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Chapter 6

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Life of Miranda

by
William Spence Robertson

The University of North Carolina Press
1929

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Chapter 8

Vol. I
p142
Chapter VII

Experiences in France, 1793‑1797

After his triumphant acquittal Miranda entered upon another phase of his varied career. As England was at war with France, he was not drawn to London. An ex‑general who was not ready absolutely to disavow the French Revolution and all its works could scarcely hope to enjoy a peaceful asylum across the channel. His quondam protector, the Czarina, had been grievously shocked at the excesses of the French; and it seems, too, that at this juncture Miranda had completely lost touch with her. Further, although he was inclined to doubt the wisdom of certain revolutionary policies, yet he had formed attachments in France. He loved the Parisian milieu. Lastly, there is reason to believe that he had not utterly relinquished the dream of emancipating his native land by the aid of French soldiers. Hence he lived in or near Paris for four years longer. Yet he ran a risk by sojourning in the French capital; for the philosophical enthusiast, as Miss Williams characterized him, did not enjoy the favor of radical leaders. The sequel will amply show that this poetess was right when she said that General Miranda was one of "the particular objects of Robespierre's rage."1

Miranda soon rented apartments from Tissot at Belleville, a suburb of Paris. To these quarters he transported his books, engravings, manuscripts, pictures, and sculptures. It was undoubtedly his intention to arrange the voluminous papers concerning his travels and military service. About this time he resumed his acquaintance with Thomas Paine, to whom he evidently made known his relations with Hamilton, Knox, and Pitt. Miranda was soon forced to realize that he was under surveillance. Though officials of Belleville later declared that his conduct was irreproachable,2 yet one of his servants was  p143 arrested, and his house was searched by the police.3

Meantime he had composed an account of his trial in two volumes which was to be illustrated by his picture drawn by the painter Jean Lebarbier. Subsequently, however, the proof sheets of this work were destroyed by Stone, who had advanced the money for its publication, because of a fear that otherwise he would himself be dragged to the guillotine.4 Still there were preserved two portraits of the general that differed slightly in style. After being engraved by Gaucher, one of them was later used by Miranda to adorn treatises dealing with certain phases of his career.

Early in July, 1793, the Committee of Public Safety directed that Miranda should be arrested and that his papers should be placed under a seal. By order of the Parisian police on July 9 he was thrust into the prison of La Force; an entry in its register stated that the cause of his incarceration was "not explained."5 A police report complained, however, that among Miranda's friends were some disaffected Frenchmen, as well as Stone, who was suspected of being Pitt's agent.6 The prisoner's valet alleged that his master had tried to prevent him from registering in the National Guard.7 Cambon informed the National Convention that Miranda was implicated in a royalist conspiracy. In a harangue which he was allowed to make before the Convention the suspect rightly declared that the magistrates of Belleville had exonerated him. Against his imprisonment he protested in vigorous words. He demanded revenge for "this infringement on liberty. I read the justice of my cause in the Constitution: 'There is oppression against society when one citizen is oppressed.' * * * Yes, citizen-legislators, I am oppressed, — I, who have always been the strongest supporter of liberty!"

 p144  As reflections were cast upon the actions of the committee that had been sent by the Convention to Belgium, Delacroix arose to defend it and to denounce Miranda's conduct. "He claims that we sent him to Paris without hearing him, but how could we speak to him when his soldiers had been vainly searching for him for three days?"8 Without being given an opportunity to repel that imputation, Miranda was remanded to prison. On August 12, 1793, he denied Cambon's allegation and again protested against his arbitrary imprisonment.

In vain did Montané express a noble opinion of the incarcerated general: "I found in Miranda a man with a well-disciplined mentality, a man who was constantly studying literature, science, and art. * * * He is a man of the highest morality, not only incapable of conspiracy and intrigue but a true republican by virtue and principle, a man who constantly admires nature, — in fine a man of the rarest merit."9 During the early days of his imprisonment Miranda committed to paper these justificatory reflections concerning his conduct: "I am a free man in chains. I am an innocent man imprisoned as a measure of general security." He added that he had had liaisons "with the warmest friends of liberty and equality in England, France, and the United States," and that he had "exposed his life to promote the triumph of the French Republic against her external enemies."10

Though he may not at first have suspected it, Miranda had incurred the dislike of Maximilien Robespierre, the cold, proud character who had acquired a dominant influence on the Committee of Public Safety. That enigmatical leader of the Mountain dreamed of establishing the reign of virtue in a purified France. Fanatically intolerant of those who did not accept his dogmas, he became the chief director of the Reign of Terror.

[image ALT: An oval head-and‑shoulders portrait in oils, three-quarters left, of a man in very plain late‑18c dress. He has a triangular and rather feminine face, thin lips, pronounced eyebrows, and an intelligent air. He is the French revolutionary lander Maximilien Robespierre.]

Maximilien Robespierre. Painting by Pierre Danloux in the Musée de Versailles.

With regard to Miranda, as with respect to less fortunate victims of the tyrant's enmity, it is difficult to say whether the  p145 persecution was inspired by a personal hatred or by a desire to make Virtue triumph. While Miranda was languishing in a dungeon, the implacable tyrant delivered a harangue in which he denounced him as a member of the Girondists.11 Miss Williams took the view that "the real cause of Robespierre's animosity towards him is not well known, but may be resolved into that general hatred which he bore towards all men of talents. * * * Twice, in the zenith of his tyranny, he accused Miranda to his subjects, the Jacobins. The only obstacle which shielded Miranda, added the poetess, was a feeling of shame in Fouquier-Tinville who put off the "second trial required by Robespierre, till the tyrant would hear of delay and excuses no more; and himself inscribed Miranda's name on the fatal list for twelfth of Thermidor."12 She thus described the philosophic manner in which the general disciplined himself for any contingency:

"Miranda submitted to an imprisonment of eighteen months, under the continual expectation of death, with that philosophical strength of mind which he possesses in a most eminent degree. He had indeed determined not to be dragged to the guillotine, and had therefore provided himself with poison. Thus armed, he sent for a considerable number of books from his library, and placed them in his little chamber, of which he found means to keep the sole possession. Here he told me, that he endeavored to forget his present situation in the study of history and science. He tried to consider himself as a passenger on a long voyage, who had to fill up the vacuity of time with the researches of knowledge, and was alike prepared to perish or to reach the shore."13

Even in La Force the life of Miranda was thronged with interesting incidents. He soon became acquainted with distinguished Frenchmen who were incarcerated there. Among them were two Girondists, Valazé and Vergniaud, and Adam Lux, the deputy who was an admirer of Charlotte Corday. L. A. Champagneux, who was sent to prison from a post in the ministry  p146 of the interior, became one of the South American's intimate friends.

According to Champagneux's reminiscences, he and Miranda frequently conversed about politics and war. The Frenchman declared that the ex‑general was an ardent champion of the rules by which the audacious Marshal Turenne had won victories for Louis XIV. From these conversations Champagneux gained the impression that Miranda would not consent to win a battle except by following the principles of warfare which had been employed by Alexander and Caesar. Achille du Châtelet, a scholar and a lover of liberty, tried to act as judge of the debates in which Champagneux praised the strategy of French commanders. In the discussions of Champagneux and Miranda about leading political systems of the world, the latter displayed much fondness for the government of England. He declared that her Constitution was the best which the world had ever known; for only under it, said he, did men enjoy complete civil liberty. The Venezuelan praised Pitt. Robespierre he denounced in phrases that glowed with indignation!14

One after another Miranda's companions passed out of the prison. In October, 1793, Adam Lux was summoned before the Revolutionary Tribunal whence he was speedily sent to the guillotine. The debates between Valazé and Vergniaud were sternly interrupted by a summons to the former to appear before the dread tribunal. During a despondent mood, in March, 1794, Achille du Châtelet committed suicide. In an annotation to Du Châtelet's memorandum affirming that he had sold to Miranda his property in La Force, the ostensible buyer wrote the following commentary: "This is the manner in which this virtuous and unfortunate friend, who had determined to swallow poison, undertook to devise to me his books and other valuable property as a token of remembrance."15 Among the books that Du Châtelet thus bequeathed  p147 to his fellow prisoner were the works of Franklin, Bossuet, and Hobbes, Cook's Voyages, Young's Travels, and the Voyages of La Hontan. It was about this time that on being led to her execution, Madame Roland raised her eyes to the statue of liberty placed near the guillotine, and exclaimed: Oh! liberté comme on t'a jouée!

Soon afterwards Champagneux, Miranda, and other prisoners were transferred from La Force to the Madelonnettes, an asylum for repentant prostitutes which was being utilized as a prison. Here they were confined in very uncomfortable quarters. Miranda now prepared a fresh protest against his detention. One of his companions in the Madelonnettes, an architect and sculptor named Antoine Chrisostome Quatremère de Quincy, was much attracted by Miranda's dynamic personality. In a sketch of the Venezuelan that this artist published at Paris after being released, he thus apostrophized his fellow countrymen:

"Frenchmen! if one could doubt that Miranda is at the same time a most enlightened friend as well as a passionate lover of liberty and equality, it would be necessary to deny the existence of a love of liberty! * * * If liberty were banished from the rest of the globe, the heart of Miranda would serve as its last asylum. * * * Do not consider the cause of Miranda simply as that of an individual. A single man may decide the destiny of an entire nation. Behold the people still oppressed by the yoke of Spanish despotism who will some day reproach you for having deprived them of a liberator!"16

From a refuge beyond prison walls Quatremère de Quincy wrote to Miranda to assure him that he had taken measures to promote of his release. The artist asked him to have a little more patience and to confide in the zeal of his friends.17 After a conference with Lebarbier and a bookseller named Barrois l'ainé, Quatremère de Quincy indited this message to the prisoner: "As for myself, I shall enjoy neither happiness, nor  p148 pleasure, nor liberty until I can share them with our dear general whom I cordially embrace."18 At the prisoner's request, Barrois l'ainé sent him one hundred and fifty books, and expressed the opinion that he would eventually be set free.19 In a bitter spirit Robespierre's victim responded: "One would certainly have to be a tree or a stone to remain quietly incarcerated without knowing anything about the steps taken for his liberation. * * * The slowness with which they act in respect to me is really tyrannical and insupportable."20 However Miranda was not destined to be dragged in a cart to the guillotine in the days of the Grande Terreur.

News of the tragic downfall and death of Robespierre in the midsummer of 1794, had renewed the hopes of the Moderates who were confided in Paris dungeons. In August, 1794, Champagneux bade farewell to his fellow prisoners in the Madelonnettes. A strange delay in his release galled Miranda; hence on October 7 he addressed a protest to the Committee of Public Safety. In it he asserted that he had been kept in prison because of Robespierre's enmity. In addition, he intimated that Spain's minions had intrigued against him in order to thwart his schemes for the emancipation of the Spanish Indies.21 Champagneux soon wrote to his companion in misfortune to ask that he should give friendly advice to his son who was about to pursue military studies in Paris. "If he has the opportunity of seeing you," said Champagneux, "I beg that you will inspire him with a love for labor and for the cause which he has embraced; this advice from your lips will be the most powerful encouragement for him in his career. If you will be so good as to permit him to see you occasionally, I shall entertain no doubt of his good conduct and success."22

From La Force whither he had been transferred, early in 1795 Miranda sent another protest to the National Convention  p149 against his treatment. He alleged that he was the only person imprisoned by the Tyrant who had not been released.23 At last, on the motion of Pelet, who praised him as an enemy of slavery and a friend of liberty, in the middle of January, the Convention decreed that Miranda should be set free.24 Though the Terror had ceased, yet gruesome scenes met the eyes of the Venezuelan as he passed through the streets of the city which had not inaptly been likened to a human abattoir.

Soon after his release the general sent a letter to his old friend Knox that described his mood in this sentence: "I take up the pen only to tell you that I live, and that my sentiments for our dear Colombia as well as for all my friends in that part of the world have not changed in the least in spite of the events which are bound to ruin France."25 On March 17, 1795, Miranda leased lodgings in a house in Rue St. Florentin at an annual rent of two thousand four hundred livres.26 As he secured the option of renting his apartments for three, six, or nine years, the general, as he still styled himself, evidently contemplated residing in the Tuileries section of Paris for an indefinite period. As after his arrival in Paris funds had been advanced to Miranda by Stone, upon taking up his residence near the Tuileries the ex‑general must have been in dire financial straits.

On April 20, 1795, he addressed to the Committee of Public Safety a claim for money that was owning him. He stated that he had not been fully paid for his military service to the Republic. He wished to be compensated for his horses, carriages, and clothing which had been sequestrated in 1793, and which he alleged had never been returned. Further, he asked to be reimbursed for the rental of the apartments where his property had been kept under seal during his incarceration.  p150 Lastly, he demanded to be indemnified for his recent imprisonment by the payment of a salary as French general from August, 1793, to January, 1795.27 On July 29, at a joint meeting of the Committee of Public Safety and the Committee of Finance of the National Convention, the decision was reached that in addition to 11,932 livres in assignats and 4,350 livres in specie which France had already paid Miranda for his services, to satisfy his claim he should be given 35,002 livres in specie and 21,104 livres in assignats.28

There is no available proof, however, that this compensation was paid by the French Government. On the other side, allegations later made by Miranda indicate that his claim was never completely liquidated.29 In a will drawn up in 1805 he made the statement that France still owed him for military service, which he arrogantly claimed lasted until March, 1801, some 10,000 louis d'or.30

Yet neglect on the part of France to keep the flattering pledge given by Servan did not curb the ex‑general's extravagance. A visit, on May 12, 1795, of the Danish poet, Jean Immanuel Baggsen, to Rue St. Florentin helps us momentarily to pierce the glamor that envelops this epoch of Miranda's career and to catch a fleeting glimpse of his private life. Baggsen declared that Miranda was now devoting himself to "the Muses and the Graces in truly enchanting lodgings near the Tuileries." The poet affirmed that, much dissatisfied with the course of events in France, this "veritable Don Quixote of Republicanism" was consoling himself by "the study of science and art." He has the most select little library and the most tasteful rooms that I have ever beheld. A visitor might indeed believe himself at Athens in the house of Pericles."31

A fascinating story about a dinner party that Miranda held about this time was told by the lady who became the Duchesse d'Abrantès:

 p151  "One day Napoleon said to us: 'I dined today at the home of a remarkable man. I believe him to be a spy of both England and Spain. He lodges on the third floor and is furnished like a satrap. In the midst of this luxury he complains of poverty and then gives us dinners prepared by Méo and served on dishes of silver. This is a bizarre circumstance which I should like to have explained. I dined there with men of the greatest importance. There is one whom I should like to meet again: he is a Don Quixote, — with this difference, that he is not mad.' When my mother asked his name, he responded, 'It is General Miranda; that man has a sacred fire in his soul.' * * * Miranda had a face and figure that were uncommon rather because of their originality than because of their beauty: he had the Spanish eye of fire, a tawny skin, and lips that were thin and spiritual even in their silence; his countenance brightened as soon as he began to speak, — which he did with inconceivable rapidity. In the depths of his soul there must be the flame of a sacred fire."32

In the autumn of 1796 a dispute broke out between Stone and Miranda which incidentally affords further information about the latter's mode of life. From a statement drawn up by Miranda it appears that beginning in June, 1793, the Englishman had generously loaned sums of money to him, that Stone had not been fully reimbursed, and that a difference of opinion had developed as to the exact amount which was still owing. A question also arose as to who was to be held accountable for printing the volumes on Miranda's trial that the Englishman had destroyed. The decline in the value of assignats complicated these transactions, as well as the fact that certain monies sent to Stone by Miranda had been stolen from his creditor's house. It is difficult to determine the exact truth in this matter; hence we shall content ourselves with a quotation from one of Stone's letters that casts a ray of light on the manner in which Miranda supported an extensive establishment:

 p152  "As to myself, General, I am more disappeared than dissatisfied. My attachment to you was founded on the purest feelings of public and private virtue. I shall only repeat that I early saw in your proceedings sometimes imprudence, and sometimes indecorum — imprudence in displaying a pomp, unsuited to your circumstances, and indecorum in putting your friends to the expense of providing the means; to myself, who was intimately acquainted with all your circumstances, it went sometimes so far, as to have the air of extreme culpability, bordering on moral deficiency, but I have never whispered this sentiment to anyone."33

Stone's intimate friend, Miss Williams, alleged that the impecunious South American was not without political aspirations. "Miranda was ambitious," she said, "but he was so little of a royalist that he was fully convinced that the French would designate him as one of the two consuls who, in the opinion of many people, would be put at the head of the new government. He had indeed promised me very seriously that in the case of his elevation, 'he would consecrate his days to the cause of empire; and that in the evenings he would rejoin our literary circle.' "34 Whether or not Miranda beheld such visions, it is clear that he was dissatisfied with the existing Constitution of France.

In July, 1795, he published a pamphlet maintaining that France was on the verge of a precipice from which only the combined action of virtuous men could rescue her. He argued against the concentration of power in one body and urged that the three departments of government should be separated. In the framing and sanctioning of laws he held that both houses of the legislature should have the same authority. With respect to foreign policy he declared himself against territorial expansion; he maintained that France should retire within her former boundary which should be protected by a line of fortresses. The people who lived between this boundary  p153 and the Rhine should be declared free; and the evacuated territories should then serve as buffer states. Adjoining nations should be assured of the free navigation of French rivers that flowed through their territories.

With respect to colonial policy, he advocated that France should exchange some of her less important islands for the Spanish portion of Santo Domingo, while she should secure Puerto Rico in exchange for territory that French soldiers occupied in Spain as the result of the campaigns of 1793, 1794, and 1795.35 Miranda evidently did not favor a plan of campaign broached to him by Servan that involved the conquest of northern Spain and perhaps also the acquisition by France of portions of Spanish America.36 However the Treaty of Basel, which marked the end of the First Coalition, provided for the cession of the Spanish part of Santo Domingo to France. Soon afterwards the Venezuelan was again considered for a post in the French West Indies. On September 7, 1795, Vergniaud wrote to Miranda and declared that only he was capable of governing Santo Domingo not only because he was "as good a general as a republican" but also because he knew "the manners and character of the people better than anyone else" and could inspire them with confidence.37 Yet this design, which Vergniaud had recommended to certain deputies, was also blighted; for soon afterwards Miranda was denounced to the National Convention as a member of the faction that opposed the expansion of France.

The government established in accordance with the Constitution of 1795 was thus compelled to pass upon Miranda's fate. This Constitution placed executive power in a board of five men designated the Directory, while legislative authority was vested in two chambers, the Council of Five Hundred, and the Council of Ancients. In the end of October, upon the advice of Merlin de Douai, minister of police, the Council of Five  p154 Hundred promulgated a decree providing for the provisional arrest of Miranda in company with other persons who were supposed to be conspirators.38 Before being seized by the police, Miranda again busied himself framing protests in which he defended his conduct and demanded justification. The result was that on November 27, 1795, he was again arrested; his papers and correspondence were again examined in search of incriminatory documents. Clapped into the prison of Plessis, on December 11 he addressed a protest to the Council of Five Hundred.39 This body decided that, according to a practice which had been adopted in other cases, Miranda should be allowed, under police surveillance, to visit his friends. Miss Williams thus narrates what ensued:

"The first use that Miranda made of this permission was to visit us with his guardian. Our friendship for him indeed was so strong that to make his position more endurable, we consented to have him as a guest, on condition of entertaining also the police officer. It would have been difficult to make a greater sacrifice to friendship. The time arrived, however, when Miranda became tired of the surveillance to which he had been subjected; he also forgot the voluntary restraint under which we had been placed in order to receive him. Hence one evening after dinner, ignoring our attachment, scorning the danger of compromising us, and disdaining the great principles about which he descanted, he walked around while drinking his coffee, opened the door, and vanished. "40

While he was passing his life in and out of prison, Miranda was carrying on an interesting correspondence with various friends. With Madame Delphine de Custine, whom he had first met in La Force where her husband was for a time confined, Miranda had an affaire de coeur. In the summer of 1795, when she went on a trip to Switzerland, the philandering refugee intrusted her with a letter to Johann Lavater. When Madame Custine left Zurich a few months later, Lavater  p155 wrote her an epistle inclosing a message for Miranda. "He is a man," said the Swiss, "who is actually composed of a world of men." To the revolutionary he said, "You are always first in my thoughts, — a man whom I can never forget, * * * an energetic man, who maintains himself in whirlpools of revolutions, of intrigues, and of cabals."41 On the fly‑leaf of a little tract that he sent to Miranda the physiognomist inscribed this unique greeting: "You have a thousand friends who are stronger, but not any who are any more sincere admirers of you than am I."42 Lavater had already filed with his collection of portraits the following appreciation of Miranda the American:

"Almighty man! You thrive on the feeling of power! Not deceived by the spoken word, you search out secrets within the heart! Who divines like you? Whom does so little escape? Who surmises so well every weakness of the weak? Who surmises so well the mighty power of each? With what strength, what power, what versatility, what haughtiness, and what courage has Nature endowed you!"

In the end of 1795 Miranda dined at the Danish Legation, and had an exchange of letters with the famous Madame de Staël. She sent him a brief note as a testimonial of her lasting esteem and expressed a desire to see him again before her impending departure for Switzerland.43 In December from a retreat in the country General Duhamel sent Miranda this tribute: "I have learned through journals about the slight success of your efforts to defend against arbitrary authority not only your own cause but also that of all citizens. This made me indignant; for I conceive that during a régime of crime and anarchy you have been for three years the victim of factions and of party spirit."44

Meantime the Parisian police and their quarry were having  p156 a game of hide and seek. Early in December, 1795, Miranda had solicited them for a respite from their persecutions so that he might be able to visit his lodgings without being accompanied by a gendarme.45 On December 15 he sent a protest to the Executive Power from Mesnil, one of the communes bearing that name in the department of Seine-et‑Oise, to ask that he be granted a passport for Copenhagen, that he be paid certain sums still owning him by the French Government, and that he be afforded an opportunity to arrange his affairs.46 Through a new‑found acquaintance named Dupéron, an employee in the French Department of Foreign Affairs, on January 13, 1796, the fugitive published a letter in the Journal de Paris denouncing his persecution. Fifteen days later, in response to a request for a contribution to a forced loan, Miranda sent from Mesnil a letter which was soon published in that journal. In this communication he satirically pointed out that the Executive Power had recently designated him as an alien who should be expelled from France, but that it now classed him as a French citizen who should be taxed. However, he avowed his desire to show his sincere devotion to the Republic even in the ruined state of his fortunes. In a humorous vein he directed the French treasury to transfer to the tax collector the sum of eleven thousand livres which was to be deducted from the amount still owing him by the government.

As a result of these letters and of the representations of his friends there developed in Paris a sentiment against Miranda's threatened arrest. The courageous deputy, Jean Denis Lanjuinais, who had conferred with the police regarding his suspected friend, sent Miranda an assurance that he could remain in France in "the most perfect security; that, if the government should decide to execute its decree of arrest, its orders would still have to be transmitted to the police; that the silence of the government constitutes a tacit revocation  p157 of this decree, and that besides, if it should happen that new orders should arrive, I shall be advised in time, so that you can be warned."47 Hence, although the Directory had on December 6, 1795, ordered that Miranda should be arrested and in company with Marchena escorted by gendarmes to Switzerland, yet he still continued to reside in or near Paris.

In his secret asylum a letter from Champagneux reached Miranda conveying the news that fresh calumniators had accused him of abetting Pitt and other enemies of France who were fomenting a conspiracy. Champagneux deemed this an opportune occasion to express an opinion of his "dear companion in misfortune." He avowed that during an ordeal lasting a year, "he had always found his friend the same, that is to say, a lover of liberty but of a liberty which admits as companions only truth and justice."48 Upon becoming aware that his lodgings in Rue St. Florentin had again been visited by the police, in April, 1796, Miranda addressed an indignant protest to the judge of his district maintaining that the law concerning aliens should not be directed against himself and boldly demanding that "this strange persecution should cease."49 In the summer of that year the police of Paris, who kept a watchful eye upon him, intimated that he was sojourning with his "mistress."

Meantime Miranda had not relinquished his interest in learning. A certificate signed by Barrois l'ainé, Lebarbier, and an architect named Le Grand, attested their belief in his "keen and enlightened taste for art and letters."50 With Quatremère de Quincy, who had been proscribed because of complicity in a conspiracy, Miranda engaged in an interesting exchange of opinions about history and art. The persecuted South American visited this friend in a secret refuge and proposed that they should correspond about the dangers which menaced the art treasures of Rome because of the spoliation  p158 of Napoleon who had subjugated northern Italy. In response to a letter from Miranda the artist wrote: "I am not surprised at the profundity with which you treat this subject, because it is true that what you furnish me in the form of letters is nothing else than the sketch of a tract which you intend to publish on this topic. You will not doubt that under a foreign sky the ancient statues will lose the instructive virtue which artists went to seek in Rome."51

[image ALT: An engraved oval head-and‑shoulders portrait in oils, profile left, of a man in fairly plain late‑18c military dress but with an extravagant headdress: a bicorn larger than his yead with a wide ribbon border and an elaborate cockade, and surmounted by eight ostrich feathers. He wears his hair long: curly to wavy, it reaches his shoulders. He doesn't look very bright, with a look that is curiously both vapid and somewhat absorbed. He is the young general Napoleon Bonaparte.]

Napoleon Bonaparte as a General of the French Revolution. Drawing by Jean Guérin. Engraving by Tapinois. In the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Even while he was incarcerated in the Madelonnettes Miranda was in touch with Americans. A message reached him from Thomas Paine, who had recently been released from prison in the Luxembourg, to the effect that James Monroe, "the present Minister from the United States of America, will do everything in his power to serve you."52 In reply, writing in the third person, Miranda thanked Monroe for "his humanity and attention" and expressed the wish that "Mr. Paine would be so kind, as to call upon him and have a few minutes conversation — the interest of America and those of Liberty are concerned."53 Whether or not the author of Common Sense talked about human liberty with her imprisoned devotee, it is clear that he mentioned to Minister Monroe certain manuscripts in Miranda's possession relating to "a negotiation with Mr. Pitt, confided to M. Miranda some time since by Messrs. Hamilton and Knox, the other of which was to adopt some effectual measure to liberate South America." When, on the eve of his return to the United States, Monroe asked Miranda to intrust him with these documents, however, the dissembling advocate of Spanish-American independence responded that Paine was mistaken.54 Yet on April 1, 1797, Miranda transmitted copies of the correspondence to Alexander Hamilton with a suggestive letter from which we extract the following:

 p159  "It is after the lapse of four years that I take up the pen to tell you that I am still in the number of living who remain in France after the Tyranny. * * * Adieu, my dear friend, continue to support with courage the cause of liberty that so many brigands and dunces have dishonored during the past five years while pretending to defend it. I am associated here, — and because of that am still persecuted, — with a small number of those persons who know liberty and who defend her sincerely; may Providence grant us success, at least for the welfare of this country and for the tranquillity of other countries! I have just received a letter from Mr. Monroe through his secretary, Mr. Prevost. The content of this letter makes me suspect a cabal or intrigue of Paine and Monroe. With them I have never had any liaison."55

Miranda did not altogether forget to look after his financial affairs; for he addressed to Barthélemy, who had become Director under the Constitution of 1795, a request that he should be paid the money due him for his military service.56 Evidently the ex‑general did not contemplate remaining indefinitely in Paris under a cloud. On August 21, 1797, he made a new disposition of his property. In an odd testament he asked Barrois l'ainé to Thessalonica charge of his "books, engravings, pictures, and other objects of art. * * * He is to conserve all these articles carefully until I make some other disposition of them. In case it should be necessary to send them outside of France, he will arrange this with Citizen Le Grand who is also charged with the care of the pictures, busts and replicas of sculptures." Miranda promised that as soon as possible he would transmit funds in order "to satisfy some small debts" which he had incurred. Whatever might happen to him, his executors were to make certain that his maid, Françaiseº Pelicier, should not come to want. In case of the testator's demise, Barrois, Clérisseau, and Le Grand, his executors, were to sell his property, and, after paying his debts, were to give the residue to his maid as "a recompense for the service and fidelity"  p160 that she had given him during his persecution.57

Even though the Venezuelan continued to reside in or near Paris after the coup d'état of September 4, 1797, when his name was included in the list of persons who were to be deported to Guiana, yet that proscription marks a turning point in his life. It doubtless provoked him to leave France. Still, because of the responsible position which he had held in the French army, he had gained a valuable training in the art of war. It is not an exaggeration to say that, with the possible exception of José de San Martín, no other Spanish American of this epoch received a better military training than Francisco de Miranda.

As a result of his long residence in France he had been profoundly influenced by the philosophy of her Revolution. There was no Spanish American who was better lessoned than Miranda in the doctrines, the method, and the spirit of the French Jacobins. Though at times he expressed much disgust at the revolutionary excesses which he had witnessed in Paris, yet it seems probable that in 1797 he was more determined than ever to strive for the emancipation of his native land. Miranda's lodgings had doubtless served as a rendezvous for adventurous plotters who were interested in the destiny of the Spanish Indies, whether those persons were Frenchmen, United States citizens, or emissaries from the Spanish colonies. We shall see that while residing in Paris he had formed an elaborate plan for the realization of his absorbing passion.


The Author's Notes:

1 Williams, Letters containing a Sketch of the Politics of France, I, 239.

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2 "Seize Vendémiaire, l'an 3e, A. N., F7, 477447.

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3 "Proces-Verbal de visite du 1er Juin, 1793," Mir. MSS., vol. 41.

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4 Stone to Miranda, 29 Fructidor, an 4, and 26 Vendémiaire, an 5, ibid., vol. 43.

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5 Alboise and Maquet, Les prisons de l'Europe, p199.

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6 "Le 16 Ventôse," A. N., + + F7, 477447, f. 316.

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7 "Extrait du procès verbal du Comité de Salut Public de la Commune de Belleville," Sept. 13, 1793, Mir. MSS., vol. 41.

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8 Moniteur, July 15, 1793.

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9 To "Citoyens Representans," July 22, 1793, A. N., + + F7, 477447, ff. 328‑29.

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10 Undated memorandum, Mir. MSS., vol. 41.

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11 Moniteur, Feb. 12, 1794.

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12 Letters, I, 244‑45.

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13 Ibid., pp245‑46.

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14 Champagneux, Oeuvres de J. M. Ph. Roland, II, 409‑16.

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15 Du Châtelet's memorandum, "12 Nivosº l'an deux," Mir. MSS., vol. 42. See further, Champagneux, II, 413‑14.

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16 Précis pour Miranda, pp9, 10.

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17 Undated, Mir. MSS., vol. 41.

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18 Undated, Mir. MSS., vol. 41.

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19 "5 Floréal, an 2," ibid.

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20 "22 Vendémiaire," ibid.

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21 "16 Vendémiaire l'an 3e," A. N., + + F7, 447447, f. 319.

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22 "12 Brumaire, an 3e, Mir. MSS., vol. 43.

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23 Le général Miranda à la representation nationale, pp15, 16.

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24 Moniteur, Jan. 17, 1795.

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25 "22 Ventôse, 3me année," Knox MSS., vol. 37, f. 52.

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26 Extract of contract signed by Miranda with J. Molinos and J. G. Legrande,º 27 Ventôse, an 3ème, A. N., F7, 7112, dossier B, 7190.

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27 Mir. MSS., vol. 43.

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28 A. N., F7, 7112, B, 7190.

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29 See his letter dated 28 Nivôse, an 4, in the Journal de Paris, Jan. 28, 1796.

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30 Robertson, "Miranda's Testamentary Dispositions," in His. Am. Hist. Rev., VII, 285‑86.

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31 Timoleon und Immanuel, pp261‑62.

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32 Mémoires, I, 329‑31. Cf. Viarz, L'aide de camp ou l'auteur inconnu, pp129‑30.

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33 29 Fructidor, an 4, Mir. MSS., vol. 43. Three items from an account entitled "Balance entre Mr. Stone et Miranda" (ibid.) indicate that Stone had made to the painter Lebarbier three payments aggregating 40,000 francs on Miranda's behalf.

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34 Souvenirs de la révolution française, p97.

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35 Opinion du général Miranda sur la situation actuelle de la France.

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36 Servan to Miranda, 17 Thermidor, an 3me, Mir. MSS., vol. 43.

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37 Ibid., vol. 42.

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38 Moniteur, Nov. 22, 1795.

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39 Rojas, Miranda dans la révolution française, pp324‑28.

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40 Souvenirs de la révolution française, 98‑99.

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41 Maugras, Delphine de Sabran, p271, and note.

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42 À mes amis, Mir. MSS., vol. 42.

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43 Custine, Delphine de Custine, 66, note 1.

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44 22 Frimaire, an 4e, Mir. MSS., vol. 43.

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45 17 Frimaire, an 4, A. N., police générale, F7, 36885, 3249.

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46 Moniteur, Jan. 4, 1796.

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47 "9 Pluvoise,"º Mir. MSS., vol. 42.

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48 "17 Nivôse, an 4," ibid., vol. 43.

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49 "20 Germinal, an 4," ibid.

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50 19 Germinal, an 4 (copy), A. N., F7, 7112, dossier B, 7190.

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51 Quatremère de Quincy, Lettres sur l'enlèvement des ouvrages de l'art antique à Athènes et à Rome, p217.

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52 Undated letter, Mir. MSS., vol. 41.

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53 Undated, ibid.

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54 Robertson, Miranda, p305. See further, Conway, The Life of Thomas Paine, II, 24.

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55 Ham. MSS., vol. 15, f. 204.

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56 22 Prairial, an 5, and 22 Messidor, an 5, Mir. MSS., vol. 43.

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57 Robertson, "Miranda's Testamentary Dispositions," in His. Am. Hist. Rev., VII, 282‑83.


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