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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Said Malouet shall I tell you how


M.

Malouet listened, not clearly seeing the speaker's drift. Mirabeau resumed: "What I have to add is very simple I know that you are a friend of M. Necker's and of M. de Montmorin's, who form pretty nearly all the king's council; I don't like either of them, and I don't suppose that they have much liking for me. But it matters little whether we like one another, if we can come to an understanding. I desire, then, to know their intentions. I apply to you to get me a conference. They would be very culpable or very narrow-minded, the king himself would be inexcusable, if he aspired to reduce the States-general to the same limits and the same results as all the others have had. That will not do, they must have a plan of adhesion or opposition to certain principles. If that plan is reasonable under the monarchical system, I pledge myself to support it and employ all my means, all my influence, to prevent that invasion of the democracy which is coming upon us."

This was M. Malouet's advice, incessantly repeated to the ministers for months past; he reported to them what Mirabeau had said; both had a bad opinion of the man and some experience of his want of scruple. "M. Necker looked at the ceiling after his fashion; he was persuaded that Mirabeau had not and could not have any influence." He was in want of money, it was said. M. Necker at last consented to the interview. Malouet was not present as he should have been. Deprived of this sensible

and well-disposed intermediary, the Genevese stiffness and the Provencal ardor were not likely to hit it off. Mirabeau entered. They saluted one another silently and remained for a moment looking at one another. "Sir," said Mirabeau, "M. de Malouet has assured me that you understood and approved of the grounds for the explanation I desire to have with you." "Sir," replied M. Necker, "M. Malouet has told me that you had proposals to make to me; what are they?" Mirabeau, hurt at the cold, interrogative tone of the minister and the sense he attached to the word proposals, jumps up in a rage and says: "My proposal is to wish you good day." Then, running all the way and fuming all the while, Mirabeau arrives at the sessions-hall. "He crossed, all scarlet with rage, over to my side," says M. Malouet, and, as he put his leg over one of our benches, he said to me, 'Your man is a fool, he shall hear of me.'"

When the expiring kingship recalled Mirabeau to its aid, it was too late for him and for it. He had already struck fatal blows at the cause which he should have served, and already death was threatening himself with its finishing stroke. "He was on the point of rendering great services to the state," said Malouet: "shall I tell you how? By confessing to you his faults and pointing out your own, by preserving to you all that was pure in the Revolution and by energetically pointing out to you all its excesses and the danger of those excesses, by making the people affrighted at their blindness and the factions at their intrigues. He died ere this great work was accomplished; he had hardly given an inkling of it."

Timidity and maladdress do not retard perils by ignoring them. The day of meeting of the States-general was at hand. Almost everywhere the elections had been quiet and the electors less numerous than had been anticipated. We know what indifference and lassitude may attach


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