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when, a few days before, we had been shown the immense estates and the chateau of Marshal Soult.
Before parting, Barère told us, that he was engaged in completing his memoirs, which were to throw a new light upon the events in which he had taken so prominent a part; and to produce new and incontrovertible evidence, in support of his appeal, from the judgment of his contemporaries, to the tribunal of posterity. We must say, that we thought the undertaking almost hopeless, and that he seemed to us quite unequal to the task. The effects of age, upon his mind, were clearly perceptible, though his imagination had preserved all its vivacity, and his sensibility all its intensity. But his memory was evidently failing, and his ideas were somewhat confused. In the course of our conversation, dates, events, and men were frequently introduced out of their proper order; and even many of his own alleged acts were denied: not because he had no justification for them, (for he was ready to justify all), nor for the purpose of telling an untruth, but merely because, having forgotten them and lost all traces of their causes and of the attending circumstances, he could not believe he had done such things for no reason whatever. Memoirs, written in such a state and disposition of mind, could not, in our opinion, much contribute to the elucidation of truth, or materially improve the character and reputation of their author. We are sorry to say, that our anticipations were in some measure realised, on reading these volumes, notwithstanding the choice, and perhaps, in some part, on account of the choice of the editors.
We know them both: we entertain for them a sincere regard and affection, and we do not wonder that Barère should have entrusted to them the defence of his memory. David, an eminent sculptor, in our opinion the first of his time, is a kinsman of Barère. Much too young to know, from his own observation, the history of the French revolution and that of the principal actors in it, and too much engaged in the admirable works which will transmit his name to posterity, to have the necessary leisure to study that history, in the numerous records which, too frequently misrepresent it, he sees in it nothing but a desperate struggle for freedom, of which he is an ardent votary; and, in Barère, one of the men who were mainly instrumental in preserving France from foreign invasion and dynastic tyranny. The misfortunes, the proscription, the exile, and poverty of Barère are the only circumstances of his life personally observed by David, and, in a heart like his, these circumstances create affection and devotedness. These feelings could not but be strengthened when, after the revolution of July, David saw the old republican entertaining, after the triple trial of expatriation, distress, and old age, the same love of freedom and of his country, which had signalized him at a former period. The confidant of the misgivings and of the apprehensions of his old relative, as to the consequences of the new revolution, David could not but admire his foresight and statesmanship, when he saw his worst fears realised; and apostates and traitors seizing the helm of the government, and continuing the war of the restoration against the liberties and the honour of the country. The doctrinaires were the accusers, the persecutors of Barère : for thirty years they have been the curse of France, and therefore, to defend his memory against them, seemed a patriotic enterprise, which a good citizen and a good relative could not refuse. For having done so, a quarterly reviewer seems to make him an approver of all the crimes imputed to Barère, and assails his character. Those of our readers, who have the good fortune to associate with the excellent and accomplished Mrs. Opie, will receive from her a very different account of her kindhearted, amiable, mild, clever, and modest friend.*
David is not a literary man, though he received a liberal education. The duties of the editorship fell therefore upon H. Carnot, who had previously published the posthumous memoirs of his father, and those of Grégoire. We can easily account for the choice made by Barère of the latter gentleman, for the publication of his manuscripts. Carnot, the father, had been his colleague in the convention, and in the Committee of Public Safety; he had, in consequence of this, been exposed to the accusations and persecutions of the reactors, and had been finally inscribed, by the restoration, on the lists of proscription in 1815. Carnot, however, had succeeded in silencing his accusers and in exculpating himself, to the satisfaction of his contemporaries, from all participation in the domestic policy of the terrorist committee. He had done more; by his subsequent conduct, by his consistency, his disinterestedness amounting to self-denial,
* It was at a soirée given by Mrs. Opie, at Paris, Rue de la Paix, in 1830, that we first met David.
+ Having opposed, in the tribunate, the accession of Napoleon to the imperial throne, and refused to swear allegiance, Carnot withdrew into retirement, in a quiet and obscure quarter of Paris, where he devoted himself to the pursuit of his favourite studies. But, towards the end of 1813, the disasters of the two preceding campaigns, and the imminent invasion of France, induced him to write to Napoleon and offer his services for the defence of the country, Napoléon immediately appointed him to the command of the garrison and fortress of Antwerp. When, however, in execution of his orders, the Duke of Feltre, minister at war, previous to preparing the commission, looked over the official lists of the army, to ascertain and give him his proper rank, he was astonished to find, that the ex-president of the republic, the organizer of the French armies, had remained a captain, as he
as well as by his eminent talents, he had won the respect, the admiration of all the patriots. It was of him that General Lamarque, in his ode upon the 'proscrits,' of whom he himself was one, said,
• C'est la justice d'Aristide,
Et le courage de Caton.' The hope of strengthening his appeal to the justice of posterity, by identifying his cause with that of such a man, sufficiently explains the request made by Barère to H. Carnot, who, in his public life, has evinced the resolution of emulating the patriotism, the integrity, and all the virtues of his illustrious father. Unfortunately, the range of his intelligence is not the
He was much too young to derive any great benefit from his father's tuition (he was in his boyhood when he lost him), his education, under the restoration, was quite the reverse of that for which he had been prepared. When arrived at a proper age to observe and form an opinion, the dissimulation of the liberals, the versatility of the Bonapartists, and the subtlety of the doctrinaires, all contributed to unsettle and mislead his mind, notwithstanding the counteracting influence of Grégoire and some few friends of his late father. His heart, however, never was contaminated. The leaders of the St. Simonists entrapped him into their society, at its first establishment, under Bazard, whose enthusiasm and honesty were well calculated to make proselytes; but he seceded from them, so soon as the principles and the views of Enfantin, Chevalier, and their followers obtained the ascendency, and assumed the immoral character which they subsequently exhibited. From the St. Simonists, Carnot passed over to the doctrinaires. We saw him, to our great surprise, in 1830, as strong a partizan of Guizot, as his foolish friend Mahul. He, however, soon found out that the morality of his new party did not materially differ from that of the former; that doctrinairism was nothing but political St. Simonism; and he abandoned the faction. A few years of solitude, reading, and meditation, perfected what his observation and experience of men had begun, and restored him to the principles of his father—principles which he strenuously advocates, in the Chamber of Deputies, as one of the representatives of Paris.
Such is the biographer of Barère; the principal editor of the present work. To him, as well as to David, nobody can refuse was before the revolution. This was reported to Napoléon, whose commissions, as lieutenant-colonel, general of brigade, lieutenant-general, and general-in-chief, had been signed by Carnot. Napoléon instantly ordered that the title and rank of lieutenant-general, with precedence, should be given to Captain Carnot.
credit for honesty and veracity. We should be the very last to do so: but, at the same time, that we so explicitly express our regard for their character, we are compelled to say, that they have failed in their attempt at the complete justification of their friend, and that the volumes before us are not likely to give more satisfaction to the public, than they have given to ourselves. There is very little in them which we did not know before, as regards the events of the Revolution, and the part taken in it by the principal actors. The only profit we have derived from the reading of these memoirs, is a more accurate appreciation of the intellectual powers, of the mental faculties of Barère, which we find have been much overrated.
We must, in the first place, remark, that, notwithstanding the title, this publication has none of the character of Memoirs. Barère had written no memoirs ; although, to the last day of his life, he was constantly writing, he has left nothing behind him but what we should call prefaces, sketches of memoirs, innumerable protestations of his innocence, and appeals to the justice of posterity, with a load of notes and observations written at different periods, upon all the events of his own time,—notes and observations which, for the most part, merely contain unsupported statements, repetitions, frequentcontradictions, all plainly indicative of the different affections and impressions of the mind which dictated them, and of the inability of the author to reconcile them, and to form, of all the materials a historical monument, much less a personal justification.
It must appear strange that the man who, in these volumes, constantly complains of the injustice of the atrocious calumnies of his contemporaries, and appears so anxious to enlighten the opinion of a more impartial generation, and to obtain from future ages, not only a verdict of acquittal, but also a public acknowledgement of his patriotic services ;-—it is strange, we say, that this man should have neglected, during nearly forty years, the safest, and, in our opinion, the only course for attaining his object; namely, the enunciation of every head of accusation against his political conduct, and on the opposite page, a full discussion and refutation of each charge. If this simple plan encountered some insurmountable difficulties, there was another which his friends had recommended to him. It was to give a complete history of the 'Comité de Salut Public,' since its formation, with the minutes of its deliberations, and the specification of all the measures decreed or recommended by the committee, with mention of those which Barére had supported or opposed, and of those in the introduction or adoption of which he had had no share. This Barère had promised to undertake; and, if he had fulfilled his promise, though it is doubtful
whether he would have succeeded in exonerating himself from all guilt, there is no doubt that he would have left a most valuable document for impartial historians.
Unfortunately for himself, his mind was too impressible, too imaginative, and too active, to adopt such a plan, and to persevere for any length of time in its execution. To this impressibility, to this imagination, and to this activity, may be attributed not only his faults, his errors, and his deplorable excesses, but also the imputation of faults which he had not, and of excesses and crimes which he did not commit; and, in his old age, he seemed to have lost nothing of these faculties, which were so fatal to him. Two-thirds of the volumes before us are completely foreign to his defence. Modern events and circumstances made him forget his own case, to become an acc er, as, in the dangers which surrounded the convention, he had forgotten himself to be only the mouth-piece of the leaders, with whom he had little or no sympathy.
H. Carnot and David ought to have, in the interest of their friend, exercised a more severe discretion, not in the choice of matter only, but also in its distribution. They may say that they had no authority to suppress, to modify, and to arrange; that they were bound, from respect to the author, to publish the papers as they found them; but we maintain that their respect would have been better shown, by suppressing all that, which, being extraneous to the subject, or contrary to admitted facts, cannot but prejudice the cause of Barère. We maintain that the consistency of Barère, or the authority of his judgments, cannot be established by the indiscriminate publication of contradictory opinions, and of inaccurate statements of his, which the editors themselves are frequently under the necessity of noticing. Finally, we maintain that the justification of a man does not consist in merely accusing other men; and that, when such accusations, far from being supported by facts, are contradicted by facts, it is the duty of editors not to lend themselves to the propagation of posthumous calumnies. In the present instance, their diffidence of themselves, and their scruples, have not merely caused them to be unjust to others, but also to assist but little in the justification of Barère.
In our opinion, they ought to have considered the manuscripts entrusted to them as the materials out of which they were to extract and publish all that could be instrumental in vindicating the character and exalting the memory of their friend. The life of Barère is naturally divided into three periods. The first, from his birth, in 1755, to his election, by the convention, as a member of the committee of public safety, comprising thirty-seven years. The second period, that