This woman did not see the terrible man who was gazing at her.
I became pensive.
This man was no longer a man for me; he was the spectre of misery, the brusque, deformed, lugubrious apparition in full daylight, in full sunlight, of a revolution that is still plunged in darkness, but which is approaching. In former times the poor jostled the rich, this spectre encountered the rich man in all his glory; but they did not look at each other, they passed on. This condition of things could thus last for some time. The moment this man perceives that this woman exists, while this woman does not see that this man is there, the catastrophe is inevitable.
Fabvier had fought valiantly in the wars of the Empire; he fell out with the Restoration over the obscure affair of Grenoble. He expatriated himself about 1816. It was the period of the departure of the eagles. Lallemand went to America, Allard and Vannova to India, Fabvier to Greece.
The revolution of 1820 broke out. He took an heroic part in it. He raised a corps of four thousand palikars, to whom he was not a chief, but a god. He gave them civilization and taught them barbarity. He was rough and brave above all of them, and almost ferocious, but with that grand, Homeric ferocity. One might have thought that he had come from a tent of the camp of Achilles rather than from the camp of Napoleon. He invited the English Ambassador to dinner at his bivouac; the Ambassador found him seated by a big fire at which a whole sheep was roasting; when the animal was cooked and unskewered, Fabvier placed the heel of his bare foot upon the neck of the smoking and bleeding sheep and tore off a quarter, which he offered to the Ambassador. In bad times nothing daunted him. He was indifferent alike to cold, heat, fatigue and hunger; he never spared himself. The palikars used to say: "When the soldier eats cooked grass Fabvier eats it green."
I knew his history, but I had not seen him when, in 1846, General Fabvier was made a peer of France. One day he had a speech to make, and the Chancellor announced: "Baron Fabvier has the tribune." I expected to hear a lion, I thought an old woman was speaking.
Yet his face was a truly masculine one, heroic and formidable, that one might have fancied had been moulded by the hand of a giant and which seemed to have preserved a savage and terrible grimace. What was so strange was the gentle, slow, grave, contained, caressing voice that was allied to this magnificent ferocity. A child's voice issued from this tiger's mouth.
General Fabvier delivered from the tribune speeches learned by heart, graceful, flowery, full of allusions to the woods and country—veritable idylls. In the tribune this Ajax became a Nemorin.
He spoke in low tones like a diplomat, he smiled like a courtier. He was not averse to making himself agreeable to princes. This is what the peerage had done for him. He was only a hero after all.
August 22, 1846.
The Marquis de Boissy has assurance, coolness, self-possession, a voice that is peculiar to himself, facility of speech, wit occasionally, the quality of imperturbability, all the accessories of a great orator. The only thing he lacks is talent. He wearies the Chamber, wherefore the Ministers do not consider themselves bound to answer him. He talks as long as everybody keeps quiet. He fences with the Chancellor as with his particular enemy.
Yesterday, after the session which Boissy had entirely occupied with a very poor speech, M. Guizot said to me:
"It is an affliction. The Chamber of Deputies would not stand him for ten minutes after the first two times. The Chamber of Peers extends its high politeness to him, and it does wrong. Boissy will not be suppressed until the day the whole Chamber rises and walks out when he asks permission to speak."
"You cannot think of such a thing," said I. "Only he and the Chancellor would be left. It would be a duel without seconds."
It is the custom of the Chamber of Peers never to repeat in its reply to the speech from the throne the titles that the King gives to his children. It is also the custom never to give the princes the title of Royal Highness when speaking of them to the King. There is no Highness in presence of his Majesty.
To-day, January 18, the address in reply to the speech from the throne was debated. Occasionally there are flashes of keen and happy wit in M. de Boissy's nonsense. He remarked to-day: "I am not of those who are grateful to the government for the blessings of providence."
As usual he quarrelled with the Chancellor. He was making some more than usually roving excursion from the straight path. The Chamber murmured and cried: "Confine yourself to the question." The Chancellor rose:
"Monsieur the Marquis de Boissy," he said, "the Chamber requests that you will confine yourself to the question under discussion. It has saved me the trouble of asking you to do so." ("Our colleague might as well have said 'spared me!'" I whispered to Lebrun.)
"I am delighted on your account, Monsieur the Chancellor," replied M. de Boissy, and the Chamber laughed.
A few minutes later, however, the Chancellor took his revenge. M. de Boissy had floundered into some quibble about the rules. It was late. The Chamber was becoming impatient.
"Had you not raised an unnecessary incident," observed the Chancellor, "you would have finished your speech a long time ago, to your own satisfaction and that of everybody else."
Whereat everybody laughed.
"Don't laugh!" exclaimed the Duke de Mortemart. "Laughter diminishes the prestige of a constituted body."
M. de Pontecoulant said: "M. de Boissy teases Monsieur the Chancellor, Monsieur the Chancellor torments M. de Boissy. There is a lack of dignity on both sides!"
During the session the Duke de Mortemart came to my bench and we spoke about the Emperor. M. de Mortemart went through all the great wars. He speaks nobly of him. He was one of the Emperor's orderlies in the Campaign of 1812.
"It was during that campaign that I learned to know the Emperor," he said. "I was near him night and day. I saw him shave himself in the morning, sponge his chin, pull on his boots, pinch his valet's ear, chat with the grenadier mounting guard over his tent, laugh, gossip, make trivial remarks, and amid all this issue orders, trace plans, interrogate prisoners, decree, determine, decide, in a sovereign manner, simply, unerringly, in a few minutes, without missing anything, without losing a useful detail or a second of necessary time. In this intimate and familiar life of the bivouac flashes of his intellect were seen every moment. You can believe me when I say that he belied the proverb: 'No man is great in the eyes of his valet.'"
"Monsieur the Duke," said I, "that proverb is wrong. Every great man is a great man in the eyes of his valet."
At this session the Duke d'Aumale, having attained his twenty-fifth birthday, took his seat for the first time. The Duke de Nemours and the Prince de Joinville were seated near him in their usual places behind the ministerial bench. They were not among those who laughed the least.
The Duke de Nemours, being the youngest member of his committee, fulfilled the functions of secretary, as is customary. M. de Montalembert wanted to spare him the trouble. "No," said the prince, "it is my duty." He took the urn and, as secretary, went the round of the table to collect the votes.
At the close of the session of January 21, 1847, at which the Chamber of Peers discussed Cracow and kept silent concerning the frontier of the Rhine, I descended the grand staircase of the Chamber in company with M. de Chastellux. M. Decazes stopped me and asked:
"Well, what have you been doing during the session?"
"I have been writing to Mme. Dorval." (I held the letter in my hand.)
"What a fine disdain! Why did you not speak?"
"On account of the old proverb: 'He whose opinion is not shared by anybody else should think, and say nothing.'
"Did your opinion, then, differ from that of the others?"
"Yes, from that of the whole Chamber."
"What did you want then?"
"Whew! the devil!"
"I should have protested and spoken without finding any echo to my words; I preferred to say nothing."
"Ah! the Rhine! To have the Rhine! Yes, that is a fine idea. Poetry! poetry!"
"Poetry that our fathers made with cannon and that we shall make again with ideas!"
"My dear colleague," went on M. Decazes, "we must wait. I, too, want the Rhine. Thirty years ago I said to Louis XVIII.: 'Sire, I should be inconsolable if I thought I should die without seeing France mistress of the left bank of the Rhine. But before we can talk about that, before we can think of it even, we must beget children.'"
"Well," I replied, "that was thirty years ago. We have begotten the children."
April 23, 1847.
The Chamber of Peers is discussing a pretty bad bill on substitutions for army service. To-day the principal article of the measure was before the House.
M. de Nemours was present. There are eighty lieutenant-generals in the Chamber. The majority considered the article to be a bad one. Under the eye of the Duke de Nemours, who seemed to be counting them, all rose to vote in favour of it.
The magistrates, the members of the Institute and the ambassadors voted against it.
I remarked to President Franck-Carre, who was seated next to me: "It is a struggle between civil courage and military poltroonery."
The article was adopted.
June 22, 1847.
The Girardin* affair was before the Chamber of Peers to-day. Acquittal. The vote was taken by means of balls, white ones for condemnation, black ones for acquittal. There were 199 votes cast, 65 white, 134 black. In placing my black ball in the urn I remarked: "In blackening him we whiten him."
* Emile de Girardin had been prosecuted for publishing an article in a newspaper violently attacking the government.
I said to Mme. D—: "Why do not the Minister and Girardin provoke a trial in the Assize Court?"
She replied: "Because Girardin does not feel himself strong enough, and the Minister does not feel himself pure enough."
MM. de Montalivet and Mole and the peers of the Chateau voted, queerly enough, for Girardin against the Government. M. Guizot learned the result in the Chamber of Deputies and looked exceedingly wrath.
June 28, 1847.
On arriving at the Chamber I found Franck-Carre greatly scandalised.
In his hand was a prospectus for champagne signed by the Count de Mareuil, and stamped with a peer's mantle and a count's coronet with the de Mareuil arms. He had shown it to the Chancellor, who had replied: "I can do nothing!"
"I could do something, though, if a mere councillor were to do a thing like that in my court," said Franck-Carre to me. "I would call the Chambers together and have him admonished in a disciplinary manner."
Discussion by the committees of the Chamber of Peers of the address in reply to the speech from the throne.
I was a member of the fourth committee. Among other changes I demanded this. There was: "Our princes, your well-beloved children, are doing in Africa the duties of servants of the State." I proposed: "The princes, your well-beloved children, are doing," etc., "their duty as servants of the State." This fooling produced the effect of a fierce opposition.
January 14, 1848.
The Chamber of Peers prevented Alton-Shee from pronouncing in the tribune even the name of the Convention. There was a terrific knocking upon desks with paper-knives and shouts of "Order! Order!" and he was compelled almost by force to descend from the tribune.
I was on the point of shouting to them: "You are imitating a session of the Convention, but only with wooden knives!"
I was restrained by the thought that this mot, uttered during their anger, would never be forgiven. For myself I care little, but it might affect the calm truths which I may have to tell them and get them to accept later on.
THE REVOLUTION OF 1848.
I. THE DAYS OF FEBRUARY. II. EXPULSIONS AND EVASIONS. III. LOUIS PHILIPPE IN EXILE. IV. KING JEROME. V. THE DAYS OF JUNE. VI. CHATEAUBRIAND. VII. DEBATES ON THE DAYS OF JUNE.
I. THE DAYS OF FEBRUARY.
As I arrived at the Chamber of Peers—it was 3 o'clock precisely—General Rapatel came out of the cloak-room and said: "The session is over."
I went to the Chamber of Deputies. As my cab turned into the Rue de Lille a serried and interminable column of men in shirt-sleeves, in blouses and wearing caps, and marching arm-in-arm, three by three, debouched from the Rue Bellechasse and headed for the Chamber. The other extremity of the street, I could see, was blocked by deep rows of infantry of the line, with their rifles on their arms. I drove on ahead of the men in blouses, with whom many women had mingled, and who were shouting: "Hurrah for reform!" "Hurrah for the line!" "Down with Guizot!" They stopped when they arrived within rifle-shot of the infantry. The soldiers opened their ranks to let me through. They were talking and laughing. A very young man was shrugging his shoulders.
I did not go any further than the lobby. It was filled with busy and uneasy groups. In one corner were M. Thiers, M. de Remusat, M. Vivien and M. Merruau (of the "Constitutionnel"); in another M. Emile de Girardin, M. d'Alton-Shee and M. de Boissy, M. Franck-Carre, M. d'Houdetot, M. de Lagrenee. M. Armand Marrast was talking aside with M. d'Alton. M. de Girardin stopped me; then MM. d'Houdetot and Lagrenee. MM. Franck-Carre and Vignier joined us. We talked. I said to them:
"The Cabinet is gravely culpable. It forgot that in times like ours there are precipices right and left and that it does not do to govern too near to the edge. It says to itself: 'It is only a riot,' and it almost rejoices at the outbreak. It believes it has been strengthened by it; yesterday it fell, to-day it is up again! But, in the first place, who can tell what the end of a riot will be? Riots, it is true, strengthen the hands of Cabinets, but revolutions overthrow dynasties. And what an imprudent game in which the dynasty is risked to save the ministry! The tension of the situation draws the knot tighter, and now it is impossible to undo it. The hawser may break and then everything will go adrift. The Left has manoeuvred imprudently and the Cabinet wildly. Both sides are responsible. But what madness possesses the Cabinet to mix a police question with a question of liberty and oppose the spirit of chicanery to the spirit of revolution? It is like sending process-servers with stamped paper to serve upon a lion. The quibbles of M. Hebert in presence of a riot! What do they amount to!"
As I was saying this a deputy passed us and said:
"The Ministry of Marine has been taken."
"Let us go and see!" said Franc d'Houdetot to me.
We went out. We passed through a regiment of infantry that was guarding the head of the Pont de la Concorde. Another regiment barred the other end of it. On the Place Louis XV. cavalry was charging sombre and immobile groups, which at the approach of the soldiers fled like swarms of bees. Nobody was on the bridge except a general in uniform and on horseback, with the cross of a commander (of the Legion of Honour) hung round his neck—General Prevot. As he galloped past us he shouted: "They are attacking!"
As we reached the troops at the other end of the bridge a battalion chief, mounted, in a bernouse with gold stripes on it, a stout man with a kind and brave face, saluted M. d'Houdetot.
"Has anything happened?" Franc asked.
"It happened that I got here just in time!" replied the major.
It was this battalion chief who cleared the Palace of the Chamber, which the rioters had invaded at six o'clock in the morning.
We walked on to the Place. Charging cavalry was whirling around us. At the angle of the bridge a dragoon raised his sword against a man in a blouse. I do not think he struck him. Besides, the Ministry of Marine had not been "taken." A crowd had thrown a stone at one of the windows, smashing it, and hurting a man who was peeping out. Nothing more.
We could see a number of vehicles lined up like a barricade in the broad avenue of the Champs-Elysees, at the rond-point.
"They are firing, yonder," said d'Houdetot. "Can you see the smoke?"
"Pooh!" I replied. "It is the mist of the fountain. That fire is water."
And we burst into a laugh.
An engagement was going on there, however. The people had constructed three barricades with chairs. The guard at the main square of the Champs-Elysees had turned out to pull the barricades down. The people had driven the soldiers back to the guard-house with volleys of stones. General Prevot had sent a squad of Municipal Guards to the relief of the soldiers. The squad had been surrounded and compelled to seek refuge in the guard-house with the others. The crowd had hemmed in the guard-house. A man had procured a ladder, mounted to the roof, pulled down the flag, torn it up and thrown it to the people. A battalion had to be sent to deliver the guard.
"Whew!" said Franc d'Houdetot to General Prevot, who had recounted this to us. "A flag taken!"
"Taken, no! Stolen, yes!" answered the general quickly.
M. Pedre-Lacaze came up arm-in-arm with Napoleon Duchatel. Both were in high spirits. They lighted their cigars from Franc d'Houdetot's cigar and said:
"Do you know? Genoude is going to bring in an impeachment on his own account. They would not allow him to sign the Left's impeachment. He would not be beaten, and now the Ministry is between two fires. On the left, the entire Left; on the right, M. de Genoude."
Napoleon Duchatel added: "They say that Duvergier de Hauranne has been carried about in triumph on the shoulders of the crowd."
We had returned to the bridge. M. Vivien was crossing, and came up to us. With his big, old, wide-brimmed hat and his coat buttoned up to his cravat the ex-Minister Of Justice looked like a policeman.
"Where are you going?" he said to me. "What is happening is very serious!"
Certainly at this moment one feels that the whole constitutional machine is rocking. It no longer rests squarely on the ground. It is out of plumb. One can hear it cracking.
The crisis is complicated by the disturbed condition of the whole of Europe.
The King, nevertheless, is very calm, and even cheerful. But this game must not be played too far. Every rubber won serves but to make up the total of the rubber lost.
Vivien recounted to us that the King had thrown an electoral reform bill into his drawer, saying as he did so: "That is for my successor!" "That was Louis XV.'s mot," added Vivien, "supposing reform should prove to be the deluge."
It appears to be true that the King interrupted M. Salandrouze when he was laying before him the grievances of the "Progressists," and asked him brusquely: "Are you selling many carpets?" *
* M. Salandrouze was a manufacturer of carpets.
At this same reception of the Progressists the King noticed M. Blanqui, and graciously going up to him asked:
"Well, Monsieur Blanqui, what do people talk about? What is going on?"
"Sire," replied M. Blanqui, "I ought to tell the King that in the departments, and especially at Bordeaux, there is a great deal of agitation."
"Ah!" interrupted the King. "More agitation!" and he turned his back upon M. Blanqui.
While we were talking Vivien exclaimed: "Listen! I fancy I can hear firing!"
A young staff officer, addressing General d'Houdetot with a smile, asked: "Are we going to stay here long?"
"Why?" said Franc d'Houdetot.
"Well, I am invited out to dinner," said the officer.
At this moment a group of women in mourning and children dressed in black passed rapidly along the other pavement of the bridge. A man held the eldest child by the hand. I looked at him and recognized the Duke de Montebello.
"Hello!" exclaimed d'Houdetot, "the Minister of Marine!" and he ran over and conversed for a moment with M. de Montebello. The Duchess had become frightened, and the whole family was taking refuge on the left bank of the river.
Vivien and I returned to the Palace of the Chamber. D'Houdetot quitted us. In an instant we were surrounded. Said Boissy to me:
"You were not at the Luxembourg? I tried to speak upon the situation in Paris. I was hooted. At the mot, 'the capital in danger,' I was interrupted, and the Chancellor, who had come to preside expressly for that purpose, called me to order. And do you know what General Gourgaud said to me? 'Monsieur de Boissy, I have sixty guns with their caissons filled with grape-shot. I filled them myself.' I replied: 'General, I am delighted to know what is really thought at the Chateau about the situation.'"
At this moment Durvergier de Hauranne, hatless, his hair dishevelled, and looking pale but pleased, passed by and stopped to shake hands with me.
I left Duvergier and entered the Chamber. A bill relative to the privileges of the Bank of Bordeaux was being debated. A man who was talking through his nose occupied the tribune, and M. Sauzet was reading the articles of the bill with a sleepy air. M. de Belleyme, who was coming out, shook hands with me and exclaimed: "Alas!"
Several deputies came up to me, among them M. Marie, M. Roger (of Loiret), M. de Remusat, and M. Chambolle. I related to them the incident of the tearing down of the flag, which was serious in view of the audacity of the attack.
"What is even more serious," said one of them, "is that there is something very bad behind all this. During the night the doors of more than fifteen mansions were marked with a cross, among the marked houses being those of the Princess de Lieven, in the Rue Saint Florentin, and of Mme. de Talhouet."
"Are you sure of this?" I asked.
"With my own eyes I saw the cross upon the door of Mme. de Lieven's house," he replied.
President Franck-Carre met M. Duchatel this morning and said: "Well, how goes it?"
"All is well," answered the Minister.
"What are you going to do about the riot?"
"I am going to let the rioters alone at the rendezvous they arranged for themselves. What can they do in the Place Louis XV. and the Champs-Elysees? It is raining. They will tramp about there all day. To-night they will be tired out and will go home to bed."
M. Etienne Arago entered hastily at this juncture and said: "There are seven wounded and two killed already. Barricades have been erected in the Rue Beaubourg and in the Rue Saint Avoye."
After a suspension of the session M. Guizot arrived. He ascended the tribune and announced that the King had summoned M. Mole, to charge him with the formation of a new Cabinet.
Triumphant shouts from the Opposition, shouts of rage from the majority.
The session ended amid an indescribable uproar.
I went out with the deputies and returned by way of the quays.
In the Place de la Concorde the cavalry continued to charge. An attempt to erect two barricades had been made in the Rue Saint Honore. The paving-stones in the Marche Saint Honore were being torn up. The overturned omni-buses, of which the barricades had been made, had been righted by the troops. In the Rue Saint Honore the crowd let the Municipal Guards go by, and then stoned them in the back. A multitude was swarming along the quays like irritated ants. A very pretty woman in a green velvet hat and a large cashmere shawl passed by amid a group of men wearing blouses and with bared arms. She had raised her skirt very high on account of the mud, with which she was much spattered; for it was raining every minute. The Tuileries were closed. At the Carrousel gates the crowd had stopped and was gazing through the arcades at the cavalry lined up in battle array in front of the palace.
Near the Carrousel Bridge I met M. Jules Sandeau. "What do you think of all this?" he queried.
"That the riot will be suppressed, but that the revolution will triumph."
On the Quai de la Ferraille I happened upon somebody else I knew. Coming towards me was a man covered with mud to the neck, his cravat hanging down, and his hat battered. I recognized my excellent friend Antony Thouret. Thouret is an ardent Republican. He had been walking and speech-making since early morning, going from quarter to quarter and from group to group.
"Tell me, now, what you really want?" said I. "Is it the Republic?"
"Oh! no, not this time, not yet," he answered. "What we want is reform—no half measures, oh! dear no, that won't do at all. We want complete reform, do you hear? And why not universal suffrage?"
"That's the style!" I said as we shook hands.
Patrols were marching up and down the quay, while the crowd shouted "Hurrah for the line!" The shops were closed and the windows of the houses open.
In the Place du Chatelet I heard a man say to a group:
"It is 1830 over again!"
I passed by the Hotel de Ville and along the Rue Saint Avoye. At the Hotel de Ville all was quiet. Two National Guards were walking to and fro in front of the gate, and there were no barricades in the Rue Saint Avoye. In the Rue Rambuteau a few National Guards, in uniform, and wearing their side arms, came and went. In the Temple quarter they were beating to arms.
Up to the present the powers that be have made a show of doing without the National Guard. This is perhaps prudent. A force of National Guards was to have taken a hand. This morning the guard on duty at the Chamber refused to obey orders. It is said that a National Guardsman of the 7th Legion was killed just now while interposing between the people and the troops.
The Mole Ministry assuredly is not a Reform one, but the Guizot Ministry had been for so long an obstacle to reform! Its resistance was broken; this was sufficient to pacify and content the child-like heart of the generous people. In the evening Paris gave itself up to rejoicing. The population turned out into the streets; everywhere was heard the popular refrain Des lampioms! des larnpioms! In the twinkling of an eye the town was illuminated as though for a fete.
In the Place Royale, in front of the Mairie, a few yards from my house, a crowd had gathered that every moment was becoming denser and noisier. The officers and National Guards in the guard-house there, in order to get them away from the Maine, shouted: "On to the Bastille!" and, marching arm-in-arm, placed themselves at the head of a column, which fell in joyously behind them and started off shouting: "On to the Bastille!" The procession marched hat in hand round the Column of July, to the shout of "Hurrah for Reform!" saluted the troops massed in the Place with the cry of "Hurrah for the line!" and went off down the Faubourg Saint Antoine. An hour later the procession returned with its ranks greatly swelled, and bearing torches and flags, and made its way to the grand boulevards with the intention of going home by way of the quays, so that the whole town might witness the celebration of its victory.
Midnight is striking. The appearance of the streets has changed. The Marais quarter is lugubrious. I have just returned from a stroll there. The street lamps are broken and extinguished on the Boulevard Bourdon, so well named the "dark boulevard." The only shops open to-night were those in the Rue Saint Antoine. The Beaumarchais Theatre was closed. The Place Royale is guarded like a place of arms. Troops are in ambush in the arcades. In the Rue Saint Louis, a battalion is leaning silently against the walls in the shadow.
Just now, as the clock struck the hour, we went on to the balcony listening and saying: "It is the tocsin!"
I could not have slept in a bed. I passed the night in my drawing-room, writing, thinking and listening. Now and then I went out on the balcony and strained my ears to listen, then I entered the room again and paced to and fro, or dropped into an arm-chair and dozed. But my slumber was agitated by feverish dreams. I dreamed that I could hear the murmur of angry crowds, and the report of distant firing; the tocsin was clanging from the church towers. I awoke. It was the tocsin.
The reality was more horrible than the dream.
This crowd that I had seen marching and singing so gaily on the boulevards had at first continued its pacific way without let or hindrance. The infantry regiments, the artillery and cuirassiers had everywhere opened their ranks to let the procession pass through. But on the Boulevard des Capucines a mass of troops, infantry and cavalry, who were guarding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its unpopular Minister, M. Guizot, blocked the thoroughfare. In front of this insurmountable obstacle the head of the column tried to stop and turn; but the irresistible pressure of the enormous crowd behind pushed the front ranks on. At this juncture a shot was fired, on which side is not known. A panic ensued, followed by a volley. Eighty fell dead or wounded. Then arose a general cry of horror and fury: "Vengeance!" The bodies of the victims were placed in a tumbril lighted by torches. The crowd faced about and, amid imprecations, resumed its march, which had now assumed the character of a funeral procession. In a few hours Paris was bristling with barricades.
At daybreak, from my balcony, I see advancing a noisy column of people, among whom are a number of National Guards. The mob stops in front of the Mairie, which is guarded by about thirty Municipal Guards, and with loud cries demands the soldiers' arms. Flat refusal by the Municipal Guards, menacing clamours of the crowd. Two National Guard officers intervene: "What is the use of further bloodshed? Resistance will be useless." The Municipal Guards lay down their rifles and ammunition and withdraw without being molested.
The Mayor of the Eighth Arrondissement, M. Ernest Moreau, requests me to come to the Mairie. He tells me the appalling news of the massacre on the Boulevard des Capucines. And at brief intervals further news of increasing seriousness arrives. The National Guard this time has definitely turned against the Government, and is shouting: "Hurrah for Reform!" The army, frightened at what it did yesterday, appears resolved not to take any further part in the fratricidal struggle. In the Rue Sainte Croix la Bretonnerie the troops have fallen back before the National Guard. At the neighbouring Mairie of the Ninth Arrondissement, we are informed, the soldiers are fraternising and patrolling with the National Guard. Two other messengers in blouses arrive almost together: "The Reuilly Barracks has been taken." "The Minimes Barracks has surrendered."
"And from the Government I have neither instructions nor news!" says M. Ernest Moreau. "What Government, if any, is there? Is the Mole Ministry still in existence? What is to be done?"
"Go to the Prefecture of the Seine," advises M. Perret, a member of the General Council. "It isn't far to the Hotel de Ville."
"Well, then, come with me."
They go. I reconnoitre round the Place Royale. Everywhere reign agitation, anxiety and feverish expectation. Everywhere work is being actively pushed upon barricades that are already formidable. This time it is more than a riot, it is an insurrection. I return home. A soldier of the line, on sentry duty at the entrance to the Place Royale, is chatting amicably with the vedette of a barricade constructed twenty paces from him.
At a quarter past eight M. Ernest Moreau returns from the Hotel de Ville. He has seen M. de Rambuteau and brings slightly better news. The King has entrusted the formation of a Cabinet to Thiers and Odilon Barrot. Thiers is not very popular, but Odilon Barrot means reform. Unfortunately the concession is coupled with a threat: Marshal Bugeaud has been invested with the general command of the National Guard and of the army. Odilon Barrot means reform, but Bugeaud means repression. The King is holding out his right hand and clenching his left fist.
The Prefect requested M. Moreau to spread and proclaim the news in his quarter and in the Faubourg Saint Antoine.
"This is what I will do," says the Mayor.
"Very good," I observe, "but believe me, you will do well to announce the Thiers-Barrot Ministry and say nothing about Marshal Bugeaud."
"You are right."
The Mayor requisitions a squad of National Guards, takes with him his two deputies and the Municipal Councillors present, and descends into the Place Royale. The roll of drums attracts the crowd. He announces the new Cabinet. The people applaud and raise repeated shouts of "Hurrah for Reform!" The Mayor adds a few words recommending harmony and the preservation of order, and is universally applauded.
"The situation is saved!" he says, grasping my hand.
"Yes," I answer, "if Bugeaud will give up the idea of being the saviour."
M. Ernest Moreau, followed by his escort, goes off to repeat his proclamation in the Place de la Bastille and the faubourg, and I return home to reassure my family.
Half an hour later the Mayor and his cortege return greatly agitated and in disorder to the Mairie. This is what had happened:
The Place de la Bastille was occupied at its two extremities by troops, leaning on their rifles. The people moved freely and peaceably between the two lines. The Mayor, arrived at the foot of the July column, made his proclamation, and once again the crowd applauded vigorously. M. Moreau started towards the Faubourg Saint Antoine. At this moment a number of workingmen accosted the soldiers amicably and said: "Your arms, give up your arms." In obedience to the energetic orders of their captain the soldiers refused. Suddenly a shot was fired; it was followed by other shots; the terrible panic of the previous day was perhaps about to be renewed. M. Moreau and his escort were pushed about, thrown down. The firing on both sides lasted over a minute, and five or six persons were killed or wounded.
Fortunately, this time the affray occurred in broad daylight. At the sight of the blood they had shed there was a revulsion of feeling on the part of the troops, and after a moment of surprise and horror the soldiers, prompted by an irresistible impulse, raised the butts of their rifles in the air and shouted: "Long live the National Guard!" The general in command, being powerless to control his men, went off to Vincennes by way of the quays and the people remained masters of the Bastille and of the faubourg.
"It is a result that might have cost more dear, in my case especially," remarks M. Moreau and he shows us his hat which has been pierced by a bullet. "A brand new hat," he adds with a laugh.
Half past ten o'clock.—Three students from the Ecole Polytechnique have arrived at the Mairie. They report that the students have broken out of the school and have come to place themselves at the disposition of the people. A certain number have therefore distributed themselves among the mairies of Paris.
The insurrection is making progress every hour. It now demands that Marshal Bugeaud be replaced and the Chamber dissolved. The pupils of the Ecole Polytechnique go further and talk about the abdication of the King.
What is happening at the Tuileries? There is no news, either, from the Ministry, no order from the General Staff. I decide to go to the Chamber of Deputies, by way of the Hotel de Ville, and M. Ernest Moreau is kind enough to accompany me.
We find the Rue Saint Antoine bristling with barricades. We make ourselves known and the insurgents help us to clamber over the heaps of paving-stones. As we draw near to the Hotel de Ville, from which the roar of a great crowd reaches our ears, and as we cross some ground on which are buildings in course of erection, we see coming towards us with hurried steps M. de Rambuteau, the Prefect of the Seine.
"Hi! Monsieur the Prefect, what brings you here?" I cry.
"Prefect! Do I know whether I am still Prefect?" he replies with a surly air.
A crowd, which looks anything but benevolent, has already begun to gather. M. Moreau notices a house that is to let. We enter it, and M. de Rambuteau recounts his misadventure.
"I was in my office with two or three Municipal Councillors," he says, "when we heard a great noise in the corridor. The door was thrown violently open, and there entered unto me a big strapping captain of the National Guard at the head of an excited body of troops.
"'Monsieur,' said the man, 'you must get out of here.'
"'Pardon me, Monsieur, here, at the Hotel de Ville I am at home, and here I propose to stay.'
"'Yesterday you were perhaps at home in the Hotel de Ville; to-day the people are at home in it.'
"'Go to the window and look out on the square.'
"The square had been invaded by a noisy, swarming crowd in which workingmen, National Guards and soldiers were mingled pell-mell. And the rifles of the soldiers wore in the hands of the men of the people. I turned to the intruders and said:
"'You are right, messieurs, you are the masters here.'
"'Well, then,' said the captain, 'instruct your employes to recognise my authority.'
"That was too much. I replied: 'What do you take me for?' I gathered up a few papers, issued a few orders, and here I am. Since you are going to the Chamber, if there is still a Chamber, tell the Minister of the Interior, if the Ministry still exists, that at the Hotel de Ville there is no longer either Prefect or Prefecture."
It is with great difficulty that we make our way through the human ocean that with a noise as of a tempest covers the Place de Hotel de Ville. At the Quai de la Megisserie is a formidable barricade; thanks to the Mayor's sash shown by my companion we are allowed to clamber over it. Beyond this the quays are almost deserted. We reach the Chamber of Deputies by the left bank of the river.
The Palais Bourbon is encumbered by a buzzing crowd of deputies, peers and high functionaries. From a rather large group comes the sharp voice of M. Thiers: "Ah! here is Victor Hugo!" He comes to us and asks for news about the Faubourg Saint Antoine. We add that about the Hotel de Ville. He shakes his head gloomily.
"And how are things here?" I question in turn. "But first of all are you still a Minister?"
"I? Oh! I am nobody! Odilon Barrot is President of the Council and Minister of the Interior."
"And Marshal Bugeaud?"
"He has also been replaced by Marshal Gerard. But that is nothing. The Chamber has been dissolved, the King has abdicated and is on his way to Saint Cloud, and the Duchess d'Orleans is Regent. Ah! the tide is rising, rising, rising!"
M. Thiers advises us, M. Ernest Moreau and me, to come to an understanding with M. Odilon Barrot. Action by us in our quarter, which is such an important one, can be of very great utility. We therefore set out for the Ministry of the Interior.
The people have invaded the Ministry and crowded it to the very office of the Minister, where a not over respectful crowd comes and goes. At a large table in the middle of the vast room secretaries are writing. M. Odilon Barrot his face red, his lips compressed and his hands behind his back, is leaning against the mantelpiece.
"You know what is going on, do you not?" he says when he sees us; "the King has abdicated and the Duchess d'Orleans is Regent."
"If the people so wills," says a man in a blouse who is passing.
The Minister leads us to the recess of a window, looking uneasily about him as he does so.
"What are you going to do? What are you doing?" I query.
"I am sending telegrams to the departments."
"Is this very urgent?"
"France must be informed of events."
"Yes, but meanwhile Paris is making events. Alas! has it finished making them? The Regency is all very well, but it has got to be sanctioned."
"Yes, by the Chamber. The Duchess d'Orleans ought to take the Count de Paris to the Chamber."
"No, since the Chamber has been dissolved. If the Duchess ought to go anywhere, it is to the Hotel de Ville."
"How can you think of such a thing! What about the danger?"
"There is no danger. A mother, a child! I will answer for the people. They will respect the woman in the princess.
"Well, then, go to the Tuileries, see the Duchess d'Orleans, advise her, enlighten her."
"Why do you not go yourself?"
"I have just come from there. Nobody knew where the Duchess was; I could not get near her. But if you see her tell her that I am at her disposal, that I await her orders. Ah! Monsieur Victor Hugo, I would give my life for that woman and for that child!"
Odilon Barrot is the most honest and the most devoted man in the world, but he is the opposite of a man of action; one feels trouble and indecision in his words, in his look, in his whole person.
"Listen," he goes on, "what must be done, what is urgent, is that the people should be made acquainted with these grave changes, the abdication and Regency. Promise me that you will proclaim them at your mairie, in the faubourg, and wherever you possibly can."
I go off, with M. Moreau, towards the Tuileries.
In the Rue Bellechasse are galloping horses. A squadron of dragoons flashes by and seems to be fleeing from a man with bare arms who is running behind them and brandishing a sword.
The Tuileries are still guarded by troops. The Mayor shows his sash and they let us pass. At the gate the concierge, to whom I make myself known, apprises us that the Duchess d'Orleans, accompanied by the Duke de Nemours, has just left the chateau with the Count de Paris, no doubt to go to the Chamber of Deputies. We have, therefore, no other course than to continue on our way.
At the entrance to the Carrousel Bridge bullets whistle by our ears. Insurgents in the Place du Carrousel are firing upon the court carriages leaving the stables. One of the coachmen has been killed on his box.
"It would be too stupid of us to stay here looking on and get ourselves killed," says M. Ernest Moreau. "Let us cross the bridge."
We skirt the Institute and the Quai de la Monnaie. At the Pont Neuf we pass a band of men armed with pikes, axes and rifles, headed by a drummer, and led by a man brandishing a sabre and wearing a long coat of the King's livery. It is the coat of the coachman who has just been killed in the Rue Saint Thomas du Louvre.
When we arrive, M. Moreau and I, at the Place Royale we find it filled with an anxious crowd. We are immediately surrounded and questioned, and it is not without some difficulty that we reach the Mairie. The mass of people is too compact to admit of our addressing them in the Place. I ascend, with the Mayor, a few officers of the National Guard and two students of the Ecole Polytechnique, to the balcony of the Mairie. I raise my hand, the crowd becomes silent as though by magic, and I say:
"My friends, you are waiting for news. This is what we know: M. Thiers is no longer Minister and Marshal Bugeaud is no longer in command (applause). They have been replaced by Marshal Gerard and M. Odilon Barrot (applause, but less general). The Chamber has been dissolved. The King has abdicated (general cheering). The Duchess d'Orleans is Regent." (A few isolated bravos, mingled with low murmurs.)
"The name of Odilon Barrot is a guarantee that the widest and most open appeal will be made to the nation; and that you will have in all sincerity a representative government."
My declaration is responded to with applause from several points, but it appears evident that the great bulk of the crowd is uncertain as to what view of the situation they ought to take, and are not satisfied.
We re-enter the hall of the Mairie.
"Now," I say to M. Ernest Moreau, "I must go and proclaim the news in the Place de la Bastille."
But the Mayor is discouraged.
"You can very well see that it is useless," he says sadly. "The Regency is not accepted. And you have spoken here in a quarter where you are known and loved. At the Bastille your audience will be the revolutionary people of the faubourg, who will perhaps harm you."
"I will go," I say, "I promised Odilon Barrot that I would."
"I have changed my hat," the Mayor goes on, "but remember my hat of this morning."
"This morning the army and the people were face to face, and there was danger of a conflict; now, however, the people are alone, the people are the masters."
"Masters—and hostile; have a care!"
"No matter, I have promised, and I will keep my promise."
I tell the Mayor that his place is at the Mairie and that he ought to stay there. But several National Guard officers present themselves spontaneously and offer to accompany me, among them the excellent M. Launaye, my former captain. I accept their friendly offer, and we form a little procession and proceed by the Rue du Pas de la Mule and the Boulevard Beaumarchais towards the Place de la Bastille.
Here are a restless, eager crowd in which workingmen predominate, many of them armed with rifles taken from the barracks or given up to them by the soldiers; shouts and the song of the Girondins: "Die for the fatherland!" numerous groups debating and disputing passionately. They turn round, they look at us, they interrogate us:
"What's the news? What is going on?" And they follow us. I hear my name mentioned coupled with various sentiments: "Victor Hugo! It's Victor Hugo!" A few salute me. When we reach the Column of July we are surrounded by a considerable gathering. In order that I may be heard I mount upon the base of the column.
I will only repeat the words which it was possible for me to make my turbulent audience hear. It was much less a speech than a dialogue, but the dialogue of one voice with ten, twenty, a hundred voices more or less hostile.
I began by announcing at once the abdication of Louis Philippe, and, as in the Place Royale, applause that was practically unanimous greeted the news. There were also, however, cries of "No! no abdication, deposition! deposition!" Decidedly, I was going to have my hands full.
When I announced the Regency violent protests arose:
"No! no! No Regency! Down with the Bourbons! Neither King nor Queen! No masters!"
I repeated: "No masters! I don't want them any more than you do. I have defended liberty all my life."
"Then why do you proclaim the Regency?"
"Because a Queen-Regent is not a master. Besides, I have no right whatever to proclaim the Regency; I merely announce it."
"No! no! No Regency!"
A man in a blouse shouted: "Let the peer of France be silent. Down with the peer of France!" And he levelled his rifle at me. I gazed at him steadily, and raised my voice so loudly that the crowd became silent: "Yes, I am a peer of France, and I speak as a peer of France. I swore fidelity, not to a royal personage, but to the Constitutional Monarchy. As long as no other government is established it is my duty to be faithful to this one. And I have always thought that the people approved of a man who did his duty, whatever that duty might be."
There was a murmur of approbation and here and there a few bravos. But when I endeavoured to continue: "If the Regency—" the protests redoubled. I was permitted to take up only one of these protests. A workman had shouted: "We will not be governed by a woman." I retorted quickly:
"Well, neither will I be governed by a woman, nor even by a man. It was because Louis Philippe wanted to govern that his abdication is to-day necessary and just. But a woman who reigns in the name of a child! Is that not a guarantee against all thought of personal government? Look at Queen Victoria in England—"
"We are French, we are!" shouted several voices. "No Regency!"
"No Regency? Then, what? Nothing is ready, nothing! It means a total upheaval, ruin, distress, civil war, perhaps; in any case, it is the unknown."
One voice, a single voice, cried: "Long live the Republic!"
No other voice echoed it. Poor, great people, irresponsible and blind! They know what they do not want, but they do not know what they do want.
From this moment the noise, the shouts, the menaces became such that I gave up the attempt to get myself heard. My brave Launaye said: "You have done what you wanted to, what you promised to do; the only thing that remains for us to do is to withdraw."
The crowd opened before us, curious and inoffensive. But twenty paces from the column the man who had threatened me with his rifle came up with us and again levelled his weapon at me, shouting: "Down with the peer of France!" "No, respect the great man!" cried a young workman, who, with a quick movement, pushed the rifle downward. I thanked this unknown friend with a wave of the hand and passed on.
At the Mairie, M. Ernest Moreau, who it appears had been very anxious about us, received us with joy and cordially congratulated me. But I knew that even when their passions are aroused the people are just; and not the slightest credit was due to me, for I had not been uneasy in the least.
While these things were happening in the Place de la Bastille, this is what was taking place at the Palais Bourbon:
There is at this moment a man whose name is in everybody's mouth and the thought of whom is in everybody's mind; that man is Lamartine. His eloquent and vivid History of the Girondins has for the first time taught the Revolution to France. Hitherto he had only been illustrious; he has become popular and may be said to hold Paris in his hand.
In the universal confusion his influence could be decisive. This is what they said to themselves in the offices of the National, where the possible chances of the Republic had been weighed, and where a scheme for a provisional government had been sketched, from which Lamartine had been left out. In 1842, at the time of the debate over the Regency which resulted in the choice of the Duke de Nemours, Lamartine had pleaded warmly for the Duchess d'Orleans. Was he imbued with the same ideas to-day? What did he want? What would he do? It was necessary that this should be ascertained. M. Armand Marrast, the editor-in-chief of the National, took with him three notorious Republicans, M. Bastide, M. Hetzel, the publisher, and M. Bocage, the eminent comedian who created the role of Didier in "Marion de Lorme." All four went to the Chamber of Deputies. They found Lamartine there and held a conference with him in one of the offices.
They all spoke in turn, and expressed their convictions and hopes. They would be happy to think that Lamartine was with them for the immediate realization of the Republic. If, however, he judged that the transition of the Regency was necessary they asked him to at least aid them in obtaining serious guarantees against any retrogression. They awaited with emotion his decision in this great matter.
Lamartine listened to their reasons in silence, then requested them to allow him a few minutes for reflection. He sat apart from them at a table, leaned his head upon his hands, and thought. His four visitors, standing and silent, gazed at him respectfully. It was a solemn moment. "We listened to history passing," said Bocage to me.
Lamartine raised his head and said: "I will oppose the Regency."
A quarter of an hour later the Duchess d'Orleans arrived at the Chamber holding by the hand her two sons, the Count de Paris and the Duke de Chartres. M. Odilon. Barrot was not with her. The Duke de Nemours accompanied her.
She was acclaimed by the deputies. But, the Chamber having been dissolved, were there any deputies?
M. Cremieux ascended the tribune and flatly proposed a provisional government. M. Odilon Barrot, who had been fetched from the Ministry of the Interior, made his appearance at last and pleaded for the Regency, but without eclat and without energy. Suddenly a mob of people and National Guards with arms and flags invaded the chamber. The Duchess d'Orleans, persuaded by her friends, withdrew with her children.
The Chamber of Deputies then vanished, submerged by a sort of revolutionary assembly. Ledru-Rollin harangued this crowd. Next came Lamartine, who was awaited and acclaimed. He opposed the Regency, as he had promised.
That settled it. The names for a provisional government were proposed to the people. And by shouts of "yes" or "no" the people elected successively: Lamartine, Dupont de l'Eure, Arago, and Ledru-Rollin unanimously, Cremieux, Gamier-Pages, and Marie by a majority.
The new ministers at once set out for the Hotel de Ville.
At the Chamber of Deputies not once was the word "Republic" uttered in any of the speeches of the orators, not even in that of Ledru-Rollin. But now, outside, in the street, the elect of the people heard this words this shout, everywhere. It flew from mouth to mouth and filled the air of Paris.
The seven men who, in these supreme and extreme days, held the destiny of France in their hands were themselves at once tools and playthings in the hands of the mob, which is not the people, and of chance, which is not providence. Under the pressure of the multitude; in the bewilderment and terror of their triumph, which overwhelmed them, they decreed the Republic without having time to think that they were doing such a great thing.
When, having been separated and dispersed by the violent pushing of the crowd, they were able to find each other again and reassemble, or rather hide, in one of the rooms of the Hotel de Ville, they took half a sheet of paper, at the head of which were printed the words: "Prefecture of the Seine. Office of the Prefect." M. de Rambuteau may that very morning have used the other half of the sheet to write a love-letter to one of his "little bourgeoises," as he called them.
Under the dictation of terrible shouts outside Lamartine traced this phrase:
"The Provisional Government declares that the Provisional Government of France is the Republican Government, and that the nation shall be immediately called upon to ratify the resolution of the Provisional Government and of the people of Paris."
I had this paper, this sheet smeared and blotted with ink, in my hands. It was still stamped, still palpitating, so to speak, with the fever of the moment. The words hurriedly scribbled were scarcely formed. Appelee was written appellee.
When these half dozen lines had been written Lamartine handed the sheet to Ledru-Rollin.
Ledru-Rollin read aloud the phrase: "The Provisional Government declares that the Provisional Government of France is the Republican Government—"
"The word 'provisional' occurs twice," he commented.
"That is so," said the others.
"One of them at least must be effaced," added Ledru-Rollin.
Lamartine understood the significance of this grammatical observation, which was simply a political revolution.
"But we must await the sanction of France," he said. "I can do without the sanction of France," cried Ledru-Rollin, "when I have the sanction of the people."
"Of the people of Paris. But who knows at present what is the will of the people of France?" observed Lamartine.
There was an interval of silence. The noise of the multitude without sounded like the murmuring of the ocean. Ledru-Rollin went on:
"What the people want is the Republic at once, the Republic without waiting."
"The Republic without any delay?" said Lamartine, covering an objection in this interpretation of Ledru-Rollin's words.
"We are provisional," returned Ledru-Rollin, "but the Republic is not!"
M. Cremieux took the pen from Lamartine's hands, scratched out the word "provisional" at the end of the third line and wrote beside it: "actual."
"The actual government? Very well!" said Ledru-Rollin, with a slight shrug of the shoulder.
The seal of the City of Paris was on the table. Since 1830 the vessel sailing beneath a sky starred with fleurs-de-lys and with the device, Proelucent clarius astris, had disappeared from the seal of the City. The seal was merely a circle with the words "Ville de Paris" in the centre. Cremieux took the seal and stamped the paper so hastily with it that the words appeared upside down.
But they did not sign this rough draught. Their whereabouts had been discovered; an impetuous stream was surging against the door of the office in which they had taken refuge. The people were calling, ordering, them to go to the meeting-hall of the Municipal Council.
There they were greeted by this clamour: "The Republic! Long live the Republic! Proclaim the Republic!" Lamartine, who was at first interrupted by the cries, succeeded at length with his grand voice in calming this feverish impatience.
The members of the Provisional Government were thus enabled to return and resume their session and lively discussion. The more ardent ones wanted the document to read: "The Provisional Government proclaims the Republic." The moderates proposed: "The Provisional Government desires the Republic." A compromise was reached on the proposition of M. Cremieux, and the sentence was made to read: "The Provisional Government 'is for' the Republic." To this was added: "subject to the ratification of the people, who will be immediately consulted."
The news was at once announced to the crowds in the meeting-hall and in the square outside, who would listen to nothing but the word "republic," and saluted it with tremendous cheering.
The Republic was established. Alea jacta, as Lamartine observed later.
During the morning everything at and in the neighbourhood of the Mairie of the Eighth Arrondissement was relatively calm, and the steps to maintain order taken the previous day with the approval of M. Ernest Moreau appeared to have assured the security of the quarter.* I thought I might leave the Place Royale and repair towards the centre of the city with my son Victor. The restlessness and agitation of a people (of the people of Paris!) on the morrow of a revolution was a spectacle that had an irresistible attraction for me.
* On the evening of the 24th, there had been reason to apprehend disturbances in the Eighth Arrondissement, disturbances particularly serious in that they would not have been of a political character. The prowlers and evil-doers with hang-dog mien who seem to issue from the earth in times of trouble were very much in evidence in the streets. At the Prison of La Force, in the Rue Saint Antoine, the common law criminals had begun a revolt by locking up their keepers. To what public force could appeal be made? The Municipal Guard had been disbanded, the army was confined to barracks; as to the police, no one would have known where to find them. Victor Hugo, in a speech which this time was cheered, confided life and property to the protection and devotedness of the people. A civic guard in blouses was improvised. Empty shops that were to let were transformed into guard houses, patrols were organized and sentries posted. The rebellious prisoners at La Force, terrified by the assertion that cannon (which did not exist) had been brought to bear upon the prison and that unless they surrendered promptly and unconditionally they would be blown sky-high, submitted quietly and returned to work.
The weather was cloudy, but mild, and the rain held off. The streets were thrilling with a noisy, joyous crowd. The people continued with incredible ardour to fortify the barricades that had already been constructed, and even to build new ones. Bands of them with flags flying and drums beating marched about shouting "Long live the Republic!" and singing the "Marseillaise and Die for the Fatherland!" The cafes were crowded to overflowing, but many of the shops were closed, as on holidays; and, indeed, the city did present a holiday appearance.
I made my way along the quays to the Pont Neuf. There, at the bottom of a proclamation I read the name of Lamartine, and having seen the people, I experienced the desire to see my great friend. I therefore turned back with Victor towards the Hotel de Ville.
As on the previous day, the square in front of the building was filled with a crowd, and the crowd was so compact that it immobilized itself. It was impossible to approach the steps of the front entrance. After several attempts to get somewhere near to them, I was about to force my way back out of the crowd when I was perceived by M. Froment-Meurice, the artist-goldsmith, brother of my young friend, Paul Meurice. He was a major of the National Guard, and on duty with his battalion at the Hotel de Ville. "Make way!" he shouted authoritatively. "Make way for Victor Hugo!" And the human wall opened, how I do not know, before his epaulettes.
The entrance once passed, M. Froment-Meurice guided us up all sorts of stairways, and through corridors and rooms encumbered with people. As we were passing a man came from a group, and planting himself in front of me, said: "Citizen Victor Hugo, shout 'Long live the Republic!'"
"I will shout nothing by order," said I. "Do you understand what liberty is? For my part, I practise it. I will shout to-day 'Long live the people!' because it pleases me to do so. The day when I shout 'Long live the Republic!' it will be because I want to."
"Hear! hear! He is right," murmured several voices.
And we passed on.
After many detours M. Froment-Meurice ushered us into a small room where he left us while he went to inform Lamartine that I wished to see him.
The glass door of the room gave on to a gallery, passing along which I saw my friend David d'Angers, the great statuary. I called to him. David, who was an old-time Republican, was beaming. "Ah! my friend, what a glorious day!" he exclaimed. He told me that the Provisional Government had appointed him Mayor of the Eleventh Arrondissement. "They have sent for you for something of the same kind, I suppose?" he said. "No," I answered, "I have not been sent for. I came of my own accord just to shake Lamartine's hand."
M. Froment-Meurice returned and announced that Lamartine awaited me. I left Victor in the room, telling him to wait there till I came back, and once more followed my obliging guide through more corridors that led to a vestibule that was crowded with people. "They are all office seekers!" explained M. Froment-Meurice. The Provisional Government was holding a session in the adjoining room. The door was guarded by two armed grenadiers of the National Guard, who were impassible, and deaf alike to entreaties and menaces. I had to force my way through this crowd. One of the grenadiers, on the lookout for me, opened the door a little way to let me in. The crowd immediately made a rush and tried to push past the sentries, who, however, aided by M. Froment-Meurice, forced them back and closed the door behind me.
I was in a spacious hall that formed the angle of one of the pavilions of the Hotel de Ville, and was lighted on two sides by long windows. I would have preferred to find Lamartine alone, but there were with him, dispersed about the room and talking to friends or writing, three or four of his colleagues in the Provisional Government, Arago, Marie, and Armand Marrast. Lamartine rose as I entered. On his frock-coat, which was buttoned up as usual, he wore an ample tri-colour sash, slung across his shoulder. He advanced to meet me, and stretching out his hand, exclaimed: "Ah! you have come over to us! Victor Hugo is a strong recruit indeed for the Republic."
"Not so fast, my friend," said I with a laugh. "I have come simply to see my friend Lamartine. Perhaps you are not aware of the fact that yesterday while you were opposing the Regency in the Chamber, I was defending it in the Place de la Bastille."
"Yesterday, that was all right; but to-day? There is now neither Regency nor Royalty. It is impossible that Victor Hugo is not at heart Republican."
"In principle, yes, I am. The Republic is, in my opinion, the only rational form of government, the only one worthy of the nations. The universal Republic is inevitable in the natural course of progress. But has its hour struck in France? It is because I want the Republic that I want it to be durable and definitive. You are going to consult the nation, are you not?—the whole nation?"
"The whole nation, assuredly. We of the Provisional Government are all for universal suffrage."
At this moment Arago came up to us with M. Armand Marrast, who held a folded paper in his hand.
"My dear friend," said Lamartine, "know that this morning we selected you for Mayor of your arrondissement."
"And here is the patent signed by us all," said Armand Marrast.
"I thank you," said I, "but I cannot accept it."
"Why?" continued Arago. "These are non-political and purely gratuitous functions."
"We were informed just now about the attempted revolt at La Force," added Lamartine. "You did better than suppress it, you forestalled it. You are loved and respected in your arrondissement."
"My authority is wholly moral," I rejoined; "it could but lose weight in becoming official. Besides, on no account would I dispossess M. Ernest Moreau, who has borne himself loyally and valiantly throughout this trouble."
Lamartine and Arago insisted: "Do not refuse our brevet."
"Very well," said I, "I will take it—for the sake of the autographs; but it is understood that I keep it in my pocket."
"Yes, keep it," said Armand Marrast laughingly, "so that you can say that one day you were pair and the next day maire."
Lamartine took me aside into the recess of a window.
"It is not a mairie I would like you to have, but a ministry. Victor Hugo, the Republic's Minister of Instruction! Come now, since you say that you are Republican!"
"Republican—in principle. But in fact, I was yesterday peer of France, I was yesterday for the Regency, and, believing the Republic to be premature, I should be also for the Regency to-day."
"Nations are above dynasties," went on Lamartine. "I, too, have been a Royalist."
"Yes, but you were a deputy, elected by the nation; I was a peer, appointed by the King."
"The King in choosing you, under the terms of the Constitution, in one of the categories from which the Upper House was recruited, but honoured the peerage and also honoured himself."
"I thank you," said I, "but you look at things from the outside; I consider them in my conscience."
We were interrupted by the noise of a prolonged fusillade which broke out suddenly on the square. A bullet smashed a window-pane above our heads.
"What is the matter now?" exclaimed Lamartine in sorrowful tones.
M. Armand Marrast and M. Marie went out to see what was going on.
"Ah! my friend," continued Lamartine, "how heavy is this revolutionary power to bear! One has to assume such weighty and such sudden responsibilities before one's conscience and in presence of history! I do not know how I have been living during the past ten days. Yesterday I had a few grey hairs; to-morrow they will be white."
"Yes, but you are doing your duty as a man of genius grandly," I commented.
In a few minutes M. Armand Marrast returned.
"It was not against us," he said. "How the lamentable affray came about could not be explained to me. There was a collision, the rifles went off, why? Was it a misunderstanding, was it a quarrel between Socialists and Republicans? No one knows."
"Are there any wounded?"
"Yes, and dead, too."
A gloomy silence followed. I rose. "You have no doubt some measures to take?" I said.
"What measures?" answered Lamartine. "This morning we resolved to decree what you have already been able to do on a small scale in your quarter: the organization of the citizen's National Guard—every Frenchman a soldier as well as a voter. But time is required, and meanwhile—" he pointed to the waves and eddies of heads surging on the square outside—"look, it is the sea!"
A boy wearing an apron entered and spoke to him in low tones.
"Ah! very good!" said Lamartine, "it is my luncheon. Will you share it with me, Hugo?"
"Thanks, I have already lunched."
"I haven't and I am dying of hunger. At least come and look on at the feast; I will let you go, afterwards."
He showed me into a room that gave on to an interior court-yard. A gentle faced young man who was writing at a table rose and was about to withdraw. He was the young workman whom Louis Blanc had had attached to the Provisional Government.
"Stay where you are, Albert," said Lamartine, "I have nothing of a private nature to say to Victor Hugo."
We saluted each other, M. Albert and I.
The little waiter showed Lamartine a table upon which were some mutton cutlets in an earthenware dish, some bread, a bottle of wine and a glass. The whole came from a wine-shop in the neighbourhood.
"Well," exclaimed Lamartine, "what about a knife and fork?"
"I thought you had knives and forks here," returned the boy. "I had trouble enough to bring the luncheon, and if I have got to go and fetch knives and forks—"
"Pshaw!" said Lamartine, "one must take things as they come!"
He broke the bread, took a cutlet by the bone and tore the meat with his teeth. When he had finished he threw the bone into the fireplace. In this manner he disposed of three cutlets, and drank two glasses of wine.
"You will agree with me that this is a primitive repast!" he said. "But it is an improvement on our supper last night. We had only bread and cheese among us, and we all drank water from the same chipped sugar-bowl. Which didn't, it appears, prevent a newspaper this morning from denouncing the great orgy of the Provisional Government!"
I did not find Victor in the room where he was to have waited for me. I supposed that, having become tired of waiting, he had returned home alone.
When I issued on to the Place de Greve the crowd was still excited and in a state of consternation at the inexplicable collision that had occurred an hour before. The body of a wounded man who had just expired was carried past me. They told me that it was the fifth. It was taken, as the other bodies had been taken, to the Salle Saint Jean, where the dead of the previous day to the number of over a hundred had been exposed.
Before returning to the Place Royale I made a tour for the purpose of visiting our guard-houses. Outside the Minimes Barracks a boy of about fifteen years, armed with the rifle of a soldier of the line, was proudly mounting guard. It seemed to me that I had seen him there in the morning or the day before.
"What!" I said, "are you doing sentry duty again?"
"No, not again; I haven't yet been relieved."
"You don't say so. Why, how long have you been here?"
"Oh, about seventeen hours!"
"What! haven't you slept? Haven't you eaten?"
"Yes, I have had something to eat."
"You went to get it, of course?"
"No, I didn't, a sentry does not quit his post! This morning I shouted to the people in the shop across the way that I was hungry, and they brought me some bread."
I hastened to have the brave child relieved from duty.
On arriving in the Place Royale I inquired for Victor. He had not returned. I was seized with a shudder of fear. I do not know why the vision of the dead who had been transported to the Salle Saint Jean should have come into my mind. What if my Victor had been caught in that bloody affray? I gave some pretext for going out again. Vacquerie was there; I told him of my anguish in a whisper, and he offered to accompany me.
First of all we called upon M. Froment-Meurice, whose establishment was in the Rue Lobau, next to the Hotel de Ville, and I asked him to have me admitted to the Salle Saint Jean. At first he sought to dissuade me from seeing the hideous sight; he had seen it the previous day and was still under the impression of the horror it inspired. I fancied his reluctance was a bad sign, that he was trying to keep something from me. This made me insist the more, and we went.
In the large Salle Saint Jean, transformed into a vast morgue, lay the long line of corpses upon camp bedsteads. For the most part they were unrecognisable. And I held the dreadful review, quaking in my shoes when one of the dead was young and slim with chestnut hair. Yes, the spectacle of the poor blood-stained dead was horrible indeed! But I could not describe it; all that I saw of each body was that it was not that of my child. At length I reached the last one, and breathed freely once more.
As I issued from the lugubrious place I saw Victor, very much alive, running towards me. When he heard the firing he had left the room where he was waiting for me, and not being able to find his way back, had been to see a friend.
II. EXPULSIONS AND ESCAPES.
May 3, 1848.
On February 24 the Duke and Duchess Decazes were literally driven from the Luxembourg. And by whom? By the very denizens of the palace, all employes of the Chamber of Peers, all appointed by the grand referendary. A rumour was circulated in the quarter that during the night the peers would commit some anti-revolutionary act, publish a proclamation, etc. The entire Faubourg Saint Jacques prepared to march against the Luxembourg. Hence, great terror. First the Duke and Duchess were begged, then pressed, then constrained to leave the palace.
"We will leave to-morrow. We do not know where to go. Let us pass the night here," they said.
They were driven out.
They slept in a lodging-house. Next day they took up their abode at 9, Rue Verneuil.
M. Decazes was very ill. A week before he had undergone an operation. Mme. Decazes bore it all with cheerfulness and courage. This is a trait of character that women often display in trying situations brought about through the stupidity of men.
The ministers escaped, but not without difficulty. M. Duchatel, in particular, had a great fright.
M. Guizot, three days previously, had quitted the Hotel des Capucines and installed himself at the Ministry of the Interior. He lived there en famille with M. Duchatel.
On February 24, MM. Duchatel and Guizot were about to sit down to luncheon when an usher rushed in with a frightened air. The head of the column of rioters was debouching from the Rue de Bourgogne. The two ministers left the table and managed to escape just in time by way of the garden. Their families followed them: M. Duchatel's young wife, M. Guizot's aged mother, and the children.
A notable thing about this flight was that the luncheon of M. Guizot became the supper of M. Ledru-Rollin. It was not the first time that the Republic had eaten what had been served to the Monarchy.
Meanwhile the fugitives had taken the Rue Bellechasse. M. Guizot walked first, giving his arm to Mme. Duchatel. His fur-lined overcoat was buttoned up and his hat as usual was stuck on the back of his head. He was easily recognisable. In the Rue Hillerin-Bertin, Mme. Duchatel noticed that some men in blouses were gazing at M. Guizot in a singular manner, She led him into a doorway. It chanced that she knew the doorkeeper. They hid M. Guizot in an empty room on the fifth floor.
Here M. Guizot passed the day, but he could not stay there. One of his friends remembered a bookseller, a great admirer of M. Guizot, who in better days had often declared that he would devote himself to and give his life for him whom he called "a great man," and that he only hoped the opportunity for doing so might present itself. This friend called upon him, reminded him of what he had said, and told him that the hour had come. The brave bookseller did not fail in what was expected of him. He placed his house at M. Guizot's disposal and hid him there for ten whole days. At the end of that time the eight places in a compartment of a carriage on the Northern Railway were hired. M. Guizot made his way to the station at nightfall. The seven persons who were aiding in his escape entered the compartment with him. They reached Lille, then Ostend, whence M. Guizot crossed over to England.
M. Duchatel's escape was more complicated.
He managed to secure a passport as an agent of the Republic on a mission. He disguised himself, dyed his eye-brows, put on blue spectacles, and left Paris in a post-chaise. Twice he was stopped by National Guards in the towns through which he passed. With great audacity he declared that he would hold responsible before the Republic those who delayed him on his mission. The word "Republic" produced its effect. They allowed the Minister to pass. The Republic saved M. Duchatel.
In this way he reached a seaport (Boulogne, I think), believing that he was being hotly pursued, and very nervous in consequence. A Channel steamer was going to England. He went on board at night. He was installing himself for the voyage when he was informed that the steamer would not leave that night. He thought that he had been discovered and that he was a lost man. The steamer had merely been detained by the English Consul, probably to facilitate, if necessary, the flight of Louis Philippe. M. Duchatel landed again and spent the night and next day in the studio of a woman painter who was devoted to him.
Then he embarked on another steamer. He went below at once and concealed himself as best he could pending the departure of the vessel. He scarcely dared to breathe, fearing that at any moment he might be recognised and seized. At last the steamer got under way. Hardly had the paddle wheels begun to revolve, however, when shouts of "Stop her! Stop her!" were raised on the quay and on the boat, which stopped short. This time the poor devil of a Minister thought it was all up with him. The hubbub was caused by an officer of the National Guard, who, in taking leave of friends, had lingered too long on deck, and did not want to be taken to England against his will. When he found that the vessel had cast off he had shouted "Stop her!" and his family on the quay had taken up the shout. The officer was put ashore and the steamer finally started.
This was how M. Duchatel left France and reached England.
III. LOUIS PHILIPPE IN EXILE. May 3, 1848.
The Orleans family in England are literally in poverty; they are twenty-two at table and drink water. There is not the slightest exaggeration in this. Absolutely all they have to live upon is an income of about 40,000 francs made up as follows: 24,000 francs a year from Naples, which came from Queen Marie Amelie, and the interest on a sum of 340,000 francs which Louis Philippe had forgotten under the following circumstances: During his last triumphal voyage made in October, 1844, with the Prince de Joinville, he had a credit of 500,000 francs opened for him with a London banker. Of this sum he spent only 160,000 francs. He was greatly amazed and very agreeably surprised on arriving in London to find that the balance of the 500,000 francs remained at his disposal.
M. Vatout is with the Royal Family. For the whole of them there are but three servants, of whom one, and one only, accompanied them from the Tuileries. In this state of destitution they demanded of Paris the restitution of what belongs to them in France; their property is under seizure, and has remained so notwithstanding their reclamations. For different reasons. One of the motives put forward by the Provisional Government is the debt of the civil list, which amounts to thirty millions. Queer ideas about Louis Philippe were entertained. He may have been covetous, but he certainly was not miserly; he was the most prodigal, the most extravagant and least careful of men: he had debts, accounts and arrears everywhere. He owed 700,000 francs to a cabinet-maker; to his market gardener he owed 70,000 francs *for butter*.
Consequently none of the seals placed on the property could be broken and everything is held to secure the creditors—everything, even to the personal property of the Prince and Princess de Joinville, rentes, diamonds, etc., even to a sum of 198,000 francs which belongs in her own right to the Duchess d'Orleans.
All that the Royal Family was able to obtain was their clothing and personal effects, or rather what could be found of these. Three long tables were placed in the theatre of the Tuileries, and on these were laid out all that the revolutionists of February had turned over to the governor of the Tuileries, M. Durand Saint-Amand. It formed a queer medley—court costumes stained and torn, grand cordons of the Legion of Honour that had been trailed through the mud, stars of foreign orders, swords, diamond crowns, pearl necklaces, a collar of the Golden Fleece, etc. Each legal representative of the princes, an aide-de-camp or secretary, took what he recognised. It appears that on the whole little was recovered. The Duke de Nemours merely asked for some linen and in particular his heavy-soled shoes.
The Prince de Joinville, meeting the Duke de Montpensier, greeted him thus: "Ah! here you are, Monsieur; you were not killed, you have not had good luck!"
Gudin, the marine painter, who went to England, saw Louis Philippe. The King is greatly depressed. He said to Gudin: "I don't understand it. What happened in Paris? What did the Parisians get into their heads? I haven't any idea. One of these days they will recognise that I did not do one thing wrong." He did not, indeed, do one thing wrong; he did all things wrong!
He had in fact reached an incredible degree of optimism; he believed himself to be more of a king than Louis XIV. and more of an emperor than Napoleon. On Tuesday the 22nd he was exuberantly gay, and was still occupied solely with his own affairs, and these of the pettiest character. At 2 o'clock when the first shots were being fired, he was conferring with his lawyers and business agents, MM. de Gerante, Scribe and Denormandie, as to what could best be done about Madame Adelaide's will. On Wednesday, at 1 o'clock, when the National Guard was declaring against the government, which meant revolution, the King sent for M. Hersent to order of him a picture of some kind.
Charles X. was a lynx.
Louis Philippe in England, however, bears his misfortune worthily. The English aristocracy acted nobly; eight or ten of the wealthiest peers wrote to Louis Philippe to offer him their chateaux and their purses. The King replied: "I accept and keep only your letters."
The Duchess d'Orleans is also in straitened circumstances. She is on bad terms with the d'Orleans family and the Mecklenburg family is on bad terms with her. On the one hand she will accept nothing, and on the other she can expect nothing.
At this time of writing (May, 1848) the Tuileries have already been repaired, and M. Empis remarked to me this morning: "They are going to clean up and nothing of the damage done will be apparent." Neuilly and the Palais-Royal, however, have been devastated. The picture gallery of the Palais-Royal, a pretty poor one by the by, has practically been destroyed. Only a single picture remains perfectly intact, and that is the Portrait of Philippe Egalite. Was it purposely respected by the riot or is its preservation an irony of chance? The National Guards amused, and still amuse, themselves by cutting out of the canvases that were not entirely destroyed by fire faces to which they take a fancy.
IV. KING JEROME.
There entered my drawing-room in the Place Royale one morning in March, 1848, a man of medium height, about sixty-five or sixty-six years of age, dressed in black, a red and blue ribbon in his buttonhole, and wearing patent-leather boots and white gloves. He was Jerome Napoleon, King of Westphalia.
He had a very gentle voice, a charming though somewhat timid smile, straight hair turning grey, and something of the profile of the Emperor.
He came to thank me for the permission that had been accorded to him to return to France, which he attributed to me, and begged me to get him appointed Governor of the Invalides. He told me that M. Cremieux, one of the members of the Provisional Government, had said to him the previous day:
"If Victor Hugo asks Lamartine to do it, it will be done. Formerly everything depended upon an interview between two emperors; now everything depends upon an interview between two poets."
"Tell M. Cremieux that it is he who is the poet," I replied to King Jerome with a smile.
In November, 1848, the King of Westphalia lived on the first floor above the entresol at No. 3, Rue d'Alger. It was a small apartment with mahogany furniture and woollen velvet upholstering.
The wall paper of the drawing-room was grey. The room was lighted by two lamps and ornamented by a heavy clock in the Empire style and two not very authentic pictures, although the frame of one bore the name: "Titiens," and the frame of the other the name: "Rembrandt." On the mantelpiece was a bronze bust of Napoleon, one of those familiar and inevitable busts that the Empire bequeathed us.
The only vestiges of his royal existence that remained to the prince were his silverware and dinner service, which were ornamented with royal crowns richly engraved and gilded.
Jerome at that time was only sixty-four years old, and did not look his age. His eyes were bright, his smile benevolent and charming, and his hands small and still shapely. He was habitually attired in black with a gold chain in his buttonhole from which hung three crosses, the Legion of Honour, the Iron Crown, and his Order of Westphalia created by him in imitation of the Iron Crown.
Jerome talked well, with grace always and often with wit. He was full of reminiscences and spoke of the Emperor with a mingled respect and affection that was touching. A little vanity was perceptible; I would have preferred pride.
Moreover he received with bonhomie all the varied qualifications which were brought upon him by his strange position of a man who was no longer king, no longer proscribed, and yet was not a citizen. Everybody addressed him as he pleased. Louis Philippe called him "Highness," M. Boulay de la Meurthe "Sire" or "Your Majesty," Alexandre Dumas "Monseigneur," I addressed him as "Prince," and my wife called him "Monsieur." On his card he wrote "General Bonaparte." In his place I would have understood his position. King or nothing.
RELATED BY KING JEROME.
In the evening of the day following that on which Jerome, recalled from exile, returned to Paris, he had vainly waited for his secretary, and feeling bored and lonely, went out. It was at the end of summer (1847). He was staying at the house of his daughter, Princess Demidoff, which was off the Champs-Elysees.
He crossed the Place de la Concorde, looking about him at the statues, obelisk and fountains, which were new to the exile who had not seen Paris for thirty-two years. He continued along the Quai des Tuileries. I know not what reverie took possession of his soul. Arrived at the Pavillon de Flore, he entered the gate, turned to the left, and began to walk up a flight of stairs under the arch. He had gone up two or three steps when he felt himself seized by the arm. It was the gatekeeper who had run after him.
"Hi! Monsieur, monsieur, where are you going?"
Jerome gazed at him in astonishment and replied:
"Why, to my apartments, of course!"
Hardly had he uttered the words, however, when he awoke from his dream. The past had bewitched him for a moment. In recounting the incident to me he said:
"I went away shamefacedly, and apologizing to the porter."
V. THE DAYS OF JUNE.
The insurrection of June presented peculiar features from the outset.* It suddenly manifested itself to terrified society in monstrous and unknown forms.
* At the end of June, four months after the proclamation of the Republic, regular work had come to a standstill and the useless workshops known as the "national workshops" had been abolished by the National Assembly. Then the widespread distress prevailing caused the outbreak of one of the most formidable insurrections recorded in history. The power at that time was in the hands of an Executive Committee of five members, Lamartine, Arago, Ledru Rollin, Garnier-Pages and Marie. General Cavaignac was Minister of War.