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ture by the English revolution; from the republic, the empire, the restoration, nothing has emanated which can bear comparison with the author of “ Paradise Lost ;' in other respects, in all but a moral and religious point of view, our revolution has far outstripped that of our neighbours.
When the Revolution of 1649 was brought about, the intercourse between nations had not reached the point which it has attained at the present day; the ideas, the events, of every country, were not conveyed over the whole world by the multiplicity of roads, the rapidity of couriers, the extension of commerce and industry, the publications of the periodical press.
The revolution of Great Britain did not set Europe in a blaze ; confined within an island, it did not carry its arms and its principles to the extremities of Europe; it did not preach liberty and the rights of man, as Mahomet preached the Koran and despotism, sword in hand; it was neither called upon to repel a foreign invasion, nor to defend itself against a system of terror; the religious and social state was not what it is at the present day.
In fact, the actors in that revolution never came up to the mark of those of the French revolution, measured as the latter was upon a much larger scale, and carried on by a nation much more closely connected with the general destinies of the world. Is it to Ludlow or Hampden that we can compare Mirabeau ?
His superiors in a moral point of view, they were greatly inferior to him in genius *.
Connected by the excesses and accidents of his life with the most remarkable events, and with the existence of felons, ravishers, and adventurers, Mirabeau, the tribune of aristocracy, the deputy of democracy, partook of the characters of Gracchus and Don Juan, of Catiline and Guzman d'Alfarache, of Cardinal de Richelieu and Cardinal de Retz, of the profligate of the regency and the savage of the revolution; there moreover flowed in his veins the blood of the Mirabeaus; an exiled Florentine family, which retained somewhat of those armed palaces and those great factions illustrated by Dante; a French naturalised family, in which the republican spirit of Italy during the middle age, and the feudal spirit of our own middle age, were found combined in a succession of extraordinary men.
The ugliness of Mirabeau, laid upon a ground of beauty, for which his race was distinguished, produced an image of one of the powerful figures in the Last Judgment of Michael Angelo, the
* What follows, as far as, and including the parallel between Bonaparte and Cromwell, is a condensed extract from my Memoirs.
compatriot of Arrighetti. The marks left by the small-pox on the orator's face rather bore the appearance of scars occasioned by fire. Nature seemed to have moulded his head for empire or the gibbet, to have shaped his arms for the purpose of curbing a nation or carrying off a woman. When he shook his mane, with his eyes fixed upon the mob, he suddenly checked their progress ; when he raised his foot and showed his claws, they ran furiously. Amidst the most frightful riot of a sitting, I have seen him in the tribune, dark, hideous, and motionless : he reminded me of the Chaos of Milton, impassible and shapeless the centre of his own confusion.
Twice did I meet Mirabeau at an entertainment: on one occasion at the house of Voltaire's niece, the Marchioness de Villette; on another, at the Palais Royal, with deputies of the opposition, with whom Chapelain had made me acquainted. Chapelain was conveyed to the scaffold on the same tumbrel with M. de Malesherbes and my own brother.
Our discussion after dinner turned upon the subject of Mirabeau's enemies; I happened to be next to him; and, with the timidity of a young man, unknown to all, had not uttered a word. He looked me full in the face with his eyes of wickedness and genius, and, laying his broad hand
THE ENGLISH AND FRENCH REVOLUTIONS. 161
upon my shoulder, said, “ They will never forgive me my superiority.” Methinks I still feel the impression of that hand, as if Satan had touched me with his fiery claw*.
Too soon for his own sake, too late for that of the court, Mirabeau sold himself to the latter, and the court bought him over. He hazarded the stake of his fame for the prospect of a pension and an embassy ; Cromwell was at the point of exchanging his future prospects for a title and the Order of the Garter. Notwithstanding his pride, he did not set a sufficient value upon himself; the superabundance of money and of places has since raised the price of men's consciences.
Death released Mirabeau from his promises, and rescued him from dangers which he would. probably have been unable to overcome : his life would have demonstrated his incapacity for good; by his death he was left in the height of his power for evil.
* Mirabeau boasted of having a handsome hand; I have nothing to say against his notion ; but I was very slender, and he extremely large, and his hand fairly covered my shoulder.
ENGLAND had her factions and even her parties; what, however, were the meetings of the saints, of the puritans, of the levellers, of the agitators, compared with the clubs of our revolution ? 1 have said elsewhere, in the Genie du Christianisme, that Milton had placed in his Hell an image of the perverseness to which he had been a witness : what sort of a picture would he have drawn, had he seen what I saw in Paris during the summer of 1792, when, returning from America, I passed through France in fulfilment of my destinies.
The King's flight, on the 21st of June, 1791, caused the revolution to take a prodigious stride. Brought back to Paris on the 25th of the same month, he was then dethroned for the first time, since the National Assembly declared that the decrees should have the force of laws, without