14 MARCH 1835, Page 18


THIS " memoire justicatif" is reported to have had many fathers. MIRABEAU himself is made to furnish an historical biography of the RIQUETI family, wherein the fiery advocate of equality ex- patiates with aristocratical gusto on the race, nobility, honours, advancement, and courtly and military exploits of his ancestors, and in a style bearing small impress of that genius which dis- tinguished the Gallic Demosthenes. The father of the orator (L'Ami des Hommes, as he was nicknamed in ridicule, after the publication of his treatise under that title) contributes to the work by extracts from private letters to his brother; so does that brother himself' in a similar way ; and lastly, M. LUCAS MONTIGNY, the natural or the adopted son of the great MIRATIES.U, appears in the combined character of editor, compiler, and author. The professed object of the work is to defend the character of MIRABEAU from the obloquy which has been thrown upon it. His deeds, however, are too notorious to deny, and they do not singly admit of much explanation or gloss. M. LUCAS MONTIGNY has therefore chosen another ground, and not without judgment. He expands Mr. CHOKER'S doctrine (which possesses at least as much of danger as of truth) touching the difference between phy- sical errors and moral guilt. According to his view, MIRABEAU was the victim of constitutional humours and a bad education. The last of the race of the Ghibeline AnnannErri of Florence inherited all the bail blood of' a stock whose noblity, it seems, could not preserve it from tainting; and this physical defect was aggravated by the tyranny, violence, and hatred which L'Ami des Hommes displayed towards him. Hence the irregularities and vices that marked his career; hence the powers he display-ed. To arrive at this conclasion, required not the labours of " a quarter of a century," nor access to the "four thousand unpub- lished letters" from the brothers MIRABEAU in the writer's pos- session. The orator bad said nearly the same thing in a sentence. There was floating knowledge enough to lead any one who even casually examined the subject to a similar judgment. The ex- pansion of these ideas by M. LUCAS MONTIGNY is not happy. His narrative does not carry conviction or bear the impress of truth. We do not seem to be reading opinions which have been formed from a patient examination of evidence, but evidence that has been formed to support preconceived opinions; and this feeling extends rather to the authenticity of the statement than to the conclusions they would establish. In the biography there is more of the spirit of commentary than of narration. The known events of MIRABEAU'S life seem to be taken as a peg, and then the father writes an allusive letter, which looks very much as if it were writ- ten for the nonce.

The literary character of the book is not high ; but its stories and singularities would be amusing were the reader satisfied of their truth. Unfortunately, doubts of the authenticity of the whole obtrude themselves in every page.