life as is now come upon us? If
Adam were to return to earth, and see our mode of living, our food,
drink, and dress, how would he marvel. He would say: "Surely this is not
the world I was in?" For Adam drank water, ate fruit from the trees,
and, if he had any house at all, 'twas a hut supported by four wooden
forks; he had no knife or iron, and he wore simply a coat of skin. Now
we spend immense sums in eating and drinking, now we raise sumptuous
palaces, and decorate them with a luxury beyond all comparison. The
ancient Israelites lived in great moderation and quiet. Boaz says: "Dip
thy bread in vinegar and refresh thyself therewith."

_Ministers and Matrimony_

I advise in everything that ministers interfere not in matrimonial
questions. First, because we have enough to do in our own office;
secondly, because these affairs concern not the church, but are temporal
things, pertaining to temporal magistrates; thirdly, because such cases
are in a manner innumerable; they are very high, broad, and deep, and
produce many offences, which may tend to the shame and dishonour of the
Gospel. Moreover, we are therein ill dealt with - they draw us into the
business, and then, if the issue is evil, the blame is laid altogether
upon us. Therefore, we will leave them to the lawyers and magistrates.

_Miscellaneous Topics_

Philip Melancthon showing Luther a letter from Augsburg wherein he was
informed that a very learned divine, a papist of that city, was
converted, and had received the Gospel, Luther said, "I like best those
that do not fall off suddenly, but ponder the case with considerate
discretion, compare together the writing and arguments of both parties,
and lay them on the gold balance, and in God's fear search after the
upright truth; and of such fit people are made, able to stand in
controversy. Such a man was St. Paul, who at first was a strict Pharisee
and man of works, who stiffly and earnestly defended the law; but
afterwards preached Christ in the best and purest manner against the
whole nation of the Jews."

As all people feel they must die, each seeks immortality here on earth,
that he may be had in everlasting remembrance. Some great princes and
kings seek it by raising great columns of stone and high pyramids, great
churches, costly and glorious palaces and castles. Soldiers hunt after
praise and honour by obtaining famous victories. The learned seek an
everlasting name by writing books. With these and such like things
people think to be immortal. But as to the true everlasting and
incorruptible honour and eternity of God, no man thinks or looks after
these things.

When two goats meet on a narrow bridge over deep waters how do they
behave? Neither of them can turn back again, and neither can pass the
other because the bridge is too narrow. If they should thrust one
another they might both fall into the water and be drowned. Nature,
then, has taught them that if one lays himself down and permits the
other to go over him both remain without hurt. Even so, people should
endure to be trod upon rather than to fall into discord with one

_Strong Opinions Outworn by Time_

I should have no compassion on witches; I would burn all of them. We
read in the old law that the priests threw the first stone at such
malefactors. Our ordinary sins offend and anger God. What then must be
His wrath against witchcraft, which we may justly designate high treason
against divine majesty, a revolt against the infinite power of God. The
maladies I suffer are not natural but devils' spells.

Luther, taking up a caterpillar, said: "'Tis an emblem of the devil in
its crawling, and bears his colours in its changing hue."

The devil plagues and torments us in the place where we are most tender
and weak. In Paradise he fell not upon Adam, but upon Eve. It commonly
rains where it was wet enough before.

The anabaptists pretend that children, not as yet having reason, ought
not to receive baptism. I answer: That reason in no way contributes to
faith. Nay, in that children are destitute of reason they are all the
more fit and proper recipients of baptism. For reason is the greatest
enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things.

I always loved music. A schoolmaster ought to have skill in music, or I
would not regard him; neither should we ordain young men as preachers
unless they have been well exercised in music.

Erasmus of Rotterdam is the vilest miscreant that ever disgraced the
earth. He made several attempts to draw me into his snares, and I should
have been in danger but that God lent me special aid. Erasmus was
poisoned at Rome and at Venice with epicurean doctrines. His chief
doctrine is that we must carry ourselves according to the time, or, as
the proverb goes, hang the cloak according to the wind. I hold Erasmus
to be Christ's most bitter enemy.

I never work better than when I am inspired by anger. When I am angry I
can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is
quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and
temptations depart.

_Characteristic Sayings_

When the abbot throws the dice, the whole convent will play.

When men blaspheme we should pray and be silent, and not carry wood to
the fire.

When Jesus Christ utters a word, He opens His mouth so wide that it
embraces all heaven and earth, even though that word be but in a

When I lay sucking at my mother's breast I had no notion how I should
afterwards eat, drink, and live. Even so we on the earth have no idea
what the life to come will be.

The two sins, hatred and pride, deck and trim themselves out as the
devil clothed himself in the Godhead. Hatred will be godlike; pride will
be truth. These two are right deadly sins; hatred is killing, pride is

A scorpion thinks that when his head lies hid under a leaf he cannot be
seen; even so the hypocrites and false saints think, when they have
hoisted up one or two good works, all their sins therewith are covered
and hid.

Luther, holding a rose in his hand, said, "'Tis a magnificent work of
God. Could a man make but one such rose as this he would be thought
worthy of all honour, but the manifold gifts of God lose their value in
our eyes from their very infinity."

* * * * *



Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau, was born at Bignon,
near Nemours, on March 9, 1749, and died at Paris on April 2,
1791. His father was a most eccentric and tyrannical
representative of the French aristocracy, and Honoré, a
younger son, inherited something of his violent temperament,
but was endowed with real genius. Entering the army, young
Mirabeau soon displayed an erratic disposition by eloping with
the young wife of an aged nobleman. He fled to Holland, but
was captured and imprisoned. Being at length liberated, he
turned to literature and politics, and soon gained celebrity
in both. His magnificent oratorical powers brought him rapidly
to the front in the period immediately anterior to the
outbreak of the Revolution. Mirabeau's "Memoirs, by Himself,
his Father, his Uncle, and his Adopted Son," published in
eight volumes in 1834, contain no original writings by
Mirabeau himself, except in the shape of extracts from his
speeches, letters, and pamphlets. The following epitome has
been prepared from the French text.

_I. - "The Hurricane"_

The Marquis of Mirabeau, father of Honoré Gabriel, the subject of these
memoirs, was endowed with a mind of great power, rendered fruitful by
the best education. He had, however, become independent at too early an
age, and this had brought into play his natural inordinate vanity.

Honoré Gabriel, since so famous under the name of the Count of Mirabeau,
was the fifth child of the marquis. Destined to be the most turbulent
and active of youths, as well as the most eloquent of men and the
greatest orator of his day, Gabriel was born with one foot twisted and
his tongue tied, in addition to which his size and strength were
extraordinary, and already two molars were formed in his jaw. At the age
of three the boy nearly lost his life from small-pox, and was thus
disfigured greatly for life; while the other children were, like the
parents, gifted with wonderful beauty.

Young Gabriel was a most precocious child, and he received an excellent
education. At the age of seven he was confirmed by a cardinal, but his
childhood was difficult of control, and chastisement from his father and
tutor was continual. His inquisitiveness was irrepressible. He relates
that at the family supper after his confirmation, "they explained to me
that God could not make contradictions - for instance, a stick with only
one end. I asked whether a stick which had but one end was not a
miracle. My grandmother never forgave me."

Placed under the kindly teaching of the Abbé Choquart in a military
school of high repute in Paris, Gabriel made marvellously rapid
progress, assiduously exercising his memory, which afterwards became a
prodigious repository of the most diversified knowledge.

On July 10, 1767, Gabriel entered the army, joining the Marquis of
Lambert's regiment. The young volunteer, who was now eighteen, behaved
well, and speedily gave evidence of the military talents he afterwards
displayed. But a quarrel arose over a love affair, which led to harsh
punishment by his colonel. The incident was bitterly resented by his
father, who condemned him without hearing his side of the matter, and
actually procured his imprisonment in the fortress of the Isle of Rhé.

When the young soldier came out of prison he unwittingly offended an
officer at Rochelle, who had been dismissed the service. The result was
a duel, in which the aggressor was wounded. Gabriel was appointed to
service in Corsica, with the rank of second-lieutenant, and here he
distinguished himself by his zeal, his military talents, and his
constant application.

Young Mirabeau was, in September, 1770, transferred to Limousin, in west
Central France. Such was his energy that he was called "the hurricane."
Now began a series of troubles caused by bitter quarrels between his
parents, who were openly at variance. Each sought to gain an adherent in
their son, who was condemned to witness the wickedness and folly of both
in their ungovernable passion. The effect on the character of the young
count was deplorable.

Then ensued a singular episode. The marquis had determined that Gabriel
should marry before the age of twenty-three, and had fixed on Mary Emily
de Covet, only daughter of the Marquis de Marignane, eighteen years of
age, for his son's bride. She was plain, yet attractive, with a sweet
smile, fine eyes, and beautiful hair, and was gay, lively, sensible,
mild, and very amiable. Having been neglected by her father and
ill-treated by her mother, she showed no disinclination to marriage, and
in 1772 young Mirabeau obtained the hand of the wealthy heiress.

No sooner was the young count married than every attempt was made to
ruin him. He received no property with his bride, and his avaricious
father refused to advance him any money for necessary expenses. His
father-in-law offered to lend him 60,000 livres, but his father's
consent was indispensable, and this was sternly refused. Mirabeau,
harassed by creditors, was dragged into lawsuits, and his embarrassments
only set his father entirely against him. The marquis actually procured
a _lettre de cachet_, obliging his son to leave the home he had set up,
and to confine himself to the little town of Manosque.

Here domestic sorrow and the most painful circumstances assailed the
young exile. But these did not prevent him from pursuing serious studies
and composing his first work, the "Essay on Despotism." Misfortunes
accumulated. Chastising with a horsewhip a baron who grossly insulted
him, the count was again imprisoned, this time in the Château d'If, a
gloomy citadel on a barren rock near Marseilles.

On May 25, 1770, Mirabeau was transferred to the Castle of Joux, near
Pontarlier, where, on June 11, 1775, festivities were held, as at other
places, to honour the coronation of Louis XVI. Here Mirabeau enjoyed a
sort of half freedom, being allowed to visit in Pontarlier, and the
event ensued which, it must sorrowfully be owned, tarnished his name. In
a word, we see Mirabeau "ruin himself," by a fatal intimacy with the
young wife of the aged Marquis of Monnier. The two fled to Dijon, where
Mirabeau surrendered himself at the castle.

He was released after a short time and went on to Geneva, nearly
perishing in a storm on the lake. Returning to Pontarlier, he was joined
by Sophie Monnier, and the two left for Holland, and arrived at
Amsterdam on October 7, 1776. Mirabeau was naturally obliged to draw his
principal means of subsistence from his literary labours, and this,
perhaps, had been his motive for choosing Holland as his residence, for
at that period the Dutch booksellers entered largely into literary

Mirabeau and Sophie Monnier were arrested at Amsterdam on May 14, 1777.
Both were brought to France. She was placed in a convent at
Monilmontant, and Mirabeau was deposited on June 7 in the donjon of
Vincennes, and was subjected to every sort of privation, remaining in
confinement for forty-two months. His release marked the end of his
private life; his public and political life was about to begin.

_II. - Into Political Life_

The "Essay on Despotism" had been the first sign of Mirabeau's political
vocation, and the most singular instance, perhaps, of a war audaciously
declared against despotism by a young man bearing its yoke. The keynote
is that though the _natural_ man may not be inclined to despotism, the
_social_ man assuredly is disposed to be a despot. This spirit,
maintains Mirabeau, exists even in republics.

In 1784 Mirabeau visited England. One of his motives was to collect
materials for his "Considerations on the Order of Cincinnatus," a
treatise dealing with Washington and American independence. He was
greatly delighted with English scenery. "It is here," he says, "that
nature is improved, not forced. All tells me that here the people are
something; that every man enjoys the development and free exercise of
his faculties, and that I am in another order of things."

But he proceeds: "I am not an enthusiast in favour of England, and I now
know sufficient of that country to tell you that if its constitution is
the best known, the application of this constitution is the worst
possible; and that if the Englishman is as a social man the most free in
the world, the English people are the least free of any."

He resided in England from August to February, 1785. During that brief
period he began to write his "History of Geneva," and he showed his
versatility by composing for a young refugee clergyman a sermon on the
immortality of the soul. By the gift of this sermon he drew the exiled
preacher from poverty, for it was the means of obtaining for him a
lucrative appointment.

Mirabeau sent forth from Paris several most able pamphlets on banking
and on share companies. These were written with energy and often with
violence. As they attacked many private interests they aroused against
their author much hatred, insult, and calumny. He was accused of
venality, though he was attacking and driving to despair powerful
stock-jobbers, who would have paid him magnificently for silence, could
he have been bought.

In July, 1785, Mirabeau went to Berlin. It is a singular fact that in
his various journeys some accident always befel him. On the way to
Berlin an attempt was made to assassinate him by some unknown enemies,
but he safely reached the German capital. King Frederick the Great, now
very aged, no longer received foreigners, yet he replied to a letter
from Mirabeau and fixed a day for seeing him at Potsdam.

Mirabeau informed the king that he had come to seek permission to study
the great military manoeuvres, and that he hoped to push on to Russia.
During this period he worked like a labourer all day at his writings.
Part of his time he spent at supper parties of the most tiresome
etiquette. The same laborious habits attended him everywhere, in prison
and in freedom, in his own country and in other lands. It was in Germany
that he conceived the idea of his treatise on "The Reform of the Jews,"
which is acknowledged to be one of his best works.

Frederick the Great died on August 17, 1786. Feeling that he could do
nothing useful, Mirabeau resolved at the close of 1786 to quit Berlin.
He was urged also by a special motive in which he took pride, and which
he thus described in a letter: "My heart has not grown old, and if my
enthusiasm is damped, it is not extinguished. I have fully experienced
this to-day. I consider one of the best days of my life that on which I
received an account of the convocation of the notables, which no doubt
will not long precede that of the National Assembly. In this I see a new
order of things which may regenerate the monarchy. I should deem myself
a thousand times honoured in being even the junior secretary of this
assembly, of which I had the happiness of giving the first idea."

Mirabeau was prodigiously occupied at Berlin. He often did not retire to
rest till one in the morning, but regularly rose at five, even in the
midst of severe winter. Without anything on but a simple quilted
dressing-gown, without stockings or waistcoat, he worked away without
even calling up his servant to light a fire. Besides his correspondence
in cypher, which occupied him much, he worked assiduously at his
"Prussian Monarchy," which was published in 1788.

On departing from Berlin the count wrote a most eloquent letter of
counsel to King Frederick William, appealing to him to cultivate peace,
reminding him that his illustrious predecessor had conquered the
admiration of mankind but never won their love, commending him not to
extend the direct action of the royal power to matters which did not
require it, advising him not to govern too much, and exhorting him to
abolish military slavery; that is to say, the obligation then imposed on
every Prussian to serve as a soldier from the age of eighteen to sixty
or more, which forced men to go to the battle-field like cattle to the

In the same remarkable document Mirabeau raises his voice against the
harsh laws which arbitrarily deprived Prussians of freedom to leave the
country. The tyrannical prohibition of emigration excited his vehement
protest, and he proceeded also to denounce to the new king the right of
seizing the property of deceased foreigners, and demanded for burghers
the freedom of purchasing the estates of nobles. He urged Frederick
William to abolish the prerogatives claimed by nobles and the helotism
of all who were not noble, and suggested that judges should be appointed
for life and justice rendered free of expense.

_III. - For King and People_

It was chiefly the meeting of the notables which had hastened Mirabeau's
return to Paris. He felt that his proper place was in the centre of the
great events announced and begun by this convocation. After the
undignified and inglorious prodigality of the previous reign, which had
laid the foundation of serious financial vicissitudes, the young King
Louis XVI. had brought with him to the throne the private virtues of a
good and honest man, but not the qualities of a sovereign.

Though economic to excess himself, he nevertheless suffered to exist and
even to increase around him those dilapidations which at last ruined the
resources of the state. He had no confidence in himself, and Mirabeau
respectfully reproached him with his fatal timidity. Nothing was done
either to increase revenue or diminish expenditure.

The possessors of privilege and representatives of personal interest,
the courtiers, the great lords, and the parliaments strenuously resisted
all reforms and then drove from office the best intentioned, the most
virtuous, and the ablest ministers whom the young king, in the sincerity
of his patriotism, had chosen on his accession, in deference to public
feeling. Among these ministers were Malesherbes, Turgot, Necker, and

Mirabeau returned to Paris on January 27, 1787. He at once published
that famous "Address to the Notables," in which he denounced the whole
corrupt system of finance and in which he demanded local provincial
administrations. This and his "Denunciation of Stock-jobbing" made great
impression on the public mind.

Nevertheless, the "Denunciation" displeased the government, and the
author was much persecuted. He learned that he was to be arrested and
sent, not to the Bastille, but to a remote provincial fortress, where he
would have been lost to public notice. So he escaped from Paris to
Liège, whence he again attacked the administration of Calonne and the
policy of Necker, declaring that loans should have been effected on
methods less onerous for the state.

His exile from Paris was of brief duration, for friends intervened. But
Mirabeau returned only to renew and intensify his attacks. He remained,
however, only for a short time, for on May 24, 1787, he set out on a
third journey to Prussia, in order to complete his great work on the
"Prussian Monarchy." Returning to France, he reached Paris in September.
Five months had elapsed since the assembling of the notables. The
eloquent Leominie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, had been the most
brilliant figure in the conclave. The first assembly broke up on July
27, 1787. Though gathered by the privileged orders, patriotism had
raised its voice within it, and the archbishop, as prime minister, had
failed to direct the new current aright.

Mirabeau disapproved of what had taken place in his absence, and
declined to be employed by the administration, but he offered to

Online LibraryVariousThe World's Greatest Books — Volume 10 — Lives and Letters → online text (page 9 of 26)