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• It was a great consolation for the old man to see himself elected a member of the general council of his department; but, at the same time, it was great cause of surprise, to his fellow citizens, to see the old man so long and so unsparingly tormented, preserving a calm and dignified mind; an exquisite benevolence, a lucidity of understanding, and a freshness of imagination, which youth might envy ; constantly employing himself in elucidating history, which will receive from him many precious documents and important revelations. The pen dropped from his hand with his last sigh, and in the eighty-fifth year of his age.
• Men, feeble men as we are, let us be just and merciful, standing as we do on the brink of a grave.
• As citizens and Frenchmen, let us be grateful to those sons of France who broke her fetters, defended her independence, and founded her liberties, at the price of their tranquillity, of their life, and of their reputation.
Old man, now in presence of the Eternal God, thy country salutes thee, and posterity listens to thee !'-vol. i., 197.
Most of our readers will hear with astonishment, that the subject of this emphatic encomium, the old man to whom this affectionate farewell was addressed, was no other than the VIEUX DE LA MONTAGNE,' the 'Reporter of the Committee of Salut public,' the—alas ! too illustrious BERTRAND BARERE. Yet, such is the fact. The man who, in almost all Europe, was, and is still considered as the personification of all the revolutionary atrocities; whose emaciated and tottering frame, notwithstanding the placidity of his features, the mildness of his aspect, and his venerable figure, appeared to the new generation as the relic of a dreadful race of vampires who had upon their forefathers,—this man, in his native town, had retained the esteem and affection of men of character and emi. nence, who, after standing by him, in his old age, against half a century of incessant accusations, remained faithful in death, proclaimed over his corpse the services of the citizen, and engraved on his tombstone the oak-crown of patriotism.
It was not in his native town only that Barère was held in general esteem. The whole department participated in this feeling; and from 1789 to 1841, never missed an opportunity of showing their confidence in his character, In 1789, the electors chose him for their representative in the general states, which soon afterwards became the constituent assembly. Barère was then thirty-four years of age.
At the expiration of his legislative functions, in 1791, his department elected him a judge in the Court of Cassation.
In 1792, he was chosen a member of the National Convention.
In 1797, although almost an outlaw, and hiding himself to escape the exile decreed against him by the convention, without
any trial, he was again elected a member of the council of Five Hundred.
In 1805 and 1810, he was chosen, by the same department, as their candidate for the Corps Legislatif,' in spite of the opposition of the imperial government.
In May 1815, he was elected a member of the Chamber of Representatives; and at the very first election which followed his return from exile, in 1831, he was again proposed as a candidate for the representation, and his election would have been carried, had he consented to leave Paris, to present himself to the electors.
Finally, in 1832, immediately after his return to his native place, he was repeatedly chosen a menuber of the general council of the department, which function he resigned only in 1840, the year which preceded that of his decease, and when his old age and bodily infirmities no longer permitted him to fulfil his duties with his customary regularity.
Thus, during a period of time embracing more than half a century, Barère was constantly invested with the highest and the most confidential offices at the disposal of his fellowcitizens, under every government-nay more, in spite of the hostility of every government; and in contempt, we may say in defiance of the general opinion, in France and the rest of Europe, of both native and foreign historians; and of the universal reprobation which the mere mention of his name was sure to call forth in the whole world.
Such a contrast, between the opinion so generally entertained of Barère and the opinion of a locality in which his real character must have been better known, cannot but strike every impartial mind. Such a constancy, on the part of the population of the ‘Hautes Pyrénées,' and of the electoral body, composed, as it is in France, of men of property, is a fact so startling, that we endeavoured to account for it, and to explain its causes, by a reference to the electioneering arts and practises now in use in France, still more than in this country. We were soon convinced that the test was not applicable. Barère never had a bribe to give, a favour to grant, a benefit to confer, in return for the votes of his constituents. At the time of his affluence and of his power, all the civil and judicial functionaries were elected by the people ; and, even after his downfall, in 1795, the electors who voted for him did so with the certainty that they had nothing to expect from the succeeding government, through the intervention of their obnoxious representative. The only conclusion we could arrive at, therefore, is, that the political conduct of Barère had given full satisfaction to his constituents, who, by their suffrages, continued to sanction and to reward the acts of his political career, to the last moments of his life.
If these acts were so many abominable crimes, if Barère was, as represented by almost all modern historians, an execrable monster, whose only pleasure was either to order or to applaud the effusion of innocent blood, we naturally infer that the approvers, the abettors, the admirers of such a man, must have been sadly deficient in reason, in morality, and humanity; and we should declare the population, and the constituency of the department of the Hautes Pyrénées, the most perverse, the most iniquitous, and the most sanguinary, of France.
These conclusions, however, did not at all agree with our own observations, when in the midst of that population, nor with the accounts given of their manners by travellers in the Pyrénées. It may be objected that travellers, in their hasty rambles through a country, or during a short residence at some watering place, have but few opportunities of forming an accurate opinion of the general character of the inhabitants; and that the impression received from a limited intercourse with certain classes, cannot militate against the strict deductions of logic. We therefore, in order to elucidate and establish the truth, resolved to search for a better authority than our own, or that of travel writers. We found it in a work recently published, and no part of which, notwithstanding its appalling disclosures, has been contradicted by any of its numerous reviewers. The statistical tables appended to this work, France, her Governmental, Administrative, and Social Organisation,'* give the following results, which we recommend to the serious attention of our readers.
1st. Of the eighty-six departments of France, the department of Hautes Pyrénées is the 78th for the number of inhabitants. That is to say, seventy-seven other departments contain a larger population.
2nd. It is the 80th for the amount of taxes paid. Seventynine other departments contribute in a greater amount to the expenses of the state.
3rd. It is the 30th for agriculture. Twenty-nine departments contain a greater number of agriculturalists.
4th. It is the thirty-fourth for the bad quality of food. Thirty-three departments are worse fed.
5th. It is the fifty-eighth for manufactures, handicraft, and trade. Fifty-seven departments are more manufacturing and commercial.
* This work, it is true, has not been confuted; but its introduction into France has been prohibited.- Editor.
6th. It is the seventeenth for pauperism. Sixteen departments only have a greater number of indigent poor and beggars.
7th. It is the fourth for longevity. There are but three departments in which the average of human life is higher.
8th. It is the thirty-first for instruction. Fifty-five departments are more ignorant.
9th. It is the eighth for religious zeal. There are but seven departments more religious.
10th. It is the eighty first for criminality. Eighty departments are more criminal.
11th. It is the thirteenth for illegitimate births. Twelve departments only produce a greater number of bastards.
12th. It is the thirty-second for foundlings. In thirty-one departments the number of exposed or deserted children is greater.
On the strength of these facts, extracted from official returns, we cannot but acquit the population of the Hautes Pyrénées of the accusation resulting from our logical argument: but then comes another difficulty. How could a small population, mostly agricultural, though feeding on very bad food
;-poor, with a maximum of indigent persons and beggars, and yet with more than the average of instruction ;-with a comparative abundance of religious zeal, and a comparative freedom from criminality, how could such a population entertain, during more than fifty years, that unalterable respect for, and confidence, in Barère ;stand by him in the worst days of his adversity, and seize every opportunity of entering, by their recorded suffrages, their most solemn protest against the unrefuted accusations and persecutions of his all powerful enemies ? Shall we now conclude to the complete reversal of the all but unanimous judgment passed upon the political career of Barère ? Shall we contend that, in the circumstances in which he was placed, he did nothing but his duty, and that he did it in such a manner as to entitle him to the respect and gratitude of his fellow men ? Shall we, in short, with the inhabitants of the Upper Pyrénées, hold him up as a pattern of civic virtue, of enlightened patriotism?
No! and when we say no! let not our readers imagine that we yield to any fear of placing ourselves in opposition to what may be called public opinion, and that we recoil before the formidable array of the past and present assailants of Barère. Such considerations are beneath our character. As much
any we respect public opinion : we set a great value upon the approbation of our readers, but there is something upon which we set a still greater value; it is the dictates and the approbation of our conscience. If we were convinced that Barère has a just claim to the gratitude of his fellow men, we
should not hesitate to sustain that claim, despite of his past and present assailants.
Our opinion of him was expressed in a few words, in a work on the French revolution, published in 1826. Having to mention some circumstances, in which Barère acted a creditable part, we premised our narrative by this observation :- Barère, who was cruel only when he was in fear. At the time we wrote, we had been told that he was dead, and we certainly thought our judgment the most severe that could, with truth, be pronounced upon
him. To our great surprise, we received letters from some of our friends, at that time the companions of Barère's exile in Belgium, apprising us of the pain we had caused to the old man, and entreating us to write and publish, some few observations to explain away the literal meaning of the sentence. We could not hesitate, for an instant, to express our deep and sincere regret, at having, by an untimely reflection, wounded the feelings of a man in his circumstances; but, at the same time, we resisted the demand of our friends for even a partial disavowal of our opinion; and, strange enough, this was the beginning of our familiar, though unfrequent, relations with Barère, notwithstanding our determined hostility to most of the measures of the Committee of Public Safety.
Barère, however, to the last moments of his life, seemed unconscious of ever having done any act deserving the hatred of which he was the object; on the contrary, he frequently expressed himself so as to convey the impression that, in his own opinion, he had been too indulgent. He told us, at Brussels, in 1828 : Si nous avions été, non pas sevères, mais seulement justes, la France serait aujourdhui libre et prospère; nous avons cédé à la pitié, à une fausse humanité, et nous avons préparé l'asservissement et la ruine de la patrie.' In December, 1830, after his return from exile, we visited him at his lodgings, Marché des Jacobins, and his parting words were: 'J'étais devenu Orléaniste: je reviens an comité de salut public. Vous verrez un jour que nous valions mieux que tous ces gens-ci.' The last time we saw him was in 1837, at Tarbes. He expressed himself very warmly upon all the acts of the present French government since its establishment : C'est la terreur, plus la corruption,' said he; 'et on le supporte et on le loue (!) tandis qu'on nous accuse. Si, comme Guizot, Thiers, et autres, j'avais employé, pour ma fortune, ou ma renommée, les trésors du pays, je serais un grand homme; mais ces trésors que j'ai eus à ma disposition, n'ont été employés qu'à la défense de la patrie. La révolution, qui m'a trouvé riche, m'a laissé pauvre; et je suis un grand coupable.' We avow that it was not without deep emotion that we listened to the old man, in his humble dwelling,