February 9 in the year 1800 was a gala day in Paris. Napoleon had decreed a triumphal procession, and on that day a splendid military ceremony was performed in the Champ de Mars, and the trophies of the Egyptian expedition were exultingly displayed. There were, however, two features in all this pomp and show which seemed strangely out of keeping with the glittering pageant and the sounds of victorious rejoicing. The standards and flags of the army were hung with crape, and after the grand parade the dignitaries of the land proceeded solemnly to the Temple of Mars, and heard the eloquent M. de Fontanes deliver an “Eloge Funebre."
[Footnote 1: A report recently discovered shows that more even was intended than was actually done.
The following is a translation of the paper, the original of which is Nos. 172 and 173 of volume 51 of the manuscript series known as Etats-Unis, 1799, 1800 (years 7 and 8 of the French republic):—
“Report of Talleyrand,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the
occasion of the death of George Washington.
“A nation which some day will he a great nation, and which today is the wisest and happiest on the face of the earth, weeps at the bier of a man whose courage and genius contributed the most to free it from bondage, and elevate it to the rank of an independent and sovereign power. The regrets caused by the death of this great man, the memories aroused by these regrets, and a proper veneration for all that is held dear and sacred by mankind, impel us to give expression to our sentiments by taking part in an event which deprives the world of one of its brightest ornaments, and removes to the realm of history one of the noblest lives that ever honored the human race.
“The name of Washington is inseparably linked with a memorable epoch. He adorned this epoch by his talents and the nobility of his character, and with virtues that even envy dared not assail. History offers few examples of such renown. Great from the outset of his career, patriotic before his country had become a nation, brilliant and universal despite the passions and political resentments that would gladly have checked his career, his fame is to-day imperishable,—fortune having consecrated his claim to greatness, while the prosperity of a people destined for grand achievements is the best evidence of a fame ever to increase.
“His own country now honors his memory with funeral ceremonies, having lost a citizen whose public actions and unassuming grandeur in private life were a living example of courage, wisdom, and unselfishness; and France, which from the dawn of the American Revolution hailed with hope a nation, hitherto unknown, that was discarding the vices of Europe, which foresaw all the glory that this nation would bestow on humanity, and the enlightenment