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out decreeing it, you disgrace yourselves by an act a thousand times more criminal, and folly inconceivable ! gratuitously criminal ? For, in the shocking alternative I have supposed, at least the deficit would be wiped off. But do you imagine that, in refusing to pay, you shall cease to owe ? Think you that the thousands, the millions of men, who will lose in an instant, by the terrible explosion of a bank ruptcy, or its revulsion, all that formed the consolation of their lives, and perhaps their sole means of subsistence, — think you that they will leave you to the peaceable fruition of your
spec. tators of the incalculable evils which this catastrophe would disgorge upon France; impenetrable egotists, who fancy that these convulsions of despair and of misery will pass, as other calamities have passed, and all the more rapidly because of their intense violence, — are you, indeed, certain that so many men without bread will leave you tranquilly to the enjoyment of those savory viands, the number and delicacy of which you are so loth to diminish? No! you will perish; and, in the universal conflagration, which you do not shrink from kindling, you will not, in losing your honor, save a single one of your detestable indulgences. This is the way we are going. And I say to you, that the men who, above all others, are interested in the enforcement of these sacrifices which the Government demands, are you yourselves ! Vote, then, this subsidy extraordinary; and may it prove sufficient!
Vote it, inasmuch as whatever doubts you may entertain as to the means, - doubts vague and unenlightenedl, — you can have none as to the necessity, or as to our inability to provide — immediately, at least - - a substitute. Vote it, because the circumstances of the country admit of no evasion, and we shall be responsi
ble for all delays. Beware of demanding more time! Misfortune · accords it never. Why, Gentlemen, it was but the other day, that, in reference to a ridiculous commotion at the Palais-Royal,*
-a Quixotic insurrection, which never had any importance save in the feeble imaginations or perverse designs of certain faithless men,- you heard these wild words: “Catiline is at the gates of Rome, and yet you deliberate!” And verily there was neither a Catiline nor a Rome; neither perils nor factions around you. But, to-day, bankruptcy, hideous bankruptcy, is there before you, and threatens to consume you, yourselves, your property, your honor, -and yet you deliberate!
14. ON THE REFUSAL OF TIIE CHAMBER OF VACATIONS OF RENNES TO OBEY
THE DECREES OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, JAN. 9, 1790. - Original Trans lation from Mirabeau.
When, during our session yesterday, those words which you have taught Frenchmen to unlearn-orders, privileges — fell on my cars; when a private corporation of one of the Provinces of this Empire
• The s in Palais is mute, and the diphthong ai has the sound of ri in nir, before the r is reached. The French pronunciation of Royal may be expressed in Engliga thus : Roh-ah-ce-ahl; ba: the syllables must be fused rapidly in the u toronce.
spoke to you of the impossibility of consenting to the execution of your decrecs, sanctioned by the King; when certain magistrates declared to you, that their conscience and their honor forbade their ubedience to your laws, — I said to myself, Are these, then, dethroned sovereigns, who, in a transport of imprudent but generous pride, are addressing successful usurpers ? No; these are men, whose arrogant pretensions have too long been an insult to all ideas of social order ; champions, even more interested than audacious, of a system which has cost France centuries of oppression, public and private, political and fiscal, feudal and judicial, — and whose hope is to make us regret and revive that system. The people of Brittăny have sent among you sixty-six representatives, who assure you that the new Constitution crowns all their wishes ; — and here come eleven Judges of the Provinue, who cannot consent that you should be the benefactors of their country. They have disobeyed your laws; and they pride themselves on their disobedience, and believe it will make their names honored by posterity. No, Gentlemen, the remembrance of their folly will not pass to posterity. What avail their pigny efforts to brace themselves against the progress of a Revolution the grandest and most glorious in the world's history, and one that must infallibly change the face of the globe and the lot of humanity? Strange presumption, that would arrest liberty in its course, and roll back the destinies of a great Nation!
It is not to antiquated transactions, - it is not to musty treaties, whereia fraud combined with force to chain men to the car of certain haughiy masters, – that the National Assembly have resorted, in their investigations into popular rights. The titles we offer are more imposing by far; ancient as time, sacred and imprescriptible as Nature ! What! Must the terms of the marriage contract of one Anne of Brittany make the People of that Province slaves to the Nobles till the consummation of the ages? These refractory magistrates speak of the statutes which “ immutably fix our powers of legislation.” "Immutably fix! 0, how that word tears the veil from their innermost thoughts! How would they like to have abuses immutable upon the carth, and evil eternal ! Indeed, what is lacking to their felicity but the perpetuity of that feudal scourge, which unhappily has lasted only six centuries? But it is in vain that they rage. All now is changed or changing. There is nothing immutable save reason — save the sovereignty of the People - save the inviolability of its decrees !
15. IN REPLY TO TIIOSE WHO DENIED THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY THE LEGIT
IMATE POWERS OF A NATIONAL CONVENTION, APRIL 19, 1790. — Mirabeau.
It is with dificulty, Gentlemen, that I can repress an emotion of indignation, when I hear hostile rhetoricians continually oppose the Nation to the National Assembly, and endeavor to excite a sort of rivalry between them. As if it were not through the National
Assembly that the Nation had recognized, recovered, reconquered its rights ! As if it were not through the National Assembly that the French had, in truth, become a Nation! As if, surrounded by the monuments of our labors, our dangers, our services, we could becomo suspected by the People — formidable to the liberties of the People! As if the regards of two worlds upon you fixed, as if the spectacle of your glory, as if the gratitude of so many millions, as if the very pride of a generous conscience, which would have to blush too deeply to belie itself, - were not a sufficient guarantee of your fidelity :f your patriotism, of your virtue!
Commissioned to form a Constitution for France, I will not ask whether, with that authority, we did not receive also the power to do all that was necessary to complete, establish, and confirm that Constitution. I will not ask, ought we to have lost in pusillanimous consult ations the time of action, while nascent Liberty would have received her death-blow? But if Gentlemen insist on demanding when and how, from simple deputies of bailiwicks, we became all at once transformed into a National Convention, I reply, It was on that day, when, finding the hall where we were to assemble closed, and bristling and polluted with bayonets, we resorted to the first place where we could reünite, to swear to perish rather than submit to such an order of things! That day, if we were not a National Convention, we became one; became one for the destruction of arbitrary power, and for the defence of the rights of the Nation from all violence. The strivings of Despotism which we have quelled, the perils which we have averted, the violence which we have repressed, — these are our titles ! Our successes have consecrated them; the adhesion, so often renewed, of all parts of the Empire, has legitimized and sanctified them. SumLooned to its task by the irresistible tocsin of necessity, our National Convention is above all imitation, as it is above all authority. It is accountable only to itself, and can be judged only by posterity.
Gentlemen, you all remember the instance of that Roman, who, to save his country from a dangerous conspiracy, had been constrained to overstop the powers conferred on him by the laws. A captious Tribune exacted of him the oath that he had respected those laws; hoping, by this insidious demand, to drive the Consul to the alternative of perjury or of an embarrassing avowal. "Swear," said the Tribune, “that you have observed the laws.” “I swear,” replied the great nan, “I swear that I have saved the Republic.” Gentlemen, I swear that you have saved France !
1. ON BEING SUSPECTED OF RECEIVING OVERTURES FROM THIE COURT, MA:
22, 1790. — Mirabeau. Original Translation. Ir would be an important step towards the reconciliation of political opponents, if they would clearly signify on what points they agree, and on what they differ. To this end, friendly discussions avail more, far more than calumnious insinuations, furious invectives, the acerbities of
partisen rivalry, the machinations of intrigue and malevolence. For eight days, now, it has been given out that those members of the Nationa! Assembly in favor of the provision requiring the concurrence of the royal will for the exercise of the right of peace and war are parricides of the public liberty. Rumors of perfidy, of corruption, havo been bruited. Popular vengeance has been invoked to enforce the tyranny of opinion; and denunciations have been uttered, as if, on a subject invulving one of the most delicate and difficult questions affecting the organization of society, persons could not dissent without a crime. What strange madness, what deplorable infatuation, is this, which thus incites against one another men whom – let debate' run never so high - one common object, one indestructible sentiment of patriotism, ought always to bring together, always to reünite; but who thus substitute, alas! the irascibility of self-love for devotion to the public good, and give one another over, without compunction, to the hatred and distrust of the People!
And me, too — me, but the other day, they would have borne in triumph; and now they cry in the streets, TuE GREAT TREASON OP THE COUNT OF MIRĂBEAU! I needed not this lesson to teach me, how short the distance from the Capitol to the Tarpeian Rock ! But the man who battles for reason, for country, does not so easily admit that he is vanquished. He who has the consciousness that he deserves well of that country, and, above all, that he is still able to serve her; who disdains a vain celebrity, and prizes veritable glory above the successes of the day; who would speak the truth, and labor for the public weal, independently of the fluctuations of popular opinion, - such a man carries in his own breast the recompense of his services, the solace of his pains, the reward of his dangers. The har. vest he looks for — the destiny, the only destiny, to which he aspires
is that of his good name; and for that he is content to trust to time, - to time, that incorruptible judge, who dispenses justice to all!
Let those who, for these eight days past, have been ignorantly predicting my opinion, — who, at this moment, calumniate my discourse without comprehending it, – let them charge me, if they will, with beginning to offer incense to the impotent idols I have overturned with being the vile stipendiary of men whom I have never ceased to combat; let them denounce as an enemy of the Revolution him, who at least has contributed so much to its cause, that his safety, if not his glory, lics in its support; let them deliver over to the rage of a deceived People him, who, for twenty years, has warred against oppression in all its forms ; — who spoke to Frenchmen of Liberty, of a Constitution, of Resistance, at a time when his vile calumniators were sucking the milk of Courts, — living on those dominant abuses which he denounced :— what matters it? These underhand attacks shall not stop me in my career. I will say to my traducers, Answer if you can, and then calumniate to your heart's content! And now I reënter the lists, armed only with my principles, and a steadfast conscience.
17. EULOGIUM ON FRANKLIN, JUNE 11, 1790.- Mirabeau. Original Translation.
FRANKLIN is dead! Restored to the bosom of the Divinity is that genius which gave freedom to America, and rayed forth torrenti of light upon Europe. The sage whom two worlds claim
the man whom the History of Empires and the History of Science alike contend for -- occupied, it cannot be denied, a lofty rank among his species. Long enough have political Cabinets signalized the death of those who were great in their funeral eulogies only. Long enough has the etiquette of Courts prescribed hypocritical mournings. For their benefactors only, should Nations assume the emblems of grief; and the Representatives of Nations should commend only the heroes of humanity to public veneration.
In the fourteen States of the Confederacy, Congress has ordained a mourning of two months for the death of Franklin ; and America is at this moment acquitting herself of this tribute of honor to one of the Fathers of her Constitution. Would it not become us, Gentlemen, to unite in this religious act; to participate in this homage, publicly rendered, at once to the rights of man, and to the philosopher who has contributed most largely to their vindication throughout the world? Antiquity would have erected altars to this great and powerful genius, who, to promote the welfare of mankind, comprehending both the Heavens and the Earth in the range of his thought, could at once snatch the bolt from the cloud and the sceptre from tyrants. France, enlightened and free, owes at least the acknowledgment of her remembrance and regret to one of the greatest intellects that ever served the united cause of philosophy and liberty. I propose that it be now decreed that the National Assembly wear mourning, during three days, for Benjamin Franklin.
18. TIIE UNION OF CHURCH AND STATE. - Original Translation from Mirabear
We are reproached with having refused to decree that the Catholic religion, Apostolic and Roman, is the national religion. To declare the Christian religion national, would be to dishonor it in its most intimate and essential characteristic. In general terms, it may be said, that religion is not, and cannot be, a relation between the individual man and society. It is a relation between him and the Infinite Being. Would you understand what was meant by a national conscience ? Religion is no more national than conscience! A man is not veritably religious in so far as he is attached to the religion of a Nation. If there were but one religion in the world, and all men Here agreed in professing it, it would be none the less true that each Fould have the sincere sentiment of religion so far only as he should be himself religious with a religion of his own; that is to say, so far only as he would be wedded to that universal religion, even though the whole human race were to abjure it. And so, from whatever point we consider religion, to term it national is to give it a designa tion insignificant or absurd.