Within six months after the Treaty of Lundville, Montgelas began in that country his political and religious innovations. The nobility and the clergy were equally attacked; the privileges of the former were invaded, and the property of the latter confiscated; and had not his zeal carried him too far, so as to alarm our new nobles, our new men of property, and new Christians, it is very probable that atheism would have already, without opposition, reared its head in the midst of Germany, and proclaimed there the rights of man, and the code of liberty and equality.
The inhabitants of Bavaria are, as you know, all Roman Catholics, and the most superstitious and ignorant Catholics of Germany. The step is but short from superstition to infidelity; and ignorance has furnished in France more sectaries of atheism than perversity. The Illuminati, brothers and friends of Montgelas, have not been idle in that country. Their writings have perverted those who had no opportunity to hear their speeches, or to witness their example; and I am assured by Count von Beust, who travelled in Bavaria last year, that their progress among the lower classes is astonishing, considering the short period these emissaries have laboured. To any one looking on the map of the Continent, and acquainted with the spirit of our times, this impious focus of illumination must be ominous.
Among the members of the foreign diplomatic corps, there exists not the least doubt but that this Montgelas, as well as Bonaparte’s Minister at Munich, Otto, was acquainted with the treacherous part Mehde de la Touche played against your Minister, Drake; and that it was planned between him and Talleyrand as the surest means to break off all political connections between your country and Bavaria. Mr. Drake was personally liked by the Elector, and was not inattentive either to the plans and views of Montgelas or to the intrigues of Otto. They were, therefore, both doubly interested to remove such a troublesome witness.
M. de Montgelas is now a grand officer of Bonaparte’s Legion of Honour, and he is one of the few foreigners nominated the most worthy of such a distinction. In France he would have been an acquisition either to the factions of a Murat, of a Brissot, or of a Robespierre; and the Goddess of Reason, as well as the God of the Theophilanthropists, might have been sure of counting him among their adorers. At the clubs of the Jacobins or Cordeliers, in the fraternal societies, or in a revolutionary tribunal; in the Committee of Public Safety, or in the council chamber of the Directory, he would equally have made himself notorious and been equally in his place. A stoic sans-culotte under Du Clots, a stanch republican under Robespierre, he would now have been the most pliant and brilliant courtier of Bonaparte.
Paris, August, 1805.