MIRABEAU, IloxoRE GABRIEL It..tQuEvrr, Comte de, was b. Mar. 9, 1749, at Bignon, near Nemours. He was descended, by his own account, from the ancient Florentine family of Arrighetti, who, being expelled from their native city in 1268, on account of Ghibelline politics, settled in Provence. Jean de Riquetti or Arrighetti purchased the estate of Mirabeau in 1562; his grandson, Thomas, happened to entertain here, in 1660, Louis XIV. and cardinal Mazarin, on which occasion he received from the monarch the title of marquis Victor Riquetti. Marquis de Mirabean (b. 1715, d. 1789), the father of Vonore, was a vain and foolish mall, wasted his patrimony, wrote books of philan thropy and philosophy, as L'Alni des Hammes (5 vols Par. 1755), and was a cruel tyrant in his own house. He procured no fewer than 54 lettres de cachet at different times against his wife and his children. Honore, his eldest son, was endowed with an athletic frame and extraordinary mental abilities, but was of a fiery temper, and disposed to every kind of excess. He became a lieut. in a cavalry regiment; but continued to prosecute various branches of study with great eagerness, whilst outrunning his cory panions in a career of vice. An intrigue with the youthful wife of an aged marquis brought him into danger, and he fled with her to Switzerland, and thence to Holland, where he subsisted by his pen, amongst other productions of which his Essai sur is Des potisme attracted great attention. Meanwhile, sentence of death was pronounced against ° him; and the French minister, at his father's instigation, that he should be delivered up to justice, he and his paramour were apprehended at Amsterdam, and he was brought to the dungeon at Vincennes, and there closely imprisoned for 42 months: During this time he was often in great want, but employed himself in literary labors, writing an Essai sur les Lettres de Cachet et les Prisons d'etat, which was published at Hamburg (2 vols. 1782), and a number of obscene tales, by which he disgraced his genius, although their sale supplied his necessities. After his liberation from prison, he subsisted literary labor, and still led a very profligate life. He wrote many effective political pamphlets, particularlyagainst the financial administration of Calonne, receiving pecuniary assistance, it was said, from some of the great bunkers of Paris; and became one of the leaders of the liberal party. When the states-general were convened, he sought to be elected as a representative of the nobles of Provence, but was rejected by them on the ground of his want of property; and left them with the threat that, like Marius, he would overthrow the aristocracy. He purchased a draper's shop, offered himself as a candidate to the third estate, and was enthusiastically returned both at Aix and Marseilles. Tie chose to represent Marseilles, and by his talents and admirable
oratorical powers soon acquired great influence in the states-general and national assem bly. Barnave well characterized him as "the Shakespeare of eloquence." He stood forth as the opponent of the court and of the aristocracy, but regarded the country as by no means ripe for the extreme changes proposed by political theorists, and labored, not for the overthrow of the monarchy, but for the abolition of despotism, and the establishment of a constitutional throne. To suppress insurrection he effected, oa July 8, 1789, the institution of the national guard, In some • of the contests which followed, he sacrificed his popularity to maintain the throne, The more that anarchy and revolu tionary frenzy prevailed. the more decided did he become in his resistance to their wog ress; but it was not easy to maintain the cause of constitutional liberty at once against the supporters of the ancient despotism and the extreme revolutionists. The king and his friends were long unwilling to enter into any relations with one so disreputable, but at last, under the pressure of necessity, it was resolved that Mirabeau should be invited to become minister. No sooner was this known than a combination of the most oppo site parties, by a decree of Nov. 7, 1789, forbade the appointment of a deputy as minis ter. From this time forth Mirabeau strove in vain in favor of the most indispensable prerogatives of the crown, and in so doing exposed himself to popular indignation. lie still continued the struggle, however, with wonderful ability, and sought to reconcile the court and the revolution. In Dec.; 1790, he was elected president of the club of the Jacobins, and in Feb., 1791, of the national assembly. Both in the club and in the assembly he displayed great boldness and energy; but soon after his appointment as pregident of the latter, he sank into a state of bodily and mental weakness, consequent upon his great exertions and his continued debaucheries, and died April 2, 1701. Ile was interred with great pomp in the church of St. Genevieve, the " Pantheon ;" but his body was afterwards removed to make room for that of Marat. A complete edition of his works was published at Paris in 9 vols. in 1825-27. His natural son, Lucas Mon tigny, published Mentoires lliographiqucs, Litteruires et PoWipes de Mirabeau (2d edit. 8 vols. Par. 1841), the most complete account which we have of his life. See also Cm lyle's sketch of )tirabeau in his Miscellaneous Essays and his French Revolution.