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FrRevol_451-500.indd 24 3/16/12 1:12 PM CHAPTER IX Ofthe Last Days ofM. Necker. I would not speak of the feeling which the death of my father produced in me were it not an additional means of making him known. When the political opinions of a statesman are still in many respects the subject of debate in the world, we should not neglect to give to his principles the sanction of his character. Now what better proof can be given than the impression which it produced upon the people, who were most qualified to judge him? It is now twelve years since death separated me from my father, and every day my admiration ofhim has increased; the recollection which I have retained of his talents and virtues serves me as a point of comparison to appreciate the worth of other men; and though I have traversed all Europe, a genius ofthe same style, a moral principle ofthe same vigor, has never come within my way. M. Necker might be feeble from goodness and wavering from reflection; but when he believed that duty was concerned in a resolution, he thought that he heard the voice ofGod; and whatever attempts might be made to shake him, he listened only to it. I have even now more confidence in the least ofhis words than I should have in any individual alive, however superior that individual might be. Everything that M. Necker has said is firm in me as a rock; what I have gained myself may disappear; the identity of my being consists in the attachment which I bear to his memory. I have loved those whom I love no more; I have esteemed those whom I esteem no more; the waves of life have carried all away, except this mighty shade whom I see upon the summit of the mountain, pointing out to me with its finger the life to come. I owe no real gratitude on earth but to God and my father; the remainder ofmy days has passed in contention; he alone poured his blessing over them. But how much has he not suffered! The most brilliant prosperity distinguished one-half of his life; he was rich; he had been named 474 FrRevol_451-500.indd 25 3/16/12 1:12 PM CHAPTER IX. Last Days ofNecker prime minister of France; the unbounded attachment of Frenchmen had recompensed him for his devotedness to their cause. During the seven years ofhis first retirement, his works had been placed in the first class of those ofstatesmen, and perhaps he was the only individual who had shown himselfprofoundly skilled in the art ofgoverning a great country without ever deviating from the most scrupulous morality or even the most refined delicacy. As a religious writer,1 he had never ceased to be a philosopher; as a philosopher, he had never ceased to be religious; eloquence had not hurried him away beyond the limits of reason, nor had reason ever deprived him of a single emotion of true eloquence. To these great advantages he had joined the most flattering success in society: Madame du Deffant/ who was acknowledged to have more lively smartness of conversation than any other woman in France, declared in her letters that she had met with no man more pleasing than M. Necker. He too possessed the same charm of conversation, but he employed it only among his friends. In fine, the universal opinion of France in 1789 was that no minister had ever carried further every kind of talent and virtue. There is not a city, not a town, not a corporation in France from which we have not addresses expressing this sentiment. I transcribe here from among a thousand others that which was written to the republic of Geneva by the city of Valence. Gentlemen Syndics, Amid the enthusiasm ofliberty which inflames the whole French nation , and which penetrates us with a deep sense of the goodness of our august monarch, we have thought that we owe you a tribute ofgratitude. It was in the bosom of your republic that M. Necker first saw the light; it was in the abode of your public virtues that his heart was trained to the practice of all those of which he has given us an affecting spectacle; it was in the school of your good principles that he imbibed that gentle I. Necker had published De !'importance des opinions religieuses in 1788. For more information about his religious...


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