I recalled several things to his mind. He said: "Do you remember that it was I who received you when you arrived at the Baudin barricade?" * I replied: "I remember the fact so well that—. And I recited the lines at the beginning of the piece (unpublished) upon the Baudin barricade:
La barricade etait livide dans l'aurore, Et comme j'arrivais elle fumait encore. Rey me serra la main et dit: Baudin est mort...
* Representative Baudin was killed on the barricade in the Faubourg Saint Antoine on December 2, 1852, during Louis Bonaparte's coup d'Etat.
He burst into tears.
September 7.—Louis Blanc, d'Alton-Shee, Banville and others came to see me.
The women of the Markets brought me a bouquet.
September 8.—I am warned that it is proposed to assassinate me. I shrug my shoulders.
This morning I wrote my "Letter to the Germans." It will be sent tomorrow.
Visit from General Cluseret.
At 10 o'clock I went to the office of the Rappel to correct the proofs of my "Letter to the Germans."
September 9.—Received a visit from General Montfort. The generals are asking me for commands, I am being asked to grant audiences, office-seekers are asking me for places. I reply: "I am nobody."
I saw Captain Feval, husband of Fanny, the sister of Alice. * He was a prisoner of war, and was released on parole.
* Wife of Charles Hugo.
All the newspapers publish my "Appeal to the Germans."
September 10.—D'Alton-Shee and Louis Ulbach lunched with us. Afterwards we went to the Place de la Concorde. At the foot of the flower-crowned statue of Strasburg is a register. Everybody comes to sign the resolution of public thanks. I inscribed my name. The crowd at once surrounded me. The ovation of the other night was about to recommence. I hurried to my carriage.
Among the persons who called upon me was Cernuschi.
September 11.—Received a visit from Mr. Wickham Hoffman, Secretary of the United States Legation. Mr. Washburne, the American Minister, had requested him to ask me whether I did not think that some good might result were he to intervene *officiously* and see the King of Prussia. I sent him to Jules Favre.
September 12.—Among other callers was Frederick Lemaitre.
September 13.—To-day there is a review of the army of Paris. I am alone in my chamber. The battalions march through the streets singing the "Marseillaise" and the "Chant du Depart." I hear this immense shout:
For France a Frenchman should live, For France a Frenchman should die.*
* The "Chant du Depart."
I listen and I weep. On, valiant ones! I will go where you go.
Receive a visit from the United States Consul-General and Mr. Wickham Hoffman.
Julie* writes me from Guernsey that the acorn I planted on July 14 has sprouted. The oak of the United States of Europe issued from the ground on September 5, the day of my return to Paris.
* Victor Hugo's sister-in-law.
September 14.—I received a visit from the committee of the Societe des Gens de Lettres, which wants me to be its president; from M. Jules Simon, Minister of Public Instruction; from Colonel Pire, who commands a corps of volunteers, etc.
September 16.—One year ago to-day I opened the Peace Congress at Lausanne. This morning I wrote the "Appeal to Frenchmen" for a war to the bitter end against the invasion.
On going out I perceived hovering over Montmartre the captive balloon from which a watch is to be kept upon the besiegers.
September 17.—All the forests around Paris are burning. Charles made a trip to the fortifications and is perfectly satisfied with them. I deposited at the office of the Rappel 2,088 francs 30 centimes, subscribed in Guernsey for the wounded and sent by M. H. Tupper, the French Consul.
At the same time I deposited at the "Rappel" office a bracelet and earrings of gold, sent anonymously for the wounded by a woman. Accompanying the trinkets was a little golden neck medal for Jeanne.*
* Victor Hugo's little granddaughter.
September 20.—Charles and his little family left the Hotel Navarin yesterday and installed themselves at 174, Rue de Rivoli. Charles and his wife, as well as Victor, will continue to dine with me every day.
The attack upon Paris began yesterday.
Louis Blanc, Gambetta and Jules Ferry came to see me this morning.
I went to the Institute to sign the Declaration that it proposes to issue encouraging the capital to resist to the last.
I will not accept any limited candidacy. I would accept with devotedness the candidacy of the city of Paris. I want the voting to be not by districts, with local candidates, but by the whole city with one list to select from.
I went to the Ministry of Public Instruction to see Mme. Jules Simon, who is in mourning for her old friend Victor Bois. Georges and Jeanne were in the garden. I played with them.
Nadar came to see me this evening to ask me for some letters to put in a balloon which he will send up the day after tomorrow. It will carry with it my three addresses: "To the Germans," "To Frenchmen," "To Parisians."
October 6.—Nadar's balloon, which has been named the "Barbes," and which is taking my letters, etc., started this morning, but had to come down again, as there was not enough wind. It will leave to-morrow. It is said that Jules Favre and Gambetta will go in it.
Last night General John Meredith Read, United States Consul-General, called upon me. He had seen the American General Burnside, who is in the Prussian camp. The Prussians, it appears, have respected Versailles. They are afraid to attack Paris. This we are aware of, for we can see it for ourselves.
October 7.—This morning, while strolling on the Boulevard de Clichy, I perceived a balloon at the end of a street leading to Montmartre. I went up to it. A small crowd bordered a large square space that was walled in by the perpendicular bluffs of Montmartre. In this space three balloons were being inflated, a large one, a medium-sized one, and a small one. The large one was yellow, the medium one white, and the small one striped yellow and red.
In the crowd it was whispered that Gambetta was going. Sure enough I saw him in a group near the yellow balloon, wearing a heavy overcoat and a sealskin cap. He seated himself upon a paving-stone and put on a pair of high fur-lined boots. A leather bag was slung over his shoulder. He took it off, entered the balloon, and a young man, the aeronaut, tied the bag to the cordage above Gambetta's head.
It was half past 10. The weather was fine and sunshiny, with a light southerly breeze. All at once the yellow balloon rose, with three men in it, one of whom was Gambetta. Then the white balloon went up with three men, one of whom waved a tricolour flag. Beneath Gambetta's balloon hung a long tricolour streamer. "Long live the Republic!" shouted the crowd.
The two balloons went up for some distance, the white one going higher than the yellow one, then they began to descend. Ballast was thrown out, but they continued their downward flight. They disappeared behind Montmartre hill. They must have landed on the Saint Denis plain. They were too heavily weighted, or else the wind was not strong enough.
* * * * *
The departure took place after all, for the balloons went up again.
We paid a visit to Notre Dame, which has been admirably restored.
We also went to see the Tour Saint Jacques. While our carriage was standing there one of the delegates of the other day (from the Eleventh Arrondissement) came up and told me that the Eleventh Arrondissement had come round to my views, concluded that I was right in insisting upon a vote of the whole city upon a single list of candidates, begged me to accept the nomination upon the conditions I had imposed, and wanted to know what ought to be done should the Government refuse to permit an election. Ought force be resorted to? I replied that a civil war would help the foreign war that was being waged against us and deliver Paris to the Prussians.
On the way home I bought some toys for my little ones—a zouave in a sentry-box for Georges, and for Jeanne a doll that opens and shuts its eyes.
October 8.—I have received a letter from M. L. Colet, of Vienna (Austria), by way of Normandy. It is the first letter that has reached me from the outside since Paris has been invested.
There has been no sugar in Paris for six days. The rationing of meat began to-day. We shall get three quarters of a pound per person and per day.
Incidents of the postponed Commune. Feverish unrest in Paris. Nothing to cause uneasiness, however. The deep-toned Prussian cannon thunder continuously. They recommend unity among us.
The Minister of Finance, M. Ernest Picard, through his secretary, asks me to "grant him an audience;" these are the terms he uses. I answer that I will see him on Monday morning, October 10.
October 9.—Five delegates from the Ninth Arrondissement came in the name of the arrondissement to *forbid me to get myself killed*.
October 10.—M. Ernest Picard came to see me. I asked him to issue immediately a decree liberating all articles pawned at the Mont de Piete for less than 15 francs (the present decree making absurd exceptions, linen, for instance). I told him that the poor could not wait. He promised to issue the decree to-morrow.
There is no news of Gambetta. We are beginning to get uneasy. The wind carried him to the north-east, which is occupied by the Prussians.
October 11.—Good news of Gambetta. He descended at Epineuse, near Amiens.
Last night, after the demonstrations in Paris, while passing a group that had assembled under a street lamp, I heard these words: "It appears that Victor Hugo and the others—." I continued on my way, and did not listen to the rest, as I did not wish to be recognised.
After dinner I read to my friends the verses with which the French edition of Les Chatiments begins ("When about to return to France," Brussels, August 31, 1870).
October 12.—It is beginning to get cold. Barbieux, who commands a battalion, brought us the helmet of a Prussian soldier who was killed by his men. This helmet greatly astonished little Jeanne. These angels do not yet know anything about earth.
The decree I demanded for the indigent was published this morning in the "Journal Officiel."
M. Pallain, the Minister's secretary, whom I met as I came out of the Carrousel, told me that the decree would cost 800,000 francs.
I replied: "Eight hundred thousand francs, all right. Take from the rich. Give to the poor."
October 13.—I met to-day Theophile Gautier, whom I I had not seen for many years. I embraced him. He was rather nervous. I told him to come and dine with me.
October 14.—The Chateau of Saint Cloud was burned yesterday!
I went to Claye's to correct last proofs of the French edition of Les Chatiments which will appear on Tuesday. Dr. Emile Allix brought me a Prussian cannon-ball which he had picked up behind a barricade, near Montrouge, where it had just killed two horses. The cannon-ball weighs 25 pounds. Georges, in playing with it, pinched his fingers under it, which made him cry a good deal.
To-day is the anniversary of Jena!
October 16.—There is no more butter. There is no more cheese. Very little milk is left, and eggs are nearly all gone.
The report that my name has been given to the Boulevard Haussmann is confirmed. I have not been to see it for myself.
October 17.—To-morrow a postal balloon named the "Victor Hugo" is to be sent up in the Place de la Concorde. I am sending a letter to London by this balloon.
October 18.—I have paid a visit to Les Feuillantines. The house and garden of my boyhood have disappeared.
A street now passes over the site.
October 19.—Louis Blanc came to dine with me. He brought a declaration by ex-Representatives for me to sign. I said that I would not sign it unless it were drawn up in a different manner.
October 20.—Visit from the Gens de Lettres committee. To-day the first postage stamps of the Republic of 1870 were put in circulation.
Les Chatiments (French edition) appeared in Paris this morning.
The papers announce that the balloon "Victor Hugo" descended in Belgium. It is the first postal balloon to cross the frontier.
October 21.-They say that Alexandre Dumas died on October 13 at the home of his son at Havre. He was a large-hearted man of great talent. His death grieves me greatly.
Louis Blanc and Brives came to speak to me again about the Declaration of Representatives. My opinion is that it would be better to postpone it.
Nothing is more charming than the sounding of the reveille in Paris. It is dawn. One hears first, nearby, a roll of drums, followed by the blast of a bugle, exquisite melody, winged and warlike. Then all is still. In twenty seconds the drums roll again, then the bugle rings out, but further off. Then silence once more. An instant later, further off still, the same song of bugle and drum falls more faintly but still distinctly upon the ear. Then after a pause the roll and blast are repeated, very far away. Then they are heard again, at the extremity of the horizon, but indistinctly and like an echo. Day breaks and the shout "To arms!" is heard. The sun rises and Paris awakes.
October 22.—The edition of 5,000 copies of Les Chatiments has been sold in two days. I have authorised the printing of another 3,000.
Little Jeanne has imagined a way of puffing out her cheeks and raising her arms in the air that is adorable.
The first 5,000 copies of the Parisian edition of Les Chatiments has brought me in 500 francs, which I am sending to the "Siecle" as a subscription to the national fund for the cannon that Paris needs.
Mathe and Gambon, the ex-Representatives, called to ask me to take part in a meeting of which former representatives are to form the nucleus. The meeting would be impossible without me, they said. But I see more disadvantages than advantages in such a meeting. I thought I ought to refuse.
We are eating horsemeat in every style. I saw the following in the window of a cook-shop: "Saucisson chevaleresque."
October 23.—The 17th Battalion asked me to be the first subscriber of "one sou" to a fund for purchasing a cannon. They will collect 300,000 sous. This will make 15,000 francs, which will purchase a 24-centimetre gun, carrying 8,500 metres—equal to the Krupp guns.
Lieutenant Marechal brought to collect my sou an Egyptian cup of onyx dating from the Pharaohs, engraved with the moon and the sun, the Great Bear and the Southern Cross (?) and having for handles two cynocephalus demons. The engraving of this cup required the life-work of a man. I gave my sou. D'Alton-Shee, who was present, gave his, as did also M. and Mme. Meurice, and the two servants, Mariette and Clemence. The 17th Battalion wanted to call the gun the "Victor Hugo." I told them to call it the "Strasburg." In this way the Prussians will still receive shots from Strasburg.
We chatted and laughed with the officers of the 17th Battalion. It was the duty of the two cynocephalus genie of the cup to bear souls to hell. I remarked: "Very well, I confide William and Bismarck to them."
Visit from M. Edouard Thierry. He came to request me to allow "Stella" to be read in aid of the wounded at the Theatre Francais. I gave him his choice of all the "Chatiments." That startled him. And I demanded that the reading be for a cannon.
Visit from M. Charles Floquet. He has a post at the Hotel de Ville. I commissioned him to tell the Government to call the Mont Valerien "Mont Strasbourg."
October 24.—Visit from General Le Flo. Various deputations received.
October 25.—There is to be a public reading of Les Chatiments for a cannon to be called "Le Chatiment." We are preparing for it.
Brave Rostan,* whom I treated harshly one day, and who likes me because I did right, has been arrested for indiscipline in the National Guard. He has a little motherless boy six years old who has nobody else to take care of him. What was to be done, the father being in prison? I told him to send the youngster to me at the Pavilion de Rohan. He sent him to-day.
* A workingman, friend of Victor Hugo.
October 26.-At 6.30 o'clock Rostan, released from prison, came to fetch his little Henri. Great joy of father and son.
October 28.—Edgar Quinet came to see me.
Schoelcher and Commander Farcy, who gave his name to his gunboat, dined with me. After dinner, at half past 8 I went with Schoelcher to his home at 16, Rue de la Chaise. We found there Quinet, Ledru-Rollin, Mathe, Gambon, Lamarque, and Brives. This was my first meeting with Ledru-Rollin. We engaged in a very courteous argument over the question of founding a club, he being for and I against it. We shook hands. I returned home at midnight.
October 29.—Visits from the Gens de Lettres committee, Frederick Lemaitre, MM. Berton and Lafontaine and Mlle. Favart for a third cannon to be called the "Victor Hugo." I oppose the name.
I have authorised the fourth edition of 3,000 copies of Les Chatiments, which will make to date 11,000 copies for Paris alone.
October 30.—I received the letter of the Societe des Gens de Lettres asking me to authorise a public reading of Les Chatiments, the proceeds of which will give to Paris another cannon to be called the "Victor Hugo." I gave the authorisation. In my reply written this morning I demanded that instead of "Victor Hugo" the gun be called the "Chateaudun." The reading will take place at the Porte Saint Martin.
M. Berton came. I read to him L'Expiation, which he is to read. M. and Mme. Meurice and d'Alton-Shee were present at the reading.
News has arrived that Metz has capitulated and that Bazaine's army has surrendered.
Bills announcing the reading of Les Chatiments have been posted. M. Raphael Felix came to tell me the time at which the rehearsal is to take place tomorrow. I hired a seven-seat box for this reading, which I placed at the disposal of the ladies.
On returning home this evening I met in front of the Mairie, M. Chaudey, who was at the Lausanne Peace Conference and who is Mayor of the Sixth Arrondissement. He was with M. Philibert Audebrand. We talked sorrowfully about the taking of Metz.
October 31.—Skirmish at the Hotel de Ville. Blanqui, Flourens and Delescluze want to overthrow the provisional power, Trochu and Jules Favre. I refuse to associate myself with them.
An immense crowd. My name is on the lists of members for the proposed Government. I persist in my refusal.
Flourens and Blanqui held some of the members of the Government prisoners at the Hotel de Ville all day.
At midnight some National Guards came from the Hotel de Ville to fetch me "to preside," they said, "over the new Government." I replied that I was most emphatically opposed to this attempt to seize the power and refused to go to the Hotel de Ville.
At 3 o'clock in the morning Flourens and Blanqui quitted the Hotel de Ville and Trochu entered it.
The Commune of Paris is to be elected.
November 1.—We have postponed for a few days the reading of Les Chatiments, which was to have been given at the Porte Saint Martin to-day, Tuesday.
Louis Blanc came this morning to consult me as to what ought to be the conduct of the Commune.
The newspapers unanimously praise the attitude I took yesterday in rejecting the advances made to me.
November 2.—The Government demands a "yes" or a "no."
Louis Blanc and my sons came to talk to me about it.
The report that Alexandre Dumas is dead is denied.
November 4.—I have been requested to be Mayor of the Third, also of the Eleventh, Arrondissement. I refused.
I went to the rehearsal of Les Chatiments at the Porte Saint Martin. Frederick Lemaitre and Mmes. Laurent, Lia Felix and Dugueret were present.
November 5.—To-day the public reading of Les Chatiments, the proceeds of which are to purchase a cannon for the defence of Paris, was given.
The Third, Eleventh and Fifteenth Arrondissements want me to stand for Mayor. I refuse.
Merimee has died at Cannes. Dumas is not dead, but he is paralyzed.
November 7.—The 24th Battalion waited upon me and wanted me to give them a cannon.
November 8.—Last night, on returning from a visit to General Le Flo, I for the first time crossed the Pont des Tuileries, which has been built since my departure from France.
November 9.—The net receipts from the reading of Les Chatiments at the Porte Saint Martin for the gun which I have named the "Chateaudun" amounted to 7,000 francs, the balance going to pay the attendants, firemen, and lighting, the only expenses charged.
At the Cail works mitrailleuses of a new model, called the Gatling model, are being made.
Little Jeanne is beginning to chatter.
A second reading of Les Chatiments for another cannon will be given at the "Theatre Francais".
November 11.—Mlle. Periga called today to rehearse Pauline Roland, which she will read at the second reading of Les Chatiments, announced for to-morrow at the Porte Saint Martin. I took a carriage, dropped Mlle. Periga at her home, and then went to the rehearsal of to-morrow's reading at the theatre. Frederick Lemaitre, Berton, Maubart, Taillade, Lacressonniere, Charly, Mmes. Laurent, Lia Felix, Rousseil, M. Raphael Felix and the committee of the Societe des Gens de Lettres were there.
After the rehearsal the wounded of the Porte Saint Martin ambulance asked me, through Mme. Laurent, to go and see them. I said: "With all my heart," and I went.
They are lying in several rooms, chief of which is the old green-room of the theatre with its big round mirrors, where in 1831 I read to the actors "Marion de Lorme". M. Crosnier was then director. (Mme. Dorval and Bocage were present at that reading.) On entering I said to the wounded men: "Behold one who envies you. I desire nothing more on earth but one of your wounds. I salute you, children of France, favourite sons of the Republic, elect who suffer for the Fatherland."
They seemed to be greatly moved. I shook hands with each of them. One held out his mutilated wrist. Another had lost his nose. One had that very morning undergone two painful operations. A very young man had been decorated with the military medal a few hours before. A convalescent said to me: "I am a Franc-Comtois." "Like myself," said I. And I embraced him. The nurses, in white aprons, who are the actresses of the theatre, burst into tears.
November 13.—I had M. and Mme. Paul Meurice, Vacquerie and Louis Blanc to dinner this evening. We dined at 6 o'clock, as the second reading of Les Chatiments was fixed to begin at the Porte Saint Martin at 7.30. I offered a box to Mme. Paul Meurice for the reading.
November 14.—The receipts for Les Chatiments last night (without counting the collection taken up in the theatre) amounted to 8,000 francs.
Good news! General d'Aurelle de Paladine has retaken Orleans and beaten the Prussians. Schoelcher came to inform me of it.
November 15.—Visit from M. Arsene Houssaye and Henri Houssaye, his son. He is going to have Stella read at his house in aid of the wounded.
M. Valois came to tell me that the two readings of Les Chatiments brought in 14,000 francs. For this sum not two, but three guns can be purchased. The Societe des Gens de Lettres desires that, the first having been named by me the "Chateaudun" and the second "Les Chatiments", the third shall be called the "Victor Hugo." I have consented.
Pierre Veron has sent me Daumier's fine drawing representing the Empire annihilated by Les Chatiments.
November 16.—Baroche, they say, has died at Caen.
M. Edouard Thierry refuses to allow the fifth act of "Hernani" to be played at the Porte Saint Martin for the victims of Chateaudun and for the cannon of the 24th Battalion. A queer obstacle this M. Thierry!
November 17.—Visit from the Gens de Lettres committee. The committee came to ask me to authorise a reading of Les Chatiments at the Opera to raise funds for another cannon.
I mention here once for all that I authorise whoever desires to do so, to read or perform whatever he likes that I have written, if it be for cannon, the wounded, ambulances, workshops, orphanages, victims of the war, or the poor, and that I abandon all my royalties on these readings or performances.
I decide that the third reading of Les Chatiments shall be given at the Opera gratis for the people.
November 19.—Mme. Marie Laurent came to recite to me Les Pauvres Gens, which she will recite at the Porte Saint Martin to-morrow to raise funds for a cannon.
November 20.—Last evening there was an aurora borealis.
"La Grosse Josephine" is no longer my neighbour. She has just been transported to Bastion No. 41. It took twenty-six horses to draw her. I am sorry they have taken her away. At night I could hear her deep voice, and it seemed to me that she was speaking to me. I divided my love between "Grosse Josephine" and Little Jeanne.
Little Jeanne can now say "papa" and "mamma" very well.
To-day there was a review of the National Guard.
November 21.—Mme. Jules Simon and Mme. Sarah Bernhardt came to see me.
After dinner many visitors called, and the drawing-room was crowded. It appears that Veuillot insulted me.
Little Jeanne begins to crawl on her hands and knees very well indeed.
November 23.—Jules Simon writes me that the Opera will be given to me for the people (free reading of Les Chatiments) any day I fix upon. I wanted Sunday, but out of consideration for the concert that the actors and employes of the Opera give Sunday night for their own benefit I have selected Monday.
Frederick Lemaitre called. He kissed my hands and wept.
It has been raining for two or three days. The rain has soaked the plains, the cannon-wheels would sink into the ground, and the sortie has therefore had to be deferred. For two days Paris has been living on salt meat. A rat costs 8 sous.
November 24.—I authorise the Theatre Francais to play to-morrow, Friday, the 25th, on behalf of the victims of the war, the fifth act of "Hernani" by the actors of the Theatre Francais and the last act of "Lucrece Borgia" by the actors of the Porte Saint Martin, and in addition the recitation as an intermede of extracts from Les Chatiments, Les Contemplations and La Legende des Siecles.
Mlle. Favart came this morning to rehearse with me Booz Endormie. Then we went together to the Francais for the rehearsal for the performance of to-morrow. She acted Dona Sol very well indeed. Mme. Laurent (Lucrece Borgia) also played well. During the rehearsal M. de Flavigny dropped in. I said to him: "Good morning, my dear ex-colleague." He looked at me, then with some emotion exclaimed: "Hello! is that you?" And he added: "How well preserved you are!" I replied: "Banishment preserves one."
I returned the ticket for a box that the Theatre Francais sent to me for to-morrow's performance, and hired a box, which I placed at the disposal of Mme. Paul Meurice.
After dinner the new Prefect of Police, M. Cresson, paid me a visit. M. Cresson was the barrister who twenty years ago defended the murderers of General Brea. He spoke to me about the free reading of Les Chatiments to be given on Monday the 28th at the Opera. It is feared that an immense crowd—all the faubourgs—will be attracted. More than 25,000 men and women. Three thousand will be able to get in. What is to be done with the rest? The Government is uneasy. Many are called but few will be chosen, and it fears that a crush, fighting and disorders will result. The Government will refuse me nothing. It wants to know whether I will accept the responsibility. It will do whatever I wish done. The Prefect of Police has been instructed to come to an understanding with me about it.
I said to M. Cresson: "Let us consult Vacquerie and Meurice and my two sons." He replied: "Willingly." The six of us held a council. We decided that three thousand tickets should be distributed on Sunday, the day before the lecture, at the mairies of the twenty arrondissements to the first persons who presented themselves after noon. Each arrondissement will receive a number of tickets in proportion to the number of its population. The next day the 3,000 holders of tickets (to all places) will wait their turn at the doors of the Opera without causing any obstruction or trouble. The "Journal Officiel" and special posters will apprise the public of the measures taken in the interest of public order.
November 25.—Mlle. Lia Felix came to rehearse Sacer Esto, which she will recite to the people on Monday.
M. Tony Revillon, who is to make a speech, came to see me with the Gens de Lettres committee.
A deputation of Americans from the United States came to express their indignation with the Government of the American Republic and with President Grant for abandoning France—"To which the American Republic owes so much!" said I. "Owes everything," declared one of the Americans present.
A good deal of cannonading has been heard for several days. To-day it redoubled.
Mme. Meurice wants some fowls and rabbits in order to provide against the coming famine. She is having a hutch made for them in my little garden. The carpenter who is constructing it entered my chamber a little while ago and said: "I would like to touch your hand." I pressed both his hands in mine.
November 27.—The Academy has given a sign of life. I have received official notice that in future it will hold an extraordinary session every Tuesday.
Pates of rat are being made. They are said to be very good.
An onion costs a sou. A potato costs a sou.
They have given up asking my authorisation to recite my works which are being recited everywhere without my permission. They are right. What I write is not my own. I am a public thing.
November 28.—Noel Parfait came to ask my help for Chateaudun. Certainly; with all my heart!
Les Chatiments was recited gratis at the Opera. An immense crowd. A gilt wreath was thrown on the stage. I gave it to Georges and Jeanne. The collection made in Prussian helmets by the actresses produced 1,521 francs 35 centimes in coppers.
Emile Allix brought us a leg of antelope from the Jardin des Plantes. It is excellent.
To-night the sortie is to be made.
November 29.—All night long I heard the cannon.
The fowls were installed in my garden to-day.
The sortie is being delayed. The bridge thrown across the Marne by Ducros has been carried away, the Prussians having blown open the locks.
November 30.—All night long the cannon thundered. The battle continues.
At midnight last night as I was returning home through the Rue de Richelieu from the Pavilion de Rohan, I saw just beyond the National Library, the street being deserted and dark at the time, a window open on the sixth floor of a very high house and a very bright light, which appeared to be that of a petroleum lamp, appear and disappear several times; then the window closed and the street became dark again. Was it a signal?
The cannon can be heard at three points round Paris, to the east, west and south. This is because a triple attack is being made on the ring the Prussians have drawn round us. The attack is being made at Saint Denis by Laronciere, at Courbevoie by Vinoy, and on the Marne by Ducros. Laronciere is said to have swept the peninsula of Gennevilliers and compelled a Saxon regiment to lay down its arms, and Vinoy is said to have destroyed the Prussian works beyond Bougival. As to Ducros, he has crossed the Marne, taken and retaken Montedy, and almost holds Villiers-sur-Marne. What one experiences on hearing the cannon is a great desire to be there.
This evening Pelletan sent his son, Camille Pelletan, to inform me on behalf of the Government that to-morrow's operations will be decisive.
December 1.—It appears that Louise Michel has been arrested. I will do all that is necessary to have her released immediately. Mme. Meurice is occupying herself about it. She went out this morning for that purpose.
D'Alton-Shee came to see me.
We ate bear for dinner.
I have written to the Prefect of Police to have Louise Michel released.
There was no fighting to-day. The positions taken were fortified.
December 2.—Louise Michel has been released. She came to thank me.
Last evening M. Coquelin called to recite several pieces from Les Chatiments.
It is freezing. The basin of the Pigalle fountain is frozen over.
The cannonade recommenced at daybreak.
11.30 A.M.—The cannonade increases.
Flourens wrote to me yesterday and Rochefort to-day. They are coming round to me again.
Dorian, Minister of Public Works, and Pelletan came to dine with me.
Excellent news to-night! The Army of the Loire is at Montargis. The Army of Paris has driven back the Prussians from the Avron plateau. The despatches announcing these successes are read aloud at the doors of the mairies.
Victory! The Second of December has been wiped out!
December 3.—General Renault, who was wounded in the foot by a splinter from a shell, is dead.
I told Schoelcher that I want to go out with my sons if the batteries of the National Guard to which they belong are sent to the front. The batteries drew lots. Four are to go. One of them is the 10th Battery, of which Victor is a member. I will go out with that battery. Charles does not belong to it, which is a good job; he will stay behind, he has two children. I will order him to stay. Vacquerie and Meurice are members of the 10th Battery. We shall be together in the combat. I will have a cape with a hood made for me. What I fear is the cold at night.
I made some shadows on the wall for Georges and Jeanne. Jeanne laughed delightedly at the shadow and the grimaces of the profile; but when she saw that the shadow was me she cried and screamed. She seemed to say: "I don't want you to be a phantom!" Poor, sweet angel! Perhaps she has a presentiment of the coming battle.
Yesterday we ate some stag; the day before we partook of bear; and the two days previous we fared on antelope. These were presents from the Jardin des Plantes.
To-night at 11 o'clock, cannonading. Violent and brief.
December 4.—A notice has been posted on my door indicating the precautions to be taken "in case of bombardment." That is the title of the notice.
There is a pause in the combat. Our army has recrossed the Marne.
Little Jeanne crawls very well on her bands and knees and says "papa" very prettily.
December 5.—I have just seen a magnificent hearse, draped with black velvet, embroidered with an "H" surrounded by silver stars, go by to fetch its burden. A Roman would not disdain to be borne in it.
Gautier came to dine with me. After dinner Banville and Coppee called.
Bad news. Orleans has been captured from us again. No matter. Let us persist.
December 7.—I had Gautier, Banville and Francois Coppee to dinner. After dinner Asselineau came. I read Floreal and L'Egout de Rome to them.
December 8.—The "Patrie en Danger" has ceased to appear. In the absence of readers, says Blanqui.
M. Maurice Lachatre, publisher, came to make me an offer for my next book. He has sent me his Dictionary and The History of the Revolution by Louis Blanc. I shall present to him Napoleon the Little and Les Chatiments.
December 9.—I woke up in the night and wrote some verses. At the same time I heard the cannon.
M. Bondes came to see me. The correspondent of the "Times," who is at Versailles, has written him that the guns for the bombardment of Paris have arrived. They are Krupp guns. They are awaiting their carriages. They have been arranged in the Prussian arsenal at Versailles side by side "like bottles in a cellar," according to this Englishman.
I copy the following from a newspaper:
M. Victor Hugo had manifested the intention to leave Paris unarmed, with the artillery battery of the National Guard to which his two sons belong.
The 144th Battalion of the National Guard went in a body to the poet's residence in the Avenue Frochot. Two delegates waited upon him.
These honourable citizens went to forbid Victor Hugo to carry out his plan, which he had announced some time ago in his "Address to the Germans."
"Everybody can fight," the deputation told him. "But everybody cannot write Les Chatiments. Stay at home, therefore, and take care of a life that is so precious to France."
I do not remember the number of the battalion. It was not the 144th. Here are the terms of the address which was read to me by the major of the battalion:
The National Guard of Paris forbids Victor Hugo to go to the front, inasmuch as everybody can go to the front, whereas Victor Hugo alone can do what Victor Hugo does.
"Forbids" is touching and charming.
December 11.—Rostan came to see me. He has his arm in a sling. He was wounded at Creteil. It was at night. A German soldier rushed at him and pierced his arm with a bayonet. Rostan retaliated with a bayonet thrust in the German's shoulder. Both fell and rolled into a ditch. Then they became good friends. Rostan speaks a little broken German.
"Who are you?"
"I am a Wurtembergian. I am twenty-two years old. My father is a clockmaker of Leipsic."
They remained in the ditch for three hours, bleeding, numb with cold, helping each other. Rostan, wounded, brought the man who wounded him back as a prisoner. He goes to see him at the hospital. These two men adore each other. They wanted to kill each other, and now they would die for each other.
Eliminate kings from the dispute!
Visit from M. Rey. The Ledru-Rollin group is completely disorganized. No more parties; the Republic. It is well.
I presented some Dutch cheese to Mme. Paul Meurice. Sleet is falling.
December 12.—I arrived in Brussels nineteen years ago to-day.
December 13.—Since yesterday Paris has been lighted with petroleum.
Heavy cannonade to-night.
December 14.—Thaw. Cannonade.
To-night we glanced over Goya's Disasters of War (brought by Burty, the art critic). It is fine and hideous.
December 15.—Emmanuel Arago, Minister of Justice, came to see me and informed me that there would be fresh meat until February 15, but that in future only brown bread would be made in Paris. There will be enough of this to last for five months.
Allix brought me a medal struck to commemorate my return to France. It bears on one side a winged genius and the words: "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity," and on the other side, round the rim: "Appeal to Universal Democracy," and in the centre: "To Victor Hugo, From His Grateful Fatherland.' September, 1870."
This medal is sold in the streets and costs 5 centimes. There is a little ring in it by which it can be suspended to a chain.
December 16.—Pelleport* came to-night. I requested him to visit Flourens, in Mazas Prison, on my behalf, and to take him a copy of Napoleon the Little.
* One of the editors of the "Rappel."
December 17.—The "Electeur Libre" calls upon Louis Blanc and me to enter the Government, and affirms that it is our duty to do so. My duty is dictated to me by my conscience.
I saw the gunboat "Estoc" pass under the Pont des Arts, going up Seine. She is a fine vessel and her big gun has a terribly grand appearance.
December 18.—I worked a magic lantern for little Georges and little Jeanne.
My royalty for Mme. Favart's recitation of Stella at a performance given by the 14th Battalion amounted to 130 francs. My agent took my royalty in spite of my instructions. I have ordered him to turn the money over to the sick fund of the battalion.
M. Hetzel writes: "The closing of the printing office is imminent, as I can get no more coal to keep the presses going."
I authorise another issue of 3,000 copies of Les Chatiments, which will bring the total for Paris up to 22,000.
December 20.—Captain Breton, of the Garde Mobile, who has been cashiered on the charge of being a coward, brought against him by his lieutenant-colonel, demands a court-martial, but first of all to be sent to the firing line. His company leaves to-morrow morning. He begs me to obtain for him from the Minister of War permission to go and get himself killed. I have written to General Le Flo about him. It is likely that he will take part in to-morrow's battle.
December 21.—At 3 o'clock this morning I heard the bugles of the troops marching to battle. When will my turn come?
December 22.—Yesterday was a good day. The action continues. The thunder of cannon can be heard to the east and west.
Little Jeanne begins to talk at length and very expressively. But it is impossible to understand a word she says. She laughs.
Leopold has sent me thirteen fresh eggs, which I will reserve for little Georges and little Jeanne.
Louis Blanc came to dine with me. He came on behalf of Edmond Adam, Louis Jourdan, Cernuschi and others to tell me that he and I must go to Trochu and summon him to save Paris or resign. I refused. I should be posing as an arbiter of the situation and at the same time hamper a battle begun and which may be a successful one. Louis Blanc was of my way of thinking, as were also Meurice, Vacquerie and my sons, who dined with us.
December 23.—Henri Rochefort came to dine with me. I had not seen him since August of last year, when we were in Brussels. Georges did not recognise his godfather. I was very cordial. I like him very much. He has great talent and great courage. The dinner was a very merry one, although we are all threatened with incarceration in a Prussian fortress if Paris is captured. After Guernsey, Spandau. So be it.
I bought for 19 francs at the Magasins du Louvre a soldier's cape with hood, to wear on the ramparts.
My house continues to be crowded with visitors. To-day a painter named Le Genissel called. He reminded me that I saved him from the galleys in 1848. He was one of the insurgents of June.
Heavy cannonade during the night. A battle is in preparation.
December 24.—It is freezing. Ice floes are floating down the Seine.
Paris only eats brown bread now.
December 25.—Heavy cannonade all night.
An item of news of present-day Paris: A basket of oysters has just reached the city. It sold for 750 francs.
At a bazar in aid of the poor at which Alice and Mme. Meurice acted as vendors, a young turkey fetched 250 francs.
The Seine is freezing over.
December 26.—Louis Blanc called, then M. Floquet. They urge me to summon the Government to do something or resign. Again I refuse.
M. Louis Koch paid 25 francs for a copy of the Rappel at the bazar in aid of the poor. The copy of Les Chatiments was purchased by M. Cernuschi for 300 francs.
December 27.—Violent cannonade this morning. The firing of this morning was an attack by the Prussians. A good sign. Waiting annoys them. Us, too. They threw nineteen shells, which killed nobody, into the Fort of Montrouge.
Mme. Ugalde dined with us and sang "Patria." I escorted Mme. Ugalde to her home in the Rue de Chabanais, then returned to bed.
The concierge said to me:
"Monsieur, they say that bombs will fall in this neighbourhood to-night."
"That is all right," I replied. "I am expecting one."
December 29.—Heavy firing all night. The Prussians continue their attack.
Theophile Gautier has a horse. This horse was requisitioned. It was wanted for food. Gautier wrote me begging me save the animal. I asked the Minister to grant his request.
I saved the horse.
It is unfortunately true that Dumas is dead. This has been ascertained through the German newspapers. He died on December 5 at the home of his son at Puys, near Dieppe.
I am being urged more strongly than ever, to enter the Government. The Minister of Justice, M. Emmanuel Arago, called and stopped to dinner. We talked. Louis Blanc dropped in after dinner. I persist in my refusal.
Besides Emmanuel Arago and the friends who usually dine with me on Thursdays, Rochefort and Blum came. I invited them to come every Thursday if we have many more Thursdays to live. At desert I drank Rochefort's health.
The cannonade is increasing. The plateau of Avron had to be evacuated.
December 31.—D'Alton-Shee paid a visit to me this morning. It appears that General Ducros wants to see me.
Within three days the Prussians have sent us 12,000 shells.
Yesterday I ate some rat, and then hiccoughed the following quatrain:
O mesdames les hetaires Dans vos greniers, je me nourris: Moi qui mourais de vos sourires, Je vais vivre de vos souris.
After next week there will be no more washing done in Paris, because there is no more coal.
Lieutenant Farcy, commander of the gunboat, dined with me.
It is bitterly cold. For three days I have worn my cloak and hood whenever I have had to go out.
A doll for little Jeanne. A basketful of toys for Georges.
Shells have begun to demolish the Fort of Rosny. The first shell has fallen in the city itself. The Prussians to-day fired 6,000 shells at us.
In the Fort of Rosny a sailor working at the gabions was carrying a sack of earth. A shell knocked it off his shoulder. "Much obliged," commented the sailor, "but I wasn't tired."
Alexandre Dumas died on December 5. On looking over my notebook I see that it was on December 5 that a large hearse with an "H" on it passed before me in the Rue Frochot.
We have no longer even horse to eat. *Perhaps* it is dog? *Maybe* it is rat? I am beginning to suffer from pains in the stomach. We are eating the unknown!
M. Valois, representing the Societe des Gens de Lettres, came to ask me what was to be done with the 3,000 francs remaining from the proceeds of the three readings of Les Chatiments, the guns having been delivered and paid for. I told him that I wanted the whole amount turned over to Mme. Jules Simon for the fund for the victims of the war.
January 1, 1871.—Louis Blanc has addressed to me through the newspapers a letter upon the situation.
Stupor and amazement of little Georges and little Jeanne at their basketful of New Year presents. The toys, when unpacked from the basket, covered a large table. The children touched all of them and did not know which to take. Georges was nearly furious with joy. Charles remarked: "It is the despair of joy!"
I am hungry. I am cold. So much the better. I suffer what the people are suffering.
Decidedly horse is not good for me. Yet I ate some. It gives me the gripes. I avenged myself at dessert with the following distich:
Mon diner m'inquiete et meme me harcele, J'ai mange du cheval et je songe a la selle.
The Prussians are bombarding Saint Denis.
January 2.—Daumier and Louis Blanc lunched with us.
Louis Koch gave to his aunt as a New Year gift a couple of cabbages and a brace of living partridges!
This morning we lunched on wine soup. The elephant at the Jardin des Plantes has been slaughtered. He wept. He will be eaten..
The Prussians continue to send us 6,000 bombs a day.
January 3.—The heating of two rooms at the Pavillon de Rohan now costs 10 francs a day.
The Mountaineers' club again demands that Louis Blanc and I be added to the Government in order to direct it. I continue to refuse.
There are at present twelve members of the French Academy in Paris, among them Segur, Mignet, Dufaure, d'Haussonville, Legouve, Cuvillier-Fleury, Barbier and Vitet.
Moon. Intense cold. The Prussians bombarded Saint Denis all night.
From Tuesday to Sunday the Prussians hurled 25,000 projectiles at us. It required 220 railway trucks to transport them. Each shot costs 60 francs; total, 1,500,000 francs. The damage to the forts is estimated at 1,400 francs. About ten men have been killed. Each of our dead cost the Prussians 150,000 francs.
January 5.—The bombardment is becoming heavier. Issy and Vanves are being shelled.
There is no coal. Clothes cannot be washed because they cannot be dried. My washerwoman sent this message to me through Mariette:
"If M. Victor Hugo, who is so powerful, would ask the Government to give me a little coal-dust, I could wash his shirts."
Besides my usual Thursday guests I had Louis Blanc, Rochefort and Paul de Saint Victor to dinner. Mme. Jules Simon sent me a Gruyere cheese. An extraordinary luxury, this. We were thirteen at table.
January 6.—At dessert yesterday I offered some bonbons to the ladies, saying as I did so:
Grace a Boissier, chere colombes, Heureux, a vos pieds nous tombons. Car on prend les forts par les bombes Et les faibles par les bonbons.
The Parisians out of curiosity visit the bombarded districts. They go to see the shells fall as they would go to a fireworks display. National Guards have to keep the people back. The Prussians are firing on the hospitals. They are bombarding Val-de-Grace. Their shells set fire to the wooden booths in the Luxembourg, which were full of sick and wounded men, who had to be transported, undressed and wrapped up as well as they could be, to the Charite Hospital. Barbieux saw them arrive there about 1 o'clock in the morning.
Sixteen streets have already been hit by shells.
January 7.—The Rue des Feuillantines, which runs through the place where the garden of my boyhood used to be, is heavily bombarded. I was nearly struck by a shell there.
My washerwoman having nothing to make a fire with, and being obliged to refuse work in consequence, addressed a demand to M. Clemenceau, Mayor of the Ninth Arrondissement, for some coal, which she said she was prepared to pay for. I endorsed it thus:
"I am resigned to everything for the defence of Paris, to die of hunger and cold, and even to forego a change of shirt. However, I commend my laundress to the Mayor of the Ninth Arrondissement."
And I signed my name. The Mayor gave her the coal.
January 8.—Camille Pelletan brought us good news from the Government. Rouen and Dijon retaken, Garibaldi victorious at Nuits, and Fraidherbe at Bapaume. All goes well.
We had brown bread, now we have black bread. Everybody fares alike. It is well.
The news of yesterday was brought by two pigeons.
A shell killed five children in a school in the Rue de Vaugirard.
The performances and readings of Les Chatiments have had to be stopped, the theatres being without gas or coal, therefore without light or heat.
Prim is dead. He was shot and killed at Madrid the day the king after his own heart, Amedeus, Duke of Genoa, entered Spain.
The bombardment was a furious one to-day. A shell crashed through the chapel of the Virgin at Saint Sulpice, where my mother's funeral took place and where I was married.
January 10.—Bombs on the Odeon Theatre.
Chifflard sent me a piece of a shell. This shell, which fell at Auteuil, is marked with an "H." I will have an inkstand made out of it.
January 12.—The Pavilion de Rohan demands of me from to-day on 8 francs a head for dinner, which with wine, coffee, fire, etc., brings the cost of dinner up to 13 francs for each person.
We had elephant steak for luncheon to-day.
Schoelcher, Rochefort, Blum and all the usual Thursday guests dined with us. After dinner Louis Blanc and Pelletan dropped in.
January 13.—An egg costs 2 francs 75 centimes. Elephant meat costs 40 francs a pound. A sack of onions costs 800 francs.
The Societe des Gens de Lettres asked me to attend the presentation of the cannon to the city at the Hotel de Ville. I begged to be excused. I will not go.
We spent the day looking for another hotel. Could not find one suitable. All are closed. Expenses for the week at the Pavilion de Rohan (including the cost of a broken window-pane), 701 francs 50 centimes.
Remark by a poor woman anent some newly felled wood:
"This hapless green wood is under fire; it didn't expect that it would have to face it, and weeps all the time!"
January 15.—A furious bombardment is in progress.
I have written a piece of poetry entitled "Dans le Cirque." After dinner I read it to my Sunday guests. They want me to publish it. I will give it to the newspapers.
January 17.—The bombardment has been going on for three nights and three days without cessation.
Little Jeanne was cross with me because I would not let her play with the works of my watch.
All the newspapers publish my verses "Dans le Cirque." They may be useful.
Louis Blanc called this morning. He urged me to join with Quinet and himself in bringing pressure to bear upon the Government. I replied: "I see more danger in overturning the Government than in supporting it."
January 18.—M. Krupp is making cannon for use specially against balloons.
There is a cock in my little garden. Yesterday Louis Blanc lunched with us. The cock crowed. Louis Blanc paused and said:
"What is it?"
"A cock is crowing."
"Well, what of it?"
"Don't you hear what it says?"
"It is calling: 'Victor Hugo!'"
We listened and laughed. Louis Blanc was right It did sound as if the cock were crowing my name.
I gave some of my bread-crumbs to the fowls. They would not eat them.
This morning a sortie against Montretout was made. Montretout was taken. This evening the Prussians captured it from us again.
January 20.—The attack on Montretout has interrupted the bombardment.
A child of fourteen years was suffocated in a crowd outside a baker's shop.
January 21.—Louis Blanc came to see me. We held a council. The situation is becoming extreme and supreme. The Mairie of Paris asks my advice.
Louis Blanc dined with us. After dinner we held a sort of council at which Colonel Laussedat was present.
January 22.—The Prussians are bombarding Saint Denis.
Tumultuous demonstrations at the Hotel de Ville. Trochu is withdrawing. Rostan comes to tell me that the Breton mobiles are firing on the people. I doubt it. I will go myself, if necessary.
I have just returned. There was a simultaneous attack by both sides. To the combatants who consulted me I said: "I recognise in the hands of Frenchmen only those rifles which are turned towards the Prussians."
Rostan said to me:
"I have come to place my battalion at your service. We are five hundred men. Where do you want us to go?"
"Where are you now?" I asked.
"We have been massed towards Saint Denis, which is being bombarded," he replied. "We are at La Villette."
"Then stay there," said I. "It is there where I should have sent you. Do not march against the Hotel de Ville, march against Prussia."
January 23.—Last night there was a conference at my quarters. In addition to my Sunday guests Rochefort and his secretary, Mourot, had dined with us. Rey and Gambon came in the evening. They brought me, the former with a request that I would subscribe to it, Ledru-Rollin's poster-programme (group of 200 members), and the latter, the programme of the Republican Union (50 members). I declared that I approved of neither the one nor the other.
Chanzy has been beaten. Bourbaki has succeeded. But he is not marching on Paris. Enigma, of which I fancy I can half guess the secret.
There appears to be an interruption to the bombardment.
January 24.—Flourens called this morning. He asked for my advice. I responded: "No violent pressure on the situation."
January 25.—Flourens is reported to have been arrested as he was leaving the house after his visit to me.
I had a couple of fresh eggs cooked for Georges and Jeanne.
M. Dorian came to the Pavilion de Rohan this morning to see my sons. He announced that capitulation is imminent. Frightful news from outside. Chanzy defeated, Faidherbe defeated, Bourbaki driven back.
January 27.—Schoelcher came to tell me that he has resigned as colonel of the artillery legion.
Again they came to ask me to head a demonstration against the Hotel de Ville. All sorts of rumours are in circulation. To everybody I counsel calmness and unity.
January 28.—Bismarck in the course of the pourparlers at Versailles said to Jules Favre: "What do you think of that goose of an Empress proposing peace to me!"
It has become cold again.
Ledru-Rollin (through Brives) says he wants to come to an understanding with me.
Little Jeanne is unwell. Sweet little thing!
Leopold told me this evening that I was the subject of a dialogue between Pope Pius IX. and Jules Hugo, my nephew, brother of Leopold, who died a camerico of the Pope. The Pope, on seeing Jules, said to him:
"You name is Hugo, is it not?"
"Yes, Holy Father."
"Are you a relative of Victor Hugo?"
"His nephew, Holy Father."
"How old is he?" (It was in 1857.)
"Alas! he is too old to return to the Church!"
Charles tells me that Jules Simon and his two sons passed the night drawing up lists of possible candidates for the National Assembly.
Cernuschi is having himself naturalized a French citizen!
January 29.—The armistice was signed yesterday. It was published this morning. The National Assembly will be elected between February 5 and 18. Will meet on the 12th at Bordeaux.
Little Jeanne is a trifle better. She almost smiled at me.
No more balloons. The post. But unsealed letters. It snows. It freezes.
January 30.—Little Jeanne is still poorly and does not play.
Mlle. Periga brought me a fresh egg for Jeanne.
January 31.—Little Jeanne is still ill. She is suffering from a slight attack of catarrh of the stomach. Doctor Allix says it will last for another four or five days.
My nephew Leopold came to dine with us. He brought us some pickled oysters.
February 1.—Little Jeanne is better. She smiled at me.
February 2.—The Paris elections have been postponed to February 8.
Horsemeat continues to disagree with me. Pains in the stomach. Yesterday I said to Mme. Ernest Lefevre, who was dining beside me:
De ces bons animaux la viande me fait mal. J'aime tant les chevaux que je hais le cheval.
February 4.—The weather is becoming milder.
A crowd of visitors this evening. Proclamation by Gambetta.
February 5.—The list of candidates of the Republican journals appeared this morning. I am at the head of the list.
Bancal is dead.
Little Jeanne this evening has recovered from her cold.
I entertained my usual Sunday guests. We had fish, butter and white bread for dinner.
February 6.—Bourbaki, defeated, has killed himself. A grand death.
Ledru-Rollin is drawing back from the Assembly. Louis Blanc came and read this news to me to-night.
February 7.—We had three or four cans of preserves which we ate to-day.
February 8.—To-day, elections for the National Assembly. Paul Meurice and I went to vote together in the Rue Clauzel.
After the capitulation had been signed, Bismarck, on leaving Jules Favre, entered the room where his two secretaries were awaiting him and said: "The beast is dead."
I have put my papers in order in anticipation of my departure.
Little Jeanne is very merry.
February 11.—The counting of the votes progresses very slowly.
Our departure for Bordeaux has been put off to Monday the 13th.
February 12.—Yesterday, for the first time, I saw my boulevard. It is a rather large section of the old Boulevard Haussmann. "Boulevard Victor Hugo" is placarded on the Boulevard Haussmann at four or five street corners giving on to this boulevard.
The National Assembly opens to-day at Bordeaux. The result of the elections in Paris has not yet been determined and proclaimed.
While I have not yet been appointed, time presses, and I expect to leave for Bordeaux to-morrow. There will be nine of us, five masters and four servants, plus the two children. Louis Blanc wants to leave with us. We shall make the journey together.
In my hand-bag I shall take various important manuscripts and works that I have begun, among others, Paris Besieged and the poem "Grand Pere."
February 13.—Yesterday, before dinner, I read to my guests, M. and Mme. Paul Meurice, Vacquerie, Lockroy, M. and Mme. Ernest Lefevre, Louis Koch and Vilain (Rochefort and Victor did not arrive until the dinner hour), two pieces of poetry which will form part of Paris Besieged ("To Little Jeanne," and "No, You will not Take Alsace and Lorraine").
Pelleport brought me our nine passes. Not having yet been proclaimed a Representative, I wrote on mine: "Victor Hugo, proprietor," as the Prussians require that the quality or profession of the holder of the pass be stated.
It was with a heavy heart that I quitted this morning the Avenue Frochot and the sweet hospitality that Paul Meurice had extended to me since my arrival in Paris on September 5.
THE ASSEMBLY AT BORDEAUX. EXTRACTS FROM NOTE-BOOKS.
February 14.—Left yesterday at 12.10 P.M. Arrived at Etampes at 3.15. Wait of two hours, and luncheon.
After lunch we returned to our drawing-room car. A crowd surrounded it, kept back by a squad of Prussian soldiers. The crowd recognised me and shouted "Long live Victor Hugo!" I waved my hand out of window, and doffing my cap, shouted: "Long live France!" Whereupon a man with a white moustache, who somebody said was the Prussian commandant of Etampes, advanced towards me with a threatening air and said something to me in German that he no doubt intended to be terrible. Gazing steadily in turn at this Prussian and the crowd, I repeated in a louder voice: "Long live France'!" Thereat all the people shouted enthusiastically: "Long live France!" The fellow looked angry but said nothing. The Prussian soldiers did not move.
The journey was a rough, long and weary one. The drawing-room car was badly lighted and not heated. One feels the dilapidation of France in this wretched railway accommodation. At Vierzon we bought a pheasant, a chicken, and two bottles of wine for supper. Then we wrapped ourselves up in our rugs and cloaks and slept on the seats.
We arrived at Bordeaux at 1.30 this afternoon. We went in search of lodgings. We took a cab and drove from hotel to hotel. No room anywhere. I went to the Hotel de Ville and asked for information. I was told that there was an apartment to let at M. A. Porte's, 13, Rue Saint Maur, near the public garden. We went there. Charles hired the apartment for 600 francs a month and paid half a month's rent in advance. Then we started out in search of a lodging for us, but could not get one. At 7 o'clock we returned to the station to fetch our trunks, and not knowing where we should pass the night. We went back to the Rue Saint Maur, where Charles is, negotiated with the landlord and his brother, who had a couple of rooms at 37, Rue de la Course, hard by, and came to an arrangement at last.
Alice made this remark:
"The number 13 clings to us. We were thirteen at table every Thursday in January. We left Paris on February 13. There were thirteen of us in the railway carriage, counting Louis Blanc, M. Bechet and the two children. We are lodging at 13, Rue Saint Maur!"
February 15.—At 2 o'clock I went to the Assembly. When I came out again I found an immense crowd awaiting me in the great square. The people, and the National Guards who lined the approaches to the building, shouted: "Long live Victor Hugo!" I replied: "Long live the Republic! Long live France!" They repeated this double cry. Then the enthusiasm became delirium. It was a repetition of the ovation I met with on my arrival in Paris. I was moved to tears. I took refuge in a cafe at the corner of the square. I explained in a speech why I did not address the people, then I escaped—that is the word—in a carriage.
While the enthusiastic people shouted "Long live the Republic!" the members of the Assembly issued and filed past impassible, almost furious, and with their hats on, in the midst of the bare heads and the waving caps about me.
Visit from Representatives Le Flo, Rochefort, Locroy, Alfred Naquet, Emmanuel Arago, Resseguier, Floquot, Eugene Pelletan, and Noel Parfait.
I slept in my new lodging at 37, Rue de la Course.
February 16.—At the Assembly today the result of the Paris elections was proclaimed. Louis Blanc was first with 216,000 votes; then came myself with 214,000 votes, then Garibaldi with 200,000.
The ovation extended to me by the people yesterday is regarded by the Majority as an insult to it. Hence a great display of troops on the square outside (army, National Guard and cavalry). There was an incident in this connection before my arrival. The men of the Right demanded that the Assembly be protected. (Against whom? Against me?) The Left replied with the shout of: "Long live the Republic!"
When I was leaving I was notified that the crowd was waiting for me in the square. To escape the ovation I went out by a side door, but the people caught sight of me, and I was immediately surrounded by an immense crowd shouting: "Long live Victor Hugo!" I replied: "Long live the Republic!" Everybody, including the National Guards and soldiers of the line, took up the shout. I drove away in a carriage, which the people followed.
The Assembly to-day elected its committees. Dufaure proposes Thiers as chief of the executive power.
We dined at home for the first time. I had invited Louis Blanc, Schoelcher, Rochefort and Lockroy. Rochefort was unable to come. After dinner we went to Gent's, Quay des Chartrons, to attend a meeting of the Left. My sons accompanied me. The question of the chief executive was discussed. I had the following added to the definition: appointed by the Assembly and revokable by that body.
General Cremer came this morning to enlighten us concerning the disposition of the army.
February 17.—At the Assembly Gambetta came up to me and said: "Master, when can I see you? I have a good many things to explain to you."
Thiers has been named chief of the executive power. He is to leave to-night for Versailles, the headquarters of the Prussians.
February 18.—To-night there was a meeting of the Left, in the Rue Lafaurie-Monbadon. The meeting chose me as president. The speakers were Louis Blanc, Schoelcher, Colonel Langlois, Brisson, Lockroy, Milliere, Clemenceau, Martin Bernard, and Joigneaux. I spoke last and summed up the debate. Weighty questions were brought up—the Bismarck-Thiers treaty, peace, war, the intolerance of the Assembly, and the case in which it would be advisable to resign in a body.
February 19.—The president of the National Club of Bordeaux came to place his salons at my disposal.
My hostess, Mme. Porte, a very pretty woman, has sent me a bouquet.
Thiers has appointed his Ministers. He has assumed the equivocal and suspicious title of "head president of the executive power." The Assembly is to adjourn. We are to be notified at our residences when it is to be convened again.
February 20.—To-day the people again acclaimed me when I came out of the Assembly. The crowd in an instant became enormous. I was compelled to take refuge in the lodging of Martin Bernard, who lives in a street adjacent to the Assembly.
I spoke in the Eleventh Committee. The question of the magistracy (which has petitioned us not to act against it) came up unexpectedly. I spoke well. I rather terrified the committee.
Little Jeanne is more than ever adorable. She does not want to leave me at all now.
February 21.—Mme. Porte, my hostess of the Rue de la Course, sends me a bouquet every morning by her little daughter.
I take little Georges and little Jeanne out whenever I have a minute to spare. I might very well be dubbed: "Victor Hugo, Representative of the People and dry nurse."
To-night I presided at the meeting of the Radical Left.
February 25.—To-night there was a meeting of the two fractions of the Left, the Radical Left and Political Left, in the hall of the Academy, in the Rue Jacques Bell. The speakers were Louis Blanc, Emmanuel Arago, Vacherot, Jean Brunet, Bethmont, Peyrat, Brisson, Gambetta, and myself. I doubt whether my plan for fusion or even for an entente cordiale will succeed. Schoelcher and Edmond Adam walked home with me.
February 26.—I am 69 years old to-day.
I presided at a meeting of the Left.
February 27.—I have resigned the presidency of the Radical Left in order to afford full independence to the meeting.
February 28.—Thiers read the treaty (of peace) from the tribune to-day. It is hideous. I shall speak to-morrow. My name is the seventh on the list, but Grevy, the president of the Assembly, said to me: "Rise and ask to be heard when you want to. The Assembly will hear you."
To-night there was a meeting of the Assembly committees. I belong to the eleventh. I spoke.
March 1.—There was a tragical session to-day. The Empire was executed, also France, alas! The Shylock-Bismarck treaty was adopted. I spoke.
Louis Blanc spoke after me, and spoke grandly.
I had Louis Blanc and Charles Blanc to dinner.
This evening I went to the meeting in the Rue Lafaurie-Monbadon over which I have ceased to preside. Schoelcher presided. I spoke. I am satisfied with myself.
March 2.—Charles has returned. No session to-day. The adoption of peace has opened the Prussian net. I have received a packet of letters and newspapers from Paris. Two copies of the Rappel.
We dined en famille, all five of us. Then I went to the meeting.
Seeing that France has been mutilated, the Assembly ought to withdraw. It has caused the wound and is powerless to cure it. Let another Assembly replace it. I would like to resign. Louis Blanc does not want to. Gambetta and Rochefort are of my way of thinking. Debate.
March 3.—This morning the Mayor of Strasburg, who died of grief, was buried.
Louis Blanc called in company with three Representatives, Brisson, Floquet and Cournet. They came to consult me as to what ought to be done about the resignation question. Rochefort and Pyat, with three others, are resigning. I am in favour of resigning. Louis Blanc resists. The remainder of the Left do not appear to favour resignation en masse.
As I ascended the stairs I heard a fellow belonging to the Right, whose back only I could see, say to another: "Louis Blanc is execrable, but Victor Hugo is worse."
We all dined with Charles, who had invited Louis Blanc and MM. Lavertujon and Alexis Bouvier.
Afterwards we went to the meeting in the Rue Lafaurie-Monbadon. The President of the Assembly having, on behalf of the Assembly, delivered a farewell address to the retiring members for Alsace and Lorraine, my motion to maintain their seats indefinitely, which was approved by the meeting, is without object, inasmuch as the question is settled. The meeting, however, appears to hold to it. We will consider the matter.
March 4.—Meeting of the Left. M. Milliere proposed, as did also M. Delescluze, a motion of impeachment against the Government of the National Defence. He concluded by saying that whoever failed to join him in pressing the motion was a "dupe or an accomplice."
Schoelcher rose and said:
"Neither dupe nor accomplice. You lie!"
March 5.—Session of the Assembly.
Meeting in the evening. Louis Blanc, instead of a formal impeachment of the ex-Government of Paris, demands an inquiry. I subscribe to this. We sign.
Meeting of the Left. They say there is great agitation in Paris. The Government which usually never receives less than fifteen dispatches a day from Paris has not received a single one up to 10 o'clock to-night. Six telegrams sent to Jules Favre have not been answered. We decide that either Louis Blanc or I will interpellate the Government as to the situation in Paris, if the present anxiety continues and no light is thrown upon the situation.
A deputation of natives of Alsace and Lorraine came to thank us.
March 6.—At noon we lunched en famille at Charles's. I took the two ladies to the Assembly. There is talk of transferring the Assembly to Versailles or Fontainebleau. They are afraid of Paris. I spoke at the meeting of the Eleventh Committee. I was nearly elected commissioner. I got 18 votes, but a M. Lucien Brun got 19.
Meeting in the Rue Lafaurie. I proposed that we all refuse to discuss the situation in Paris, and that a manifesto be drawn up, to be signed by all of us, declaring our intention to resign if the Assembly goes anywhere else than to Paris. The meeting did not adopt my plan, and urged me to speak to-morrow. I refused. Louis Blanc will speak.
March 8.—I have handed in my resignation as a Representative.
There was a discussion about Garibaldi. He had been elected in Algeria. It was proposed that the election be annulled. I demanded to be heard. I spoke. Uproar on the Right. They shouted: "Order! Order!" It all reads very curiously in the "Moniteur." In face of this explosion of wrath I made a gesture with my hand and said:
"Three weeks ago you refused to hear Garibaldi. Now you refuse to hear me. That is enough. I will resign."
I went to the meeting of the Left for the last time.
March 9.—This morning three members of the Moderate Left, which meets in the hall of the Academy, came as delegates from that body, the 220 members of which unanimously requested me to withdraw my resignation. M. Paul Bethmon acted as spokesman. I thanked them, but declined.
Then delegates from another meeting came with the same object. The meeting of the Central Left, to which MM. d'Haussonville and de Remusat belong, unanimously requested me to withdraw my resignation. M. Target acted as spokesman. I thanked them, but declined.
Louis Blanc ascended the tribune (in the Assembly) and bade me farewell with grandeur and nobleness.
March 10.—Louis Blanc spoke yesterday and to-day—yesterday about my resignation, to-day about the question of Paris. Grandly and nobly on each occasion.
March 11.—We are preparing for our departure.
March 12.—Many visits. My apartment was crowded. M. Michel Levy came to ask me for a book. M. Duquesnel, associate director of the Odeon Theatre, came to ask me for Ruy Blas.
We shall probably leave to-morrow.
Charles, Alice and Victor went to Arcachon. They returned to dinner.
Little Georges, who has been unwell, is better.
Louis Blanc dined with me. He is going to Paris.
March 13.—Last night I could not sleep. Like Pythagoras, I was thinking of numbers. I thought of all these 13's so queerly associated with our movements and actions since the first of January, and upon the fact that I was to leave this house on a 13th. Just then there was the same nocturnal knocking (three taps, as though made by a hammer on a board) that I had heard twice before in this room.
We lunched at Charles's, with Louis Blanc.
I then went to see Rochefort. He lives at 80, Rue Judaique. He is convalescent from an attack of erysipelas that at one time assumed a dangerous character. With him I found MM. Alexis Bouvier and Mourot, whom I invited to dinner to-day, at the same time asking them to transmit my invitation to MM. Claretie, Guillemot and Germain Casse, with whom I want to shake hands before I go.
On leaving Rochefort's I wandered a little about Bordeaux. Fine church, partly Roman. Pretty Gothic flowered tower. Superb Roman ruin (Rue du Colysee) which they call the Palais Gallien.
Victor came to embrace me. He left for Paris at 6 o'clock with Louis Blanc.
At half past 6 I went to Lanta's restaurant. MM. Bouvier, Mourot and Casse arrived. Then Alice. We waited for Charles.
Charles died at 7 o'clock.
The waiter who waits upon me at Lanta's restaurant entered and told me that somebody wanted to see me. In the ante-chamber I found M. Porte, who lets the apartment at 13, Rue Saint Maur, that Charles occupied. M. Porte whispered to me to get Alice, who had followed me, out of the way. Alice returned to the salon. M. Porte said to me:
"Monsieur be brave. Monsieur Charles—"
"He is dead!"
Dead! I could not believe it. Charles! I leaned against the wall for support.
M. Porte told me that Charles had taken a cab to go to Lanta's, but had told the cabman to drive first to the Cafe de Bordeaux. Arrived at the Cafe de Bordeaux, the driver on opening the door of the cab, found Charles dead. He had been stricken with apoplexy. A number of blood vessels had burst. He was covered with blood, which issued from his nose and mouth. The doctor summoned pronounced him dead.
I would not believe it. I said: "It is a lethargy." I still hoped. I returned to the salon, told Alice that I was going out, but would soon be back, and ran to the Rue Saint Maur. I had hardly reached there when they brought Charles.
Alas! my beloved Charles! He was dead.
I went to fetch Alice. What despair!
The two children were asleep.
March 14.—I have read again what I wrote on the morning of the 13th about the knocking I heard during the night.
Charles has been laid out in the salon on the ground floor of the house in the Rue Saint Maur. He lies on a bed covered with a sheet which the women of the house have strewn with flowers. Two neighbours, workingmen who love me, asked permission to watch by the body all night. The coroner's physician, on uncovering the dear dead, wept.
I sent to Meurice a telegram couched in the following terms:
Meurice, 18 Rue Valois—
Appalling misfortune. Charles died this evening, 13th. Sudden stroke of apoplexy. Tell Victor to come back at once.
The Prefect sent this telegram over the official wire.
We shall take Charles with us. Meanwhile he will be placed in the depository.
MM. Alexis Bouvier and Germain Casse are helping me in these heart-rending preparations.
At 4 o'clock Charles was placed in the coffin. I prevented them from fetching Alice. I kissed the brow of my beloved, then the sheet of lead was soldered. Next they put the oaken lid of the coffin on and screwed it down; thus I shall never see him more. But the soul remains. If I did not believe in the soul I would not live another hour.
I dined with my grandchildren, little Georges and little Jeanne.
I consoled Alice. I wept with her. I said "thou" to her for the first time.
March 15.—For two nights I have not slept. I could not sleep last night.
Edgar Quinet came to see me last evening. On viewing Charles's coffin in the parlor, he said:
"I bid thee adieu, great mind, great talent, great soul, beautiful of face, more beautiful of thought, son of Victor Hugo!"
We talked together of this great mind that is no more. We were calm. The night watcher wept as he listened to us.
The Prefect of the Gironde called. I could not receive him.
This morning at 10 o'clock I went to No. 13, Rue Saint Maur. The hearse was there. MM. Bouvier and Mourot awaited me. I entered the salon. I kissed the coffin. Then he was taken away. There was one carriage. These gentlemen and I entered it. Arrived at the cemetery the coffin was taken from the hearse. Six men carried it. MM. Alexis Bouvier, Mourot and I followed, bareheaded. It was raining in torrents. We walked behind the coffin.
At the end of a long alley of plane trees we found the depository, a vault lighted only by the door. You descend five or six steps to it. Several coffins were waiting there, as Charles's will wait. The bearers entered with the coffin. As I was about to follow, the keeper of the depository said to me: "No one is allowed to go in." I understood, and I respected this solitude of the dead. MM. Alexis Bouvier and Mourot took me back to No. 13, Rue Saint Maur.
Alice was in a swoon. I gave her some vinegar to smell and beat her hands. She came to, and said: "Charles, where art thou?"
I am overcome with grief.
March 16.—At noon Victor arrived with Barbieux and Louis Mie. We embraced in silence and wept. He handed me a letter from Meurice and Vacquerie.
We decide that Charles shall be buried in the tomb of my father in Pere Lachaise, in the place that I had reserved for myself. I write a letter to Meurice and Vacquerie in which I announce that I shall leave with the coffin tomorrow and that we shall arrive in Paris the following day. Barbieux will leave to-night and take the letter to them.
March 17.—We expect to leave Bordeaux with my Charles at 6 o'clock this evening.
Victor and I, with Louis Mie, fetched Charles from the Depository, and took him to the railway station.
March 18.—We left Bordeaux at 6.30 in the evening and arrived in Paris at 10.30 this morning.
At the railway station we were received in a salon where the newspapers, which had announced our arrival for noon, were handed to me. We waited. Crowd; friends.
At noon we set out for Pere Lachaise. I followed the hearse bareheaded. Victor was beside me. All our friends followed, the people too. As the procession passed there were cries of: "Hats off!"
In the Place de la Bastille a spontaneous guard of honour was formed about the hearse by National Guards, who passed with arms reversed. All along the line of route to the cemetery battalions of the National Guard were drawn up. They presented arms and gave the salute to the flag. Drums rolled and bugles sounded. The people waited till I had passed, then shouted: "Long live the Republic!"
There were barricades everywhere, which compelled us to make a long detour. Crowd at the cemetery. In the crowd I recognised Rostan and Milliere, who was pale and greatly moved, and who saluted me. Between a couple of tombs a big hand was stretched towards me and a voice exclaimed: "I am Courbet." At the same time I saw an energetical and cordial face which was smiling at me with tear-dimmed eyes. I shook the hand warmly. It was the first time that I had seen Courbet.
The coffin was taken from the hearse. Before it was lowered into the vault I knelt and kissed it. The vault was yawning. A stone had been raised. I gazed at the tomb of my father which I had not seen since I was exiled. The cippus has become blackened. The opening was too narrow, and the stone had to be filed. This work occupied half an hour. During that time I gazed at the tomb of my father and the coffin of my son. At last they were able to lower the coffin. Charles will be there with my father, my mother, and my brother.
Mme. Meurice brought a bunch of white lilac which she placed on Charles's coffin. Vacquerie delivered an oration that was beautiful and grand. Louis Mie also bade Charles an eloquent and touching farewell. Flowers were thrown on the tomb. The crowd surrounded me. They grasped my hands. How the people love me, and how I love them! An ardent address of sympathy from the Belleville Club, signed "Milliere, president," and "Avril, secretary," was handed to me.
We went home in a carriage with Meurice and Vacquerie. I am broken with grief and weariness. Blessings on thee, my Charles!