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The minister of war even writes to the marquis in his favor, and announces that a captaincy is to be given him. But "L'Ami des Hommes "has no enthusiasm in this direction; he is chiefly intent on instilling into the youth true economic principles as contained in his own works. These, the young soldier finds "narrow and "sterile ;" and, what is worse, these opinions of his are reported by interested persons to the author, and further criticised.
Meanwhile, Pierre Buffière is helping his uncle in Provence, the father remaining distrustful. He, however, at last consents to meet his son and give him back his name.
But is not a miracle a stick with one end? man is diligent in his military studies, and asks the child. considers a military life his true career: The troubles of Mirabeau began early." Ce que je suis né, ou je me trompe fort, The old marquis had quarrelled with his c'est homme de guerre." wife, and had gone so far as to banish her from his house. A certain Madame du Pailly took her place; this woman and an old servant named Grévin seem to have felt a strong dislike to the young heir of the house, and to have influenced his father against him. The latter had the tyrannical disposition of an old-fashioned schoolmaster, with an unvarying confidence in a system of discipline, and an indiscriminating intolerance of the lighter moods of youth. To have really hated, or felt jealous of, his son was certainly not consistent with the character of the man; but he acted as though this were the case. A fatal system of severity began. The boy was sent to Paris to a strict boardingschool, kept by a certain Abbé Choquenart, and was even deprived of his name. He was to be known as Pierre Buffière. Here he appears to have gone through a wide curriculum, embracing languages, mathematics, music, and bodily exercises of all kinds. However, the father now judged that his son's lines had fallen in too pleasant places; for he had become a general favorite. He is therefore sent to the army to serve in a regiment commanded by a martinet after the marquis's own heart. But this did not last long, as the young Buffière quarrelled with his colonel about a bailiff's daughter and fled to Paris. The old marquis is in high wrath; and only foregoes his original intention of sending him to the tropics to imprison him by lettre de cachet in the Isle of Rhé. But the persuasive tongue of the young rebel captivates his gaoler, who prevails so far in his behalf with his father as to get him let out and sent to the wars in Corsica. This year of military service was an oasis in the desert of Mirabeau's life. On his return he visits his uncle the bailli, now back in Europe, who more than ever does his utmost to bring about a reconciliation between father and son. "L'Ami des Hommes" is for some time obdurate, giving hard answers of this sort: "Qu'il gagne son oncle, soit; il ne regagnera pas son père à si bon marché." The young
But the peace thus made was not enduring. Mirabeau spent a few months in Paris, and there won golden opinions; but he had left an enemy behind in the person of Madame du Pailly, who was always ready to take advantage of the quick temper of the marquis. She had not to wait long for her chance. After trying his hand at country business, our young hero betakes him to Provence on far other business, namely, to get himself a wife. The object of his choice is the daughter and heiress of the Marquis de Marignane, whom Carlyle curtly calls "this brown, almost funny little woman, much of a fool too."
The marriage is the opening of the more particularly stormy part of Mirabeau's stormy life. It is not from the lady her. self that the trouble comes; husband and wife jog on together fairly well for the most part. But there is more than one threatening cloud in the background of the picture. The marquis is now in the midst of his litigation with madame la marquise, and is not in the best of humors; Madame du Pailly is aware that the son favors mother rather than father. this ill-starred moment the young bridegroom has to make a most unwelcome request. The wedding had involved him in considerable expense, a leading item of which consisted in the presents to the
guests which were customary in Provence.
The result of two acts typical of the generous and fiery sides of his character, was that the slight restraint of Manosque had to be exchanged for a series of close imprisonments. It chanced that a "theoretic flirtation" had been going on between the Comtesse de Mirabeau and a certain Chevalier de Gassaud. Of this, the natural consequence would have been a duel between husband and lover; when lo! Gassaud père appeals to Mirabeau with such effect that not only is the avenging sword withheld from its victim, but its bearer even intercedes for the intriguer with a family who had well-nigh rejected his alliance on account of the said theoretic flirtation.
As the mediator rides back to Manosque, he encounters a certain Baron de Villeneuve-Moans, who had publicly in sulted his sister Madame de Cabris; demands from him satisfaction of a gentleman; when refused, replies with coups de
He can go on parole to the adjacent vil lage of Pontarlier; which he does, with fatal consequences to himself and others. There lives here an ill-assorted couple, Monsieur and Madame de Mounier; the one a retired legal dignitary of more than seventy, the other a girl in her teens, married to him without choice of her own; January and May! For the young girl, no other society than this! The effect of the entry of our young unfortunate upon this scene is easily imaginable. Two victims of hard fate meeting and mingling their tears; mutual condolences bringing mutual consolation-pity soon ripening into a warmer feeling. In the words of Sophie de Mounier: "Je cherchais un consolateur, et quel consolateur plus délicieux que l'amour?"
But Mirabeau, not blind to the dangers he was incurring, made an effort to check himself in time. With this view, he writes for his wife to come to him; alas! she refuses. He tries other means; demands military service from the war minister to no purpose. Unfortunately, too, the governor of Joux, St. Mauris, influ enced by jealousy, is a false friend, and writes envenomed letters to the marquis.
Sophie leaves her husband, and takes refuge with her parents in Dijon. Mirabeau follows; but is arrested at the instance of Madame de Ruffey, Sophie's mother. The unfortunate girl goes back to Pontarlier; but finding life with her husband unendurable begs Mirabeau to fly with her. He, after considerable hesitation, and after further requests for mili tary employment, escapes from Dijon in company with Madame de Cabris and a gallant of hers, and wanders about the south of France followed dimly by two inspectors of police employed by the marquis. The latter had at first hesitated upon his course of action, but concluded to pursue. "Je m'interrogeai longtemps; finalement le cri de la conscience et de
Now in this ride Mirabeau had broken the limits prescribed by the lettre de cachet; the consequence is that a fresh one arriving on June 26, 1774, separates him from his wife and sends him into durance vile at the château d'If near Marseille, where he stays nine months and compiles interesting family memoirs. The marquis enjoins strict treatment; but here, as everywhere, we find the prisoner gaining over his gaolers by the frankness of his disposition, and his "terrible don de familiarité." Writing is forbidden; never-l'honneur consultés dans le silence des theless, M. Dallègre permits it. Husband and wife correspond; and the brother of the prisoner, Mirabeau Tonneau (Barrel Mirabeau) as he was called, contrived to see him.
These things do not please the marquis; and a transference to the castle of Joux in the Jura is ordered. The description given of this place is not inspiriting: a nest of swallows égayé by a few invalids its walls covered with snow half through the summer." Here, however, Mirabeau enjoys partial liberty; the gov ernor to answer for him till further orders.
nuits l'emportèrent dans mon cœur." The fugitives once more cross the frontier; and Mirabeau is joined in Switzerland by Sophie. In spite of betrayal by Brianson, the companion of Madame de Cabris (the party having disagreed, had separated), the police bloodhounds cannot come upon their game, who succeed in escaping to Holland. In his absence, Mirabeau is condemned for rapt et vol by the Parlement of Besançon, and is beheaded in effigy at Pontarlier. In Holland, Gabriel and Sophie stayed eight months, the former working hard for the booksellers of
Amsterdam, doing translations and other writing living by sa belle plume.
But it was through a bookseller that the fugitives were discovered; for Mirabeau having occasion to convince one of his employers of his authorship of the "Essay on Despotism," wrote to the publisher at Neuchâtel, and the latter sent the letter to his enemies.
The marquis now uses his great influence with the French government, who in their turn induce the Dutch authorities to take the matter up. On May 14th, 1777, Mirabeau is arrested by Brugnière, now employed both by the marquis and the De Ruffeys. Sophie goes to a convent, he to Vincennes. They met but once again, and the meeting was not a happy one.
For more than three years Mirabeau now lies in prison at Vincennes. The marquis had indeed for the third time meditated transportation; but a despotic government, milder than the Friend of Man, blankly refuses.
A conversation with an acquaintance reported by himself to the bailli shows the relations which at this time existed between the despotic parent and his family.
"Votre procès, me dit-il, avec la marquise, est-il fini? — Je l'ai gagné. Et où est-elle ? Au couvent. Et madame votre fille de Provence (Mme. de Cabris)? Au couvent. Et monsieur votre fils, où est-il? Au couvent. Vous avez donc entrepris de peupler les couvens? Oui, monsieur, et si vous étiez mon fils il y a déjà longtemps que vous y seriez."
And afterwards we glean from a letter of Mirabeau's that fifty-four lettres de cachet had been issued by request of his father, of which seventeen were for himself!
His captivity in the donjon of Vincennes is the darkest period in the life of Mirabeau. This prison is close; his health is miserable; all efforts to soften his parent seem to be fruitless. As usual, he gains the heart of the governor, Boucher, who soon comes to be looked upon as a friend, and is addressed as bon ange.
Correspondence with Sophie is allowed on condition that the letters are seen by Boucher before delivery, and returned after being read. The condition was generally, though not invariably, complied with. These letters are in the highest degree pathetic, teeming with passionate love and hate, filled with vows of affection to Sophie, and imprecations on their common persecutors. They were tampered with and published as a private speculation by Manuel, after the death of Mirabeau.
But these letters were by no means the sole production of the captive in the donjon. He got through immense quantities of reading of all kinds, and correspondence, in spite of miserable health and an almost total failure of eyesight.
He writes to Maurepas and other ministers, and even to the king, demanding service in America. "Let me put the seas between my father and me." All are unanswered. He carries on a continual correspondence with the bailli, his uncle, who makes vain attempts to gain over the marquis. The replies of the old despot are couched in such a strain as this: "Je le laisse sur le fumier de ses crimes." Yet is he truly a Friend of Man, who pities the peasants for the hard winter of 1780, and praises God for placing him in the position to give ten sous to poor vassals for pushing a wheelbarrow.
The correspondence of Mirabeau with his uncle is full of apologies and expressions of regret, and demands to know the conditions of pardon and liberation. These, with some direct appeals, are submitted to the marquis himself. with no apparent effect; the petitioner is calmly put down as fol- a madman. change was slowly creeping over the father's feeling.
Madame du Pailly had gone back to Switzerland; the gentler influence of his daughter Madame du Saillant began to act on him; more than all, the son of Mirabeau and his wife-the heir of the Mirabeaus was dead. After long negotiations through Dupont de Nemours, Boucher, and others, Mirabeau is allowed to leave the donjon for the château of Vincennes ; and soon after, early in 1781, regains complete liberty. So ends the period of imprisonments; now opens one of attempts at amendment, reversals of judgments, re-establishment of domestic relations. Sophie had no wish to stand in the way of the last; only she would never return to De Mounier. Mirabeau, through the good offices of the bon ange, sets foot once more in his father's house.
The marquis now presents the appearance of a broken man. In his fifteen years' litigation with la marquise, he is at length worsted; madame obtains separation "de corps et de biens." The old man complains piteously that fortune had not set her seal upon his long and hard life's work; he was now reduced to Homer's conception of old age, “le bavardage précurseur du radotage, et tout au plus le conseil" he could now begin a new and quiet life. However, it appears that this
side by means of mémoires; on the part of Mirabeau appear letters of his wife, full of tenderness, written while he was at If and Joux, since which time she had not seen him; on the other side, by a grave breach of confidence, the letters of the marquis to his son's father-in-law, filled with strong accusations and even denunciations of Mirabeau, are given to the world.
was only a passing depression of spirits; otherwise how explain the following extract from an extremely sensible letter of the honest bailli? "Vous voilà donc, grâce à votre posteromanie, occupé de régenter un poulet de trente-deux ans. Prends garde d'ailleurs, que la manière de réussir à rien, c'est de vouloir penser pour les autres, et de les vouloir mener selon son propre goût, non suivant de leur." This of course exactly hits the blot in the whole conduct of the marquis towards his son. Nevertheless he persisted in considering that Mirabeau required his guidance. The latter is now actively pursuing his own course. He gives himself up as prisoner, and after a new trial brings about the reversal of the Besançon decree, re-dered." Thus the wife is free to enjoy jecting all compromise; obtaining for Sophie her dowry and an annuity.
The marquis, however, not interested in these proceedings, refuses to contribute towards their expense; Mirabeau in despair first tries to provoke his enemies to a duel, and then meditates expatriation. From this he is dissuaded by his sister, Madame du Saillant, the only one of his children not shut up by her father; and goes to his uncle the bailli in Provence. Here he is received with enthusiasm by the people, among them even by creditors.
His next object is reunion with his wife. But in spite of immense exertions he is doomed to failure. Madame la comtesse had become, like many another woman, enamoured of her half-widowhood (demi veuvage); and there was a stronger influence to be contended with in the persons of relations interested in the disposition of the Marignane property, of which she was heiress. When the marquis had made a condition of his son's release that a request should come from his wife, madame had been tiède, no wise forward. So now great reluctance was shown; it is even alleged that the Marignane château was barricaded as a precaution against a possible violent abduction on the part of the husband.
Private negotiations having failed, liti. gation is resorted to. All Provence is stirred by the proceedings; every family is ranged with one party or the other. The husband presents a request for an injunction to reunion; the wife a counter request. Mirabeau pleads at Aix in person, and is loudly applauded by a crowded court- for five hours; but in the end the decision of the Grand Chambre goes against him. Besides the law proceedings there is an appeal to the public out
On the whole public opinion came over to the eloquent husband; but the influence of the Marignane family had a preponderating weight with the members of the court, who decided that "husband and wife shall be separated de corps et de biens, till such time as it shall otherwise be or
her demi-veuvage. A few months before Mirabeau died, a reunion was almost effected; but death cut the matter short. Madame lived to be married again and to see her second husband die; after which the memory of Mirabeau seems to have returned to her very strongly, as she persisted in calling herself by his name, and even in living with his family. She died on March 6, 1800, in Mirabeau's own house at Paris.
IMMEDIATELY after these attempts to compose his private affairs, the public life of Mirabeau began. He was at the time entirely without means, not even able to obtain his pension dotale — the sum which had been settled on him at his marriage. His belle plume is therefore in continued exercise. By its means he had made himself a name before the meeting of the States-General offered to his talents a still more congenial sphere. In 1780 Mirabeau spent a short time in England, whither he went, partly to escape the wrath of legal authorities whom he had attacked in a memorial on the late trial, partly for the purpose of collecting materials for a book called "The Order of Cincinnatus"- Cincinnatus being Washington. While in England he stayed with Sir G. Elliott, afterwards Lord Minto, who had been his schoolfellow at the Abbé Choquenart's. To judge from his subsequent career Mirabeau was more impressed than would appear from what he wrote at the time to a lady of his acquaintance :
and I know enough of it now to tell you that I am not an enthusiastic admirer of England, if its constitution is the best that is known, the administration of it is the worst possible; and that if an Englishman is socially the freest
man on earth, the English people is one of hard at work, writing on toleration, the the least free that exists. civil disabilities of the Jews, exposing turned to Prussia after a short absence, He reCagliostro and his dupes, etc. on a diplomatic mission. Calonne was afraid of him, and probably thought this a good way of ridding himself of a dangerthe talented agent contain an account of ous opponent. The letters from Berlin of the death of Frederick, and an estimate of the probable policy of his nephew and besides a quantity of anecdotes of great successor, Frederick William II.; and
Still he thinks that "this people has more power than the majority of known peoples, because it has some civil liberty." Mirabeau soon returned to France and plunged into a busy pamphleteering life. He defended the Dutch rights to the monopoly of the Scheldt, attacked at the time by Joseph II., and in which all Europe was interested; but his financial brochures gained him a greater, if more perilous, celebrity. The chief of these was the "Denunciation of Stock-jobbing (Agiotage). These writings were sincere assaults on an evil which had been peculiarly rife in France since the days of Law and the Regency. The chief minister Calonne, had at first favored the writer and even solicited his help, but he lived in an atmosphere of jobbing, and was not unnaturally alarmed when Mirabeau refused to except him from his censure. The pamphlets now began to be suppressed; and their author, warned of the issue of a lettre de cachet against him, left France and set out on a journey eastward. Between Toul and Verdun shots were fired, and what seems to have been an attempt at assassination took place; it was confidentially asserted that the authors of the outrage were not thieves; but the whole affair is involved in mystery.
The mission was not an avowed one;
and Mirabeau was dissatisfied with his position. He however profited by it privately, by his publication of the corre spondence—an act which cost him the friendship of Talleyrand, who was only reconciled to him on his deathbed. The breach of confidence thus committed cannot be justified; but some excuse may be found in the circumstances. A man of genius and high ambition sees at last in the Revolution his career, the only stepping-stone to which is a seat in the StatesGeneral. This man is absolutely destitute of resources wherefrom to provide the necessary expenses of election. Hence the expedient.
We have now arrived at the Revolution. Mirabeau had abstained from mixing in the events which preceded the opening That the fame of Mirabeau had already of the States-General. Disappointed of advanced beyond the limits of France is the office of secretary to the Notables, proved by the fact that Frederick of Prus- he had carefully watched their proceedsia, who received but few strangers, was ings and had written an address to them so curious to know the object of his jour-on the subject of stock-jobbing. He had ney, that he wrote to invite him to an refused the overtures of Lomenie de audience. In the letter the king used very Brienne, who had overthrown Calonne, flattering language: "I shall always inter- but had failed as signally as his rival; and est myself in the lot of a man of your seeing through the selfish manœuvres of merit, wishing with all my heart that it will the Parliament he had also declined to be most favorable, and conformable to your take part with those who to many appeared expectations." Several interviews between to be the representatives of the national the two great historical characters took cause. His determination was to remain place. The account of the last, giving us in obscurity" until some revolution, good a glimpse of Frederick in his last year, is or bad, orders a good citizen to lift up his of great interest. Mirabeau writes: voice. This revolution," he adds, "cannot be delayed" (ne saurait tarder). Mirabeau realized to the full the importance of the financial situation of France; but he believed a constitution to be the basis of all economy. In January, 1789, he entered upon his electoral campaign. By the noblesse of his province he was very badly received, partly on account of the known liberality of his opinions, but chiefly because he refused to support the antiquated provincial privileges which were put for ward in Provence, as in Brittany, in oppo
I was almost an hour with the king, in his armchair, for his morning promenade had tired him; he made it so quickly that he killed two of his horses. It is impossible to imagine a cooler head, a conversation more kind, but I was not at my ease in enjoying it. The extreme difficulty of his respiration oppressed me more than it did him. A great man in pain is a most moving sight!
The great Frederick died on August 17, 1786.
While in Berlin Mirabeau was as usual