26 September 1789: Debates in the Assemblée Nationale

[Discussion of Necker’s proposition.] To my great Astonishment the Representatives of this Nation, who pique themselves on being the modern Athenians, are ready to swallow this Proposition by Acclamation. The President, Clermont de Tonerre, who perceives its Tendency, throws into a different Form the Style of Adoption. Mirabeau immediately rises and very adroitly parries the Stroke by shewing that this Form is not consistent with his View which the Assembly seemed willing to comply with, that certainly a Subject of such Magnitude should not be carried by Acclamation without having the specific Form before them, and that if he were to propose a Form it would require at least a quarter of an Hour to consider and prepare it. He is immediately (by Acclamation) ordered to redact his Proposition, and while he is about it the Bishop D’Autun retires. We remark it; my Friend acknowleges [sic] that they are in League together; the World already suspect that Union. During their Absence there is a great Deal of noisy Debate on various Subjects, if indeed such Controversy may be dignified with the Name of Debate. At length Mirabeau returns and brings his Motion forward in Consistence with his original Idea. The Assembly now perceive the Trap, and during the Tumult Lally de Tollendal proposes that the Motion be sent to the Committee of Finances to frame an Act (Arrêté). Here again Mirabeau manoeuvres to evade that Coup and while the House are hung up in their Judgment, or rather entangled from the Want of Judgment, D’Espresmenil makes a Motion coincident with that of Mirabeau in Substance tho contrarient in Form. There is not sufficient Confidence in him and therefore his Proposition drops, but it would seem from hence that he is in the Faction with D’Autun and Mirabeau, or that the same Principle of Hatred to Neckar has operated a Coincidence of Conduct on the present Occasion. After this, Tumult and Noise continue to reign.

A diary of the French revolution, by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816. Ed. by Beatrix Cary Davenport. Vol. 1 (Boston, 1939), p.232.

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