Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

"The Council of Constance declared (Sess. 19.) ' that no safe conduct given to a heretic, under any covenant whatsoever, by any person whomsoever, ought to exempt him from the judgment of the ecclesiastical judge, who may punish him, though he come into court relying on that safe conduct;' and accordingly John Huss was condemned and burnt, in spite of the assurance which he had received from Sigismund of his safe passage to and from the council. Now this, Sir, being a doctrine laid down by a general council, you 'profess, and undoubtedly receive' without restriction or qualification.' If you remain true to your own rule, you must avow your belief in some heretical, as well as some uncharitable doctrines. The Sirmian Council, convened by the Emperor Constantius, and approved of by Pope Liberius, pronounced in favour of the Arian, or Semi-Arian doctrines. Bellarmine says of this Council, that it is partly approved and partly disapproved; an odd account to give of an infallible synod; and not very consistent with the declaration in Pope Pius's creed.. It is true, that this council determined one thing at one time, and another at another, and that Liberius repented of having persecuted Athanasius; but repentance is not quite compatible with infallibility." P. 20.

[merged small][ocr errors]

ART IX. The Memoirs of Joseph Fouché, Duke of Otranto,
Minister of the General Police of France. With a Portrait.
Translated from the French. 8vo. 2 vols. 21s. Knight.

THE original work, of which these volumes are a translation, has afforded employment in Paris, not only for the critics, but also for the Courts of law; and, in an action brought by the friends of the late Duke of Otranto, the publisher has been adjudged to pay a fine of five francs for every copy which he has sold, and to give up the name of the real Author of the Memoirs. The scape-goat on this occasion is said to have been M. Alphonse Beauchamp, a gentleman of truly liberal and enlightened mind, open to all parties, and influenced by that one only which can apply the most weighty arguments to secure his conviction. His pen, like that of his great contemporary and parallel, our own modern historian of the Reformation, has successively advocated all causes and all principles, and is prepared, as occasion requires, to contradict any which it has before espoused. Fouché, if he chose to commit his biography to alien hands, could not have selected a more fitting chronicler, nor one more thoroughly formed by nature to understand and appreciate his character; nay, we are prepared to say still farther, that Fouché could not have

[ocr errors]

seemed more veritable, even if he had told his own story for himself.

For notwithstanding the suspicion which necessarily rests upon this work in its present state, we are by no means inclined to reject it in toto, nor to deny its authenticity altogether, because we are in some degree compelled to surrender its claim to genuineness. That some Memoirs, written by Fouché, are in existence, is admitted on all hands. That Beauchamp may have wholly or partially used these is very probable. The main thread of his history, as here given, is undoubtedly true, and it is too much to suppose that all the Tápegya are coined by imagination.

Without any farther comment then, we shall endeavour to put our readers in possession of the chief contents of these Memoirs, having thus far explained the reason which we feel for admitting or rejecting their authenticity. The opening paragraphs may convey no very inadequate impression of the spirit in which the work is composed. These clearly do not partake of that calm impartiality which distinguishes the exordium of the History of the Peloponnesian war, nor of that dignified forgetfulness of self which is the characteristic of the similar pages of our own immortal Clarendon.

"The man who, in turbulent and revolutionary times, was solely indebted for the honours and power with which he was invested, and, in short, for his distinguished fortune, to his own prudence and abilities; who, at first elected a national representative, was, upon the re-establishment of order, an ambassador, three times a minister, a senator, a duke, and one of the principal directors of state affairs; this man would be wanting to himself if, to answer the calumnies of libellers, he descended to apology or captious refutations -he must adopt other means.

"This man, then, is myself. Raised by the Revolution, it is only to a counter one, which I foresaw, and might myself have brought about, but against which at the critical moment I was unprepared, that I owe my downfall.

"This fall has exposed me, defenceless, to the clamours of malignity and the insults of ingratitude;-me, who for a long time invested with a mysterious and terrible power, never wielded it but to calm the passions, disunite factions, and prevent conspiracies;-me, who was never-ceasingly employed in moderating and tempering power, in conciliating and amalgamating the jarring elements and conflicting interests which divided France. No one dares deny that such was my conduct, so long as I exercised any influence in the government or in the councils of the state. What have I, an exile, to oppose to these furious enemies, to this rabble which now persecute me, after having grovelled at my feet? Shall I answer them with the cold declamations of the school, or with refined and academic periods? Certainly not; I will confound them by facts and proofs,



abours, of my thoughts, both as a the faithful recital of the political rcumstances, through which I steered in olence. This is the object I

[ocr errors]

propose to

are not moderate, nor is the qualification succeeded more so, Let me not be cone either for the Revolution, its consequences, aration." Fouché, according to his own brief às entrance into the world, was the son of the privateer, and was at first destined for the sea. Aducated among the Peres de l'Oratoire, of which Body sequently became a member; and the Revolution found engaged in teaching, as Præfect of the College of As he had not taken Orders, he held himself to be perfectly at liberty to become a free thinker, or a philosopher." Under the sanction of the law, he married, at Nantes, with the intention of exercising the profession of the bar; and thus " being morally what the age was,"" neither from imitation nor infatuation, but from reflection and disposition," he was nominated a Representative in the National Convention.


His first introduction into political affairs was in the Committee of Public Instruction, where he connected himself with Condorcet and Vergniaud, the heads of the Girondines. He had previously been acquainted with Robespierre, of whom however he did not approve, and whom he early offended. He was one of the regicide majority which sealed the bloody fate of Louis XVI. and his apology for that vote (written after the restoration of Monarchy) is a fair specimen of the general soundness of his reasoning, and the lofty tone of his morality.

"There was, however, one vote which is unjustifiable; I will even own, without a blush, that it sometimes awakens remorse within me. But I call the God of Truth to witness, that it was far less against the monarch that I aimed the blow (for he was good and just) than against the kingly office, at that time incompatible with the new order of things. I will also add, for concealment is no longer of avail, that it then appeared to me, as to so many others, that we could not inspire the representatives, and the mass of the people, with an energy sufficient to surmount the difficulties of the crisis, but by abandoning every thing like moderation, breaking through all restraint, and indulging the extremity of revolutionary excess. was the reason of state which appeared to us to require this frightful sacrifice. In politics, In politics, even atrocity itself may sometimes produce a salutary effect." Vol. I. p. 14.


[ocr errors]

During the Reign of Terror, while on a mission into the provinces, he was accused by Robespierre of oppressing the patriots, and tampering with the Aristocracy. Being recalled to Paris, he ventured to defend himself from the tribune, and he knew, in consequence, that his proscription was signed. Tallien was for assassinating the Dictator, even in the Convention; but these were not the arms with which Fouché was accustomed to work. He admitted to his confidence three men, than which the annals of the Revolution record none more foully stained, Collot d'Herbois, Carnot, and Billaud de Varennes. Through their agency, he reduced Robespierre to a minority, even when he demanded their heads; and in the end led to his downfall, and to the great convulsion known as the Revolution of the 9th Thermidor. The establishment of the Directory interested him in "the destiny" of Buonaparte, whose cannon had supported the new Government; yet for three years, Fouché "obtained," even according to his own account, "no employment, respect nor credit." Barras at length offered him a second-rate place, which he refused; but he accepted a share in some Government contracts (fournitures), which laid the foundation of his subsequent enormous wealth; and in return, previous to the 18th Fructidor, he warned Barras of his danger, by "suggestions" and "prophetic conversations." These were not without their price; for, at the close of 1798, having declined all subaltern favours, he stepped forward at once as Ambassador from the French to the Cisalpine Republic.

[ocr errors]

Sieyes, it is well known, intended Joubert for the head of the "social compact," which he was labouring to establish. Among other assistants, he wanted a firm and active Police; and on the 1st of August 1799, Fouché accepted the direction of this most difficult branch of government, and entered upon it with the following views :

"I raised myself mentally above my functions, and felt not the least fear at their importance. In two hours I fully understood all my official powers. I did not, however, fatigue myself with considering the ministry intrusted to me in its minor details of arrangement. As things were situated, I felt that all the powers and abili ties of a minister must be absorbed in the high police; the rest might safely be left to the chefs de bureau. My only study was, therefore, to seize with a steady and sure hand all the springs of the secret police, and all the elements composing it. I first insisted that, for these essential reasons, the local police of Paris, called the bureau central· (the prefecture did not then exist), should be placed entirely under my control. I found all the constituent elements in the most deplorable state of confusion and decay. The treasury was empty, and without money, no police. I had soon money at my command,

[ocr errors]

by making the vice inherent in this great city contribute to the safety of the state. My first act was to put a stop to a tendency to insubordination, in which some of the chefs de bureau belonging to active factions indulged themselves; but I judged it necessary not to introduce hasty reforms' or ameliorations in the details. I restricted myself, simply, to concentrating the high police within my own cabinet, with the assistance of an intimate and faithful secretary. I felt that I alone should be judge of the political state of the interior, and that spies and secret agents should only be considered as indications and instruments often doubtful: in a word, I felt that the high police was not administered by memorials and long reports; that there were means far more efficacious; for example, that the minister himself should place himself in contact with the men of greatest influence, over all opinions and doctrines, and over the superior classes of society. This system never failed me, and I was better acquainted with France, veiled in mystery by means of oral and confidential communications, and by widely-grasping conversations, than by the heaps of written rubbish which continually passed under my eyes. Thus, nothing essential to the safety of the state ever escaped me, as will be proved in the sequel." Vol. I. p. 67.

One of his first and boldest steps was the suppression of Clubs. He then manœuvred with the western Royalists, and tranquillized them by some treacherous emissaries, whom he gained from their own body. The Press was to be next attacked, but the death of Joubert at Novi paralysed the Directory for a few days. The insinuation in the following passage can scarcely be mistaken :

"I have questioned ocular witnesses respecting the event, who seemed persuaded that the murderous ball was fired from a small country-house, by some hired ruffian, the musquetry of the enemy not being within reach of the group of staff-officers, in the middle of which was Joubert, when he came up to encourage the advanced guard, which was giving way. It has even been said, that the shot was fired by a Corsican chasseur of our light troops. But let us not endeavour to unravel a dreadful mystery by conjectures or facts not sufficiently substantiated. I leave you, Joubert! said Buonaparte, on setting off for Egypt." Vol. I. p. 79.

With a sagacious foresight of the approaching change, Fouché now ingratiated himself with the family of Buonaparte. He included Josephine in the number of those who received secret pecuniary assistance from gambling licences, and he gave her with his own hands one thousand louis. Our limits will not permit us to detail the well known particulars of Buonaparte's return, and the revolution of the 18th Brumaire. If little that was untold before is now related by Fouché, his account has, at least, the merit of great life and vigour. It is corroborated by all the published de

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »