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Title: France in the Nineteenth Century

Author: Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer

Release date: November 28, 2004 [eBook #14194]
Most recently updated: April 1, 2023

Language: English

Credits: Robert J. Hall

Fig. 1





Page 3 NOTE

The sources from which I have drawn the materials for this book are various; they come largely from private papers, and from articles contributed to magazines and newspapers by contemporary writers, French, English, and American. I had not at first intended the work for publication, and I omitted to make notes which would have enabled me to restore to others the "unconsidered trifles" that I may have taken from them.

As far as possible, I have endeavored to remedy this; but should any other writer find a gold thread of his own in my embroidery, I hope he will look upon it as an evidence of my appreciation of his work, and not as an act of intentional dishonesty.

E. W. L.










Louis XVIII. in 1815 returned to his throne, borne on the shoulders of foreign soldiers, after the fight at Waterloo. The allied armies had a second time entered France to make her pass under the saws and harrows of humiliation. Paris was gay, for money was spent freely by the invading strangers. Sacrifices on the altar of the Emperor were over; enthusiasm for the extension of the great ideas of the Revolution had passed away; a new generation had been born which cared more for material prosperity than for such ideas; the foundation of many fortunes had been laid; mothers who dreaded the conscription, and men weary of war and politics, drew a long breath, and did not regret the loss of that which had animated a preceding generation, in a view of a peace which was to bring wealth, comfort, and tranquillity into their own homes.

The bourgeoisie of France trusted that it had seen the last of the Great Revolution. It stood between the working-classes, who had no voice in the politics of the Restoration, and the old nobility,—men who had returned to France full of exalted expectations. The king had to place himself on one side or the other. He might have been the true Page 10 Bourbon and headed the party of the returned émigrés,—in which case his crown would not have stayed long upon his head; or he might have made himself king of the bourgeoisie, opposed to revolution, Napoleonism, or disturbances of any kind,—the party, in short, of the Restoration of Peace: a peace that might outlast his time; et après moi le déluge!

But animals which show neither teeth nor claws are seldom left in peace, and Louis XVIII.'s reign—from 1814 to 1824—was full of conspiracies. The royalty of the Restoration was only an ornament tacked on to France. The Bourbon dynasty was a necessary evil, even in the eyes of its supporters. "The Bourbons," said Chateaubriand, "are the foam on the revolutionary wave that has brought them back to power;" whilst every one knows Talleyrand's famous saying "that after five and twenty years of exile they had nothing remembered and nothing forgot." Of course the old nobility, who flocked back to France in the train of the allied armies, expected the restoration of their estates. The king had got his own again,—why should not they get back theirs? And they imagined that France, which had been overswept by successive waves of revolution, could go back to what she had been under the old régime. This was impossible. The returned exiles had to submit to the confiscation of their estates, and receive in return all offices and employments in the gift of the Government. The army which had conquered in a hundred battles, with its marshals, generals, and vieux moustaches, was not pleased to have young officers, chosen from the nobility, receive commissions and be charged with important commands. On the other hand, the Holy Alliance expected that the king of France would join the despotic sovereigns of Russia, Austria, and Prussia in their crusade against liberal ideas in other countries. Against these difficulties, and many more, Louis XVIII. had to contend. He was an infirm man, physically incapable of exertion,—a man who only wanted to be let alone, and to avoid by every means in his power the calamity of being again sent into exile.

He placed himself on the side of the stronger party,—he took part with the bourgeoisie. His aim, as he himself said, Page 11 was to ménager his throne. He began his reign by having Fouché and Talleyrand, men of the Revolution and the Empire, deep in his councils, though he disliked both of them. Early in his reign occurred what was called the White Terror, in the southern provinces, where the adherents of the white flag repeated on a small scale the barbarities of the Revolution.

The king was forced to put himself in opposition to the old nobles who had adhered to him in his exile. They bitterly resented his defection. They used to toast him as le roi-quand-même, "the king in spite of everything." His own family held all the Bourbon traditions, and were opposed to him. To them everything below the rank of a noble with sixteen quarterings was la canaille.

Louis XVIII.'s favorite minister was M. Decazes, a man who studied the interests of the bourgeoisie; and the royal family at last made the sovereign so uncomfortable by their disapproval of his policy that he sought repose in the society and intimacy (the connection is said to have been nothing more) of a Madame de Cayla, with whom he spent most of his leisure time.

Before the Revolution, Louis XVIII. had been known sometimes as the Comte de Provence, and sometimes as Monsieur. Though physically an inert man, he was by no means intellectually stupid, for he could say very brilliant things from time to time, and was very proud of them; but he was wholly unfit to be at the helm of the ship of state in an unquiet sea.

He had passed the years of his exile in various European countries, but the principal part of his time had been spent at Hartwell, about sixty miles from London, where he formed a little court and lived a life of royalty in miniature. Charles Greville, when a very young man, visited Hartwell with his relative, the Duke of Beaufort, shortly before the Restoration. He describes the king's cabinet as being like a ship's cabin, the walls hung with portraits of Louis XVI., Marie Antoinette, Madame Elisabeth, and the dauphin. Louis himself had a singular habit of swinging his body backward and forward Page 12 when talking, "which exactly resembled the heavings of a ship at sea." "We were a very short time at table," Greville adds; "the meal was a very plain one, and the ladies and gentlemen all got up together. Each lady folded up her napkin, tied it round with a bit of ribbon, and carried it away with her. After dinner we returned for coffee and conversation to the drawing-room. Whenever the king came in or went out of the room, Madame d'Angoulême made him a low courtesy, which he returned by bowing and kissing her hand. This little ceremony never failed to take place." They finished the evening with whist, "his Majesty settling the points of the game at a quarter of a shilling." "We saw the whole place," adds Greville, "before we came away; they had certainly shown great ingenuity in contriving to lodge so great a number of people in and around the house. It was like a small rising colony."

Louis XVIII. was childless. His brother Charles and himself had married sisters, princesses of the house of Savoy. These ladies were amiable nonentities, and died during the exile of their husbands; but Charles's wife had left him two sons,—Louis Antoine, known as the Duc d'Angoulême, and Charles Ferdinand, known as the Duc de Berri. The Duc d'Angoulême had married his cousin Marie Thérèse, daughter of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette. Their union was childless. The Duc de Berri had married Marie Caroline, a princess of Naples. She had two children,—Louise, who when she grew up became Duchess of Parma; and Henri, called variously the Duc de Bordeaux, Henri V., and the Comte de Chambord.

All Louis XVIII.'s efforts during his ten years' reign were directed to keeping things as quiet as he could during his lifetime. He greatly disapproved of the policy of the Holy Alliance in forcing him to make war on Spain in order to put down the Constitutionalists under Riego and Mina. The expedition for that purpose was commanded by the Duc d'Angoulême, who accomplished his mission, but with little glory or applause except from flatterers. Page 13 The chief military incident of the campaign was the capture by the French of the forts of Trocadéro, which commanded the entrance to Cadiz harbor.

The Duchesse d'Angoulême, that filia dolorosa left to languish alone in the Temple after her parents and her aunt were guillotined, had been exchanged with Austria for Lafayette by Bonaparte in the treaty of Campo-Formio; but her soul had been crushed within her by her sorrows. Deeply pious, she forgave the enemies of her house, she never uttered a word against the Revolution; but the sight of her pale, set, sad face was a mute reproach to Frenchmen. She could forgive, but she could not be gracious. At the Tuileries, a place full of graceful memories of the Empress Josephine, she presided as a dévote and a dowdy. She could not have been expected to be other than she was, but the nation that had made her so, bore a grudge against her. There was nothing French about her. No sympathies existed between her and the generation that had grown up in France during the nineteenth century. Both she and her husband were stiff, cold, ultra-aristocrats. In intelligence she was greatly the duke's superior, as she was also in person, he being short, fat, red-faced, with very thin legs.

The Duc de Berri was much more popular. He was a Frenchman in character. His faults were French. He was pleasure-seeking, pleasure-loving, and he married a young and pretty wife to whom he was far from faithful, and who was as fond of pleasure as himself.

The Duc de Berri was assassinated by a man named Louvel, Feb. 13, 1820, as he was handing his wife into her carriage at the door of the French Opera House. They carried him back into the theatre, and there, in a side room, with the music of the opera going on upon the stage, the plaudits of the audience ringing in his ears, and ballet-girls flitting in and out in their stage dresses, the heir of France gave up his life, with kindly words upon his dying lips, reminding us of Charles II. on his deathbed.

Page 14 As I have said, Louis XVIII.'s reign was not without plots and conspiracies. One of those in 1823 was got up by the Carbonari. Lafayette was implicated in it. It was betrayed, however, the night before it was to have been put in execution, and such of its leaders as could be arrested were guillotined. Lafayette was saved by the fact that the day fixed upon for action was the anniversary of his wife's death,—a day he always spent in her chamber in seclusion.

It may be desirable to say who were the Carbonari. "Carbone" is Italian for charcoal. The Carbonari were charcoal-burners. The conspirators took their name because charcoal-burners lived in solitary places, and were disguised by the coal-dust that blackened their faces. It was a secret society which extended throughout France, Italy, and almost all Europe. It was joined by all classes. Its members, under pain of death, were forced to obey the orders of the society. The deliverance of Italy from the Austrians became eventually the prime object of the institution.

Lafayette, during his visit to America in 1824, expressed himself freely about the Bourbons. "France cannot be happy under their rule," he said;[1] "and we must send them adrift. It would have been done before now but for the hesitation of Laffitte. Two regiments of guards, when ordered to Spain under the Duc d'Angoulême, halted at Toulouse, and began to show symptoms of mutiny. The matter was quieted, however, and the affair kept as still as possible. But all was ready. I knew of the whole affair. All that was wanted to make a successful revolution at that time was money. I went to Laffitte; but he was full of doubts, and dilly-dallied with the matter. Then I offered to do it without his help. Said I: 'On the first interview that you and I have without witnesses, put a million of francs, in bank-notes, on the mantelpiece, which I will pocket unseen by you. Then leave the rest to me.' Page 15 Laffitte still fought shy of it, hesitated, deliberated, and at last decided that he would have nothing at all to do with it."

[Footnote 1: Vincent Nolte, Fifty Years in Two Hemispheres.]

Here the gentleman to whom Lafayette was speaking exclaimed, "If any one had told me this but yourself, General, I would not have believed it."

Lafayette merely answered, "It was really so,"—a proof, thinks the narrator, how fiercely the fire of revolution still burned in the old man's soul.

The last months of Louis XVIII.'s life were embittered by changes of ministry from semi-liberal to ultra-royalist, and by attempts of the officers of the Crown to prosecute the newspapers for free-speaking. He died, after a few days of illness and extreme suffering, Sept. 15, 1824, and was succeeded by the Comte d'Artois, his brother, as Charles X. This was the third time three brothers had succeeded each other on the French throne.

Charles X. was another James II., with cold, harsh, narrow ideas of religion, though religion had not influenced his early life in matters of morality. He was, as I have said, a widower, with one remaining son, the Duc d'Angoulême, and a little grandson, the son of the Duc de Berri. His two daughters-in-law, the Duchesse d'Angoulême and the Duchesse de Berri, were as unlike each other as two women could be,—the one being an unattractive saint, the other a fascinating sinner.

Charles X. was not like his brother,—distracted between two policies and two opinions. He was an ultra-royalist. He believed that to the victors belong the spoils; and as Bourbonism had triumphed, he wanted to stamp out every remnant of the Revolution. Constitutionalism, the leading idea of the day, was hateful to him. He is said to have remarked, "I had rather earn my bread than be a king of England!" He probably held the same ideas concerning royal prerogative as those of his cousin, the king of Naples, expressed in a letter found after the sack of the Tuileries in 1848.

Page 16 "Liberty is fatal to the house of Bourbon; and as regards myself, I am resolved to avoid, at any price, the fate of Louis XVI. My people obey force, and bend their necks; but woe to me if they should ever raise them under the impulse of those dreams which sound so fine in the sermons of philosophers, and which it is impossible to put in practice. With God's blessing, I will give prosperity to my people, and a government as honest as they have a right to expect; but I will be a king,—and that always!"

Charles X. was on the throne six years. He was a fine-looking man and a splendid horseman,—which at first pleased the Parisians, who had been disgusted with the unwieldiness and lack of royal presence in Louis XVIII. His first act was a concession they little expected, and one calculated to render him popular. He abridged the powers of the censors of the Press. His minister at this time was M. de Villèle, a man of whom it has been said that he had a genius for trifles; but M. de Villèle having been defeated on some measures that he brought before the Chamber of Deputies, Charles X. was glad to remove him, and to appoint as his prime minister his favorite, the Prince de Polignac. Charles Greville, who was in Paris at the time of this appointment, writes: "Nothing can exceed the violence of feeling that prevails. The king does nothing but cry; Polignac is said to have the fatal obstinacy of a martyr, the worst courage of the ruat cœlum sort."

Fig. 2

Six months later Greville writes: "Nobody has an idea how things will turn out, or what are Polignac's intentions or his resources." He appeared calm and well satisfied, saying to those who claimed the right to question him, that all would be well, though all France and a clear majority in the Chambers were against him. "I am told," says Charles Greville, "that there is no revolutionary spirit abroad, but a strong determination to provide for the stability of existing institutions, and disgust at the obstinacy and the pretensions of the king. It seems also that a desire to substitute the Orleans for the reigning branch Page 17 is becoming very general. It is said that Polignac is wholly ignorant of France, and will not listen to the opinions of those who could enlighten him. It is supposed that Charles X. is determined to push matters to extremity; to try the Chambers, and if his ministers are beaten, to dissolve the House and to govern par ordonnances du roi." This prophecy, written in March, 1830, foreshadowed exactly what happened in July of the same year, when, as an outspoken English Tory told Henry Crabb Robinson, in a reading-room at Florence: "The king of France has sent the deputies about their business, has abolished the d——d Constitution and the liberty of the Press, and proclaimed his own power as absolute king."

"And what will the end be?" cried Robinson.

"It will end," said a Frenchman who was present, "in driving the Bourbons out of France!"

During the last months of Charles X.'s reign France made an expedition against the Dey of Algiers, which was the first step in the conquest of Algeria. The immediate object of the expedition, however, was to draw off the attention of a disaffected nation from local politics. An army of 57,000 soldiers, 103 ships of war, and many transports, was despatched to the coast of Barbary. The expedition was not very glorious, but it was successful. Te Deums were sung in Paris, the general in command was made a marshal, and his naval colleague a peer.

The royalists of France were at this period divided into two parties; the party of the king and Polignac, who were governed by the Jesuits, looked for support to the clergy of France. The other party looked to the army. Yet the most religious men in the country—men like M. de la Ferronays, for example—condemned and regretted the obstinacy of the king.

Louis Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, on whom all eyes were fixed, was the son of that infamous Duke of Orleans who in the Revolution proclaimed himself a republican, took the name of Philippe Égalité, and voted for the execution of the king, drawing down upon himself the rebuke of the Page 18 next Jacobin whose turn it was to vote in the convention, who exclaimed: "I was going to vote Yes, but I vote No, that I may not tread in the steps of the man who has voted before me."

Égalité was in the end a victim. He perished, after suffering great poverty, leaving three sons and a daughter. The sons were Louis Philippe, who became Duke of Orleans, the Comte de Beaujolais, and the Duc de Montpensier. One of these had shared the imprisonment of his father, and narrowly escaped the guillotine.

Louis Philippe had solicited from the Republic permission to serve under Dumouriez in his celebrated campaign in the Low Countries. He fought with distinguished bravery at Valmy and Jemappes as Dumouriez's aide-de-camp; but when that general was forced to desert his army and escape for his life, Louis Philippe made his escape too. He went into Switzerland, and there taught mathematics in a school. Thence he came to America, travelled through the United States, and resided for some time at Brooklyn.

In 1808 he went out to the Mediterranean in an English man-of-war in charge of his sick brother, the Comte de Beaujolais. The same vessel carried Sir John Moore out to his command, and landed him at Lisbon. Louis Philippe could not have had a very pleasant voyage, for the English admiral, on board whose ship he was a passenger, came up one day in a rage upon the quarter-deck, and declared aloud, in the hearing of his officers, that the Duke of Orleans was such a d——d republican he could not sit at the same table with him.[1]

[Footnote 1: My father was present, and often told the story]

There used to be stories floating about Paris concerning Louis Philippe's birth and parentage,—stories, however, not to be believed, and which broke down upon investigation. These made him out to be the son of an Italian jailer, exchanged for a little girl who had been born to the Duke of Orleans and his wife at a time when it was a great object with them to have a son. The little girl grew up in the Page 19 jailer Chiappini's house under the name of Maria Stella Petronilla. There is little doubt that she was a changeling, but the link is imperfect which would connect her with the Duke and Duchess of Orleans. She was ill-treated by the jailer's wife, but was very beautiful. Lord Newburgh, an English nobleman, saw her and married her. Her son succeeded his father as a peer of England. After Lord Newburgh's death his widow married a Russian nobleman. Chiappini on his death-bed confessed to this lady all he knew about her origin, and she persuaded herself that her father must have been the Duke of Orleans. She took up her residence in the Rue Rivoli, overlooking the gardens of the Tuileries, and received some small pension from the benevolent royal family of France. She died in 1845.

But whoever the mother of Louis Philippe may have been, she whom he and Madame Adélaide looked up to and loved as though she had been their second mother, was Madame de Genlis. In her company Louis Philippe witnessed, with boyish exultation, the destruction of the Bastile. To her he wrote after the great day when in the Champ de Mars the new Constitution was sworn to both by king and people: "Oh, my mother! there are but two things that I supremely love,—the new constitution and you!"

On Christmas Day, 1809, he married at Palermo the Princesse Marie Amélie, niece to Marie Antoinette, and aunt to the future Duchesse de Berri.

No breath of scandal ever disturbed the matrimonal happiness of Louis Philippe and Marie Amélie. They had a noble family of five sons and three daughters, all distinguished by their ability and virtues. I shall have to tell hereafter how devotion to the interests of his family was one cause of Louis Philippe's overthrow.

In 1814, when Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau; Louis Philippe left Palermo, attended only by one servant, and made his way to Paris and the home of his family, the Palais Royal. He hurried into the house, and in spite of the opposition of the concierge, who took him for a madman, Page 20 he rushed to the staircase; but before he ascended it he fell upon his knees, and bursting into tears, kissed the first step before him.

This was probably the most French-like thing in Louis Philippe's career. He was far more like an Englishman than a Frenchman. Had he been an English prince, his faults would have seemed to his people like virtues.

Of course the son of Égalité could be no favorite with the elder Bourbons; but he soon became the hope of the middle classes, and was very intimate with Laffitte the banker, and with Lafayette, who, as we have seen, were both implicated in conspiracies seven years before the Revolution of 1830. He was for many years not rich, but he and the ladies of his house were very charitable. Madame Adélaïde, speaking one day to a friend[1] of the reports that were circulated concerning her brother's parsimony, said,—

"People ask what he does with his money. To satisfy them it would be necessary to publish the names of honorable friends of liberty who, in consequence of misfortunes, have solicited and obtained from him sums of twenty, thirty, forty, and even three hundred thousand francs. They forget all the extraordinary expenses my brother has had to meet, all the demands he has to comply with. Out of his income he has furnished the Palais Royal, improved the apanages of the House of Orleans; and yet sooner or later all this property will revert to the nation. When we returned to France our inheritance was so encumbered that my brother was advised to decline administering on the estate; but to that neither he nor I would consent. For all these things people make no allowances. Truly, we know not how to act to inspire the confidence which our opinions and our consciences tell us we fully deserve."

[Footnote 1: M. Appert, chaplain to Queen Marie Amélie.]

Fig. 3
(Duke of Orleans.)

It is not necessary in a sketch so brief to go minutely into politics. Prince Polignac and the king dissolved the Chambers, having found the deputies unwilling to approve their acts, and a few days afterwards the king published his own will and pleasure in what were called Les Ordonnances du Roi. One of these restricted the liberty of the Press, Page 21 and was directed against journalism; another provider new rules, by which the ministry might secure a more subservient Chamber.

As we have seen, these ordonnances even in foreign countries spread dismay. The revolution that ensued was the revolution of the great bankers and the business men,—the haute bourgeoisie. In general, revolutions are opposed by the moneyed classes; but this was a revolution effected by them to save themselves and their property from such an outbreak as came forty years later, which we call the Commune. The working-classes had little to do with the Revolution of 1830, except, indeed, to fight for it, nor had they much to do with the Revolution of 1848. It was the moneyed men of France who saw that the resuscitated principles of the old régime had been stretched to their very uttermost all over Europe, and that if they did not check them by a well-conducted revolution, worse would be sure to come.

On July 26, 1830, the ordonnances appeared. The working-classes seemed to hear of them without emotion; but their effect on all those who had any stake in the prosperity of the country was very great. By nightfall the agitation had spread in Paris to all classes. King Charles X. was at Saint-Cloud, apparently apprehending no popular outbreak. No military preparations in case of disturbances had been made, though on the morning of the 26th the Duc d'Angoulême sent word to Marshal Marmont to take command of the troops in Paris, "as there might be some windows broken during the day."

The next morning trouble was begun by the journeymen printers, who, as the newspapers on which they worked had been prohibited, were sent home from their printing-offices. Before long they were joined by others, notably by the cadets from the Polytechnic School. Casimir Perrier and Laffitte were considered chiefs of the revolution. The cry was everywhere "Vive la Charte,"—a compendium that had been drawn up of the franchises and privileges of Frenchmen. M. Thiers, then young, counselled moderation in the emergency.

Page 22 On July 28 the tricolored flag was again unfurled in Paris,—those colors dear to Frenchmen, who had long hated the white flag, which represented in their eyes despotism and the rule of the Bourbons! The National Guard (or militia) was called out, and the populace began erecting barricades.

It is surprising how rapidly in an emergency a barricade can be formed. A carriage or two is overturned, furniture is brought out from neighboring houses, a large tree, if available, is cut down, and the whole is strengthened with paving-stones. By night all Paris had become a field of battle.

In vain Marshal Marmont had sent courier after courier to Saint-Cloud, imploring the king and his ministers to do something that might allay the fury of the people. No answer was returned. The marshal went himself at last, and the king, after listening to his representation of the state of Paris, said calmly: "Then it is really a revolt?" "No, sire," replied Marmont; "it is not a revolt, but a revolution."

As soon as the idea of ruin broke upon the royal household, everything at Saint-Cloud became confusion and despair. The Duchesse de Berri wanted to take her son, the Duc de Bordeaux, into Paris, hoping that the people would rally round a woman and the young heir to the throne. Some implored the king to treat with the insurgents; some to put himself at the head of his troops; some to sacrifice the ordonnances and the most obnoxious of his ministers.

The Parisian mob by this time had its blood up. It fought with any weapons that came to hand. Muskets were loaded with type seized in the printing-offices. At the Hôtel-de-Ville, Laffitte, Lafayette, and other leading men opposed to the policy of Charles X. were assembled in council.

The troops at first fought in their king's cause bravely, but without enthusiasm. Subsequently the Duke of Wellington was asked if he could not have suppressed the revolution with the garrison of Paris, which was twenty thousand men. Page 23 He answered, "Easily; but then they must have been fighting for a cause they had at heart."

The fight continued all the night of the 28th, bloody and furious. By morning the soldiers were short of ammunition. As usual, the Swiss Guard was stanch, but the French soldiers faltered. About midday of the 29th two regiments went over to the insurgents.

Two peers were at this juncture sent to negotiate with the royal family. The ministers, with Polignac at their head, went out also to Saint-Cloud. "Sire," said one of the negotiators, "if in an hour the ordonnances are not rescinded, there will be neither king nor kingdom." "Could you not offer me two hours?" said the king, sarcastically, as he turned to leave the chamber. The envoy, an old man, fell on his knees and seized the skirt of the king's coat. "Think of the dauphine!" he cried, imploringly. The king seemed moved, but made no answer.

In Paris, Marmont, whose heart was with the insurgents, endeavored nevertheless to do his duty; but his troops deserted him. On learning this, Talleyrand walked up to his clock, saying solemnly: "Take notice that on July 29, 1830, at five minutes past twelve o'clock, the elder branch of the Bourbons ceased to reign."

The Louvre was taken, and the Tuileries. There was no general pillage, the insurgents contenting themselves with breaking the statues of kings and other signs of royalty.

One of the most obnoxious persons in Paris was the archbishop. The mob fought to the music of "Ça ira." with new words:—

"C'est l'Archevêque de Paris
Qui est Jésuite comme Charles Dix.
Dansons la Carmagnole; dansons la Carmagnole,
    Et ça ira!"

There were deeds of heroism, deeds of self-sacrifice. deeds of loyalty, deeds of cruelty, and deeds of mercy, as there always are in Paris in times of revolution. By nightfall on the 29th the fighting was over. It only remained Page 24 to be seen what would be done with the victory. The evening before, Laffitte had sent a messenger to Louis Philippe, then residing two miles from Paris, at his Château de Neuilly, warning him to hold himself in readiness for anything that might occur. Lafayette had been made governor of Paris, and thus held in his hand the destinies of France. Under him served an improvised municipal commune.

By this time Prince Polignac had been dismissed, and the Duc de Montemart had been summoned by the king to form a more liberal ministry. Everything was in confusion in the palace. The weary troops, who had marched to the defence of Saint-Cloud when the struggle in Paris became hopeless, were scattered about the park unfed and uncared-for.

The king, having at last made up his mind to yield, sent the envoys who had been despatched to him, back to Paris, saying: "Go, gentlemen, go; tell the Parisians that the king revokes the ordonnances. But I declare to you that I believe this step will be fatal to the interests of France and of the monarchy."

The envoys on reaching Paris were met by the words: "Too late! The throne of Charles X. has already passed from him in blood."

The king, however, confident that after such concessions the revolt was at an end, played whist during the evening, while the Duc d'Angoulême sat looking over a book of geography. At midnight, however, both were awakened to hear the news from Paris, and then Charles X.'s confidence gave way. He summoned his new prime minister and sent him on a mission to the capital. The Duc d'Angoulême, however, who was opposed to any compromise with rebels, would not suffer the minister to pass his outposts. The Duc de Montemart, anxious to execute his mission, walked all night round the outskirts of Paris, and entered it at last on the side opposite to Saint-Cloud. The city lay in the profound silence of the hour before day.[1]

[Footnote 1: Louis Blanc, Dix Ans. Histoire de trente heures, 1830.]

Page 25 The question of who should succeed Charles X. had already been debated in Laffitte's chamber. Laffitte declared himself for Louis Philippe, the Duke of Orleans. Some were for the son of Napoleon. Many were for the Duc de Bordeaux, with Louis Philippe during his minority as lieutenant-general of the kingdom. "That might have been yesterday," said M. Laffitte, "if the Duchesse de Berri, separating her son's cause from that of his grandfather, had presented herself in Paris, holding Henri V. in one hand, and in the other the tricolor." "The tricolor!" exclaimed the others; "why, they look upon the tricolor as the symbol of all crimes!" "Then what can be done for them?" replied Laffitte.

At this crisis the poet Béranger threw all his influence into the party of the Duke of Orleans, and almost at the same moment appeared a placard on all the walls of Paris:—

"Charles X. is deposed.
A Republic would embroil us with all Europe.
The Duke of Orleans is devoted to the cause of the Revolution.
The Duke of Orleans never made war on France.
The Duke of Orleans fought at Jemappes.
The Duke of Orleans will be a Citizen-King.
The Duke of Orleans has worn the tricolor under fire: he
  will wear the tricolor as king."

Meantime, early on the evening of the 29th, Neuilly had been menaced by the troops under the Duc d'Angoulême, and Madame Adélaïde had persuaded her brother to quit the place. When M. Thiers and the artist, Ary Scheffer, arrived at Neuilly, bearing a request that the Duke of Orleans would appear in Paris, Marie Amélie received them. Aunt to the Duchesse de Berri and attached to the reigning family, she was shocked by the idea that her husband and her children might rise upon their fall; but Madame Adélaïde exclaimed: "Let the Parisians make my brother what they please,—President, Garde National, or Lieutenant-General,—so long as they do not make him an exile."

Louis Philippe, who was at Raincy (or supposed to be Page 26 there, for the envoys always believed he was behind a curtain during their interview with his wife and sister), having received a message from Madame Adélaïde, set out soon after for Paris. The resolution of the leaders of the Revolution had been taken, but in the Municipal Commune at the Hôtel-de-Ville there was still much excitement. There a party desired a republic, and offered to place Lafayette at its head.

At Saint-Cloud the Duchesse de Berri and her son had been sent off to the Trianon; but the king remained behind. He referred everything to the dauphin (the Duc d'Angoulême); the dauphin referred everything to the king.

The dauphin's temper was imperious, and at this crisis it involved him in a personal collision with Marshal Marmont. In attempting to tear the marshal's sword from his side, he cut his fingers. At sight of the royal blood the marshal was arrested, and led away as a traitor. The king, however, at once released him, with apologies.

When the leaders in Paris had decided to offer the lieutenant-generalship of France to Louis Philippe during the minority of the Duc de Bordeaux, he could not be found. He was not at Raincy, he was not at Neuilly. About midnight, July 29, he entered Paris on foot and in plain clothes, having clambered over the barricades. He at once made his way to his own residence, the Palais Royal, and there waited events.

At the same moment the Duchesse de Berri was leaving Saint-Cloud with her son. Before daylight Charles X. followed them to the Trianon; and the soldiers in the Park at Saint-Cloud, who for twenty-four hours had eaten nothing, were breaking their fast on dainties brought out from the royal kitchen.

The proposal that Louis Philippe should accept the lieutenant-generalship was brought to him on the morning of July 30, after the proposition had first been submitted to Talleyrand, who said briefly: "Let him accept it." Louis Philippe did so, accepting at the same time the tricolor, and promising a charter which should guarantee Page 27 parliamentary privileges. He soon after appeared at a window of the Hôtel-de-Ville, attended by Lafayette and Laffitte, bearing the tricolored flag between them, and was received with acclamations by the people. But there were men in Paris who still desired a republic, with Lafayette at its head. Lafayette persisted in assuring them that what France wanted was a king surrounded by republican institutions, and he commended Louis Philippe to them as "the best of republics." This idea in a few hours rapidly gained ground.

By midday on July 30th Paris was resuming its usual aspect. Charles X., finding that the household troops were no longer to be depended on, determined to retreat over the frontier, and left the Trianon for the small palace of Rambouillet, where Marie Louise and the King of Rome had sought refuge in the first hours of their adversity.

The king reached Rambouillet in advance of the news from Paris,[1] and great was the surprise of the guardian of the Château to see him drive up in a carriage and pair with only one servant to attend him. The king pushed past the keeper of the palace, who was walking slowly backward before him, and turned abruptly into a small room on the ground floor, where he locked himself in and remained for many hours. When he came forth, his figure seemed to have shrunk, his complexion was gray, his eyes were red and swollen. He had spent his time in burning up old love-letters,—reminiscences of a lady to whom he had been deeply attached in his youth.

[Footnote 1: All the Year Round, 1885.]

The mob of Paris having ascertained that the fugitive royal family were pausing at Rambouillet, about twelve miles from the capital, set out to see what mischief could be done in that direction. The Duchesse de Berri, her children, and the Duc d'Angoulême were at the Château de Maintenon, and the king, upon the approach of the mob, composed only of roughs, determined to join them. As he passed out of the chateau, which he had used as a hunting-lodge, Page 28 he stretched out his hand with a gesture of despair to grasp those of some friends who had followed him to Rambouillet, and who were waiting for his orders. He had none to give them. He spoke no word of advice, but walked down the steps to his carriage, and was driven to the Château de Maintenon to rejoin his family.

The mob, when it found that the king had fled, was persuaded to quit Rambouillet by having some of the most brutal among them put into the king's coaches. Attended by the rest of the unruly crowd, they were driven back to Paris, and assembling before the Palais Royal, shouted to Louis Philippe: "We have brought you your coaches. Come out and receive them!" Eighteen years later, these coaches were consumed in a bonfire in the Place du Carrousel.

At the Château de Maintenon all was confusion and discouragement, when suddenly the dauphine (the Duchesse d'Angoulême) arrived. She, whom Napoleon had said was the only man of her family, was in Burgundy when she received news of the outbreak of the Revolution. At once she crossed several provinces of France in disguise. Harsh of voice, stern of look, cold in her bearing, she was nevertheless a favorite with the household troops whose spirit was reanimated by the sight of her.

From Rambouillet the king had sent his approbation of the appointment of the Duke of Orleans as lieutenant-general during the minority of Henri V. Louis Philippe's answer to this communication so well satisfied the old king that he persuaded the dauphin to join with him in abdicating all rights in favor of Henri V., the little Duc de Bordeaux. Up to this moment Charles seems never to have suspected that more than such an abdication could be required of him. But by this time it was evident that the successful Parisians would be satisfied with nothing less than the utter overthrow of the Bourbons. Their choice lay between a constitutional monarchy with Louis Philippe at its head, or a renewal of the attempt to form a republic.

Page 29 The populace, on hearing that the abdication of the king and of the dauphin had been announced to the Chamber of Deputies, assembled to the number of sixty thousand, and insisted on the trial and imprisonment of the late king. Hearing this, the royal family left the Château de Maintenon the next morning, the king and the Duchesse d'Angoulême taking leave of their faithful troops, and desiring them to return to Paris, there to make their submission to the lieutenant-general, "who had taken all measures for their security and prosperity in the future."

During the journey to Dreux, Charles X. appeared to those around him to accept his misfortunes from the hand of Heaven. The Duchesse d'Angoulême, pale and self-contained, with all her wounds opened afresh, could hardly bring herself to quit France for the third time. Her husband was stolid and stupid. The Duchesse de Berri was almost gay.

Meantime old stories were being circulated throughout France discrediting the legitimacy of the Duc de Bordeaux, the posthumous son of the Duc de Berri. He had been born seven months after his father's death, at dead of night, with no doctor in attendance, nor any responsible witnesses to attest that he was heir to the crown. Louis Philippe had protested against his legitimacy within a week after his birth. There was no real reason for suspecting his parentage; nobody believes the slander now, but it is not surprising that in times of such excitement, with such great interests at stake, the circumstances attending his birth should have provoked remark. They were both unfortunate and unusual.

Charles X. was the calmest person in the whole royal party. He was chiefly concerned for the comfort of the rest. The dauphine wept, her husband trembled, the children were full of excitement and eager for play. Charles was unmoved, resigned; only the sight of a tricolored flag overcame him.

He complained much of the haste with which he was escorted through France to Cherbourg; but that haste probably insured his safety. At Cherbourg two ships awaited Page 30 him,—the "Great Britain" and the "Charles Carroll;" both were American-built, and both had formed part of the navy of Napoleon.

The day was fine when the royal fugitives embarked. In a few hours they were off the Isle of Wight. For several days they stayed on board, waiting till the English Government should complete arrangements which would enable them to land. They had come away almost without clothes, and the Duchesses of Angoulême and Berri were indebted for an outfit to an ex-ambassadress. The king said to some of those who came on board to see him, that he and his son had retired into private life, and that his grandson must wait the progress of events; also, that his conscience reproached him with nothing in his conduct towards his people.

After a few days the party landed in England and took up their abode at Ludworth Castle. Afterwards, at the king's own request, the old Palace of Holyrood, in Edinburgh, was assigned him. There was some fear at the time lest popular feeling should break out in some insult to him or his family. To avert this, Sir Walter Scott, though then in failing health, wrote in a leading Edinburgh newspaper as follows:—

"We are enabled to announce from authority that Charles of Bourbon, the ex-king of France, is about to become once more our fellow-citizen, though probably only for a limited space, and is presently about to inhabit the apartments again that he so long occupied in Holyrood House. This temporary arrangement has been made, it is said, in compliance with his own request, with which our benevolent monarch immediately complied, willing to consult in every way possible the feelings of a prince under pressure of misfortunes, which are perhaps the more severe if incurred through bad advice, error, or rashness. The attendants of the late sovereign will be reduced to the least possible number, and consist chiefly of ladies and children, and his style of life will be strictly retired. In these circumstances it would be unworthy of us as Scotchmen, or as men, if this unfortunate family should meet with a word or a look from the meanest individual tending to aggravate feelings which must be at present so acute as to receive injury from insults, which in Page 31 other times would be passed over with perfect disregard. His late opponents in his kingdom have gained the applause of Europe for the generosity with which they have used their victory, and the respect which they have paid to themselves in their moderation towards an enemy. It would be a great contrast to that part of their conduct which has been most generally applauded, were we, who are strangers to the strife, to affect a deeper resentment than those concerned more closely. Those who can recollect the former residence of this unhappy prince in our Northern capital cannot but remember the unobtrusive, quiet manner in which his little court was then conducted, and now, still further restricted and diminished, he may naturally expect to be received with civility and respect by a nation whose good will he has done nothing to forfeit. Whatever may have been his errors towards his own subjects, we cannot but remember in his adversity that he did not in his prosperity forget that Edinburgh had extended him her hospitality, but that at the period when the fires consumed so much of our city, he sent a princely benefaction to the sufferers.... If there be any who entertain angry or invidious recollections of late events in France, they ought to remark that the ex-monarch has by his abdication renounced the conflict, into which perhaps he was engaged by bad advice, that he can no longer be an object of resentment to the brave, but remains, to all, the most striking example of the instability of human affairs which our unstable times have afforded. He may say, with our own deposed Richard,—

'With mine own hands I washed away my blame;
With mine own hands I gave away my crown;
With my own tongue deny my sacred state.'

"He brings among us his 'gray, discrownèd head,' and in a 'nation of gentlemen,' as we were emphatically termed by the very highest authority, it is impossible, I trust, to find a man mean enough to insult the slightest hair of it."

Charles X. was greatly indebted to this letter for the cordiality of his reception at Edinburgh, where he lived in dignified retirement for about two years; then, finding that the climate was too cold for his old age, and that the English Government was disquieted because of the attempts of the Duchesse de Berri to revive her son's claims to the French throne, he made his way to Bohemia, and lived for a while in the Castle of Prague. At last he decided to make his Page 32 final residence in the Tyrol, not far from the warm climate of Italy. It is said that as the exiled, aged king cast a last look at the Gothic towers of the Castle of Prague, he said to those about him: "We are leaving yonder walls, and know not to what we may be going, like the patriarchs who knew not as they journeyed where they would pitch their tents."[1]

[Footnote 1: Memoirs of the Duchesse d'Angoulême.]

On reaching the Baths of Töplitz, where the waters seemed to agree with him, and where he wished to rest awhile, he found it needful to "move on," for the house he occupied had been engaged for the king of Prussia. The cholera, too, was advancing. The exiled party reached Budweiz, a mountain village with a rustic inn, and there it was forced to halt for some weeks, for the Duc de Bordeaux was taken ill with cholera. It was a period of deep anxiety to those about him, but at last he recovered.

After trying several residences in the Tyrolese mountains, to which the old king had gone largely in hopes that he might enjoy the pleasures of the chase, the exiled family fixed its residence at Goritz towards the end of October, 1836. The king was then in his eightieth year, but so hale and active that he spent whole mornings on foot, with his gun, upon the mountains.

The weather changed soon after the family had settled at Goritz. The keen winter winds blew down from the snow mountains, but the king did not give up his daily sport. One afternoon, after a cold morning spent upon the hills, he was seized at evening service in the chapel with violent spasms. These passed off, but on his joining his family later, its members were struck by the change in his appearance. In a few hours he seemed to have aged years. At night he grew so ill that extreme unction was administered to him. It was an attack of cholera. When dying, he blessed his little grandchildren, the boy and girl, who, notwithstanding the nature of his illness, were brought to him. "God preserve you, dear children," he said. "Walk in paths of righteousness. Don't forget me.... Pray for me sometimes."

Page 33 He died Nov. 6, 1836, just one week after Louis Napoleon made his first attempt to have himself proclaimed Emperor of the French, at Strasburg.

He was buried near Goritz, in a chapel belonging to the Capuchin Friars. In another chapel belonging to the same lowly order in Vienna, had been buried four years before, another claimant to the French throne, the Duc de Reichstadt, the only son of Napoleon.

On the coffin of the ex-king was inscribed,—

"Here lieth the High, the Potent, and most Excellent Prince, Charles Tenth of that name; by the Grace of God King of France and of Navarre. Died at Goritz, Nov. 6, 1836, aged 79 years and 28 days."

All the courts of Europe put on mourning for him, that of France excepted. The latter part of his life, with its reverses and humiliations, he considered an expiation, not for his political errors, but for the sins of his youth.

As he drew near his end, his yearnings after his lost country increased more and more. He firmly believed that the day would come when his family would be restored to the throne of France, but he believed that it would not be by conspiracy or revolt, but by the direct interposition of God. That time did almost come in 1871, after the Commune.



Louis Philippe, after accepting the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom, which would have made him regent under Henri V., found himself raised by the will of the people—or rather, as some said, by the will of the bourgeoisie—to the French throne. He reigned, not by "right divine," but as the chosen ruler of his countrymen,—to mark which distinction he took the title of King of the French, instead of King of France, which had been borne by his predecessors.

It is hardly necessary for us to enter largely into French politics at this period. The government was supposed to be a monarchy planted upon republican institutions. The law recognized no hereditary aristocracy. There was a chamber of peers, but the peers bore no titles, and were chosen only for life. The dukes, marquises, and counts of the old régime retained their titles only by courtesy.

The ministers of Charles X. were arrested and tried. The new king was very anxious to secure their personal safety, and did so at a considerable loss of his own popularity. They were condemned to lose all property and all privileges, and were sent to the strong fortress of Ham. After a few years they were released, and took refuge in England.

There were riots in Paris when it was known that the ministers and ill-advisers of the late king were not to be executed; one of the leaders in these disturbances was an Italian bravo named Fieschi,—a man base, cruel, and bold, whom Louis Blanc calls a scélérat bel esprit.

Page 35 The émeute which was formidable, was suppressed chiefly by a gallant action on the part of the king, who, while his health was unimpaired, was never wanting in bravery. "The king of the French," says Greville, "has put an end to the disturbances in Paris about the sentence of the ministers by an act of personal gallantry. At night, when the streets were most crowded and agitated, he sallied from the Palais Royal on horseback, with his son, the Duc de Nemours, and his personal cortège, and paraded through Paris for two hours. That did the business. He was received with shouts of applause, and at once reduced everything to tranquillity. He deserves his throne for this, and will probably keep it."

The next trouble in the new reign was the alienation of public favor from Lafayette, who had done so much to place the king upon the throne. He was accused by one party of truckling to the new court, by the other of being too much attached to revolutionary methods and republican institutions. He was removed from the command of the National Guard, and his office of commander-in-chief of that body was abolished.

All Europe becomes "a troubled sea" when a storm breaks over France. "I never remember," writes Greville at this period, "days like these, nor read of such,—the terror and lively expectation that prevails, and the way in which people's minds are turned backward and forward from France to Ireland, then range exclusively from Poland to Piedmont, and fix again on the burnings, riots, and executions that are going on in England."

Meantime France was subsiding into quiet, with occasional slight shocks of revolutionary earthquake, before returning to order and peace. The king was le bon bourgeois. He had lived a great deal in England and the United States, and spoke English well. He had even said in his early youth that he was more of an Englishman than a Frenchman. He was short and stout. His head was shaped like a pear, and was surmounted by an elaborate brown wig; for in those days people rarely wore their own gray hair.

Page 36 He did not impress those who saw him as being in any way majestic; indeed, he looked like what he was,—le bon père de famille. As such he would have suited the people of England; but it was un vert galant like Henri IV., or royalty incarnate, like Louis XIV., who would have fired the imagination of the French people. As a good father of a family, Louis Philippe felt that his first duty to his children was to secure them a good education, good marriages, and sufficient wealth to make them important personages in any sudden change of fortune.

At the time of his accession all his children were unmarried,—indeed, only four of them were grown up. The sons all went to collège,—which means in France what high-school does with us. Their mother's dressing-room at Neuilly was hung round with the laurel-crowns, dried and framed, which had been won by her dear school-boys.

The eldest son, Ferdinand, Duke of Orleans, was an extraordinarily fine young man, far more a favorite with the French people than his father. Had he not been killed in a carriage accident in 1842, he might now, in his old age, have been seated on the French throne.

One of the first objects of the king was to secure for his heir a suitable marriage. A Russian princess was first thought of; but the Czar would not hear of such a mésalliance. Then the hand of an Austrian archduchess was sought, and the young lady showed herself well pleased with the attentions of so handsome and accomplished a suitor; but her family were as unfavorable to the match as was the Czar of Russia. Finally, the Duke of Orleans had to content himself with a German Protestant princess, Hélène of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, a woman above all praise, who bore him two sons,—the Comte de Paris, born in 1838, and the Duc de Chartres, born a year or two later.

The eldest daughter of Louis Philippe, the Princess Louise, was married, soon after her father's elevation to the throne, to King Leopold of Belgium, widower of the English Princess Charlotte, and uncle to Prince Albert and Page 37 to Queen Victoria. The French princess thus became, by her marriage, aunt to these high personages. They were deeply attached to her. She named her eldest daughter Charlotte, after the lamented first wife of her husband. The name was Italianized into Carlotta,—the poor Carlotta whose reason and happiness were destroyed by the misfortunes of her husband in Mexico.

The second son of Louis Philippe was the Duc de Nemours,—a blond, stiff young officer who was never a favorite with the French, though he distinguished himself in Algeria as a soldier. He too found it hard to satisfy his father's ambition by a brilliant marriage, though a throne was offered him, which he had to refuse. He then aspired to the hand of Maria da Gloria, the queen of Portugal; but he married eventually a pretty little German princess of the Coburg race.

The third son was Philippe, Prince de Joinville, the sailor. He chose a bride for himself at the court of Brazil, and brought her home in his frigate, the "Belle Poule."

The charming artist daughter of Louis Philippe, the Princess Marie, pupil and friend of Ary Scheffer, the artist, married the Duke of Würtemberg, and died early of consumption. Her only child was sent to France, and placed under the care of his grandmother. Princess Clémentine married a colonel in the Austrian service, a prince of the Catholic branch of the house of Coburg. Her son is Prince Ferdinand, the present ruler of Bulgaria.

The marriage of Louis Philippe's fifth son, the Duc de Montpensier, with the Infanta Luisa is so closely connected with Louis Philippe's downfall that it can be better told elsewhere; but we may here say a few words about the fortunes of Henri, Duc d'Aumale, the king's fourth son, who has proved himself a man brave, generous, patriotic and high-minded, a soldier, a statesman, an historian, patron of art, and in all these things a man eminent among his fellows. He was only a school-boy when a tragic and discreditable event made him heir of the great house of Condé, and endowed him with wealth that he refuses to Page 38 pass on to his family, proposing at his death to present it to the French people and the French Academy.

The royal family of the house of Bourbon was divided in France into three branches,—the reigning branch, the head of which was Charles X.; the Orleans branch, the head of which was Louis Philippe; and the Condé branch, the chief of which, and its sole representative at this period, was the aged Duke of Bourbon, whose only son, the Prince d'Enghien, had been shot by order of Napoleon.

This old man, rich, childless, and miserable, had had a romantic history. When very young he had fallen violently in love with his cousin, the Princess Louise of Orleans. He was permitted to marry her, but only on condition that they should part at the church door,—she to enter a convent for two years, he to serve for the same time in the French army. They were married with all pomp and ceremony; but that night the ardent bridegroom scaled the walls of the convent and bore away his bride. Unhappily their mutual attachment did not last long. "It went out," says a contemporary memoir-writer, "like a fire of straw."[1] At last hatred took the place of love, and the quarrels between the Prince de Condé (as the Duc de Bourbon was then called) and his wife were among the scandals of the court of Louis XVI., and helped to bring odium on the royal family.

[Footnote 1: Madame d'Oberkirch.]

The only child of this marriage was the Duc d'Enghien. The princess died in the early days of the Revolution. Her husband formed the army of French émigrés at Coblentz, and led them when they invaded their own country. On the death of his father he became Duke of Bourbon, but his promising son, D'Enghien, was already dead. The duke married while in exile the princess of Monaco, a lady of very shady antecedents. She was, however, received by Louis XVIII. in his little court at Hartwell. She died soon after the Restoration.

In 1830 the old duke, worn out with sorrows and excesses, Page 39 was completely under the power of an English adventuress, a Madame de Feuchères.[1] He had settled on her his Château de Saint-Leu, together with very large sums of money. Several years before 1830 it had occurred to Madame de Feuchères that the De Rohans, who were related to the duke on his mother's side, might dispute these gifts and bequests, and by way of making herself secure, she sought the protection of Louis Philippe, then Duke of Orleans. She offered to use her influence with the Duke of Bourbon to induce him to make the Duc d'Aumale, who was his godson, his heir, if Louis Philippe would engage to stand her friend in any trouble.

[Footnote 1: Louis Blanc.]

The relations of the Duc de Bourbon to this woman bore a strong resemblance to those that Thackeray has depicted between Becky Sharp and Jos Sedley. The old man became thoroughly in fear of her; and when the Revolution broke out later, he was also much afraid of being plundered and maltreated at Saint-Leu by the populace,—not, however, because he had any great regard for his cousin Charles X., with whom in his youth he had fought a celebrated duel. Impelled by these two fears, he resolved to escape secretly from France, and so rid himself of the tyranny of Madame de Feuchères and the dangers of Revolution.

He arranged his flight with a trusted friend; it was fixed for the day succeeding Aug. 31, 1830,—a month after the Revolution. That evening he retired to his chamber in good spirits, though he said good-night more impressively than usual to some persons in his household. The next morning he was found dead, hanging to one of the espagnolettes, or heavy fastenings, of a tall French window. The village authorities were summoned; but although it was impossible a man so infirm could have thus killed himself and though many other circumstances proved that he did not die by his own hand, they certified his death by suicide. The Catholic Church, however, did not accept this verdict, and the duke was buried with the rites of religion.

Page 40 There was certainly no proof that Madame de Feuchères had had any hand in the murder of the old man who had plotted to escape from her, and who had expressed to others his dread of the tyranny she exercised over him; but there was every ground for strong suspicion, and the public lost no time in fastening part of the odium that attached to the supposed murderess on the king, whose family had so greatly benefited by her influence over the last head of the house of Condé. She retained her ill-gotten wealth, and removed at once to Paris. She had been engaged in stock operations for some time, and now gave herself up to them, winning enormous sums.

The new throne was sadly shaken by these events, added to discontents concerning the king's prudent policy of non-intervention in the attempted revolutions of other countries, which followed that of France in 1830 and 1831. The next very interesting event of this reign was the escapade and the discomfiture of the young Duchesse de Berri.

About the close of 1832, while France and all Europe were still experiencing the after-shocks which followed the Revolution of July, Marie Caroline, the Duchesse de Berri, planned at Holyrood a descent upon France in the interests of the Duc de Bordeaux, her son.[1] Had he reigned in consequence of the deaths of his grandfather and uncle, Charles X. and the Duc d'Angoulême, the duchess his mother was to have been regent during his minority. She regretted her inaction during the days of July, when, had she taken her son by the hand and presented him herself to the people, renouncing in his name and her own all ultra-Bourbon traditions and ideas, she might have saved the dynasty.

[Footnote 1: Louis Blanc and papers in "Figaro."]

Fig. 4

Under the influence of this regret, and fired by the idea of becoming another Jeanne d'Albret, she urged her plans on Charles X., who decidedly disapproved of them; but "the idea of crossing the seas at the head of faithful paladins, Page 41 of landing after the perils and adventures of an unpremeditated voyage in a country of knights-errant, of eluding by a thousand disguises the vigilance of enemies through whom she had to pass, of wandering, a devoted mother and a banished queen, from hamlet to hamlet and from château to château, appealing to human nature high and low on its romantic side, and at the end of a victorious conspiracy unfurling in France the ancient standard of the monarchy, was too dazzling not to attract a young, high-spirited woman, bold through her very ignorance, heroic through mere levity, able to endure anything but depression and ennui, and prepared to overbear all opposition with plausible platitudes about a mother's love."[1]

[Footnote 1: Louis Blanc, Histoire de Dix Ans.]

At last Charles X. consented to let her follow her own wishes; but he placed her under the guardianship of the Duc de Blancas. She set out through Holland and the Tyrol for Italy. She travelled incognita, of course. Charles Albert, of Sardinia, received her at Turin with great personal kindness, and lent her a million of francs,—which he borrowed from a nobleman of his court under pretence of paying the debts of his early manhood; but he was forced to request her to leave his dominions, and she took refuge with the Duke of Modena, who assigned her a palace at Massa, about three miles from the Mediterranean. A rising was to be made simultaneously in Southern France and in La Vendée. Lyons had just been agitated by a labor insurrection, and Marseilles was the first point at which it was intended to strike.

The Legitimists in France were divided into two parties. One, under Chateaubriand and Marshal Victor, the Duc de Bellune, wished to restore Henri V. only by parliamentary and legal victories; the other, favored by the court at Holyrood, was for an armed intervention of the Great Powers. The Duc de Blancas was considered its head.

The question of the invasion of France with foreign troops was excitedly argued at Massa. The duchess wished above all things to get rid of the tutelage of M. de Blancas, and Page 42 she was disposed to favor, to a certain extent, the more moderate views of Chateaubriand. After endless quarrels she succeeded in sending off the duke to Holyrood, and was left to take her own way.

April 14, 1832, was fixed upon for leaving Massa. It was given out that the duchess, was going to Florence. At nightfall a carriage, containing the duchess, with two ladies and a gentleman of her suite, drove out of Massa and waited under the shadow of the city wall. While a footman was absorbing the attention of the coachman by giving him some minute, unnecessary orders, Madame (as they called the duchess) slipped out of the carriage door with one of her ladies, while two others, who were standing ready in the darkness, took their places. The carriage rolled away towards Florence, while Madame and her party, stealing along under the dark shadow of the city wall, made their way to the port, where a steamer was to take them on board.

That steamer was the "Carlo Alberto," a little vessel which had been already used by some republican conspirators, and had been purchased for the service of Marie Caroline. It had some of her most devoted adherents on board, but the captain was in ignorance. He thought himself bound for Genoa, and was inclined to disobey when his passengers ordered him to lay to off the harbor of Massa. However, they used force, and at three in the morning Marie Caroline, who was sleeping, wrapped in her cloak, upon the sand, was roused, put on board a little boat, and carried out to the steamer. She had a tempestuous passage of four days to Marseilles. The steamer ran out of coal, and had to put into Nice. At last, in a heavy sea which threatened to dash small craft to pieces, a fishing-boat approached the "Carlo Alberto," containing some of the duchess's most devoted friends. With great danger she was transferred to it, and was landed on the French coast. She scrambled up slippery and precipitous rocks, and reached a place of safety. But the delay in the arrival of her steamer had been fatal to her enterprise. A French gentleman in the secret had hired a small boat, and put Page 43 out to sea in the storm to see if he could perceive the missing vessel. His conduct excited the suspicion of his crew, who talked about it at a wine-shop, where they met other sailors, who had their story to tell of a lady landed mysteriously a few hours before at a dangerous and lonely spot a few miles away. The two accounts soon reached the ears of the police, and Marseilles was on the alert, when a party of young men, with their swords drawn and waving white handkerchiefs, precipitated their enterprise, by appearing in the streets and striving to rouse the populace. They were arrested, as were also the passengers left on board the "Carlo Alberto,"—among them was a lady who deceived the police into a belief that she was the Duchesse de Bern.

Under cover of this mistake the duchess, finding that all hope was over in the southern provinces, resolved to cross France to La Vendée. At Massa she had had a dream. She thought the Duc de Bern had appeared to her and said: "You will not succeed in the South, but you will prosper in La Vendée."

She quitted the hut in which she had been concealed, made her way on foot through a forest, lost herself, and had to sleep in the vacant cabin of a woodcutter. The next night she passed under the roof of a republican, who respected her sex and would not betray her. She then reached the château of a Legitimist nobleman with the appropriate name of M. de Bonrecueil. Thence she started in the morning in a postchaise to cross all France along its public roads.

She accomplished her journey in safety, and fixed May 24, 1832, as the day for taking up arms. She made her headquarters at a Breton farm-house, Les Meliers. She wore the costume of a boy,—a peasant of La Vendée—and called herself Petit Pierre.

On May 21, three days before the date fixed upon for the rising, she was waited upon by the chiefs,—the men most likely to suffer in an abortive insurrection,—and was assured that the attempt would fail. Had the South risen, Page 44 La Vendée would have gladly joined the insurrection; but unsupported by the South, the proposed enterprise was too rash a venture. Overpowered by these arguments and the persuasions of those around her, Marie Caroline gave way, and consented to return to Scotland with a passport that had been provided for her. But in the night she retracted her consent, and insisted that the rising should take place upon the 3d of June. She was obeyed; but what little prospect of success there might have been at first, was destroyed by the counter-order of May 22. All who rose were at once put down by the king's troops, and atrocities on both sides were committed.

Nantes, the capital city of La Vendée, was hostile to the duchess; in Nantes, therefore, she believed her enemies would never search for her. She took refuge there in the house of two elderly maiden ladies, the Demoiselles Duguigney, where she remained five months. They must have been months of anguish to her, and of unspeakable impatience. It is very possible that the Government did not care to find her. She was the queen's niece, and if captured what could be done with her? To set her free to hatch new plots would have been bitterly condemned by the republicans; to imprison her would have made an additional motive for royalist conspiracies; to execute her would have been impossible. Marie Caroline, however, had solved these difficult problems by her own misconduct.

Meantime the premiership of France passed into the hands of M. Thiers. A Jew—a Judas—named Deutz, came to him mysteriously, and bargained to deliver into his hands the Duchesse de Berri. Thiers, who had none of the pity felt for her by the Orleans family, closed with the offer. Some years before, Deutz had renounced his Jewish faith and pretended to turn Christian. Pope Gregory XVI. had patronized him, and had recommended him to the Duc de Berri as a confidential messenger. He had frequently carried despatches of importance, and knew that the duchess was in Nantes, but he did not know her hiding-place. He contrived to persuade her to grant him Page 45 an interview. It took place at the Demoiselles Duguigney's house; but he was led to believe that she only used their residence for that purpose. With great difficulty he procured a second interview, in the course of which, having taken his measures beforehand, soldiers surrounded the house. Before they could enter it, word was brought to the duchess that she was betrayed. She fled from the room, and when the soldiers entered they could not find her. They were certain that she had not left the house. They broke everything to pieces, sounded the walls, ripped up the beds and furniture. Night came on, and troops were left in every chamber. In a large garret, where there was a wide fireplace, the soldiers collected some newspapers and light wood, and about midnight built a fire. Soon within the chimney a noise of kicking against an iron panel was heard, and voices cried: "Let us out,—we surrender!"

For sixteen hours the duchess and two friends had been imprisoned in a tiny hiding-place, separated from the hearth by a thin iron sliding-panel, which, when the soldiers lit their fire, had grown red hot. The gentleman of the party was already badly burned, and the women were nearly suffocated. The gendarmes kicked away the fire, the panel was pushed back, and the duchess, pale and fainting, came forth and surrendered. The commander of the troops was sent for. To him she said: "General, I confide myself to your honor." He answered, "Madame, you are under the safeguard of the honor of France."

This capture was a great embarrassment to the Government. Pity for the devoted mother, the persecuted princess, the brave, self-sacrificing woman, stirred thousands of hearts. The duchess was sent at once to an old château called Blaye, on the banks of the Gironde, the estuary formed by the junction of the Dordogne and the Garonne. Tradition said that the old castle had been built by the paladin Orlando (or Roland), and that he had been buried within its walls after he fell at Roncesvalles.

Page 46 In this citadel the Duchesse de Berri was confined, with every precaution against escape or rescue; and the restraint and monotony of such a life soon told upon a woman of her character. She could play the heroine, acting well her part, with an admiring world for her audience; but "cabined, cribbed, confined" in an old, dilapidated castle, her courage and her health gave way. She was cheered, however, at first by Legitimist testimonies of devotion. Chateaubriand wrote her a memorable letter, imploring her, in the name of M. de Malesherbes, his ancestor who had defended Louis XVI., to let him undertake her defence, if she were brought to trial; but the reigning family of France had no wish to proceed to such an extremity. The duchess had not come of a stock in which all the women were sans reproche, like Marie Amélie. Her grandmother, Queen Caroline of Naples, the friend of Lady Hamilton and of Lord Nelson, had been notoriously a bad woman; her sister, Queen Christina of Spain, had made herself equally famous; and doubts had already been thrown on the legitimacy of the son of the duchess, the posthumous child of the Duc de Berri. The queen of France, who was almost a saint, had been fond of her young relative for her many engaging qualities; and what to do with her, in justice to France, was a difficult problem.

To the consternation and disgust of the Legitimists, the heroine of La Vendée dropped from her pedestal and sank into the mire. "She lost everything," says Louis Blanc,—"even the sympathy of the most ultra-partisans of the Bourbon dynasty; and she deserved the fate that overtook her. It was the sequel to the discovery of a terrible secret,—a secret whose publicity became a just punishment for her having, in pursuit of her own purposes, let loose on France the dogs of civil war."

In the midst of enthusiasm for her courage and pity for her fate, rose a rumor that the duchess would shortly give birth to a child. It was even so. The news fell like a Page 47 blow on the hearts of the royalists. If she had made a clandestine, morganatic marriage, she had by the law of France forfeited her position as regent during her son's minority; she had forgotten his claims on her and those of France. If there was no marriage, she had degraded herself past all sympathy. At any rate, now she was harmless. The policy of the Government was manifestly to let her child be born at Blaye, and then send her to her Neapolitan home.

Her desire was to leave Blaye before her confinement. In vain she pleaded her health and a tendency to consumption. The Government sent physicians to Blaye, among them the doctor who had attended the duchess after the birth of the Duc de Bordeaux; for it insisted on having full proof of her disgrace before releasing her. But before this disgrace was announced in Paris, twelve ardent young Legitimists had bound themselves to fight twelve duels with twelve leading men of the opposite party, who might, if she were brought to trial, injure her cause. The first of these duels took place; Armand Carrel, the journalist, being the liberal champion, while M. Roux-Laborie fought for the duchess. The duel was with swords, and lasted three minutes. Twice Carrel wounded his adversary in the arm; but as he rushed on him the third time, he received a deep wound in the abdomen. The news spread through Paris. The prime minister, M. Thiers, sent his private secretary for authentic news of Carrel's state. The attendants refused to allow the wounded man to be disturbed. "Let him see me," said Carrel; "for I have a favor to ask of M. Thiers,—that he will let no proceedings be taken against M. Roux-Laborie."

Government after this became anxious to quench the loyalty of the Duchesse de Berri's defenders as soon and as effectually as possible. The duel with Armand Carrel was fought Feb. 2, 1833; on the 22d of February General Bugeaud, commander of the fortress of Blaye, received from the duchess the following declaration:—

Page 48   Under the pressure of circumstances and of measures
taken by Government, I think it due to myself and to my
children (though I have had grave reasons for keeping my
marriage a secret) to declare that I have been privately
married during my late sojourn in Italy.
    (Signed) MARIE CAROLINE.

From that time up to the month of May the duchess continued to make vain efforts to obtain her release before the birth of her child. It had been intimated to her that she should be sent to Palermo as soon afterwards as she should be able to travel.

The Government took every precaution, that the event might be verified when it took place. Six or seven of the principal inhabitants of Blaye were stationed in an adjoining chamber, as is the custom at the birth of princes.

A little girl having been born, these witnesses were summoned to the chamber by Madame de Hautfort, the duchess's lady-in-waiting. The duchess answered their questions firmly, and on returning to the next room, her own physician declared on oath that the duchess was the lawful wife of Count Hector Luchesi-Palli, of the family of Campo Formio, of Naples, gentleman of the bedchamber to the king of the Two Sicilies, living at Palermo.

This was the first intimation given of the parentage of the child. A mouth later, Marie Caroline and her infant embarked on board a French vessel, attended by Marshal Bugeaud, and were landed at Palermo. Very few of the duchess's most ardent admirers in former days were willing to accompany her. Her baby died before it was many months old. Charles X. refused to let her have any further care or charge of her son. "As Madame Luchesi-Palli," he said, "she had forfeited all claims to royal consideration."

A reconciliation, however, official rather than real, was patched up by Chateaubriand between the duchess and Charles X.; but her political career was over. She was allowed to see the Duc de Bordeaux for two or three days once a year. The young prince was thenceforward under Page 49 the maternal care of his aunt, the Duchesse d'Angoulême. The Duchesse de Berri passed the remainder of her adventurous life in tranquillity. Her marriage with Count Luchesi-Palli was apparently a happy one. They had four children. She owned a palace in Styria, and another on the Grand Canal at Venice, where she gave popular parties. In 1847 she gave some private theatricals, at which were present twenty-seven persons belonging to royal or imperial families. Her buoyancy of spirit kept her always gay. One would have supposed that she would be overwhelmed by the fall we have related. She was good-natured, charitable, and extravagant. She died leaving heavy debts, which the Duc de Bordeaux paid for her. Her daughter Louise, sister of the Duc de Bordeaux, married the Duke of Parma, who was assassinated in 1854. Their daughter married Don Carlos, who claims at present to be rightful heir to the thrones of France and Spain. She died in 1864, shortly after the Count Luchesi-Palli. The Duchesse de Berri, who in her later years became very devout, d'après la manière Italienne, as somebody has said, wrote thus about his death:—

"I have been so tried that my poor head reels. The loss of my good and pious daughter made me almost crazy, but the care of my husband had somewhat calmed me, when God took him to himself. He died like a saint in my arms, with his children around him, smiling at me and pointing to heaven."

The duchess died suddenly at Brussels in 1870, aged seventy-one. "And," adds an intensely Legitimist writer from whom I have taken these details of her declining years, "had she lived till 1873, she would have given her son better advice than that he followed."[1]

[Footnote 1: Mémoire de la Duchesse d'Angoulême.]

Without following the ins and outs of politics during the first ten years of Louis Philippe's reign, which were checkered by revolts, émeutes, and attempts at regicide, I pass on to the next event of general interest,—the explosion of the "infernal machine" of Fieschi.

Page 50 It was customary for King Louis Philippe to make a grand military promenade through Paris on one of the three days of July which during his reign were days of public festivity. On the morning of July 28, 1835, as the clock struck ten, the king, accompanied by his three elder sons, Marshals Mortier and Lobeau, his ministers, his staff, his household, and many generals, rode forth to review forty thousand troops along the Boulevards. At midday they reached the Boulevard du Temple. There, as the king was bending forward to receive a petition, a sudden volley of musketry took place, and the pavement was strewed with dead and dying. Marshal Mortier was killed, together with a number of officers of various grades, some bystanders, a young girl, and an old man. The king had not been shot, but as his horse started, he had received a severe contusion on the arm. The Duke of Orleans and the Prince de Joinville were slightly hurt. Smoke came pouring from the third-story windows of a house (No. 50) on the Boulevard. A man sprang from the window, seized a rope hanging from the chimney, and swung himself on to a lower roof. As he did so, he knocked down a flower-pot, which attracted attention to his movements. A police agent saw him, and a national guard arrested him. He was in his shirt-sleeves, and his face was covered with blood. The infernal machine he had employed consisted of twenty-five gun-barrels on a stand so constructed that they could all be fired at once. Happily two did not go off, and four burst, wounding the wretch who had fired them. Instantly the reception of the king, which had been cold when he set forth, changed into rapturous enthusiasm. He and his sons had borne themselves with the greatest bravery.

The queen had been about to quit the Tuileries to witness the review, when the door of her dressing-room was pushed open, and a colonel burst in, exclaiming: "Madame, the king has been fired at. He is not hurt, nor the princes, but the Boulevard is strewn with corpses." The queen, raising her trembling hands to heaven, waited only for a repetition of his assurance that her dear ones were all safe, Page 51 and then set out to find the king. She met him on the staircase, and husband and wife wept in each other's arms.

The queen then went to her sons, looked at them, and touched them, hardly able to believe that they were not seriously wounded, and turned away, shuddering, from the blood on M. Thiers' clothes. Then, returning to her chamber, she sent a note at once to her younger boys, D'Aumale and Montpensier, who were with their tutors at the Château d'Eu. It began with these words: "Fall down on your knees, my children; God has preserved your father."

Of course the Legitimists, and likewise the Republicans, were accused of inspiring the attempt of Fieschi. The trials, that took place about six months later, proved that the assassin Fieschi was a wretch bearing a strong resemblance to our own Guiteau.

The funeral ceremonies of the victims of the infernal machine were celebrated with great pomp. The affair led to a partial reconciliation between the new Government and the Legitimist clergy; it led also to certain restrictions on the Press and an added stringency in the punishment for crimes of the like character.

On Jan. 31, 1836, the trial of the prisoners took place before the Peers. The crowd of spectators was immense. There were five prisoners, but the eyes of the spectators were fixed on only three.

The first was a man under-sized, nervous and quick in his movements. His face, which was disfigured by recent scars, had an expression of cunning and impudence. His forehead was narrow, his hair cropped close, one corner of his mouth was disfigured by a scar, his smile was insolent, and so was his whole bearing. He seemed anxious to concentrate the attention of all present on himself, smiled and bowed to every one he knew, and seemed well satisfied with his odious importance.

The second was an old man, pale and ill. He bore himself with perfect calmness. He seated himself where Page 52 he was told to sit, and gave no sign of emotion throughout the trial.

The third was utterly prostrated by fear.

The first was Fieschi; the second was called Morey; the third was a grocer named Pepin.

The two last had been arrested on the testimony of Nina Lassave, who had had Fieschi for her lover. The life of this man had been always base and infamous. He was a Corsican by birth, and had been a French soldier. He had fought bravely, but after his discharge he had been imprisoned for theft and counterfeiting. He led a wandering life from town to town, living on his wits and indulging all his vices. He had even succeeded in getting some small favors from Government; but finding that he could not long escape punishment for crimes known to the police, he undertook, apparently without any especial motive, the wholesale murder of king, court, and princes.

During his imprisonment his vanity had been so great that the officers of the Crown played upon it in order to obtain confessions and information.

The only witness against Morey was Nina Lassave, who insisted that, Fieschi having invented the murderous instrument, Morey had devised a use for it, and that Pepin had furnished the necessary funds for its completion.

I give Louis Blanc's account of Fieschi's behavior on his trial, because when foreign nations have reproached us for the scandal of the license granted to the murderer of President Garfield on his trial, I have never seen it remarked that Guiteau's conduct was almost exactly like that of Fieschi.

"With effrontery, with a miserable kind of pride, and with smiles of triumph on his lips, he alluded to his victims with theatrical gesticulations, and plumed himself on the magnitude of his own infamy, answering his judges by ignoble buffooneries, playing the part of an orator, making pretensions to learning, looking round to see what effect he was producing, and courting applause. And some of those who sat in judgment on him did applaud. At each of his atrocious vulgarisms many of the Page 53 Peers laughed, and this laugh naturally encouraged him. Did he make a movement to rise, voices called out: 'Fieschi desires to say something, Monsieur le Président! Fieschi is about to speak!' The audience was unwilling to lose a word that might fall from the lips of so celebrated a scoundrel. He could hardly contain himself for pride and satisfaction. His bloody hand was eager to shake hands with the public, and there were those willing to submit to it. He exchanged signs with the woman Nina who was seated in the audience. He posed before the spectators with infinite satisfaction. What more can we say? He directed the proceedings. He prompted or browbeat the witnesses, he undertook the duties of a prosecuting attorney. He regulated the trial.... He directed coarse jokes at the unhappy Pepin; but reckless as he was, he dared not meddle with Morey. He had no hesitation in accusing himself. He owned himself the worst of criminals, and declared that he esteemed himself happy to be able to pay with his own blood for the blood of the unhappy victims of his crime. But the more he talked about his coming fate, the plainer it was that he expected pardon, and the more he flattered those on whom that pardon might depend."

The trial lasted twelve days, and very little was elicited about the conspiracy,—if indeed there was one. Suddenly Pepin, whose terror had been abject, rallied his courage, refused to implicate Morey or to make revelations, and kept his resolution to the last.

One of the five prisoners was acquitted, one was condemned to a brief imprisonment, and Morey, Pepin, and Fieschi were sent to the block. Up to almost the last moment Fieschi expected pardon; but his last words were to his confessor: "I wish I could let you know about myself five minutes from now."

On the scaffold Morey's white hair elicited compassion from the spectators. Pepin at the last moment was offered a pardon if he would tell whence the money came that he had advanced to Fieschi. He refused firmly, and firmly met his fate.

The next day the woman who had betrayed her lover and the rest was presiding at a café on the Place de la Bourse, having been engaged as an attraction!

Page 54 After these horrors we turn with relief to some account of good and noble women, the ladies of Louis Philippe's family.

After the murderous attempt of Fieschi the king lived under a continual expectation of assassination. He no longer walked the streets of Paris with his cane under his arm. When he drove, he sat with his back to the horses, because that position gave less certainty to the aim of an assassin. It was said that his carriages were lined with sheet-iron. He was thirteen times shot at, and the pallid looks of the poor queen were believed to arise from continual apprehension. Her nerves had been shaken by the diabolical attempt of Fieschi, and she never afterwards would leave her husband, even for a few days. She stayed away from the deathbed of her daughter, the Queen of the Belgians, lest in her absence he should be assassinated.

Neuilly was the home of the family, its beloved, particular retreat. The greatest pang that Louis Philippe suffered in 1848 was its total destruction by rioters. The little palace was furnished in perfect taste, with elegance, yet with simplicity. The inlaid floors were especially beautiful. The rooms were decorated with pictures, many of them representing passages in the early life of the king. In one he was teaching mathematics in a Swiss school; in another he was romping with his children. His own cabinet was decorated with his children's portraits and with works of art by his accomplished daughter, the Princess Marie. The family sitting-room was furnished with the princesses' embroidery, and there was a table painted on velvet by the Duchesse de Berri. The library was large, and contained many English books, among them a magnificent edition of Shakspeare. The park enclosed one hundred acres. The gardens were laid out in the English style. A branch of the Seine ran through the grounds, with boat-houses and bath-houses for the pleasure of the young princes,—and in one night this cherished home was laid in ruins!

Fig. 5

"All is possible," said Louis Philippe to a visitor who talked with him at Claremont in his exile, "all is possible Page 55 to France,—an empire, a republic, the Comte de Chambord, or my grandson; but one thing is impossible,—that any of these should last. On a tué le respect,—the nation has killed respect."

Queen Marie Amélie was born in Naples in 1782. Her mother was a daughter of Maria Theresa, and sister to Marie Antoinette. This lady was not one who inspired respect, but she had some good qualities. She was a good mother to her children, and had plenty of ability. Of course she hated the French Revolution, and everything that savored of what are called liberal opinions. Her career, which was full of vicissitudes and desperate plots, ended by her being dismissed ignominiously from Naples by the English ambassador, and she went to end her days with her nephew at Vienna.

Marie Amélie used sometimes to tell her children how she had wept when a child for the death of the little dauphin, the eldest son of Louis XVI., who, before the Revolution broke out, was taken away from the evil to come. She was to have been married to him had he lived. When older, she had an early love-affair with her cousin, Prince Antoine of Austria; but he was destined for the Church, and the youthful courtship came to an untimely end. When she first met her future husband, she and her family were living in a sort of provisional exile in Palermo. The princess was twenty-seven, Louis Philippe was ten or twelve years older, and they seem to have been quite determined to marry each other very soon after their acquaintance began. It was not easy to do so, however, for the duke, as we have seen, was at that period too much a republican to suit even an English Admiral; but the princess declared that she would go into a convent if the marriage was forbidden, and on Dec. 25, 1809, she became the wife of Louis Philippe.

No description could do justice to the purity and charity of this admirable woman; and in her good works she was seconded by her sister-in-law, Madame Adélaïde, and by her daughter.

Page 56 "The queen," her almoner tells us, "had 500,000 francs a year for her personal expenses, and gave away 400,000 of them." "M. Appert," she would say to him, "give those 500 francs we spoke of, but put them down upon next month's account. The waters run low this month; my purse is empty." An American lady, visiting the establishment of a great dressmaker in Paris, observed an old black silk dress hanging over a chair. She remarked with some surprise: "I did not know you would turn and fix up old dresses." "I do so only for the queen," was the answer.

The imposture, ingratitude, and even insolence of some of Marie Amélie's petitioners failed to discourage her benevolence. For instance, an old Bonapartist lady, according to M. Appert, one day wrote to her:—

MADAME,—If the Bourbons had not returned to France, for the misfortune of the country, my beloved mistress and protectress, the Empress Marie Louise, would still be on the throne, and I should not be under the humiliating necessity of telling you that I am without bread, and that the wretched bed on which I sleep is about to be thrown out of the garret I inhabit, because I cannot pay a year's rent. I dare not ask you for assistance, for my heart is with my real sovereign, and I cannot promise you my gratitude. If, however, you think fit to preserve a life which, since the misfortunes of my country, has been full of bitterness, I will accept a loan. I should blush to receive a gift.
    I am, Madame, your servant,    C.

When this impertinent letter was handed to the almoner, the queen had written on it: "She must be very unhappy, for she is very unjust. A hundred francs to be sent to her immediately, and I beg M. Appert to make inquiries concerning this lady's circumstances."

In vain the almoner remonstrated. The only effect of his remonstrance was that the queen authorized him to make her gift 300 francs if he found it necessary. When he knocked at the door of the garret of the petitioner, she opened it with agitation. "Oh, Monsieur!" she said, "are you the Commissioner of Police come to arrest me for my outrageous letter to the queen? I am so unhappy Page 57 that at times I became deranged. I am sorry to have written as I did to a princess who to all the poor is good and charitable." For answer, M. Appert showed her her own letter, with the queen's memorandum written upon it. "There was no lack of heartfelt gratitude then," he says, "and no lack of poverty to need the triple benefaction."



There is a theory held by some observers that the man who fails in his duty to a woman who has claims upon his love and his protection, never afterwards prospers; and perhaps the most striking illustration of this theory may be found in the career of the Emperor Napoleon. Nothing went well with him after his divorce from Josephine. His only son died. The children of his brothers, with the exception of Louis Napoleon, and the Prince de Canino, the son of Lucien, were all ordinary men, inclined to the fast life of their period; while the descendants of Josephine, honored and respected, are now connected with many European thrones.

The son of Napoleon, called by his grandfather, the Austrian emperor, the Duc de Reichstadt, but by his own Bonaparte family Napoleon II., died at Vienna, July 22, 1832. The person from whom, during his short, sad life, he had received most kindness, and to whom, during his illness, he was indebted for almost maternal care, was the young wife of his cousin Francis, the Princess Sophia of Bavaria, who in the same week that he died, became the mother of Maximilian, the unfortunate Emperor of Mexico, who, exactly thirty-five years after, on July 22, 1867, was shot at Queretaro.

The Emperor Napoleon had made a decree that if male heirs failed him, his dynasty should be continued by the sons of his brother Joseph. Lucien, the republican, was passed over, as well as his descendants; and Joseph failing Page 59 of male heirs, the throne of France was to devolve on Louis, king of Holland, and his heirs. Joseph left only daughters, Zénaide and Charlotte. Louis Bonaparte when he died, left but one son.

Louis Bonaparte was nine years younger than his brother Napoleon, who by no right of primogeniture, but by right of success, was early looked upon as the head of the family of Bonaparte. He assumed the place of father to his little brother Louis, and a very unsatisfactory father he proved. Louis was studious, poetical, solid, honorable, and unambitious. His brother was resolved to make him a distinguished general and an able king. He succeeded in making him a brave soldier and a very good general; but Louis had no enthusiasm for the profession of arms. He hated bloodshed, and above all he hated sack and pillage. He had no genius, and crooked ways of any kind were abhorrent to him. When a very young man he fell passionately in love with a lady, whom he called his Sophie. But his brother and the world thought the real name of the object of his affection was Emilie de Beauharnais, the Empress Josephine's niece by marriage. This lady became afterwards the wife of M. de La Vallette, Napoleon's postmaster-general, who after the return of the Bourbons in 1815, was condemned to death with Ney and Labédoyère. His wife saved him by changing clothes with him in prison; but the fearful strain her nerves suffered until she was sure of his escape, unsettled her reason. She was not sent to an asylum, but lived to a great age in an appartement in Paris, carefully tended and watched over by her friends.[1]

[Footnote 1: Jerrold's Life of Napoleon III.]

But whether it was with a Sophie or an Emilie, Louis Bonaparte fell in love, and Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Josephine, gay, lively, poetical, and enthusiastic, had given her heart to General Duroc, the Emperor Napoleon's aide-de-camp; therefore both the young people resisted the darling project of Napoleon and Josephine to marry them to each other. By such a marriage Josephine hoped to avert the divorce that she saw to be impending. She Page 60 fancied that if sons were born to the young couple, Napoleon would be content to leave his throne to the heir of his brother Louis, whom he had adopted, and of his step-daughter, of whom he was very fond. But Louis would not marry Hortense, and Hortense would not have Louis. At last, however, in the excitement of a ball, a reluctant consent was wrung from Louis; then Hortense was coerced into being a good French girl, and giving up Duroc. She and Louis were married. A more unhappy marriage never took place. Husband and wife were separated by an insurmountable (or at least unsurmounted) incompatibility of temperament. Louis was a man whose first thought was duty. Hortense loved only gayety and pleasure. He particularly objected to her dancing; she was one of the most graceful dancers ever seen, and would not give it up to please him. In short, she was all graceful, captivating frivolity; he, rigid and exacting. Both had burning memories in their hearts of what "might have been," and above all, after Louis became king of Holland, each took opposite political views. Louis wanted to govern Holland as the good king of the Dutch; Napoleon expected him to govern it in the interests of his dynasty, and as a Frenchman. The brothers disagreed most bitterly. Napoleon wrote indignant, unjust letters to Louis. Hortense took Napoleon's side in the quarrel, and led a French party at the Dutch court.

Intense was the grief of Louis and Hortense, Napoleon and Josephine, when the eldest son of this marriage, the child on whom their hopes were set, died of the croup at an early age. Hortense was wholly prostrated by her loss. She had still one son, and was soon to have another. The expected child was Charles Louis Napoleon, who was to become afterwards Napoleon III.

Soon after Louis Napoleon's birth, King Louis abdicated the throne of Holland. He said he could not do justice to the interests and wishes of his people, and satisfy his brother at the same time. He retired to Florence, where he lived for many years, only once more coming back to Page 61 public life, viz., in 1814, to offer his help to his brother Napoleon, when others were deserting him.

Napoleon was very fond of Hortense's little boys, though in 1811 he had completed his divorce, had married the Austrian archduchess, and had a son of his own.

Louis Napoleon has left us some fragmentary reminiscences of his childhood, which have a curious interest.

"My earliest recollections," he says, "go back to my baptism, and I hasten to remark that I was three years old when I was baptized, in 1810, in the chapel at Fontainebleau. The emperor was my godfather, and the Empress Marie Louise was my godmother. Then my memory carries me back to Malmaison. I can still see my grandmother, the Empress Josephine, in her salon, on the ground floor, covering me with her caresses, and, even then, flattering my vanity by the care with which she retailed my bons mots; for my grandmother spoiled me in every particular, whereas my mother, from my tenderest years, tried to correct my faults and to develop my good qualities. I remember that once arrived at Malmaison, my brother and I were masters to do as we pleased. The empress, who passionately loved flowers and conservatories, allowed us to cut her sugar-canes, that we might suck them, and she always told us to ask for anything we might want.

"One day, when she wished to know as usual, what we would like best, my brother, who was three years older than I, and consequently more full of sentiment, asked for a watch, with a portrait of our mother; but I, when the empress said: 'Louis, ask for whatever will give you the greatest pleasure,' begged to be allowed to go out and paddle in the gutter with the little boys in the street. Indeed, until I was seven years old it was a great grief to me to have to ride always in a carriage with four or six horses. When, in 1815, just before the arrival of the allied army in Paris, we were hurried by our tutor to a hiding-place, and passed on foot along the Boulevards, I felt the keenest sensations of happiness within my recollection. Like all children, though perhaps even more than most children, soldiers fixed my attention. Whenever at Malmaison I could escape from the salon, I was off to the great gates, where there were always grenadiers of the Garde Impériale. One day, from a ground-floor window I entered into conversation with one of these old grognards who was on duty. He answered me laughing. I called out: 'I know my drill. I have a little musket!' Page 62 Then the grenadier asked me to put him through his drill, and thus we were found, I shouting, 'Present arms! Carry arms! Attention!' the old grenadier obeying, to please me. Imagine my happiness! I often went with my brother to breakfast with the emperor. When he entered the room, he would come up to us, take our heads in his hands, and so lift us on the table. This frightened my mother very much, Dr. Corvisart having told her that such treatment was very bad for children."

The day before the Emperor Napoleon left Paris for the campaign of Waterloo, Hortense carried her boys to the Tuileries to take leave of him. Little Louis Napoleon contrived to run alone to his uncle's cabinet, where he was closeted with Marshal Soult. As soon as the boy saw the emotion in the emperor's face, he ran up to him, and burying his head in his lap, sobbed out: "Our governess says you are going to the wars,—don't go; don't go, Uncle." "And why not, Louis? I shall soon come back." "Oh, Uncle, those wicked allies will kill you! Let me go with you." The emperor took the boy upon his knee and kissed him. Then, turning to Soult, who was moved by the little scene, he said, "Here, Marshal, kiss him; he will have a tender heart and a lofty spirit; he is perhaps the hope of my race."

After Waterloo, the emperor, who passed one night in Paris, kissed the children at the last moment, with his foot upon the step of the carriage that was to carry him the first stage of his journey to St. Helena.

After this, Hortense and her boys were not allowed to live in France. Protected by an aide-de-camp of Prince Schwartzenberg, they reached Lake Constance, on the farthest limits of Switzerland. There, after a while, Queen Hortense converted a gloomy old country seat into a refined and beautiful home. A great trial, however, awaited her. King Louis demanded the custody of their eldest son, and little Napoleon was taken from his mother, leaving her only Louis. Louis had always been a "mother's boy," frail in health, thoughtful, grave, loving, and full of sentiment.

Hortense's life at Arenenberg was varied in the winter by Page 63 visits to Rome. Her husband lived in Florence, and they corresponded about their boys. But though they met once again in after years, they were husband and wife no more. Indeed, charming as Hortense was to all the circle that surrounded her, tender as a mother, and devoted as a friend, her conduct as a wife was not free from reproach. She was a coquette by nature, and it is undeniable that more than one man claimed to have been her lover.

After a while her son Louis went for four years to college at Heidelberg. Mother and son never forget the possibilities that might lie before them. When the Italian revolution broke out, in 1832, Hortense went to Rome, both her sons being at that time in Florence with their father. Although the elder was newly married to his cousin, the daughter of King Joseph, both he and Louis were full of restlessness, and caught the revolutionary fervor. They contrived to escape from their father's house and to join the insurgents, to the great displeasure of both father and mother; but they were fired by enthusiasm for Italian liberty, and took the oaths as Carbonari.

King Louis and Queen Hortense were exceedingly distressed; both foresaw the hopelessness of the Italian rising. Queen Hortense went at once to Florence to consult her husband, and it was arranged that she should go in pursuit of her sons, inducing them, if possible, to give up all connection with so hopeless a cause. But before she reached them, the insurgents, who seem to have had no fixed plan and no competent leader, had come to the conclusion that Bonapartes were not wanted in a struggle for republicanism; they therefore requested the young men to withdraw, and their mother went after them to Ancona. On her way she was met by her son Louis, who was coming to tell her that his brother was dead. There has always been mystery concerning the death of this young Napoleon. The accredited account is that he sickened with the measles, and died at a roadside inn on his way to Ancona. The unhappy mother went into that little town upon the Adriatic with her youngest son; but she soon found that the Austrians, having Page 64 come to the help of the Pope, were at its gates. Louis, too, had sickened with the measles. She hid him in an inner chamber, and spread a report that he had escaped to Corfu. She had with her an English passport for an English lady, travelling to England with her two sons. She was obliged to substitute a young Italian, who was compromised, for her dead son; and as soon as Louis could rise from his bed, they set out, meeting With many adventures until they got beyond the boundaries of Italy. Under cover of their English passport they crossed France, and visited the Château of Fontainebleau, where the mother pointed out to her son the scenes of his childhood.

The death of the Duc de Reichstadt in July, 1832, caused Louis Napoleon to consider himself the head of the Napoleonic family. According to M. Claude, the French Minister of Police, he came on this occasion into Paris, and remained there long enough to dabble in conspiracy.

After spending a few months in England, mother and son went back to Arenenberg, where they kept up a close correspondence with all malcontents in France. The Legitimists preferred them the house of Orleans, and the republicans of that period—judging from their writings as well as their acts—evidently believed that Louis Napoleon, now head of the house of Bonaparte, represented republican principles based on universal suffrage, as well as the glories of France.

One fine morning in October, 1836, Louis took leave of his mother at Arenenberg, telling her that he was going to visit his cousins at Baden. Stéphanie de Beauharnais in the days of the Empire had been married to the Grand Duke of that little country. Queen Hortense knew her son's real destination, no doubt, for she took leave of him with great emotion, and hung around his neck a relic which Napoleon had taken from the corpse of the Emperor Charlemagne when his tomb was opened at Aix-la-Chapelle. It was a tiny fragment of wood, said to be from the True Cross, set beneath a brilliant emerald. It seems possible that this may have been the little ornament found on Page 65 the neck of the Prince Imperial after his corpse was stripped by savages in Zululand.

With this talisman against evil, and with the wedding-ring with which Napoleon had married Josephine, upon his finger, Prince Louis Napoleon set out upon an expedition so rash that we can hardly bring ourselves to associate it with the character popularly ascribed to the Third Emperor Napoleon.

His plan was to overturn the government of Louis Philippe, and then appeal to the people by a plébiscite,—i. e., a question to be answered yes or no by universal suffrage. This same plan he carried out successfully several times during his reign.

He went from Arenenberg to Baden-Baden,[1] where he made his final arrangements. Strasburg was to be the scene of his first attempt, and at Baden-Baden he had an interview with Colonel Vambéry, who commanded the Fourth Regiment of Artillery, part of the Strasburg garrison.

[Footnote 1: Louis Blanc, Dix Ans.]

Louis Blanc, the republican and socialist historian, writing in 1843, speaks thus of Louis Napoleon:—

"Brought up in exile, unfamiliar with France, Louis Bonaparte had assumed that the bourgeoisie remembered only that the Empire had curbed the Revolution, established social order, and given France the Code Napoléon. He fancied that the working-classes would follow the eagle with enthusiasm the moment it appeared, borne, as of old, at the head of regiments, and heralded by the sound of trumpets. A twofold error! The things the bourgeoisie in 1836 remembered most distinctly about Napoleon were his despotism and his taste for war; and the most lasting impression of him amongst the most intelligent in the working-classes was that whilst sowing the seeds of democratic aspiration throughout Europe, he had carefully weeded out all democratic tendencies in his own dominions."

But though Louis Blanc is right in saying that the evil that Napoleon did, lived after him in the memories of thinking men, it is also true that those born since the fall of the Second Empire can have no idea of the general Page 66 enthusiasm that still lingered in France in Louis Philippe's reign, round memories of the glories of Napoleon. Men might not wish him back again, but they worshipped him as the national demigod. After Sedan he was pulled down literally and metaphorically from his pedestal; and the old feelings about him which half a century ago even foreign nations seemed to share, now seem obsolete and extravagant to readers of Lanfrey and the books of Erckmann-Chatrian.

Even in 1836, when Louis Napoleon in secret entered Strasburg, he was surprised and disappointed to find that those on whom he had counted to assist him in making the important "first step" in his career, were very doubtful of its prudence. He had counted on the co-operation of General Voirol, an old soldier of the Empire who was in command of the Department in which Strasburg was situated; but when he wrote him a letter, in the most moving terms appealing to his affection for the emperor, the old general not only declined to join the plot, but warned the Prefect of Strasburg that mischief was on foot, though he did not mention in what quarter. The Government in Paris seems, however, to have concluded that it would be best to let a plot so very rash come to a head. There was a public singer, calling herself Madame Gordon, at Baden, who flung herself eagerly into the conspiracy. Louis Napoleon on quitting Arenenberg had expected to meet several generals of distinction, who had served under his uncle, at a certain trysting-place between Arenenberg and Strasburg. He waited for them three days, but they never came. He then resolved to continue his campaign without their aid or encouragement, and entered Strasburg secretly on the night of Oct. 28, 1836. The next morning he had an interview with Colonel Vambéry, who endeavored to dissuade him from his enterprise.

Vambéry's prudent reasons made no impression on the prince, and he then promised his assistance. Having done so, Louis Napoleon offered him a paper, securing a pension of 10,000 francs to each of his two children, in Page 67 case he should be killed. The colonel tore it up, saying, "I give, but do not sell, my blood." Major Parquin, an old soldier of the Empire, who was in the garrison, had been already won. On the night of the prince's arrival the conspirators met at his lodging.

Three regiments of infantry, three regiments of artillery, and a battalion of engineers formed the garrison at Strasburg. The wisest course would have been to appeal first to the third regiment of artillery; but other counsels prevailed. The fourth artillery, whose adhesion to the cause was doubtful, was chosen for the first attempt. All depended upon the impression made upon this regiment, which was the one in which Napoleon had served when captain of artillery at Toulon.

The night was spent in making preparations. Proclamations were drawn up addressed to the soldiers, to the city, and to France; and the first step was to be the seizure of a printing-office.

At five o'clock in the morning the signal was given. The soldiers of the fourth regiment of artillery were roused by the beating of the assemblée. They rushed, half-dressed, on to their parade-ground. Louis Napoleon, whose fate it was never to be ready, was not prompt even on this occasion; he was finishing two letters to his mother. One was to be sent to her at once if he succeeded, the other if he failed.

On entering the barrack-yard he found the soldiers waiting, drawn up in line. On his arrival the colonel (Vambéry) presented him to the troops as the nephew of Napoleon. He wore an artillery uniform. A cheer rose from the line. Then Louis Napoleon, clasping a gilt eagle brought to him by one of the officers, made a speech to the men, which was well received. His cause seemed won.

Next, followed by the troops, but exciting little enthusiasm in the streets of Strasburg as he passed along them in the gray dawn of a cloudy day, Louis Napoleon made his way to the quarters of General Voirol. The general Page 68 emphatically refused to join the movement, and a guard was at once set over him.

Up to this moment all had smiled upon the enterprise. The printing of the proclamations was going rapidly on, the third regiment of artillery was bringing out its guns and horses, and the inhabitants of Strasburg, roused from their beds, were watching the movement as spectators, prepared to assist it or to oppose it, according as it made its way to success or failure.

The prince, and the troops who supported him, next marched to the barracks of the infantry. On their road they lost their way, and approached the barracks in such a manner that they left themselves only a narrow alley to retreat by, in case of failure.

On the prince presenting himself to the guard, an old soldier of the army of Napoleon kneeled and kissed his hand, when suddenly one of the officers, who had his quarters in the town, rushed upon the scene with his sword drawn, crying: "Soldiers, you are deceived! This man is not the nephew of the Emperor Napoleon, he is an impostor,—a relative of Colonel Vambéry!"

This turned the tide. Whilst the soldiers stood irresolute, the colonel of the regiment arrived. For a few moments he was in danger from the adherents of the prince. His own soldiers rushed to his rescue. A tumult ensued. The little band of Imperialists was surrounded, and their cause was lost.

Louis Napoleon yielded himself a prisoner. One or two of the conspirators, among them Madame Gordon, managed to escape; the rest were captured.

News was at once sent by telegraph to Paris; but the great wooden-armed telegraph-stations were in those days uncertain and unmanageable. Only half of the telegram reached the Tuileries, where the king and his ministers sat up all night waiting for more news. At daybreak of October 30 a courier arrived, and then they learned that the rising had been suppressed, and that the prince and his confederates were in prison.

Page 69 Meantime the young officer in charge of Louis Napoleon's two letters to Queen Hortense had prematurely come to the conclusion that the prince was meeting with success, and had hurried off the letter announcing the good news to his mother.

How to dispose of such a capture as the head of the house of Bonaparte was a great puzzle to Louis Philippe's ministers. They dared not bring him to trial; they dared not treat him harshly. In the end he was carried to Paris, lodged for a few days in the Conciergerie, and then sent off, without being told his destination, to Cherbourg, where he was put on board a French frigate which sailed with orders not to be opened till she reached the equator. There it was found that her destination was Rio Janeiro, where she was not to suffer the prince to land, but after a leisurely voyage she was to put him ashore in the United States.

As the vessel was about to put to sea, an official personage waited on the prince, and after inquiring if he had funds enough to pay his expenses on landing, handed him, on the the part of Louis Philippe, a considerable sum.

On reaching Norfolk, Virginia, the prince landed, and learned, to his very great relief, that all his fellow-conspirators had been tried before a jury at Strasburg, and acquitted!

He learned too, shortly afterwards, that his mother was very ill. The shock of his misfortune, and the great exertions she had made on his behalf when she thought his life might be in danger, had proved too much for her. Louis Napoleon recrossed the ocean, landed in England, and made his way to Arenenberg. He was just in time to see Queen Hortense on her death-bed, to receive her last wishes, and to hear her last sigh.

After her death the French Government insisted that the Swiss Confederacy must compel Louis Napoleon to leave their territory. The Swiss refused, repaired the fortifications of Geneva, and made ready for a war with France; but Louis Napoleon of his own free will relieved the Swiss Government Page 70 from all embarrassment by passing over into England, where it was not long before he made preparations for a new attempt to overthrow Louis Philippe's government.

He lived quietly in London at that period, visiting few persons except Count D'Orsay at Gore House, the residence of Lady Blessington, and occupying himself a great deal with writing. He had already completed a Manual of Artillery, and was engaged on a book that he called "Les Idées napoléoniennes." Its principal "idea" was that France wanted an emperor, a definite head, but that she also needed extreme democratic principles. Therefore an empire ought to be founded on an expression of the will of the people,—in plain words, on universal suffrage. The mistake Napoleon III. made in his after career, as well as in his "Idées napoléoniennes," was in not perceiving that an empire without military glory would become a pool of corruption, while vast military efforts, which would embroil France with all Europe, would lose the support of the bourgeoisie. "In short," as Louis Blanc has said, "he imagined a despotism without its triumphs; a throne surrounded by court favorites, but without Europe at its footstool; a great name, with no great man to bear it,—the Empire, in short, minus its Napoleon!"

During the months that Louis Napoleon passed in London he was maturing the plot of a new enterprise. He was collecting round him his adherents, some of them Carbonaro leaders, with whom he had been associated in Italy. Some were his personal friends; some were men whose devotion to the First Napoleon made them ashamed to refuse to support his nephew, even in an insurrection that they disapproved; while some were mere adventurers.

Very few persons were admitted to his full confidence; the affair was managed by a clique, "the members of which had been previously sounded; and in general those were set aside who could not embark in the undertaking heart and hand."

By all these men Louis Napoleon was treated as an imperial personage. To the Italians he stood pledged, and had stood pledged since 1831, that if they helped Page 71 him to ascend the throne of France, he would fight afterwards for the cause of Italy. This pledge he redeemed at Solferino and Magenta, but not till after some impatient, rash Italians (believing him forsworn) had attempted his assassination.

In vain he was advised to wait, to let Louis Philippe's Government fall to the ground for want of a foundation. He had made his decision, and was resolved to adhere to it, not fearing to make that step which lies between the sublime and the ridiculous.

The attempt had been in preparation ever since Louis Napoleon had arrived in England. There were about forty of his adherents living in London at his expense, awaiting the moment for action. What form that action was to take, none of them knew.[1] It was resolved to make the movement in the month of August, 1840. The prince calculated that the remains of his great uncle, restored by England to France, being by that time probably on their way from St. Helena, public enthusiasm for the great emperor would be at its height, and that he would have the honor of receiving those revered remains when they had been brought back from exile by Louis Philippe's son. Besides this, the garrisons of northern France happened at that moment to contain the two regiments whose fidelity he had tampered with at Strasburg four years before.

[Footnote 1: In this account I am largely indebted to the interesting narrative of Count Joseph Orsi, an Italian banker, Prince Louis Napoleon's stanch personal friend.]

Of course there were French agents of police (detectives, as we call them) watching the prince in London; and this made it necessary that he should be very circumspect in making his preparations. A steamer, the "Edinburgh Castle," was secretly engaged. The owners and the captain were informed that she was chartered by some young men for a pleasure-trip to Hamburg.

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, 1840, the "Edinburgh Castle" came up the Thames, and was moored alongside a wharf facing the custom-house. As soon as she was at the wharf, Page 72 Count Orsi, who seems to have been the most business-like man of the party, shipped nine horses, a travelling carriage, and a large van containing seventy rifles and as many uniforms. Proclamations had been printed in advance; they were placed in a large box, together with a little store of gold, which formed the prince's treasure.

At dawn all this was done, and the "Edinburgh Castle" started down the river. At London Bridge she took in thirteen men, and at Greenwich three more. At Blackwall some of the most important conspirators came on board. The boat reached Gravesend about two o'clock, where twelve more men joined them. Only three or four of those on board knew where they were going, or what was expected of them. They were simply obeying orders.

At Gravesend the prince was to have joined his followers, and the "Edinburgh Castle" was at once to have put to sea, touching, however, at Ramsgate before crossing the Channel. Those on board waited and waited, but no prince came. Only five persons in the vessel (one of whom was Charles Thélin, the prince's valet) knew what they were there for.

For some time the passengers were kept quiet by breakfast. Then, having no one at their head, they began to grow unruly. Those in the secret were terribly afraid that the river police might take notice of the large number of foreigners on board, especially as the vessel claimed to be an excursion-boat, and not a petticoat was visible. It was all important to catch the tide,—all important to reach Boulogne before sunrise on the 5th of August, when their friends expected them. But no prince came.

Major Parquin, who had been one of the Strasburg conspirators, was particularly unmanageable; and late in the afternoon he insisted on going ashore to buy some cigars, saying that those on board were detestable. In vain Persigny and Orsi, who in the prince's absence considered themselves to be in command, assured him that to land was impossible; Parquin would not recognize their authority. Page 73 The rest of the story I will tell in Count Orsi's own words. He wrote his account in "Fraser's Magazine," 1879:—

"The wrath of the major was extreme. There was danger in his anger. I consulted Persigny on the advisability of letting him go on shore, with the distinct understanding that he should be accompanied by me or by Charles Thélin."

The truth, it may be suspected, was that Parquin was drunk, or that, having suspected the object of the expedition, he had some especial object in going ashore, which he would not reveal to his fellow-conspirators.

"Persigny," continues Count Orsi, "consented to the idea, and Parquin and I got into the boat. The vessel was lying in the stream. Thélin was with us. As we were walking to the cigar-shop, the major remarked a boy sitting on a log of wood and feeding a tame eagle with shreds of meat. The eagle had a chain fastened to one of its claws. The major turned twice to look at it, and went on without saying a word. On our way back to the boat, however, we saw the boy within two yards of the landing-place. The major went up to him, and looking at the eagle, said in French, 'Is it for sale?' The boy did not understand him. 'My dear Major,' I said, 'I hope you do not intend to buy that eagle. We have other things to attend to. For Heaven's sake, come away!' 'Why not? I will have it. Ask him what he asks for it.'"

The major paid a sovereign for the eagle, and this unlucky purchase was the cause that endless ridicule was cast on the expedition. It has always been supposed that the eagle was one of the "properties" provided for the occasion, and that it was intended to perch on the Napoleon Column at Boulogne. It may well be supposed that this is not far from the truth, and that Major Parquin had the eagle waiting for him at Gravesend. Eagles are so very uncommon in England that it is unlikely that a boy, without set purpose, would be waiting with a tame one on a wharf at Gravesend. The unfortunate bird became in the end the property of a butcher in Boulogne.

Page 74 By six P. M. the party in the "Edinburgh Castle" grew very uneasy; the prince had not arrived. Count Orsi took a post-chaise and drove overland to Ramsgate, where Count Montholon (Napoleon's fellow-exile at St. Helena) and two colonels were waiting the arrival of the steamer. Only one of these gentlemen had been let into the plot, and Montholon was subsequently deeply wounded by having been excluded.

About dawn, when this party had just gone to bed, the "Edinburgh Castle" steamed up to the beautiful Ramsgate pier; but it was already the hour when she should have been off Boulogne.

A second time Louis Napoleon had damaged his chances and risked his friends by his want of punctuality. He had not taken proper precautions as to his mode of leaving London. He found that the police were on the alert, and it was late in the day before he contrived to leave his house unseen. He might have made more exertion, but he had quite forgotten the importance of the tide!

What was now to be done? Four hours is the passage from Ramsgate to Boulogne. It would not do to arrive there in broad daylight. They dared not stay at Ramsgate. It became necessary to put to sea, and to steam about aimlessly till night arrived. The captain and the crew had to be told the object of the expedition, the van had to be opened, and the arms and uniforms distributed. This was done after dark, and no light was allowed on board the steamer.

At three o'clock A. M. of Aug. 6, 1840, the "Edinburgh Castle" was off Wimereux, a little landing-place close to Boulogne. The disembarkation was begun at once. The steamer was ill provided with boats. She had but one, and could only land eight men at a time. This was one of the many oversights of the expedition.

At five A. M. the little troop, clad as French soldiers, marched up to the barracks at Boulogne. The gates were thrown open by friends within, and the prince and his followers entered the yard. The reason why it had been Page 75 so important to reach Boulogne twenty-four hours earlier, was that a certain Colonel Piguellier, who was a strong republican, was sure to be against them. Some French friends of the prince, who were in the secret, had therefore invited Colonel Piguellier to a shooting-party on the 4th, the invitation including one to pass the night at a house in the country; but by the evening of the 5th he had returned to his quarters in Boulogne.

At the moment of the prince's entrance, with his little troop, into the yard of the barracks, the soldiers of the garrison were just getting out of their beds. The few who were already afoot on different duties were soon made to understand who the prince was, and what his party had come for. At the name of Napoleon they rushed up to the dormitories to spread the news. In a short time all the men were formed in line in the barrack-yard.

The prince, at the head of his little troop, addressed them. His speech was received with enthusiasm. At that moment Colonel Piguellier, in full uniform, appeared upon the scene. One of the prince's party threatened to fire on him with a revolver. His soldiers at once took his part. It was the affair of Strasburg over again.

In vain, threats and promises were urged upon the colonel. All he would say was: "You may be Prince Louis Napoleon, or you may not. Napoleon, your predecessor, overthrew legitimate authority, and it is not right for you to attempt to do the same thing in this place. Murder me if you like, but I will do my duty to the last."

The soldiers took the side of their commander. Resistance was of no avail. The prince and his party were forced to leave the barracks, the gates of which were shut at once by Colonel Piguellier's order. The only concession the prince had been able to obtain was that he and his followers should not be pursued by the troops, but be left to be dealt with by the civil authorities.

The failure was complete. The day before, a party of the prince's friends had been at Boulogne on the lookout for his arrival; but when they found he did not come, they Page 76 had left the city. All that remained to be done was to attempt to save the prince. He was almost beside himself. Apparently he lost his self-command, and men of more nerve and experience did with him what they would.

He and his party reached the sea at last. The National Guard of Boulogne began firing on them. The prince, Count Persigny, Colonel Voisin, and Galvani, an Italian, were put into a boat. As they pushed off, a fire of musketry shattered the little skiff, and threw them into the water. Colonel Voisin's arm was broken at the elbow, and Galvani was hit in the body. The prince and Persigny came up to the surface at some distance from the land. Colonel Voisin and Galvani, being nearer to the shore, were immediately rescued. Count Orsi says that as the prince swam towards the steamer, still fired on by the National Guard stationed on the heights, a custom-house boat headed him off. But in Boulogne it was reported and believed that he was captured and brought to land in a bathing machine.

The prisoners were tried by a royal decree. No one was sentenced to death, but the prince, Count Montholon, Count Persigny, Colonel Voisin, Major Parquin, and another officer were sent to the fortress of Ham, on the frontier of Belgium, where they occupied the same quarters as Prince Polignac and the other ministers of Charles X. had done. Count Montholon, four months after, made piteous appeals to be let out on parole for one day, that he might be present when the body of Napoleon was brought back to the capital.

The prince passed five years in prison, reading much, and doubtless meditating much on the mistakes of his career. Many plans of escape had been secretly proposed to him, but he rejected all of them, fearing they were parts of a trap laid for him by the authorities. It has always been believed, however, and it is probably true, that Louis Philippe would have been very willing to have the jailers shut their eyes while Louis Napoleon walked out of their custody, believing that the ridicule that had attended Page 77 his two attempts at revolution had ruined his chances as a pretender to the throne.

During the years Louis Napoleon was imprisoned at Ham, he received constant marks of sympathy, especially from foreigners. He was known to favor the project of an interoceanic canal by the Nicaragua route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Government of Nicaragua proposed to him to become president of a company that would favor its views, expressing the hope that he would make himself as great in America by undertaking such a work, as his uncle has made himself by his military glory.

The illness of his father in Florence gave Prince Louis Napoleon a good reason for asking enlargement on parole from the French Government. Louis Philippe was willing to grant this; but his ministers demurred, unless Louis Napoleon would ask pardon loyalement. This Louis Napoleon refused to do; and having by this time managed to extract a loan of £6,000 from the rich and eccentric Duke of Brunswick, he resolved to attempt an escape.

Here is the story as he told it himself when he reached England. The governor of Ham, it must be premised, was a man wholly uncorruptible. He was kind to his prisoner, with whom he played whist every evening, but he was bent on fulfilling his duty.

This duty obliged him to See the prince twice a day, and at night to turn the key upon him, which he put into his pocket.

The fortress of Ham forms a square, with a round tower at each of the angles. There is only one gate. Between the towers are ramparts, on one of which the prince daily walked, and in one corner had made a flower-garden. A canal ran outside the ramparts on two sides; barracks were under the others. Thélin, the prince's valet, was suffered to go in and out of the fortress at his pleasure. On the 23d of May, 1845, Thélin went to St. Quentin, the nearest large town, and hired a cabriolet, which was to meet him the next day at an appointed place upon the high-road. Page 78 The prince's plan depended on there being workmen in the prison, and he had been about to make a request to have his rooms papered and painted, when the governor informed him that the staircase was to be repaired. The day before the one chosen for the attempt, two English gentlemen, probably by a previous understanding, had visited the prisoner, and he asked one of them to lend his passport to the valet Thélin.

"Very early on the morning of May 25th, the prince, Dr. Conneau, and Thélin were looking out eagerly for the arrival of the workmen. A private soldier whose vigilance they had reason to dread had been placed on guard that morning, but by good luck he was called away to attend a dress parade.

"The workmen arrived. They proved to be all painters and masons,—which was a disappointment to the prince, who had hoped to go out as a carpenter. But at once he shaved off his long moustache, and put over his own clothes a coarse shirt, a workman's blouse, a pair of blue overalls much worn, and a black wig. His hands and face he also soiled with paint; then, putting on a pair of wooden shoes and taking an old clay pipe in his mouth, and throwing a board over his shoulder, he prepared to leave the prison. He had with him a dagger, and two letters from which he never parted,—one written by his mother, the other by his uncle, the emperor.

"It was seven o'clock by the time these preparations were made. Thélin called to the workmen on the staircase to come in and have a glass of wine. On the prince's way downstairs he met two warders. One Thélin skilfully drew apart, pretending to have something to say to him; the other was so intent on getting out of the way of the board carried by the supposed workman that he did not look in the prince's face, and the prince and Thélin passed safely into the yard."

As he was passing the first sentinel, the prince let his pipe fall from his mouth. He stooped, picked it up, and re-lighted it deliberately.

"Close to the door of the canteen he came upon an officer reading a letter. A little farther on, a few privates were sitting on a bench in the sun. The concierge at the gate was in his lodge, but his attention was given to Thélin, who was following the prince, accompanied by his dog Ham. The sergeant, whose duty it was to open and shut the gate, turned quickly and looked Page 79 at the supposed workman; but a movement the prince made at that moment with his board caused him to step aside. He opened the gate: the prince was free.

"Between the two drawbridges the prince met two workmen coming towards him on the side his face was exposed. He shifted his board like a man weary of carrying a load upon one shoulder. The men appeared to eye him with suspicion, as if surprised at not knowing him. Suddenly one said: 'Oh! it is Berthon;' and they passed on into the fortress."

The prince hastened with Thélin to the place where the cabriolet engaged the day before was waiting for them. As Louis Napoleon was about to fling away the board he had been carrying, another cabriolet drove by. As soon as it was out of sight, the prince jumped into his own, shook the dust off his clothes, kicked off his wooden shoes, and seized the reins. The fifteen miles to St. Quentin were soon accomplished. The prince got out at some distance from the town, and Thélin entered it alone, to exchange the cabriolet for a postchaise. The mistress of the post-house offered him a large piece of pie, which he thankfully accepted, knowing that it would be a godsend to his master. A woman, whom they had passed upon the highway on entering the town, took Thélin aside and asked him how he came to be driving with such a shabby, common man that morning; for Thélin was well known in the neighborhood.

Before he rejoined the prince with the pie and the postchaise, Louis Napoleon had become very impatient. Seeing a carriage approach, he stopped it, and asked the occupant if he had seen anything of a postchaise coming from St. Quentin. The traveller proved afterwards to have been the prosecuting attorney of the district (le procureur du roi).

It was nine in the evening when the prince, Thélin, and the dog Ham were safely in the carriage. They reached Valenciennes at a quarter to three A. M., and had to wait more than an hour at the station for the train. The prince had discarded his working clothes, but still wore his black wig. The train arrived at last. By help of the Englishman's passport Page 80 the prince safely crossed the frontier, and soon reached Brussels. Thence he went by way of Ostend to London.

He was not in time to see his father, who died in Florence before he could get permission from the German States to cross the continent.

All the French papers treated his escape as a matter of no consequence. Immediately on reaching London, he wrote a letter to Louis Philippe, pledging himself to make no further attempt to disturb the peace of France during his reign. He probably judged that the end of the Orleans dynasty might be near.

His escape from prison was not known until the evening. Dr. Conneau gave out that he had been very ill during the night, but under the influence of opiates was sleeping quietly. The governor insisted on remaining all day in the sitting-room, and finally upon seeing him. In the dim light of the sick chamber he saw only a figure, with its face turned to the wall, covered up in the bed-clothes.

At last he became suspicious. Thélin's prolonged absence seemed unaccountable. A closer examination was insisted on, and the truth was discovered. Nobody was punished except Dr. Conneau, who suffered a few months' imprisonment.

Fig. 6
("The Citizen-King.")



Besides the affairs of the Duchesse de Berri, of Louis Napoleon, of Fieschi and his infernal machine, and difficulties attending on the marriage of the Duke of Orleans, the first ten years of Louis Philippe's reign were full of vicissitudes. France after a revolution is always an "unquiet sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." Frenchmen do not accept the inevitable as Americans have learned to do, through the working of their institutions.

One of the early troubles of Louis Philippe was the peremptory demand of President Jackson for five million dollars,—a claim for French spoliations in 1797. This amount had been acknowledged by the Government of Louis Philippe to be due, but the Chambers were not willing to ratify the agreement. In the course of the negotiations the secretary of General Jackson, having occasion to translate to him a French despatch, read, "The French Government demands—" "Demands!" cried the general, with a volley of rough language; "if the French Government dares to demand anything of the United States, it will not get it."

It was long before he could be made to understand the true meaning of the French word demande, and his own demands were backed with threats and couched in terms more forcible than diplomatic. The money was paid after the draft of the United States for the first instalment had been protested, and France has not yet forgotten that when Page 82 she was still in the troubled waters of a recent revolution, she was roughly treated by the nation which she had befriended at its birth.

The greatest military success in Louis Philippe's reign was the capture of Constantine in Algeria. So late as 1810 Algerine corsairs were a terror in the Mediterranean, and captured M. Arago, who was employed on a scientific expedition.[1] In 1835, France resolved to undertake a crusade against these pirates, which might free the commerce of the Mediterranean. The enterprise was not popular in France. It would cost money, and it seemed to present no material advantages. It was argued that its benefits would accrue only to the dynasty of Louis Philippe, that Algeria would be a good training-school for the army, and that the main duty of the army in future might be to repress republicanism.

[Footnote 1: About the same time they took prisoner a cousin of my father, John Warner Wormeley, of Virginia. He was sold into slavery; but when tidings of his condition reached his friends, he was ransomed by my grandfather.]

In 1834, a young Arab chief called Abdul Kader, the son of a Marabout of great sanctity, had risen into notice. Abdul Kader was a man who realized the picture of Saladin drawn by Sir Walter Scott in the "Talisman." Brave, honorable, chivalrous, and patriotic, his enemies admired him, his followers adored him. When he made his first treaty with the French, he answered some doubts that were expressed concerning his sincerity by saying gravely: "My word is sacred; I have visited the tomb of the Prophet."

Constantine, the mountain fortress of Oran, was held, not by Abdul Kader, but by Ahmed Bey, the representative of the sultan's suzerainty in the Barbary States. The first attack upon it failed. The weather and the elements fought against the French in this expedition. General Changarnier distinguished himself in their retreat, and the Duc de Nemours showed endurance and bravery.

From the moment of that repulse, popular enthusiasm was aroused. A cry rang through France that Constantine must be taken. It was captured two years later, after a Page 83 siege in which two French commanders-in-chief and many generals were killed. Walls fell, and mines exploded; the place at last was carried by assault. At one moment, when even French soldiers wavered, a legion of foreign dare-devils (chiefly Irishmen and Englishmen) were roused by an English hurrah from the man who became afterwards Marshal Saint-Arnaud. With echoing cheers they followed him up the breach, the army followed after them, and the city was won.

Louis Philippe had been raised to power by four great men,—Lafayette, Laffitte, Talleyrand, and Thiers. Of these, Laffitte and Lafayette retained little influence in his councils, and both died early in his reign. In 1838 died Talleyrand,—the prince of the old diplomatists. The king and his sister, Madame Adélaïde, visited him upon his death-bed. Talleyrand, supported by his secretary, sat up to receive the king. He was wrapped in a warm dressing-gown, with the white curls he had always cherished, flowing over his shoulders, while the king sat near him, dressed in his claret-colored coat, brown wig, and varnished boots. Some one who was present whispered that it was an interview between the last of the ancienne noblesse and the first citizen bourgeois. Rut the old courtier was touched by the intended kindness, and when the king was about to go away, he said, half rising: "Sire, this honor to my house will be gratefully remembered in the annals of my family."

Deep and true was the grief felt for the loss of Talleyrand in his own household; many and bitter have been the things said of his character and his career. He himself summed up his life in some words written shortly before his death, which read like another verse in the Book of Ecclesiastes:—

"Eighty-three years have rolled away! How many cares, how many anxieties! How many hatreds have I inspired, how many exasperating complications have I known! And all this with no other result than great moral and physical exhaustion, and a deep feeling of discouragement as to what may happen in the future,—disgust, too, as I think over the past."

Page 84 A writer in "Temple Bar" (probably Dr. Jevons) speaks of Prince Talleyrand thus:—

"On his private life it would be unfair to pass judgment without taking into consideration the turbulence and lawlessness, the immorality and corruption both social and political, which characterized the stormy epoch in which he was called to play a very prominent part. If he did not pass through it blameless, he was less guilty than many others; if his hands were not pure, at least they were not blood-stained; and it is possible that, as Bourienne, who knew him well, says: 'History will speak as favorably of him as his contemporaries have spoken ill.'"

The summer of 1840 seemed peaceful and serene, when a storm burst suddenly out of a cloudless sky. It was a new phase of that Eastern Question which unhappily was not settled in the days of the Crusades, but has survived to be a disturbing element in the nineteenth century. Two men were engaged in a fierce struggle in the East, and, as usual, they drew the Powers of the West and North into their quarrel.

Sultan Mahmoud, who had come to the throne in 1808, had done his best to destroy the power of his pashas. He hated such powerful and insubordinate nobles, and after the destruction of the Mamelukes in 1811, he placed Egypt under the rule of the bold Macedonian soldier, Mehemet Ali, not as a pasha, but as viceroy. In course of time, as the dominions of Sultan Mahmoud became more and more disorganized by misgovernment and insurrection, Mehemet Ali sent his adopted son, Ibrahim Pasha, with an army into Syria. Ibrahim conquered that province and governed it far better than the Turks had done, when he was stopped by a Russian army (1832), which, under pretence of assisting the sultan, interfered in the quarrel. An arrangement was effected by what is called the treaty of Unkiar-Thelessi. Ibrahim was to retain the pashalik of Syria for his life, and Russia stipulated that no vessels of war should be allowed to pass the Dardanelles or Hellespont without the consent of the sultan.

Page 85 Mehemet Ali, who was anxious above all things to have his viceroyalty in Egypt made hereditary, that he might transmit his honors to his brave son, cast about in every direction to find friends among European diplomatists. Six years before, he had proposed to England, France, and Austria a partition of the sultan's empire. "Russia," he said, "is half mistress of Turkey already. She has established a protectorate over half its subjects, who are Greek Christians, and where she professes to protect, she oppresses instead. If she seizes Constantinople, there is the end of your European civilization. I am a Turk, but I propose to you to inaugurate a crusade which will save Turkey and save Europe. I will raise my standard against the czar; I will put at your disposal my army, fleet, and treasure; I will lead the van; and in return I ask only my independence of the Porte and an acknowledgment of me as an hereditary sovereign." This proposition was promptly declined. It was renewed, in 1838, in a modified form, but again England, France, and Austria would not listen to the viceroy's reasoning. Mehemet Ali became a prey to despair.

Sultan Mahmoud meantime was no less a victim to resentment and anxiety. He hated his enforced subservience to Russia, and above all he hated his great subject and rival, Mehemet Ali. With fury in his heart he watched how, shred by shred, his great empire was wrenched away from him,—Greece, Syria, Servia, Algiers, Moldavia, and Wallachia. Little remained to him but Constantinople and its surrounding provinces. Russia, all-powerful in the Black Sea, could at any moment force him to give up to her the key of the Dardanelles. Among the Turks (the only part of his subjects on whom he could rely) were many malcontents. Fanatic dervishes predicted his overthrow, and called him the Giaour Sultan. He had destroyed Turkish customs, outraged Turkish feelings, and by the massacre o the Janissaries, in 1826, he had sapped Turkish strength. He now began in his own person to set at nought the precepts of the Koran. All day he worked with frenzy, and at night he indulged himself in frightful orgies, till, dead drunk, Page 86 he desisted from his madness, and was carried by his slaves to his bed.[1]

[Footnote 1: Louis Blanc, Dix Ans.]

In the early months of 1839 Mahmoud made quiet preparations to thrust Ibrahim Pasha out of Syria; and in June a great battle was fought between the Egyptians and the Turks on the banks of the Euphrates, in which Ibrahim Pasha, by superior generalship, wholly defeated the Turkish commander, Hafiz Pasha.

Sultan Mahmoud never heard of this disaster. He died of delirium tremens the very week that it took place, and his son, Abdul Medjid, mounted his throne. Ibrahim Pasha immediately after his victory had made ready to threaten Constantinople, when despatches from his father arrested him. Mehemet wrote that France had promised to take the part of Egypt, and to settle all her difficulties by diplomacy.

Meantime the new sultan, or his vizier, having offended the Capitan Pasha (or Admiral of the Fleet), that officer thought proper to carry the ships under his command over to Mehemet Ali.

It was a proud day for the viceroy when the Turkish ships sailed into the harbor of Alexandria. This defection of the fleet so discouraged Abdul Medjid that he offered his vassal terms of peace, by which he consented to Mehemet's hereditary viceroyalty in Egypt, and Ibrahim Pasha's hereditary possession of the pashalik of Syria.

But the Great Powers would not consent to this dismemberment of the Turkish Empire. A fierce struggle in diplomacy took place between France and England, which might have resulted in an open rupture, had not Louis Philippe and Marshal Soult (then Minister for Foreign Affairs in France) been both averse to war. The old marshal had seen more than enough of it, and Louis Philippe felt that peace alone could strengthen his party,—the bourgeoisie. Mehemet Ali, his rights and his wrongs, seem to have been entirely overlooked in the tempest of diplomacy.

After some weeks of great excitement the Five Great Page 87 Powers agreed among themselves that Mehemet Ali should become the Khedive, or hereditary viceroy, of Egypt, but that he must give up Syria. To this he demurred, and the allied troops attacked Ibrahim Pasha. Admiral Sir Charles Napier bombarded his stronghold, St. Jean d'Acre, and forced him into submission. The triumph of Lord Palmerston's policy was complete; as Charles Greville remarked: "Everything has turned out well for him. He is justified by the success of his operations, and by the revelations in the French Chambers of the intentions of M. Thiers; and it must be acknowledged he has a fair right to plume himself on his diplomacy."

After the death of Talleyrand, only M. Thiers remained of the four great men who had assisted Louis Philippe to attain supreme power. M. Thiers was not insensible to the advantage it would be to his History of the Consulate and Empire, if he could add to it a last and brilliant chapter describing the restoration to France of the mortal remains of her great emperor. Therefore in the early part of 1840, before any disturbance of the entente cordiale, he made a request to the English Government for the body of Napoleon, then lying beneath a willow-tree at Longwood, on a desolate island that hardly seemed to be part of the civilized world. Lord Palmerston responded very cordially, and Louis Philippe's third son, the Prince de Joinville, in his frigate, the "Belle Poule," attended by other French war-ships, was despatched upon the errand. Napoleon had died May 5, 1821. For almost twenty years his body had reposed at St. Helena. With the Prince de Joinville went Bertrand and Gourgaud, who had been the Emperor's companions in captivity.

The coffin was raised and opened. The face was perfect. The beard, which had been shaved before the burial, had apparently a week's growth. The white satin which had lined the lid of the coffin had crumbled into dust, and lay like a mist over the body, which was dressed in a green uniform, with the cocked hat across its knees.

Page 88 The corpse was transferred to another coffin brought from France, and was carried over the rough rocks of St. Helena by English soldiers. All the honors that in that remote island England could give to her former captive were respectfully offered; and early in December, 1840, news arrived in Paris that the "Belle Poule" had reached Havre.

This was sooner than her arrival had been looked for, and at once all Paris was in a scramble of preparation. Laborers and artists worked night and day. The weather was piercingly cold. Indeed, no less than three hundred English were said to have died of colds contracted on the day of the funeral procession.

The body was landed at Courbevoie from a flat-bottomed barge that had been constructed to bring it up the Seine. Courbevoie is about two miles from the Arch of Triumph, which is again nearly the same distance from the Place de la Concorde.

Between each gilded lamp-post, with its double burners, and beneath long rows of leafless trees, were colossal plaster statues of Victory, alternating with colossal vases burning incense by day, and inflammable materials for illumination by night. Thus the procession attending the body had about five miles to march from the place of disembarkation to the Invalides, on the left bank of the Seine. The spectators began to assemble before dawn. All along the route scaffoldings had been erected, containing rows upon rows of seats. All the trees, bare and leafless at that season, were filled with freezing gamins. All the wide pavements were occupied. Before long, rows of National Guards fringed the whole avenue. They were to fall in behind the procession as it passed, and accompany it to the Invalides.

The arrival of the funeral barge had been retarded while the authorities hastened the preparations for its reception. When the body of Napoleon was about to re-land on French soil, "cannon to right of it, cannon to left of it, volleyed and thundered." The coffin was received beneath what was called a votive monument,—a column one hundred feet in Page 89 height, with an immense gilded globe upon the top, surmounted by a gilded eagle twenty feet high. Banners and tripods were there ad libitum, and a vast plaster bas-relief cast in the "Belle Poule's" honor.

The coffin, having been landed, was placed upon a catafalque, the cannon gave the signal to begin the march, and the procession started. The public was given to understand that in a sort of funeral casket blazing with gold and purple, on the top of the catafalque, twenty feet from the ground, was enclosed the coffin of the Emperor; but it was not so. The sailors of the "Belle Poule" protested that the catafalque was too frail, and the height too great. They dared not, they said, attempt to get the lead-lined coffin up to the place assigned for it, still less try to get it down again. It was consequently deposited, for fear of accident, on a low platform between the wheels.

First came the gendarmes, or mounted police, with glittering brazen breastplates, waving horse-hair crests, fine horses, and a band of trumpeters; then the mounted Garde Municipale; then Lancers; then the Lieutenant-General commanding the National Guard of Paris, surrounded by his staff, and all officers, of whatever grade, then on leave in the capital. These were followed by infantry, cavalry, sappers and miners, Lancers, and Cuirassiers, staff-officers, etc., with bands and banners. Then came a carriage containing the chaplain who had had charge of the body from the time it left St. Helena, following whom were a crowd of military and naval officers. Next appeared a led charger, son of a stallion ridden by Napoleon, and soon after came a bevy of the marshals of France. Then all the banners of the eighty-six departments, and at last the funeral catafalque.

As it passed under the Arch of Triumph, erected by Napoleon in commemoration of his victories, there were hundreds in the crowd who expected to see the Emperor come to life again.

Strange to say, the universal cry was "Vive l'empereur!" One heard nowhere "Vive le roi!"

Page 90 The funeral car was hung with purple gauze embroidered with golden bees. As I said, the coffin of the Emperor was suffered to repose upon a gilded buckler supported by four golden caryatides; but it was, as the sailors would have said, "stowed safely in the hold."

The catafalque was hung all over with wreaths, emblems, and banners. It had solid gilded wheels, and was drawn by eight horses covered with green velvet, embroidered with gold bees; each horse was led by a groom in the Bonaparte livery. At the four corners of the car, holding the tassels of the pall, rode two marshals, an admiral, and General Bertrand, who had shared the captivity of the Emperor. Count Montholon was not suffered to leave his imprisonment for the occasion, though he also had been a companion of the Emperor at St. Helena. Around the catafalque marched the five hundred sailors of the "Belle Poule," headed by their captain, the Prince de Joinville,—slender, tall, and dark, a very naval-looking man. He was supposed to be intensely hostile to England, and only to be kept in check by a strong hand. Then came all the Emperor's aides-de-camp who were still living, and all the aged veterans in Paris who had served under him. This was the most touching feature of the procession. Many tears were shed by the spectators, and a thrill ran through the hearts of eight hundred thousand people as the catafalque creaked onward, passing under the arch which celebrated Napoleon's triumphs, and beneath which at other times no carriage was allowed to pass. But enthusiasm rose to the highest point at the sight of the veterans in every kind of faded uniform,—Grenadiers of the Guard, Chasseurs, Dragoons of the Empress, Red Lancers, Mamelukes, Poles, and, above all, the Old Guard. "Vive la Vieille Garde!" shouted the multitude; "Vive les Polonais! Vive l'empereur!"

The funeral was a political blunder. It stirred up the embers of Napoleonism. Ten years later they blazed into a consuming fire.

The procession passed through the Place de la Concorde, beneath the shadow of the obelisk of Luxor, which of old Page 91 had looked on triumphs and funeral processions in Egypt; then it crossed the Seine. On the bridge were eight colossal statues, representing prudence, strength, justice, war, agriculture, art commerce, and eloquence.

The statues along the Champs Elysées were Victories, each inscribed with the name of some Napoleonic battle. Great haste had been required to get them ready. At the last moment Government had had to order from certain manufactories pairs of wings by the dozen, and bucklers and spears in the same way. All night the artists had been fixing these emblems on their statues. A statue of Marshal Ney, which had been ordered among those of the other marshals, was found to be, not of colossal, but of life size. It had to be hurriedly cut into three parts. The deficiency in the torso was concealed by flags, and the "bravest of the brave" took his place on a par with his comrades.

On the steps of the Chamber of Deputies was a colossal statue of Immortality, designed for the top of the Pantheon, but pressed into service on this occasion, holding forth a gilded crown as if about to place it on the coffin of the Emperor.

At the gate of the Invalides was another genuine statue, Napoleon in his imperial robes was holding forth the cordon of the Legion of Honor. This statue had been executed for the Pillar at Boulogne commemorative of the Army of England. It was surrounded by plaster statues of the departments of France, and was approached through a long line of marshals, statesmen, and the most illustrious of French kings, among them Louis XIV., who would have been much astonished to find himself rendering homage to a soldier of barely gentlemanly birth, born on an island which was not French in his time.

The coffin was borne by sailors into the Chapelle Ardente at the Invalides. "Sire," said Prince de Joinville to his father, "I present to you the body of the Emperor Napoleon."

"I receive it in the name of France," replied the king.

Then Marshal Soult put the Emperor's sword into the king's hand. "General Bertrand," said the king, "I charge Page 92 you to lay it on the coffin of the Emperor. General Gourgaud, place the Emperor's hat also on the coffin."

Then began the appropriate religious ceremonies, and during the following week the public were admitted to view the coffin as it lay in state in the Chapelle Ardente. The crowd was very great. Women fainted daily, and many were almost pressed to death against the gilded rails.

After all, there was little to see. The coffin was enclosed in a sort of immense cage to keep it from intrusion, the air was heavy with incense, and the light was too dimly religious to show anything with distinctness.

A splendid tomb has since been erected to Napoleon in the Chapel of the Invalides, where he rests under the care of the war-worn soldiers of France. Few now can be living who fought under him. Not a Bonaparte was at his funeral; the only one then upon French soil was in a prison.

Napoleon sleeps where in his will he prayed that his remains might rest,—on the banks of the Seine.

Page 93 CHAPTER V.


After the signing of the treaty of 1841, which restored the entente cordiale between France and England, and satisfied the other European Powers, Louis Philippe and his family were probably in the plenitude of their prosperity. The Duke of Orleans had been happily married; and although his wife was a Protestant,—which was not wholly satisfactory to Queen Marie Amélie,—the character of the Duchesse Hélène was so lovely that she won all hearts, both in her husband's family and among the people.

On the occasion of the fêtes given in Paris at the nuptials of the Duke of Orleans, in 1837, the sad presage of misfortune that had accompanied the marriage festivities of Marie Antoinette was repeated. One of the spectacles given to the Parisians was a sham attack on a sham citadel of Antwerp in the Champ de Mars. The crowd was immense, but all went well so long as the spectacle lasted. When the crowd began to move away, a panic took place. The old and the feeble were thrown down and trampled on. Twenty-four persons were killed, the fêtes were broken up, and all hearts were saddened both by the disaster and the omen.

One part of the festivities on that occasion consisted in the opening of the galleries of historical paintings at Versailles,—a magnificent gift made by the Citizen King to his people.

I have spoken already of the storming of Constantine. No French success since the wars of the Great Napoleon Page 94 had been so brilliant; yet the Chamber of Deputies, in a fit of parsimony, reduced from two thousand to eleven hundred dollars the pension proposed by the ministers to be settled on the widow of General Damremont, the commander-in-chief, who had been killed by a round shot while giving orders to scale the walls. At the same time they voted two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the year's subsidy to the theatres of Paris for the amusement of themselves and their constituents.

Algeria proved a valuable school for soldiers; there Lamoricière, Changarnier, Cavaignac, Saint-Arnaud, Pélissier, and Bugeaud had their military education. Louis Philippe's three sons were also with the troops, sharing all the duties, dangers, and hardships of the campaign.

By the end of 1847 Abdul Kader had retired to a stronghold in the mountains, where, seeing that his cause was lost, he tendered his submission to the Duc d'Aumale, then governor of Algeria. The offer was accepted. Abdul Kader surrendered on an understanding that he should be conducted to some Mohammedan place of refuge,—Alexandria or St. Jean d'Acre. But this stipulation was disregarded by the French Government, whose breach of faith has always been considered a stain on the honor of Louis Philippe and his ministers. The Duc d'Aumale vehemently remonstrated, believing his own word pledged to the Arab chieftain. Abdul Kader, his wives, children, servants, and principal officers were taken to France, and for five years lived at Amboise, where some of the subordinate attendants, overcome by homesickness, committed suicide. In 1852 Louis Napoleon, who possibly had a fellow-feeling for captives, restored Abdul Kader to liberty, who thereupon took up his residence at Damascus. There he subsequently protected a large number of Christians from massacre, sheltering them in his house, and giving them food and clothing. He afterwards removed to the island of Ceylon, where, as everywhere else, he won "golden opinions" by his generous behavior.

Meantime, while France was in some respects in the full Page 95 tide of prosperity, great discontent was growing up among the working-classes, reinforced by the worthless class, always ready for disturbances. In May, 1839, Barbès led an émeute in Paris which might have proved formidable. His attempt opened with a deliberate murder, and there was considerable fighting in the streets for about twenty-four hours. Barbès was condemned to death. The king was desirous to spare him, and yielded readily to the prayers of his sister, for whom an opportunity of interceding for him was obtained by the good offices of Lamartine.

The émeute of Barbès was regarded with disfavor by more experienced conspirators, but secret societies had introduced organization among the workmen. Moreover, they were led by the bourgeoisie with a cry for parliamentary reform, which at that period was the supposed panacea for every kind of evil.

The king was not popular. He was not the ideal Frenchman. He was a Frenchman of the épicier, or small grocer, type. As a bon père de famille he was anxious to settle his sons well in life. They were admirable young men, they deserved good wives, and as far as grace, beauty, and amiability went, they all obtained them; but up to 1846 not one of them had made a brilliant marriage. This good fortune Louis Philippe hoped was reserved for his two younger sons,—D'Aumale and Montpensier.

The Duke of Orleans was the most popular of the king's sons. Handsome, elegant, accomplished, and always careful in his toilet, he was a thorough Frenchman,—the approved type of an aristocrat with liberal sympathies and ideas. He was born at Palermo in 1810, and did not come to France till he was four years old. He had an excellent tutor, who prepared him for his collège. There he took his place entirely on a par with other boys, and gained several prizes. All Louis Philippe's sons were sent to public schools.

The duke afterwards prepared for and entered the Polytechnic, which is said to demand more hard study than any other school in the world. He made his first campaign Page 96 in Africa in 1835, and afterwards served with distinction in the early part of that one which resulted in the retreat from Constantine; but before Constantine was reached, a severe illness invalided him. He was a liberal in politics, the sincere friend of the working-classes, and was on intimate terms with men of letters, even with Victor Hugo, in spite of his advanced opinions. He was a patron of art and artists. Some beautiful table-pieces that he had ordered, by Barye, are now in the gallery of Mr. W. S. Walters, of Baltimore, they not having been completed when he died. His wife charmed every one by her good sense, grace, and goodness. They had had four years of happy married life, and had two little sons, when, in July, 1842, the duchess went for her health to the baths of Plombières, in the mountains of the Vosges. Her husband escorted her thither, and then returned to Paris, on his way to attend some military manœuvres near Boulogne.

As he was driving out to Neuilly to make his adieux to his family, the horses of his carriage were startled by an organ-grinder on the Avenue de Neuilly. The duke, who was alone, tried apparently to jump out of the carriage. Had he remained seated, all would have been well. He fell on his head on the pavé of the broad avenue, breaking the vertebral column.

He was carried into a small grocer's shop by the way-side, where afterwards a little chapel was erected by his family. Messengers were sent to the Château de Neuilly, and his father, mother, and sisters, without bonnets or hats, came rushing to the spot. He lived, unconscious, for four hours. A messenger was despatched at once to bring his wife from Plombières. She had just finished dressing for dinner, in full toilet, when the news reached her. Without changing her dress, she started instantly for Paris, but when she reached it, her husband was in his coffin.

When his will was opened, it was found to contain an earnest exhortation to his son that, whether he proved "one of those tools that Heaven fits for work, but does not use," or ascended the French throne, he "should always Page 97 hold in his heart, above all things, love to France, and fidelity to the principles of the French Revolution."

Here is the poor Queen Amélie's account of the death of her son, written to a dear friend four days after:—

"My Chartres,[1] my beloved son, he whose birth made all my happiness, whose infancy and growing years were all my occupation, whose youth was my pride and consolation, and who would, as I hoped, be the prop of my old age, no longer lives. He has been taken from us in the midst of completed happiness, and of the happiest prospects of the future, whilst each day he gained in virtue, in understanding, in wisdom, following the footsteps of his noble and excellent father. He was more than a son to me,—he was my best friend. And God has taken him from me!... On the 2d of July he and Hélène left for Plombières, where the latter was to take the baths. He was, after establishing her there, to come back and spend a few days at the camp of St.-Omer, there to take command of an army corps, which was intended to execute great military manœuvres on the Marne, and which had been the object of his thoughts and employments for a year past. Accordingly, on the 9th he returned from Plombières, and came to dine with us at Neuilly, full of the subject of the elections, and talking of them with that warmth of heart and intellect which was apparent in all he did. Next day—my fête day—he came, contrary to his usual custom, with an enormous bouquet, telling me it was given in the name of the whole family. He heard mass, and breakfasted with us. He was so cheerful. He sat beside me at dinner. He got up, drank my health with much vivacity, and made the band play a particular tune,—in my honor, as he said. Who would have thought that this was the last time this dear child was to show me so much affection! On the 11th he again returned to dinner with us, much occupied all the time with the camp and the elections....

[Footnote 1: It was his first title before his father came to the throne. His mother always continued to use it.]

"On the 12th he arrived about four o'clock in his country suit. We conversed together about the health of Hélène, which was a subject of anxiety, about Clémentine's marriage, which he earnestly desired; about the elections and many other subjects, the discussion of which he always ended with the refrain: 'In short, dear Majesty, we finish as usual by agreeing in all important particulars.' And it was very true.

Page 98 "After dinner we took a turn in the park, he and Victoire, Clémentine, D'Aumale, and I. Never had he been so gay, so brilliant, so affectionate. He spoke to me of his arrangements for the troops, of the time when the king was to go with us to Ste.-Menehoulde, of the time that he would spend there, and of his own daily occupations. He looked forward to giving his father a representation of the battle of Valmy. I gave him my arm, saying: 'Come, dear prop of my old age!' And the next day he was to be alive no longer!

"We returned to the drawing-room a little late. A great many people had arrived. He remained with us talking until ten o'clock, when on going away he came to bid me good-night. I gave him my hand, and said: 'You will come and see us tomorrow before going away?' He replied: 'Perhaps so.'

"On the next day, July 13, about eleven o'clock, we were about to get into the carriage to go to the Tuileries. As I followed the king to the red drawing-room, I saw Troussart, the commissary of police, with a terrified countenance whispering something to General Gourgaud, who made a gesture of horror, and went to speak in a low voice to the king. The king cried out: 'Oh, my God!' Then I cried: 'Something has happened to one of my children! Let nothing be kept from me!' The king replied: 'Yes, my dear; Chartres has had a fall on his way here, and has been carried into a house at Sablonville.' Hearing this, I began to run like a madwoman, in spite of the cries of the king and the remonstrances of M. de Chabannes, who followed me. But my strength was not equal to my impulses, and on getting as far as the farm, I was exhausted. Happily the king came up in the carriage with my sister, and I got in with them. Our carriage stopped. We got out in haste, and went into the cabaret, where in a small room, stretched upon a mattress on the floor, we found Chartres, who was at that moment being bled.... The death-rattle had begun. 'What is that?' said the king to me. I replied: 'Mon ami, this is death. For pity's sake let some one fetch a priest, that my poor child may not die like a dog!' and I went for a moment into a little side room, where I fell on my knees and implored God from my inmost soul, if He needed a victim, to take me and spare so dear a child....

"Dr. Pasquier arrived soon after. I said to him: 'Sir, you are a man of honor; if you think the danger imminent, I beseech you tell me so, that my child may receive extreme unction.' He hung his head, and said: 'Madame, it is true.'

"The curé of Neuilly came and administered the sacrament while we were all on our knees around the pallet, weeping and Page 99 praying. I unloosed from my neck a small cross containing a fragment of the True Cross, and I put it into the hand of my poor child, that God the Saviour might have pity on him in his passage into eternity. Dr. Pasquier got up and whispered to the king. Then that venerable and unhappy father, his face bathed in tears, knelt by the side of his eldest son, and tenderly embracing him, cried; 'Oh that it were I instead of thee!' I also drew near and kissed him three times,—once for myself, once for Hélène, and once for his children. I laid upon his lips the little cross, the symbol of our redemption, and then placed it on his heart and left it there. The whole family kissed him by turns, and then each returned to his place.... His breathing now became irregular. Twice it stopped, and then went on. I asked that the priest might come back and say the prayers for the dying. He had scarcely knelt down and made the sign of the cross, when my dear child drew a last deep breath, and his beautiful, good, generous, and noble soul left his body.... The priest at my request said a De profundis. The king wanted to lead me away, but I begged him to allow me to embrace for the last time my beloved son, the object of my deepest tenderness. I took his dear head in my hands; I kissed his cold and discolored lips; I placed the little cross again upon them, and then carried it away, bidding a last farewell to him whom I loved so well,—perhaps too well!

"The king led me into the next room. I fell on his neck. We were unhappy together. Our irreparable loss was common to us both, and I suffered as much for him as for myself. There was a crowd in that little room. I wept and talked wildly, and I was beside myself. I recognized no one but the unhappy Marshal Gérard, the extent of whose misfortune I then understood.[1] After a few minutes they said that all was ready. The body had been placed on a stretcher covered with a white cloth. It was borne by four men of the house, attended by two gendarmes. They went out through the stable-yard; there was an immense crowd outside.... We all followed on foot the inanimate body of this dear son, who a few hours before had passed over the same road full of life, strength, and happiness.... Thus we carried him, and laid him down in our dear little chapel, where four days before he had heard mass with the whole family."

[Footnote 1: Marshal Gérard was then mourning for his son.]

The death of the Duke of Orleans was the severest blow that could have fallen on Louis Philippe, not only as a Page 100 father, but as head of a dynasty. The duke left two infant sons,—the Comte de Paris and the Duc de Chartres. The former is now both the Orleanist and Legitimist pretender, to the French throne.

In the early part of 1845 Louis Philippe, who had already visited Windsor and been cordially received there, was visited in return at his Château d'Eu by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, accompanied by Lord Aberdeen, then English Minister for Foreign Affairs. The king's reception of the young queen was most paternal. He kissed her like a father, and did everything in his power to make her visit pleasant. Among the subjects discussed during the visit was the question of "the Spanish marriages."

The unfortunate Queen of Spain, Isabella II., was just sixteen years old; her sister, the Infanta Luisa, was a year younger. Isabella was the daughter of a vicious race, and with such a mother as she had in Queen Christina, she had grown up to early womanhood utterly ignorant and untrained. One of her ministers said of her that "no one could be astonished that she had vices, but the wonder was that she had by nature so many good qualities." Jolly, kindly, generous, a rebel against etiquette, and an habitual breaker of promises, she was long popular in Spain, in spite of a career of dissoluteness only equalled by that of Catherine of Russia.

In 1846, however, she had not shown this tendency, and in the hands of a good husband might have made as good a wife and as respectable a woman as her sister Luisa has since proved.

There were many candidates for the honor of Queen Isabella's hand. Louis Philippe sent his sons D'Aumale and Montpensier to Madrid to try their fortunes; but England objected strongly to an alliance which might make Spain practically a part of France. The candidature of the French princes was therefore withdrawn.

A prince of the Catholic branch of the Coburgs was then proposed,—Prince Ferdinand, who made subsequently an excellent king-consort in Portugal; but to him France Page 101 objected, as too nearly allied to the English Crown. Finally the suitors were reduced to three,—the queen's cousin Enrique (Henry), a rough sailor of rather radical opinions and turbulent ways; the Comte de Trepani, a Neapolitan prince, a man of small understanding; and another cousin, Don Francisco d'Assis, a creature weak alike in mind and body, whom it was an outrage to think of as fit mate for a young queen. England was willing to consent to the queen's marrying anyone of these princes, and also that the Duc de Montpensier should marry the Infanta Luisa, provided that the queen was first married and had had a child. All this was fully agreed upon in the conference at Eu. But Christina, the queen-mother, who had been plundering the Spanish treasury till she had accumulated an enormous fortune, offered, if Louis Philippe would use his influence to prevent any inquiry into the state of her affairs, to further his views as to the Duc de Montpensier.

It seems more like a scene in the Middle Ages than an actual transaction in our own century, that at midnight, in a Spanish palace, a dissolute Italian dowager and a French ambassador should have been engaged in coercing a sovereign of sixteen into a detested marriage. As morning dawned, the sobbing girl had given her consent to marry Don Francisco, and the ambassador of Louis Philippe, pale from the excitement of his vigil, left the palace to send word of his disgraceful victory to his master. The Duc de Montpensier, who was in waiting on the frontier, soon arrived in Madrid, and Isabella and Luisa were married on the same day; while M. Guizot, who was head of the French Government, and Louis Philippe excused their breach of faith to the queen of England by saying that Queen Isabella was married before her sister, though on the same morning.

Isabella at once banished her unwelcome husband to a country seat, and flung herself headlong into disgraceful excesses.

Queen Victoria was greatly hurt by the treachery displayed by Louis Philippe and his minister, and doubtless, Page 102 as a woman she was deeply sorry for the young queen. Louis Philippe not only lost credit, popularity, and the support he derived from the personal friendship of the Queen and the Prince Consort of England, but he obtained no chance of the throne of Spain for his son by his wicked devices; for Queen Isabella, far from being childless, had three daughters and a son. The latter, subsequently Alfonso XII., married, in spite of much opposition, his lovely cousin Mercedes, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier. She died a few months after her marriage, so that no son or grandson of Louis Philippe will be permitted by Providence to mount the Spanish throne.

The affair of the Spanish marriages, the quarrel it involved with Queen Victoria, and the loss to Louis Philippe of personal honor, had a great effect upon him; he became irritable and obstinate, and at the same time weak of will.

Troubles multiplied around him. Things with which he had nothing whatever to do increased his unpopularity, and the secret societies kept discontents alive. Everything that went wrong in France was charged upon the king and the royal family.

One of the great families in France was that of Choiseul-Praslin. The head of it in Louis Philippe's time was a duke who had married Fanny, daughter of Marshal Sébastiani, an old officer of Napoleon and a great favorite with Louis Philippe. The Duc de Praslin had given in his adhesion to the Orleans dynasty, while so many old families stood aloof, and was in consequence made an officer in the Duchess of Orleans' household. The Duc and Duchesse de Praslin had ten children. The duchess was a stout, matronly little woman, rather pretty, with strong affections and a good deal of sentiment. Several times she had had cause to complain of her husband, and did complain somewhat vehemently to her own family; but their matrimonial differences had always been made up by Marshal Sébastiani. The world considered them a happy married pair.

After seventeen years of married life a governess was Page 103 engaged for the nine daughters, a Mademoiselle Henriette de Luzy. She was a Parisian by birth, but had been educated in England, had English connections, and spoke English fluently. She was one of those women who make a favorable impression upon everyone brought into personal contact with them. Soon the children adored her, and it was not long before the duke had come under the same spell. The duchess found herself completely isolated in her own household; husband and children had alike gone over to this stranger. The duchess wrote pathetic letters to her husband, pleading her own affection for him, and her claims as a wife and a mother. These letters no doubt exasperated the duke, but we read them with deep pity for her whose heart they lay bare.

It is to be understood that there was apparently no scandal—that is, scandal in the usual sense—in the relations between the duke and Mademoiselle de Luzy. She had simply bewitched a weak man who had grown tired of his wife, and had cast the same spell over his children; and she had not the superiority of character which would have led her to throw up a lucrative situation because she was making a wife and mother (whom doubtless she considered very unreasonable) extremely unhappy.

At last things came to such a pass that Madame de Praslin appealed to her father, insisting on a legal separation from her husband. The marshal intervened, and the affair was compromised. Mademoiselle de Luzy was to be honorably discharged, and the duchess was to renounce her project of separation. Mademoiselle de Luzy therefore gave up her situation, and went to board in a pension in Paris with her old schoolmistress. Madame de Praslin went to her country house, the magnificent Château de Vaux, where she herself undertook the education of her children; but in their estimation she by no means replaced Mademoiselle de Luzy, whom from time to time they visited in company with their father.

In the middle of the summer of 1847 it was arranged that the whole family should go to the seaside, and they Page 104 came up to Paris to pass one night in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré at the Hôtel Sébastiani. Like most French establishments, the Hôtel Sébastiani was divided between the marshal and his daughter, the old marshal occupying one floor during the winter, the duke and duchess, with their family, the one above it, while the servants of both establishments had their sleeping-rooms under the roof. The house was of gray stone, standing back in a yard; the French call such a situation entre cour et jardin. The duke had been in Paris several times during the previous week, and had occupied his own rooms, where the concierge and his wife—the only servants left in the house—had remarked that he seemed very busy.

It was afterwards reported in the neighborhood, but I do not think the circumstance was ever officially brought out, that the police found subsequently that all the screws but one that held up the heavy tester over the bed of the duchess, had been removed, and the holes filled with wax; it is certain that the duke partly unscrewed the bolt that fastened the door of her dressing-room.

On the evening of the family's arrival in Paris, the father and children went in a carriage to see Mademoiselle de Luzy. She told the duke that she could get a good situation, provided the duchess would give her a certificate of good conduct; and the duke at parting promised to obtain it for her.

The whole family went to bed early, that they might be ready to start for the seaside betimes upon the morrow. The children's rooms were in a wing of the building, at some distance from the chambers of their father and mother. The concierge and his wife slept in their lodge. Towards one o'clock in the morning they were awakened by screams; but they lay still, imagining that the noise came from the Champs Elysées. Then they heard the loud ringing of a bell, and starting from their bed, rushed into the main building. The noise had proceeded from the duchess's chamber. They knocked at the door, but there was no answer, only low moans. They consulted Page 105 together, and then roused the maid and valet, who were sleeping in the attic chambers. Again they knocked, and there was no answer. The valet then went to the duke's room, which looked upon the garden and communicated with the dressing-room of the duchess by a balcony and window as well as by the door. The duke opened the door of his chamber. He was in his dressing-gown. When he heard what was the matter, he went at once through the window into the duchess's chamber. There a scene of carnage unparalleled, I think, in the history of murder met their eyes. The duchess was lying across her bed, not yet quite dead, but beyond the power of speech. There were more than forty wounds on her body. She must have struggled desperately. The walls were bloody, the bell-rope was bloody, and the floor was bloody. The nightdress of the duchess was saturated with blood. Her hands were cut almost to pieces, as if she had grasped the blade of the knife that killed her. The furniture was overturned in all parts of the room.[1]

[Footnote 1: We were then living near the Hotel Sébastini. The excitement in the neighborhood the next morning is indescribable.]

At once the valet and the concierge ran for the police, for members of the family, and for a doctor. The duke retired to his dressing-room. One of the gentlemen who first arrived was so sickened by the sight of the bloody room that he begged for a glass of water. The valet ran for the nearest water at hand, and abruptly entered the duke's dressing-room. He had a glass with him, and was going to fill it from a pail standing near, when the duke cried out: "Don't touch it; it is dirty;" and at once emptied the contents out of the window, but not before the valet had seen that the water was red with blood. This roused his suspicions, and when all the servants in the house were put under arrest, he said quietly to the police: "You had better search the duke's dressing-room."

When this was done there could be no more doubt. Three fancy daggers were found, one of which had always hung in the chamber of the duchess. All of them were Page 106 stained with blood. The duke had changed his clothes, and had tried to wash those he took off in the pail whose bloody water he had thrown away. Subsequently it was conjectured that his purpose had been to stab his wife in her sleep, and then by a strong pull to bring down upon her the heavy canopy. The bolt he had unscrewed permitted him at dead of night quietly to enter her chamber.

The police were puzzled as to how they ought to treat the murderer. As he was a peer of France, they could not legally arrest him without authority from the Chamber of peers, or from the king. The royal family was at Dreux. The king was appealed to at once, and immediately gave orders to arrest the duke and to summon the peers for his trial. But meantime the duke, who had been guarded by the police in his own chamber, had contrived to take poison. He took such a quantity of arsenic that his stomach rejected it. He did not die at once, but lingered several days, and was carried to prison at the Luxembourg, where the poison killed him by inches. He died untried, having made no confession.

His son, who was very young at the time of his parents' death, married an American lady when he grew to manhood. It was a long courtship, for the young duke's income went largely to keep in repair his famous Château de Vaux, where Fouquet had entertained Louis XIV. with regal magnificence. Finally a purchaser was found for the ancestral seat; and relieved of the obligations it involved, the duke married, and retired to his estates in Corsica.

As to Mademoiselle de Luzy, she was tried for complicity in the murder of the duchess, and acquitted. There was no evidence whatever against her. But popular feeling concerning her as the inciting cause of the poor duchess's death was so strong that by the advice of her pastor—the Protestant M. Coquerel—she changed her name and came to America. She brought letters of introduction to a family in Boston, who procured her a situation as governess in Connecticut. There she soon after married a Congregational minister.

Page 107 It seems hard to imagine how such a tragedy could have borne its part among the causes of Louis Philippe's downfall; but those who look into Alison or Lamartine will see it set down as one of the events which greatly assisted in bringing about the revolution of February. Mobs, like women, are often swayed by persons rather than by principles.

It was believed by the populace that court favor had prevented the duke from going to prison like any common criminal, and that the same influence had procured him the poison by which he escaped a public execution.

Page 108 CHAPTER VI.


As I said in the last chapter, everything in the year 1847 and during the opening weeks of 1848 seemed unfavorable to Louis Philippe. Besides the causes of dissatisfaction I have mentioned, there was a scarcity of grain, there were drains on the finances, there was disaffection among the National Guard, and hostility among the peers to the measures of the Ministry. Then came the conviction of M. Teste, a member of the Cabinet, for misappropriating public funds. Even private affairs seemed turned against the royal family. Madame Lafarge murdered her husband, and it was said that the court had attempted to procure her acquittal because she was connected with the house of Orleans by a bar-sinister. A quarrel about an actress led to a duel. The man wounded was a journalist who was actively opposed to the king's Government. It was hinted that the duel was a device of the court to get him put out of the way. But the greatest of the king's misfortunes was the death of his admirable sister, Madame Adélaïde, in January, 1848. She had been all his life his bosom friend and his chief counsellor. She died of a severe attack of influenza.

In a letter from the Prince de Joinville to the Duc de Nemours, found in the garden of the Tuileries in February, 1848, among many valuable documents that had been flung from the windows of the palace by the mob, the situation of things at the close of 1847 and the beginning of 1848 is thus summed up by one brother writing in confidence to another:—

Page 109 "The king will listen to no advice. His own will must be paramount over everything. It seems to me impossible that in the Chamber of Deputies at the next session the anomalous state of the government should fail to attract attention. It has effaced all traces of constitutional government, and has put forward the king as the primary, and indeed sole, mover upon all occasions. There is no longer any respect for ministers; their responsibility is null, everything rests with the king. He has arrived at an age when he declines to listen to suggestions. He is accustomed to govern, and he loves to show that he does so. His immense experience, his courage, and his great qualities lead him to face danger; but it is not on that account the less real or imminent."

Then, after further summing up the state of France,—the finances embarrassed, the entente cordiale with England at an end, and the provinces in confusion,—the prince adds: "Those unhappy Spanish marriages!—we have not yet drained the cup of bitterness they have mixed for us to drink."

In this state of things the opposition party was divided into liberals who wished for reform, and liberals who aimed at revolution. For a while the two parties worked together, and their war-cry was Reform! There was little or no parliamentary opposition, for the Chamber of Peers and the Chamber of Deputies were alike virtually chosen by the Crown. The population of France in 1848 was thirty-five millions; but those entitled to vote were only two hundred and forty thousand, or one to every one hundred and forty-six of the population, and of these a large part were in Government employ. It was said that the number of places in the gift of the Ministry was sixty-three thousand, every place, from that of a guard upon a railroad to that of a judge upon the bench, being disposed of by ministerial favor.

The plan adopted to give expression to the public discontent was the inauguration of reform banquets. To these large crowds were attracted, both from political motives and from a desire in the rural districts to hear the great speakers, Lamartine and others, who had a national renown. Page 110 Many of the speeches were inflammatory. The health of the king was never drunk on these occasions, but the "Marseillaise" was invariably played.

Seventy-four of these banquets had been given in the provinces, when it was decided to give one in Paris; and a large inclosed piece of ground on the Rue Chaillot, not far from the Arch of Triumph, was fixed upon for the purpose. This banquet was to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 1848. Until Monday afternoon opinions seemed divided as to whether it would be suffered to go on. But meantime the city had been crammed with troops, and the sleep of its inhabitants had been broken night after night by the tramp of regiments and the rumble of artillery. Monday, February 21, was a beautiful day, the air was soft and genial, the streets and the Champs Elysées were very gay. Scarcely any one was aware at that time that it was the intention of the Government to forbid the banquet; but that night the preparations made for it were carted away by order of the liberal leaders, who had been warned of the decision of the authorities, while at the same time every loose paving-stone that might help to erect a barricade was, by orders from the police, removed out of the way.

When morning dawned, a proclamation, forbidding the banquet, was posted on every street-corner. The soldiers were everywhere confined to their quarters, the windows of which were stuffed with mattresses; but to residents in Paris the day seemed to pass quietly, though about noon the Place de la Madeleine was full of men surrounding the house of Odillon Barrot, the chief leader of the opposition, demanding what, under the circumstances, they had better do. In the Place de la Concorde, troops were endeavoring to prevent the crowd from crossing the Seine and assembling in front of the Chamber of Deputies. In order to break up the throng upon the bridge, a heavy wagon was driven over it at a rapid pace, escorted by soldiers, who slashed about them with their sheathed swords. At the residence of M. Guizot, then both Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, a large crowd had assembled and Page 111 had broken his windows; but the rioters were dispersed the Municipal Guard and the Police.

In the afternoon, on the Place de la Concorde, a party of men and boys, apparently without leaders, contrived to break through the troops guarding the bridge, and began to ascend the steps of the Chamber of Deputies. Being refused admission to the hall, they proceeded to break windows and do other damage. Then a party of dragoons began to clear the bridge, but good-humoredly, and the people were retiring as fast as they might, when a detachment of the Municipal Guard arrived. The Municipal Guard was a handsome corps of mounted police, the men being all stalwart and fine-looking. They wore brazen helmets and horse-tails and glittering breastplates, but they were very unpopular, while the National Guards were looked on by the rioters as their supporters. The Municipal Guards, when they came upon the bridge, began treating the crowd roughly, a good many persons were hurt, and an old woman was trodden down. At this the crowd grew furious, stones were thrown, and the soldiers drew their swords. Before nightfall there was riot and disorder all over Paris. Towards dusk the rappel—the signal for the National Guard to muster—had been beaten in the streets, and soon many soldiers of that body might be seen, escorted by men in blouses carrying their guns, while the National Guards, unarmed, were shouting and singing.

All Tuesday, February 22, the affair was a mere riot. But during the night the secret societies met, and decided on more formidable action.

The next morning was chilly and rainy, very dispiriting to the troops, who had bivouacked all night in the public squares, where they had been ill-provided with food and forage. The coats and swords of the students at the Polytechnic had been removed during the night, to prevent their joining the bands who were singing the "Marseillaise" and the "Dernier Chant des Girondins" under their windows.

Meantime barricades had been raised in the thickly Page 112 populated parts of Paris, and successful efforts had been made to enlist the sympathies of the soldiers and the National Guard.

During the early hours of Wednesday, the 23d, reports of these disaffections succeeded each other rapidly at the Tuileries, and a council was held in the king's cabinet, to which the queen and the princes were invited. The king spoke of resigning his crown, adding that he was "fortunate in being able to resign it." "But you cannot abdicate, mon ami," said the queen. "You owe yourself to France. The demand made is for the resignation of the Ministry. M. Guizot should resign, and I feel sure that being the man of honor that he is, he will do so in this emergency."

M. Guizot and his colleagues at once gave in their resignations. The king wept as he embraced them, bidding them farewell. Count Molé was then called in and requested to form a ministry. Before he could do so, however, things had grown worse, and M. Thiers, instead of Count Molé, was made head of the Cabinet. He insisted that Odillon Barrot, the day before very popular with the insurgents, must be his colleague. The king declined to assent to this. To put Odillon Barrot into power, he said, was virtually to abandon the policy of his reign.

But before this matter was decided, there had occurred a lamentable massacre at the gates of the residence of M. Guizot, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The building had been surrounded by a fierce crowd, composed mainly of working-men from the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Some confusion was occasioned by the restlessness of a horse belonging to an officer in command of a squad of cavalry detailed to defend the building. The leader of the mob fired a pistol. The soldiers responded with a volley from their carbines. Fifty of the crowd were killed. The bodies were piled by the mob upon a cart and paraded through Paris, the corpse of a half-naked woman lying conspicuously among them. The sight everywhere woke threats of vengeance.

The king, when he heard of this, yielded. Odillon Barrot Page 113 was associated with M. Thiers, and Marshal Bugeaud was placed in command of the military.

M. Thiers' foible was omniscience; and to Bugeaud's amazement, amusement, and indignation he insisted on inspecting his military plans and giving his advice concerning them. Happily the marshal's plans met with the approval of the minister, and the commander-in-chief went to his post; while Odillon Barrot, accompanied by Horace Vernet, the painter, went forth into the streets to inform the insurgents that their demand for reform had been granted, that the obnoxious ministers had been dismissed, and that all power was made over to himself and to his colleagues.

Marshal Bugeaud found everything in wild confusion at the War Office; but was restoring order, and had marched four columns of troops through Paris without serious opposition, when he received orders from M. Thiers that not another shot was to be fired by the soldiers. The marshal replied that he would not obey such orders unless he received them from the king. The Duc de Nemours therefore signed the paper in the name of his father, and soon afterwards a new proclamation was posted on the walls:—

Citizens! An order has been given to suspend all firing. We are charged by the king to form a ministry. The Chamber is about to be dissolved. General Lamoricière has been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard. Messieurs Odillon Barrot, Thiers, Lamoricière, and Duvergier de Haurannes are ministers. Our watchwords are,—Order, Union, Reform!


This proclamation may be said to have been the beginning of the end. The soldiers were disgusted; supporters of the monarchy lost heart; the secret societies now felt that the game was in their hands. By that time barricades without number, it was said, had been thrown up in the streets. The suburbs of Paris were cut off from the capital. During the previous night, arms had been everywhere demanded Page 114 from private houses; but in obtaining them the insurgents endeavored to inspire no unnecessary terror. One lady in the English quarter was found kneeling by the bedside of her dying child. When a party of armed men entered the chamber they knelt down, joined their prayers to hers for the soul that was departing, and then quitted the room in silence, placing a guard and writing over the door in chalk: "Respect this house, for death is here."

By nine o'clock on Wednesday morning the troops, disgusted by the order which forbade them to defend themselves, reversed their arms and fraternized with the people, the officers sheathing their swords.

A little later, Odillon Barrot, who supposed himself to be the people's favorite, rode along the Boulevard to proclaim to the rioters that he was now their minister, and that the cause of reform was assured. He was met with cries of "Never mind him! We have no time to hear him! Too late, too late! We know all he has to say!" About the same time the École Militaire was taken; but a guard en blouse was posted to protect the apartments of the ladies of the governor. The fight before the Palais Royal occurred about noon. The palace, which was the private property of Louis Philippe, was sacked, and many valuable works of art were destroyed.

The royal family were sitting down to breakfast about midday when a party of gentlemen, among them M. Émile de Girardin, made their way into the Tuileries, imploring the king to abdicate at once and spare further bloodshed. Without a word, Louis Philippe drew pen and paper towards him and wrote his abdication. Embracing his grandson, the little Comte de Paris, he went out, saying to the gentlemen about him: "This child is your king."

Through the Pavillon de l'Horloge, the main entrance to the Tuileries, came a party of dragoons, leading their horses down the marble steps into the gardens. The victorious blouses already filled the inner court, the Place du Carrousel. The royal family, slenderly attended, followed the king. The crowd poured into the Tuileries on the side of Page 115 the Carrousel as the royal family quitted it through the gardens.

In the Place de la Concorde, beneath the old Egyptian obelisk which had witnessed so many changes in this troubled world, they found two cabs in waiting. The king and queen entered one, with several of the children. Into the second stepped the Duchesse de Nemours, the Princess Clémentine, and an attendant. Some persons in the crowd who recognized them, cried out: "Respect old age! Respect misfortune!" And when an officer in attendance called out to the crowd not to hurt the king, he was answered: "Do you take us for assassins? Let him get away!"

This, indeed, was the general feeling. Only a few persons ventured to insult the royal family. The coachmen, however, drove off in such haste that the Spanish princess, Luisa, Duchesse de Montpensier, was left alone upon the sidewalk, weeping bitterly. A Portuguese gentleman gave her his arm, and took her in search of her husband's aide-de-camp, General Thierry. With several other gentlemen, who formed a guard about her, they passed back into the garden of the Tuileries, where M. Jules de Lasteyrie, the grandson of Lafayette, took possession of the duchess and escorted her to his own house. From thence, a few days later, he forwarded her to the coast, where she rejoined her husband.

When the king quitted the Tuileries he was urged to leave behind him a paper conferring the regency on the Duchess of Orleans. He refused positively. "It would be contrary to law," he said; "and I have never yet done anything, thank God! contrary to law." "But what must I do," asked the duchess, "without friends, without relations, without counsel?" "Ma chère Hélène," the king replied, "the dynasty and the crown of your son are intrusted to you. Remain here and protect them."

As the mob began to pour into the palace after the king's departure, the duchess, by the advice of M. Dupin, the President (or Speaker) of the Chamber, set out on foot Page 116 to cross the bridge nearest to the palace, and to reach the Palais Bourbon. She held her eldest son, the Comte de Paris, by the hand; her youngest, who was too small to walk, was carried by an aide-de-camp. Beside them walked M. Dupin, the Duc de Nemours, and a faithful servant. They left the Tuileries in such haste that they failed to give orders to the faithful Garde Municipale, who would have suffered the fate of the Swiss Guard in 1792, had not National Guards in the crowd assisted them to change their conspicuous uniforms and to escape out of the windows.

During the first half hour after the invasion of the palace a great deal of money and many other valuables disappeared; but after that time it was death to appropriate anything, even if it were of little value.

Soon the gardens of the Tuileries were white with papers flung from the windows of the palace, many of them of great historical value. A piece of pink gauze, the property, probably, of some maid-of-honor, streamed from one of the windows in the roof and fluttered across the whole building. The crowd, in high good humor, tossed forth livery coats, fragments of state furniture, and papers. The beds still stood unmade, and all the apparatus of the ladies' toilet-tables remained in disorder. In one royal bed-chamber a man was rubbing pomade with both hands into his hair, another was drenching himself with perfume, a third was scrubbing his teeth furiously with a brush that had that morning parted the lips of royalty. In another room a man en blouse was seated at a piano playing the "Marseillaise" to an admiring audience (the "Marseillaise" had been forbidden in Paris for many years). Elsewhere a party of gamins were turning over a magnificent scrapbook. In the next room was a grand piano, on which four men were thumping at once. In another, a party of working-men were dancing a quadrille, while a gentleman played for them upon a piano. At every chimney-piece and before every work of art stood a guard, generally ragged and powder-stained, bearing a placard, "Death to Page 117 Robbers!" while at the head of the Grand Staircase others stood, crying, "Enter, messieurs! Enter! We don't have cards of admission to this house every day!" While the cry that passed through the crowd was: "Look as much as you like, but take nothing!" "Are not we magnificent in our own house, Monsieur?" said a gamin to an Englishman; while another was to be seen walking about in one of poor Queen Amélie's state head-dresses, surmounted by a bird-of-paradise with a long tail.

At first the crowd injured nothing, even the king's portraits being respected; but after a while the destruction of state furniture began. Three men were seen smoking in the state bed; some ate up the royal breakfast; and the cigars of the princes were freely handed to rough men in the crowd.

Meantime in the Chamber of Deputies the scene was terrible. M. Dupin, its president, lost his head. Had he, when he knew of the king's abdication, declared the sitting closed, and directed the Deputies to disperse, he might possibly have saved the monarchy. But the mob got possession of the tribune (the pulpit from which alone speeches can be made in the Chamber); they pointed their guns at the Deputies, who cowered under their benches, and the last chance for Louis Philippe's dynasty was over. Odillon Barrot, who had come down to the house full of self-importance, notwithstanding his reception on the Boulevards, found that his hour was over and his power gone.

M. de Lamartine was the idol of the mob, though he was very nearly shot in the confusion. Armed insurgents crowded round him, clinging to his skirts, his hands, his knees. Throughout the tumult the reporters for the "Moniteur" kept their seats, taking notes of what was passing.

The Duchess of Orleans found the Chamber occupied by armed men. She was jostled and pressed upon. A feeble effort was made to proclaim her son king, and to appoint her regent during his minority. She endeavored several times to speak, and behaved with an intrepidity which did her honor. But when Lamartine, mounting the Page 118 tribune, cast aside her claims, and announced that the moment had arrived for proclaiming a provisional government and a republic, she was hustled and pushed aside by the crowd.

She was dressed in deep mourning. Her long black veil, partly raised, showed her fair face marred with sorrow and anxiety. Her children were dressed in little black velvet skirts and jackets, with large white turned-down collars. Soon the crowd around the tribune, beneath which the duchess had her seat, grew so furious that her attendants, fearing for her life, hurried her away.

In the press and the confusion the Duc de Nemours and her two children were parted from her. The Comte de Paris was seized by a gigantic man en blouse, who said afterwards that he had been only anxious to protect the child; but a National Guard forced the boy from his grasp, and restored him to his mother. The Duc de Chartres was for some time lost, and was in great danger, having been knocked down on the staircase by an ascending crowd.

At last, however, the little party, under the escort of the Duc de Nemours, who had disguised himself, escaped on foot into the streets, then growing dark; and finding a hackney-coach, persuaded the coachman to drive them to a place of safety. The Duc de Chartres was not to be found, and his mother passed many hours of terrible anxiety before he was restored to her arms.

Very strange that night was the scene in the Champs Elysées. They were filled with a joyous and triumphant crowd in every variety of military costume, and armed with every sort of weapon. Soldiers alone were unarmed. They marched arm-in-arm with their new friends, singing, like them, the "Marseillaise" and "Mourir pour la Patrie." In the quarter of the Champs Elysées, where well-to-do foreigners formed a considerable part of the population, there was no ferocity exhibited by the mob. The insurgents were like children at play,—children on their good behavior. They had achieved a wonderful and unexpected Page 119 victory. The throne had fallen, as if built on sand. Those who had overturned it were in high good-humor.

A French mob at the present day is very different. It has the modern grudge of laborer against employer, it has memories of the license of the Commune, and above all it has learned the use of absinthe. There is a hatred and a contempt for all things that should command men's reverence, which did not display itself in 1848.

May I here be permitted to relate a little story connected with this day's events? I was with my family in Paris during those days of revolution. Our nurse,—an Englishwoman who had then been with us twenty-five years, and who died recently, at the age of ninety-eight, still a member of our family,—when we returned home from viewing the devastation at the Tuileries, expressed strongly her regret at not having accompanied us. She was consoled, however, by an offer from our man-servant to escort her down the Champs Elysées. They made their way to the Place du Carrousel, at the back of the palace, where a dense crowd was assembled, and the good lady became separated from her protector. The National Guard and the servants in the palace had just succeeded in getting the crowd out of the rooms and in closing the doors. This greatly disappointed our good nurse. She had counted on seeing the interior of the king's abode, and above all, the king's throne. She could speak very little French, but she must in some way have communicated her regrets to the crowd around her. "Does Madame desire so much to pass in?" said a big man in a blouse, girt with a red sash, and carrying a naked sword; "then Madame shall pass in!" Thereupon he and his followers in the front rank of the crowd so bepummelled the door with the hilts of their swords and the stocks of their muskets that those within were forced to throw it open. In marched our dear nurse beside her protector. They passed through room after room until they reached the throne-room; there she indicated her wish to obtain a relic of departed royalty. Instantly her friend with the bare sword sliced off from the throne a piece of red velvet with gold embroidery. She Page 120 kept it ever after, together with a delicate china cup marked L. P.; but the cup was much broken. "You see, dears," she would say to us, "there was lots of things like these lying about, but there were men standing round with naked swords ready to cut your head off if you stole anything. So I took this cup and broke it. It was not stealing to carry off a broken cup, you know." And she would add, when winding up her narrative: "Those Frenchmen was so polite to me that they did n't even tread on my corns."

That night there was a brilliant conflagration in the Carrousel. It was a bonfire of those very carriages which eighteen years before the mob had brought in triumph to Louis Philippe from the stables of Charles X. at Rambouillet.

All the next day not a newspaper was to be had. The "Presse," indeed, brought out a half sheet, mainly taken up in returning thanks to two compositors "who, between two fires," had been "so considerate" as to set up the type. But their consideration could not have lasted long, for the news broke off abruptly in the middle of a sentence on the first page. Events worked faster than compositors.

By noon on Friday, February 25, the entire population of Paris was in the streets. From the flags on public offices, the blue and white strips had been tom away. On that day—but on that day only—every man wore a red ribbon in his button-hole. Many did so very unwillingly, for red was understood to be the badge of Red Republicanism.

On the Boulevards the iron railings had been tom up, and most of the trees had been cut down. They were replanted, however, not long after, to the singing of the "Marseillaise" and the firing of cannon. For more than a week there was a strange quiet in Paris: no vehicles were in the streets, for the paving-stones had been torn up for barricades; no shops were open; on the closed shutters of most of them appeared the words "Armes données," Everywhere a paintbrush had been passed over the royal arms. Even the words "roi," "reine," "royal," were effaced. The patriots were very zealous in exacting these removals. Two gamins with swords hacked patiently for two hours at a cast-iron double-headed Austrian eagle.

Page 121 Change (small money, I mean) was hardly to be had in Paris. For a month it was necessary, in order to obtain it, to apply at the Mairie of the Arrondissement, and to stand for hours in a queue. Other money could be had only from the bankers in thousand-franc notes. Shopping was of course at an end, and half Paris was thrown out of employment. Gold and silver were hidden away.

Louis Philippe and his family drove in their two cabriolets to Versailles. There they found great difficulty in getting post-horses. Indeed, they would have procured none, had there not been some cavalry horses in the place, which were harnessed to one of the royal carriages. About midnight of their second day's journey they reached Dreux. There Louis Philippe found himself without money, and had to borrow from one of his tenants. He had left behind him in his haste three hundred and fifty thousand francs on a table in the Tuileries.

The Provisional Government, which was kept well informed as to his movements, forwarded to him a supply of money. At Dreux the king's party was joined by the Duke of Montpensier with news that the king's attempt to save the monarchy by abdication had failed.

The old man seemed stupefied by his sudden fall. Over and over again he was heard to repeat: "Comme Charles X.! Comme Charles X.!" The next day, travelling under feigned names, the royal party pushed on to Evreux, where they were hospitably received by a farmer in the forest, who harnessed his work-horses to their carriage. Thence they went on to their own Château d'Eu. The danger to which during this journey they were exposed arose, not from the new Government at Paris, but from the excited state of the peasantry.

After many perils and adventures, sometimes indeed travelling on foot to avoid dangerous places, they reached Harfleur on March 3. An English steamer, the "Express," lay at the wharf, on which the king and queen embarked as Mr. and Mrs. William Smith. The following morning they were off the English coast, at Newbern. They landed, and proceeded at once to Claremont, the palace given to their Page 122 son-in-law, Leopold of Belgium, for his lifetime by the English Parliament.

The government set up in Paris was a provisional one. The members of the Provisional Government were many of them well known to the public, and of approved character. No men ever had a more difficult task before them, and none ever tried with more self-sacrifice to do their duty.

The measures they proposed were eighteen in number:

  1. The retention of the tricolor.
  2. The retention of the Gallic cock.
  3. The sovereignty of the people.
  4. The dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies.
  5. The suppression of the Chamber of Peers.
  6. The convocation of a National Assembly.
  7. Work to be guaranteed to all working-men.
  8. The unity of the army and the populace.
  9. The formation of a Garde Mobile.
  10. The arrest and punishment of all deserters.
  11. The release of all political prisoners.
  12. The trial of M. Guizot and his colleagues.
  13. The reduction of Vincennes and Fort Valérien, still held by the troops for the king.
  14. All officials under Louis Philippe to be released from their oaths.
  15. All objects at the Mont de Piété (the Government pawn-broking establishment) valued under ten francs, to be restored.
  16. All National Guards dismissed under preceding Governments to be reinstated.
  17. The million of francs expended on the court to be given to disabled workmen.
  18. A paternal commission to be nominated, to look after the interests of the working-classes.

The institution of the Garde Mobile was a device for finding employment for those boys and young men who formed one of the most dangerous of the dangerous classes.

It is easy to see how tempting these promises were to working-men; and yet the better class among them mourned their loss of steady employment. The Revolution of 1848, though it was not originated by the working-classes, was made to appear as if it were intended for their profit; and that indeed was its ruin, for it was found impossible to keep the promises of work, support, parental protection, etc., made to the Parisian masses. The bourgeoisie, when they Page 123 recovered from their astonishment and found that the stone they had set rolling under the name of reform had dislodged their own Revolution of 1830, and the peasants of the provinces, when they found that all the praise and all the profits were solely for the working-men of the capital, were very far from satisfied.

As to the upper classes, their terror and dismay were overwhelming. Everything seemed sliding away under their feet. Many women of rank and fashion, distrusting the stability of the king's government, had for some time past been yearly adding diamonds to their necklaces, because, as one of them exclaimed to us during this month of February: "We knew not what might happen to stocks or to securities, but diamonds we can put into our pockets. No other property in France can be called secure!"

And yet Paris soon resumed its wonted appearance. Commerce and shopping might be impossible in a city where nobody could make change for two hundred dollars, yet the Champs Elysées were again gay with pedestrians and carriages. All favorite amusements were resumed, but almost all men being idle, their great resource was to assemble round the Hôtel-de-Ville and force Lamartine to make a speech to them.

On Saturday, March 4, all Paris crowded to the Boulevards to witness the funeral cortège of the victims. There were neither military nor police to keep order; yet the crowd was on its good behavior, and strict decorum was maintained. There were about three hundred thousand persons in the procession, and as many more on the sidewalks. As they marched, mourners and spectators all sang the Chant of the Girondins ("Mourir pour la Patrie") and the "Marseillaise."

Two things distinguished this revolution of February from all other French revolutions before or after it,—the high character and self-devotion of the men placed at the head Page 124 of affairs, and the absence of prejudice against religion. The revolution, so far from putting itself in antagonism with religious feeling, everywhere appealed to it. The men who invaded the Tuileries bowed before the crucifix in the queen's chamber. Priests who were known to be zealous workers among the poor were treated as fathers. Curés blessed the trees of liberty planted in their parishes. Prayers for the Republic were offered at the altars, and in country villages priests headed the men of their congregations who marched up to the polls.

Fig. 7



[Footnote 1: For the subject-matter of this chapter I am largely indebted to Mrs. Oliphant's article on Lamartine in "Blackwood's Magazine."]

The Provisional Government hastily set up in France on Feb. 24, 1848, consisted at first of five members; but that number was afterwards enlarged. M. Dupin, who had been President of the Chamber of Deputies, was made President of the Council (or prime minister); but the real head of the Government and Minister for Foreign Affairs was Alphonse de Lamartine. He was a Christian believer, a high-minded man, by birth an aristocrat, yet by sympathy a man of the masses. "He was full of sentimentalities of vainglory and of personal vanity; but no pilot ever guided a ship of state so skilfully and with such absolute self-devotion through an angry sea. For a brief while, just long enough to effect this purpose, he was the idol of the populace." With him were associated Crémieux, a Jew; Ledru-Rollin, the historian, a Red Republican; Arago, the astronomer; Hypolite Carnot, son of Lazare Carnot, Member of the Directory, father of the future president; General Casaignac, who was made governor of Algeria; Garnier-Pagès, who a second time became, in 1870, member of a Provisional Government for the defence of Paris; and several others.

The downfall of Louis Philippe startled and astonished even those who had brought it about. They had intended reform, and they drew down revolution. They hoped to effect a change of ministry: they were disconcerted Page 126 when they had dethroned a king. There were about thirty thousand regular troops in Paris, besides the National Guard and the mounted police, or Garde Municipale. No one had imagined that the Throne of the Barricades would fall at the first assault. There were no leaders anywhere in this revolution. The king's party had no leaders; the young princes seemed paralyzed. The army had no leader; the commander-in-chief had been changed three times in twenty-four hours. The insurgents had no leaders. On February 22 Odillon Barrot was their hero, and on February 23 they hooted him.

The republicans, to their own amazement, were left masters of the field of battle, and Lamartine was pushed to the front as their chief man.

I may here pause in the historical narrative to say a few words about the personal history of Lamartine, which, indeed, will include all that history has to say concerning the Second Republic.

The love stories of the uncle and father of Alphonse de Lamartine are so pathetic, and give us so vivid a picture of family life before the First Revolution, that I will go back a generation, and tell them as much as possible in Lamartine's own words.

His grandfather had had six children,—three daughters and three sons. According to French custom, under the old régime, the eldest son only was to marry, and the other members of the Lamartine family proceeded as they grew up to fulfil their appointed destinies. The second son went into the Church, and rose to be a bishop. The third son, M. le Chevalier, went into the army. The sisters adopted the religious life, and thus all were provided for. But strange to say, the eldest son, to whose happiness and prosperity the rest were to be sacrificed, was the first rebel in the family. He fell in love with a Mademoiselle de Saint-Huruge; but her dot was not considered by the elder members of the family sufficient to justify the alliance. The young man gave up his bride, and to the consternation of his relatives announced that he would marry no other Page 127 woman. M. le Chevalier must marry and perpetuate the ancestral line.

Lamartine says,—

"M. le Chevalier was the youngest in that generation of our family. At sixteen he had entered the regiment in which his father had served before him. His career was to grow old in the modest position of a captain in the army (which position he attained at an early age), to pass his few months of leave, from time to time, in his father's house, to gain the Cross of St. Louis (which was the end of all ambitions to provincial gentlemen), and then, when he grew old, being endowed with a small provision from the State, or a still smaller revenue of his own, he expected to vegetate in one of his brothers' old châteaux, having his rooms in the upper story, to superintend the garden, to shoot with the curé, to look after the horses, to play with the children, to make up a game of whist or tric-trac,—the born servant of everyone, a domestic slave, happy in his lot, beloved, and yet neglected by all. But in the end his fate was very different. His elder brother, having refused to marry, said to his father: 'You must marry the Chevalier.' All the feelings of the family and the prejudices of habit rose up in the heart of the old nobleman against this suggestion. Chevaliers, according to his notions, were not intended to marry. My father was sent back to his regiment, and his marrying was put off from year to year."

Meantime, the idea of marriage having been put into the Chevalier's head, he chose for himself, and happily his choice fell on a lady acceptable to his family. His sister was canoness in an aristocratic order, whose members were permitted to receive visits from their brothers. It was there that he wooed and won the lovely, saint-like mother of Alphonse de Lamartine.

The elder brother, as he advanced in life, kept up a truly affecting intercourse with Mademoiselle de Saint-Huruge. She was beautiful even in old age, though her beauty was dimmed by an expression of sadness. They met every evening in Mâcon, at the house of a member of the family, and each entertained till death a pure and constant friendship for the other.

No wonder that when the Revolution decreed the abolition Page 128 of all rights of primogeniture, and ordered each father's fortune to be equally divided among his children, that M. le Chevalier refused to take advantage of this new arrangement, and left his share to the elder brother, to whom he owed his domestic happiness. In the end, all the property of the family came to the poet; the aunts and uncles—the former of whom had been driven from their convents—having made him their heir.

Madame de Lamartine had received part of her education from Madame de Genlis, and had associated in her childhood with Louis Philippe and Madame Adélaïde. But though the influence of Madame de Genlis was probably not in favor of piety, Madame de Lamartine was sincerely pious. In her son's early education she seems to have been influenced by Madame de Genlis' admiration of Rousseau. Alphonse ran barefoot on the hills, with the little peasant boys for company; but at home he was swayed by the discipline of love. He published nothing till he was thirty years of age, though he wrote poetry from early youth. His study was in the open air, under some grand old oaks on the edge of a deep ravine. In his hands French poetry became for the first time musical and descriptive of nature. There was deep religious feeling, too, in Lamartine's verse, rather vague as to doctrine, but full of genuine religious sentiment. As a Christian poet he struck a chord which vibrated in many hearts, for the early part of our century was characterized by faith and by enthusiasm. Scepticism was latent, but was soon to assert itself in weary indifference. "As yet, doubt sorrowed that it doubted, and could feel the beauty of faith, even when it disbelieved."

From 1820 to 1824 Lamartine was a good deal in Italy; after the death of an innocent Italian girl, which he has celebrated in touching verse, he married an English lady, and had one child, his beloved Julia. He was made a member of the French Academy, and Charles X. had appointed him ambassador to Greece, when the Revolution Page 129 of 1830 occurred, and he refused to serve under King Charles's successor.

In 1832, partly for Julia's health, he visited the Holy Land and Eastern Europe. Poor little Julia died at Beyrout. On the father's return he published his "Souvenirs of his Journey." Books descriptive of Eastern countries were then rare, and Lamartine's was received with enthusiasm.

In 1833 Lamartine began his political career by entering the Chamber of Deputies. Some one said of him that he formed a party by himself,—a party of one. He pleaded for the abolition of capital punishment, for the amelioration of the poorer classes, for the emancipation of slaves in the colonies, and for various other social reforms; but he was never known as a republican.

In 1847 he published his "Histoire des Girondins," which was received by the public with deep interest and applause. It is not always accurate in small particulars, but it is one of the most fascinating books of history ever written, and has had the good fortune to be singularly well translated. Alexandre Dumas is said to have told its author: "You have elevated romance to the dignity of history."

When the revolution of February, 1848, broke out, Lamartine, being unwell, did not make his way on the first day through the crowds to the Chamber of Deputies, nor did he go thither on the second, looking on the affair as an émeute likely to be followed only by a change of ministry. But when news was brought to him which made him feel it was a very serious affair, he went at once to the Chamber. On entering, he was seized upon by men of all parties, but especially by republicans, who drew him into a side-room and told him that the king had abdicated. He had always advocated the regency of the Duchess of Orleans in the event of Louis Philippe's death, in place of that of the Duc de Nemours. The men who addressed him implored him, as the most popular man in France, to put himself at Page 130 the head of a movement to make the Duchess of Orleans regent during her son's minority, adding that France under a woman and a child would soon drift into a republic. Lamartine sat for some minutes at a table with his face bowed on his hands. He was praying, he says, for light. Then he arose, and after saying that he had never been a republican, added that now he was for a republic, without any intermediate regency, either of the duchess or of Nemours. With acclamations, the party went back into the Chamber to await events.

We know already how the duchess was received, and how a mob broke into the Chamber. A provisional government was demanded, in the midst of indescribable tumult; and by the suffrages of a crowd of roughs quite as much as by the action of the deputies, a provisional government of five members (afterwards increased to seven) was voted in, the names being written down with a pencil by Lamartine on the spur of the moment. The five men thus nominated and chosen to be rulers of France were Lamartine, Crémieux, Ledru-Rollin, Garnier-Pagès, and Arago.

Meantime in the Hôtel-de-Ville the mob had set up another provisional government under Socialistic leaders, and the first thing the more genuine provisional government had to do was to get rid of the others.

Lamartine says of himself that he felt his mission was to preserve society, and very nobly he set himself to his task. When he and his colleagues reached the Hôtel-de-Ville, where the mob was clamoring for Socialism and a republic, a compromise had to be effected; and thus Louis Blanc, the Socialistic reformer, came into the Provisional Government. It was growing night, and the announcement of this new arrangement somewhat calmed the crowd; but at midnight an attack was made on the Hôtel-de-Ville, and the new rulers had to defend themselves by personal strength, setting their backs against the doors of the Council Chamber, and repelling their assailants with their own hands. But the Press and the telegraph were at their command, and by morning the news of the Provisional Page 131 Government was spread all over the provinces. "The mob," says Lamartine, "was in part composed of galley slaves who had no political ideas in their heads, nor social principles in their hearts, and partly of that scum which rises to the surface in popular commotions, and floats between the fumes of intoxication and the thirst for blood."

Lamartine was not a great man, but it was lucky for France, and for all Europe, that at this crisis he succeeded in establishing a provisional government, and that he was placed at its head. But for him, Paris might have had the Commune in 1848, as she had it in 1871, but with no great army collected at Versailles to bring it to subjection.

From such a fate France was saved by the energy and enthusiastic patriotism of one man, to whom, it seems to me, justice in history has hardly yet been done. "Lamartine was not republican enough for republicans; he lost at last his prestige among the people, and from personal causes the full sympathy of his friends; and his star sank before the rising sun of Louis Napoleon." Mrs. Oliphant also says of him,—

"In the midst of his manifold literary labors there happened to Lamartine such a chance as befalls few poets. He had it in his power, once in his life, to do something greater than the greatest lyric, more noble than any verse. At the crisis of the Revolution of 1848, chance (to use the word without irreverence) thrust him, and no other, into the place of master, and held him for one supreme moment alone between France and anarchy,—between, we might almost say, the world and another terrible revolution. And then the sentimentalist proved himself a man. He confronted raving Paris, and subdued it. The old noble French blood in his veins rose to the greatness of the crisis. With a pardonable thrill of pride in a position so strange to a writer and a man of thought, into which, without any action of his own, he found himself forced, he describes how he faced the tumultuous mob of Paris for seventy hours almost without repose, without sleep, without food, when there was no other man in France bold enough or wise enough to take that supreme part, and guide that most aimless of revolutions to a peaceful conclusion,—for the moment, at least. It was not Page 132 Lamartine's fault that the Empire came after him. Long before the Empire came, he had fallen from his momentary elevation, and lost all influence with his country. But his downfall cannot efface the fact that he did actually reign, and reign beneficently, subduing and controlling the excited nation, saving men's lives and the balance of society."

The seventy hours at the Hôtel-de-Ville to which Mrs. Oliphant alludes were passed by Lamartine in making orations, in sending off proclamations to the departments, in endeavoring to calm the excited multitude and to secure the triumph of the Republic without the effusion of blood. The revolution he conducted was, if I may say so, the only respectable revolution France has ever known. Nobody expected it, nobody was prepared for it, nobody worked for it; but the whole country acquiesced in it, and men of all parties, seeing that it was an accomplished fact, gave in their adhesion to the Second Republic.

There were five great questions that came up before the Provisional Government for immediate solution,—

The relation of France to foreign powers.

The enlargement of the army.

The subsistence of working-men out of employment.

The property and safety of the exiled royal family.

And, above all, how to meet these expenses and the payment of interest on national bonds, due the middle of March, with assets in the treasury of about twenty-five cents in the dollar.

These questions were all met by the wonderful energy of Lamartine and his colleagues, seconded by genuine patriotic efforts throughout France.

Lamartine had taken the foreign relations of the new Republic into his own hands; and so well did he manage them that not one potentate of Europe attempted to interfere with the internal affairs of France, or to dispute the right of the French to establish a republic if they thought proper. But although Lamartine's policy was peace, he thought France needed a large army both to keep down communism and anarchy at home, and to show itself strong Page 133 in the face of all foreign powers. The army of France in January, 1848, had been about three hundred thousand men, of whom one hundred thousand were in Algeria; by May it was five hundred thousand, not including the Garde Mobile, which was of Lamartine's raising. It is well known how fiercely boys and very young men fought when any occasion for fighting was presented in the streets and at the barricades; all business being stopped in Paris, thousands of these were out of employment. Lamartine had them enrolled into his new corps, the Garde Mobile. Their uniform at first was a red sash and a workman's blouse. They were proud of themselves and of their new position, and in May, by dint of discipline, they were transformed into a fine soldierly body of very young men, who several times rendered important help to the Government in maintaining the cause of order. The National Guard was broken up until it could be reorganized, and so was the Garde Municipale.

But how to feed the multitude? Two hundred thousand mechanics alone were out of employment in Paris, besides laborers, servants, clerks, etc. It was proposed to establish national workshops in Louis Philippe's pretty private pleasure-grounds, the Parc des Monceaux. The men applying for work were enrolled in squads; each squad had its banner and its officers, and each man was paid on Saturday night his week's wages, at the rate of two francs a day,—the highest wages in Paris at that time for an artisan. There was no particular work for them to do, but the arrangement kept them disciplined and out of mischief, though at an enormous cost to the country. At the Palace of the Luxembourg Louis Blanc was permitted to hold a series of great labor meetings,—a sort of Socialist convention,—and to inveigh against "capitalists" and "bloated bondholders" in a style that was much more novel then than it is now. Lamartine greatly disapproved of these Luxembourg proceedings; but he argued that it was better to countenance them than to throw Louis Blanc and his friends into open opposition to the Government. Louis Blanc was a charming writer, Page 134 whose views on social questions have made great progress since his day. His brother Charles wrote a valuable book on art. He himself wrote a "History of the Revolution" and the "History of Ten Years,"—that is, from 1830 to 1840. He bitterly hated Louis Philippe and the bourgeoisie, and yet his book is fair and honest, and the work of a gentleman. He was almost a dwarf, but his face was very handsome, clean-shaved, with bright eyes and brown hair. I may remark en passant that not one of the members of the Provisional Government wore either a beard or a moustache.

One of the first things the Provisional Government did was to decree that the personal property of the Orleans family should not be confiscated, but placed in the hands of a receiver, who should pay the king and princes liberal allowances till it became certain that their wealth would not be spent in raising an army for the invasion of France.

Louis Philippe lived only two years after reaching England. They were apparently not unhappy years to him. He sat at the foot of his own table, and carved the joint daily for his guests, children, and grandchildren. He dictated his Memoirs, and talked with the greatest openness to those who wished to converse with him.

The Duc d'Aumale was head of the army in Algeria, and governor-general of the colony, when the Revolution broke out. Here is the address which he at once published to his soldiers and the people, and with which the whole of his after life has been consistent:—

Inhabitants of Algeria! Faithful to my duties as a citizen and a soldier, I have remained at my post as long as I could believe my presence would be useful in the service of my country. It can no longer be so. General Cavaignac is appointed governor-general of Algeria, and until his arrival here, the functions of governor-general ad interim will be discharged by General Changarnier. Submissive to the national will, I depart; but in my place of exile my best prayers and wishes shall be for the prosperity and glory of France, which I should have wished still longer to serve.


Page 135 The greatest problem which demanded solution from the Provisional Government was how to make twenty-five cents do the work of a dollar. The first Minister of Finance appointed, threw up his portfolio in despair. Lamartine refused to sanction any arbitrary means of raising money. At last, by giving some especial privileges and protection to the Bank of France, and by mortgaging the national forests, a sufficient sum was provided for immediate needs. The people, too, throughout the provinces, made it a point of honor to come forward and pay their taxes before they were due. The priests preached this as a duty, for the priests were well disposed towards the Revolution of 1848. Lamartine had put forth a proclamation assuring priests and people that his Government was in sympathy with religion.

In the Provisional Government itself there were two, if not three, parties,—the party of order, headed by Lamartine; the Socialists, or labor party, headed by Louis Blanc; and the Red Republicans, or Anarchists, headed by Ledru-Rollin. The latter was for adopting the policy of putting out of office all men who had not been always republicans. Lamartine, on the contrary, said that any man who loved France and desired to serve her was not incapacitated from doing so by previous political opinions.

Elections for a Constitutional Assembly, which was to confirm or to repudiate the Provisional Government, were held on March 24, and the new Assembly was to meet early in May. Meantime all kinds of duties and anxieties accumulated on Lamartine. The Polish, Hungarian, Spanish, German, and Italian exiles in Paris were all anxious that he should espouse their causes against their own Governments. He assured them that this was not the mission of the Second French Republic, whatever might have been that of the First, and that the cause of European liberty would lose, not gain, if France, with propagandist fervor, embroiled herself with the monarchical powers. A deputation of Irishmen, under Smith O'Brien, waited upon him to beg the assistance of fifty thousand French troops in Page 136 Ireland, "to rid her of the English." Lamartine peremptorily refused, saying: "When one is not united by blood to a people, it is not allowable to interfere in its affairs with the strong hand." Smith O'Brien and his followers, deeply mortified, repaired at once to Ledru-Rollin's Red Republican Club, where they were loudly applauded, and Lamartine condemned.

Meantime there were disturbances everywhere. Men out of employment, excited by club orators, were ready for any violence. At Lyons they destroyed the hospitals and orphan asylums, out of mere wantonness.

One afternoon Lamartine received news that the soldiers at the Invalides, dissatisfied with General Petit, their commander, had dragged him to the street, placed him on a cart, and were carrying him thus around Paris. On foot he rushed to the rescue, trusting to his powers of haranguing the multitude; but luckily the general had been released before his arrival. There is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous. We smile at the spectacle of the ruler of France rushing on foot, through dim streets, after a cart he could not find. General Petit was that officer of the Old Guard whom Napoleon had embraced when he took leave of his beloved corps at Fontainebleau. Lamartine re-established him as commander at the Invalides, and the mutiny was put down.

On the night of the first day of the Provisional Government, a mob having demanded that the red flag of Communism should be substituted for the tricolor, Lamartine replied,—

"Citizens! neither I nor any member of the Government will adopt the Drapeau Rouge. We would rather adopt that other flag which is hoisted in a bombarded city to mark to the enemy the hospitals of the wounded. I will tell you in one word why I will oppose the red flag with the whole force of patriotic determination. It is, citizens, because the tricolor has made the tour of the world with the Republic and the Empire, with your liberties and your glory; the red flag has only made the tour of the Champ de Mars, dragged through the blood of citizens."

Page 137 Muskets in the crowd were here levelled at the speaker, but were knocked up by the more peaceable of his hearers.

There was soon great discontent throughout the departments because of the imposition of a land-tax; but as Lamartine said truly, farmers would have found war or the triumph of Red Republicanism more expensive still.

On March 17, about three weeks after the departure of the king, a great Socialist demonstration was made in Paris. Large columns of men marched to the Hôtel-de-Ville, singing the old revolutionary chant of "Ça ira." Ledru-Rollin, in the fulness of his heart, seeing these one hundred and twenty thousand men all marching with some discipline, said to his colleagues in the Council Chamber: "Do you know that your popularity is nothing to mine? I have but to open this window and call upon these men, and you would every one of you be turned into the street. Do you wish me to try it?"

Upon this, Garnier-Pagès, the Finance Minister, walked up to Ledru-Rollin, and presenting a pistol, said: "If you make one step toward that window, it shall be your last." Ledru-Rollin paused a moment, and then sat down.

The object of the demonstration was to force the Provisional Government to take measures for raising and equalizing wages, and providing State employment for all out of employ. The main body was refused admittance into the Hôtel-de-Ville, but a certain number of the leaders were permitted to address the Provisional Government. To Ledru-Rollin's and Louis Blanc's surprise, they found that half of these leaders were men they had never seen before, more radical radicals than themselves,—that revolutionary scum that rose to the surface in the Reign of Terror and the Commune.

A sense of common danger made Ledru-Rollin and Louis Blanc unite with their colleagues in refusing the demand of the deputation that the measures they advocated should be put in force by immediate decrees. Lamartine harangued them; so did Ledru-Rollin and Louis Page 138 Blanc; and at last the disappointed multitude, with vengeance in their hearts, filed peaceably away.

A month later, April 15, another outbreak was planned. The chief club leaders wished it to be headed by Ledru-Rollin and Blanqui,—the latter a conspirator in Louis Philippe's time. But Ledru-Rollin refused to serve with Blanqui, having discovered from documents in his office (that of Minister of Justice) that Blanqui had once been a Government spy. "Well, then," said the club leaders, "since you decline to be our chief, you shall to-morrow share the fate of your colleagues." Ledru-Rollin, after a terrible night of vacillation, resolved to throw himself on Lamartine's generosity. He went to him at daybreak and told him of the impending danger. At once Lamartine sent him to call out the National Guard, while he himself summoned the Garde Mobile. The National Guard had been reorganized; but there were no regular soldiers in Paris,—they had been sent away to satisfy the people. The commander of the National Guard, however, refused to let his men be called out on the occasion; and Lamartine, on hearing this, went to the Hôtel-de-Ville alone. But help came to him from an unexpected quarter. General Changarnier, who had been appointed ambassador to Berlin, called at Lamartine's house to return thanks for his appointment. Madame de Lamartine told him of the danger that menaced her husband, and he repaired at once to the Hôtel-de-Ville. There he found only about twelve hundred boys of the Garde Mobile to oppose the expected two hundred thousand insurgents. He drew his Garde Mobile into the building, and prepared to stand a siege. There from early morning till the next day Lamartine remained with Marrast, the Mayor of Paris. He says that he harangued the mob from thirty to forty times. The other members of the Government remained in one of the public offices. With much difficulty the National Guard, whose organization was not yet complete, was brought upon the scene. The procession of the insurgents was cut in two, the commander of the National Page 139 Guard employing the same tactics as those which the Duke of Wellington had used a week earlier, when dealing in London with the Chartist procession. The result was the complete discomfiture of the insurgents.

A few days afterwards the members of the Provisional Government sat twelve hours, on thrones erected for them under the Arch of Triumph, to see Gardes Mobiles, National Guards, troops of the line, and armed workmen, file past them, all shouting for Lamartine and Order! It was probably the proudest moment of Lamartine's life; in that flood-tide of his popularity he easily could have seized supreme power.

All through the provinces disturbances went on. The object of the Red Republicans had at first been to oppose the election of the National Assembly. So long as France remained under the provisional dictatorship of Lamartine and his colleagues, and the regular troops were kept out of Paris, they hoped to be able to seize supreme power, by a coup de main.

The National Assembly was, however, elected on Easter Day, and proved to be largely conservative. The deputies met May 4,—the anniversary of the meeting of the States-General in 1789, fifty-nine years before. Its hall was a temporary structure, erected in the courtyard of the Palais Bourbon, the former place of meeting for the Chamber of Deputies. There was no enthusiasm in the body for the Republic, and evidently a hostile feeling towards the Provisional Government, which it was disposed to think too much allied with Red Republicanism.

Two days after the Assembly met, the Provisional Government resigned its powers. To Lamartine's great chagrin, he stood, not first, but fourth, on a list of five men chosen temporarily to conduct the government. Some of his proceedings had made the Assembly fear (very unjustly) that he shared the revolutionary enthusiasms of Ledru-Rollin.

It was soon apparent that ultra-democracy in France was not favored by the majority of Frenchmen. The Page 140 Socialists and Anarchists, finding that they could not form a tyrant majority in the Assembly, began to conspire against it. While a debate was going on ten days after it assembled, an alarm was raised that a fierce crowd was about to pour into its place of meeting. Lamartine harangued the mob, but this time without effect. His day was over. He was received with shouts of "You have played long enough upon the lyre! A bas Lamartine!" Ledru-Rollin tried to harangue in his turn, but with no better effect. The hall was invaded, and Lamartine, throwing up his arms, cried, "All is lost!"

Barbès, the man who led an emeute in 1839, and whose life had been spared by Louis Philippe through the exertions of Lamartine, led the insurgents. They demanded two things,—a forced tax of a milliard (that is, a thousand million) of francs, to be laid on the rich for the benefit of the poor; and that whoever gave orders to call out the National Guard against insurgents should be declared a traitor. "You are wrong, Barbès," cried a voice from the crowd; "two hours' sack of Paris is what we want." After this the president of the Assembly was pulled from his chair, and a new provisional government was nominated of fierce Red Republicans,—not red enough, however, for the crowd, which demanded Socialists and Anarchists redder still. By this time some battalions of the National Guard had been called out. At sight of their bayonets the insurgents fled, but concentrated their forces on the Hôtel-de-Ville. This again they evacuated when cannon were pointed against it, and the cause of order was won.

General Cavaignac, who had just come home from Algeria, was made War Minister, and the clubs were closed. Louis Blanc was sent into exile. The Orleans family, which had been treated considerately by Lamartine, was forbidden to return to France.

The Assembly was now dissolved, and a new Chamber of Deputies was to be chosen in June. Among the candidates for election was Prince Louis Napoleon. He had already, in the days of Lamartine's administration, visited Paris, and Page 141 had replied to a polite request from the provisional Government that he would speedily leave the capital, that any man who would disturb the Provisional Government was no true friend to France. Now he professed to ask only to be permitted to become a representative of the people, saying that he had "not forgotten that Napoleon, before being the first magistrate in France, was its first citizen."

Then cries of "Vive l'empereur!" began to be heard. Louis Napoleon's earliest "idea" had been that France needed an emperor whose throne should be based on universal suffrage. To this "idea" he added another,—that it was his destiny to be the chosen emperor.

No one in these days can conceive the hold that the memory of the First Napoleon had, in 1848, on the affections of the French people. That he put down anarchy with an iron hand was by the Anarchists forgotten. He was a son of the Revolution. His marches through Europe had scattered the seeds of revolutionary ideas. The heart of France responded to such verses as Béranger's "Grand'-mère." In vain Lamartine represented the impolicy and unfairness of proscribing the Orleans family while admitting into France the head of the house of Bonaparte. Louis Napoleon was elected deputy by four departments; but he subsequently hesitated to take his seat, fearing, he said, that he might be the cause of dissension in the Assembly.

The deputies from Paris were all Socialists, but those from the departments were frequently men of note and reputation. The country members were nearly all friends to order and conservatism.

The first necessary measure was to get rid of the national workshops. On June 20, one hundred and twenty thousand workmen were being paid daily two francs each, only two thousand of whom had anything to do, while fifty thousand more were clamoring for admission.

Of course any measure to suppress the national workshops, or to send home those who had come up to Paris for employment in them, was opposed by the workmen. It was computed that among those employed, or rather paid, Page 142 by the State for doing nothing, were twenty-five thousand desperate men, ready for any fight, and that half this number were ex-convicts. The Government had nominally large forces at its command, but it was doubtful how far its troops could be relied on.

On June 22, 1848, at nightfall the struggle began. By morning half Paris was covered with barricades. It was very hard to collect troops, but Cavaignac was a tried soldier. He divided his little force into four parts. It was not till the evening of the 23d that hostilities commenced, and at the same time General Cavaignac was named by the Assembly dictator. This inspired confidence. Cavaignac was well supported, and acted with the greatest energy. The street-fighting was fiercer than any Paris had ever seen, and no real success was gained by Cavaignac till the evening of the 24th, after twenty-four hours of hard fighting. That success was the storming of the church of Sainte Geneviève (called also the Panthéon) and the destruction of its walls. But still the fight went on. Many generals were wounded. Cavaignac used his cannon freely, and even his bombs. It was night on June 26 before the troops could be pronounced victorious, and then they had not stormed the most formidable of the barricades,—that of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Says Sir Archibald Alison,—

"But ere the attack on this barricade commenced, a sublime instance of Christian heroism and devotion occurred, which shines forth like a heavenly glory in the midst of these terrible scenes of carnage. Monseigneur Affre, archbishop of Paris, horror-stricken with the slaughter which for three days had been going on, resolved to attempt a reconciliation between the contending parties, or perish in the attempt. Having obtained leave from General Cavaignac to repair to the headquarters of the insurgents, he set out, dressed in his pontifical robes, having the cross in his hand, attended by his two chaplains, also in full canonicals, and three intrepid members of the Assembly. Deeply affected by this courageous act, which they knew was almost certain death, the people, as he walked through the streets, fell on their knees and besought him to desist; but he Page 143 persisted, saying, 'It is my duty; a good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.' At seven in the evening he arrived at the Place de la Bastille, where the fire of musketry was extremely warm on both sides. It ceased on either side at the august spectacle, and the archbishop, bearing the cross aloft, advanced with his two priests to the foot of the barricade. A single attendant, bearing a green branch, preceded the prelate. The soldiers, seeing him advance so close to those who had already slain bearers of flags-of-truce, approached in order to give him succor in case of need; the insurgents, on their side, descended the barricade, and the redoubtable combatants stood close to each other, exchanging looks of defiance. Suddenly a shot was heard. Instantly the cry arose of 'Treason! Treason!' and the combatants, retreating on either side, began to exchange shots with as much fury as ever. Undismayed by the storm of balls which incessantly flew over his head from all quarters, the prelate advanced slowly, attended by his chaplains, to the summit of the barricade. One of them had his hat pierced by three balls, but the archbishop himself, almost by a miracle, escaped while on the top. He had descended three steps on the other side, when he was pierced through the loins by a shot from a window. The insurgents, horror-struck, approached him where he fell, stanched the wound, which at once was seen to be mortal, and carried him to a neighboring hospital. When told that he had only a few minutes to live, 'God be praised!' he said, 'and may He accept my life as an expiation for my omissions during my episcopacy, and as an offering for the salvation of this misguided people.' With these words he expired."

As soon as the archbishop's death was known, the insurgents made proposals to capitulate, on condition of a general pardon. This Cavaignac refused, saying that they must surrender unconditionally. The fight therefore lasted until daybreak. Then the insurgents capitulated, and all was over.

No one ever knew how many fell. Six generals were killed or mortally wounded. Ten thousand bodies were recognized and buried, and it is said that nearly as many more were thrown unclaimed into the Seine. There were fifteen thousand prisoners, of whom three thousand died of jail-fever. Thousands were sent to Cayenne; thousands Page 144 to the galleys. This terrible four days' fight cost France more lives than any battle of the Empire.

The insurrection being over, and Cavaignac dictator, the next thing was for the Assembly to make a constitution. This constitution was short-lived. A president was to be chosen for four years, with re-election as often as might be desired. He was to be elected by universal suffrage. He was to have a salary of about one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars per annum, and he was to have much the same powers as the President of the United States.

There were two principal presidential candidates,—Prince Louis Napoleon, who had taken his seat in the Assembly; and Cavaignac, who had the power of Government on his side, and was sanguine of election. The prince proclaimed in letters and placards his deep attachment to the Republic, and denounced as his enemies and slanderers all those who said he was not firmly resolved to maintain the constitution.

The result of the election showed Louis Napoleon to have had five and a half millions of votes; Cavaignac one and a half million; Lamartine, who six months before had been a popular idol, had nineteen thousand.

Fig. 8
(The Prince President.)

An early friend of Louis Napoleon, who seems to have been willing to talk freely of the playmate of her childhood, thus spoke of him to an English traveller.

"He is," she said, "a strange being. His mind wants keeping. A trifle close to his eyes hides from him large objects at a distance.... The great progress in political knowledge made by the higher classes in France from 1815 to 1848 is lost on him. When we met in 1836, after three years' separation, I was struck by his backwardness in political knowledge. Up to 1848 he never had lived in France except as a child or a captive. His opinions and feelings were those of the French masses from 1799 to 1812. Though these opinions had been modified in the minds of the higher classes, they were, in 1848, those of the multitude, who despise parliamentary government, despise the pope, despise the priests, delight in profuse expenditure, delight in war, hold the Rhine to be our national frontier, and that it is our duty to seize all that lies on the French side. The people Page 145 and he were of one mind. I have no doubt that the little he may have heard, and the less that he attended to, from the persons he saw between 1848 and 1852 about liberty, self-government, economy, the supremacy of the Assembly, respect for foreign nations, and fidelity to treaties, appeared to him the silliest talk imaginable. So it would have appeared to all in the lower classes of France; so it would have appeared to the army, which is drawn from those classes, and exaggerates their political views."

"The prince president is romantic, impulsive, and bizarre," said one of his officials to the same English gentleman, "indolent, vain, good-natured, selfish, fearing and disliking his superiors;... he loves to excite the astonishment of the populace. As a child he liked best bad children,—as a man, bad men."

But one good quality he had pre-eminently,—no man was ever more grateful for kindness, or more indulgent to his friends.

Such was the man, untried, uneducated in French politics, covered with ridicule, and even of doubtful courage, whom the voices of five and a half millions of French voters called to the presidential chair. It was to the country Louis Napoleon had appealed, to the rural population of France as against the dangerous classes in the great cities. Paris had for sixty years been making revolutions for the country; now it was the turn of the provincials, who said they were tired of receiving a new Government by mail whenever it pleased the Parisians to make one. Paris contained one hundred and forty thousand Socialists, besides Anarchists and Red Republicans. With these the rural population had no sympathy. Louis Napoleon was not chosen by their votes, nor by those of their sympathizers in other great cities. His success was in the rural districts alone.

His election was a great disappointment to the Assembly, and from the first moment the prince president and that body were antagonistic to each other. The president claimed to hold his powers from the people, and to be in no way under the control of the Assembly; the Assembly was forever talking of deposing him, of imprisoning him at Vincennes, and so on.

Page 146 Immediately after his election the prince president found it very difficult to form a cabinet. After being repulsed in various quarters, he sent a confidential messenger to Lamartine, asking him to meet him by night on horseback in a dark alley in the Bois de Boulogne. After listening to his rival's appeal for assistance in this emergency, Lamartine frankly told him that for various reasons he felt himself to be not only the most useless, but the most dangerous minister a new Government could select. He said, "I should ruin myself without serving you." The prince seemed grieved. "With regard to popularity," he answered, with a smile, "I have enough for both of us." "I know it," replied Lamartine; "but having, as I think, given you unanswerable reasons for my refusal, I give you my word of honor that if by to-morrow you have not been able to win over and to rally to you the men I will name, I will accept the post of prime minister in default of others."

Before morning the prince president had succeeded elsewhere; but he retained a sincere respect and regard for Lamartine, who after this incident fades out of the page of history. He lived a few years longer; but he was oppressed by pecuniary difficulties, from which neither his literary industry, nor the assistance of the Government, nor the subscriptions of his friends, seemed able to extricate him. Several times Milly, the dear home of his childhood, was put up for sale by his creditors. It was more than once rescued on his behalf, but in the end was sold.

Lamartine was buried with national honors; but among all the chances and changes that have distracted the attention of his countrymen from his career, he does not seem to have received from the world or the French nation all the honor, praise, and gratitude that his memory deserves.

Louis Napoleon, who had all his life dreamed of being the French emperor, though he took care to repudiate such an idea in all his public speeches, had not been president of the Republic six weeks before he read a plan for a coup d'état to General Changarnier, who utterly refused to listen to it.

Page 147 We need not here dwell on the struggles that went on between the prince president and the Assembly, from December, 1848, to November, 1851. It is enough to say that the Chamber, from being the governing power in France, found itself reduced to a mere legislative body much hampered by the mistrust and contempt of the Executive. Its members of course hated "the Man at the Élysée," or "Celui-ci," as they called him. The Socialists hated the Assembly even more than they hated the president. The army was all for him. The bourgeoisie were thankful that under his rule they might at least find protection from Socialism and anarchy.

From the election of Prince Louis to the coup d'état in December, 1851, there were four serious émeutes in Paris, and once the city was in a state of siege. It was estimated that to put down the smallest of these revolts cost two hundred thousand dollars.

Foreign nations were too busy with their own affairs in 1848 to have time to meddle with the Government of Louis Napoleon,—indeed, Russia and Prussia were much obliged to him for keeping out the Orleans family, whom they by no means wished to see on the French throne.

One thing that Louis Napoleon did to gain favor with the country party caused great indignation among genuine republicans, and, indeed, throughout Europe. This was the part he took against the Republic of Rome.

Pio Nono, having been elected pope in 1846, had started on his career as a liberal pontiff and ruler; but before 1848 he had disappointed the expectations of all parties, and had fled from Rome to Gaeta, where Ferdinand, king of the Two Sicilies (commonly known as King Bomba) had also taken refuge. Lamartine, at the time his power ceased, had been fitting out a French army to lend help to the Romans if they should be attacked by the Austrians, and if need were, to protect the pope, who before his flight was supposed to be opposed to Austrian domination. Louis Napoleon ordered General Oudinot, who commanded the French forces, to disembark his troops at Civita Vecchia, Page 148 and either to occupy Rome peaceably, or to attack the revolutionists. A battle was fought, and the French worsted; but they ended by gaining the city and holding it, putting down the Roman republicans, and handing the city over to Austrian and papal vengeance on Pio Nono's return.

The new president, anxious to strengthen his popularity in the provinces, made several tours. Everywhere, as the nephew of his uncle, he was received with wild enthusiasm. He was not a man to captivate by his manners on public occasions, neither was he a ready speaker; but he looked his best on horseback, and above all, there was in his favor, among the middle class of Frenchmen, a very potent feeling,—the dread of change.

As a deputy, before his election by the country as its president, he used to sit in the Chamber silent and alone, pitied by some, and neglected by all. Silence, indeed, was necessary to his success, for, "silent and smoking, he matured his plans." One of the first things he did when he became president was to attempt to get possession of all papers in the archives concerning his conduct at Strasburg and Boulogne.

There had been a new Assembly elected. It had few of the old republican leaders in it, but the Left and the Right and half the Centre were opposed to the prince president. The Left in the French Chamber means the Red Republicans; the Right, those members who are in favor of monarchy; the Centre, the Moderates, who are willing to accept any good government.

One of the objects of this Assembly, which foresaw that a coup d'état might be at hand, was to get command of a little army for its own protection. It appointed as commander of this force General Changarnier, with whom the prince president had recently quarrelled, and designated four of its members, whom it called quœstors, to look into all matters relating to its safety.

The constitution was to be revised by this Assembly. Nobody cared much about the constitution, which had not had time to acquire any hold on the affections of the people, Page 149 and Louis Napoleon had recently acquired popularity with the turbulent part of the population of Paris by opposing a measure calculated to restrict universal suffrage, and to prevent tramps, aliens, and ex-convicts from voting at elections. The prince president, who wanted, for his own purposes, as large a popular vote as possible, was opposed to any restrictions on the suffrage.

Such was the condition of things on Nov. 26, 1851, when Louis Napoleon summoned the principal generals and colonels of the troops in and around Paris to meet him at the Élysée. At this meeting they all swore to support the president if called upon to do so, and never to tell of this engagement. They kept the secret for five years.

Meantime the Assembly on its part was hatching a conspiracy to overturn the president and send him to a dungeon at Vincennes; while all who refused to support its authority were to be declared guilty of treason.

The three men called the generals of the Army of Africa,—namely, Cavaignac, Changarnier, and Lamoricière,—were opposed to the prince president. They were either Republicans or Orleanists.

Thus the crisis approached. Each party was ready to spring upon the other. Again France was to experience a political convulsion, and the party that moved first would gain the day.



"In voting for Louis Napoleon," says Alison, "the French rural population understood that it was voting for an emperor and for the repression of the clubs in Paris. It seemed to Frenchmen in the country that they had only a choice between Jacobin rule by the clubs, or Napoleonic rule by an emperor." So, though Louis Napoleon, when he presented himself as a presidential candidate, assured the electors, "I am not so ambitious as to dream of empire, of war, nor of subversive theories; educated in free countries and in the school of misfortune, I shall always remain faithful to the duties that your suffrages impose on me," public sentiment abroad and at home, whether hostile or favorable, expected that he would before long make himself virtually, if not in name, the Emperor Napoleon. Indeed, the army was encouraged by its officers to shout, "Vive l'empereur!" and "Vive Napoleon!" And General Changarnier, for disapproving of these demonstrations, had been dismissed from his post as military commander at the capital. He was forthwith, as we have seen, appointed to a military command in the confidence of the Assembly.

By the autumn of 1851 Louis Napoleon had fully made up his mind as to his coup d'état, and had arranged all its details. He had five intimates, who were his counsellors,—De Morny, De Maupas, De Persigny, Fleury, and General Saint-Arnaud.

Fig. 9

De Morny has always been reputed to have been the half-brother of Louis Napoleon. In 1847 he lived luxuriously in a small hôtel in the Champs Elysées, surrounded Page 151 by rare and costly works of art. He had then never been considered anything but a man of fashion; but he proved well fitted to keep secrets, to conduct plots, and to do the cruellest things in a jocund, off-hand way.

Saint-Arnaud's name had been originally Jacques Le Roy. At one time, under the name of Florival, he had been an actor in Paris at one of the suburban theatres. He had served three times in the French army, and been twice dismissed for conduct unbecoming an officer. His third term of service for his country was in a foreign legion, composed of dare-devils of all nations, who enrolled themselves in the army of Algeria. There his brilliant bravery had a large share in securing the capture of Constantine. He rose rapidly to be a general, was an excellent administrator, a cultivated and agreeable companion, perfectly unscrupulous, and ready to assist in any scheme of what he considered necessary cruelty. Fleury, who had been sent to Africa to select a military chief fitted to carry out the coup d'état, found Saint-Arnaud the very man to suit the purpose of his master. Saint-Arnaud was tall, thin, and bony, with close-cropped hair. De Morny used to laugh behind his back at the way he said le peuple souvérain, and said he knew as little about the sovereign people as about the pronunciation. He spoke English well, for he had lived for some years an exile in Leicester Square,—the disreputable French quarter of London; this accomplishment was of great service to him during the Crimean War.

De Maupas had been a country prefect, and was eager for promotion. Louis Napoleon converted him into his Minister of Police.

Fleury was the simple-hearted and attached friend of his master.

De Persigny, like Saint-Arnaud, had changed his name, having begun life as Fialin.

These five plotted the coup d'état[1]; arranged all its details, and kept their own counsel.

[Footnote 1: De Maupas, Le Coup d'Etat.]

Page 152 The generals and colonels in garrison in Paris had been sounded, as we have seen, in reference to their allegiance to the Great Emperor's nephew, and by the close of 1851 all things had been made ready for the proposed coup d'état.

A coup d'état is much the same thing as a coup de main,—with this difference, that in the political coup de main it is the mob that takes the initiative, in the coup d'état the Government; and the Government generally has the army on its side.

Louis Napoleon and his five associates were about to do the most audacious thing in modern history; but no man can deny them the praise awarded to the unjust steward. If the thing was to be done, or, in the language of Victor Hugo, if the crime was to be committed, it could not have been more admirably planned or more skilfully executed.

The world, to all appearance, went on in its usual way. The Assembly, on December 1, 1851, was busy discussing the project of a railroad to Lyons. That evening M. de Morny was at the Opéra Comique in company with General Changarnier, and the prince president was doing the honors as usual in his reception-room at the Élysée. His visage was as calm, his manners were as conciliatory and affable, as usual. No symptoms of anything extraordinary were to be seen, and an approaching municipal election in Paris accounted for the arrival of several estafettes and couriers, which from time to time called the prince president from the room. When the company had taken leave, Saint-Arnaud, Maupas, Morny, and a colonel on the staff went with the prince president into his smoking-room, where the duties of each were assigned to him. Everything was to be done by clock-work. Exactly at the hour appointed, all the African generals and several of their friends were to be arrested. Exactly at the moment indicated, troops were to move into position. At so many minutes past six A. M. all the printing-offices were to be surrounded. Every man who had in any way been prominent in politics since the days of Louis Philippe was to be put under arrest.

Page 153 By seven o'clock in the morning all this had been accomplished. The Parisians awoke to find their walls placarded by proclamations signed by Prince Louis Napoleon as President, De Morny as Minister of the Interior, De Maupas as Prefect of Police, and Saint-Arnaud as Minister of War.

These proclamations announced,—

  1. The dissolution of the Assembly.
  2. The restoration of universal suffrage.
  3. A general election on December 14.
  4. The dissolution of the Council of State.
  5. That Paris was in a state of siege.

This last meant that any man might be arrested, without warrant, at the pleasure of the police.

Another placard forbade any printer, on pain of death, to print any placard not authorized by Government; and death likewise was announced for anyone who tore down a Government placard.

Louis Napoleon followed this up by an appeal to the people. He said he wished the people to judge between the Assembly and himself. If France would not support him, she must choose another president. In place of the constitution of 1848 he proposed one that should make the presidential term of office ten years; he also proposed that the president's cabinet should be of his own selection.

Louis Napoleon had entire confidence that all elections by universal suffrage would be in his favor. He had just made extensive tours in the provinces, and had been received everywhere with enthusiasm.

Thus far I have given the historical outline of the story; but if we look into Victor Hugo's "Histoire d'un Crime," and disentangle its facts from its hysterics, we may receive from his personal narrative a vivid idea of what passed in Paris from the night of Dec. 1, 1851, to the evening of December 4, when all was over.

Roused early in the morning by members of the Assembly, who came to announce the events of the night, Victor Hugo, to whom genuine republicans who were not Socialists Page 154 looked as a leader, was, like all the rest of Paris, taken completely by surprise. One of his visitors was a working-man, a wood-carver; of him Hugo eagerly asked: "What do the working-men—the people—say as they read the placards?" He answered: "Some say one thing, some another. The thing has been so done that they cannot understand it. Men going to their work are reading the placards. Not one in a hundred says anything, and those who do, say generally, 'Good! Universal suffrage is reestablished. The conservative majority in the Assembly is got rid of,—that's splendid! Thiers is arrested,—better still! Changarnier is in prison,—bravo!' Beneath every placard there are men placed to lead the approval. My opinion is that the people will approve!"

At exactly six that morning, Cavaignac, Changarnier, Lamoricière, Thiers, and all those who had lain down to sleep as cabinet ministers of the prince president, were roused from their beds by officers of cavalry, with orders to dress quickly, for they were under arrest. Before each door a hackney-coach was waiting, and an escort of two hundred Lancers was in a street near by. Resistance seemed useless in the face of such precautions, but Victor Hugo and his friends were resolved upon a fight. They put their official scarves as deputies into their pockets, and started forth to see if they could raise the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. But their friend the wood-carver had told them truly,—there was neither sympathy nor enthusiasm in the streets for the constitution that had fallen, the deputies who had been placed under arrest, nor for violated political institutions.

In vain they appealed to the people in the name of the law. The mob seemed to consider that provided it had universal suffrage, and that the man of its choice were at the head of affairs, it had better trust the safety of the nation to one man than risk the uncertainties that might attend the tyranny of many.

The frantic efforts made that day by Victor Hugo and a few other deputies of the Left to rouse the populace are almost ludicrous. Victor Hugo, no doubt, was a brave man, Page 155 though a very melodramatic one, and he seems to have thought that if he could get the soldiers to shoot him,—him, the greatest literary star of France since the death of Voltaire,—the notoriety of his death might rouse the population.

Here is one scene in his narrative. He and three of his friends, finding that the Faubourg Saint-Antoine gave no ear to their appeals, and for once was disinclined to fight, decided to return home, and took seats in an omnibus which passed them on the Place de la Bastille.

"We were all glad to get in," says Victor Hugo. "I took it much to heart that I had not that morning, when I saw a crowd assembled round the Porte Saint-Martin, shouted 'To arms!'... The omnibus started. I was sitting at the end on the left, my friend young Armand was beside me. As the omnibus moved on, the crowd became more closely packed upon the Boulevard. When we reached the narrow ascent near the Porte Saint-Martin, a regiment of heavy cavalry met us. The men were Cuirassiers. Their horses were in a trot, and their swords were drawn. All of a sudden the regiment came to a halt. Something was in their way. Their halt detained the omnibus. My heart was stirred. Close before me, a yard from me, were Frenchmen turned into Mamelukes, citizen-supporters of the Republic transformed into the mercenaries of a Second Empire! From my seat I could almost put my hand upon them. I could no longer bear the sight. I let down the glass, I put my head out of the window, and looked steadily at the close line of armed men. Then I shouted: 'Down with Louis Bonaparte! Those who serve traitors are traitors!' The nearest soldiers turned their faces towards me, and looked dazed with astonishment. The rest did not stir. When I shouted, Armand let down his glass and thrust half his body out of his window, shaking his fist at the soldiers. He too cried out: 'Down with all traitors!' Our example was contagious. 'Down with traitors!' cried my other two friends in the omnibus. 'Down with the dictator!' cried a generous young man who sat beside me. All the passengers in the omnibus, except this young man, seemed to be filled with terror. 'Hold your tongues!' they cried; 'you will have us all massacred.' The most frightened of them let down his glass and shouted to the soldiers: 'Vive le Prince Napoléon! Vive l'empereur!' The soldiers looked Page 156 at us in solemn silence. A mounted policeman menaced us with his drawn sword. The crowd seemed stupefied.... The soldiers had no orders to act, so nothing came of it. The regiment started at a gallop, so did the omnibus. As long as the Cuirassiers were passing, Armand and I, hanging half out of our windows, continued to shout at them, 'Down with the dictator!'"

This foolhardy and melodramatic performance was one of many such scenes, calculated to turn tragedy into farce.

Meantime, from early morning the hall of the representatives had been surrounded by soldiers with mortars and cannon. As the deputies arrived they were allowed to pass the gates, but were not permitted to enter their chamber. Their president, or Speaker, M. Dupin, was appealed to. He said he could do nothing; it was hopeless to resist such a display of force. At last the representatives, becoming, as the soldiers put it, "noisy and troublesome," were collared and turned out into the street. One by one the most excited were arrested. The remainder decided to go to the High Court of Justice and demand a warrant to depose and arrest the prince president. But they could not find the judges; they had hidden themselves away. When at last they succeeded in discovering the place where they were sitting, the police followed closely on their track, and the judges were forced to shut up their court and march off, under a guard of soldiers.

The representatives then decided to go to the Mairie of the Tenth Arrondissement, and there reorganize into a legislative body. They were nearly all members belonging to the Right, but they were as indignant as the Left at the outrage.

They formed into a column, marching two and two abreast; but the Left would not march with the Right, so they proceeded in two parallel columns, one on each side of the way. Arrived at the Mairie, they made Jules de Lasteyrie, Lafayette's grandson, president pro tempore, and proceeded to pass a decree deposing Louis Bonaparte. Scarcely was this done when a battalion of cavalry arrived, and the Page 157 legislators soon perceived that they were prisoners. After a great deal of altercation with the soldiers, they were marched off to a barrack-yard on the Quai d'Orsay.

When all this was reported to De Morny, he remarked: "It is well; but they are the last deputies who will be made prisoners,"—meaning that any others would be shot.

It was half-past three when the deputies were locked into the barrack-yard. The December day was cold and frosty, the sky overcast. The first thing they did was to call the roll. There were two hundred and twenty of them, out of a total membership of seven hundred and fifty. Among them were many of the best and most conservative men of France. There was Jules Grévy, the future president (M. Thiers was already in prison); Jules de Lasteyrie; Sainte-Beuve, the great critic; Berryer, the great lawyer; the Duc de Luynes, the richest man in France; and Odillon Barrot, the popular idol at the commencement of the late revolution. De Tocqueville was there, the great writer on America; General Oudinot, and several other generals; the Duc de Broglie, great-grandson of Madame de Staël; Eugène Sue, the novelist; Coquerel, the French Protestant preacher; and M. de Rémusat, the son of that lady who has given us her experiences of the court of the First Napoleon.

For two hours the deputies remained in the open air; then they were transferred at dark to the third story of a wing of the barracks. They found themselves in two long halls, with low ceilings and dirty walls, used as the soldiers' dormitories. They had no furniture but some wooden benches. M. de Tocqueville was quite ill. The rooms were bitterly cold. An hour or so later, three representatives, who had demanded to share the fate of their colleagues, were brought in. One of these was the Marquis de La Vallette, who had married Mrs. Welles, a very beautiful and fascinating American lady.

Night came. Most of the prisoners had eaten nothing since morning. A collection of five francs apiece was taken up amongst them, and a cold collation was provided Page 158 by a neighboring restaurant. They ate standing, with their plates in their hands. "Just like a supper at a ball," remarked one of the younger ones. They had very few drinking-glasses. Right and Left, having been reconciled by this time, drank together. "Equality and Fraternity!" remarked a conservative nobleman as he drank with one of the Red Republicans. "Ah," was the answer, "but not Liberty." Eight more prisoners before long were added to their number, and three were released,—one because he was eighty, one because of his wife's illness, and one because he had been accidentally wounded. At last, sixty mattresses were brought in, for two hundred and twenty-five men. They had no blankets, and had to trust to their great-coats to keep them from the cold. A few of them went to sleep, but were roused at midnight by an order that their quarters must be changed. They were taken down by parties to all the voitures cellulaires (or Black Marias) in Paris. Each deputy was put into a separate cell, where he sat cramped and freezing for hours. It was nearly seven A. M., December 3, before these prison-vans were ready to start.

Some went to the great prison of Mazas, some to Vincennes, some to Fort Valérien. At Mazas they were treated in all respects like criminals, except that they were not allowed a daily walk,—a privilege the knaves and malefactors obtained. Two deputies only were favored with beds,—M. Thiers and another elderly man. M. Grévy had none, nor the African generals, the ex-dictator Cavaignac among them.

Such of the members of the Left as were not in prison spent December 2, 3, and 4 in endeavoring to assemble and reorganize the remains of the Assembly; but the police followed them up too closely.

A few barricades were raised, and the first man killed on one of them was named Baudin. He threw away his life recklessly and to no purpose; but it is the fashion among advanced republicans to this day to decorate his grave and to honor his memory with communistic speeches. He Page 159 was rather a fine young fellow, and might have lived to do the State some service.

By the night of December 3 there was a good deal of commotion in the city. Two days of disorganization, idleness, and excitement had made workmen more inflammable than when they remained passive under the appeals of Victor Hugo. The remainder of the story, so far as it concerns the uprising and massacre in the streets of Paris, I will borrow from the experience of an American eye-witness; but first I will tell what happened to the African generals imprisoned at Mazas.

On the night of December 3 the station of the great railroad to the north was filled with soldiers. About six o'clock the next morning two voitures cellulaires drove up, each attended by a light carriage containing an especial agent sent by the police. These vehicles, just as they were, were rolled on to trucks, and the train moved out of the station. There were eight cells in each voiture cellulaire; four were occupied by prisoners, four by policemen. It was bitterly cold, and in the second of the prison-vans the police, half frozen, opened the doors of their cells and came out to walk up and down and warm themselves. Then a voice was heard from one of the prisoners. "Ah, ça, it is bitterly cold here. Could n't one be allowed to re-light one's cigar?" At this another voice called out: "Tiens! is that you, Lamoricière? Good morning!" "Good morning, Cavaignac," replied the other. Then a third voice came from the third cell. It was that of Changarnier. "Messieurs les Généraux," cried a fourth, "do not forget that I am one of you." The speaker was a quœstor of the Chamber of Deputies, a man charged with the safety of the National Assembly. The generals who had spoken, and Bedeau, who was in the next van, were, with the exception of Bugeaud, the four leading commanders in the French army. The other four prisoners were Colonel Charras, General Le Flô, Baze the quœstor, and a deputy, Count Roger (du Nord). At midnight they had been roused from sleep and ordered to dress immediately. "Are we going to be shot?" asked Page 160 Charras, but no answer was vouchsafed him. They were put into the voitures cellulaires, each knowing nothing of the presence of the others; even the police who were in charge of them, had no idea what prisoners they had in custody. After this recognition between the generals, they were permitted to come out of their cells and walk up and down the van to warm themselves, taking care, however, that they were not seen at liberty by the special agents in the carriages attending on each van.

On reaching Ham, the former prison of Louis Napoleon, Cavaignac, whom he had succeeded as ruler of France, was put into his former chamber. "Chassez croissez," said De Morny, when the report was made to him.

December 4, the last day of the struggle, was by far the most terrible. Louis Napoleon, in spite of many benefits which France and the world owe him, will never be cleansed from the stain that the outrages of that day have left upon his memory. It may be said, however, that the details of the coup d'état were left to his subordinates, and that probably both success and infamy are due in large part to the flippant Morny.

It was a cold, drizzling day. Such barricades as had been built were very slimly defended, and with no enthusiasm. The insurgents were short of ammunition, nor did the troops attack them with much vigor. In fact, the soldiers were but few, for all were being concentrated on that part of the Boulevard where strangers do their shopping and eat ices at Tortoni's. The programme for that day was not fighting, but a massacre.

The American gentleman whose narrative I am about to quote, says,—

"On December 3 there was more excitement in the streets than there had been on December 2. The secret societies had got to work. The Reds were recovering from their astonishment. Ex-members of the National Assembly had harangued the multitude and circulated addresses calculated to rouse the people to resistance. On the 4th there was not much stirring. Page 161 The shops were closed. I went into the heart of the city on business, where I soon found myself in the midst of a panic-stricken crowd. The residents were closing their doors and barricading their windows. Some said the Faubourgs were rising; some that the troops were approaching, with cannon.

"Hearing there were barricades at the Porte Saint-Denis, I pushed directly for the spot. The work was going on bravely. Stagings had been torn from unfinished houses, iron railings from the magnificent gateway; trees were cut down, street sheds demolished; carts, carriages, and omnibuses were being triumphantly dragged from hiding-places to the monstrous pile. There were not very many men at work, but those who were engaged, labored like beavers. Blouses and broadcloth were about equally mixed. A few men armed with cutlasses, muskets, and pistols appeared to act as leaders; soon a search was made in neighboring houses for arms. I was surprised to see how many boys were in the ranks of the insurgents. They went to work as if insurrection were a frolic. I shuddered as I thought how many of them would be shot or bayoneted before night fell. The sentiments of the spectators seemed different. Some said, 'Let them go ahead. They want to plunder and kill: they will soon be taught a good lesson.' Others encouraged the barricade-makers. One man, hearing that I was an American, said with a sigh, 'Ah, you live in a true republic!'

"After remaining two hours at this barricade, and seeing no fighting, I turned on to the Boulevard. There, troops were advancing slowly, with loaded cannon. From time to time they charged the people, who slipped out of the way by side streets, as I did myself. Coming back on the Boulevard des Italiens, I found the entire length of the Boulevards, from the Porte Saint-Denis to the Madeleine, filled with troops in order of battle. In the novelty and beauty of the scene I quite lost sight of danger. At one time they chased away the crowd; but soon sentinels were removed from the corners of the streets, and as many spectators as thought proper pressed on to the sidewalks of the Boulevard.... Opposite to me was the Seventh Lancers,—a fine corps, recently arrived in Paris. Suddenly, at the upper end of the line, the discharge of a cannon was heard, followed by a blaze of musketry and a general charge. The spectators on the Boulevard took to flight. They pitched into open doors, or loudly demanded entrance at the closed ones. I was fortunate enough to get into a neighboring carriage-way, through the grated porte-cochère of which I could see what was going Page 162 on. The firing was tremendous. Volley after volley followed so fast that it seemed like one continued peal of thunder. Suddenly there was a louder and a nearer crash. The cavalry in front of me wavered; and then, as if struck by a panic, turned and rushed in disorder down the street, making the ground tremble under their tread. What could have occurred? In a few minutes they came charging back, firing their pistols on all sides. Then came a quick succession of orders: 'Shut all windows! Keep out of sight! Open the blinds!' etc. It seemed that unexpected shots had been fired from some of the windows on the soldiers, from which they had suffered so much as to cause a recoil. The roll of firearms was now terrific. Mortars and cannon were fired at short-range point-blank at the suspicious houses, which were then carried by assault. The rattle of small shot against windows and walls was incessant. This, too, was in the finest part of the Boulevard. Costly houses were completely riddled, their fronts were knocked in, their floors pierced with balls. The windows throughout the neighborhood were destroyed by the concussion of the cannon. Of the hairbreadth escape of some of the inmates, and of the general destruction of property, I need not speak. The Government afterwards footed all the bills for the last. The firing continued for more than an hour, and then receded to more distant parts of the city; for the field of combat embraced an area of several miles, and there were forty thousand troops engaged in it. As soon as I could do so with safety, I left my covert, and endeavored to see what had happened elsewhere. But troops guarded every possible avenue, and fired on all those who attempted to approach any interdicted spot. I noticed some pools of blood, but the corpses had been removed; in a cross-street I saw a well-dressed man gasping his life away on a rude stretcher. Those around him told me he had six balls in him. In the Rue Richelieu there was the corpse of a young girl. Somebody had placed lighted candles at its head and feet. When I reached the parts of the town removed from the surveillance of the soldiers, I noticed a bitter feeling among the better classes for the day's work. The slaughter had been amongst those of their own class, which was unusual. The number slain was at first, of course, exaggerated, but it was with no gratifying emotions that we could reduce it a few hundreds. It was civil war,—fratricide. I reached home indignant and mournful."

Victor Hugo says of the massacre: "There were no combatants on the side of the people. There could not be Page 163 said to have been any mob, though the Boulevard was crowded with spectators. Then, as the wounded and terrified rushed into houses, the soldiers rushed in after them."

Tortoni's was gutted; the fashionable Baths of Jouvence were torn to pieces; one hotel was demolished; twenty-eight houses were so injured that they had next day to be pulled down. Peaceful shopkeepers, dressmakers, and English strangers were among the slain,—an old man with an umbrella, a young man with an opera-glass. In the house where Jouvin sold gloves there was a pile of dead bodies.

The firing was over by four P. M. It has never been known how many were massacred. Some said twenty-five hundred, some made it five hundred, and almost every person killed was, not a Red combatant, but an innocent victim.

Thus Louis Napoleon made himself master of Paris. The army was all for him, the masses were apathetic, the rural population was on his side. A few weeks later a plébiscite made him emperor.

The coup d'état having succeeded, most Frenchmen gave in their adhesion to its author. It remained only to dispose of the prisoners. Without any preliminary investigation, squads of them were shot, chiefly in the court-yard of the Prefecture of Police. All deputies of the Left were sent into exile, except some who were imprisoned in Algerine fortresses or sent to Cayenne,—the French political penal colony at that period.

Victor Hugo remained a fortnight in hiding, believing, on the authority of Alexandre Dumas, that a price was set upon his head. He gives some moving accounts of little children whom he saw lying in their blood on the evening of the massacre. His chief associates nearly all escaped arrest, and got away from France in various disguises. Their adventures are all of them very picturesque, and some are very amusing.

Several of the eight prisoners at Ham suffered much from dampness. Lamoricière, indeed, contracted permanent rheumatism during his imprisonment. He begged earnestly Page 164 to be allowed to write to his wife, but was permitted to send her only three words, without date: "I am well."

On the night of January 6, the commandant of the fortress, in full uniform, accompanied by a Government agent, entered the sleeping-room of each prisoner, and ordered him to rise and dress, as he was to be sent immediately into exile under charge of two agents of police detailed to accompany him over the frontier. Nor was he to travel under his own name, a travelling alias having been provided for him. At the railroad station at Creil, Colonel Charras met Changarnier. "Tiens, Général!" he cried, "is that you? I am travelling under the name of Vincent." "And I," replied Changarnier, "am called Leblanc." Each was placed with his two police agents in a separate carriage. The latter were armed. Their orders were to treat their prisoners with respect, but in case of necessity to shoot them.

The journey was made without incident until they reached Valenciennes, a place very near the frontier line between France and Belgium. There, as the coup d'état had proved a success, official zeal was in the ascendency. The police commissioner of Valenciennes examined the passports. As he was taking Leblanc's into his hand, he recognized the man before him. He started, and cried out: "You are General Changarnier!" "That is no affair of mine at present," said the general. At once the police agents interposed, and assured the commissioner that the passports were all in order. Nothing they could say would convince him of the fact. The prefect and town authorities, proud of their own sagacity in capturing State prisoners who were endeavoring to escape from France, held them in custody while they sent word of their exploit to Paris. They at once received orders to put all the party on the train for Belgium.

Charras was liberated at Brussels, Changarnier at Mons, Lamoricière was carried to Cologne, M. Baze to Aix-la-Chapelle. They were not released at the same place nor at the same time, Louis Napoleon having said that safety required that a space should be put between the generals.

Fig. 10

Page 165 CHAPTER IX.


A plébiscite—Louis Napoleon's political panacea—was ordered Dec. 20, 1851, two weeks after the coup d'état, to say if the people of France approved or disapproved the usurpation of the prince president. The national approval as expressed in this plébiscite was overwhelming. Each peasant and artisan seemed to fancy he was voting to revive the past glories of France, when expressing his approval of a Prince Napoleon. The more thoughtful voters, like M. de Montalembert, considered that the coup d'état was a crushing blow struck at Red Republicanism, Communism, the International Society, and disorder generally.

For a while the prince president governed by decrees; then a new legislative body was assembled. Its first duty was to revise the constitution. The republican constitution of 1850 was in the main re-adopted, but with one important alteration. The prince president was to be turned into the Emperor Napoleon III., and the throne was to be hereditary in his family.

After the passage of this measure it was submitted by another plébiscite to the people. The plébiscite is a universal suffrage vote of yes or no, in answer to some question put by the Government to the nation. The question this time was: Shall the prince president become emperor? There were 7,800,000 ayes, and 224,000 noes.

When the news of this overwhelming success reached the Élysée, Louis Napoleon sat so still and unmoved, smoking his cigar, that his cousin, Madame Baiocchi, rushing up to Page 166 him, shook him, and exclaimed: "Is it possible that you are made of stone?"

Having thus secured his elevation by the almost universal consent of Frenchmen, the new emperor's next step was to insure his dynasty by a marriage that might probably give heirs to the throne. He chose the title Napoleon III. because the son of the Great Napoleon had been Napoleon II. for a few days after his father's abdication at Fontainebleau in 1814. The next heir to the imperial dignities (Lucien Bonaparte having refused anything of the kind for himself or for his family) was Jérôme Napoleon, familiarly called Plon-Plon. He was the only son of Jérôme Bonaparte and the Princess Catherine of Würtemberg. But Prince Napoleon, though clever, was wilful and eccentric, and made a boast of being a Red Republican; moreover, his father's Baltimore marriage had made his legitimacy more than doubtful,—at any rate, Louis Napoleon was by no means desirous of passing on to him the succession to the empire; and being now forty-four years old, he was desirous of marrying as soon as possible.

When a boy, it had been proposed to marry him to his cousin Mathilde, and something like an attachment had sprung up between them; but after his fiasco at Strasburg he was no longer considered an eligible suitor either for Princess Mathilde or another cousin who had been named for him, a princess of Baden. Princess Mathilde was married to the Russian banker, Prince Demidorff; but when Louis Napoleon became prince president, he requested her to preside at the Élysée.

The new emperor, or his advisers, looked round at the various marriageable princesses belonging to the smaller courts of Germany. The sister of that Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern whose selection for the throne of Spain led afterwards to the Franco-Prussian war, was spoken of; but the lady most seriously considered was the Princess Adélaïde of Hohenlohe. She was daughter of Queen Victoria's half-sister Feodora; and to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as heads of the family, the matter was referred. A recent Page 167 memoir-writer tells us of seeing the queen at Windsor when the matter was under discussion. The queen and her husband were apparently not averse to the alliance, hesitating only on the grounds of religion and morals; but it is doubtful how far the new emperor went personally in the affair. His inclination had for some time pointed to the reigning beauty of Paris, Mademoiselle Eugénie de Montijo.

This young lady's grandfather was Captain Fitzpatrick, of a good old Scottish family, which had in past times married with the Stuarts. Captain Fitzpatrick had been American consul at a port in southern Spain. He had a particularly charming daughter, who made a brilliant Spanish marriage, her husband being the Count de Teba (or Marquis de Montijo, for he bore both titles). The Montijos were connected with the grandest ducal families in Spain and Portugal, and even with the royal families of those nations.

The Count de Teba died while his two daughters were young, and they were left under the guardianship of their very charming mother. The elder married the Duke of Alva; the younger became the Empress Eugénie.

Eugénie was for some time at school in England at Clifton. She was described by those who knew her there as a pretty, sprightly little girl, much given to independence, and something of a tom boy,—a character there is reason to think she preserved until it was modified by the exigencies of her position.

Mr. George Ticknor, of Boston, frequently mentioned Madame de Teba to his friends as a singularly charming woman. In 1818 he wrote home to a friend in America:

"I knew Madame de Teba in Madrid, and from what I saw of her there and at Malaga, I do not doubt she is the most cultivated and interesting woman in Spain. Young, beautiful, educated strictly by her mother, a Scotchwoman,—who for this purpose carried her to London and kept her there six or seven years,—possessing extraordinary talents, and giving an air of originality to all she says and does, she unites in a most bewitching manner the Andalusian grace and frankness to a Page 168 French facility in her manners and a genuine English thoroughness in her knowledge and accomplishments. She knows the chief modern languages well, and feels their different characters, and estimates their literature aright. She has the foreign accomplishments of singing, painting, playing, etc., joined to the natural one of dancing, in a high degree. In conversation she is brilliant and original, yet with all this she is a true Spaniard, and as full of Spanish feelings as she is of talent and culture."

Washington Irving, in 1853, thirty-five years later, writing to his nephew, speaks in equal praise of Madame de Teba.

"I believe I told you," he says, "that I knew the grandfather of the empress, old Mr. Fitzpatrick. In 1827 I was in the house of his son-in-law, Count Teba, at Granada, a gallant, intelligent gentleman, much cut up in the wars, having lost an eye and been maimed in a leg and hand. Some years after, in Madrid, I was invited to the house of his widow, Madame de Montijo, one of the leaders of ton. She received me with the warmth and eagerness of an old friend. She claimed me as the friend of her late husband. She subsequently introduced me to the little girls I had known in Granada, now fashionable belles in Madrid."

In some lines of Walter Savage Landor, Madame de Montijo was addressed as a "lode-star of her sex."

The Marquis de Montijo had been an adherent of Joseph Bonaparte while the latter was king of Spain, and his eye had been put out at the battle of Salamanca. He was a liberal in politics, and his house was always open to cultivated men.

Such was the ancestry of the beautiful young lady who, tall, fair, and graceful, with hair like one of Titian's beauties, was travelling with her mother from capital to capital, after the marriage of her sister to the Duke of Alva, and who spent the winters of 1850, 1851, and 1852 in the French capital. Mademoiselle Eugénie had conceived a romantic admiration for the young prince who at Strasburg and Boulogne had been so unfortunate. Her father had been a stanch adherent of Bonaparte, and she is said to have pleaded with her mother at one time to visit the prisoner at Ham and to place her fortune at his disposal.

Page 169 This circumstance, when confided to the prince president, disposed him to be interested in the young lady. She and her mother were often at the Élysée, at Fontainebleau, and at Compiègne. Mademoiselle de Montijo was a superb horsewoman, and riding was the emperor's especial personal accomplishment. On one occasion they got lost together in the forest at Compiègne, and then society began to make remarks upon their intimacy.

The emperor was indeed most seriously in love with Mademoiselle de Montijo. It is said, on the authority of M. de Goncourt, that in one of their rides he asked her, with strange frankness, if she had ever been in love with any man. She answered with equal frankness, "I may have had fancies, sire, but I have never forgotten that I was Mademoiselle de Montijo."[1]

[Footnote 1: Pierre de Lano. La Cour de L'Empereur Napoléon III.]

Such a project of marriage was not approved by the emperor's family, it was not favored by his ministers, and the ladies of his court were all astir.

At a ball given on New Year's Day, 1853, by the emperor at the Tuileries, the wife of a cabinet minister was rude and insulting to Mademoiselle de Montijo. Seeing that she looked troubled, the emperor inquired the cause; and when he knew it, he said quietly: "To-morrow no one will dare to insult you again." There is also a story, which seems to rest on good authority, that a few weeks before this, at Compiègne, he had placed a crown of oak-leaves on her head, saying: "I hope soon to replace it with a better one."[2] Like the Empress Josephine, she had had it prophesied to her in her girlhood that she should one day wear a crown.

[Footnote 2: Jerrold, Life of Napoleon III.]

The day after the occurrence at the ball at the Tuileries, the Duc de Morny waited on Madame de Montijo with a letter from the emperor, formally requesting her daughter's hand.

The ladies, after this, removed to the Élysée, which was given to them, and preparations for the marriage went on apace.

Page 170 In less than a month afterwards Eugénie de Montijo was empress of France.

Here is the emperor's own official announcement of his intended marriage:—

"I accede to the wish so often manifested by my people in announcing my marriage to you. The union which I am about to contract is not in harmony with old political traditions, and in this lies its advantage. France, by her successive revolutions, has been widely sundered from the rest of Europe. A wise Government should so rule as to bring her back within the circle of ancient monarchies. But this result will be more readily obtained by a frank and straightforward policy, by a loyal intercourse, than by royal alliances, which often create false security, and subordinate national to family interests. Moreover, past examples have left superstitious beliefs in the popular mind. The people have not forgotten that for sixty years foreign princesses have mounted the steps of the throne only to see their race scattered and proscribed, either by war or revolution. One woman alone appears to have brought with her good fortune, and lives, more than the rest, in the memory of the people; and this woman, the wife of General Bonaparte, was not of royal blood. We must admit this much, however. In 1810 the marriage of Napoleon I. with Marie Louise was a great event. It was a bond for the future, and a real gratification to the national pride.... But when, in the face of ancient Europe, one is carried by the force of a new principle to the level of the old dynasties, it is not by affecting an ancient descent and endeavoring at any price to enter the family of kings, that one compels recognition. It is rather by remembering one's origin; it is by preserving one's own character, and assuming frankly towards Europe the position of a parvenu,—a glorious title when one rises by the suffrages of a great people. Thus impelled, as I have been, to part from the precedents that have been hitherto followed, my marriage is only a private matter. It remained for me to choose my wife. She who has become the object of my choice is of lofty birth, French in heart and education and by the memory of the blood shed by her father in the cause of the Empire. She has, as a Spaniard, the advantage of not having a family in France to whom it would be necessary to give honors and dignities. Gifted with every quality of the heart, she will be the ornament of the throne, as in the hour of danger she would be one of its most courageous defenders. A pious Catholic, she will address one prayer with Page 171 me to Heaven for the happiness of France. Kindly and good, she will show in the same position, I firmly believe, the virtues of the Empress Josephine."

The State coaches of the First Empire were regilded for the occasion, the crown diamonds were drawn from the hiding-place where they had lain since Louis Philippe's time, and were reset for the lady who was to wear them, while her apartments at the Tuileries were rapidly prepared.

The emperor was radiant. He had followed his inclination, and now that his choice was made, it seemed to receive universal approval. The London "Times" said: "Mademoiselle de Montijo knows better the character of France than any princess who could have been fetched from a German principality. She combines by her birth the energy of the Scottish and Spanish races, and if the opinion we hold of her be correct, she is, as Napoleon says, made not only to adorn the throne, but to defend it in the hour of danger."

The Municipal Council of Paris voted six hundred thousand francs to buy her a diamond necklace as a wedding present. Very gracefully she declined the necklace, but accepted the money, with which she endowed an Orphan Asylum.

The wedding-day was Jan. 29, 1853. Crowds lined the streets as the bride and her cortège drove to the Tuileries, where they were received by the Grand Chamberlain and other court dignitaries, who conducted the bride to the first salon. There she was received by Prince Napoleon and his sister, the Princess Mathilde, who introduced her into the salon, where the emperor, with his uncle, King Jérôme, surrounded by a glittering throng of cardinals, marshals, admirals, and great officers of State, stood ready to receive her. Thence, at nine o'clock, she was led by the emperor to the Salle des Maréchaux and seated beside him on a raised throne. The marriage contract was then read, and signed by the bride and bridegroom and by all the princes and princesses present.

Page 172 The bride wore a marvellous dress of Alençon point lace, clasped with a diamond and sapphire girdle made for the Empress Marie Louise, and she looked, said a beholder, "the imperial beauty of a poet's vision." The emperor was in a general's uniform. He wore the collar of the Legion of Honor which his uncle the Great Emperor used to wear. He wore also the collar of the Golden Fleece that had once belonged to the Emperor Charles V.

The civil marriage being concluded, the imperial pair and the wedding guests passed into the theatre, where a cantata, composed by Auber for the occasion, was sung. The empress, robed in lace and glittering in jewels, seemed, says an eye-witness, to realize the picture presented of herself in the composer's words:—

"Espagne bien aimée,
    Où le ciel est vermeil,
C'est toi qui l'as formée
    D'un rayon de soleil."[1]

[Footnote 1:
Ah, beautiful Spain,
    With thy skies ever bright,
Thou hast formed her for us
    From a ray of sunlight.]

When the cantata had been sung, the Grand Master of the Ceremonies conducted the bride, as yet only half married, back to the Élysée.

The next morning all Paris was astir to see the wedding procession pass to the cathedral of Notre Dame. Early in the morning the emperor had repaired to the Élysée, where, in the chapel, he and the empress had heard mass, and after making their confession, had partaken of the Holy Communion. There were two hundred thousand sightseers in Paris that day, in addition to the usual population.

The empress wore upon her golden hair the crown that the First Napoleon had placed upon the head of Marie Louise. The body of the church was filled with men,—ambassadors, military and naval officers, and high officials. Their wives were in the galleries. As the great doors of Page 173 the cathedral were opened to admit the bridal procession, a broad path of light gleamed from the door up to the altar, adding additional brilliancy to the glittering scene. Up the long aisle the emperor led his bride, flashing with the light of jewels, among them the unlucky regent diamond, which glittered on her bosom. After the Spanish fashion, she crossed her brow, her lips, her heart, her thumb, as she knelt for the nuptial benediction. The ceremony over, the archbishop conducted the married pair to the porch of the cathedral, and they drove along the Quai to the Tuileries.

The first favor the empress asked of her husband was the pardon of more than four thousand unfortunate persons still exiled or imprisoned for their share in the risings that succeeded the coup d'état.

When Washington Irving heard of the marriage, he wrote: "Louis Napoleon and Eugénie de Montijo,—Emperor and Empress of France! He whom I received as an exile at my cottage on the Hudson, she whom at Granada I have dandled on my knee! The last I saw of Eugénie de Montijo, she and her gay circle had swept away a charming young girl, beautiful and accomplished, my dear young friend, into their career of fashionable dissipation. Now Eugénie is on a throne, and the other a voluntary recluse in a convent of one of the most rigorous Orders." This convent is near Biarritz, where the nuns take vows of silence like the monks of La Trappe.[1] The empress when at Biarritz never failed to visit her former friend, who was permitted to converse with her.

[Footnote 1: Saturday Review, 1885.]

The beautiful woman thus raised to the imperial throne[2] was a mixed character,—not so perfect as some have represented her, but entirely to be acquitted of those grave faults that envy or disappointed expectations have attributed to her. Her character united kind-heartedness with inconsideration, imprudence with austerity, ardent feeling with great practical common-sense. Probably the Page 174 emperor understood her very little at the time of his marriage, and that she long remained to him an enigma may have been one of her charms. With the impetuosity of her disposition and the intrepidity that had characterized her girlhood, she found it hard to submit to the restraints of her position, and the emperor had occasion frequently to remonstrate with her on her indifference to etiquette and public opinion. It was not until after her visit to Windsor in 1855 that she could be induced to establish court rules at the Tuileries, and to prescribe for herself and others, in public, a strict system of etiquette. But in her private hours, among her early friends, in the circle of ladies admitted to her intimacy, the empress was less discreet. Her impressions were apt to run into extremes; she indulged in whims like other pretty women; yet she was never carried by her romantic feelings or her enthusiasm beyond her power of self-control. Though careless of etiquette in private life, whenever a great occasion came, she could act with imperial dignity.

[Footnote 2: Pierre de Lano.]

Although she often experienced ingratitude, she was always generous. She was as ready to solicit favors and pardons as was the Empress Josephine. Sometimes she was even sorely embarrassed to find arguments in favor of her protégés. "Ah, mon Dieu!" she cried once, when pleading for the pardon of a workman, "how could he be guilty? He has a wife and five children to support; he could have had no time for conspiracy!"

As a wife she was devoted, not only to the public interests of her husband, but to his personal welfare. She was constantly anxious lest he should suffer from overwork; and her little select evening parties, which some people found fault with, were instituted by her with the chief object of amusing him.

Ben Jonson makes it a reproach against a lady of the sixteenth century that she would not "suffer herself to be admired." No such reproach could be addressed to the Empress Eugénie. Few women conscious of their power to charm will fail to exercise it. In the case of an empress,—young, Page 175 lively, of an independent and adventurous spirit, and very beautiful,—all who approached her thought better of themselves from her apparent appreciation of their claims to consideration; and, indeed, in her position was it not the duty of the successor of Josephine to be gracious and charming to everybody?

Unfortunately the ladies who most enjoyed the intimacy of the Empress Eugénie were foreigners. She seems to have felt a certain distrust of Frenchwomen; and considering the ingratitude she often met with from those she served, it is hardly surprising that she preferred the intimacy of women who could not look to her for favors.

One of the ladies most intimate with the empress was the wife of Prince Richard Metternich, the Austrian ambassador. This lady seems to have had personal and political ends in view, and to have succeeded in inducing the empress to adopt and further them. That she was a dangerous and false friend may be judged from a speech she made when remonstrated with for countenancing and encouraging a project, favored by the empress, of making a promenade in the forest of Fontainebleau with her court-ladies in skirts which, like those in the old Scotch ballad, should be "kilted up to the knee." "You would not have advised your own empress," it was said to her, "to appear in such a garb." "Of course not," replied the ambassadress; "but my empress is of royal birth.—a real empress; while yours, ma chère, was Mademoiselle de Montijo!"

Brought up in private life, not early trained to the self-abnegation demanded of princesses, the Empress Eugénie did not bring into her new sphere all the aplomb and seriousness about little things which are early inculcated on ladies brought up to the profession of royalty. The career for which she had formed herself was that of a very charming woman; and one secret of her fascination was the sincerity of the interest she took in those around her. She loved to study character, to see into men's souls. She loved to Page 176 be adored, while irresponsively she received men's homage. She especially liked the society of famous men, and when she was to meet them, she took pains to inform herself on the subjects about which they were most likely to converse.

That Queen Victoria loves her as a sister and a friend, is a testimony to her dignity and goodness; and we have her husband's own opinion of her, published on her fête-day, Dec. 15, 1868, after nearly sixteen years of marriage. The emperor had under his control a monthly magazine called "Le Dix Décembre," in which he often inserted articles from his own pen. The manuscript of this, in his own handwriting, was found in 1870 in the sack of the Tuileries. He omits all mention of his wife's Scotch ancestry, neither does he allude to her school-days in England. He speaks of her as a member of one of the most distinguished families in Spain, extols her father's attachment to the house of Bonaparte, and tells how she and her sister were placed at the Sacré Cœur, near Paris, declaring that "she acquired, we may say, the French before the Spanish language." He goes on to speak of her, not as the leader of a giddy circle of fashion in Madrid, as Washington Irving describes her, but as the thoughtful, studious young girl, with a precocious taste for social problems and for the society of men of letters; and he adds that after her marriage her simple, natural tastes did not disappear. "After her visit to the cholera patients at Amiens," he says, "nothing seemed to surprise her more than the applause that everywhere celebrated her courage. She seemed at last distressed by it.... At Compiègne," he also tells us, "nothing can be more attractive than five o'clock tea à l'impératrice; though," he adds slyly, "sometimes she is a little too fond of argument."

Assuredly she filled a difficult place, and filled it well; but the court of the Second Empire was all spangles and tinsel. It was composed of men and women all more or less adventurers. It was the court of the nouveaux riches and of a mushroom aristocracy. There were prizes to be Page 177 won and pleasures to be enjoyed, and it was "like as it was in the days of Noë, until the flood came, and swept them all away."

In the midst of the crowd that composed this court the emperor and the empress shine out as the best. Both wanted to do their duty, as they understood it, to France. Whether it was the emperor's fault or his misfortune, is still undecided; but, with one or two exceptions, he was able to attach to himself only keen-witted adventurers and mediocre men. Among the women, not one who was really superior rose above the crowd. The empress led a giddy circle of married women, as in her youth, according to Washington Irving, she had led a giddy circle of young girls.

The two most able men among the emperor's advisers were his own kinsmen,—Count Walewski, who died in 1868, and the Duc de Morny, a man calm, polished, socially amiable, and so clever that Guizot once said to him: "My dear Morny, you are the only man who could overturn the Empire; but you will never be foolish enough to do it." By his death, in 1865, Louis Napoleon was bereft of his ablest adviser.

Persigny, or Fialin, had been the close personal friend of the emperor in his exile, and took a prominent part in the abortive expedition to Boulogne. In his youth he had led a disreputable life, and was not a man of great intellect, but he was presumed to be devoted to his old comrade. His friendship, however, had not always a happy effect upon the fortunes of his master. In 1872 he made a miserable end of his adventurous life, after having turned against the emperor in his adversity.

Fleury was another personal friend of Louis Napoleon, and was probably his best. The prince president had distinguished him when he was only a subaltern in the army. He had enlisted in the ranks, and had done good service in Algeria. In the emperor's last days of failing health he loved to keep Fleury beside him; but the empress was jealous of her husband's friend, and used her Page 178 influence to have him honorably exiled to St. Petersburg as French ambassador. This post he occupied when the Franco-Prussian war broke out, so that he could be of little help to his master.

Saint-Arnaud had been made a marshal and minister of war, in spite of having been twice turned out of the French army.

M. Rouher had charge of the emperor's financial concerns, and Fould was a man who understood bureau-work, and how to manipulate government machinery.

Whoever might be the emperor's ministers, this little clique of his personal adherents—De Morny, Persigny, Saint-Arnaud, Fleury, Rouher, and Fould—were always around their master, giving him their advice and sharing (so far as he allowed anyone to share) his intimate councils.

The members of the Bonaparte family were an immense expense to the emperor, and gave him no little trouble. They were not the least thirsty among those who thronged around the fountain of wealth and honor; and their importunate demands upon the emperor's bounty led to a perpetual and reckless waste of money. The empress frequently remonstrated with her husband in regard to his lavish largesses and too generous expenditure. Contrary to what has been generally supposed, she was herself orderly and methodical in her expenditures and accounts, always carefully examining her bills, and though by the emperor's express desire she always expended the large amount annually allowed her, she never exceeded that sum.

Unhappily, the revived imperialism of Louis Napoleon was not, like Legitimacy, a cause, but to most persons who supported it, it was a speculation. Adherents had therefore to be attracted to it by hopes of gain, and all services had to be handsomely rewarded.

The emperor's policy in the early years of his reign may be said to have been twofold. He wanted to make France increase in material prosperity, and he wished to have money freely spent within her borders. He set on foot Page 179 all kinds of improvements in Paris, and all kinds of useful enterprises in the provinces. Work was plenty; money flowed freely; the empire was everywhere popular. But the government of France was the government of one man; and if anything happened to that one man, where would be the government? There seemed no need to ask that question while France was prosperous and Paris gay. France under the Second Empire was quieter than she had been for any eighteen years since the Great Revolution; and for that she was grateful to Napoleon III.

His foreign policy was still more successful. "The Empire is peace," he had early proclaimed to be his motto. At first the idea of a Napoleon on the throne of France had greatly terrified the nations; but by degrees it seemed as if he really meant to be the Napoleon of Peace, as his uncle had been the Napoleon of War. He took every opportunity of reiterating his desire to be on good terms with his neighbors. With respect to England, those who knew him best asserted earnestly that he had always been in sympathy with the country that had sheltered him in exile. Count Walewski, whom he sent over as ambassador to London, was very popular there. He attended the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in his official capacity, and in return for this courtesy England restored to the French emperor his uncle's will, which had been laid up in Doctor's Commons with other wills of persons who had died on English soil. Russia was haughty to the new emperor; but the other courts of Europe accepted him, and most of them did so with considerable alacrity; for was he not holding down Socialism and Internationalism, which they dreaded far more than Napoleonism, and by which they were menaced in their own lands?

The great perplexity of the new emperor was his relation to Italy. He and his brother had taken the oaths of a Carbonaro in that country, in 1831. It is not to this day certain that his brother did not die by a Carbonaro's knife, rather than by the measles. Be that Page 180 as it may, Louis Napoleon knew that if he failed to keep his promises as to the liberation of Italy, assassination awaited him.

How he endeavored to reconcile his engagements as a Carbonaro with his policy as the French emperor belongs less to the historical gossip of France than to that of Italy. So too the history of the Crimean War seems to belong par excellence to that of Russia. It was undertaken by England and France as allies, joined afterwards by a Sardinian army under General La Marmora, by the Turkish troops under Omar Pasha, and by an Egyptian contingent; but as we are now engaged on the personal history of the emperor and empress, I will rather here tell how Napoleon III., having formed a camp of one hundred thousand soldiers at Boulogne, on the very ground where his uncle had assembled his great army for the invasion of England, decided to ascertain, through his ambassador in London, if it would be agreeable to Prince Albert to visit that camp and see the manœuvres of his army. Finding that the invitation would be acceptable to the prince, he addressed him the following letter:—

  July 3, 1854.

MON FRÈRE,—Your Royal Highness knows that putting in practice your own idea, and wishing to carry out to the end the struggle with Russia that we have begun together, I have decided to form an army between Boulogne and St. Omer. I need not tell your Highness how pleased I should be to see you, and how happy I should be to show you my soldiers. I am convinced, moreover, that personal ties will strengthen the union so happily established between two great nations. I beg you to present my respectful homage to the queen, and to receive this expression of the esteem and sincere affection I have conceived for you.

With this, mon frère, I pray God to have you in his holy keeping.


The prince accepted the invitation, addressing the emperor as "Sire et mon frère." The queen entirely approved the visit, and Baron Stockmar predicted much advantage Page 181 from it, "inasmuch," he said, "as the good or evil destiny of the present time will directly and chiefly depend upon a rational, honorable, and resolute alliance between England and France."

Prince Albert met the emperor at Boulogne, Sept. 4, 1854. The Duke of Newcastle, who was in attendance on Prince Albert, wrote to a friend that tears stood in the emperor's eyes when he received his guest as he stepped upon French soil; and the prince wrote that evening to the queen:—

"The emperor has been very nervous, if we are to believe those who stood near him and who know him well. He was kindly and courteous, and does not look so old nor so pale as his portraits make him, and is much gayer than he is generally represented. The visit cannot fail to be a source of great gratification to him.... I have had two long talks with him, in which he spoke very sensibly about the war and the questions du jour. People here are sanguine about the results of the expedition to the Crimea, and very sensitive about the behavior of Admiral Sir Charles Napier."

The prince adds in his letter, the same evening:—

"The emperor thaws more and more. This evening after dinner I withdrew with him to his sitting-room for half an hour before rejoining his guests, in order that he might smoke his cigarette,—in which occupation, to his amazement, I could not keep him company. He told me that one of the deepest impressions ever made on him was, when having gone from France to Rio Janeiro and thence to the United States, and being recalled to Europe by the rumor of his mother's serious illness, he arrived in London directly after King William's death, and saw you going to open parliament for the first time."

Subsequently the prince tells the queen,—

"We discussed all topics of home and foreign policy, material and personal, with the greatest frankness, and I can say but good of what I heard.... He was brought up in the German fashion in Germany,—a training which has developed a German turn of mind. As to all modern political history, so far as this is not Napoleonic, he is without information; so that he wants many of the materials for accurate judgment."

Page 182 Dickens, who was at Boulogne on this occasion, thus tells of Prince Albert's arrival:—

"The town looks like one immense flag, it is so decked out with streamers; and as the royal yacht approached yesterday, the whole range of the cliff-tops was lined with troops, and the artillerymen, matches in hand, stood ready to fire the great guns the moment she made the harbor, the sailors standing up in the prow of the yacht, the prince, in a blazing uniform, left alone on the deck for everybody to see,—a stupendous silence, and then such an infernal blazing and banging as never was heard. It was almost as fine a sight as one could see, under a deep blue sky."

While the guest of the emperor, Prince Albert expressed to him the queen's hope that they should see him in England, and that she should make the acquaintance of the empress.

The prince, an excellent judge of character, in a subsequent memorandum concerning his impressions, says,—

"The emperor appeared quiet and indolent from constitution, not easily excited, but gay and humorous when at his ease. His French is not without a little German accent, and his pronunciation of German is better than of English.... He recited a poem by Schiller on the advantages to man of peace and war, which seemed to have made a deep impression upon him, and appeared to me to be not without significance with reference to his own life. His court and household are strictly kept and in good order, more English than French. The gentlemen composing his entourage are not distinguished by birth, manners, or education. He lives on a familiar footing with them, although they seemed afraid of him. The tone was rather that of a garrison, with a good deal of smoking.... He is very chilly, complains of rheumatism, and goes early to bed, takes no pleasure in music, but is proud of his horsemanship."

Speaking again of the emperor's lack of information as to the history of politics, Prince Albert says:—

"But he is remarkably modest in acknowledging these defects, and in not pretending to know what he does not. All that relates to Napoleonic politics he has at his finger's ends. He also appears to have thought much and deeply on politics, Page 183 yet more like an amateur politician, mixing many very sound and very crude notions together. He admires English institutions, and regrets the absence of an aristocracy in France, but might not be willing to allow such an aristocracy to control his own power, whilst he might wish to have the advantage of its control over the pure democracy."

The emperor closely questioned the prince about the working of the English government and the queen's relations to her ministers. Prince Albert writes,—

"He said that he did not allow his ministers to meet or to discuss matters together; that they transacted their business solely with him. He seemed astonished when I told him that every despatch went through the queen's hands and was read by her, as he only received extracts made from them, and indeed appeared to have little time or inclination generally to read. When I observed to him that the queen would not be content without seeing the whole of the diplomatic correspondence, he replied that he found a full compensation in having persons in his own employ and confidence at the different posts of importance, who reported solely to him. I could not but express my sense of the danger of such an arrangement, to which no statesman, in England at least, would submit."

I have quoted this memorandum of Prince Albert's, because it points out the perils which led to the downfall or the Empire,—the emperor's bad entourage; his personal government, assisted only by private confidential relations with irresponsible persons; his mixture of crude and sensible ideas of government; his indolence; and his tendency to let things slide out of his own hands.

"Upon the whole," concluded the prince, "my impression is that neither in home nor foreign politics would the emperor naturally take any violent step, but that he appears in distress for means of governing, and is obliged to look about him from day to day. Having deprived the people of any active participation in the government, and reduced them to the mere position of spectators, they grow impatient, like a crowd at a display of fireworks, whenever there is any cessation in the display. Still, he appears the only man who has any hold on France, relying on the name of Napoleon. He said to the Duke of Newcastle: Page 184 'Former Governments have tried to reign by the support of one million of the educated classes; I claim to lay hold of the other twenty-nine.' He is decidedly benevolent, and anxious for the good of the people, but has, like all rulers before him, a bad opinion of their political capacity."

Strange to say, in the midst of war the Universal Exposition of 1855 took place in Paris. The winter was horribly severe, and the armies in the Crimea suffered terribly. The emperor was extremely desirous to go himself to the seat of war, but was urged by every one about him to remain at home. All kinds of good reasons were put forward for this advice, but probably not the one subsequently advanced by one of his generals after the campaign of Italy in 1859. "It used to be said that the presence of the First Napoleon with his army was worth a reinforcement of forty thousand men. The army now feels that the presence of the Third Napoleon equals the loss of about the same number."

We have seen that Queen Victoria had expressed a wish to welcome the emperor and empress at Windsor Castle. It was on April 16, 1855, that the imperial pair reached England, and were received by Prince Albert on board their yacht. They met with a hearty national greeting on their way to London. In London itself crowds lined the streets. "It was," says an eye-witness, "one bewildering triumph, in which it was estimated that a million of people took part." The "Times" reporter noticed that as the emperor passed his old residence in King Street, St. James's, he pointed it out to the empress as the place where he was living when the events of 1848 summoned him to Paris.

"Only seven years before," observes his biographer, Mr. Jerrold, "he was wont to stroll unnoticed, with his faithful dog at his heels, from this house to the news-vendor's stall by the Burlington Arcade, to get the latest news from revolutionary France; now he was the guest of the English people, on his way through cheering crowds to Windsor Castle, where the queen was waiting in the vestibule to receive him." The same rooms were prepared for him Page 185 that had been given to Louis Philippe and to the Emperor Nicholas. Queen Victoria tells us in her diary,—

"I cannot say what indescribable emotions filled me,—how much all seemed like a wonderful dream.... I advanced and embraced the Emperor, ... and then the very gentle, graceful, and evidently nervous empress. We presented the princes and our children (Vicky, with very alarmed eyes, making very low courtesies). The emperor embraced Bertie, and then he went upstairs, Albert leading the empress, who, in the most engaging manner, refused to go first, but at length, with graceful reluctance, did so, the emperor leading me and expressing his great gratification in being here and seeing me, and admiring Windsor."

At dinner, on the day of his arrival, the new ruler of France seems to have charmed the queen. "He is," she records in her journal, "so very quiet. His voice is low and soft. Et il ne fait pas des phrases."

When the war was talked about, the emperor spoke of his wish to go out to the Crimea, and the queen noticed that the empress was as eager as himself that he should go. "She sees no greater danger for him there," she adds, "than in Paris. She said she was seldom alarmed for him except when he went out quite alone of a morning.... She is full of courage and spirit, and yet so gentle, with such innocence and enjouement, that the ensemble is most charming. With all her great liveliness she has the prettiest and most modest manner."

The queen little guessed what commotion and excitement had gone on before dinner in the private apartments of the emperor and empress, when it was discovered that the case containing all the beautiful toilet prepared for the occasion had not arrived. The emperor suggested to his wife to retire to rest on the plea of fatigue after the journey, but she decided to borrow a blue-silk dress from one of her ladies-in-waiting, in which, with only flowers in her hair, she increased the queen's impression of her simplicity and modesty.

During the visit the emperor asked the queen where Page 186 Louis Philippe's widow, Queen Marie Amélie, was living. She had been at Windsor Castle only a few days before, and the queen had looked sorrowfully after her as she drove away, with shabby post-horses, to her residence near Richmond. The emperor begged her Majesty to express to Louis Philippe's widow his hope that she would not hesitate to pass through France on any journey she might make to Spain.

There was a review of the household troops, commanded by Lord Cardigan, who had led the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, and who rode the same charger. The emperor rode a fiery, beautiful chestnut, and his horsemanship was much admired. That evening there was a State ball at Windsor Castle, and the queen danced a quadrille with the emperor. The queen wrote that evening in her journal: "How strange to think that I—the granddaughter of George III.—should dance with the Emperor Napoleon, nephew of England's greatest enemy, now my nearest and most intimate ally, in the Waterloo Room, and that ally living in this country only six years ago in exile, poor and unthought of!"

She adds, speaking of the empress: "Her manner is the most perfect thing I have ever seen, so gentle and graceful and kind, and the courtesy is charming,—so modest and retiring withal."

The next day came a council attended by the emperor, Prince Albert, ministers, and diplomatists, which lasted so very long that the queen herself knocked at the door and reminded them that at four o'clock the emperor was to be invested with the Order of the Garter.

After this ceremony was over, the emperor remarked to the queen that he had now sworn fidelity to her Majesty, and would carefully keep his oath.

At dinner that day the talk fell on assassination. The emperor was shot at by a Carbonaro only a few days after his return from Windsor, and four years later by Orsini.

Before leaving England the emperor attended a banquet given to him by the Lord Mayor. At Windsor he read his Page 187 speech (in English) to the queen and prince, who pronounced it a very good one.

Next day the royalties went to see the Crystal Palace, at Sydenham. There they were surrounded by sight-seeing throngs, and in such a crowd there was every chance for a pistol-shot from some French or Italian refugee. "I own I felt anxious," writes the queen; "I felt as I walked, leaning on the emperor's arm, that I was possibly a protection to him."

Afterwards she writes,—

"On all, this visit has left a permanent satisfactory impression. It went off so well,—not a contre-temps ... fine weather, everything smiling, the nation enthusiastic and happy in the alliance of two great countries whose enmity would be fatal.... I am glad to have known this extraordinary man, whom it is certainly not possible not to like when you live with him, and not, even to a considerable extent, to admire.... I believe him capable of kindness, affection, friendship, gratitude. I feel confidence in him as regards the future. I think he is frank, means well to us, and, as Stockmar says, that we have insured his sincerity and good faith to us for the rest of his life."

Nearly a year after this visit, when the emperor and empress had been married about three years, the Prince Imperial was born, March 16, 1856. A few hours after his birth he was christened Napoleon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph. Pope Pius IX. was his godfather, the Queen of Sweden his godmother. For many hours the empress, like her imperial predecessor Marie Louise, was dangerously ill.

The Crimean War had by that time virtually come to a triumphant end. The emperor had at last an heir; all things appeared to smile upon him. A general amnesty was issued to all political offenders. The emperor became godfather and the empress godmother to all legitimate children born in France upon their son's birthday, and finally the little prince had a public baptism at Notre Dame, followed by a ball of extraordinary magnificence, given by the city of Paris to the mother of the heir-apparent, at the Hôtel-de-Ville.

Page 188 The chief trouble that menaced the imperial throne at this period was the extraordinary lavishness which the emperor's entourage of speculative adventurers encouraged him to incur in all directions; the recklessness of speculation; the general mania for gain that went on around him. There had also been terrible inundations in France, and a bad harvest. Many things also that disgusted and disquieted the emperor were going on among the persons who surrounded him,—persons in whom he had placed confidence; and it was one of his good qualities that he was always slow to believe evil. Still, these things were forced on his attention, and greatly disturbed him.

His little son was from the first his idol. Here is a letter he wrote to Prince Albert, acknowledging Queen Victoria's congratulations:—

"I have been greatly touched to learn that all your family have shared my joy, and all my hope is that my son may resemble dear little Prince Arthur, and that he may have the rare qualities of your children. The sympathy shown on the late occasion by the English people is another bond between the two countries, and I hope my son will inherit my feelings of true friendship for the royal family of England, and of affectionate esteem for the great English nation."

A few months later, the future Emperor Frederick, then recently engaged to the Princess Royal of England, visited Paris. He was attended by Major Baron von Moltke, who described the emperor, empress, and their court in letters to his friends. "The empress," he says, "is of astonishing beauty, with a slight, elegant figure, and dressing with much taste and richness, but without ostentation. She is very talkative and lively,—much more so than is usual with persons occupying so high a position. The emperor impressed me by a sort of immobility of features, and the almost extinguished look of his eyes."

This look, by the way, was cultivated by the emperor. When his early playfellow, Madame Cornu, saw him after twelve years' separation, her first exclamation was: "Why! what have you done to your eyes?"

Page 189 "The prominent characteristic of the emperor's face," continues Von Moltke, "is a friendly, good-natured smile which has nothing Napoleonic about it. He mostly sits quietly with his head on one side, and events have shown that this tranquillity, which is very imposing to the restless French nation, is not apathy, but a sign of a superior mind and a strong will. He is an emperor, and not a king.... Affairs in France are not in a normal condition, but it would be difficult to say how, under present circumstances, they could be improved.... Napoleon III. has nothing of the sombre sternness of his uncle, neither his imperial demeanor nor his deliberate attitude. He is a quite simple and somewhat small man, whose always tranquil countenance gives a strong impression of amiability. He never gets angry, say the people round him. He is always polite.... He suffers from a want of men of ability to uphold him. He cannot make use of men of independent character, who insist on having their own notions, as the direction of affairs of State must be concentrated in his hands. Greater liberty ought to be conceded in a regulated state of society, but in the present state of France there must be a strong and single direction, which is, besides, best adapted to the French character. Freedom of the Press is for the present as impossible here as it would be at the headquarters of an army in the field if the Press wished to discuss the measures taken by the general in command. Napoleon has shown wisdom, firmness, self-confidence, but also moderation and clemency; and though simple in his dress, he does not forget that the French people like to see their sovereigns surrounded by a brilliant court."

Of the imperial baby in his nurse's arms, on whom the father looked with a face radiant with pride and joy, Von Moltke remarks: "Truly, he seems a strapping fellow."

The little prince grew up a very promising lad. He was his father's idol. Louis Napoleon never could be brought to give him any sterner reproof than "Louis, don't be foolish,—ne fais pas des bêtises." Discipline was left to his mother, and it was popularly thought that she was much less wrapped up in the child than his father was. His especial talent was for drawing and sculpture. Some of his sketches, of which fac-similes are given in Jerrold's "Life of Napoleon III.," are very spirited, and when he could get a Page 190 lump of wet clay to play with, he made busts of the persons round him which were excellent likenesses.

The emperor's rooms at the Tuileries were rather low and dark, but he selected them because they communicated with those of the empress in the Pavillon de Flore, by a narrow winding staircase. Often in the day would she come down to him, or he ascend to her.

His study was filled with Napoleonic relics, and littered with political and historical papers. He kept a large room with models of new inventions, which were a great delight to him and to his son. He was fond of wood-turning, and Thélin and he would often make pretty rustic chairs for the park at Saint-Cloud.

For some years before his overthrow he was growing very feeble, and always carried a cane surmounted with a gold eagle. Commonly too some chosen friend, generally Fleury, gave him his arm, but he always walked in silence. In the afternoon he would drive out, and sometimes horrify the police by getting out of his carriage and walking alone in distant quarters of the city.

On one occasion he had a difference of opinion with one of his friends, who assured him that if he insisted on planting an open space in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine with flowers, and protected it by no railing, the flowers would very speedily be destroyed. His pleasure and exultation were very great when he found he had been right, and that not a flower had been plucked or broken.

The emperor was generally gay and ready to converse at table, but he made it a rule never to criticise or discuss living persons himself, or allow others to do so in his hearing.

There was much decorum at court so far as his influence extended in the imperial circle, but there were plenty of scandals outside of it; and as to money matters, even Persigny and Fleury—one the friend of the emperor for five-and-twenty years, and the other devotedly attached to him—could not restrain themselves from cheating him and tricking him whenever they could.

Fig. 11

Page 191 CHAPTER X.


[Footnote 1: Much of the material of this chapter is taken from Victor Tissot's book of travels in Austria; the chapter on Maximilian as archduke and emperor I translated from advance-sheets, and it was published in the "Living Age" under the title "From Miramar to Queretaro." -E. W. L.]

Maximilian, Archduke of Austria, was born the same week that his cousin, the unfortunate son of Napoleon and Marie Louise, had died. He grew to manhood handsome, well educated, accomplished, and enterprising. He had the great gift of always making himself personally beloved. The navy was his profession, but his great desire was to be made viceroy of the (then) Austrian provinces of Italy. He felt sure that he could conciliate the Italians, and a great Italian statesman is reported to have said that it was well for Italian unity that his wish was never granted. His ideas were all liberal, and opposed to those of Metternich. His family mistrusted his political opinions, but the Italians, when brought into personal contact with him, soon learned to love him. They saw a great deal of him, for Trieste and Venice were at that period the naval stations of the Austrian Empire. He was, therefore, often in those places, and finally took up his residence in an earthly paradise upon the Adriatic, created by himself and called by him Miramar.

In June, 1857, when the Indian Mutiny was at its height, though tidings of it had not yet reached the western world, the Archduke Maximilian, whom the English royal family had never met, arrived at Windsor, and was hailed there as one who was soon to become a relative, for Page 192 he was engaged to King Leopold's only daughter, the Princess Charlotte of Belgium.

The queen and her husband were charmed with Maximilian. "He is a young prince," writes Prince Albert, "of whom we hear nothing but good, and Charlotte's alliance with him will be one of the heart. May Heaven's blessing," he adds, "be upon a connection so happily begun, and in it may they both find their life's truest happiness!"

The queen also wrote to her uncle Leopold,—

"The archduke is charming,—so clever, natural, kind, and amiable; so English in his feelings and likings. With the exception of the mouth and chin, he is good looking, but I think one does not the least care for that, he is so very kind, clever, and pleasant. I wish you really joy, dearest uncle, at having got such a husband for dear Charlotte. I am sure he will make her happy, and do a great deal for Italy."

Prince Albert crossed over to Belgium for the wedding, and wrote to his wife: "Charlotte's whole being seems to have been warmed and unfolded by the love that is kindled in her heart. I have never seen so rapid a development in the space of one year. She appears to be happy and devoted to her husband with her whole soul, and eager to make herself worthy of her present position."

At the time of her marriage the princess had just entered her seventeenth year. The wedding-day was made a little family fête at Windsor, in spite of Prince Albert's absence. "The younger children," the queen writes to her husband, "are to have a half-holiday. Alice is to dine with us for the first time, in the evening. We shall drink the archduke's and the archduchess's healths, and I have ordered wine for our servants, and grog for our sailors, to do the same."

Maximilian had been round the world in his frigate, the "Novara;" he had travelled into Greece and Asia Minor, he had visited Spain, Portugal, and Sicily; he had been to Egypt and the Holy Land. He loved the ocean like a true Page 193 sailor, and in 1856 he had taken up his residence at Trieste, to be near its shores. He would frequently go out alone in a light boat, even in rough weather, a dash of danger lending excitement to a struggle with the wind and waves.

One day in a storm his light craft had been borne like a feather round Cape Gignano. In a moment it lay at rest under the lee of the land. Maximilian landed, and found the spot so charming and the sea-view so superb that he resolved to build a little villa there for fishing. He bought the land at once, and began by setting out exotics, persuaded that the soil of such a spot would be favorable to tropical vegetation. A year later he brought his young bride to this favored spot, and with a golden wand transformed his bachelor's fishing-hut into the palace of an emperor.

At this period of his life, Maximilian (an author and a poet) was greatly interested in architecture. He drew the plans for an exquisite church (now one of the beauties of Vienna), and draughted with his own hand those for the grounds and castle of Miramar. The work was pushed on rapidly, yet in 1859, when Austria was forced to give up Lombardy, nothing at Miramar was complete except a fancy farm-house on one of the heights of the property. Maximilian, however, made his home there with his wife, and they found it so delightful that when at length the castle was ready for occupation, they lingered in the farmhouse, which they loved as their first home. It was a large Swiss châlet, covered with vines and honeysuckle, surrounded by groves of camellias and pyrus japonicas. How delicious life must have been to the husband and wife in this solitude, fragrant with flowers, vocal with the songs of birds, a glory of greenness round the house, the blue sky overhead, the glittering ocean at their feet, and holy love and loving kindness everywhere around them!

Maximilian's generosity rendered wealth indispensable to his complete happiness, for he loved to surround himself with artists, learned men, and men of letters. He paid them every kind of attention in his power, and did not Page 194 omit those little gifts which are "the beads on memory's rosary."

"One feels how happy life must have been to husband and wife in this new Paradise!" cries M. Victor Tissot. "Yet it was Paradise Lost before long, for alas! in this, as in the other Paradise, the Eve, the sweet young wife, was tempted by ambition. She took the apple, ate, and gave it to her husband."

On April 10, 1864, the Mexican deputies commissioned to offer Maximilian the imperial crown, arrived at Miramar. "We come," said Don Gutierrez de Estrada, "to beseech you to ascend the throne of Mexico, to which you have been called by the voice of a people weary of anarchy and civil war. We are assured you have the secret of conquering the hearts of all men, and excel in the rare knowledge of the art of government."

Maximilian replied that he was ready to accept the honor offered him by the Mexican people, and that his government would be both liberal and constitutional. "I shall prove, I trust," he said, "that liberty may be made compatible with law. I shall respect your liberties, and uphold order at the same time."

Don Gutierrez thanked the archduke in the name of the Mexican nation, and then the new emperor swore upon the Gospels to labor for the happiness and prosperity of his people, and to protect their independent nationality. Don Gutierrez was then embraced by Maximilian, who hung around his neck the cross of the new Order of Guadeloupe, of which he was the first member.

But this acceptance of the imperial crown of Mexico was by no means a sudden thought with Maximilian. For eight months he had been debating the matter in his own heart, urged to acceptance of the crown by his wife, but dissuaded by his family.

The history of the offer, connected as it is with one of Napoleon III.'s schemes for extending French influence, must be briefly told.

Before the Civil War broke out in America, it had already Page 195 entered the head of the emperor that he would like to intermeddle in the affairs of Mexico. That unhappy country, which the United States have been accused of doing their best to keep in a chronic state of weakness, turbulence, and revolution, had been left to recover itself after the Mexican War, which had shorn away its fairest provinces.

In 1853, Santa Aña, who had been president, dictator, exile, and conspirator by turns for thirty years, was recalled to Mexico, and a second time was made dictator. He assumed the title of Serene Highness, and claimed the right to nominate his successor. A popular revolution soon unseated him. Juarez, of Indian parentage, was at its head. The clerical party was outraged by the confiscation of the enormous possessions of the Church, and by the abolition of the right of mortmain (i. e., wills made upon death-beds were pronounced thenceforth invalid, so far as bequests to the Church were concerned). Mexico is a country with eighteen hundred miles of coast-line, but few harbors. It had in 1860 no railroads, and hardly any highroads of any kind. Its provinces were semi-independent, its population widely scattered, a large part of it was Indian, a still larger portion consisted of half-breeds; pure-blooded Spaniards were a small minority. The feeling that stood Mexico in lieu of patriotism was a keen hatred and jealousy of foreigners. Their very pride still keeps the Mexicans from believing that there can be anything better than what they possess. Perpetual revolutions had educated the people into habits of lawlessness; and as to dishonesty, rank itself was no guarantee against petty larceny, while in the larger rascalities of peculation, bribe-taking, and political treachery, no nation had ever such opportunities for exercising its national capacity, nor, apparently, did many Mexicans have conscientious scruples as to its display.

Under these circumstances it is no wonder that foreign bondholders complained loudly to their Governments, or that in the general confusion all manner of wrongs to Englishmen, Frenchmen, Austrians, and Spaniards called Page 196 loudly for redress. That cry reached the French emperor's ears. He proposed to England and Spain that as Mexico had at last got a government under Juarez, an interventionary force should appear off her coast, composed of English, French, and Spanish ships-of-war, and that Mexico should be summoned to redress their common wrongs.

All this was harmless. The expedition was commanded by the Spanish General Prim; but under the avowed object of demanding a redress of grievances, the Emperor Napoleon concealed a more ambitious aim. The United States were at war; all their resources were absorbed in civil strife. The most sagacious statesmen could not foresee that the end of that strife would be to make the country more great, more rich, more formidable; and Napoleon thought it was the very moment for attacking the Monroe doctrine, and for making, as he said, "the Latin race hold equal sway with the Anglo-Saxon over the New World." If he meant by the "Latin race" the effete half-Indian, Mexican and South American peoples, which were to be set as rivals against the Anglo-Saxon race, represented by Yankees, Southerners, men of the West, and the English in Canada, he was widely wrong in his calculation; but it is probable that "Latin" was his synonym for "French" in this connection.

The Monroe doctrine, as all Americans know, took its rise from certain words in a Presidential message of Mr. Monroe in 1822, though they were inserted in the message by Mr. Adams. They were to the effect that the United States would disturb no nation or government at present (i. e., in 1822) existing on the North or South American continent, but that they would oppose all attempts by any European Government whatever to put down any free institutions that were the choice of the people, or to impose upon them any form of government against their will.

Napoleon III. did not quite dare to fly in the face of the Monroe doctrine, even though the United States were embarrassed by civil war. There were plenty of Mexican Page 197 exiles in Paris, among them the Don Gutierrez who offered Maximilian the imperial crown. These men had secret interviews with the emperor. Thus the way was paved for Maximilian long before the time came to act, and possibly before he heard of the matter; for there was a power behind the throne that was urging his elevation on the French emperor with all a woman's persuasive powers.[1]

[Footnote 1: Pierre de Lana.]

It was not until after the Empress Eugénie had been left regent of France, during the campaign of Italy, in 1859, that she took any part in politics; but from that time her influence was freely exercised, though she interested herself chiefly in foreign affairs. She did not like Victor Emmanuel, nor her husband's policy as regarded Italy. She dreaded the destruction of the pope's power as a temporal prince. Her sympathies were Austrian, and in conjunction with her friends the Prince and Princess Metternich she lost no opportunity of urging the establishment of Maximilian and Carlotta on the imperial throne of Mexico. She looked upon this as in some sort a compensation given by France to the House of Hapsburg for its losses in Italy. To her imagination, the expedition to Mexico seemed like a romance. She saw two lovers seated upon Montezuma's throne,—the oldest throne in the New World,—surrounded by the glories of the tropics. When there, they would restore the privileges of the Catholic clergy, and would curb the revolutionary aspirations of the mongrel population of Mexico,—a population which, as a Spaniard, she hated and despised. To this end she intrigued with all her heart. Indeed, she and her friends the Metternichs acted in the preliminary arrangements of the plan the part of actual conspirators.

After the French and Spanish forces landed in Mexico, accompanied by a few Englishmen, Juarez offered to make compensation for the wrongs complained of, and an agreement was drawn up and signed by General Prim and the French and English commanders at a place called La Soledad.

Page 198 England and Spain, when the agreement was sent to Europe for ratification, considered it satisfactory. France, having ulterior designs, repudiated it altogether. The Spaniards and the English therefore withdrew their forces, and the French remained to fight out the quarrel with Juarez alone.

Up to this time no allusion had been made as to any change in the Mexican government; but now French agents began to intrigue in favor of an empire and Maximilian. A small assembly of Mexican notables was with great difficulty convened in the city of Mexico, from which Juarez was absent, being engaged in carrying on the war. The only persons concerned in this assembly who took any real interest in its objects were the clergy, who believed that a prince of the House of Austria would be likely to restore to them all their property and privileges.

There can be no doubt that such a government as Maximilian would have established in Mexico would have been a happy thing for that country and for civilization; but it is equally certain that the Mexicans (meaning by that term the great mass of the people) did not want such a government. Above all, they did not want for their ruler a foreigner, backed by a foreign potentate. The only raison d'être for Maximilian's government in any Mexican's mind was not that it would bring order and peace into the country, but that it might bring money from the coffers of the new emperor's ally. But when, after a while, the reverse of peace and order was the result of this new government, and when the French emperor declined to advance any more funds, nothing kept any man true to Maximilian but the dread of what the party of Juarez might do to him when the cause of the emperor should be overthrown.

With this explanation we will go back to Miramar, where Maximilian and Carlotta, unquestionably deceived by the political manipulations of the French emperor, believed, with joy and pride, that they were the choice of the Mexican people, and that they had nothing to do but to go forth and take possession of the promised land.

On April 13, 1864, almost the darkest date during our Page 199 war for the cause of the Federal Union, the Archduke Maximilian and his wife quitted the soil of Austria.

Early in the morning, in the port of Trieste and on the road to Miramar, all were astir. Friends from all parts of the Austrian Empire were hastening to bid farewell to the Archduke whom they loved.

The "Novara" and the French frigate "Thémis" were lying off Trieste, ready to start; and near them, riding at anchor, were six steamships belonging to the Austrian Lloyds, full of spectators.

At about one o'clock P. M. the emperor, with his wife leaning on his arm, entered the town-hall of Trieste, where about twenty deputations were assembled to offer him farewell addresses. Maximilian was much moved, and when the burgomaster spoke of the grief that all the people of the city would feel at his departure, he burst into tears. He embraced the burgomaster, shook hands with those about him, and whispered, as if to himself: "Something tells me that I shall never see this dear country more." His sensitive and poetic nature was very susceptible to sad presentiments; his book teems with them.

After the leave-taking, their Majesties entered the magnificent barge prepared for their use by the city of Trieste; a salute of one hundred guns reverberated from the sides of the mountain, while twenty thousand hats and handkerchiefs waved a sad farewell.

Maximilian and Carlotta embarked on board the "Novara," which carried the Mexican flag. By four o'clock both vessels were well down in the offing, and not till then did the crowd separate. Those with telescopes had seen up to the last moment a figure standing on the poop-deck, with its face turned towards Miramar, and knew it for the form of Maximilian.

The "Novara" touched at Jamaica. On May 28 it came in sight of the shores of Mexico, and cast anchor in the harbor of Vera Cruz.

The emperor and empress had expected a public reception. There was nothing of the kind. No welcome Page 200 awaited them,—not even an official one. This was the more extraordinary because the "Thémis" had been sent forward to announce the approach of the imperial party. Their disappointment at the want of enthusiasm was great. The French vice-admiral did his best to repair unfortunate omissions. He gave orders for a show of festivity; but it was plain to see, from the indifference of the people in the streets, that they had no part or lot in the demonstration.

After leaving the sea-coast, Maximilian proceeded towards his capital in an old shabby English barouche, his journey seeming rather like the expedition of an adventurer than the progress of an emperor. Passing through Orizaba and Puebla, the emperor and empress entered Mexico on June 12. French agents had paid for flowers to be scattered in their path, and a theatrical kind of procession was prepared, which was not agreeable to either of them. The only part of the population which hailed their coming with delight were the descendants of the Aztecs, many of whom appeared on the occasion in feather dresses preserved in their families since the time of Montezuma. In the evening there was a public performance at the theatre in honor of the new sovereigns, but not half the boxes were filled.

The palace of Chapultepec, which had been assigned them as their residence, was destitute of comforts of any kind, and was much more like a second-class hotel than a habitation meet for princes. Yet even here, one of Maximilian's first cares was to layout the grounds and to plant flowers.

He was advised to make an immediate journey through his new dominions, in order to judge for himself of the aspirations and resources of the people. But he found a country broken down by war, without roads, without schools, without agriculture. "The only thing in this country which is well organized, sire," said a Mexican whom he was questioning about the state of things, "is robbery."

There was thieving everywhere. The emperor's palace, and even his private apartments, were not spared. One Page 201 day, after a reception of officers high in military command, his revolver, inlaid with gold and ivory, which had lain on a table by his side, disappeared, and the empress missed two watches, which had gone astray under the dexterous fingering of her maids-of-honor. General Lopez, who was then commandant of the palace, wishing to give the emperor a proof of the accomplishments of his subjects in matters of this kind, offered to steal off his writing-table, within two hours, and without being noticed, any object agreed upon. He said he believed he could even carry off the table,—a joke at which the emperor laughed heartily.

When Maximilian returned to his capital, after a journey of great peril, he ordered the construction of several high-roads, granted lands and privileges to two or three railroad companies, founded a good many schools, and set on foot a Mexican Academy of Sciences. His own taste for natural history was so great that he gave some foundation for the charge made against him that he would frequently shut himself up in his workroom to stuff birds. He devoted great attention to improvements in agriculture, and planned a manufacturing city, and a seaport on the Gulf of Mexico which he intended to call Miramar.

His wife was an indefatigable helpmeet. She wrote all his European correspondence, but resented the interference of the French, and could be curt and energetic when the occasion called for self-assertion.

An American gentleman who saw her at a court-ball at this period thus describes her: "She was imperial in every look and action. The dignified and stately step so well suited to her station, and with her perfectly natural, would have seemed affectation in another. She did not seem remarkably tall, except in comparison with others. Her voice possessed a refinement peculiar to birth, education, and superior natures."

But while the emperor and empress were laboring for the improvement of their realm, the Juarists were increasing in strength, and banditti carried on their enterprises with impunity up to the very gates of Mexico. Day after day Page 202 the stage was robbed between Mexico and Jalapa. The Marquis de Radepont, a quiet traveller, saved himself by killing half-a-dozen highwaymen with his revolver; but the Belgian ambassador, on his way to announce to their Imperial Majesties the accession of Leopold II., the brother of Carlotta, was robbed of all his jewelry and money.

In consequence of these disorders the emperor signed, on Oct. 3, 1865, in spite of the remonstrances of Marshal Bazaine, the French general-in-chief in Mexico, an order to the civil and military authorities to treat all armed guerilla bands as brigands, and to apply to them the utmost rigor of martial law.

This was at once interpreted into permission to shoot all prisoners; and three promising young Juarist generals who had fallen into the hands of one of Maximilian's commanders were shot immediately, leaving behind them pathetic farewell letters to their friends. Maximilian did not foresee that he was signing his own death-warrant when he put his hand to this act of severity.

Juarez himself, with a body of his followers, had retreated to the frontier, ready to pass over into Texas if the French attacked him. But the French were too few and too scattered to occupy a vast region of country where every inhabited house was a refuge for their foes. Moreover, the interest of Napoleon in the empire of Mexico was at an end. He hated a long war at any time, and was always ready to abandon an enterprise when he could not carry out his projects by a coup de main. The war was extremely unpopular in France. Financial ruin had come upon many Frenchmen from the failure of the Mexican bonds negotiated by the banker, Jecker, to pay interest to their bond-holders. The Civil War in the United States was at an end, and Mr. Seward was instructing the American ambassador in Paris to threaten the Emperor Napoleon with the enforcement of the doctrine of President Monroe. He resolved to withdraw his troops from Mexico, and to advance no more money to Maximilian. He wrote these orders to Marshal Bazaine.

Page 203 Maximilian, who fully understood by this time the condition of Mexico, and foresaw all the dangers of his position when the French troops should be withdrawn, sent the empress at this crisis to Europe to represent the situation of affairs to the French emperor, and to remind him of his promises.

She embarked hurriedly and like a private person on board a French mail-steamer. Her stateroom was close to the propeller. The noise, coupled with her great anxiety and excitement, deprived her almost entirely of sleep during the voyage. On landing, she hastened to Paris, went to an hotel, and sent a message to the emperor, requesting an interview. This the emperor declined. Carlotta then hired a carriage and drove out to Saint-Cloud, where she insisted on seeing him. Their interview was very painful. At its close she exclaimed that she felt herself to blame, being a daughter of the house of Orleans, for ever having put faith in the Emperor Napoleon or his promises. Notwithstanding this reproach, the emperor, who was soft-hearted, pitied her extremely. She remained at Saint-Cloud for some hours, and that evening, when surrounded by the court circle, she threw back her head and begged for water. The emperor hastened to bring it to her with his own hand; but she exclaimed that she would not take it from him, for she knew he wished to poison her. It was her first attack of mania. She was calmed, and the symptoms passed off, but continued at intervals to return.

From Paris she went to Rome, and there her mental malady more and more declared itself. She refused to eat anything but fruit, for fear of poison. Her first visit to the pope was made while he was breakfasting, when she snatched the cup of chocolate from his lips and swallowed it eagerly, exclaiming: "I am sure no one can have wished to poison you!" After several other manifestations of her disordered brain at the Quirinal, steps were taken to forward her to Miramar. On reaching that beloved place, she grew more calm. She recovered for a time her interest in music, painting, and literature. The Sclavic peasants around Page 204 her considered her a saint. When she passed, they used to kneel down on the highway. For years they refused to believe in Maximilian's death. "He will come back! We know he will come back!" was the cry of the Dalmatians, who cherished his memory.

After a time Carlotta was removed to Belgium, where she has been since secluded from the world, but tenderly watched over by her relations. From time to time she partially recovers her reason.

Matters in Mexico after her departure grew worse every day. Bazaine had received orders to withdraw all French troops from the country. He was directed to withhold from Maximilian all French support, and in obedience to these instructions he flung into the river Sequia and Lake Texcoco[1] all the guns and ammunition he could not take away.

[Footnote 1: Prince Salm-Salm, Diary in Mexico.]

Prior to the withdrawal of the French troops, the French Government made several efforts to induce Maximilian to abdicate. The Marquis de Gallifet (of whom we shall hear again in another chapter) was sent, with two other French gentlemen, to urge him to leave Mexico. "I know all the difficulties of my position," Maximilian replied, "but I shall not give up my post. A son of the house of Hapsburg never retreats in the face of danger." Nevertheless, after receiving the first letters from his wife, Maximilian's resolution was shaken. He hoped at least to return to Europe as an emperor, and not a fugitive, and to lay aside his crown of his own accord. With this view he set out for Orizaba, where the "Dandolo" corvette was waiting to receive his orders. On his way he was delayed some hours, because the white mules that drew his carriage had been stolen.

At Orizaba he was attacked by malarious chills. There, too, he received news of his wife's insanity. Some of his generals surrounded him, and prayed him not to abandon his followers to the vengeance of their enemies. The leaders of the clerical party also begged him, for the sake Page 205 of the Church, to return to Mexico, promising him the support of the clergy throughout the country if he would but give up liberal ideas, and support, at all costs, the temporal prosperity of the Church.

Maximilian, on the strength of these assurances, went back to his capital, protesting that he remained only for the good of other people, and was influenced neither by personal considerations nor political wishes of his own.

But Maximilian was not the man to contend with the difficulties that beset him in Mexico. His very merits were against him. As we read the sad history of his failure, we feel that in his hands the regeneration of Mexico was hopeless. Men like John or Henry Lawrence, heroes of the Indian Mutiny, accustomed to deal with semi-savages, might perhaps have succeeded; but Maximilian was the product of an advanced civilization, and all his sentiments were of a super-refined character. He was no general; his forces were kept scattered over an immense area. He seems to have been no administrator. He was accustomed to deal with Italians,—men of enthusiastic natures and fanatical ideas. Mexicans had no enthusiasms; and in place of patriotism there was a prevailing sentiment of thorough aversion to the French and to the foreigners they had brought with them. Maximilian had come to Mexico with all kinds of liberal projects for its civilization. It was like forcing sanitary improvements on the inhabitants of an Irish shanty, or catching a street gamin and imposing on him the restraints and amenities of high-class culture.

The departure of the French troops left the way clear for the party of Juarez. It rapidly gained strength, and prepared to besiege the emperor in his capital. "I cannot bear to expose the city to danger," said Maximilian, who, in spite of being continually harassed and cruelly deceived day after day, never failed in consideration for those about him. He retired to Queretaro, where Generals Miramon, Castillo, Mejia, Avellano, and Prince Salm-Salm had gathered a little army of about eight thousand men.

Page 206 Maximilian at Queretaro showed all his nobleness of spirit, kindness of heart, and simplicity of life. During the siege, which lasted over two months, he shared the fatigues and privations of his common soldiers, and lived as they did, on the flesh of mules, while his officers' tables were much better supplied. He exposed his person upon all occasions, taking daily walks upon the bastions as tranquilly as he might have done in the green alleys of his distant home. One day his eye fell upon six dead bodies dangling from the branches of six trees. He turned away, with intense emotion. They were the bodies of six of his own couriers, who had fallen into the hands of the enemy.

He might have cut his way out of Queretaro at the head of his cavalry, but he hesitated to abandon his foot-soldiers. "I will die sword in hand," were now his daily words.

Every day his men brought in prisoners. Even when such persons were suspected of being spies, Maximilian would not order their execution. "No, no," he said; "if things go well, there is no need; if ill, I shall not have their blood upon my soul."

When the siege had lasted seventy days, provisions grew so scarce that the only alternatives seemed a sortie or a surrender. The sortie was decided on. On the night of May 14, 1867, the seven thousand men still in Queretaro were to break through the lines of the enemy and endeavor to make their way to Vera Cruz. Singularly enough, the Juarist general, Escobedo, had fixed on the 15th of May for his final assault.

Neither sortie nor assault took place. The treason of General Lopez prevented the one, and rendered the other unnecessary. Lopez, whom Maximilian had loaded with all sorts of kindness,—Lopez, who called himself the most devoted adherent of the emperor,—had sold the life of his friend and benefactor for two thousand ounces of gold!

One year before, when Lopez had been at Puebla in attendance on the empress, he had sent for his wife, who, having made a hurried journey, was prematurely confined. "I cannot allow your son," wrote Maximilian, "to come Page 207 into the world in another man's house. I send you the I enclosed sum. Purchase the house where your son was born."

Having kept up constant communication with the camp of the besiegers, Lopez, on the morning of May 13, sent a note to Escobedo, offering to deliver over to him the convent of La Cruz, which was the emperor's headquarters. Escobedo accepted his proposals. About midnight Lopez and the troops under his command went over to the enemy. The soldiers of Juarez quietly entered the town, and surrounded the convent where the emperor and his staff were sleeping.

At dawn Maximilian rose, dressed himself, woke Prince Salm-Salm, and they went out together, with no arms but their swords. As they reached the gates of the convent the emperor perceived Juarist soldiers on guard, and turning to his companion, cried, "We are betrayed; here is the enemy!" At this moment Lopez, who had seen them come into the court-yard, pointed out the emperor to Colonel Rincon Gallardo, who was in command of the detachment from the army of Juarez. Rincon was an honorable soldier and kind-hearted. He said, loud enough to be heard by his own men: "They are citizens; let them pass: they are not soldiers." The emperor was dressed in a black frock-coat, but with military trousers and epaulettes. He and Prince Salm-Salm then walked through the convent gates and made their way in haste to the opposite quarter of the city. The streets were silent and empty. Suddenly a sharp fire of musketry was heard, mingled with Juarist and Imperial war-cries. Miramon with his troops was holding one of the widest streets of Queretaro, when a ball hit him in the face. He fell, half blinded, and was taken prisoner. Miramon was the son of a French father and a Spanish mother, and was one of the very few generals on either side who were of pure white blood.

The emperor, with Generals Mejia, Castillo, Avellano, and Prince Salm-Salm, retired to a little hill which commanded the city. They had no artillery, no means of Page 208 defending their position. They stood on the bare rock where they had taken refuge, like shipwrecked sailors waiting for the fatal rising of the tide. General Escobedo, a coarse man, who had formerly been a muleteer, prepared to charge up the hill with four battalions of infantry and a strong party of cavalry.

"Do not fire; you will shed blood to no purpose," said the emperor to the little band of followers who surrounded him. Then, in a low, sad voice, he ordered one of his aides-de-camp to fasten a white handkerchief on the end of a bayonet. The Juarists, who were ascending the hill, came to a halt. Then, amid profound silence, the emperor came forward. He paused a moment as he stepped out of the little group of his followers and looked around him. Then he descended the hill with a firm step, followed by several of his generals.

The Juarists saluted him by their party cry, "Viva la libertad!" They recognized the emperor. Maximilian walked straight up to their commander, an ex-Federal United States officer, who under the name of Corona was in command of a party of Americans who had entered the service of Juarez, and were called the Legion of Honor. This legion was composed of fifty men. Some had worn the blue, and some the gray. Each held rank in the Mexican army as an officer.

"General," said Maximilian to Corona, "both men and fortune have betrayed me. There are widows and orphans enough already in the world. Here is my sword."

"Sire," said the general, forgetting that the man who addressed him was no longer emperor, "keep your sword." He then proposed to Maximilian to mount a horse, and escorted him, with the other prisoners, to the convent of Santa Teresita.

There the emperor and his generals were shut up at once in a dark cellar, and not only had to sleep upon the damp earth floor, but were left to suffer from hunger. In a few days, however, Princess Salm-Salm brought them some relief. They were then transferred to the convent of La Page 209 Capuchina, and their friends obtained permission to send them wine, clothes, and provisions.

Princess Salm-Salm, in the last act of this tragedy, showed herself to be a brave and generous woman. When her husband left the capital she had crossed the enemy's lines in order to get out of Mexico, but was twice in danger of being shot by the soldiers of Diaz. She was accused of supplying money to a troop of Austrian soldiers who, having been captured, were confined at Chapultepec, and she was imprisoned at Guadalupe. After a short detention, however, she obtained leave to quit Mexico for Europe; but changing her route, she managed to rejoin her husband at Queretaro. Thence, hiding by day and travelling by night, she made her way back to San Luis de Potosi, where Juarez had his headquarters. She threw herself at his feet, and implored his mercy for the emperor; but Juarez told her (not without some signs of compassion) that he felt no inclination to spare his life, and that if he were willing to do so, he would not be permitted by his followers to show him any clemency.

When Maximilian heard of this brave enterprise on his behalf, he could not refrain from tears.

The prisoners were three weeks at La Capuchina, in complete uncertainty as to what would be done with them. Indeed, the Juarists seemed much embarrassed by their prize. On June 10 they were informed that Juarez had sent an order to have them tried by a court-martial, which would be held on the 12th of June.

"Where are you going to take me?" asked Maximilian on that day of the officer who came to escort him. "To the court-martial," was the reply. "Where is it held?" said Maximilian. "In the theatre." "Then I refuse to accompany you. I will not be made a public spectacle at a theatre. You may go alone."

The officer, not being authorized to use force, went away. The trial proceeded without the presence of the prisoner. Generals Miramon and Mejia, however, were dragged upon the stage where the court-martial was Page 210 sitting. The play-house was crowded with spectators. It was a tragedy with no admission-fee. The proceedings lasted three days. The emperor was accused of usurpation, of instigating civil war, and of causing the death of forty thousand patriots, hanged or shot in consequence of his order of October 3, intended to operate only against armed bands of robbers.

On the morning of June 15, 1867, General Escobedo presented himself in the prison, holding the sentence of the court-martial in his hand. Maximilian, who could guess his fate, said quietly: "Read it, General; I am ready to hear you."

Maximilian, Miramon, and Mejia were condemned to be shot.

"I understand you," said the emperor, with perfect calmness. "The law of October 3 was made to put down robbers: this sentence is the work of murderers."

Escobedo laid his hand on his revolver with a sudden exclamation. Then, recovering himself, he said sarcastically: "I suppose that a criminal must be allowed the right to vilify his judges."

Maximilian turned his back on him, and Escobedo left the prison.

The execution had been ordered for the next morning, but was put off till the 19th, by order of Juarez.

Meantime the English and Prussian ambassadors hastened to Juarez, hoping to obtain mercy for the late emperor. The French and Austrian courts, by telegraph, implored the mediation of the United States. There was no American minister at that time in Mexico, but Mr. Seward sent telegraphic despatches to Juarez, pointing out that the execution of Maximilian would rouse the feelings of the civilized world against the Mexican Republic.

All was of no avail. The idea of foreign intervention in the affairs of Mexico was so distasteful to the Mexicans that these pleadings on the late emperor's behalf by foreign Governments only accelerated his fate.

During the night before his death, Maximilian asked Page 211 his jailers for a pair of scissors. He was refused. Then he implored one of them to cut off a lock of his hair. When that was done, he wrote the following pathetic letter to Carlotta:—

MY BELOVED CARLOTTA,—If God should permit you one
of these days to get well enough to read these lines, you will
know how sad has been my fate ever since your departure.
You took with you my happiness, my very life, and my good
fortune. Why did I not take your advice? So many sad things
have taken place, so many unexpected catastrophes and
undeserved misfortunes have fallen on me, that I have now lost
heart and hope, and look upon death as my good angel.
My death will be sharp and sudden, without pain. I shall fall
gloriously, like a soldier, like a conquered sovereign....
If you cannot, dearest, bear up under your load of sorrow,
if God in His mercy soon reunites us by your death, I will
bless His fatherly hand, which now seems very heavy upon
me. Adieu, adieu!


He kissed this letter, folded into it the light silky lock of his own hair, and placed it with other letters which he had written to his mother and friends. They were all in French, and written in a clear, firm, regular hand. His noble nature shone in every line. They give the key to the irresistible personal sympathy he inspired in all who knew him. His enemies were aware of this, and no judge or general who had ever known him sat on his court-martial.

As six o'clock was striking on the morning of June 19, the door of the prison was unbarred. "I am ready," said Maximilian.

As he stepped forth from the door of the convent, he exclaimed: "What a beautiful morning! I have always fancied I should like to die in sunshine,—on a summer day."

He entered the carriage in waiting. Miramon and Mejia followed him, with the priest who attended them in their last moments. They were escorted by a body of four thousand men, and were driven to the same rocky height Page 212 on which they had been captured, called the Cerro della Campana. They sat upright in the carriage during the drive, with proud smiles upon their faces. They were carefully dressed, as if for an occasion of festivity. The population of the place was all abroad to see them pass, and looked at them with silent pity and admiration. The calmness and self-possession of the emperor, about to die, touched even the most indifferent spectators. The women freely shed tears.

Maximilian was a handsome, striking-looking man. His beautiful light hair was parted by a straight line from his forehead to the nape of his neck. His blue eyes were clear and soft, with a beseeching look in them. His hands were beautifully white, his fingers elegant and taper.

As they neared the place of execution, General Mejia suddenly turned pale, covered his face, and with a sob fell back in his place in the carriage. He had caught sight of his wife, agonized, dishevelled, with her baby in her arms, and all the appearance of a madwoman.

The party arrived at the foot of the little hill. The emperor sprang out, brushed off some dust which had settled on his clothes, and going up to the firing party, gave each man an ounce of gold. "Take good aim, my friends," he said. "Do not, if possible, hit me in the face, but shoot right at my heart."

One of the soldiers wept. Maximilian went to him, and putting his cigar-case, of silver filigree, into his hand, said: "Keep that, my friend, in remembrance of me. It was given to me by a prince more fortunate than I am now."

The non-commissioned officer then came near, and said he hoped that he would forgive him. "My good fellow," replied Maximilian, cheerfully, "a soldier has but to obey orders; his duty is to do his duty."

Then, turning to Miramon and Mejia, he said: "Let me, true friends, embrace you for the last time!" He did so, and then added: "In a few minutes we shall be together in a better world."

Page 213 Turning to Miramon, he said: "General, the bravest man should have the place of honor. Take mine."

Mejia being very much cast down by the sad spectacle presented by his poor, distracted wife, Maximilian again pressed his hands, saying: "God will not abandon our suffering survivors. For those who die unjustly, things will be set right in another world."

The drums began to beat. The end was near. Maximilian stepped forward, mounted on a stone, and addressed the spectators.

"Mexicans! men of my rank and of my race, who feel as I feel, must either be the benefactors of the people over whom they reign, or martyrs. It was no rash ambition of my own that called me hither; you, you yourselves, invited me to accept your throne. Before dying, let me tell you that with all the powers I possess I sought your good. Mexicans! may my blood be the last blood that you shed; may Mexico, the unhappy country of my adoption, be happy when I am gone!"

As soon as he had resumed his place, a sergeant came up to order Miramon and Mejia to turn round. As traitors, they were to be shot in the back.

"Farewell, dear friends," said Maximilian, and crossing his arms, he stood firm as a statue.

When the command was given: "Shoulder arms!" a murmur of protestation, accompanied by threats, rose among part of the crowd, in which there were many Indians. Their national superstitions and traditions had attached this simple people to the emperor. They had a prophecy among them that one day a white man would come over the seas to set them free, and many of them looked for this savior in Maximilian.

The officers in command turned towards the crowd, shaking their swords. Then came the words: "Take aim! Fire!"

"Long live Mexico!" cried Miramon.

"Carlotta! Poor Carlotta!" exclaimed Maximilian.

When the smoke of the volley had cleared away, three Page 214 corpses lay upon the earth. That of the emperor had received five balls. The victims were placed in coffins which lay ready near the place of execution, and, escorted as they had been before, were carried back to the convent of the Capuchins.

"The emperor being dead, we will do all honor to the corpse of the Archduke of Austria," said Colonel Miguel Palacios, to whom this care was given. The corpse was embalmed, and the body placed in a vault.

The Russian ambassador, Baron Magnus, and the American commander of a United States vessel of war which layoff Vera Cruz, in vain solicited the body of the late emperor. The Austrian Vice-admiral Tegethoff (the illustrious conqueror at Lissa) had to come and personally demand it in November of the next year. He at the same time time obtained the release of the Austrian soldiers still retained as prisoners, and of Prince Salm-Salm, lying under sentence of death since the execution of the emperor.

As for the traitor Lopez, instead of the two thousand ounces of gold that he expected, he got only seven thousand dollars. His wife refused to live with him after his treachery to Maximilian; and once when he went to see General Rincon Gallardo to request his influence to get himself restored to his former rank in the Mexican army, which he had forfeited by his connection with the Imperial Government, the answer he received was: "Colonel Lopez, if I ever recommend you for any place, that place will be under a tree, with a rope round your neck tied to one of its branches."

Maximilian will live in history as a good man and a martyred sovereign. Long after his death, the Indians in Queretaro would not put up an adobe hut without inserting in it a pebble from the hill on which he was executed.

On the very day of his death an order signed by him was received in Europe, not for rifled cannon, not for needle-guns, but for two thousand nightingales, which he desired to have purchased in the Tyrol to add to the attractions of his empire.

Fig. 12

Page 215 CHAPTER XI.


The visit paid by the Emperor Napoleon and the Empress Eugénie to Queen Victoria at Windsor in 1856 was returned in 1857.

It was on the 18th of August that the queen, her husband, the Prince of Wales, then a boy of fourteen, and the Princess Royal landed at Boulogne. The royal yacht had been in sight since daybreak, the emperor anxiously watching it from the shore; but it was two P. M. before it was moored to the quai. There can be no better account of this visit than that given by Queen Victoria. The following extracts are taken from her journal:—

"At last the bridge was adjusted, the emperor stepped across. I met him half-way, and embraced him twice, after which he led me on shore amid acclamations, salutes, and every sound of joy and respect. The weather was perfect, the harbor crowded with war-ships, the town and the heights were decorated with gay colors."

The delay in getting up to the wharf postponed the queen's entrance into Paris, and greatly disappointed the crowds who waited for her coming. They were also disappointed that the greatest lady in the world exhibited no magnificence in costume. But the queen herself was greatly impressed by her first view of Paris:—

"The approaching twilight rather added to the beauty of the scene; and it was still quite light enough when we passed down the Boulevard de Strasbourg (the emperor's own creation) and along the Boulevards by the Porte Saint-Denis, the Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde, and the Arch of Triumph, to see the objects round us."

Page 216 They drove through the Bois de Boulogne in the dusk to the palace of Saint-Cloud; but all the way was lined with troops, and bands playing "God Save the Queen," at intervals. The queen was particularly impressed by the Zouaves, "The friends," she says (for the Crimean War was then in progress), "of my dear Guards in the Crimea."

The birth of the Prince Imperial being an event in prospect, the empress was not allowed to fatigue herself, and first met the queen on the latter's arrival at Saint-Cloud. "In all the blaze of lamps and torches," says the queen, "amidst the roar of cannon, and bands, and drums, and cheers, we reached the palace. The empress, with Princess Mathilde and the ladies, received us at the door, and took us up a beautiful staircase, lined with magnificent soldiers.... I felt quite bewildered, but enchanted."

At dinner General Canrobert, who was fresh from the Crimea, was placed next to her Majesty, and gave her his war experiences. Next day the royal party went to the Exposition Universelle, then going on in Paris, and afterwards, while the queen was receiving the ambassadors, the emperor drove the Prince of Wales through the streets of Paris; he afterwards took his older guests sight-seeing in his capital. "As we crossed the Pont de Change," writes the queen, "the emperor said, pointing to the Conciergerie, 'That is where I was in prison." He alluded to the time when he was brought from Strasburg to Paris, before being shipped for Rio Janeiro. "Strange," continues the queen, "to be driving with us as emperor through the streets of Paris in triumph!"

They visited Versailles (where the queen sketched), and afterwards went to the Grand Opera. They saw Paris illuminated that night as they drove back to Saint-Cloud, the emperor and Prince Albert recalling old German songs; and the queen says: "The emperor seems very fond of his old recollections of Germany. There is much that is German, and very little—nothing, in fact—markedly French in his character."

One day all the royal party went out in a hack carriage, Page 217 with what the queen calls "common bonnets and veils," and drove incognito round Paris. Sometimes they talked politics, sometimes they seem to have joked and laughed with childish glee and enjoyment; and one night the emperor took the queen by torchlight to see the tomb of his great uncle at the Invalides. A guard of old warriors who had served under Napoleon, with Santini, his valet at St. Helena, at their head, escorted the queen of England to the chapel where stood Napoleon's coffin, not yet entombed, with the sword of Austerlitz lying upon it. The band in the chapel was playing "God Save the Queen," while without raged a sudden thunder-storm.

The mornings were devoted to quiet pleasures and sight-seeing, the evenings to operas, state dinners, and state balls. The great ball given on this occasion in the galleries of Versailles was talked of in Paris for years after. "The empress," says the queen, "met us at the top of the staircase, looking like a fairy-queen or nymph, in a white dress trimmed with bunches of grass and diamonds, a beautiful tour de corsage of diamonds round the top of her dress, and all en rivière; the same round her waist, and a corresponding headdress, and her Spanish and Portuguese orders. The emperor said when she appeared: 'Comme tu es belle!'"

Next day, as the emperor drove the queen in an open carriage, they talked of the Orleans family, whose feelings had been greatly hurt by a recent sequestration of their property. The emperor tried to make excuses for this act,—excuses that seemed to the queen but tame,—and then he drove to the chapel built over the house where the Duke of Orleans had died on the Avenue de Neuilly. The emperor bought her two of the medals sold on the spot, one of which bore the likeness of the Comte de Paris, with an inscription calling him the hope of France.

The visit ended after eight delightful days, and the emperor escorted his guests back to Boulogne.

Prince Albert, the queen confesses, was not so much carried away by the fascinations of their new friend as herself; but the empress secured his entire commendation.

Page 218 The queen and the emperor continued to correspond, and subsequently met several times, at Osborne House or at Cherbourg.

I have told at some length of this visit, because it seemed to me to mark the culminating point of Napoleon III.'s successful career; not only was he fully admitted into the inner circle of European sovereigns, but his place there was confirmed by the personal friendship and alliance of the greatest among them.

In 1867 there was another Universal Exposition held in Paris; and this was also a time of great outward glory and triumph for the emperor, surrounded as he was by European emperors, crown princes, and kings; but Queen Victoria was then a sorrowing widow, and decay was threatening Napoleon's apparent prosperity.

It was in 1867 that the emperor and empress received the czar, the sultan, the Crown Prince of Prussia, Princess Alice of Hesse Darmstadt, and many other crowned heads and celebrities. It was a year of fêtes and international courtesies. But in Paris itself there was a strange feeling of insecurity,—a fearful looking for something, society knew not what. "It seemed," said one who breathed the rarefied air in which lived the upper circles of society, "as if the air were charged with electricity; as if the shadows of coming events were being darkly cast over the joyous city."

One of the most remarkable sights of that gay time of hollowness and brilliancy was the review given in honor of the Emperor of Russia, on June 6. No less than sixty thousand French troops, of all arms of the service, filed past the three grand-stands on the race-course of the Bois de Boulogne. On the central stand sat the Empress Eugénie, with the Prince Imperial, the Crown Princess of Prussia, her sister, Princess Alice, and the Grand Duchess of Leuchtenberg. Before this stand, on horseback on one side, sat the Grand Duke Vladimir, the Czarevitch (the present Czar of Russia), the Crown Prince of Prussia (since the lamented Emperor Frederick), Prince Gortschakoff (the Russian Page 219 prime minister), Count Bismarck, and an English nobleman; on the other side were the Duc de Leuchtenberg, the Duke of Mecklenburg, and the Prince of Hesse Darmstadt; while in the centre of them all rode the czar, with Napoleon III. on one hand, and on the other the king of prussia.[1]

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine.]

How little could any of those who looked upon that throng of royal personages imagine what in little more than two years was coming on them all!

The emperor was fond of literature, and when drawn into a literary discussion, his half-closed eyes would gleam with sudden light, and his criticisms would be both witty and valuable. During his later years, harassed by sickness and perplexities of all kinds, his greatest pleasure was to shut himself up in his study, and there work upon his "Life of Cæsar." He wrote it entirely himself, though he had many learned men in France and Germany employed in looking up references and making extracts for him. The book was considered a work of genuine merit. To its author it was a labor of love. He threw into it all his experience of life, all his theories, all his Napoleonic convictions; for in Cæsar and Napoleon he found many parallels. He hoped to be admitted as a literary man into the French Academy, and he meant to base his claim upon this book.

I have said nothing of the cares that oppressed the emperor in connection with the war in the Crimea, which was prolonged far beyond his expectations; of the campaign in Italy, broken short off by threats of intervention made by the king of Prussia, and followed by feelings of disappointment and revenge on the part of the Italians; of the intervention of the emperor in 1866, after the battle of Sadowa, to check the triumphant march of the Prussian army through Austria; nor of the bombs of Orsini, which led to a rupture of the friendliness between France and England, breaking up the cordial relations which existed between the two courts in 1857, and reviving that panic about French invasion which seems periodically to attack Englishmen Page 220 ever since the great scare in the days of Bonaparte. These subjects belong rather to historical reminiscences of England, Italy, or Germany; but the emperor had anxieties besides in France, and often found it hard to regulate with discretion even the ways of his own household.

The empress, who after she had governed France as regent in 1859, during her husband's absence in the Italian war, had been admitted to councils of state, by no means approved either her husband's domestic or foreign policy. We have seen that her influence was strongly exerted to bring about the unfortunate attempt to give an emperor and empress to Mexico; but on two other points that she had at heart she failed. She could not persuade her husband to undertake the reconstruction of the kingdom of Poland, nor to assist Queen Isabella of Spain when her subjects, exasperated at last by her excesses, drove her over the French frontier. The empress disliked many of the coterie who enjoyed her husband's intimacy, especially his cousin, Prince Napoleon. She resented the prince's opposition to her marriage; she disliked his manners, his political opinions, his aggressive opposition to all the offices of religion; and she succeeded in detaching him from the emperor's confidence, and in hindering his taking part in public affairs. To his wife—the Princess Clotilde—she was deeply attached; but that did not serve to reconcile her to the prince, her husband. Both ladies were opposed to any diminution of the pope's temporal power in Italy; but the private circle of the friends of the empress was too gay for the chastened nature of the Princess Clotilde, and by degrees her intimacy with the empress became less close and affectionate than it had been in the early days of her unhappy marriage.

An episode in the private life of the palace, in 1859, created considerable friction in Paris, and provoked remonstrances from the emperor's ministers.[1] This was the admission to the circle of intimates who surrounded the empress of the mesmerist and medium Home. This man Page 221 gave himself out to be an American; but many persons suspected that his native land was Germany, and some said he was a secret agent of that court, which had emissaries all over France, in search of useful information. The empress, having heard of Home's strange feats of table-turning and spirit-rapping in fashionable salons of the capital, was eager to witness his performances. The women in the high society of Paris were greatly excited about them. Spiritualism was the fad of the season, and the empress caught the infection. The emperor, who was present at many of the exhibitions at the Tuileries, was also, it is said, much impressed by some of them, especially by a mysterious invisible hand laid firmly on his shoulder, and by an icy breath that passed over his face. But although the emperor, always indulgent to his wife, resisted at first the advice of his counsellors to get rid of Home, he was forced at last to put an end to the séances at the Tuileries, Fontainebleau, and Biarritz. The spirits "summoned" had had the imprudence to obtrude upon him their own views of his policy. When the alliance with Italy and a probable war with Austria were under discussion in the cabinet, the spirit-inspired pencil at the Tuileries scrawled these words: "The emperor should declare war and deliver Italy from the Austrians." Not long afterwards, the vulgar presumption of Home, who had accompanied the court to Biarritz, provoked the emperor, and caused him to give ear to the earnest remonstrances of his Minister for Foreign Affairs. He gave orders that Home should appear at the Tuileries no more.

[Footnote 1: Pierre de Lana.]

Home died not long after in Germany, forgotten by the world of fashion, but leaving behind him a little circle of ardent believers.

The story of the emperor's later life seems to me to be one full of pathos and of pain. It is the record of a man who knew himself to be slowly dying, whose physical strength was ebbing day by day, but who was bearing up under the vain hope of accomplishing the impossible. One admires his extreme patience, his uncomplaining perseverance, as he tried to roll the stone of Sisyphus, yet Page 222 with unspoken misgivings in his heart that it would escape from him and crush the hopes of his life, as it rolled back out of his hands.

"Poor emperor!" says the eye-witness who beheld him in his hour of triumph, before the grand-stand, in 1867, at the great review. "He was a friend to all, and he fell through his friends. He was very true to England, whatever he may have been to other countries; but England failed him, unfortunately in Denmark, fortunately in Mexico, and fatally in 1870."[1]

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine.]

It seems, too, as if the world forgets now—what assuredly must be remembered hereafter in history—that it was he who relieved Europe from the treaties of Vienna, and asserted the claims of nationalities; that he brought about the resurrection of Italy; that through his policy we have a solution satisfactory to the world in general of the question of the pope's power as a temporal prince in Italy; that he was the builder of modern Paris, the promoter of agriculture, the railroad king of France, the peasant's and the workman's friend.

In early life he had been an adventurer; but a kind heart gave him gracious manners. He was grateful, faithful, and generous; terribly prodigal of money, and the victim of the needy men by whom he was surrounded. It seems as if, in spite of his coup d'état (which, subtracting its massacres, may have been a measure of self-preservation), he deserves better of the world and of France than to have his memory spurned and spat upon, as men do now.

He gave France eighteen years of pre-eminent prosperity; he left her, to be sure, in ruins. In his fall he utterly obliterated the prestige of the name of Bonaparte. No Bonaparte, probably, will ever again awaken the enthusiasm of the French people,—an enthusiasm which Napoleon III. relied on, justly at first, and fatally afterwards, when a generation had arisen in France, from whom the feeling had passed away.

The emperor's malady, which was slowly sapping his strength, is said to be the most painful one that flesh is heir to. Every movement was pain to him. Absolute rest was what he needed, but cares pressed hard upon him on every side. He must die, and leave his empire in the hands of a woman and a child. His government had been wholly personal. He could not transmit his power, such is it was, to any other person,—least of all could he place it in feeble hands. There were no props to his throne. No Bismarck or Cavour stood beside him, to whom he might confide his wife and son, and feel that though his hand no longer held the helm, the ship would sail straight on the course he had laid down for her. The men about him were third and fourth rate men,—all of them enormously his own inferiors. They cheated and deceived and plundered him; and he knew it in a measure, though not as he knew it after his downfall.

The emperor said once: "There is but one Bonapartist Page 223 among us, and that is Fleury. The empress is a Legitimist, I am a Socialist, and Prince Napoleon a Republican." As he contemplated the future, it seems to have occurred to him that the only thing that could be done was to teach France to govern herself,—to change his despotic authority into a constitutional government. He might live long enough, he thought, to make the new plan work, and if, by a successful war with Germany, a war impending and perhaps inevitable, he could gain brilliant military glory; if he could restore to France that frontier of the Rhine which had been wrested from her by Europe after the downfall of his uncle,—his dynasty would be covered with glory, and all might go on right for a few years, till his boy should be old enough to replace him.

Both these expedients he tried. In 1869 he announced that he was about to grant France liberal institutions. He put the empress forward whenever it was possible, and he made up his mind that as war with Germany was sure to come, the sooner it came, the better, that he might reap its fruits while some measure of life and strength was left him. Long before, Prince Albert had assured him that his policy, Page 224 which made his ministers mere heads of bureaux, which never called them together for common action as members of one cabinet, which compelled each to report only to his master, who took on trust the accuracy of the reports made to him, was a very dangerous mode of governing. It was indeed very unlike his uncle's practice, though it might have been theoretically his system. Both uncle and nephew came into power by a coup d'état,—the one on the 18th Brumaire (Nov. 9, 1799), the other on Dec. 2, 1851. Both were undoubtedly the real choice of the people; both really desired the prosperity of France: but the younger man was more genuine, more kindly, more human than the elder one. The uncle surrounded himself with "mighty men, men of renown,"—great marshals, great diplomatists, great statesmen. Louis Napoleon had not one man about him whom he could trust, either for honesty, ability, or personal devotion, unless, indeed, we except Count Walewski. All his life he had cherished his early ideas of the liberation of Italy, which he accomplished; of the resurrection of Poland, which he never found himself in a position to attempt; of the rectification of the frontier of France, which he in part accomplished by the attainment of Nice and Savoy; and, finally, his dream included the restoration to France of self-government, with order reconciled to liberty.

As early as January, 1867, the emperor was consulting, not only his friends, but his political opponents as to his scheme of transforming despotism into a parliamentary government. He wrote thus to M. Émile Ollivier, a leader of the liberal party in France:[1]—

[Footnote 1: Pierre di Lana.]

"Believe me, I am not pausing through indecision, nor through a vain infatuation as to my prerogatives; but my fear is of parting in this country, which is shaken by so many conflicting passions, with the means of re-establishing moral order, which is the essential basis of liberty. My embarrassment on the subject of a law of the Press is not how to find the power of repression, but how to define in a law what deserves repression. The most dangerous articles may escape repression, while the Page 225 most insignificant may provoke prosecution. This has always been the difficulty. Nevertheless, in order to strike the public mind by decisive measures, I should like to effect at one stroke what has been called the crowning of the edifice. I should like to do this at once and forever; for it is important to me, and it is above all important to the country.... I wish to advance firmly in a straight line, without oscillating to the right or left. You see that I have spoken to you with perfect frankness."

We also see in this letter one of Louis Napoleon's characteristics,—a fondness for taking people by surprise. Nearly everything he did was a surprise to the public, and yet it had long been maturing in his own mind.

The next time M. Ollivier saw the emperor he was told of his intention to grant the right of holding political meetings; the responsibility of cabinet ministers to the Chamber; and the almost entire freedom of the Press. The emperor added, with a smile: "I am making considerable concessions, and if my government immediately succeeded that of the First Empire, this would be acknowledged; but since I came after parliamentary governments, my concessions will be considered small."

The emperor's experiment was a failure. The moment restraint was taken off, and the French had liberty of speech and freedom of the Press, they became like boys released from school and its strict discipline. The brutal excesses of language in the Parisian newspapers, the fierceness of their attacks upon the Government, and the shamelessness of their slander, alarmed the emperor and the best of his personal adherents, who had been by no means supporters of his policy. But though the experiment gave signs of never being likely to succeed, and no one seemed pleased with the new system, the emperor persevered. He refused to withdraw his reforms; he declined to make what children call "an Indian gift" to his people: but the effect of the divided counsels by which he was embarrassed was that these reforms were accepted by the public merely as experiments, to be tried during good behavior, and not as the basis of a new system definitively entered upon.

Page 226 All through the year 1869 the difficulties of the course which the emperor adopted grew greater and greater. The emancipated Press was rampant. It knew no pity and no decency. Its articles on the emperor's failing health (which he insisted upon reading) were cruel in the extreme. Terrible anxieties for the future must have haunted him. If his project for self-government in France must prove a failure, when he was dead, what then? Could a child and a woman govern as he had done by a despotic will? He had done so in his days of health and strength; but events now seemed to intimate that his government had been a failure rather than a success.

Lord Palmerston, writing from Paris in Charles X.'s time, said: "Bonaparte in the last years of his reign crushed every one else, both in politics and war. He allowed no one to think and act but himself."

Somewhat the same remark could be applied to the Third Napoleon. But Napoleon I. was a great administrator as well as a great general; his activity was inexhaustible, he corresponded with everybody, he looked after everything, he knew whether he was well or ill served; and his mode of obtaining power did not hinder his availing himself of the best talent in France. The case of his nephew was the reverse of this. His highest quality was his tenacity of purpose, and his disposition was inclined to kindly tolerance, even of pecuniary greed and slipshod service. He could rouse himself to great exertion; but in the later days of Imperialism, pain and his decaying physical powers had rendered him inert; moreover, in his general habits he had always been indolent and pleasure-loving. In carrying out the coup d'état nine tenths of the public men in France had been subjected to humiliations and indignities, by which they were permanently outraged, and a host of co-conspirators and adventurers had acquired claims upon the emperor that it was not safe to disregard. Places and money were distributed among them with reckless profusion, and many a shady money transaction, throwing discredit on some men high in favor with the emperor, was passed over, to avoid exposure.

Page 227 On the other hand, the emperor improved Paris till he made it the most beautiful city in the world. It was his aim to open wide streets through the old crowded quarters where revolution hid itself, hatching plots and crimes. He provided fresh air and drainage. He turned the Bois de Boulogne from a mere wild wood into the magnificent pleasure-ground of a great city. He completed the Louvre, and demolished the straggling, hideous buildings which disfigured the Carrousel in Louis Philippe's time. The working population, which his improvements drove out of the Faubourg Saint Antoine emigrated to high and healthy quarters in Montmartre and Belleville, where a beautiful park was laid out for them. No part of Paris escaped these improvements, though it took immense sums to complete them. But while their good results will be permanent, their immediate effect was to raise rents and make the increased cost of living burdensome to people of small incomes. The work brought also into Paris an enormous population of masons, carpenters, and day-laborers,—a population which was a good deal like the monster in the fairy tale, which had to be fed each day with the best; for if once it became hungry or dissatisfied, it might devour the man of science who had brought it into being.

Still, the French are ungrateful to Napoleon III. when they forget how much they are indebted to him for the extension of their commerce, the growth of their railroads, the improvement of their cities, and above all for his attention to sanitary science and to agriculture.

When he came to the throne, every traveller through France was struck by the poor breeds of swine, sheep, and cattle; the slovenly system of cultivation, the wide waste lands, the poor implements for farming, and the want of drainage. In his exile the emperor had lived much with English landowners, and he endeavored more than anything else to improve agriculture. He spent great sums of money himself in model farms for the purpose of showing how things could be done. But while commercial, agricultural, and manufacturing prosperity increased in France,

Page 228

so also did the cost of living; and the cry, "Put money in thy purse!" found its echo in the hearts of all men in all classes of society. Speculation of every kind ran rampant, and by the year 1869 the cost of the improvements in Paris alone became greater than France could patiently bear.

Personally, Louis Napoleon had strong sympathy with the working-classes, and was always seeking to benefit them. He favored co-operative societies; he was planning, when he fell, a system of state annuities to disabled or to aged workmen. He abolished passports between France and England, and also the French workman's character-book, or livret, which by law he had been compelled to have always at hand.

In the midst of the emperor's other perplexities, there came, during the first days of 1870, a most damaging occurrence connected with his own family,—an occurrence with which the emperor had no more to do than Louis Philippe had had with the Praslin murder; but it helped to impair the remaining prestige which clung to the name of Bonaparte.

Prince Pierre Bonaparte, grandson of Lucien, was a dissolute and irregular character. His cousin, the emperor, had repeatedly paid his debts and given him, as he did to every one connected with the name of Bonaparte, large sums of money. At last Prince Pierre's conduct grew so bad that this help ceased. Then he threatened his cousin; but the emperor would not even buy an estate he owned in Corsica. Prince Pierre went back, therefore, to the cradle of his family, and there got into a fierce quarrel with an opposition member of the Chamber of Deputies. The deputy, like a true Corsican, nourished revenge. He waited till he went up to Paris, and there laid his grievances against the emperor's cousin before his fellow deputies of the opposition. They at once made it a party affair. On Jan. 2, 1870,—the day the reformed Chamber of Deputies was opened,—two journalists of Paris, M. de Tourvielle and M. Victor Noir, went armed to Pierre Bonaparte's house at Auteuil to carry him a challenge. They found the Page 229 prince in a room where he kept a curious collection of weapons. He was a coarse man, with an ungovernable temper. High words were exchanged. Victor Noir slapped the prince in the face, and the prince, seizing a pistol, shot him dead. He then turned on M. de Tourvielle; but the latter had time to draw a sword from his sword-cane, and stood armed. Victor Noir's funeral was made the occasion of an immense republican demonstration, and M. Rochefort reviled the emperor and all his family in the newspaper he edited, "La Lanterne," calling upon Frenchmen to make an end of the Bonapartes.

Prince Pierre was tried for murder, and acquitted; Rochefort was tried for seditious libel, and condemned. It was an ominous opening for the new Chamber. The emperor had been most anxious that it should contain no deputies violently opposed to his new policy, and the elections had been scandalously manipulated in the interest of his dynasty.

Thiers complained bitterly to an Englishman, who visited him, of the undisguised tampering with voters in this election. He said,—

"The Government pretends to believe in a Chamber elected by universal suffrage, and yet dares not trust the votes of the electors; but mark my words, this tampering with an election is for the last time. What will succeed the Empire, I know not. God grant it may not be our country's ruin! But the state of things under which we live cannot last long. It is incumbent on honest men to lay before the emperor the state of the country, which his ministers do their best to keep from him. For a long time I kept silent,—it was no use to knock one's head against a wall; but now we have revolution staring us in the face, as the alternative with the Empire."

As the little man said this, we are told that the fire in his eyes gleamed through his spectacles; and as he walked about the room, he seemed to grow taller and taller.[1]

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine.]

The new constitutional ministry, into whose hands the Page 230 emperor proposed to resign despotic power and to rule thenceforward as constitutional sovereign, had for its chief M. Émile Ollivier; Marshal Le Bœuf (made marshal on the field of Magenta) was the Minister of War.

The debates in the Chamber were all stormy. The opposition might not be numerous, but it was fierce and determined. It scoffed at the idea of France being free when elections were tampered with to sustain the Government; and finally things came to such a pass that the emperor resolved to play again his tromp-card, and to call a plébiscite to say whether the French people approved of him and wished to continue his dynasty. They were to vote simply Yes or No.

There was not such open tampering this time with the vote as there had been in the election of the deputies, but all kinds of Government influences were brought to bear on prefects, maires, and other official personages, especially in the villages. The result was that 7,250,000 Frenchmen voted Yes, and one and a half million, No. But to the emperor's intense surprise and mortification, and in spite of all precautions, there were 42,000 Noes from the army. It was a terrible discovery to the emperor that there was disaffection among his soldiers. Promotion, many men believed, had for some years been distributed through favoritism. The men had little confidence in their officers, the officers complained loudly of their men. A dashing exploit in Algeria made up for irregularities of discipline. Even the staff officers were deficient in geography, and the stories that afterwards came to light of the way in which the War Department collected worthless stores, while serviceable ones existed only on paper, seem almost incredible. Yet when war was declared, Émile Ollivier said that he went into it with a light heart, and Marshal Le Bœuf was reported to have told the emperor that he would not find so much as one button missing on his soldiers' gaiters.

The discovery that the army was not to be depended on, and needed a war of glory to put it in good humor with itself Page 231 and with its emperor, decided Napoleon III. to enter precipitately into the Franco-Prussian war while he still had health enough to share in it. Besides this, a struggle with Germany was inevitable, and he dared not leave it to his successor. Then, too, if successful,—and he never doubted of success,—all opposition at home would be crushed, and the prestige of his dynasty would be doubled, especially if he could, by a brilliant campaign, give France the frontier of the Rhine, at least to the borders of Belgium. This would indeed be a glorious crowning of his reign.

He believed in himself, he believed in his star, he believed in his own generalship, he believed that his army was ready (though his army and navy never had been ready for any previous campaign), and he believed, truly enough, that the prospect of glory, aggrandizement, and success would be popular in France.

Spain was at that time in want of a king. Several princes were proposed, and the most acceptable one would have been the Duc de Montpensier; but Napoleon III., who dreaded the rivalry of the Orleans family, gave the Spaniards to understand that he would never consent to see a prince of that family upon the Spanish throne. Then the Spaniards took the matter into their own hands, and possibly stimulated by a wish to make a choice disagreeable to the French emperor, selected a prince of the Prussian royal family, Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern. The Emperor Napoleon objected at once. To have Prussia on the eastern frontier of France, and Prussian influence beyond the Pyrenees, was worse in his eyes than the selection of Montpensier; and it was certainly a matter for diplomatic consideration. M. Benedetti, the French minister at Berlin, was instructed to take a very haughty tone with the king of Prussia, and to say that if he permitted Prince Leopold to accept the Spanish crown, it would be a cause of war between France and Prussia. The king of Prussia replied substantially that he would not be threatened, and would leave Prince Leopold to do as he pleased. Prompted, however, no doubt, by his sovereign, Prince Leopold declined the Spanish Page 232 throne. This was intimated to M. Benedetti, and here the matter might have come to an end. But the Emperor Napoleon, anxious for a casus belli, chose to think that the king of Prussia, in making his announcement to his ambassador, had not been sufficiently civil.

A cabinet council was held at the Tuileries. The empress was now admitted to cabinet councils, that she might be prepared for a regency that before long might arrive. She and Marshal Le Bœuf were vehement for war. The populace, proud of their fine army, shouted with one voice, "A Berlin!" and on July 15, 1870, war was declared.

Let us relieve the sad closing of this chapter, which began so auspiciously with the emperor and empress in the height of their prosperity, by telling of an expedition in which the glory of the empress as a royal lady culminated.

The Suez Canal being completed, its opening was to be made an international affair of great importance. The work was the work of French engineers, led by M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, in every way a most remarkable man.

England looked coldly on the enterprise. To use the vulgar phrase both literally and metaphorically, she "took no stock" in the Suez Canal, and she sent no royal personage, nor other representative to the opening ceremonies; the only Englishman of official rank who was present was an admiral, whose flag-ship was in the harbor of Port Saïd.

The Emperor Napoleon was wholly unable to leave France at a time so critical; but he sent his fair young empress in his stead. He stayed at Saint-Cloud, and took advantage of her absence to submit to a severe surgical operation. The empress went first to Constantinople, where Sultan Abdul Aziz gave a beautiful fête in her honor, at which she appeared, lovely and all glorious, in amber satin and diamonds. She afterwards proceeded to Egypt as the guest of the khedive, entering Port Saïd Nov. 16, 1869, and returning to Paris on the 5th of December.

Fig. 13

The opening of the canal across the isthmus of Suez, Page 233 which was in a manner to unite the Eastern with the Western world, caused the eyes of all Christendom to be fixed on Egypt,—the venerable great-grandmother of civilization. The great work had been completed, in spite of Lord Palmerston's sincere conviction, which he lost no opportunity of proclaiming to the world, that it was impossible to connect the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. The sea-level, he said, was not the same in the two seas so that the embankments could not be sustained, and drift-sands from the desert would fill the work up rapidly from day to day. Ismaïl Pasha, the khedive of Egypt, had made the tour of Europe, inviting everybody to the opening, from kings and kaisers, empresses and queens, down to members of chambers of commerce and marine insurance companies. Great numbers were to be present, and the Empress Eugénie was to be the Cleopatra of the occasion. But suddenly the khedive was threatened with a serious disappointment: the sultan, his suzerain, wanted to join in the festivities; and if he were present, he must be the chief personage, the khedive would be thrust into a vassal's place, and all his glory, all his pleasure in his fête, would be gone.

The ancient Egyptians, whose attention was much absorbed in waterworks and means of irrigation, had, as far back as the days of Sesostris, conceived the idea of communication between the Nile and the Red Sea. Traces of the canal that they attempted still remain. Pharaoh Necho, in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah, revived the project. Darius and one of the Ptolemies completed the work, but when Egypt sank back into semi-barbarism, the canal was neglected and forgotten. It does not appear, however, that the Pharaohs ever thought of connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. The canal of Sesostris and of Pharaoh Necho was a purely local affair, affecting Egyptian commerce alone.

Some modern Egyptian engineers seem first to have conceived the project of a Suez canal; but the man who accomplished it was the engineer and statesman, M. de Page 234 Lesseps. In spite of all manner of discouragements, he brought the canal to completion, supported throughout by the influence and authority of the khedive. The first thing to be done was to supply the laborers and the new town of Ismaïlia with drinking water, by means of a narrow freshwater canal from the Nile. Till then all fresh water had been brought in tanks from Cairo. Next, a town—called Port Saïd, after the khedive who had first favored the plan of the canal—was built on the Mediterranean. The canal was to run a straight southerly course to Suez. At Ismaïlia, the new city, it would connect with the railroad to Cairo; between Port Saïd and Ismaïlia it would pass through two swampy lakes.

In seven years Port Saïd became a town of ten thousand inhabitants. The total length of the canal is about ninety miles, but more than half of it passes through the lakes, which had to be dredged. The width of the canal is a little over one hundred yards, its depth twenty-six feet. About sixty millions of dollars were expended on its construction and the preliminary works that it entailed,—these last all tending to the benefit and prosperity of Egypt.

The grand opening took place Nov. 16, 1869. The sultan was not present; he had been persuaded out of his fancy to see the sight, and the khedive was left in peace as master of ceremonies. The Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria was there in his yacht, and the Empress Eugénie, the "bright particular star" of the occasion, was on board the French war-steamer "L'Aigle." As "L'Aigle" steamed slowly into the crowded port, all the bands played,—

"Partant pour la Syrie,
    Le brave et jeune Dunois,"

the air of which had been composed by Queen Hortense, the mother of the emperor, so that it was dignified during his reign into a national air.

That afternoon there was a religious ceremony, which all the crowned heads and other great personages were Page 235 expected to attend. Two of the sovereigns or heirs-apparent present were Roman Catholics, one was a Protestant, and one a Mohammedan. The Crescent and the Cross for the first time overshadowed worshippers joining in one common prayer. The empress appeared, leaning on the arm of the Emperor of Austria. She wore a short pale gray silk, with deep white Brussels lace arranged in paniers and flounces. Her hat and veil were black, and round her throat was a black velvet ribbon. The Mohammedan pontiff who officiated on the occasion was understood to be a man of extraordinary sanctity, brought from a great distance to lend solemnity to the occasion. He was followed by the chaplain of the empress, a stout, handsome Hungarian prelate named M. Bauer.[1]

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine.]

Even up to the morning of November 17, when the passage of the fleet was to be made through the canal, there were persons at Port Saïd who doubted if it would get through. The ships-of-war had been directed to enter the canal first, and there was to be between each ship an interval of a quarter of an hour. They were ordered to steam at the rate of five miles an hour. "L'Aigle" entered first. "La Pelouse," another French ship, had the greatest draught of water; namely, eighteen or nineteen feet.

The scenery from the Suez Canal was not interesting. Lakes, then undrained, stretched upon either side; the banks of the canal being the only land visible. But as evening fell, and the sun sank, a rich purple light, with its warm tones, overspread everything, until the moon rose, touching the waters with her silvery sheen. Before this, however, the foremost ships in the procession had safely reached Ismaïlia. There the khedive had erected a new palace in which to review his guests. They numbered about six thousand, and the behavior of many of them did little credit to civilization.

The khedive had arranged an exhibition of Arab horsemanship and of throwing the Jereed; but the sand was so Page 236 deep that the horses could not show themselves to advantage. The empress, wearing a large leghorn hat and yellow veil, rode on a camel; and when an Italian in the crowd shouted to her roughly, "Lean back, or you will fall off, heels over head," the graceful dignity with which she smiled, and accepted the advice, won the hearts of all beholders.

That night a great ball was given by the khedive in his new palace. "It was impossible," says an English gentleman, "to overrate the gracious influence of the empress's presence. The occasion, great as it was, would have lost its romance if she had not been there. She it was who raised the spirit of chivalry, subdued the spirit of strife, enmity, and intrigue among rival men, and over commerce, science, and avarice spread the gauzy hues of poetry."

Alas! poor empress. Ten months later, she was hurrying as a fugitive on board an English yacht on her way into exile, having passed through anxieties and griefs that had streaked her hair with gray. Even in the midst of her personal triumphs in the East, there were clouds on the horizon of her life which she could see darkening and increasing. A few days before the fêtes of the opening of the canal, she writes to her husband, who, though unfit for exertion, had gone into Paris on some state occasion,—

"I was very anxious about you yesterday, thinking of you in Paris without me; but I see by your telegram that everything passed off well. When we observe other nations, we can better perceive the injustice of our own. I think, however, in spite of all, that you must not be discouraged, but continue in the course you have inaugurated. It is right to keep faith touching concessions that have been granted. I hope that your speech to the Chamber will be in this spirit. The more strength may be wanted in the future, the more important it is to prove to the country that we act upon ideas, and not only on expedients. I speak thus while far away, and ignorant of what has passed since my departure, but I am thoroughly convinced that strength Page 237 lies in the orderly sequence of ideas. I do not like surprises, and I am persuaded that a coup d'état cannot be made twice in one reign. I am talking in the dark, and to one already of my opinion, and who knows more than I can know; but I must say something, if only to prove, what you know, that my heart is with you both, and that if in calm days my spirit loves to roam in space, it is with you both I love to be in times of care or trouble."



As soon as relations became "strained" between France and Germany, according to the term used in diplomacy, the king of Prussia ordered home all his subjects who had found employment in France, especially those in Alsace and Lorraine.[1] Long before this, those provinces had been overrun with photographers, pedlers, and travelling workmen, commissioned to make themselves fully acquainted with the roads, the by-paths, the resources of the villages, and the character of the rural officials. In the case of France, however, though all the reports concerning military stores looked well on paper, the old guns mounted on the frontier fortresses were worthless, and the organization of the army was so imperfect that scarcely more than two hundred thousand troops could be sent to defend the French frontier from Switzerland to Luxemburg; while Germany, with an army that could be mobilized in eleven days, was ready by the 1st of August to pour five hundred thousand men across the Rhine. The emperor placed great reliance on his mitrailleuses,—a new engine of war that would fire a volley of musketry at once, but which, though horribly murderous, has not proved of great value in actual warfare. Towards the Rhine were hurried soldiers, recruits, cannon, horses, artillery, ammunition, wagons full of biscuit and all manner of munitions of war. The roads between Strasburg and Belfort were blocked up, and in the disorder nobody seemed to know what should be done. Every one was trying to get Page 239 orders. The telegraph lines were reserved for the Government. Quartermasters were roaming about in search of their depots, colonels were looking for their regiments, generals for their brigades or divisions. There were loud outcries for salt, sugar, coffee, bacon, and bridles. Maps of Germany as far as the shores of the Baltic were being issued to soldiers who, alas! were never to pass their own frontier. But while this was the situation near the seat of war, in other parts of France the scene was different, especially in Brest and other seaports. These towns were crowded with soldiers and sailors; the streets were filled with half-drunken recruits bawling patriotic sentiments in tipsy songs. And now, for the first time since the Empire came into existence, might be heard the unaccustomed strains of the "Marseillaise." It had been long suppressed in France; but when war became imminent, it was encouraged for the purpose of exciting military ardor.

[Footnote 1: Erckmann-Chatrian, La Plébiscite.]

Every day in the provincial towns the war fever grew fiercer. The bugle sounded incessantly in the streets of any place where there were troops in garrison. Regiment followed regiment on its way into Paris, changing quarters or marching to depots to receive equipments. Orderlies galloped madly about, and heavy ammunition wagons lumbered noisily over the pavements. Everybody shouted "A Berlin," and took up the chorus of the "Marseillaise." The post-offices and telegraph-offices were crowded with soldiers openly dictating their messages to patient officials who put them into shape, and it was said that nearly every telegram contained the words, "Please send me..." Alas, poor fellows! it is probable that nothing sent them in reply was ever received.[1]

[Footnote 1: I am indebted for much in this chapter to a private journal.]

Parisians or residents in Paris all believed at that time in the prestige of the French army; only here and there a German exile muttered in his beard something about Sadowa.

On July 27 all Paris assembled on the Boulevards to see Page 240 the Garde Impériale take its departure for the frontier. This Imperial Guard was a choice corps created by Napoleon III. at the outset of the Crimean War. It was a force numbering nominally twenty thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry. It was a very popular corps, and the war with Germany was popular; consequently the march from its barracks to the railroad station was one continued triumph. At every halt the Parisians pressed into the ranks with gifts of money, wine, and cigars. "Vive l'armée!" shouted the multitude. "A Berlin!" responded the troops; and now and then, as the bands struck up the "Marseillaise," the population and the troops burst out in chorus with the solemn, spirit-stirring words.

At the head of this brilliant host rode Marshal Le Bœuf, who was minister of war and military tutor to the Prince Imperial. After the departure of the main body of the corps, large detachments of cavalry and artillery which belonged to it were expected to follow; but they remained behind in the provinces, because Lyons, Marseilles, and Algeria, all centres of the revolutionary spirit, could not, it was found, be left without armed protection. Therefore only a portion of the crack corps of the French army went forward to the frontier,—a fact never suspected by the public until events, a few weeks later, made it known.

Paris was jubilant. The theatres especially became centres of patriotic demonstrations. At the Grand Opera House, Auber's "Massaniello" (called in France the "Muette de Portici") was announced. For many years its performance had been interdicted under the Second Empire, the story being one of heroic revolt. The time had come, however, when its ardent patriotism entitled it to resuscitation. Faure, the most remarkable baritone singer of the period, suddenly, at the beginning of the second act, which opens with a chorus of fishermen inciting each other to resist oppression, appeared upon the stage bearing the French flag. The chorus ranged themselves to right and left as he strode forward and waved the tricolor above the footlights. The house broke into wild uproar, Page 241 cheer after cheer rose for the flag, for the singer, for France.

"The violence of the applause," says one who was present, "continued until all were breathless; then a sudden silence preceded the great event of the evening. In clear, firm tones, Faure launched forth the first notes of the 'Marseillaise;' and as the first verse ended, he bounded forward, and unfurling the flag to its full length and breadth, he waved it high above his head as he electrified the audience with the cry, 'Aux armes citoyens!' and subsequently, when in the last verse he sank upon one knee, and folding the standard to his heart, raised his eyes towards heaven, he drew all hearts with him; tears flowed, hand grasped hand, and deeply solemn was the intonation of the volunteer chorus following the call to arms!

"The month of July was drawing to a close when the emperor took his departure for Metz, where he was to assume the post of generalissimo. With him went gayly the young Prince Imperial, then fourteen years old. Their starting-point was the small rustic summer-house in the park of Saint-Cloud, the termination of a miniature branch railroad connecting with the great lines of travel. There the father and son parted from the empress, who removed the same day to the Tuileries, where she administered the imperial government under the title of empress-regent.

"It would have been injudicious for the emperor at this time to risk a public departure from Paris. The Parisians were so full of confidence and enthusiasm that he might have received an inconvenient ovation in advance."

Skirmishing had been going on along the frontier between the French and German outposts since July 21. On August 2 the campaign began in earnest. After luncheon on that day, the emperor and the Prince Imperial set out by rail from Metz, and returned to Metz to dinner, having invaded German territory and opened the war. They had alighted at Forbach, and proceeded thence to make a reconnaissance into the enemy's territory near Saarbrück,—a small town of two thousand inhabitants, where, strange to say, an International Peace Congress had held its session not many months before. This place had an ordinary frontier garrison, and lay two and a half miles Page 242 beyond the boundary of France. General Frossard, under the emperor's direction and supervision, led on his men to attack the place. The first gun was fired by the Prince Imperial, who here, as his father's telegram that night reported to the empress, received his "baptism of fire." The garrison returned the fire, and then, having lost two officers and seventy-two men, it retired, leaving the French in possession of the heights above the town. Poor Prince Imperial! Some harsh lines concerning his first exploit were published in the London "Spectator:"—

"'How jolly, papa! how funny!
    How the blue men tumble about!
  Huzza! there's a fellow's head off,—
    How the dark red blood spouts out!
  And look, what a jolly bonfire!—
    Wants nothing but colored light!
  Oh, papa, burn a lot of cities,
    And burn the next one at night!'
      "'Yes, child, it is operatic;
    But don't forget, in your glee,
  That for your sake this play is playing,
    That you may be worthy of me.
  They baptized you in Jordan water,—
    Baptized as a Christian, I mean,—
  But you come of the race of Cæsar,
    And thus have their baptisms been.
  Baptized in true Cæsar fashion,
    Remember, through all your years,
  That the font was a burning city,
    And the water was widows' tears,'"

When these lines were written, how little could any man have foreseen the fate of the poor lad, lying bloody and stark on a hillside of South Africa, deserted by his comrades, and above all by a degenerate descendant of Sir Walter Raleigh, who should have risked his life to defend his charge!

The day after the attack on Saarbrück compact masses of Germans were moving across the frontier into France, and the next day (August 4), a division of MacMahon's army corps was surprised at Wissembourg, while their commander Page 243 was at Metz in conference with the emperor. The French troops were cut to pieces, and the fugitives spread themselves all over the country. The battle had been fought on ground covered with vineyards, and the movements of the French cavalry had been impeded by the vines. In this battle the French were without artillery, but they took eight cannon from the enemy. The Prussians, however, being speedily reinforced, recovered their advantage and gained a complete victory. Wissembourg, a small town in Alsace, was bombarded and set on fire. There seemed no officer among the defeated French to restore order. They had never anticipated such a rout, and were, especially the cavalry, utterly demoralized.

The French army was divided into seven army corps, the German into twelve. Each German army corps was greatly stronger in men, and incomparably better officered and equipped, than the French. The Germans began the war with nearly a million men; the French with little more than two hundred thousand on the frontier, though their army was five hundred thousand strong on the official records. The habit of the War Office had been to let rich men who were drawn for the conscription pay four hundred francs for a substitute, which substitute was seldom purchased, the money going into the pockets of dishonest officials.

The two hundred thousand French were stretched in a thin line from Belgium to the mountains of Dauphiné. A German army corps could break this line at almost any point; and throughout the whole campaign the French suffered from the lack of reliable information as to the movements of the enemy.

On August 6, two days after the defeat at Wissembourg, the battle of Wörth, or Reichshofen, was fought between the German corps d'armée under the Prussian Crown Prince and the corps of MacMahon, which was completely defeated, and only enabled to leave the field of battle in retreat rather than rout, by brilliant charges of cavalry. The French lost six mitrailleuses, thirty guns, and four thousand unwounded prisoners. On the same day the German Page 244 reserves retook Saarbrück, and put to flight General Frossard's division. After these reverses Napoleon III. proposed to retreat on Paris and to cover the capital. This also was the counsel of MacMahon; but the empress-regent opposed it strongly, considering it a movement that must prove fatal to the dynasty. She even refused to receive back her son. And indeed it did not seem unlikely that the good people of Paris, who ten days before had cheered clamorously their beloved emperor, might have tom him in pieces, had he come back to them after such a succession of disasters.

On the 7th of August, the very day after the battle of Worth, while MacMahon was retreating before the victorious army of the Prussian Crown Prince, the Parisians were made victims of an extraordinary deception. A great battle was reported, in which the Crown Prince had been made prisoner, together with twenty-six thousand of his men.

All Paris turned into the streets to exult over this victory; everyone rushed in the direction of the Bourse, where details of the great victory were said to have been posted. In every street, from every house, people were summoned to hang out flags and banners. An excited crowd filled up the Bourse, many men clinging to the railings, all shouting, singing, and embracing each other. No one for a long time had any clear idea what the rejoicing was about, yet the crowd went on shouting and singing choruses, waving hats, and reiterating the "Marseillaise." The carriage of Madame Marie Sasse, the prima donna, who was on her way to a rehearsal at the Grand Opera House, was stopped, and she was requested to sing the "Marseillaise." She stood up on the seat of her carriage and complied at once. "There was profound silence," wrote a gentleman who was in the crowd, "when she gave the first notes of the 'Marseillaise;' but all Paris seemed to take up the chorus after each stanza. There was uproarious applause. The last verse was even more moving than when Faure had sung it, on account of the novelty of the surroundings and the spontaneous feeling of the people. There Page 245 were real tears in the singer's eyes, and her voice trembled with genuine emotion as she came to the thrilling appeal to Liberté."

At the same moment Capoul also was singing the "Marseillaise" in another street, and in the Rue Richelieu the mob, having stopped a beer cart and borrowed some glasses from a restaurant, were drinking healths to the army and the emperor.

"All this time," says the American, who mingled in the crowd and shouted with the rest in his excitement, "it never occurred to me to doubt the accuracy of the news that had so stirred up Paris; for the newspapers on the preceding days had prepared us to expect something of the kind. All at once, upon the Boulevard, I was aware of a violent altercation going on between a respectable-looking man and a number of infuriated bystanders. He seemed to be insisting that the whole story of the victory was untrue, and that despatches had been received announcing heavy disasters. I saw that unlucky citizen hustled about, and finally collared and led off by a policeman, the people pursuing him with cries of 'Prussian!' But some time later in the day some persons in a cab drove down the Boulevards with a white banner, inscribed: THE AUTHOR OF THE FALSE NEWS IS ARRESTED! This, however, was not the case, for the news was never traced to any person."

The mob as soon as it began to believe that it had been the victim of some stockjobbing operators, rushed to the Bourse, determined to pull everything to pieces; but the military were there beforehand, and it had to content itself with requiring all householders to pull down the flags which two hours before it had insisted must be hung out.

The Parisians were not easily appeased after this cruel deception, and took their revenge by spreading damaging reports about the Government of the regency, especially accusing the ministers of basely suppressing bulletins from the army, that they might gamble on the stock-exchange. The chief of the cabinet, Émile Ollivier, was very nearly mobbed; but he pacified the people by a speech made from the balcony of his residence. He was at the time Page 246 really unaware that more than one defeat had been sustained.

Hour after hour alarming reports kept coming in; and at last, on August 9, the fatal news of three successive defeats was posted all over the city. Soon an ominous message, sent by Napoleon III., revealed the full horror of the situation: "Hasten preparations for the defence of Paris."

The greatest dismay prevailed. The Chambers were summoned to an evening session. The legislators were guarded by cavalry from the mob which surged round the Chamber. Ollivier and his cabinet were forced to resign, and a new cabinet was hastily installed in office, calling itself the Ministry of National Defence. Its head was Count Montauban, a man seventy-five years old, who had gained the title of Count Palikao by his notorious campaign in China in 1860, when he sacked the summer palace at Pekin. M. Thiers had pronounced him far more of a soldier than a statesman. He was in command of the fourth army corps at Lyons when summoned by the empress-regent to take up the reins of government; but in the course of the unvaried succession of misfortunes which made up the history of the French arms during the month of August, the public statements of Palikao proved as unreliable as those of his predecessor. His favorite way of meeting inquiries was to say oracularly: "If Paris knew what I know, the city would be illuminated."

Confidence increased after the empress-regent had proclaimed a levée en masse. There were no arms for those who responded to the call, and most of them had to be sent back to their homes; but it was considered certain that the mere idea of a general call to arms would intimidate the Prussians. Indeed, there was a popular delusion, shared even by foreigners, that the Prussian soldiery, on their march to Paris, would be cut to pieces by the peasantry. The conduct of the peasantry proved exactly the reverse of belligerent. The penalties inflicted by the invaders for irregular warfare, and the profits made by individuals who remained neutral, were cleverly calculated to Page 247 render the peasantry, not only harmless, but actually useful to the enemy.

Meantime the French were rapidly evacuating Alsace, and preparing to make their stand on the Moselle. General Failly's corps of thirty thousand men, which had failed to come up in time to help MacMahon at Wörth, were in full retreat, without exchanging a shot with the enemy.

The Germans continued to march steadily on. The country was systematically requisitioned for supplies. The maire or other high official of each village was informed twenty-four hours beforehand how many men he was expected to provide with rations; namely, to each man daily, 1-1/2 lb. bread, 1 lb. Meat, 1/4 lb. coffee, five cigars, or their equivalent in tobacco, a pint of wine or a quart of beer, and horse feed. If these demands were not complied with, he was assured that the village would be set on fire; and after a few examples had been made, the villagers became so intimidated that they furnished all that was required of them.

Here is a description of one night's work done by a Prussian general. It is taken from a work by Erckmann-Chatrian;[1] but those graphic writers took all their descriptions from the mouths of Alsatian peasants who had been eye-witnesses of the scenes which they described:—

[Footnote 1: La Plébiscite.]

"The first thing the Prussian commander did on entering his chamber in a cottage where he had quarters for the night, was to make three or four soldiers turn out every article of furniture. Then he spread out on the floor an enormous map of the country. He took off his boots and lay down on the map flat on his stomach. Then he called in six or seven officers, all captains or lieutenants. Each man pulled out a small map. The general called to one of them by name: 'Have you got the road from here to Metting?' 'Yes, General.' 'Name all the places between here and there.' Then the officer, without hesitation, told the names of all the villages, farms, streams, bridges, and woods, the turnings of the roads, the very cow-paths. The general followed him on the large map with his finger. 'That's Page 248 all right. Take twenty men and go as far as St. Jean by such a road. You will reconnoitre. If you want any assistance, send me word.' And so on, one by one, to all the others."

Such was the system and order of the Germans; while the French, full of amazement at their own defeat, unled, unofficered, and disorganized, are thus described by Edmond About as he saw them entering Saverne after the disastrous day at Wörth.

"There were cuirassiers," he says, "without cuirasses, fusileers without guns, horsemen on foot, and infantry on horseback. The roads taken by the army in its flight were blocked by trains of wagons loaded with provisions and clothing, and the woods were filled with stragglers wandering about in a purposeless way. Among the spoils of that day which fell into the hands of the Prussians were several railroad freight-cars loaded with Paris confectionery: and two days after the battle it was easier to obtain a hundredweight of bonbons at Forbach than a loaf of bread."

All this happened in one week, from August 2 to August 6. During this week the emperor stayed at Metz, having been implored by his generals to keep away from the army.

A week later, Strasburg was besieged. MacMahon, the remnants of whose corps had been driven out of Alsace by the Crown Prince, was endeavoring to effect a juncture with the army corps of De Failly.

The object of the emperor and Marshal MacMahon was to concentrate as large a force as possible before the very strongly fortified city of Metz. But as soon as they reached Metz the armies of General Steinmetz and Prince Frederic Charles, two hundred and fifty thousand strong, began to close in upon them. There seemed no safety but in further retreat. The emperor wanted to give up Lorraine, and to concentrate all his forces in an intrenched camp at Châlons; but advices from Paris warned him that a revolt would break out in the capital if he did so. He therefore resigned his position as commander-in-chief to Marshal Bazaine. He was coldly received in the camp at Page 249 Châlons, and his presence with several thousand men as a body-guard was an impediment to military operations. He was therefore virtually dropped out of the army, and from August 18, when this news was known in Paris, his authority in France was practically at an end. On the same day (August 18) Bazaine's army was driven into Metz after the battle of Gravelotte, at which battle the French, though defeated, distinguished themselves by their bravery. Bazaine had one hundred and seventy thousand men with him when he retired behind the walls of Metz. Here he was closely besieged till October 27, when he surrendered.

The news that reached Paris of these events (just one month after the emperor had signed the declaration of war) not only resulted in his practical deposition, but caused a notoriously anti-Bonapartist general to be appointed military governor of the capital. Imperialism remained an empty name. France was without one ally, nor had the emperor one friend. Meantime Palikao, to appease the irritation of the public, continued to announce victory after victory. Of all his fantastic inventions, the most fantastic was one published immediately after Bazaine had shut himself up with his army in Metz. A despatch was published, and universally accepted with confidence and enthusiasm, announcing that three German army corps had been overthrown at the Quarries of Jaumont. There are no quarries at Jaumont, there were no Prussians anywhere near the spot, and none had been defeated; but the Parisians were well satisfied.

After the first panic caused by the despatch that Paris must prepare for defence, means were taken for provisioning the city. Clément Duvernois, an ex-radical, an ex-Bonapartist, and one of the members of the Ministry of Defence, gave ignorant and reckless orders for supplies, which, in spite of the gravity of the situation, amused the Parisians immensely.

Droves of cattle passed all day along the Boulevards, going to be pastured in the Bois de Boulogne, where they were tended by Gardes Mobiles from the rural districts. Page 250 The cattle, the camps, and the fortifications attracted crowds of curious spectators.

The tap of the drum was wellnigh incessant in the city; and while the enemy was drawing near, and bloody defeats followed each other in rapid succession, the Parisians seemed chiefly stimulated to write fresh libels in the newspapers, and to amuse each other with caricatures and satires.

Among other foolish measures was that of ordering all firemen from the departments up to Paris. They remained in the city a week, and were then sent home. In their absurd and heavy uniforms, and with nothing whatever to do, the poor country fellows presented a miserable appearance as they sat in rows along the curbstones of the avenues, with their helmets glittering in the August sun, "looking," as some one remarked, "like so many rare beetles on exhibition," the spectacle being all the more ludicrous from the extreme dejection of the innocent heroes.

Troops were always on the move. The Gardes Mobiles, formed into companies, were not wanted anywhere. Being too raw as yet for active service, they were transferred from one barrack to another, and were drilled in the open streets and in the public squares. The forts absorbed a number of them; others were employed as shepherds and drovers. The surplus was billeted on the citizens.

Towards the end of August there began to be a notion that the city was full of spies, and all suspected persons were called Prussians. The mania for spy-hunting became general, and was frequently very inconvenient to Americans and Englishmen. Germans in Paris, many of whom had intermarried with the French, naturally found themselves in a most unhappy situation. At first they were strictly forbidden to leave Paris; then suddenly they were ordered away, on three days' notice, under penalty of being treated as prisoners of war.

This decree affected eighty thousand persons in France, nearly all of whom were connected by family ties or business relations with the country of their adoption. The outcry raised by the English and German Press about this Page 251 summary expulsion procured some modification of the order,—not, however, without a protest from the radicals, who clamored for the rigor of the law. Mr. Washburne, the American minister, the only foreign ambassador who remained in Paris during the siege, had accepted the charge of these unhappy Germans, and heart-breaking scenes took place daily at the American Legation.

Soon after the defeats in the first week in August, Mr. Washburne had his last interview with the Empress Eugénie.

"She had evidently," he says, "passed a sleepless and agitated night, and was in great distress of mind. She at once began to speak of the terrible news she had received, and the effect it would have on the French people. I suggested to her that the news might not be quite so bad as was reported (alas! it was far worse), and that the consequences might in the end be far better than present circumstances indicated. I spoke to her about the first battle of Bull Run, and the defeat that the Union army had there suffered, which had only stimulated the country to greater exertions. She replied: 'I only wish the French in these respects were like you Americans; but I am afraid they will get too much discouraged, and give up too soon.'"[1]

[Footnote 1: Recollections of a Minister to France.]

All this time the "Figaro" was publishing articles that held out hopes of victory and flattered the self-confidence of the Parisians. Marshals MacMahon and Bazaine were represented as leading the enemy craftily into a snare, and the illusion was kept up that the Germans would be cut to pieces by the peasantry "before they could lay their sacrilegious hands," said Victor Hugo, "upon the Mecca of civilization." Instead of this, the Crown Prince's army was marching in pursuit of MacMahon's forces through the great plains of Champagne. MacMahon had some design of turning back, uniting with another army corps, and attacking the Prussians in the rear, thus hemming in part of their army between himself and the troops of Bazaine in Metz; but he seems to have been really in Page 252 the position of a pawn driven about a chess-board by an experienced player.

Continually retreating, the emperor, who was with MacMahon's army, at last found himself at Sedan, safe, as he hoped, for a brief breathing space, from the attacks of the two Prussian army corps which were following in his rear. He had been warned repeatedly that he must not return to Paris without a victory. "The language of reason," he remarked, "is no longer understood at the capital."

On Aug. 30, 1870, the retreating French were concentrated, or rather massed, under the walls of Sedan,[1] in a valley commonly called the Sink of Givonne. The army consisted of twenty-nine brigades, fifteen divisions, and four corps d'armée, numbering ninety thousand men.

[Footnote 1: Victor Hugo, Choses vues.]

"It was there," says Victor Hugo, "no one could guess what for, without order, without discipline, a mere crowd of men, waiting, as it seemed, to be seized by an immensely powerful hand. It seemed to be under no particular anxiety. The men who composed it knew, or thought they knew, that the enemy was far away. Calculating four leagues as a day's march, they believed the Germans to be at three days distance. The commanders, however, towards nightfall, made some preparations for safety. The whole army formed a sort of horse-shoe, its point turning towards Sedan. This disposition proved that its chiefs believed themselves in safety. The valley was one of those which the Emperor Napoleon used to call a 'bowl,' and which Admiral Van Tromp designated by a less polite name. No place could have been better calculated to shut in an army. Its very numbers were against it. Once in, if the way out were blocked, it could never leave it again. Some of the generals,—General Wimpfen among them—saw this, and were uneasy; but the little court around the emperor was confident of safety. 'At worst,' they said, 'we can always reach the Belgian frontier.' The commonest military precautions were neglected. The army slept soundly on the night of August 31. At the worst they believed themselves to have a line of retreat open to Mézières, a town on the frontier of Belgium. No cavalry reconnoissance was made that night; the guards were not doubled. The French believed themselves more than forty miles from the Page 253 German army. They behaved as if they thought that army unconcentrated and ill-informed, attempting vaguely several things at once, and incapable of converging on one point, namely, Sedan. They thought they knew that the column under the Prince of Saxony was marching upon Châlons, and that the Crown Prince of Prussia was marching upon Metz.

"But that night, while the French army, in fancied security, was sleeping at Sedan, this is what was passing among the enemy.

"By a quarter to two A. M. the army of the Prince of Saxony was on its march eastward, with orders not to fire a shot till five o'clock, and to make as little noise as possible. They marched without baggage of any kind. At the same hour another division of the Prussian army marched, with equal noiselessness, from another direction, on Sedan, while the Würtemburgers secured the road to Mézières, thereby cutting off the possibility of a retreat into Belgium.

"At the same moment, namely, five o'clock,—on all the hills around Sedan, at all points of the compass, appeared a dense, dark mass of German troops, with their commanders and artillery. Not one sound had been heard by the French army, not even an order. Two hundred and fifty thousand men were in a circle on the heights round the Sink of Givonne. They had come as stealthily and as silently as serpents. They were there when the sun rose, and the French army were prisoners."

The battle was one of artillery. The German guns commanded every part of the crowded valley. Indeed, the fight was simply a massacre. There was no hope for the French, though they fought bravely. Their best troops, the Garde Impériale, were with Bazaine at Metz. Marshal MacMahon was wounded very early in the day. The command passed first to General Ducrot, who was also disabled, and afterwards to Wimpfen, a brave African general who had hurried from Algeria just in time to take part in this disastrous day. He told the emperor that the only hope was for the troops to cut their way out of the valley; but the army was too closely crowded, too disorganized, to make this practicable. One Zouave regiment accomplished this feat, and reached Belgium.

Page 254 That night—the night of September 1—an aide-de-camp of the Emperor Napoleon carried this note to the camp of the king of Prussia:—

MONSIEUR MON FRÈRE,—Not having been able to die in midst of my troops, it only remains for me to place my sword in the hands of your Majesty.
  I am your Majesty's good brother,

The king of Prussia replied,—

MONSIEUR MON FRÈRE,—Regretting the circumstances under which we meet, I accept the sword of your Majesty, and I invite you to designate one of your officers, provided with full powers, to treat for the capitulation of the army which has so bravely fought under your command. On my side I have named General von Moltke for that purpose.
  I am your Majesty's good brother,

Before Sedan, Sept. 1, 1870.

"The next morning early, a carriage containing four French officers drove out from Sedan, and came into the German lines. The carriage had an escort of only three horsemen. When it had reached the Germans, one of its occupants put out his head and asked, in German, for Count von Bismarck? The Germans replied that he was at Donchéry. Thither the carriage dashed away. It contained the French emperor."

With Napoleon III. fell not only his own reputation as a ruler, but the glory of his uncle and the prestige of his name.

The fallen emperor and Bismarck met in a little house upon the banks of the Meuse. Chairs were brought out, and they talked in the open air. It was a glorious autumn morning. The emperor looked care-worn, as well he might. He wished to see the king of Prussia before the articles of capitulation were drawn up: but King William declined the interview. When the capitulation was signed, however, he drove over to visit the Page 255 captive emperor at a château where the latter had taken refuge.

Their interview was private; only the two sovereigns were present. The French emperor afterwards expressed to the Crown Prince of Prussia his deep sense of the courtesy shown him. He was desirous of passing as unnoticed as possible through French territory, where, indeed, exasperation against him, as the first cause of the misfortunes of France, was so great that his life would have been in peril. The next day he proceeded to the beautiful palace at Cassel called Wilhelmshöhe, or William's Rest. It had been built at ruinous expense by Jérôme Bonaparte while king of Westphalia, and was then called Napoleon's Rest.

Every consideration that the German royal family could show their former friend and gracious host was shown to Louis Napoleon. This told against him with the French. Was the man who had led them into such misfortunes to be honored and comforted while they were suffering the consequences of his selfishness, recklessness, negligence, and incapacity?

Thus eighty thousand men capitulated at Sedan, and were marched as prisoners into Germany; one hundred and seventy-five thousand French soldiers remained shut up in Metz, besides a few thousands more in Strasburg, Phalsbourg, Toul, and Belfort. But the road was open to Paris, and thither the various German armies marched, leaving the Landwehr, which could not be ordered to serve beyond the limits of Germany, to hold Alsace and Lorraine, already considered a part of the Fatherland. The Prussians did not reach Paris till September 19, two weeks after the surrender at Sedan,—which seemed rather a lull in the military operations of a war in which so much had occurred during one short month.



Though the surrender of the emperor and his army at Sedan took place on September 2, nothing whatever was known of it by the Parisian public until the evening of September 4, when a reporter arrived at the office of the "Gaulois" with a Belgian newspaper in his pocket. The "Gaulois" dared not be the first sheet to publish the news of such a disaster; but despatches had already reached the Government, and by degrees rumors of what had happened crept through the streets of the capital. No one knew any details of the calamity, but every one soon understood that something terrible had occurred.

The Legislative Assembly held a midnight session; but nothing was determined on until the morning, when the Empire was voted out, and a Republic voted in.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Every Parisian was in the street, and, wonderful to say, all faces seemed to express satisfaction. The loss of an army, the surrender of the emperor, the national disgrace, the prospect of a siege, the advance of the Prussians,—were things apparently forgotten. Paris was charmed to have got rid of so unlucky a ruler,—the emperor for whom more than seven millions of Frenchmen had passed a vote of confidence a few months before. He seemed to have no longer a single friend, or rather he had one: in the Assembly an elderly deputy stood up in his place and boldly said that he had taken an oath to be faithful to the Emperor Napoleon, and did not think himself absolved from it by his misfortunes.

Fig. 14

Page 257 It was almost in a moment, almost without a breath of opposition, that on the morning of Sept. 5, 1870, the Empire was voted at an end, and a Republic put in its place. The duty of governing was at once confided to seven men, called the Committee of Defence. Of these, Arago, Crémieux, and Gamier-Pagès had been members of the Provisional Government in 1848, while Léon Gambetta, Jules Favre, Jules Ferry, and Jules Simon afterwards distinguished themselves. Rochefort, the insurrectionist, made but one step from prison to the council board, and was admitted among the new rulers. But the two chief men in the Committee of Defence were Jules Favre and Gambetta.

Gambetta, who before that time had been little known, was from the South of France, and of Italian origin. He was a man full of enthusiasm, vehement, irascible, and impulsive. The day came when these qualities, tempered and refined, did good service to France, when he also proved himself one of those great men in history who are capable of supreme self-sacrifice. At present he was untried.

Jules Favre was respected for his unstained reputation and perfect integrity, his disinterestedness and civic virtues, as also for his fluency of speech. In person he was a small, thin man, with a head that was said to resemble the popular portraits of General Jackson.

General Jules Trochu, who was confirmed as military commander of Paris, had written a book, previous to the war, regarding the inefficiency of the French army; he had been therefore no favorite with the emperor. His chief defect, it was said, was that he talked so well that he was fond of talking, and too readily admitted many to his confidence.

The Council of Regency had in the night melted away. A mob was surging round the Tuileries. Where had the empress-regent fled?

When disasters had followed fast upon one another, the empress had in her bewilderment found it hard to realize that the end of the empire was at hand. Bazaine was the Page 258 man whom she relied on. She had no great liking for Marshal MacMahon, and she does not appear to have been conscious that all was lost till, on the night of September 4, she found M. Conti, the emperor's secretary, busy destroying his private papers. To burn them was impossible; they were torn into small bits and put in a bath-tub, then hot water was poured over them, which reduced them to pulp. Vast quantities, however, remained undestroyed, some of them compromising to their writers.

When the truth of the situation broke upon the empress, she was very much frightened. Her dread was that she might be torn in pieces by a mob that would invade the Tuileries. In a fortnight her fair face had become haggard, and white streaks showed themselves in her beautiful hair.

It is safest in such cases to trust foreigners rather than subjects. Two foreigners occupied themselves with plans for the empress's personal safety. The first idea was that if flight became inevitable, she should take refuge with the Sisters of the Sacré Cœur, in their convent in the Rue Picpus; and arrangements had been made for this contingency.

The life of the empress was strange and piteous during her last days upon the throne. She was up every morning by seven, and heard mass. Her dress was black cashmere, with a white linen collar and cuffs. All day she was the victim of every person who claimed an audience, all talking, protesting, gesticulating, and generally begging. The day the false rumor arrived that the Prussians had been defeated at the Quarries of Jaumont she flew down to the guard-room, where the soldiers off duty were lounging on their beds, waving the telegram over her head.

The news of the capitulation at Sedan and of the decree deposing the emperor, roused the Parisian populace. By one o'clock on September 5 the mob began to threaten the Tuileries. Then the Italian ambassador, Signor Nigra, and the Austrian ambassador, Prince Richard Metternich, insisted that the empress must seek a place of safety. As Page 259 it was impossible to reach the street from the Tuileries, they made their way through the long galleries of the Louvre, and gained the entrance opposite the parish church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois.[1] The street was blocked with people uttering cries against the emperor. A gamin recognized the fugitives, and shouted, "Here comes the empress!" De Nigra gave him a kick, and asked him how he dared to cry: "Vive l'Empereur?" At this the crowd turned upon the boy, and in the confusion the empress and her lady-in-waiting were put into a cab, driven, it is said, by Gamble, the emperor's faithful English coachman. If this were so, the empress did not recognize him, for after proceeding a little way, she and Madame le Breton, her companion, finding they had but three francs between them, and dreading an altercation with the cabman if this were not enough to pay their fare, got out, and proceeded on foot to the house of the American dentist, Dr. Thomas Evans. There they had to wait till admitted to his operating-room. The doctor's amazement when he saw them was great; he had not been aware of what was passing at the Tuileries, but he took his hat, and went out to collect information. Soon he returned to tell the empress that she had not escaped a moment too soon.

[Footnote 1: Temple Bar, 1883.]

His wife was at Deauville, a fashionable watering-place in Normandy. The doctor placed her wardrobe at the disposal of the empress, who had saved nothing of her own but a few jewels. It is said she owned three hundred dresses, and her collection of fans, laces, etc., was probably unique. Her own servants had begun to pillage her wardrobe before she left the Tuileries. It is said that she would have gone forth on horseback and have put herself at the head of the troops, but that no riding-habit had been left her, except a gay green-and-gold hunting dress worn by her at Fontainebleau. That morning no servant in the Tuileries could be found to bring her breakfast to her chamber.

The next day Dr. Evans, in his own carriage, took her

Page 260

safely out of Paris, in the character of a lady of unsound mind whom he and Madame le Breton were conveying to friends in the country. Two days later they reached Deauville after several narrow escapes, the empress, on one occasion, having nearly betrayed herself by an effort to stop a man who was cruelly beating his horse.

There were two English yachts lying at Deauville. On board of one of these Dr. Evans went. It belonged to Sir John Burgoyne, grandson of the General Burgoyne who surrendered at Saratoga. Sir John, with his wife, was on a pleasure cruise. His yacht, the "Gazelle," was very small, only forty-five tons' burden, and carried a crew of six men.

As soon as Sir John Burgoyne had satisfied himself that it was really the empress who was thus thrown on his protection, he placed himself and his yacht at her disposal, insisting, however, that she must not come on board till nearly midnight, when he would meet her on the quai. It was fortunate that he made this arrangement, for, after dark, a police agent and a Russian spy came on board and searched every corner of the little vessel. When at last they departed, Sir John went on to the quai, and shortly afterwards met two ladies, and a gentleman who carried a hand-bag. One of the ladies stepped up to him and said, "I believe you are the English gentleman who will take me to England. I am the empress." She then burst into tears. On reaching the yacht, her first eager demand was for newspapers. Happily Lady Burgoyne could tell her that the Prince Imperial was safe in England; from the English papers she also learned particulars of the disaster at Sedan, of the proclamation of the Republic in the Corps Législatif at Paris, and of the treatment of the emperor.

It was an anxious time for all on board the "Gazelle," for the tide would not serve to leave the harbor till seven o'clock the next morning, and Deauville was wildly riotous all night. At last they worked out of the harbor and were at sea; but a tempest was raging in the Channel, and so violent was it that at half-past one the next morning the great English ironclad "Captain," commanded by Sir Page 261 Hugh Burgoyne, Sir John's cousin, went down, with all on board, not far from where the little "Gazelle" was battling with the gale. The "Gazelle" had a terrible passage, shipping tremendous seas. She danced and rolled like a cork; but the ladies were brave, and were encouraged by Lady Burgoyne's composure. "There was no affectation of courage in Lady Burgoyne," said the empress afterwards; "she simply acted as if nothing were the matter."

After about eighteen hours of this stormy passage the "Gazelle" was safe at anchor off Ryde, in the Isle of Wight. The empress was anxious that no one should know she was in England; but Sir John told her it was his duty to inform the Foreign Office immediately. An answer was at once returned by Lord Granville, assuring the empress of welcome and protection; but he added in a postscript to Sir John: "Don't you think you may have been imposed upon?"

The fact was that the Foreign Office had already received news of the escape of the empress by way of Ostend, under the charge of two English gentlemen, who had been themselves deceived. The ladies they had assisted to leave Paris were Princess Clotilde and an attendant.

After the emperor's release from Wilhelmshöhe he received Sir John Burgoyne at Chiselhurst, and thanked him, with tears in his eyes, for his care of the empress, adding that no sailors but the English could have got across the Channel on such a night in so small a craft.

After peace had been signed between Prussia and France, the emperor landed at Dover, where he was touched by the kindly and respectful reception he met with from the English people. The next day he was visited by Lord Malmesbury, an old friend in the days of his youth, before he entered on his life of adventure. Lord Malmesbury says:

"He came into the room alone to meet me, with that remarkable smile that could light up his dark countenance. I confess I never was more moved. His quiet and calm dignity, and absence of all nervousness or irritability, were grand examples of moral courage. All the past rushed to my memory. He must Page 262 have seen what I felt, for he said: 'À la guerre comme à la guerre. It is very good of you to come to see me.' In a quiet, natural way he then praised the kindness of the Germans at Wilhelmshöhe, nor did a single plaint escape him during our conversation. He said he had been deceived as to the force and preparation of his armies, but without mentioning names, nor did he abuse anybody, till I mentioned Trochu, who had abandoned the empress, whom he had sworn to defend. During half an hour he conversed with me as in the best days of his life, with dignity and resignation, but when I saw him again he was much more depressed. He was grieving at the destruction of Paris, and at the anarchy prevailing over France, far more than he had done over his own misfortunes. That the Communists should have committed such horrors in the presence of their enemies, the Prussians, seemed to him the very acme of humiliation and national infamy."

On Jan. 9, 1873, he died at Chiselhurst, in the presence of the empress, who never left him, released from the storms of a fitful existence and from intense physical suffering.

Let us return now to Paris and the Committee of Defence, its new Republican Government. Though the people of Paris, in the excitement consequent on the proclamation of a Republic, seemed to have forgotten the Prussians, the prospect of their speedy arrival stared the Government in the face. It was a Government, not of France, but of Paris. France had had no voice in making this new Republic, nor was it at all likely that it would be popular in the Provinces; but meanwhile work of every kind was pressing on its hands. The fortifications of Paris were unmanned, and, indeed, were not even completed, and there were hardly any soldiers in the capital.

The first thing to be done was to bring provisions into the city. Cattle, grain, salt, hay, preserved meats, in short, everything edible that could be imagined, poured in so long as the railroads remained open. All public buildings became storehouses, but affairs were conducted with such recklessness and disorder that the live-stock suffered terribly, and half the hay was wasted. As to troops, General Vinoy arrived with twenty thousand soldiers, who had been stationed Page 263 between Belgium and Sedan. They had never fought the Pussians, but were impatient of discipline and utterly demoralized. Stragglers and fugitives from Sedan came in also, but these were still less to be depended on. The National Guard had never enjoyed the favor of the emperor, and had been suffered to fall to pieces. It was now reorganized and armed as well as the Government was able. There was a body of Mobiles who had been sent away from the army by Marshal MacMahon because they were so insubordinate that he did not know what to do with them. Ninety thousand Mobiles came up from the Provinces before the gates of Paris closed,—excellent material for soldiers but wholly uninstructed,—and finally about ten thousand sailors arrived from Brest, who were kept in strict line by their officers, and were the most reliable part garrison.

The male population of Paris remained in the city, almost to a man, except those known to the police as thieves or ex-convicts, who were all sent away. Women and children also were removed, if their husbands and fathers could afford places of safety.

Around the city was a wall twelve yards high, forming a polygonal inclosure. At each corner of the polygon was a bastion, in which were stationed the big guns. The wall connecting the bastions is called a curtain. The bastions protected the curtains, and were themselves protected by sixteen detached forts, built on all the eminences around Paris. The most celebrated of these forts lies to the west of Paris, between it and Versailles, and is called Fort Valérien It is erected on a steep hill long called Mont Calvaire, from which is a magnificent view of the city. This and stony hill for several centuries used to be ascended by pilgrims on their knees; the mount, where once stood an altar of the Druids, became a consecrated place before the Revolution.

Louis Philippe, in 1841, had planned the fortifications of Paris, but in his time they had been only partially constructed. Page 264 Even in 1870, as I have said, they were not complete. When the siege became imminent, the first thing to be done was to put them in good order; but for a week the working-men in Paris were so intoxicated with the idea of having a republic that they could not be made to do steady work upon anything. It was also considered necessary to cut down all trees and to destroy all villages between the forts and the walls of the city, so that they might afford no shelter to the Prussians. The poor inhabitants of these villages flocked into Paris, bringing with them carts piled with their household goods, their wives and children peeping out aghast between the chairs and beds. The beautiful trees in the Bois de Boulogne were cut down; the deer and the swans and other wild fowl on the lakes (long the pets of the Parisian holiday makers) were shot by parties of Mobiles sent out for that purpose.

No military man believed that Paris, defended by uncompleted fortifications, could withstand a direct attack from the Prussians; no one dreamed of a blockade, for it was thought that it would take a million and a quarter of men to invest the city, and the Prussians were known not to have that number for the purpose. The idea was that the enemy would choose some point, would attack it with all his forces, would lose probably thirty thousand men, and would take the city. But Bismarck and King William and Von Moltke had no idea of losing thirty thousand men. They were certain that there would be risings and disturbances in Paris. They believed that their forces might even be called in to save respectable Parisians from the outrages of the Reds. They knew that rural France, having little love for Paris or the Republic, was not likely to accept the Government formed without its own consent, nor march to the assistance of the capital. Even should the provincial population bestir itself, the troops it could send would be only raw levies, and there was no great leader to animate or to direct popular enthusiasm.

It was quite true that the respectable classes in Paris had as much to fear from the Reds as from the Prussians. The mob of Paris was wild for a commune.

Page 265 It is not always known what is meant by a commune, and I may be pardoned if I pause to define it here.

In feudal times cities all over Europe won for themselves charters. By these charters they acquired the right to govern themselves; that is, the burghers elected their own mayor and their councilor aldermen, and this body governing the community was called the commune. When the feudal system fell in France, and all power was centralized in the king, city governments were established by royal edict only. Paris, for instance, was governed by the Prefect of the Seine,—he had under him the maires of twenty Arrondissements; and thus it was in every French city. All public offices in France were in the gift of the Throne.

To Americans, who have mayors and city councils in every city, municipal taxation, municipal elections, and municipal laws, a commune appears the best mode of city government. But if we can imagine one of our large cities possessing the same power over the United States that Paris wields over France, we shall take a different view of the matter. Paris governed by a commune, that commune being elected by a mob and aspiring to give laws to France, might well indeed have alarmed all Frenchmen. We may judge of its feeling towards the Provinces from the indignation expressed by Parisian Communists when during the Commune, Lyons and some other cities talked of setting up communes of their own.

In olden times, in France, Italy, and Germany (as in Great Britain at the present day), it was not the mob, but the burghers, whose interests depended upon the prosperity of their city, who voted in municipal elections. France had established universal suffrage, and the restless "men of Belleville,"—the "white blouses,"—were liable in any time of excitement to be joined by roughs from other cities, and by all working-men out of employment. These apprehensions of the respectable citizens of Paris were horribly realized in 1871. The new Republic, meantime, was not Red, not Communistic, not Socialistic, but Republican.

Page 266 During the Revolution of 1848 there had been little intoxication in Paris; but in the twenty-two years that followed, the French had learned to drink absinthe and to frequent such places as "L'Assommoir." All accounts speak of the drunkenness in France during the Franco-Prussian war.

Meantime, during the two weeks that preceded the arrival of the Prussians, the streets of Paris were crowded with men in every variety of uniform,—francs-tireurs in their Opéra Comique costume, cuirassiers, artillerymen, lancers, regulars, National Guards, and Mobiles. Carriages were mixed up with heavy wagons loaded sometimes with worthless household goods, sometimes with supplies. Peasants' carts were seen in the midst of frightened flocks of sheep driven by bewildered shepherds. Everybody was in some one's way. All was confusion, excitement,—and exhilaration.

Till September 19 the railways continued to run. Then the fifty-one gates of Paris were closed, the railroad entrances were walled up, and the following notice appeared upon the walls:—

"Citizens! The last lines which connected Paris with France and Europe were cut yesterday evening. Paris is left to herself. She has now only her own courage and her own resources to rely on. Europe, which has received so much enlightenment from this great city, and has always felt a certain jealousy of her glory, now abandons her. But Paris, we are persuaded, will prove that she has not ceased to be the most solid rampart of French independence."

To hold out was the determination of all classes; but the very next day the Reds put forth a manifesto demanding a commune, the dismissal of the police, the sequestration of the property of all rich or influential men, and a public declaration that the king of Prussia would not be treated with so long as his armies occupied one foot of French soil. "Nothing less than these things," said the document, "will satisfy the people."

Page 267 Here we see the usual assumption of the Parisian Communists that they are "the people." They have always assumed that thirty-two millions of Frenchmen outside the walls of Paris counted for nothing.

As the Prussian armies passed to the southward of Paris to take possession of Versailles, an attack, authorized by General Trochu and by General Ducrot (who had escaped from Sedan), was made upon the German columns. The Zouaves, who had come back to Paris under General Vinoy, demoralized by the disasters of their comrades, were the first to break and run. The poor little Mobiles stood firm and did their duty.

The official report said: "Some of our soldiers took to flight with regrettable haste,"—a phrase which became a great joke among the Parisians.

That night the Reds breathed fire and fury against the Government, "and the respectable part of Paris," says M. de Sarcey, the great dramatic critic, "saw themselves between two dangers. It would be hard to say which of them they dreaded most. They hated the Prussians very much, but they feared the men of Belleville more."

Meantime Jules Favre, who had been appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, had procured a safe-conduct from the Prussians, and had gone out to see Count Bismarck and King William, who had their headquarters at Baron Rothschild's beautiful country seat of Ferrières. His object was to obtain an armistice, that a National Assembly might be convoked which would consider the terms of peace with the Prussians.

The Chancellor of North Germany declared that he did not recognize the Committee of Defence, represented by Julus Favre, as a legitimate government of France competent to offer or to consider terms of peace. He treated M. Favre with the greatest haughtiness, utterly refusing any armistice, but at the close of their first interview he consented to see him again the next day.

"I was," says Jules Favre, "at the Château de Ferrières by eleven A. M., but Count Bismarck did not leave the king's apartments Page 268 before twelve. I then gathered from him the conditions that he demanded for an armistice. They were written in German, and he read them over to me. He desired to occupy, as a guarantee, Strasburg, Toul, and Phalsbourg;[1] and as I had the day before named Paris as the place for the meeting of the Assembly, he wished in that case to have possession of some fort commanding the city. He named Fort Valérien. Here I interrupted him. 'You had better ask for Paris at once,' I said. 'How can a French Assembly be expected to deliberate when covered by your guns? I hardly know whether I dare to inform my Government that you have made such a proposal.' Tours was then named as a place for the Assembly. 'But,' said Bismarck, 'Strasburg must be surrendered. It is about to fall into our hands. All I ask is that the garrison shall constitute themselves prisoners of war.' At this I could restrain myself no longer. I sprang to my feet and said: 'Count Bismarck, you forget you are speaking to a Frenchman! To sacrifice an heroic garrison which has won our admiration and that of the whole world, would be an act of cowardice. Nor will I even promise to mention that you ever made such a demand.' He answered that he had not meant to wound my feelings, he was acting in conformity with the laws of war; but he would see what the king said about the matter. He returned in a quarter of an hour, and said that his master accepted my proposal as to Tours, but insisted on the surrender of the garrison of Strasburg."

[Footnote 1: Places still holding out against the Germans.]

At this, the negotiation was broken off, Jules Favre concluding by saying that "the inhabitants of Paris were resolved on making any sacrifices, and that their heroism might change the current of events."

The publication of this account of the interview with Bismarck produced through Paris a shiver of indignation. For a moment all parties were united, the very Reds crying out that there must be no more parties, only Frenchmen; and a slight success in a skirmish in one of the suburbs of Paris roused enthusiasm to its height in a few hours.

The National Guard now did duty as police, and was also placed on guard on the ramparts. Each man received Page 269 thirty sous a day. The Guard was divided into the Old Battalions and the New. The Old Battalions were composed almost entirely of gentlemen and bourgeois, who returned their pay to the Government; the New Battalions, which were fresh levies of working-men, preferred in general a franc and a half a day for doing nothing, to higher wages for making shoes, guns, and uniforms. In vain the Government put forth proclamations assuring the people that the man who made a chassepot rifle was more of a patriot than he who carried one.

All through September the weather was delightful, and mounting guard upon the ramparts was like taking a pleasant stroll. The Mobiles occupied the forts outside of Paris, and were forbidden to come into the city in uniform. Of course there was much hunting for Prussian spies, and many people were arrested and maltreated, though only one genuine spy seems to have been found. The French in any popular excitement seem to have treachery upon the brain. One phase of their mania was the belief that any light seen moving in the upper stories of a house was a signal to the Prussians; and sometimes a whole district was disturbed because some quiet student had sat reading late at night with a green shade over his lamp, or a mother had been nursing a sick child.

As October went on, it became a sore trial to the Parisians to be cut off from all outside news. Not a letter nor a newspaper crossed the lines. Even the agents of Foreign Governments, and Mr. Washburne, the only foreign ambassador in Paris, were prohibited from hearing from their Governments, unless all communications were read by Bismarck before being forwarded to them. One great source of suffering to the men in Paris who had sent away their families was the knowledge that they must be in want of money. No one had anticipated a prolonged blockade.

Before the gates had been closed, two elderly members of the Committee of Defence—Crémieux and Garnier-Pagès—had been sent out to govern the Provinces. Page 270 M. Thiers was visiting all the capitals of Europe, as a sort of ambassador-at-large, to enlist foreign diplomatic sympathy, and in October it was resolved to send out M. Gambetta, in the hope that he might organize a National Assembly, or perhaps induce the Southern Provinces (where he had great influence) to make a demonstration for the relief of the capital. Provincial France had long chafed under the idea that its government was made and unmade by the Parisians, and there was no great sympathy in the Provinces for Paris in her struggle with the Prussians, until it was shown how nobly the city and its inhabitants bore the hardships of the siege.

Small sorties continued to be made during October, chiefly with a view of accustoming raw troops to stand fire. On October 28, came news of the surrender of Bazaine at Metz to the Prussians with his army (including officers) of nearly one hundred and ninety thousand men. The universal cry was "Treachery!" The same day that the Prussians forwarded this news into Paris, a small body of German troops was worsted in a sortie beyond St. Denis. These two events roused the turbulent part of the population of Paris almost to frenzy, and resulted in a rising called the émeute of October 31.

The disorderly classes living in the suburbs of Belleville and Montmartre (which have taken the place of the old Faubourg Saint-Antoine), assuming "The Commune" for their war-cry, were led on by such men as Ledru-Rollin, Blanqui, and Félix Pyat.

"The party of the Commune," says M. de Sarcey, "was composed partly of charlatans, partly of dupes,—that is, the real members of the Commune as a party. The rank and file were simply roughs, ready for any mischief, and, we may add, for any plunder."

On the morning of October 31, a great crowd of these men assembled before the Hôtel-de-Ville, then the seat of government. General Trochu, Jules Favre, the Maire of Paris, and even Rochefort, who was a member of the Committee of Defence, harangued them for hours without producing Page 271 any impression. The days were passed when the mob of Paris could be controlled by a harangue. Finally, the crowd made its way into the Hôtel-de-Ville, and endeavored to force the Committee of Defence to issue a proclamation which would convene the citizens to vote for a commune. The windows of the Hôtel-de-Ville were flung open, in spite of the efforts of the members of the Government, and lists of the proposed Communistic rulers were flung out to the mob.

Meantime the members of the existing Government were imprisoned in their council chamber, and threatened by armed men. Jules Favre sat quietly in his chair; Jules Simon sketched upon his blotting-paper; rifles were pointed at General Trochu. "Escape, General!" cried some one in the crowd. "I am a soldier, Citizen," he answered, "and my duty is to die at my post." One member of the Committee managed, however to escape, and summoned the National Guard to the assistance of his colleagues.

It was eight o'clock in the evening when the troops arrived. At sight of their guns and bayonets the populace, grown weary of its day's excitement, melted away. Before daylight, order was restored. "Thus," says an American then in Paris, "in twelve hours Paris had one Republican Government taken prisoner, another set up, and the first restored."

So peace, after a fashion, returned; but Count Bismarck, learning of these events, was strengthened in his determination to keep Paris shut up within her gates till the factions in the city, in the coming days of famine and distress, should destroy one another.

M. Thiers had almost concluded an agreement for an armistice of thirty days, during which Paris was to be fed, while an election should be held all over France for a National Assembly; but after the disorders of October 31, Count Bismarck refused to hear of any food being supplied to Paris, negotiations were broken off, and the war went on.

Up to this time bread in Paris had been sufficient for its Page 272 needs, and not too dear. Wine was plenty, but meat was growing scarce. Horses were requisitioned for food. It was the upper classes who ate horse-flesh and queer animals out of the Jardin des Plantes; the working-classes would not touch such things till driven to eat them by absolute famine.

Butter rose to five dollars a pound, cabbages were sold by the leaf. Early in the siege, eggs were three dollars a dozen, and milk soon became unattainable. "Poor little babies died like flies," says an eye-witness. Fuel, too, was growing very scarce and very dear. The women supported their privations bravely, but it is terrible to think what must have been the sufferings of mothers deprived of wholesome food for their little children. The firmness and self-sacrifice of the bourgeoisie were above all praise.

All kinds of meats were eaten. Mule was said to be delicious,—far superior to beef. Antelope cost eighteen francs a pound, but was not as good as stewed rabbit; elephant's trunk was eight dollars a pound, it being esteemed a delicacy. Bear, kangaroo, ostrich, yak, etc., varied the bill of fare for those who could afford to eat them.

Men of wealth who had lost everything, took their misfortunes cheerfully. While the worst qualities of the Parisians came out in some classes, the best traits of the French character shone forth in others. A great deal of charity was dispensed, both public and private and on the whole, the very poorest class was but little the worse for the privations of the siege.

The houses left empty by their owners were made over to the refugees from the villages, and many amusing stories are told of their embarrassment when surrounded by objects of art, and articles of furniture whose use was unknown to them.

At first the theatres were closed, and some of them were turned into military hospitals; but by the beginning of November it was thought better to reopen them. At one theatre, Victor Hugo's "Les Châtiments" was recited,—that Page 273 bitterest arraignment of Napoleon III. and the Second Empire; at another, Beethoven and Mendelssohn were played, with apologies for their being Germans.

The hospital parts of the theatres were railed off, and in the corridors ballet-girls, actors, and sisters of charity mingled together.

Victor Hugo was in Paris during the siege, but he lent his name to no party or demonstration. The recitation of his verses at the theatre afforded him great delight, but the triumph was short-lived. The attraction of "Les Châtiments" soon died away.

The most popular places of resort for idle men were the clubs. On November 21, one of these was visited by our American observer. He says,—

"The hall was filled to suffocation. Every man present had a pipe or cigar in his mouth. It was a sulphurous place, a Pandemonium, a Zoological Garden, a Pantomime, a Comedy, a Backwoods Fourth of July, and a Donnybrook Fair, all combined. Women too were there, the fiercest in the place. Orators roared, and fingers were shaken. One speech was on the infringement of the liberties of the citizen because soldiers were made to march left or right according to the will of their officers. Another considered that the sluggards who went on hospital service with red crosses on their caps were no better than cowards. Then they discovered a spy (as they supposed) in their midst, and time was consumed in hustling him out. Lastly an orator concluded his speech with awful blasphemy, wishing that he were a Titan, and could drive a dagger into the Christian's God."

The most terrible suffering in Paris during the siege was probably mental, suffering from the want of news; but by the middle of November the balloon and pigeon postal service was organized. Balloons were manufactured in Paris, and sent out whenever the wind was favorable. It was found necessary, however, to send them off by night, lest they should be fired into by the Germans. A balloon generally carried one or two passengers, and was sent up from one of the now empty railroad stations. It also generally Page 274 took five small cages, each containing thirty-six pigeons. These pigeons were of various colors, and all named. They were expected to return soon to their homes, unless cold, fog, a hawk, or a Prnssian bullet should stop them on the way. Each would bring back a small quill fastened by threads to one of its tail-feathers and containing a minute square of flexible, waterproof paper, on which had been photographed messages in characters so small as to be deciphered only by a microscope. Some of these would be official despatches, some private messages. One pigeon would carry as much as, printed in ordinary type, would fill one sheet of a newspaper. The Parisians looked upon the pigeons with a kind of veneration; when one, drooping and weary, alighted on some roof, a crowd would collect and watch it anxiously. Sometimes they were caught by the Germans, and sent back into Paris with false news.

On November 15 a pigeon brought a despatch saying that the South of France had raised an army for the relief of Paris, and that it was in motion under an old general with the romantic name of Aurelles des Paladines, that it had driven the Prussians out of Orleans, and was coming on with all speed to the capital. The Parisians were eager to make a sortie and to join this relieving army. General Trochu was not so eager, having no great confidence in his francs-tireurs, his National Guard, and his Mobiles. They numbered in all four hundred thousand men; but eighty thousand serviceable soldiers would have been worth far more.

On November 28, however, the sortie was made; and had the expected army been at hand, it might have been successful. The Parisians crossed the Marne, and fought the Prussians so desperately that in two days they had lost more men than in the battles at Gravelotte. But on the third day an order was given to return to Paris; the Government had received reliable information that the Army of the Loire (under Aurelles des Paladines) had met with a reverse, and would form no junction with the Parisian forces.

By the end of November cannon had been cast in the Page 275 beleaguered city, paid for, not by the Government, but by individual subscription. These guns were subsequently to playa tragic part in the history of the city. Some carried farther than the Prussian guns. All of them had names. The favorite was called Josephine, and was a great pet with the people.

Christmas Day of that sad year arrived at last, and New Year's Day, the great and joyful fête-day in all French families. A few confectioners kept their stores open, and a few boxes of bonbons were sold; but presents of potatoes, or small packages of coffee, were by this time more acceptable gifts. Nothing was plenty in Paris but champagne and Colman's mustard. The rows upon rows of the last-named article in the otherwise empty windows of the grocers reminded Englishmen and Americans of Grumio's cruel offer to poor Katherine of the mustard without the beef, since she could not have the beef with the mustard.

Here is the bill-of-fare of a dinner given at a French restaurant upon that Christmas Day:—

Soup from horse meat.
Mince of cat.
Shoulder of dog with tomato sauce.
Jugged cat with mushrooms.
Roast donkey and potatoes.
Rat, peas, and celery.
Mice on toast.
Plum pudding.

One remarkable feature of the siege was that everybody's appetite increased enormously. Thinking about food stimulated the craving for it, and by New Year's Day there were serious apprehensions of famine. The reckless waste of bread and breadstuffs in the earlier days of the siege was now repented of. Flour had to be eked out with all sorts of things, and the bread eaten during the last weeks of the siege was a black and sticky mixture made up of almost anything but flour. All Paris was rationed. Poor mothers, leaving sick children at home, stood for Page 276 hours in the streets, in the bitter cold, to obtain a ration of horseflesh, or a few ounces of this unnutritious bread.

After news came of the retreat of the Army of the Loire, great discouragement crept over the garrison. The Mobiles from the country, who had never expected to be shut up in Paris for months, began to pine for their families and villages. What might not be happening to them? and they far away!

Every day there was a panic of some kind in the beleaguered city,—some rumor, true or false, to stir men's souls. Besides this, the garrison had for months been idle, and was consumed with ennui. Among the prevailing complaints was one that General Trochu was too pious! They might have said of him with truth, that, though brave and determined when once in action, he was wanting in decision. The garrison in Paris had no general who could stir their hearts,—no leader of men. General Trochu, and the rulers under him, waited to be moved by public opinion. They were ready to do what the masses would dictate, but seemed not to be able to lead them. In a besieged city the population generally bends to the will of one man; in this case it was one man, or a small body of men, who bent to the will of the people.

The winter of 1871 was the coldest that had been known for twenty years. Fuel and warm clothing grew scarce. The Rothschilds distributed $20,000 worth of winter garments among the suffering; and others followed their example, till there was no warm clothing left to buy; but the suffering in every home was intense, and at last soldiers were brought in frozen from the ramparts. There was of course no gas, and the city was dimly lighted by petroleum. Very great zeal was shown throughout Paris for hospital service. French military hospitals and the service connected with them are called "ambulances." "We were all full of recollections," says M. de Sarcey, "of the exertions made on both sides in the American Civil War. Our model hospital was formed on the American Plan."

Page 277 The American Sanitary Commission had sent out specimens of hospital appliances to the Exposition Universelle of 1867. These had remained in Paris, and the hospital under canvas, when set up, excited great admiration. Everything was for use; nothing for show. "The four great medicines that we recognize," said the American surgeon in charge, "are fresh air, hot and cold water, opium, and quinine."

Among the bravest and most active litter-bearers were the Christian Brothers,—men not priests, but vowed to poverty, celibacy, and the work of education. "They advanced wherever bullets fell," says M. de Sarcey, "to pick up the dead or wounded; recoiling from no task, however laborious or distasteful; never complaining of their food, drinking only water; and after their stretcher-work was done, returning to their humble vocation of teachers, without dreaming that they had played the part of heroes."

Before Bazaine surrendered at Metz, eager hopes had been entertained that the army raised in the South by Chanzy and Gambetta might unite with his one hundred and seventy-two thousand soldiers in Metz, and march to the relief of Paris; but to this day no one knows precisely why Bazaine took no steps in furtherance of this plan, but, instead, surrendered ignominiously to the Germans. It is supposed that being attached to the emperor, and dreading a Republic, he declined to fight for France if it was to benefit "the rabble Government of Paris," as he called the Committee of Public Defence. He seems to have thought that the Germans, after taking Paris, would make peace, exacting Alsace and Lorraine, and then restore the emperor.

Nothing could have been braver or more brilliant than the efforts of Chanzy and Gambetta on the Loire. At one time they were actually near compelling the Prussians to raise the siege of Paris; for two hundred and fifty thousand men was a small army to invest so large a city. But the one hundred and fifty thousand German soldiers who Page 278 were besieging Metz were enabled by Bazaine's surrender to reinforce the troops beleaguering the capital.

Gambetta seems to have been at that time the only man in France who showed himself to be a true leader of men, and amidst numerous disadvantages he did nobly. He and Chanzy died twelve years later, within a week of each other.

From September 19, when the siege began, up to December 27, the Parisian soldiers, four hundred thousand in number (such as they were) had never, except in occasional sorties, encountered the Prussians, nor had any shot from Prussian guns entered their city. On the night of December 27 the bombardment began. It commenced by clearing what was called the Plateau d'Avron, to the east of Paris. The weather was intensely cold, the earth as hard as iron and as slippery as glass. The French do not rough their horses even in ordinary times, and slipperiness is a public calamity in a French city. The troops, stationed with little shelter on the Plateau d'Avron, had no notion that the Germans had been preparing masked batteries. The first shells that fell among them produced indescribable confusion. The men rushed to their own guns to reply, but their balls fell short about five hundred yards. It became evident that the Plateau d'Avron must be abandoned, and that night, in the cold and the darkness, together with the slippery condition of the ground, which was worst of all, General Trochu superintended the removal of all the cannon. The Prussian batteries were admirably placed and admirably served.

But tremendous as the bombardment was (sometimes a shell every two minutes), it is astonishing how little real damage it did to the city. The streets were wide, the open spaces numerous, the houses solidly built, with large courtyards. In the middle of January, when the extreme cold moderated, hundreds of people would assemble in the Place de la Concorde, looking skyward. A black object would appear, with a small bright spot in it, and making a graceful curve in the air, with a whizzing, humming sound, would Page 279 drop suddenly, with a resounding boom, in some distant quarter in the city. Then the spectators, greatly interested in the sight, waited for another. The shells, which the Parisians called "obus," were like an old-fashioned sugar-loaf, and weighed sometimes one hundred and fifty pounds. But though, by reason of the great distance of the Prussian batteries, the damage was by no means in proportion to the number of shells sent into the city, many of them struck public buildings, hospitals, and orphan asylums, in spite of the Red Cross flags displayed above them.

By January 19, when the siege had lasted four months, and the bombardment three weeks, the end seemed to be drawing near. Another sortie was attempted; but there was a dense fog, the usual accompaniment of a January thaw, and its only result was the loss of some very valuable lives.

Then General Trochu asked for an armistice of two days to bury the dead; but his real object was that Jules Favre might enter the Prussian lines and endeavor to negotiate. Before this took place, however, Trochu himself resigned his post as military governor. He had sworn that under him Paris should never capitulate. General Vinoy took his command.

The moment the Government of Defence was known to be in extreme difficulty, the Communists issued proclamations and provoked risings. The Hôtel-de-Ville was again attacked. In this rising famished women took a prominent part. Twenty-six people were killed in the émeute, and only twenty-eight by that day's bombardment.

On January 23 Jules Favre went out to Versailles. Paris was hushed. It was not known that negotiations were going on, but all felt that the end was near at hand. No one, dared to say the word "capitulate," though some of the papers admitted that by February 3 there would not be a mouthful of bread in the city.

On January 27 the Parisians learned their fate. The following announcement appeared in the official journal:

"So long as the Government could count on an army of relief, it was their duty to neglect nothing that could conduce to the Page 280 prolongation of the defence of Paris. At present our armies, though still in existence, have been driven back by the fortune of war.... Under these circumstances the Government has been absolutely compelled to negotiate. We have reason to believe that the principle of national sovereignty will be kept intact by the speedy calling of an Assembly; that during the armistice the German army will occupy our forts; that we shall preserve intact our National Guards and one division of our army; and that none of our soldiers will be conveyed beyond our frontier as prisoners of war."

The result was so inevitable that it did not spread the grief and consternation we have known in many modern cases of surrender. Those who suffered most from the sorrow of defeat were not the Red brawlers of Belleville, who cried loudest that they had been betrayed, but the honest, steady-going bourgeoisie, who for love of their country had for four months borne the burden and distress of resistance.

During the four months of siege sixty-five thousand persons perished in Paris: ten thousand died in hospitals, three thousand were killed in battle, sixty-six hundred were destroyed by small-pox, and as many by bronchitis and pneumonia. The babies, who died chiefly for want of proper food, numbered three thousand,—just as many as the soldiers who fell in battle.

Two sad weeks passed, the Parisians meanwhile waiting for the meeting of a National Assembly. During those weeks the blockade of Paris continued, and the arrival of provisions was frequently retarded at the Prussian outposts; nor were provision-carts safe when they had passed beyond the Prussian lines, for there were many turbulent Parisians lying in wait to rob them. All Paris was eager for fresh fish and for white bread. The moment the gates were opened, twenty-five thousand persons poured out of the city, most of whom were in a state of anxiety and uncertainty where to find their families.

At last peace was made. One of its conditions was that the Germans were to occupy two of the forts that commanded Page 281 Paris until that city paid two hundred millions of francs ($40,000,000) as its ransom. It was also stipulated that the Prussian army was to make a triumphal entry into the city, not going farther, however, than the Place de la Concorde.

This took place March I, 1871, but was witnessed by none of the respectable Parisians, although the German soldiers were surrounded by a hooting crowd, whom they seemed to regard with little attention.

Thus ended the siege of Paris, and the day afterwards the homeward march of the Germans was begun.



The Prussian army was more than two weeks on the road from Sedan to Paris and Versailles, and it was just one month after the French emperor surrendered before the king of Prussia made his headquarters in the beautiful city which seems to enshrine the memory of Louis XIV.

On Sunday, September 18, a scouting party of three Uhlans made their appearance at the gates of Versailles. They had in fact lost their way, and stumbled unawares upon the city; however, they rode boldly up to the gate, demanded admittance, and presented themselves at the mairie, bringing terror and dismay to the inhabitants. When the maire presented himself at their summons, they demanded on what terms Versailles would surrender? He replied that he could not treat with private soldiers, but must see their officers. "Oh, our officers are close at hand," they replied; "they are waiting with a large force in yonder woods. If you come to the gate, they will meet you there." The maire assented, and the audacious Uhlans galloped safely away. Let us hope that at their firesides in the far-off Fatherland they still laugh over this unparalleled adventure.

A few hours later, news was received at Versailles that fighting was going on towards the south of Paris between French troops and the Prussians; and all the inhabitants, including foreign residents, were busy in preparing supplies for the field-hospitals,—lint, bandages, water-cans, and pillows stuffed with torn paper. Before long, eight Page 283 Prussians and an officer entered the city. They were thus described by one who saw them as they dashed up to the mairie through an excited crowd:—

"They were small men. They had light hair, but were very thick-set. They looked very tired, and were covered with dust and with torn clothes: but they had good horses. They wore the Prussian helmet and spike, and were well armed, with a sabre on one side and on the other a huge horse-pistol two feet long, while they carried carbines in their hands, all ready to shoot if occasion offered. But all the French soldiers had left Versailles, except a few National Guards. The inhabitants looked very sad; the women were crying, and the men looked as if they would like to. We walked on, when suddenly we saw a troop of horsemen come through an arch that spanned one of the main roads; behind came more, and more, and more. The first were fifty Uhlans. These fellows were in blue, on horseback, very handsome. Then came some men with silver death's-heads and crossbones on their caps; then hundreds and hundreds of mounted fellows with needle-guns and sabres; then three regiments of infantry, marching in superb time. Every five hundred men had a drum corps and fifes playing in perfect unison. You could almost feel the ground shake with the steady thud of their march as they tramped on. The men looked dirty and tired, but were fat, and many of them were laughing. Looking down the road as far as possible, we could still see helmets, spikes, and guns all leaning exactly the same way, and glittering in the sunshine. All the officers looked like gentlemen, with great whiskers, and jolly, fat faces. None of the men talked, much less sang, as the French do. When these had passed, there came a splendid band of sixty pieces, playing beautifully, and then regiment after regiment of cavalry (not carrying as much, nearly, as the French cavalry do). Their horses were in excellent order, many of them very handsome. Lots of the soldiers were smoking great German pipes.

"This was the army of the Crown Prince, less than a third of those that entered the city. They passed through Versailles, only stopping to repair the roads torn up by the peasantry. Next came artillery and baggage-wagons, and carts of ammunition; more infantry, more bands, fifty pontoons on carts; more cavalry; then hundreds of soldiers on peasants' carts, which they had requisitioned as they passed through the country; then ambulances and carts, full of wounded, who were brought to the Hôtel des Reservoirs and to the Palace. They Page 284 began to pass at half-past one, and were passing three hours; and I saw just as many more going by another road, where they passed till seven in the evening. There seemed, at times, to be a hunting corps, for every man would have a fat hare or rabbit, or hens, ducks, pheasants, or partridges slung on his back. One man I saw with a live sheep, full grown, over his shoulders.

"Only four regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and four batteries of artillery remained in Versailles that night. They camped upon the Place d'Armes, lit fires, and cooked. Everything was remarkable for neatness; the cannon and powder-carts were arranged in order in a circle, horses all fastened inside the circle, soldiers all sleeping round it. They took off their knapsacks, stacked their guns, put their helmets on the top of their bayonets, unrolled their great-coats, and lay down, still wearing sword and pistols, with their guns at arm's length. Thus they pass the night, rain or shine (they have no tents) and they look as hardy and strong as lions.

"By the time the Prussians were fairly in their quarters the inhabitants of Versailles seemed to take heart and to be much less frightened. Many French peasants could talk German, and conversed freely with the Prussians, interpreting what they said to an eager crowd. The soldiers seemed to be well fed; we saw them dining on bread and cheese, butter, sausages, and wine. In the evening they were very jolly. Fires flickered all around; the soldiers sat singing and smoking. Some milked cows that they had stolen, and some were cooking game. The formal way in which everything was done was very curious. At the gate of every house where officers were quartered were two sentries, and every time an officer passed, these men were obliged to go through five movements with their guns. On all the doors of all the houses the names of the officers stationed there were marked in chalk, and a field-telegraph line in the streets connected every such house with the mairie."

This account of the entry of the Prussians into Versailles is from the private letter of a very young man, with the eye of an artist and a keen love of music and fine horses. The letter was seen by the editor of the "Nation," who requested leave to publish it. The writer says further,—

"I got up at seven on the morning of September 20, and went down to the Place d'Armes. It was filled with Prussian soldiers; some were sleeping, some were cooking, some eating, some Page 285 grooming horses, some washing cannon, and all were smoking. There were but two tents, belonging to high officers. One of these was dressing in the open air before his tent. A guard paced up and down with a drawn sword. When I got there, he was brushing his hair and putting on his cravat, while a little French boy held a looking-glass for him. He had a bright red shirt on, and riding-boots up to his hips, and silver spurs. I saw his horse brought up, a beautiful, great black one. His coat was covered all over with decorations, and he had a very brilliant sword. In the other tent there were two officers writing. They had about fifty bottles of claret and champagne stacked up beside them, and a guard set over it.

"In a little while all was bustle, but no confusion. All the cannon and powder-carts were ranged in numerical order; the horses the same; and every bucket and every pot was numbered like the cart to which it belonged. Soon as the bugles sounded, every man jumped, and knew what he had to do. There was ringing and rattling of chains, and the horses were fastened to the cannon, the soldiers gobbled their last mouthfuls, strapped on their knapsacks, and in a few minutes everything was in motion, officers giving their orders; the horses neighed, the line was formed, and off they went.

"That afternoon we saw some French peasants brought in; they had fired on the men who were stealing their carts, horses, and cows, and were to be shot. It was very sorrowful. We heard afterwards that the Crown Prince had pardoned them. Some noble-looking Zouave prisoners[1] were also brought in, and the crowd cheered them.

[Footnote 1: Possibly some of the men who had shown "regrettable haste" the day before.]

"About one P. M. a squad of Uhlans, with long lances and black-and-white flags came in; then came other men leading horses, all very handsome, belonging to the Crown Prince. Then came the royal baggage, cart after cart, mostly painted purple, with a great gold crown; but some carts had once been French. One of the bands had a brass drum, with the imperial eagle and 3d Zouaves painted on it. They showed it to the bystanders and laughed. We found that the Crown Prince was to be received at the prefecture,—a handsome building with a large court in front, and a black-and-gilt grille, such as they have round the palace and park. We went there at once. A guard of honor was drawn up in front, and a full band on each side of the gate. The Crown Prince was surrounded Page 286 by a splendid staff. He is quite handsome, with large bushy beard and moustache. He was dressed like his officers, and wore a cap such as they all wear, with a scarlet band; but he had lots of decorations and a splendid diamond star. They all had most beautiful horses, and the effect was very kingly. The bands played, and the troops presented arms. The prince rode in first, then all followed him into the courtyard. They took possession, and the gates were closed. The next day the prince left to join the king at Ferrières. The palace is appropriated to the Prussian wounded."

By September 23 the Prussians had completed their investment of Paris. They were only two hundred and fifty thousand men, but, disciplined as we can see they were by the letter I have quoted, they were more than a match for the four hundred thousand disorganized and undisciplined crowd within the walls of the capital, who called themselves soldiers.

Strasburg surrendered on the very day that the Crown Prince of Prussia and his brilliant suite entered Versailles. Strasburg is the capital city of Alsace, and is considered the central point in the defence of the Rhine frontier. It has a glorious cathedral, and a library unsurpassed in its collection of historical documents of antiquity. It is an arch-bishopric, and had always been defended by a large garrison. With Paris, Lyons, Bordeaux, Marseilles, and Rouen, it had stood foremost among French cities. It contained, when invested, twenty thousand fighting men, and it was besieged at first by a corps of about sixty thousand. Its investment was one of the first acts of the Germans on entering France. Strasburg made an heroic resistance for six weeks, and surrendered on the day when Jules Favre was assuring Count Bismarck that France would never repay the services of its heroic garrison by consenting to give them up as prisoners of war. Before its surrender it suffered six days' bombardment. A bombardment is far more destructive to a small town than to a city of "magnificent distances" like Paris. By September 9, a week after Sedan, ninety-eight Prussian rifled cannon and forty mortars were placed in position and Page 287 directed against the walls of Strasburg, while forty other pieces were to bombard the citadel. By September 12 the defences of the city were laid in ruins. Two weeks after, it surrendered. The Mobiles and National Guards, being Alsatians, were sent to their homes; the remaining five thousand men, who were regular soldiers, were marched as prisoners of war into Germany. Hardly a house in Strasburg remained untouched by shells. The ordinary provisions were exhausted. The only thing eatable, of which there was abundance, was Strasburg pie, paté de foie gras,—the year's production of that delicacy having been stored in Strasburg for exportation.

The famous library was greatly injured, but the cathedral was not materially hurt. A German who had been in Hamburg during the time of the great fire, assured an English reporter that the scene of desolation in that city on the morning after the conflagration was less heart-rending than that presented by the ruined quarters of Strasburg when the Prussian conquerors marched in. And yet the inhabitants, had General Ulrich been willing, would have still fought on.

Metz capitulated one month after Strasburg, Oct. 27, 1870. Three marshals of France, six thousand officers, and one hundred and seventy-three thousand men surrendered to the Germans. Many were entirely demoralized; but the Garde Impériale, a body of picked troops, was faithful to the last.

"That a vast army which had given ample proof of military worth in the two great battles of Gravelotte, and which moreover possessed the support of the most important stronghold in France, should have permitted a scarcely superior enemy to hem it in and to detain it for weeks, making no earnest attempt to escape, and finally, at the conqueror's bidding, should have laid down its arms without striking a blow, would before the event," says an English military authority, "have seemed impossible. It set the investing force free to crush the new-made Army of the Loire, and it occurred in the nick of time to prevent the raising of the siege of Paris, which the Germans had in contemplation."

Page 288 Smaller places held out nobly,—Phalsbourg in Alsace, and Thionville and Toul, but above all Belfort. Garibaldi was there with a considerable body of Italians and a contingent of two hundred well-armed Greeks. There was great jealousy of Garibaldi and his Italians in the Southern army, and their outrageous conduct towards priests and churches set against them the women and the peasantry.

Belfort never surrendered. But the army under Bourbaki, called the Army of the East, nearly a hundred thousand strong, suffered horribly in the latter days of the struggle. It was not included in the armistice made at the close of January, 1871, between Bismarck and Jules Favre, for Favre was in total ignorance of its position. Bourbaki attempted suicide. His soldiers, shoeless, tentless, and unprovided with provisions, pushed into the defiles of the Jura in the depths of one of the coldest winters ever known in Europe, hoping to escape into Switzerland. Eighty thousand men made their way over the mountains; fifteen thousand were made prisoners. A few escaped to their homes. A correspondent who saw them after they reached safety, said,—

"In all of them, pinched features and a slouching gait told of gnawing hunger, while their hollow voices told of nights spent on snow and frozen ground. Some had tied bits of wood under their bare feet to keep them from the stones. For weeks none had washed, or changed their clothes. Their hands were black as Africans'. For three days neither food nor fodder had been served out to them, and before that they had only got one four-pound loaf among eight men."

While men were thus suffering in the mountains, an event of the greatest political importance was taking place at Versailles. On January 19, a week before the capitulation of Paris, the king of Prussia received a deputation from the German Reichstag, offering him the imperial crown of Germany.

The Federal States of the German Empire up to the close Page 289 of the last century were three hundred and sixty; many of these were only free cities or extremely small duchies or principalities. There was a German emperor and a German Diet. The latter met always at Frankfort. The emperor might be of any family or of any religion. His successor was elected during his lifetime, to be ready in case of accident, and was called King of the Romans. The emperor was at first chosen by the princes at large, but in process of time the choice was made over to nine princes, called electors. After 1438, all emperors of Germany were of the house of Hapsburg, the royal family of Austria. This was not law, but custom. In the days of Napoleon I. the old German Empire was broken up. The title of Emperor of Germany was discontinued, though he who would have borne it still held an imperial title as Emperor of Austria. The small German princes were mediatized; that is, pensioned, and reduced from sovereign princes to the condition of mere nobles. In place of three hundred and sixty States there remained thirty-six States, composing the German Confederation. A new German Federal Constitution was formed; the States agreed to defend one another, to do nothing to injure one another, and to abstain from making war upon one another. There were practically seventeen votes in the Diet, some of the larger States having several, and many of the smaller States uniting in the possession of one.

This Constitution also was swept away in 1866, after the brilliant campaign of Sadowa.

The great desire of patriotic Germans was to consolidate Germany,—to make her strong; and while Prussia, assisted by all the North German States and by Bavaria, Baden, Würtemberg, and Darmstadt, was fighting France, a new Federal, Constitution was formed.

The king of Prussia was chosen German emperor, and the imperial crown was to be hereditary in his family. There is a Diet, or Federal Congress, composed of two Houses, the Upper House being limited to sovereign princes or their representatives, the other, called the Reichstag, Page 290 being really the governing power of the nation. Each State is entitled also to its own legislature.

In the Reichstag, Prussia has nearly two thirds of the votes; and its power is much greater than that of our Congress at Washington. The emperor can veto its decisions only when they affect changes in the constitution. The Diet can dethrone any emperor if he is considered incapable of governing, or supposed to be dangerous to the Fatherland.

Practically the power of Prussia seems boundless in the federation; she enforces her military system on all Germany, and the smaller States submit to her, for the sake of strength and unity.

On Jan. 18, 1871, a deputation of fifty members of the Reichstag came to the king of Prussia's headquarters at Versailles to implore him to accept the imperial crown of Germany. The world's attention was engrossed by the campaign which was then drawing to a close, and the offering of the imperial crown to the Prussian sovereign formed only a dramatic episode in the history of the war. Fortunately, as the deputies passed Paris, shivering in their furs, while transported in carriages of all descriptions, the Parisians made no sortie to intercept them, and they reached Versailles in safety.

The French seemed perfectly indifferent on the occasion. "Do as you like," seemed to be the feeling. "Have an empire if you think proper. It is no concern of ours. We are glad to have got rid of our own."

The day on which the deputies offered their great gift to King William was clear and bright. Before the prefecture at Versailles was planted the Prussian royal standard,—a black cross on a ground of gold and purple. Round the gateway stood all the Prussian soldiers who were off duty, waiting to see the deputies pass in. There was no music, but shots boomed from Paris from time to time. There was to be thenceforward one Germany, and one flag for the land of so many princes, who all waived their claims in favor of the greatest among them,—he who now stood conqueror in a foreign land.

Page 291 The chief room of the prefecture was filled with men in bright uniforms, with helmets, ribbons, and decorations of all kinds. The king stood near the fireplace, surrounded by princes and generals. The president of the North German Confederation appointed to address him had once before, in 1849, offered the imperial crown to a Prussian king, who had declined it. Since then events had ripened. This time the king accepted what his countrymen desired he should receive from them. But he declined to assume the title of emperor until the South German people should express their acquiescence, as the South German princes had already done.

We may contrast the conduct of the Prussian king with the unwisdom of the French emperor. Both Napoleon III. and the Emperor William governed as autocrats; but with what different men they surrounded themselves, and how differently they were served in their hour of need! Yet Napoleon III. was lavish of rewards to his adherents, while the Emperor William was, to an excessive degree, chary of recompense. He seemed to feel that each man owed his all to his kaiser and his country, and that when he had given all, he could only say, in the words of Scripture: "I have but done that it was my duty to do."

When Jules Favre went to Versailles to negotiate with the German emperor and his chancellor for the surrender of Paris, he was accompanied, on his second and subsequent visits, by a young officer of ordnance, Count d'Hérisson, who attended him as a sort of aide-de-camp. Nothing could be less alike than the two men: Jules Favre, of the upper middle class in life, deeply sorrowful, oppressed by his responsibility, and profoundly conscious of his situation; and the young man whose birth placed him in the ranks of the jeunesse dorée, pleased to find himself in plenty and in good society, and allowing his spirits to rise with even more than national buoyancy, when, for a moment, the pressure of trouble was removed. D'Hérisson published an account of his experience while at the Prussian headquarters, which gives so vivid a picture of Count Bismarck, the great chancellor Page 292 of the German Empire, that I here venture to repeat some parts of his narrative. He says,—

"On January 23 I received a summons from Jules Favre. He seized me by both hands, and asked me to carry, early the next morning, a despatch to M. de Bismarck, and to get it into his hands before daybreak. No one was to know of this despatch except the German officer bearing a flag of truce, to whom I was to give it with my own hand. 'Then all is over?' I said to Jules Favre. 'Yes,' he answered, 'we have only bread enough for a few more days. God only knows what the people of Paris may do to us when we are forced to let them know the truth. We must do our best to guard against the disastrous consequences of their strong feeling of patriotism. The Government does not intend to rid itself of its responsibilities, but its first duty is to provide bread for the capital.'

"With some difficulty," continued d'Hérisson, "I reached Sèvres, and the next morning before daybreak gave Jules Favre's letter to the Prussian officer. I sent back an express to Jules Favre with the news, and then went to Baron Rothschild's desolated villa at Suresnes to wait the answer. Two hours later, came a message from the French officer commanding the nearest outpost to say that a flag of truce had brought word that M. de Bismarck would see M. Jules Favre, and that a carriage would be in waiting on the left bank of the Seine to take him to headquarters."

This knowledge of the negotiation at the French outposts was a disclosure that Jules Favre had desired to avoid.

"When I brought Jules Favre the news," continues d'Hérisson, "he was greatly moved. His hands trembled so that he could hardly break the seal of the letter."

Fig. 15

Seeing that news of what was passing would most certainly be brought in from the outposts, it seemed best that the French Minister for Foreign Affairs should start at once for the interview. There was in the courtyard a coupé with a handsome horse, once belonging to Napoleon III., and driven by one of his former coachmen. Jules Favre at once got into it, with his son-in-law and M. d'Hérisson. They passed with some difficulty through the Bois de Boulogne, the roads having been torn up and trees felled in every direction. On reaching a French outpost Jules Favre, Page 293 afraid of being recognized, concealed his face. Their only means of crossing the Seine at Sèvres was to take a small boat which had served General Burnside a few days before. But the Prussians had been making a target of it ever since, and it was riddled with bullets. Having bailed it out, however, with an old saucepan, they stuffed their handkerchiefs into the worst leaks, and crossed the Seine in safety.

In a miserable old carriage, attended by a Prussian escort, Jules Favre was borne away to his terrible interview with Bismarck, leaving d'Hérisson behind. Favre did not come back for many hours. His first words to his aide-de-camp were: "Oh, my dear fellow, I was wrong to go without you. What have I not suffered?"

He had been taken at once to a very modest house in Versailles, where Bismarck had his quarters. After the first salutations Jules Favre said that he came to renew the negotiations broken off at Ferrières. Here Bismarck interrupted him, saying: "The situation is changed. If you are still going to say, 'Not an inch, not a stone,' as you did at Ferrières, we may break off at once. My time is valuable, and yours too." Then suddenly he added: "Your hair has grown much grayer than it was at Ferrières." Jules Favre replied that that was due to anxiety and the cares of government. The chancellor answered that the Government of Paris had put off a long time asking for peace, and that he had been on the eve of making an arrangement with an envoy from Napoleon III. He then explained that it would be easy for him to bring back the emperor and to force France to receive him; that Napoleon could collect an army of a hundred thousand men among the French prisoners of war in Germany, etc.; and he added: "After all, why should I treat with you? Why should I give your irregular Republic an appearance of legality by signing an armistice with its representative? What are you but rebels? Your emperor if he came back would have the right to shoot every one of you."

"But if he came back," cried Jules Favre, "all would be civil war and anarchy."

Page 294 "Are you so sure of that?" said the chancellor. "Anyhow, a civil war in France could not affect Germany."

"But, M. le Comte, are you not afraid of reducing us to despair, of exasperating our resistance?"

"Your resistance!" cried Bismarck. "Are you proud of your resistance? If General Trochu were a German, I would have him shot this evening. You have no right, for the sake of mere military vainglory, to risk the lives of two millions of people. The railroad tracks have been torn up, and if we cannot lay them down again in two days, we know that a hundred thousand people in Paris will die of famine. Don't talk of resistance, it is criminal."

Jules Favre, put entirely out of countenance by Bismarck's tone, merely insisted that in pity to France there should be no question of subjecting her to the ignominy of being again made over to her deposed emperor. Before parting, Bismarck requested him to write down such conditions of peace as seemed to him reasonable, in order that they might discuss them the next day.[1]

[Footnote 1: My copy of d'Hérisson's book has a pencil note at this place, written by a friend then at Versailles: "Bismarck rode after Jules Favre when he set out on his return, and thrust into his carriage an enormous sausage."]

When that day came, the chancellor, having had interviews with his sovereign and Von Moltke, submitted his own propositions. They were seven in number:—

I. An armistice for twenty-one days.

II. Disarmament of the French army, to remain in Paris as prisoners of war.

III. The soldiers to give up arms and banners; officers to keep their swords.

IV. The armistice to extend all over France.

V. Paris to pay indemnity, and give up its forts to the Prussians.

VI. The Germans not to enter Paris during the armistice.

VII. Elections to be held throughout France for a National Assembly charged to consider conditions of peace.

Some slight modifications were made in these hard terms, which were signed Jan. 28, 1871.

Page 295 As aide-de-camp and secretary to the French minister, d'Hérisson was present at all the interviews between Bismarck and his principal. When the terms, proposed by Germany were reported by Jules Favre to the Committee of Defence, they were thought less severe than had been feared.

The next morning Favre and d'Hérisson were at Versailles by dawn. Bismarck, who was an early riser, soon appeared, and took the minister and his aide-de-camp to his study. There the two men talked, and the secretary took notes of the conversation.

Bismarck and Favre presented a great contrast. Bismarck was then fifty-five years of age; Jules Favre was six years older. Bismarck wore the uniform of a colonel of White Cuirassiers,—a white coat, a white cap, and yellow trimmings. He seemed like a colossus, with his square shoulders and his mighty strength. Jules Favre, on the contrary, was tall and thin, bowed down by a sense of his position, wearing a black frock-coat that had become too wide for him, with his white hair resting on its collar. He was especially urgent that the National Guard in Paris should retain its arms. He consented to the disarmament of the Mobiles and the army, but he said it would be impossible to disarm the National Guard. At length Bismarck yielded this point, but with superior sagacity remarked: "So be it. But believe me you are doing a foolish thing. Sooner or later you will be sorry you did not disarm those unquiet spirits. Their arms will be turned against you."

When the question was raised concerning the indemnity to be paid by Paris, Bismarck said, laughing, that Paris was so great a lady, it would be an indignity to ask of her less than a milliard of francs ($200,000,000). The ransom was finally settled at two hundred millions of francs ($40,000,000).

"The dinner-hour having arrived, the chancellor invited us," says d'Hérisson, "to take seats at his table. Jules Favre, who wanted to write out carefully the notes I had taken, begged to Page 296 have his dinner sent up to him; so I alone followed the chancellor to the dining-room, where about a dozen military and civil functionaries were assembled, but all were in uniform. The chancellor, who sat at the head of the table, placed me on his right. There was plenty of massive silver, belonging evidently to a travelling case. The only deficiency was in light, the table being illuminated by only two wax candles stuck in empty wine-bottles. This was the only evidence of a time of war."

As soon as the chancellor was seated, he began to eat with a good appetite, talking all the time, and drinking alternately beer and champagne from a great silver goblet marked with his initials. The conversation was in French. Suddenly the chancellor remembered having met M. d'Hérisson eight years before at the Princess Mentzichoff's, and their relations became those of two gentlemen who recognize each other in good society.

The Parisians thought that d'Hérisson had been far too lively on this occasion; but he feels sure that his sprightly talk and free participation in the good things of the table, formed a favorable contrast to the deep depression of Jules Favre at the same board the day before. "M. de Bismarck," he says, "is not at all like the conventional statesman. He is not solemn. He is very gay, and even when discussing the gravest questions often makes jokes, though under his playful sallies gleam the lion's claws."

They talked of hunting. The chancellor related anecdotes of his own prowess, and by the time they returned to Jules Favre, the French aide-de-camp and the Prussian prime minister were on the best terms with each other. But before long the chancellor gave a specimen of the violence of his displeasure. "Three times," says d'Hérisson, "I saw him angry,—once à propos of Garibaldi; once when speaking of the resistance of St. Quentin, an unwalled town, which he said should have submitted at once; and once it was my own fault."

On the table stood a saucer with three choice cigars. The chancellor took it up and offered it to Jules Favre, who replied that he never smoked; "There you are wrong," Page 297 said Bismarck; "when a conversation is about to take place which may lead to differences of opinion, it is better to smoke. The cigar between a man's lips, which he must not let fall, controls his physical impatience. It soothes him imperceptibly. He grows more conciliatory. He is more disposed to make concessions. And diplomacy is made up of reciprocal concessions. You who don't smoke have one advantage over me,—you are more on the alert. But I have an advantage over you,—you will be more likely than I shall be to lose your self control and give way to sudden impressions."

The negotiation was resumed very quietly. With astonishing frankness the chancellor said simply and plainly what he wanted. He went straight to his point, bewildering Jules Favre, a lawyer by profession, who was accustomed to diplomatic circumlocutions, and was not prepared for such imperious openness.

The chancellor spoke French admirably, "making use," says d'Hérisson "of strong and choice expressions, and never seeming at a loss for a word." But when the subject of Garibaldi and his army came up, his eyes began to flash, and he seemed to curb himself with difficulty. "I intend," he said, "to leave him and his followers out of the armistice. He is not one of your own people. You can very well leave him to me. Our army opposed to him is about equal to his. Let them fight it out between them." Jules Favre replied that this was impossible; for though France had not asked Garibaldi for his services, and had in the first instance refused them, circumstances had made him general-in-chief of a large corps d'armée composed almost entirely of Frenchmen, and to abandon him would be indefensible. Then the anger of the chancellor blazed forth against Garibaldi. "I want to parade him through the streets of Berlin," he cried, "with a placard on his back: 'This is Gratitude!'"

Here d'Hérisson interrupted his burst of anger by picking up the saucer from the table and holding it to his breast as beggars do at the church-doors. The chancellor caught Page 298 his idea after a moment. He laughed, and Garibaldi, with his corps d'armée, was included in the armistice.

It was necessary, however, that a French general should come out to Versailles the next day and confer with Count von Moltke with regard to some military details. The old general who was chosen for that service was furious at the appointment, and behaved with such rudeness that Bismarck requested that a man more courteous might replace him.

In the course of the conversation Bismarck, who was always breaking off upon side topics, replied to an observation made by Jules Favre about the love of France for a republic, by saying: "Are you so sure of that?—for I don't think so. Before treating with you, we naturally made it our business to obtain good information as to the state of public feeling in your country; and notwithstanding this unhappy war, which was forced by France upon Napoleon III., and notwithstanding the disasters of your armies, nothing would be easier, believe me, than to re-establish the emperor. I will not say that his restoration would have been hailed by acclamations in Paris, but it would have been submitted to by the country. A plébiscite would have done the rest."

Jules Favre protested. "Oh, you will become more inclined to monarchy as you grow older," cried the chancellor. "Look at me. I began my public life by being a liberal; and now, by force of reason, by the teachings of experience, and by an increased knowledge of mankind, I have learned, loving my country, wishing her good and her greatness, to become a conservative,—an upholder of authority. My emperor converted me. My gratitude to him, my respectful affection, date from the far-off time when he alone supported me. If I am to-day the man you see me, if I have rendered any service to my country, I owe it all, as I am pleased to acknowledge, to the emperor."

That night, as Jules Favre was returning to Paris to obtain from his colleagues the ratification of the armistice, Bismarck proposed that firing should cease at midnight. Jules Page 299 Favre assented, but asked as a courtesy that Paris might fire the last shot.

That night the terms of capitulation were signed by all the members of the Committee of Defence. It is strange how the baptismal name of Jules predominated among them,—Jules Favre, Jules Ferry, Jules Simon, Jules Trochu. Trochu, however, did not sign, having resigned his post that he might not be called upon to do so.

A few changes in the articles as at first drawn up were made. The Prussians did not insist, as Bismarck had done at first, that the cannon in the bastions should be hurled down, and regiments were permitted to retain their colors, though Von Moltke objected strongly to such concessions. They were granted, however, by the emperor, when the matter was referred to him, but in words more insulting than a refusal. "Tell the envoy of the French Government," he said, "that we have trophies enough and standards enough taken from French armies, and have no need of those of the army of Paris."

Then, the capitulation being signed, the armistice began. General elections were at once held all over France, and the National Assembly met at Bordeaux. A Provisional Government, with M. Thiers at its head, was appointed, and peace was concluded. Alsace and Lorraine were given up to Germany, with the exception of the stronghold of Belfort, which had never surrendered. The German army was to enter Paris, but to go no farther than the Place de la Concorde; and besides the two hundred millions of francs exacted from Paris, France was to pay five milliards, that is, five thousand millions, of francs, as a war indemnity,—a thousand millions of dollars. Germany was to retain certain forts in France, and her troops in them were to be rationed by the French until this money was paid.

It was paid in an incredibly short time, chiefly by the help of the great Jewish banking-houses; and the last of the Germans retired to their own soil in September, 1872.

But on March 13, 1871, the German army around Paris,

Page 300

after remaining a few hours in the capital, marched away towards home.

The Assembly at Bordeaux proceeded at once to transfer itself to the late Prussian headquarters at Versailles; but on March 18 a great rising, called the Commune, broke out in Paris, which lasted rather more than nine weeks, with a continued succession of horrors.

Page 301 CHAPTER XV.


The story of the Commune is piteous, disheartening, shameful, and terrible. It seems as if during three months of 1871 "human nature," as Carlyle says of it in his "French Revolution," "had thrown off all formulas, and come out human!" It is the story of those whom the French call "the people,"—we "the mob," or "the populace,"—let loose upon society, and society in its turn mercilessly avenging itself for its wrongs.

By March 12,1871, the Prussian soldiers had quitted the environs of Paris, and were in full march for their homes. Two of the detached forts, however, remained eighteen months longer in their hands. On March 20 the National Assembly was to begin its session at Versailles. The Provinces were very mistrustful of Paris, and the assembling of the deputies at Versailles was of itself a proof of the want of national confidence in the Parisians.

When it was made known that the German army was to enter Paris, the National Guard of Belleville and Montmartre stole cannon from the fortifications, and placed them in position in their own quarter on the heights, so that they could fire into the city.

On March 18 General Vinoy, who had succeeded Trochu as military commander of Paris, demanded that these cannon should be given back to the city. Many of them had been purchased by subscription during the siege, but they were not the property of the men of Belleville and Montmartre, but of the whole National Guard. A regiment of the line was ordered to take possession of them, and they Page 302 did so. But immediately after, the soldiers fraternized with the National Guard of Belleville, and surrendered their prize. An officer of chasseurs had been killed, and General Lecomte twice ordered his men to fire on the insurgents.[1] They refused to obey him. "General Lecomte is right," said a gentleman who was standing in a crowd of angry men at a street-corner near the scene of action. He was seized at once, and was soon recognized as General Clément Thomas, formerly commander of the National Guard of Paris. He had done gallant service during the siege; but that consideration had no weight with the insurgents. General Lecomte had been already arrested. "We will put you with him," cried the mob,—"you, who dare to speak in defence of such a scoundrel." Both the unfortunate generals were immediately imprisoned.

[Footnote 1: Leighton, Paris under the Commune.]

At four P. M. they were brought forth by about one hundred insurgent National Guards; Lecomte's hands were tied, those of General Thomas were free. They were marched to an empty house, where a mock trial took place. No rescue was attempted, though soldiers of the line stood by. The two prisoners were then conducted to a walled enclosure at the end of the street. As soon as the party halted, an officer of the National Guard seized General Thomas by the collar and shook him violently, holding a revolver to his head, and crying out, "Confess that you have betrayed the Republic!" The general shrugged his shoulders. The officer retired. The report of twenty muskets rent the air, and General Thomas fell, face downward. They ordered Lecomte to step over his body, and to take his place against the wall. Another report succeeded, and the butchery was over.

By evening the National Guard had taken possession of the Hôtel-de-Ville, and the outer Boulevards were crowded by men shouting that they had made a revolution. On this day the insurgents assumed the name of "Fédérés," or Federals, denoting their project of converting the communistic cities of France into a Federal Republic.

Page 303 In vain the Government put forth proclamations calling on all good citizens, and on the Old National Guard, to put down insurrection and maintain order and the Republic. The Old Battalions of the National Guard, about twenty thousand strong, had been composed chiefly of tradesmen and gentlemen; these, as soon as the siege was over, had for the most part left the city. Bismarck's proposition to Jules Favre had been to leave the Old National Guard its arms, that it might preserve order, but to take advantage of the occasion to disarm the New Battalions. As we have seen, all were permitted to retain their arms; but the chancellor told Jules Favre he would live to repent having obtained the concession.

The friends of order, in spite of the Government's proclamations, could with difficulty be roused to action. There were two parties in Paris,—the Passives, and the Actives; and the latter party increased in strength from day to day. Indeed, it was hard for peaceful citizens to know under whom they were to range themselves. The Government had left the city. One or two of its members were still in Paris, but the rest had rushed off to Versailles, protected by an army forty thousand strong, under General Vinoy.

A species of Government had, however, formed itself by the morning of March 19 at the Hôtel-de-Ville. It called itself the Central Committee of the National Guard, and issued proclamations on white paper (white paper being reserved in Paris for proclamations of the Government). It called upon all citizens in their sections at once to elect a commune. This proclamation was signed by twenty citizens, only one of whom, M. Assy, had ever been heard of in Paris. Some months before, he had headed a strike, killed a policeman, and had been condemned to the galleys for murder. The men who thus constituted themselves a Government, were all members of the International,—that secret association, formed in all countries, for the abolition of property and patriotism, religion and the family, rulers, armies, upper classes, and every species of refinement. Another proclamation decreed that the people of Paris, Page 304 whether it pleased them or not, must on Wednesday, March 22, elect a commune.

In a former chapter I have tried to explain the nature of a commune. Victor Hugo wrote his opinion of it, when the idea of a commune was first started, after the fall of Louis Philippe in 1848. His words read like a prophecy:—

"It would tear down the tricolor, and set up the red flag of destruction; it would make penny-pieces out of the Column of the Place Vendôme; it would hurl down the statue of Napoleon, and set up that of Marat in its place; it would suppress the Académie, the École Polytechnique, and the Legion of Honor. To the grand motto of 'Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,' it would add the words, 'or death.' It would bring about a general bankruptcy. It would ruin the rich without enriching the poor. It would destroy labor, which gives each of us his bread. It would abolish property, and break up the family. It would march about with the heads of the proscribed on pikes, fill the prisons with the suspected, and empty them by massacre. It would convert France into a country of gloom. It would destroy liberty, stifle the arts, silence thought, and deny God. It would supply work for two things fatal to prosperity,—the press that prints assignats, and the guillotine. In a word, it would do in cold blood what the men of 1793 did in the ravings of fever; and after the great horrors which our fathers saw, we should have the horrible in every form that is low and base."

The party of the Commune has been divided into three classes,—the rascals, the dupes, and the enthusiasts. The latter in the last hours of the Commune (which lasted seventy-three days) put forth in a manifesto their theory of government; to wit, that every city in France should have absolute power to govern itself, should levy its own taxes, make its own laws, provide its own soldiers, see to its own schools, elect its own judges, and make within its corporate limits whatever changes of government it pleased. These Communistic cities were to be federated into a Republic. It was not clear how those Frenchmen were to be governed who did not live in cities; possibly Page 305 each city was to have territory attached to it, as in Italy in the Middle Ages.

The weather during March of the year 1871 was very fine, and fine weather is always favorable to disturbances and revolutions.

The very few men of note still left in Paris desirous of putting an end to disorder without the shedding of blood, proposed to go out to Versailles and negotiate with M. Thiers, the provisional president, and the members of his Government. They were the twelve deputies of the Department of the Seine, in which Paris is situated, headed by Louis Blanc, and the maires, with their assistants, from the twenty arrondissements. They proposed to urge on the Government of Versailles the policy of giving the Parisians the right to elect what in England would be called a Lord Mayor, and likewise a city council; also to give the National Guard the right to elect its officers.

This deputation went out to Versailles on the 20th of March,—two days before the proposed election for members of a commune. On the 21st, while all Paris was awaiting anxiously the outcome of the mission, there was a great "order" demonstration in the streets, and hopes of peace and concord were exchanged on all sides. The next day, the order demonstration, which had seemed so popular, was repeated, when a massacre took place on the Place Vendome and the Rue de la Paix. Nurses, children, and other quiet spectators were killed, as also old gentlemen and reporters for the newspapers. One of the victims was a partner in the great banking house of Hottinguer, well known to American travellers.

The most popular man at that moment in Paris seemed to be Admiral Seisset, who had commanded the brigade of sailors which did good service in the siege. He went out to Versailles to unite his efforts to those of the maires and the deputies in favor of giving Paris municipal rights; but M. Thiers and his ministers were firm in their refusal.

When this was known in Paris, great was the fury and Page 306 indignation of the people. In vain had Louis Blanc entreated the Assembly at Versailles to approve conciliatory measures; and when that body utterly refused to make terms with a Parisian mob, M. Clémenceau said, as he quitted their chamber: "May the responsibility for what may happen, rest upon your heads."

The mission to Versailles having been productive of no results, the election for a commune was held. The extremest men were chosen in every quarter of the city, and formed what was called the Council of the Commune. It held its sittings in the Hôtel-de-Ville, and consisted at first of eighty members, seventy of whom had never been heard of in Paris before. Its numbers dwindled rapidly, from various causes, especially in the latter days of the Commune. Among them were Poles, Italians, and even Germans; two of the eighty claimed to be Americans.

The first act of the Council of the Commune was to take possession of the Hôtel-de-Ville and to celebrate the inauguration of the new government by a brilliant banquet; its first decree was that no tenant need pay any back rent from October, 1870, to April, 1871,—the time during which the siege had lasted. It lost no time in inviting Garibaldi to assume the command of the National Guard. This Garibaldi declined at once, saying that a commandant of the National Guard, a commander-in-chief of Paris, and an executive committee could not act together. "What Paris needs," he said, "is an honest dictator, who will choose honest men to act under him. If you should have the good fortune to find a Washington, France will recover from shipwreck, and in a short time be grander than ever."

On April 3 the civil war broke out,—Paris against Versailles; the army under the National Assembly against the National Guard under the Commune. The Prussians from the two forts which they still held, looked grimly on.

At the bridge of Courbevoie, near Neuilly, where the body of Napoleon had been landed thirty years before, a flag of truce was met by two National Guards. Its bearer Page 307 was a distinguished surgeon, Dr. Pasquier. After a brief parley, one of the National Guards blew out the doctor's brains. When news of this outrage was brought to General Vinoy, he commanded the guns of Fort Valérien to be turned upon the city.

At five A. M. the next morning five columns of Federals marched out to take the fort. They were under the command of three generals, Bergeret, Duval, and Eudes. With Bergeret rode Lullier, who had been a naval officer, and Flourens, the popular favorite among the members of the Commune. The three divisions marched in full confidence that the soldiers under Vinoy would fraternize with them. They were wholly mistaken; the guns of Fort Valérien crashed into the midst of their columns, and almost at the same time Flourens, in a hand-to-hand struggle, was slain.

Flourens had begun life with every prospect of being a distinguished scientist. His father had been perpetual secretary of the Academy of Sciences and a professor in the Collège de France, in which his son succeeded him when he was barely twenty-one. His first lecture, on the "History of Man," created a great impression; but in 1864 he resigned his professorship, and thenceforward devoted all his energies to the cause of the oppressed. In Crete he fought against the Turks. He was always conspiring when at home in Paris; even when the Prussians were at its gates, he could not refrain. He was the darling of the Belleville population, whom in times of distress and trial he fed, clothed, and comforted. Sometimes he was in prison, sometimes in exile. "He was a madman, but a hero, and towards the poor and the afflicted as gentle as a sister of charity," said one who knew him.

Of the three generals who led the attack on Mont Valérien, Duval was captured and shot; Eudes and Bergeret got back to Paris in safety. But the latter, in company with Lullier, was at once sent to prison by the Central Committee, and a decree was issued that Paris should be covered with barricades. As the insurgents Page 308 had plenty of leisure, these barricades were strong and symmetrical, though many of them were injudiciously placed.

Whilst the fight of the 4th of April was going on without the gates, the Central Committee was occupied in issuing decrees, by which Thiers, Favre, Simon,—in short, all the legitimate ministers,—were summoned to give themselves up to the Commune to be tried for their offences, or else all their property in Paris would be confiscated or destroyed.

The failure of the expedition under Bergeret made the Parisians furiously angry. In less than a week some of the best-known priests in Paris were arrested as hostages. The churches were all closed after the morning services on Easter Day; the arms were cut off from the crosses, and red flags were hung up in their stead. No one could be buried with Christian decency, or married with the Church's blessing.

"The motto of the Commune soon became fraternity of that sort," said a resident in Paris, "which means arrest each other." Before the Commune had been established two weeks, many of its leading members, besides Lullier and Bergeret, had found their way to prison.

A personage who rose to great importance at this period was General Cluseret. He called himself an American, but he had had many aliases, and it is not known in what country he was born. At one time he had been a captain in the Chasseurs d'Afrique, but was convicted of dishonesty in the purchase of horses, and dismissed from the army. Then he came to the United States, and entered the service of the Union, by which he became a naturalized citizen. He got into trouble, however, over a flock of sheep which mysteriously disappeared while he had charge of them. Next he enlisted in the Papal Zouaves. After the Commune he escaped from Paris, and the Fenians chose him for their general. In their service he came very near capturing Chester Castle. The Fenians, however, soon accused him of being a traitor. Page 309 Again he escaped, fearing a secret dagger, and was thought to have found refuge in a religious community. Subsequently he served the Turks; and lastly, during the presidency of M. Grévy, at a time of great dissatisfaction in France, he was elected a deputy from one of the Southern cities.

By April 7, Cluseret had, as some one expresses it, "swallowed up the Commune." He became for three weeks absolute dictator; after which time he found himself in prison at Mazas, occupying the very cell to which he had sent Bergeret.

Cluseret was a soldier of experience; but Bergeret had been a bookseller's assistant, and his highest military rank had been that of a sergeant in the National Guard. He could not ride on horseback, and he drove out from Paris to the fight in which Flourens was killed.

The official title of Cluseret and others, who were heads of the War Office during the Commune, was War Delegate, the committee refusing to recognize the usual title of Minister of War.

Probably the best general the Commune had was a Pole named Dombrowski, an adventurer who came into France with Garibaldi. He was not only a good strategist, but a dare-devil for intrepidity. Some said he had fought for Polish liberty, others, that he had fought against it; at any rate, he was an advanced Anarchist, though in military matters he was a strict disciplinarian, and kept his men of all nations in better order than any other commander.

When, after the first attack of the Communist forces on those of the Versailles Government, the guns of Fort Valérien opened on Paris, the second bombardment began. It was far more destructive than that of the Prussians, the guns from the forts being so much nearer to the centre of the city. The shells of the Versaillais fell on friend and foe alike, on women and on children, on homes, on churches, and on public buildings. Three shots struck the Arch of Triumph, which the Prussians had spared.

Page 310 Such scenes as the following one, related by an American, might be seen daily:—

"Two National Guards passed me, bearing a litter between them. 'Oh, you can look if you like,' cried one; so I drew back the checked curtain. On a mattress was stretched a woman decently dressed, with a child of two or three years lying on her breast. They both looked very pale. One of the woman's arms was hanging down; her hand had been carried away. 'Where are they wounded?' I asked. 'Wounded! they are dead,' was the reply. 'They are the wife and child of the velocipede-maker in the Avenue de Wagram. If you will go and break the news to him, you will do us a kindness.'"

The velocipede-maker may have been—probably was—a good, peaceable citizen, with no sympathy for disorder or anarchy; but doubtless from the moment that news was broken to him, he became a furious Communist.

By order of General Cluseret every man in Paris was to be forced to bear arms for the Commune. His neighbors were expected to see that he did so, and to arrest him at once if he seemed anxious to decline. "Thus, every man walking along the street was liable to have the first Federal who passed him, seize him by the collar and say: 'Come along, and be killed on behalf of my municipal independence.'"

It would be hardly possible to follow the details of the fighting, the arrests, the bombardment, or even the changes that took place among those high in office in the Council of the Commune during the seventy-three days that its power lasted; the state of things in Paris will be best exhibited by detached sketches of what individuals saw and experienced during those dreadful days.

Here is the narrative of an English lady who was compelled to visit Paris on Easter Sunday, April 9, while it was under the administration of Cluseret.[1]

[Footnote 1: A Catholic lady in "Red" Paris. London Spectator, April, 1871 (Living Age, May 13, 1871).]

The streets she found for the most part silent and empty. There were a few omnibuses, filled with National Guards and men en blouse, and heavy ammunition-wagons under the Page 311 disorderly escort of men in motley uniforms, with guns and bayonets. Here and there were groups of "patriots" seated on the curbstones, playing pitch-farthing, known in France by the name of "bouchon." Their guns were resting quietly against the wall behind them, with, in many instances, a loaf of bread stuck on the bayonet. The sky was gray, the wind piercingly cold. The swarming life of Paris was hushed. There was no movement, and scarcely any sound. The shop-windows were shut, many were boarded up; from a few hung shabby red flags, but the very buildings looked dead. She says,—

"I felt bewildered. I could see no traces of the siege, and all my previous ideas of a revolution were dispersed. I passed several churches, not then closed, and being a Catholic, I entered the Madeleine. The precious articles on the altar had been removed by the priests, but except the words 'Liberté,' 'Égalité,' 'Fraternité,' deeply cut in the stone over the great door, the church had not, so far, been desecrated. I went also to mass at Notre Dame des Victoires; but before telling my cabman to drive me there, I hesitated, believing it to be in a bad part of the city. 'There are no bad parts,' he said, 'except towards the Arch of Triumph and Neuilly. The rest of Paris is as quiet as a bird's nest.' The church was very full of men as well as women. It was a solemn, devout crowd; every woman wore a plain black dress, every face was anxious, grave, and grieved, but none looked frightened. As the aged priest who officiated read the first words of the Gospel for the day, 'Be not afraid, ye seek Jesus who was crucified,' the bombardment recommenced with a fearful roar, shaking the heavy leathern curtain over the church door, and rattling the glass in the great painted windows. I started, but got used to it after a while, and paid no more attention to it than did others. While I was in church, the citizen patriot who was my cab-driver, had brought me three newspapers, one of them the journal edited by M. Rochefort, which said that it was earnestly to be hoped that the 'old assassin' M. Thiers would soon be disposed of; that all men of heart were earnestly demanding more blood, and that blood must be given them. I also learned that the Commune would erect a statue to Robespierre out of the statues of kings, which were to be melted down for that purpose. In the Rue Saint-Honore I met a lady whom I knew, returning from the Page 312 flower-market with flowers in her hands. 'Then no one,' I said, pointing to these blossoms, 'need be afraid in Paris?' 'No woman,' she answered, 'except of shells; but the men are all afraid, and in danger. They are suspected of wanting to get away, but they will be made to stay and to fight for the Commune.'

"Indeed, profound gravity seemed expressed on all men's faces, and as a body, the patriots looked to me cold, tired, bored, and hungry, to say nothing of dirty, which they looked, to a man. I had expressed a wish to see a barricade, so we turned into a small street apparently closed in by a neatly built wall with holes in it, through which I saw the mouths of cannon. About this wall men were swarming both in and out of uniform. They were all armed, and two or three were members of the Commune, with red sashes and pistols stuck in them, after the fashion of the theatre. As I looked out of my cab window, longing to see more, a cheerful young woman, with a pretty, wan infant in her arms, encouraged me to alight, and a young man to whom she was talking, a clean, trim, fair young fellow, with a military look, stepped forward and saluted me. He seemed pleased at my admiration of the barricade, and having handed a tin can to the young woman, invited me to come inside. Thence I beheld the Place Vendôme. I had seen it last on Aug. 15, 1868, on the emperor's fête-day, filled with the glittering Imperial troops. I saw it again, a wide, empty waste, bounded by four symmetrical barricades, dotted with slouching figures whose clothes and arms seemed to encumber them.... I thanked my friend for his politeness, and returned to my carriage. The young woman smiled at me, as much as to say: 'Is he not a fine fellow?' I thought he was; and there may be other fine fellows as much out of place in the ruffianly mass with which they are associated.

"In the Rue de Rivoli I saw a regiment marching out to engage the enemy. Among them were some villanous-looking faces. They passed with little tramp and a good deal of shuffle,—shabby, wretched, silent. I did not hear a laugh or an oath; I did not see a violent gesture, and hardly a smile, that day. The roistering, roaring, terrible 'Reds,' as I saw them, were weary, dull men, doing ill-directed work with plodding indifference.

"I visited a lady of world-wide reputation, who gave me a history of the past months in Paris so brilliantly and epigrammatically that I was infinitely amused, and carried away the drollest impressions of L'Empire Cluseret; but her manner Page 313 changed when I asked her what I should say to her friends in England. 'Tell them,' she said, 'to fear everything, and to hope very little. We are a degraded people; we deserve what we have got.'

"In the street I bought some daffodils from a woman who was tying them up in bunches. As she put them into my hand, her face seemed full of horror. Seeing probably an answering sympathy in my face, she whispered: 'It is said that they have shot the archbishop.' I did not believe it, and I was right. He was arrested, but his doom was delayed for six weeks. That night the churches were all closed. There were no evening services that Easter day.

"I may add that I saw but one bonnet rouge, which I had supposed would be the revolutionary headdress. It was worn by an ill-looking ruffian, who sat with his back to the Quai, his legs straddled across the foot-walk, his drunken head fallen forward on his naked, hairy breast, a broken pipe between his knees, his doubled fists upon the stones at either side of him."

In the story of Louis Napoleon's abortive attempt at Boulogne to incite France against Louis Philippe's Government, we were much indebted to the narrative of Count Joseph Orsi, one of the Italians who from his earliest days had attended on his fortunes. The same gentleman has given us an account of his own experiences during the days of the Commune:—

"One could not help being struck by the contrasts presented at that time in Paris itself: destruction and death raging in some quarters, cannon levelling its beautiful environs, while at the same moment one could see its fashionable Boulevards crowded with well-dressed people loitering and smiling as if nothing were going on. The cafés, indeed, were ordered to close their doors at midnight, but behind closed shutters went on gambling, drinking, and debauchery. After spending a riotous night, fast men and women considered it a joke to drive out to the Arch of Triumph and see how the fight was going on."

The troops at Versailles, reinforced by the prisoners of war who had been returned from Prussia, began, by the 9th of April, to make active assaults on such forts as were held Page 314 by the Federals. Confusion and despair began to reign in the Council of the Commune. Unsuccessful in open warfare, the managing committee tried to check the advance of the Versaillais by deeds of violence and retaliation. They arrested numerous hostages, and the same night the palace of the archbishop was pillaged. The prefect of police, Raoul Rigault, issued a decree that every one suspected of being a réactionnaire (that is, a partisan of the National Assembly) should be at once arrested. The delivery of letters was suspended, gas was cut off, and with the exception of a few places where lamp-posts were supplied with petroleum, Paris was in darkness.

The Commune also issued a decree that while all men under sixty must enter its army, women, children, and aged men could obtain passes to leave the city at the prefecture of police for two francs a head. The prefecture was besieged by persons striving to get these passes, many of whom camped out for forty-eight hours while waiting their turn.

In the midst of this confused pressure on the prefect of police, Count Orsi took the resolution of visiting him. As a known adherent of the former dynasty and a personal friend of the late emperor, he did not feel himself safe. He therefore took the bull by the horns, and went to call on the terrible Raoul Rigault in his stronghold. He did not see him, however; but after struggling for three hours in the crowd of poor creatures who were waiting to pay their two francs and receive a passport, he was admitted to the presence of his secretary, Ferré. Ferré was writing as his visitor was shown in, and, waving his pen, made him stand where he could see him. When he learned his name, he said—

"Your opinions are well known to us. We also know that you have taken no active part against us. We fight for what we believe to be just and fair. We do not kill for the pleasure of killing, but we must attain our end, and we shall, at any cost. I recommend you to keep quiet. As you are an Italian, you shall not be molested. However, I must tell you that you have Page 315 taken a very bold step in calling on me in this place. Your visit might have taken a different turn. You may go. Your frank declaration has saved you."

On Easter Sunday, as the English lady to whom allusion has been made, was leaving Paris, the population in the neighborhood of the Place de Grève was amusing itself by a public burning of the guillotine. It was brought forth and placed beneath a statue of Voltaire, where it was consumed amid wild shouts of enthusiasm.

The Freemasons and trades unions sent deputies to Versailles to endeavor to negotiate between the contending parties. M. Thiers promised amnesty to all Communists who should lay down their arms, except to those concerned in the deaths of Generals Lecomte and Thomas, and he was also willing to give pay to National Guards till trade and order should be restored; but no persuasions would induce him to confer on Paris municipal rights that were not given to other cities. On the 12th of May the Commune issued the following decree:—

"Whereas, the imperial column in the Place Vendôme is a monument of barbarism, a symbol of brute force and of false glory, an encouragement to the military spirit, a denial of international rights, a permanent insult offered to the conquered by the conquerors, a perpetual conspiracy against one of the great principles of the French Republic,—namely, Fraternity,—the Commune decrees thus: The column of the Place Vendôme shall be destroyed."

Four days later, this decree was carried into effect. Its execution was intrusted to the painter Courbet, who was one of the members of the Commune. He was a man who, up to the age of fifty, had taken no part in politics, but had been wholly devoted to art. His most celebrated pictures are the "Combat des Cerfs" and the "Dame au Perroquet." He was a delightful companion, beloved by artists, and a personal friend of Cluseret, who had caused his name to be put upon the list of the members of the Commune.

The column of the Place Vendôme was one hundred and Page 316 thirty-five feet high. It was on the model of Trajan's column at Rome, but one twelfth larger. It was erected by Napoleon I. to celebrate the victories of the Grand Army in the campaign of 1805. He had caused it to be cast from cannon taken from the enemy. When erected, it was surmounted by a statue of Napoleon in his imperial robes; this, at the Restoration, gave place to a white flag. Under Louis Philippe, Napoleon was replaced, but in his cocked hat and his redingote, but Louis Napoleon restored the imperial statue.

"On May 16," says Count Orsi, "a crowd collected at the barricades which separated the Place Vendôme from the Rue de la Paix and the Rue Castiglione. To the Place Vendôme itself only a few persons had been admitted by tickets. At the four corners of the square were placed military bands. Ropes were fastened to the upper part of the column, and worked by capstans. The monument fell with a tremendous crash, causing everything for a few moments to disappear in a blinding cloud of dust. To complete the disgrace of this savage act, the Commune advertised for tenders for the purchase of the column, which was to be sold in four separate lots. This injudicious and anti-national measure inspired the regular army at Versailles with a spirit of revenge, which led them on entering Paris to lose all self-possession, so that they dealt with the insurrection brutally and without discrimination."

It would be curious to trace the history of the various members of the Council of the Commune. A few have been already alluded to; but the majority came forth out of obscurity, and their fate is as obscure. Eight were professional journalists. Among these were Rochefort, Arnould, and Vermorel. Arnould was probably the most moderate man in the Commune, and Vermorel was one of the very few who, when the Commune was at its last gasp, neither deserted nor disgraced it. He sprang on a barricade, crying: "I am here, not to fight, but to die!" and was shot down. Four were military men, of whom one was General Eudes, a draper's assistant, and one had been a private in the army of Africa. Five were genuine working-men, three of whom were fierce, ignorant cobblers from Belleville; the Page 317 other two were Assy, a machinist, and Thiez, a silver-chaser,—one of the few honest men in the Council. Three were not Frenchmen, although generals; namely, Dombrowski, La Cecilia, and Dacosta, besides Cluseret, who claimed American citizenship. Rochefort was the son of a marquis who had been forced to write for bread. Deleschuze was an ex-convict. Blanqui had spent two thirds of his life in prison, having been engaged from his youth up in conspiracy. He was also at one period a Government spy. Raoul Rigault also had been a spy and an informer from his boyhood. Mégy and Assy were under sentence for murder. Jourde was a medical student, one of the best men in the Commune, and faithful to his trust as its finance minister. Flourens, the scientist, a genuine enthusiast, we have seen was killed in the first skirmish with the Versaillais. Félix Pyat was an arch conspirator, but a very spirited and agreeable writer. He was elected in 1888 a deputy under the Government of the Third Republic. Lullier had been a naval officer, but was dismissed the service for insubordination.

To such men (the best of them wholly without experience in the art of government) were confided the destinies of Paris, and, as they hoped, of France; but their number dwindled from time to time, till hardly more than fifty were left around the Council Board, when about two weeks before the downfall of the Commune twenty-two of this remainder resigned,—some because they could not but foresee the coming crash, others because they would no longer take part in the violence and tyranny of their colleagues. In seven weeks the Commune had four successive heads of the War Department. General Eudes was the first: his rule lasted four days. Then came Cluseret; the Empire Cluseret lasted three weeks. Then Cluseret was imprisoned, and Rossel was in office for nine days, when he resigned. On May 9 Deleschuze, the ex-convict, became head of military affairs. He was killed two weeks later, when the Commune fell. Cluseret was deposed April 30,—some said for ill-success, some because he was Page 318 a traitor and had communications with the enemy, but probably because he made himself unpopular by an order requiring his officers to put no more embroidery and gold lace on their uniforms than their rank entitled them to.

Rossel, who succeeded Cluseret, was a real soldier, who tried in vain to organize the defence and to put experienced military men in command as subordinate generals. To do this he had to choose three out of five from men who were not Frenchmen. Dombrowski and Wroblewski were Poles, and General La Cecilia was an Italian. On May 9, after nine days of official life, he resigned, in the following extraordinary letter:—


Having been charged by you with the War Department, I feel myself no longer capable of bearing the responsibility of a command where everyone deliberates and nobody obeys. When it was necessary to organize the artillery, the commandant of artillery deliberated, but nothing was done. After a month's revolution, that service is carried on by only a very small number of volunteers. On my nomination to the ministry I wanted to further the search for arms, the requisition for horses, the pursuit of refractory citizens. I asked help of the Commune; the Commune deliberated, but passed no resolutions. Later the Central Committee came and offered its services to the War Department. I accepted them in the most decisive manner, and delivered up to its members all the documents I had concerning its organization. Since then the Central Committee has been deliberating, and has done nothing. During this time the enemy multiplied his audacious attacks upon Fort Issy; had I had the smallest military force at my command, I would have punished him for it. The garrison, badly commanded, took to flight. The officers deliberated, and sent away from the fort Captain Dumont, an energetic man who had been ordered to command them. Still deli berating, they evacuated the fort, after having stupidly talked of blowing it up,—as difficult a thing for them to do as to defend it.... My predecessor was wrong to remain, as he did, three weeks in such an absurd position. Enlightened by his example, and knowing that the strength of a revolutionist consists only in the clearness of his position, I have but two alternatives,—either to break the chains which impede my actions, or to retire. Page 319 I will not break my chains, because those chains are you and your weakness. I will not touch the sovereignty of the people.

I retire, and have the honor to beg for a cell at Mazas.

He did not obtain the cell at Mazas. He escaped from the vengeance of his colleagues, and was supposed to be in England or Switzerland, while in reality he had never quitted Paris. He was arrested two weeks after the fall of the Commune, disguised as a railroad employee. He was examined at the Luxembourg, and then taken, handcuffed, to Versailles, where he was shot at Satory, though M. Thiers, the president, made vain efforts to save him.

The members of the Commune, who by the first week in May were reduced to fifty-three, met in the Hôtel-de-Ville in a vast room once hung with the portraits of sovereigns. The canvas of these pictures had been cut out, but the empty frames still hung upon the walls; while at one end of the chamber was a statue of the Republic dressed in red flags, and bearing the inscription, "War to Tyrants."

Reporters were not admitted, and spectators could be brought in only by favor of some member. The members sat upon red-velvet chairs, each girt with his red scarf of office, trimmed with heavy bullion fringe. The chairs were placed round a long table, on which was stationery for the members' use, carafes of water, and sugar for eau sucrée. It was an awe-inspiring assembly; "for the men who talked, held a city of two millions of inhabitants in their hands, and were free to put into practice any or all of the amazing theories that might come into their heads. Their speeches, however, were brief; they were not wordy, as they might have been if reporters had been present. Most of them wore uniforms profusely decorated with gold lace," and, says an Englishman who saw them in their seats, "one had only to look in their faces to judge the whole truth in connection with the Commune,—its Page 320 causes, its prospects, and its signification. A citizen whom I had heard of as most hotly in favor of Press freedom, proposed in my hearing that all journals in Paris should be suppressed save those that were edited by members of the Council of the Commune. That there were three or four earnest men among them, no one can dispute; but as to the rest, I can only say that if they were zealous patriots devoted to their country's good, they did not, when I saw them, look like it."[1]

[Footnote 1: Cornhill Magazine, 1871.]

In the first week of May the Commune decreed the destruction of M. Thiers's beautiful home in the Rue St. Georges. The house was filled with objects of art and with documents of historical interest which he had gathered while writing his History of the Revolution, the Consulate, and the First Empire.

The Commune had removed some of these precious things, and sold them to dealers, from whom many were afterwards recovered; but the mob which assembled to execute the decree of destruction, was eager to consume everything that was left. In the courtyard were scattered books and pictures waiting to feed the flames. "The men busy at the work looked," says an Englishman,[2] "like demons in the red flame. I turned away, thinking not of the man of politics, but of the historian, of the house where he had thought and worked, of the books that he had treasured on his shelves, of the favorite chair that had been burned upon his hearthstone. I thought of all the dumb witnesses of a long and laborious life dispersed, of all the memories those rooms contained destroyed."

[Footnote 2: Leighton, Paris under the Commune.]

On the 16th of May, the day of the destruction of the column in the Place Vendôme, a great patriotic concert was given in the palace of the Tuileries, which was thronged; but "by that date, discord and despair were in the Council of the Commune, and its most respectable members had sent in their resignation. Versailles everywhere was gaining ground; the Fort of Vauves was taken, Page 321 that of Mont Rouge had been dismantled, and breaches were opened in the city walls. The leaders of the insurrection lost their senses, and gave way to every species of madness and folly. The army of Versailles soon entered the city from different points. The fight was desperate, the carnage frightful. Dombrowski, the only general of ability, was killed early in the struggle. Barricades were in almost every street. Prisoners on both sides were shot without mercy. The Communists set fire to the Tuileries, the Hôtel-de-Ville, the Ministry of Finance, the Palace of the Legion of Honor.

The rest of the story is all blood and horror. The most pathetic part of it is the murder of the hostages, which took place on the morning of May 24, and which cannot be told in this chapter. The desperate leaders of the Commune had determined that if they must perish, Paris itself should be their funeral pyre.

It was General Eudes who organized the band of incendiaries called "pétroleuses" and gave out the petroleum. It was Félix Pyat, it was said, who laid a train of gunpowder to blow up the Invalides, while another member of the Commune served out explosives.

On the night of May 24, the Hôtel-de-Ville was in flames. The smoke, at times a deep red, enveloped everything; the air was laden with the nauseous odors of petroleum. The Tuileries, the Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Ministry of War, and the Treasury were flaming like the craters of a great volcano.

We have heard much of pétroleuses. They appear to have worked among private houses in the more open parts of the city. Here is a picture of one seen by an Englishman:—

"She walked with a rapid step under the shadow of a wall. She was poorly dressed, her age was between forty and fifty; her head was bound with a red-checked handkerchief, from which fell meshes of coarse, uncombed hair. Her face was red, her eyes blurred, and she moved with her eyes bent down to the ground. Her right hand was in her pocket; in the other she held one of Page 322 the high, narrow tin cans in which milk is carried in Paris, but which now contained petroleum. The street seemed deserted. She stopped and consulted a dirty bit of paper which she held in her hand, paused a moment before the grated entrance to a cellar, and then went on her way steadily, without haste. An hour after, that house was burning to the ground. Sometimes these wretched women led little children by the hand, who were carrying bottles of petroleum. There was a veritable army of these incendiaries, composed mainly of the dregs of society. This army had its chiefs, and each detachment was charged with firing a quarter."

The orders for the conflagration of public edifices bore the stamp of the Commune and that of the Central Committee of the National Guard; also the seal of the war delegate. For private houses less ceremony was used. Small tickets of the size of postage-stamps were pasted on the walls of the doomed houses, with the letters, B. P. B. (Bon Pour Brûler). Some of these tickets were square, others oval, with a Bacchante's head upon them. A pétroleuse was to receive ten francs for every house which she set on fire.

All the sewers beneath Paris had been strewn with torpedoes, bombs, and inflammable materials, connected with electric wires. "The reactionary quarters shall be blown up," was the announced intention of the Commune. Mercifully, these arrangements had not been completed when the Versailles troops obtained the mastery. Almost the first thing done was to send sappers and miners underground to cut the wires that connected electric currents with inflammable material in all parts of the city. The catacombs that underlie the eastern part of Paris were included in the incendiary arrangement.

When Paris was at last in safety, and the Commune subdued, would that it had been only the guilty on whom the great and awful vengeance fell!

Fig. 16
(Archbishop of Paris.)



About once in every seventy or eighty years some exceptionally moving tragedy stirs the heart of the civilized world. The tragedy of our own century is the execution of the hostages in Paris, May 24 and 26, 1871.

At one o'clock on the morning of April 6, three weeks after the proclamation of the Commune, a body of the National Guard was drawn up on the sidewalk in the neighborhood of the Madeleine. A door suddenly opened and a man came hastily out, followed by two National Guards shouting to their comrades. The man was arrested at once, making no resistance. It was the Abbé Duguerry, curé of the Madeleine,[1]—the first of the so-called hostages arrested in retaliation for the summary execution of General Duval, who had commanded one of the three columns that marched out of Paris the day before to attack the Versaillais.

[Footnote 1: Curé in France means rector; what we mean by a curate or assistant minister is there called vicaire.]

Both the curé of the Madeleine and his vicaire, the Abbé Lamazou, were that night arrested. The latter, who escaped death as a hostage, published an account of his experiences; but he died not long after of heart disease, brought on by his excitement and suffering during the Commune.

The same night Monseigneur Darboy, the archbishop of Paris, his chaplain, and eight other priests, were arrested. One was a missionary just returned from China, another was the Abbé Crozes, the admirable chaplain (aumônier) of the prison of La Roquette,—a man whose deeds of charity would form a noble chapter of Christian biography.

Page 324 When Archbishop Darboy was brought before the notorious "delegate," Raoul Rigault, he began to speak, saying, "My children—" "Citizen," interrupted Rigault, "you are not here before children,—we are men!" This sally was heartily applauded in the publications of the Commune.

As it would not be possible to sketch the lives and deaths of all these victims of revolutionary violence, it may be well to select the history of the youngest among them, Paul Seigneret.[1] His father was a professor in the high school at Lyons. Paul was born in 1845, and was therefore twenty-six years old when he met death, as a hostage, at the hands of the Commune. His home had been a happy and pious one, and he had a beloved brother Charles, to whom he clung with the most tender devotion. Charles expected to be a priest; Paul was destined for the army, but he earnestly wished that he too might enter the ministry. Lamartine's "Jocelyn" had made a deep impression on him, but his father having objected to his reading it, he laid it aside unfinished; what he had read, however, remained rooted in his memory.

[Footnote 1: Memoir of Paul Seigneret, abridged in the "Monthly Packet."]

When Paul was eighteen, his father gave his sanction to his entering the priesthood; he thought him too delicate, however, to lead the life of a country pastor, and desired him, before he made up his mind as to his vocation, to accept a position offered him as tutor in a family in Brittany.

Present duties being sanctified, not hampered, by higher hopes and aspirations, Paul gained the love and confidence of the family in which he taught, and also of the neighboring peasantry. "He was," says the lady whose children he instructed, "like a good angel sent among us to do good and to give pleasure."

When his time of probation was passed, he decided to enter a convent at Solesmes, and by submitting himself to convent rules, make sure of his vocation. But before making any final choice, we find from his letters that "if Page 325 France were invaded," he claimed "the right to do his duty as a citizen and a son."

He entered the convent at Solesmes, first as a postulant, then as a novice. "The Holy Gospels," said his superior, "Saint Paul's Epistles, and the Psalms were his favorite studies,—the food on which his piety was chiefly nourished. He also sought Christ in history."

Still, he was not entirely satisfied with life in a convent; he wished to be more actively employed in doing good. He therefore became a student for the regular ministry,—a Seminarist of Saint-Sulpice. But when the Prussian armies were advancing on Paris, he offered himself for hospital service, as did also his brother.

In a moment of passionate enthusiasm, speaking to that dear brother of the dangers awaiting those who had to seek and tend the wounded on the field of battle, he cried: "Do you think God may this year grant me the grace of yielding up my life to Him as a sacrifice? For to fall, an expiatory sacrifice beneath the righteous condemnation that hangs over France, would be to die for Him."

The war being over, he returned to the Seminary, March 15, 1871. On March 18 the Commune was declared, and Lecomte and Thomas were murdered; shortly after this the Seminary was invaded, the students were dispersed, and the priests in charge made prisoners. Most of the young men thus turned out into the streets left Paris. Paul at first intended to remain; but thinking that his family would be anxious about him, he applied for a pass, intending to go to Lyons. At the prefecture of police he and a fellow-student found a dense crowd waiting to pay two francs for permission to get away. They were shown into a room where a man in a major's uniform sat at a table covered with glasses and empty bottles, with a woman beside him. When he heard what they wanted, he broke into a volley of abuse, and assured them that the only pass he would give them was a pass to prison. Accordingly, Paul and his companion soon found themselves in the prison connected with the prefecture. The cells were so crowded that they were confined in a Page 326 corridor with six Jesuit fathers and some of their servants and lay brethren. A sort of community life was at once organized, with daily service and an hour for meditation. Paul esteemed it a privilege to enjoy the conversation of the elder and more learned priests. He conversed with them about the Bible, philosophy, and literature; "He was ready," says a companion who was saved, "to meet a martyr's death; but there was one horror he prayed to be spared,—that of being torn in pieces by a mob."

On May 13, a turnkey announced to the priests that they were to leave the prefecture. "I fear," he said, "that you are to be taken to Mazas. I am not sure, but a man cannot have such good prisoners as you are in his charge without taking some interest in them."

On being brought forth from their corridor, they found themselves in a crowd of priests (hostages like themselves) who were being sent to Mazas. The youth of the Seminary students at once attracted attention, and the Vicar-General, Monseigneur Surat, said: "I can understand that priests and old men should be here, gentlemen, but not that you, mere Seminarists, should be forced to share the troubles of your ecclesiastical superiors."

The transfer to Mazas was in the voitures cellulaires. They were so low and narrow that every jolt threw the occupant against the sides or roof. In one of these cells the venerable and infirm archbishop had been transferred to Mazas a short time before.

Each prisoner on reaching Mazas was shut up in a tiny cell. Paul wrote (for they were allowed writing materials):

"I have a nice little cell, with a bit of blue sky above it, to which my thoughts fly, and a hammock, so that it is possible for me to sleep again. I hardly dare to tell you I am happy, and am trusting myself in God's hands, for I am anxious about you, and anxious for our poor France. I have my great comfort,—work. I have already written an essay on Saint Paul, which I have been some time meditating. I am expecting a Bible, and with that I think I could defy weariness for years. A few days ago I discovered that one of my friends was next to me. We bid each other good night and good morning by Page 327 rapping against the wall, and this would make us less lonely, were we oppressed by solitude."

At the close of this letter he adds,—

"I have at last received the dear Bible. You should have seen how I seized and kissed it! Now the Commune may leave me here to moulder, if it will!"

On Sunday, May 21, the Versailles army began to make its way into Paris, and the Commune, seeing its fantastic and terrible power about to pass away, tried to startle the world by its excesses. Orders were sent at once to Mazas to send the archbishop, the priests, Senator Bonjean, suspected spies, and sergents de ville to that part of the prison of La Roquette reserved for condemned criminals. Paul and his friend the other Seminarist were of the number.

Before the gates of La Roquette they found a fierce crowd shouting insults and curses. Many were women and children. "Here they come!" the mob yelled. "Down with the priests! shoot them! kill them!" Paul preserved his composure, and looked on with a smile of serene hope upon his face. "The scene was like that horror from which he had prayed to be saved. His terror was gone. His prayer had been answered."

The prisoners on reaching La Roquette were first passed into a hall, where they found the archbishop and several priests. The former was calm, but he was ill, and his features bore marks of acute suffering. After an hour's delay the prisoners were locked into separate cells, from which real malefactors had been removed to make room for them.

In the next cell to Paul was the Abbé Planchet. By standing at the window they could hear each other's voices. The abbé could read Thomas à Kempis to his fellow prisoner, and they daily recited together the litany for the dying.

One of the imprisoned priests was a missionary lately returned from China; and when they met at the hours allowed for fresh air in the courtyard, Paul was eager to hear his accounts of the martyrdom and steadfastness of Chinese converts. "M. Paul," said an old soldier who was one of Page 328 the hostages, "seemed to look on martyrdom as a privilege, regretting only the pain it would cause his family."

On Wednesday, May 24, the execution of the archbishop and five others took place, Paul saw them pass by his window; one of the escort shook his gun at him, and pointing it at the archbishop, gave him to understand what they were going to do.

The next day, Thursday, May 25, the order came. "Citizens," said the messenger who brought it, "pay attention, and answer when your names are called. Fifteen of you are wanted." As each was named, he stepped out of the ranks and took his place in the death-row. Paul Seigneret was one of them. He seemed perfectly calm, and gently pressed the hand of his Seminary friend who was not summoned.

In the courtyard they were joined by thirty-five ex-policemen, so-called hostages like themselves. The execution was to take place in the Rue Haxo, at the farthest extremity of Belleville, and the march was made on foot, so that the victims were exposed to all the insults of the populace. It has been said that when they reached the Rue Haxo, where they were placed against a wall, Paul was thrown down while attempting to defend an aged priest, and was maltreated by the crowd; but this account was not confirmed when, four days later, the bodies were taken from the trench into which they had been thrown: Paul's showed no sign of violence. His eyes were closed, his face was calm. His cassock was pierced with balls and stained with blood. He is buried at Saint-Sulpice.

His father received the news of his death calmly. He wrote: "Let us bear our poor child's death as much like Christians and as much like men as we can. May his blood, joined to that of so many other innocent victims, finally appease the justice of God," But when, shortly afterwards, Charles died of an illness brought on by excessive fatigue in serving the ambulances, the father sank under the double stroke, and died fifteen days after his last remaining son.

Page 329 From the death of the youngest and the humblest of these ecclesiastical hostages, we will turn now to that of the venerable archbishop, and to his experiences during the forty-eight hours that he passed at La Roquette, after having been transferred to it from Mazas.

With studied cruelty and insolence, a cell of the worst description was assigned to the chief of the clergy in France. It had been commonly appropriated to murderers on the eve of their execution. There was barely standing-room in it beside the filthy and squalid bed. The beds and cells of the other priests were at least clean, but this treatment of the archbishop had been ordered by the Commune.

On the morning of May 23 the prisoners had been permitted to breathe fresh air in a narrow paved courtyard; but the archbishop was too weak and ill for exercise; he lay half fainting on his bed. In addition to his other sufferings he was faint from hunger, for the advance of the Versailles troops had cut off the Commune's supplies, and the hostages were of course the last persons they wished to care for. Père Olivariet (shot three days later in the same party as Paul Seigneret, in the Rue Haxo) had had some cake and chocolate sent him before he left Mazas; with these he fed the old man by mouthfuls. This was all the nourishment the archbishop had during the two days he spent at La Roquette. Mr. Washburne, the American minister, had with difficulty obtained permission to send him a small quantity of strengthening wine during his stay at Mazas. But a greater boon than earthly food or drink was brought him by Père Olivariet, who had received while at Mazas, in a common pasteboard box, some of the consecrated wafers used by the Roman Catholic Church in holy communion; and he had it in his power to give the archbishop the highest consolation that could have been offered him.

It had been intended to execute the hostages on the 23d; but the director of the prison, endeavoring to evade the horrible task of delivering up his prisoners, pronounced the first order he received informal.

The accursed 24th of May dawned, brilliant and beautiful. Page 330 The archbishop went down in the early morning to obtain the breath of fresh air allowed him. Judge Bonjean, who had never professed himself a believer, came up to him and prayed him for his blessing, saying that he had seen the truth, as it were on the right hand of Death, and he too was about to depart in the true faith of a Christian.

By this time the insurgents held little more of Paris than the heights of Belleville, Père la Chaise, and the neighborhood of La Roquette, which is not far from the Place de la Bastille. The Communal Government had quitted the Hôtel-de-Ville and taken refuge not far from La Roquette, in the Mairie of the Eleventh Arrondissement.

At six in the morning of May 24th,[1] a second order came to the director of the prison to deliver up all hostages in his hands. He remonstrated, saying he could not act upon an order to deliver up prisoners who were not named. Finally, a compromise was effected; six were to be chosen. The commander of the firing party asked for the prison register. The names of the hostages were not there. Then the list from Mazas was demanded. The director could not find it. At last, after long searching, they discovered it themselves. Genton, the man in command, sat down to pick out his six victims. He wrote Darboy, Bonjean, Jecker, Allard, Clerc, Ducoudray. Then he paused, rubbed out Jecker, and put in Duguerrey. Darboy, as we know, was the archbishop; Bonjean, judge of the Court of Appeals; Allard, head-chaplain to the hospitals, who had been unwearied in his services to the wounded; Clerc and Ducoudray were Jesuit fathers; Duguerrey was pastor of the Madeleine. Jecker was a banker who had negotiated Mexican loans for the Government. The next day the Commune made a present of him to Genton, who, after trying in vain to get a few hundred thousand francs out of him for his ransom, shot him, assisted by four others, one of whom was Ferré, and flung his body into the cellar of a half-built house upon the heights of Belleville.

[Footnote 1: Macmillan's Magazine, 1873.]

Page 331 When the order drawn up by Genton had been approved at headquarters, the director of the prison had no resource but to deliver up his prisoners.

Another man, wearing a scarf of office, had now joined the party. He was very impatient, and accused the others roundly of a want of revolutionary spirit. He landed afterwards in New York, where his fellow-Communists gave him a public reception.

One of the warders of the prison, Henrion by name, made some attempt to expostulate with the Vengeurs de Flourens, who had been told off for the execution. "What would you have?" was the answer. "Killing is not at all amusing. We were killing this morning at the Prefecture of Police. But they say this is reprisal. The Versaillais have been killing our generals."

Soon Henrion was called upon to open the fourth corridor. "I must go and get the keys," he answered. He had them in his hand at the moment. He went rapidly away, flung the keys into a heap of filth, and rushed out of the prison. By means of a twenty-franc gold piece that he had with him, he passed out of the gates of Paris, and sought refuge with the Bavarians at Vincennes.

Meantime another bunch of keys was found, and the executioners, led by Ferré, Lolive, and Mégy,—that member of the Commune whom none of them seemed to know,—hurried upstairs. In the crowd were gamins and women, National Guards, Garibaldians, and others, but chiefly the Vengeurs de Flourens, a corps of which an Englishman who served the Commune said: "They were to a man all blackguards."

Up the prison stairs they swarmed, shouting threats and curses, especially against the archbishop, who was erroneously believed by the populace of Paris to have had provisions hidden in the vaults of Notre Dame and in his palace during the siege. A turnkey was ordered to summon the six prisoners; but when he found whom he was to call, he refused, and the officer in command had to call them himself.

Page 332 The archbishop's name was first. He came out of his cell at once, wearing his purple cassock. Then Gaspard Duguerrey was summoned. He was eighty years old. He did not answer immediately, and was called a second time. Next, Léon Ducoudray was called,—a Jesuit father, head of a college, a tall, fine-looking man. He came forth with a proud smile. Alexis Clerc, also a Jesuit father, stepped forth briskly, almost gayly. Then came Michel Allard, the hospital chaplain,—a gentle, kindly-looking man. The three weeks before his arrest had been spent by him in attending upon the wounded of the Commune. Finally the judge, Senator Louis Bonjean, was called. "In a moment," he replied; "I am putting my coat on." At this, one of the leaders seized him. "You will want no coat where you are going," he cried; "come as you are."

The only one of the party who seemed to tremble was the aged curé of the Madeleine; but his nervous tremor soon passed off, and he was calm like the others. As they went down the winding stairs, the archbishop (being first) stepped rapidly before the rest, and turning at the bottom, raised his hand and pronounced the absolution. After this there was silence among the prisoners. "The chaplain Allard alone," said one of the Commune, "kept on muttering something." He was reciting, half aloud, the service for the dying.

Père Ducoudray had his breviary in his hand. He gave it, as he passed, to the concierge of the prison. The captain of the firing party snatched it, and flung it on the fire.

When the spot was reached where the shooting was to take place, the archbishop addressed some words of pity and forgiveness to the murderers. Two of the firing party knelt at his feet; but he had not time to bless them before, with threats and blows, they were forced to rise, and the archbishop was ordered to go and place himself against the wall.

But here, when the bitterness of death was almost passed, occurred a difficulty. Two of the leaders wanted to have the execution in a little inner courtyard, shut in by blank Page 333 walls. So the procession was again formed, marched through long passages and up stairways, and halted while keys were searched for, before it came to the spot. On the way, a man crept up to the archbishop, uttering blasphemies into his ear. The good man's mild look of reproof and pain so moved one of the sub-officers that he drove the man off, saying: "We are here to shoot these men, not to insult them."

The six victims were at last placed in a line, with their backs to the wall. As Ferré was giving the order to fire, the archbishop raised his right hand in order to give, as his last act, his episcopal blessing. As he did so, Lolive exclaimed: "That's your benediction is it?—now take mine!" and shot the old man through the body with a revolver. All were shot dead at once, save M. Bonjean.

There is now a marble slab in the little court inscribed with their names, and headed: "Respect this place, which witnessed the death of noble men and martyrs." The warder, Henrion, was put in charge of the place, and planted it with beds of flowers.

The execution over, the leaders searched the cells of their victims. In most of them they found nothing; in two were worn cassocks, and in the archbishop's was his pastoral ring. One of the party said the amethyst in it was a diamond; another contradicted him, and said it was an emerald. The bodies lay unburied until two o'clock in the morning, when four or five of those who had shot them despoiled them, one hanging the archbishop's chain and cross about his own neck, another appropriating his silver shoe-buckles. Then they loaded the bodies on a hand-barrow and carried them to an open trench dug in Père la Chaise. There, four days later, when the Versaillais had full possession of the city, they were found. The archbishop and the Abbé Duguerrey were taken to the archbishop's house with a guard of honor, and are buried at Notre Dame. The two Jesuit fathers were buried in their own cemetery, and Judge Bonjean and the hospital chaplain sleep in honored graves in Père la Chaise.

Page 334 After these executions a large number of so-called "hostages,"—ecclesiastics, soldiers of the line, sergents de ville, and police agents remained shut up in La Roquette. It was Saturday, May 27, the day before Whit Sunday. Says the Abbé Lamazou,—

"It was a few minutes past three, and I was kneeling in my cell saying my prayers for the day, when I heard bolts rattling in the corridor. We were no longer locked in with keys. Suddenly the door of my cell was thrown open, and a voice cried: 'Courage! our time has come.' 'Yes, courage!' I answered. 'God's will be done.' I had on my ecclesiastical habit, and went out into the corridor. There I found a mixed crowd of prisoners, priests, soldiers, and National Guards. The priests and the National Guards seemed resigned to their fate, but the soldiers, who had fought the Prussians, could not believe it was intended to shoot them. Suddenly a voice, loud as a trumpet, rose above the din. 'Friends,' it cried, 'hearken to a man who desires to save you. These wretches of the Commune have killed more than enough people. Don't let yourselves be murdered! Join me. Let us resist. Sooner than give you up I will die with you!' The speaker was Poiret, one of the warders of the prison. He had been horrified by what had been done already, and when ordered by his superiors to give up the prisoners in his corridor to a yelling crowd, he had shut the doors on the third story behind him, and was advising us, at the risk of his own life, to organize resistance."

The abbé joined him with, "Don't let us be shot, my friends; let us defend ourselves. Trust in God; he is on our side!"

But many hesitated. "Resistance is mere madness," they said; and a soldier shouted, "They don't want to kill us; they want the priests! Don't let us lose our lives defending them!"

"The sergents de ville in the story below you," cried Poiret, "are going to defend themselves, They are making a barricade across the door of their corridor. We have no arms, but we have courage. Don't let us be shot down by the rabble."

It was proposed to make a hole in the floor, and so to Page 335 communicate with the sergents de ville. The prisoners armed themselves with boards and iron torn from their bedsteads, and in five minutes had made an opening through the floor. A non-commissioned officer from below climbed through it, and arranged with Poiret the plan of defence.

By this time the inner courtyard of the prison was invaded by a rough and squalid crowd, come to take a hand in whatever murder or mischief might be done. The besieged put mattresses before their windows for protection. The man who led the mob was one Pasquier, a murderer who had been in a condemned cell in La Roquette till let out by the general jail-delivery of the Commune.

Two barricades were built like that on the floor below. Pasquier and some of his followers had burst open the outer door, and were endeavoring to burn both the prison and the prisoners. "Never fear," cried a corporal who had superintended the hasty erection of the barricades; "I put nothing combustible into them. They can't burn floor tiles and wire mattresses. Bring all the water you can."

The crowd continued to shout threats. The battery from Père la Chaise, they cried, was coming; and often a voice would shout, "Soldiers of the Loire, surrender! We will not hurt you. We will set you at liberty!" A few soldiers trusted this promise, and as soon as they got into the crowd were massacred.

In the midst of the tumult came a sudden lull; the besieged could see that something strange had taken place. The crowd had been informed that the Government, alarmed by the advance of the Versailles troops, had abandoned its headquarters at the mairie of the Eleventh Arrondissement, and had gone to Belleville. Amazed and confused by this intelligence, the mob followed its leaders. Only a few minutes before it left, two guns and a mortar had been brought to fire on the prison; they were now dragged away in the wake of the Government.

The criminal prisoners at La Roquette were in a state of great excitement. They had been liberated, and such weapons as could be found were put into their hands; but Page 336 they were not inclined either to kill their fellow-captives or to fight for the Commune. They hastily made off, shouting, "Vive la Commune! Vive la République!"

By this time the prison director and his officials had disappeared. The prison doors were open. Then came another danger: soldiers of the Commune, fleeing from the vengeance of the Versaillais, might seek refuge in the prison. With much difficulty the Abbé Lamazou persuaded Poiret and some other warders who had stood with him, to close the gates till the arrival of troops from Versailles. It was still more difficult, now that a way was open to escape, to persuade his fellow-captives to remain in prison. Some priests would not take his advice, among them Monseigneur Surat, the vicar-general. He had secured a suit of citizen's clothes, and hoped to escape in safety. In vain the Abbé Lamazou called out to him, "To go is certain death; to stay is possible safety." He was killed most cruelly, together with two' priests and a layman.

At eleven o'clock at night, firing seemed to cease in the city, but outside of the prison the maddened crowd continued all night howling insults and curses. Hours seemed ages to the anxious and now famished captives, shut up in the great building. The barricade of the Rue de la Roquette was near them, still defended by insurgents; but in the early dawn it was abandoned, and shortly after, a battalion of marines took possession of La Roquette. The resistance of the prisoners, which had seemed at first so desperate, had proved successful.

Innumerable other anecdotes have found their way into print concerning the last hours of the Commune; but I will rather tell of Mégy, the member of the Council who, in his scarf of office, animated the party that slew the archbishop and his, five companions.

He reached New York in 1878, and, as I said, was received with an ovation by a colony of escaped Communists who had settled on our shores. A reporter connected with the New York "World" called upon Mégy, and here is his account of the interview:—

Page 337 "'I was born in Paris, in 1844,' said the ex-member of the Commune, lighting a cigar; 'I went through a primary school, and learned but little. I was apprenticed to a machinist. When I was twenty I found work on the Suez Canal. I was already a member of a secret society organized against the Empire, with Blanqui at its head. In 1866 I came back to Paris, and persuaded all my fellow-workmen in the establishment where I was employed to become conspirators. We waited for a good opportunity to commence an insurrection. Some of us wanted to begin when Pierre Bonaparte murdered Victor Noir; but it was put off till February 7, when about three thousand of us rushed into the streets, began raising barricades, and proclaimed a Republic. The next day two thousand republicans were arrested. On February 11 six police agents came to my house at a quarter past five in the morning. I had a pistol, and when the first one entered my room to arrest me, I shot him dead. You should have seen how the others scampered downstairs. I am glad I killed him. But five minutes after, I was overpowered, bound, and taken to prison. I was condemned to twenty years in New Caledonia, with hard labor. I was sent to Toulon, but before my embarkation the Republic was proclaimed, and a decree of the Government set me at liberty. I came to Paris, and was named a member of the Municipal Council. In October, 1870, during the siege, an order was passed for my arrest because I endeavored to deprive General Trochu of his command. I hid myself, enlisted under a false name, and fought the Prussians. Then I went to the South of France, and waited to see what would happen. I was there when the Commune was proclaimed. I arrested the prefect of Marseilles on my own responsibility, and put myself in his place. I was prefect of Marseilles for eight days. Early in April I made my way to Paris, was made a general, and put in charge of Fort Issy.[l] When Fort Issy fell, I was made commander-in-chief on the left bank of the Seine. I ordered the Palace of the Legion of Honor to be set on fire; I defended the barricades on the Boulevard of Magenta; and when I left them on May 24, I found that Ferré and Deleschuze had given orders to shoot the hostages because the troops of Thiers had shot eight of our officers.'"

[Footnote 1: General Rossel gave his opinion of the officers in command at Fort Issy in his letter to the Commune.]

"'Did you approve that order?'" asked the "World's" reporter.

Page 338 "'Yes; why not? Of course I approved it. I went at once to La Roquette, to be present at the execution. We were one hundred and fifty men, but one hundred and twenty of them slunk away, and only thirty remained for the work we came for.'

"'And what did you do?'

"'Ma foi! I don't particularly care to say what I did; it might injure me here where I have got work. We called out the men we came to shoot, and we shot them as that kind of thing is generally done. We took them down into a courtyard, put them against a wall, and gave the order to fire; that was all.'

"After a minute's silence, Mégy added: 'It was all M. Thiers' fault. We offered to give him up the hostages if he would give us Blanqui; but he refused, and so we shot them. After the execution I fought to the last. I escaped from Paris in a coal-cart, and went to Geneva. I have had work in London and in Birmingham, and now I have got work in New York.'"

He went on to affirm that there was a large colony of Communists in that city; that America needed revolutionizing as much as France; that Cardinal McCloskey might find himself in the same position as Monseigneur Darboy; and so on.

I have quoted this interview with Mégy at some length, because it shows the Communists painted by one of their own number. Before the reporter left him, he chanced to pronounce the name of Mr. Washburne. "Washburne is a liar and a cur," cried Mégy, angrily. "Before the Commune ended, some of our people asked him what the Versailles Government would do with us if we surrendered or were conquered. 'I assure you,' he said, 'you would be shot.' During the siege of Paris, Washburne was a German spy. He is a villanous old rascal."

In studying the history of the Commune, it is desirable to remember dates. The whole affair lasted seventy-three days. On March 18 the guns on Montmartre were taken by the populace, Generals Lecomte and Thomas were shot, and the Commune was proclaimed. Military operations were begun April 4. On April 9 Fort Valérien began to throw shells into Paris. From that day forward, the Versailles Page 339 troops continued to advance, taking possession one by one of the forts and the positions of the Federals. On Sunday, May 21, the Versailles troops began to enter Paris, and fought their way steadily from street to street till Sunday, May 27, when all was over. The hostages were not hostages in the true sense of the word; they had not been given up in pledge for the performance of any promise. They were persons seized for purposes of intimidation and retaliation, as in 1826 the Turks seized the most prominent Christians in Scio.

During the last five days of the Commune, Dombrowski, its only general with military capacity, was killed,—it is supposed, by one of his own men. The Tuileries, the Hôtel-de-Ville, and numerous other buildings were fired, the Dominican Brothers were massacred, and the executions in the Rue Haxo took place, besides others in other parts of Belleville and at the Prefecture. One of the most diabolical pieces of destruction attempted was that of the Grand Livre.

The Grand Livre is the book kept in the French Treasury in which are inscribed the names and accounts of all those who hold Government securities; and as the French Government is the proprietor of all railroads, telegraph systems, and many other things that in England and the United States are left to private enterprise, the loss of the Grand Livre would have involved thousands upon thousands of families in ruin. For a man to have his name on the Grand Livre is to constitute him what is called a rentier, rentes being the French word for dividends from the public funds.

The Grand Livre is kept at the Ministry of Finance; that building Ferré ordered to be summarily destroyed, uttering the words, "Flambez Finances." The building was accordingly set on fire the day before the Commune fell; and for some days after, it was thought throughout all France that the Grand Livre had perished. By heroic exertions some of it was saved, the officials in charge of it rushing into the flames and rescuing that portion of it Page 340 which contained the names of living property-holders, I while they let the records of past generations burn.

There was in existence a duplicate copy of the Grand Livre, though this was known only to the higher officials of the Treasury. It was kept in a sort of register's office not far from the Tuileries, and was in the care of a M. Chazal. When the Tuileries and the Treasury were on fire, the object of M. Chazal and of all who knew of the precious duplicate was to save it, in case the building in which it was deposited should share in the conflagration.

Of course the Grand Livre is of vast bulk. This copy was contained in great bundles of loose sheets. Luckily these papers were in stout oaken boxes on the ground-floor of a detached building opening on a courtyard. The Versailles troops had reached the spot, and ninety sappers and miners, with seven brave firemen, were at work with water-buckets attempting to save the main building, which was blazing fiercely when M. Chazal arrived. Already the detached building in which the precious duplicate was stored was on fire. There was no place to which he could safely remove the precious papers, no means of transport to carry them away.

During the siege orders had been given to have large piles of sand placed in the courtyards of all public buildings, to smother shells should any fall there. There were three of these sand-piles lying in the yard of this record office. In them deep trenches were rapidly dug; and the boxes were buried. Then the pile was covered with all the incombustible rubbish that could be collected; and had the Grand Livre been really destroyed, as for some days it was believed to have been, every Government creditor would have found his interests safe, through the exertions of M. Chazal and the intrepid band who worked under him.

In somewhat the same manner the gold and silver in the vaults of the Bank of France were saved from pillage. The narrow staircase leading to the vaults, down which Page 341 only one man could pass at a time, was by order of the directors filled up with sand during the siege.

Though my readers may be weary of sad tales of massacre, that of the Dominicans of Arceuil remains to be told. Their convent was in the suburbs of Paris; it had been turned by them into a hospital during the siege, and it continued to be so used during the Commune. After the fall of Fort Issy, the insurgent troops made their headquarters not far from the convent. They were commanded by a general of some ability, but of ferocious character, named Serizier. He was in the habit of saying, as he looked from his window into the garden of the Dominicans, "Those rascals ought to be roasted alive." On May 17 the roof of the building in which he lived caught fire. The Dominicans tucked up their gowns and did their best to put it out. When all was over, they were ordered to wait upon the general. They supposed that they were going to be thanked for their exertions, and were amazed at finding themselves accused of having set the building on fire as a signal to the Versaillais. The next morning a battalion of Communist soldiers surrounded their convent. The prior, his monks, pupils, and servants, were arrested and marched to a casemate of a neighboring fort. Their convent was stripped of everything. The building, however, was saved by a ruse on the part of an officer of the Commune, one of the better class. They were two days without food, and were then driven into Paris like a flock of sheep, their black-and-white dress exposing them to all the insults and ribaldry of the excited multitude; for the Versaillais were in Paris, and hope, among those who knew the situation, was drawing to an end. That night the Dominicans were confined in a prison on the Avenue d'Italie, where a friend of Serizier's (known as Bobêche) was instructed what to do with them. During the morning, however, Bobêche went to a drinking saloon, and while there the man he left in charge received orders to send the priests to work on a barricade. He affected to misunderstand the order, and sent, instead, fifteen National Page 342 Guards imprisoned for insubordination. When Bobêche came back, half-drunk, he was furious. "What! was the blood of priests to be spared, and that of patriots imperilled at a post of danger?" Before long the order was repeated. "We will tend your wounded, General," said the prior, "we will go after them under fire, but we will not do the work of soldiers for you." At this, soldiers were called out to shoot the Dominicans. They were reluctant to obey, and Serizier dared not risk disobedience. The fathers were remanded to prison, but were soon called out one by one. Some volunteers had been found willing to do the shooting, among them two women, the fiercest of the band. As the fathers came into the street, all were shot at, but some were untouched; and soon succeeded a dreadful scene. Round and round the open square, and up side streets, they were hunted. Four of the twenty escaped. Men laughed and women clapped their hands at seeing the priests run. Then Serizier went back to the prison, and was making preparations to shoot the remaining prisoners, who were laymen, when one of his subordinates leaned over him and whispered that the troops of Versailles were at hand. He dropped his papers and made off. The troops came on, and picked up the bodies of the dead Dominicans. Serizier was not arrested till some months after, when the wife of one of his victims, who had dogged him constantly after her husband's death, discovered him in disguise and gave him up to justice.

The Prefecture of Police, which stands upon an island in the Seine, in the heart of Paris, had in those days a small prison in its main building, and an annex for women. These prisons were full of prisoners,—réactionnaires, as they were called in the last days of the struggle.

On May 26, as has been said, nothing remained for the Commune to do but mischief. Raoul Rigault was busy, with his corps of Vengeurs de Flourens, getting through as many executions as possible; Félix Pyat was organizing underground explosions, Ferré, the destruction of public Page 343 buildings. A gentleman[1] confined in the women's part of the Prefecture, chancing to look down from a high window on the offices of the main building, saw beneath him eight men in the uniform of the Commune, one of them wearing much gold lace, who were saturating the window-frames with something from a bottle, and bedaubing other woodwork with mops dipped in a bucket that he presumed contained petroleum. Their caps were pulled low over their eyes, as if they did not wish to be recognized. At last he saw the officer strike a match and apply it to the woodwork, which caught fire immediately. Then rose frightful shrieks from the prisons both of the men and the women, for many others had seen what was going on. An earnest appeal to a turnkey to go to the director of the prison and represent to him that all his prisoners would be burned, was met by the answer that he did not take orders from prisoners. But all turnkeys were not Communists, though Communist officials were set over them. Some of them took advantage of the confusion to look into the cells, and speak hope and comfort to the prisoners. But as the flames caught the great wooden porch of the Prefecture, the screams of the women were heart-rending; They even disturbed Ferré, who sent orders "to stop their squalling." One warder, Braquond, ventured to remonstrate. "Bah!" said Ferré, "they are only women belonging to gendarmes and sergents de ville; we shall be well rid of them." Then Braquond resolved to organize a revolt, and save the prisoners. He ran to the corridor, and with a voice of authority ordered all the cell-doors to be opened, thus releasing four hundred prisoners. Braquond put himself at their head and led them on. But when they reached the outer gate, they were just in time to witness the departure of the last Vengeur de Flourens. Ferré had just received news that the troops of Versailles were close at hand, and he and his subordinates fled, leaving the prisoners to shift for themselves.

[Footnote 1: Le Figaro.]

But though delivered from the Commune, not only was Page 344 the Prefecture and all in it in peril, but every building and every life upon the island. Quantities of ammunition had been stored in the Prefecture; if that caught fire, the "Cité" (as that part of Paris is called) and all its inhabitants would be blown into the air. The citizens of the quarter, the turnkeys, and the prisoners had nothing but their hands with which to fight the flames. In the midst of the fire they began to carry out the gunpowder. They had to make all speed, yet to be very careful. One train of powder escaping from a barrel, one sack of cartridges, with a rent in it, falling on the pavement, where sparks were dropping about, might have destroyed the whole "Cité."

There was a brave, stout woman, mistress of a coal and wood yard, named Madame Saint-Chély. She was a native of Auvergne, whence all porters and water-carriers in Paris come. With her sleeves tucked up, and her hair flying, she kept carrying out sack after sack of cartridges, undaunted, though her clothes caught fire. Bending beneath the weight upon her back, she emptied them into the basin of the fountain that stands in the middle of the Place, then rushed back for more, while the flames poured from the windows of the upper story. Her activity and cheerfulness animated every one.

There was also a barber named Labois, who distinguished himself by his courage and activity in rolling barrels of powder out of the cellar of the prefecture, and plunging them into the Seine.

When several tons of powder and twenty millions of cartridges had been carried out, danger from that source was over. The next thing was to fight the flames. Then they discovered that all the fire-engines had been sent away. Every basin, pitcher, bucket, or saucepan on the island was put into requisition. Surrounded by the Seine, they had plenty of water. All worked with a will. At last an engine came, sent in to their help from Rambouillet.

One part of the Prefecture, whose burning caused innumerable sparks, was the depot for lost property. It contained, among other things twenty thousand umbrellas.

Page 345 It was above all things desirable to remove the straw bedding of the prisoners, stored by day in one large room, and while those busy with powder and cartridges worked below, Pierre Braquond, the turnkey, took this task upon himself, assisted by some of his late prisoners.

The difficulty of escaping from the island was great, for the insurgents would fire on fugitives from the right bank of the river, the Versailles troops from the left. A warder, at the risk of his life, crept to the water's edge opposite to the Versaillais, and waved a white handkerchief. As soon as he was seen, the troops ceased firing. Every moment it was expected that the roof of the prison would fall in, when suddenly the reservoir on the top of the building gave way, and the flames were checked by a rush of water. Braquond had said to Judge Bonjean a few days before he was sent from the Prefecture to Mazas, "I can stay here no longer. I am going to escape to Versailles." M. Bonjean replied: "As a magistrate I command you to remain; as a prisoner I implore you. What would become of those under your care if the friends of the Commune were set over them?"

The Ministry of Marine (that is, the Navy Department) is situated in the Rue Saint-Florentin, near the Rue Royale and the Place de la Concorde,—the most beautiful part of the city. The officer who held it for the Commune was Colonel Brunei, an excellent middle-aged man, far too good for his associations. There was no stain of any kind on his past life, but he had been disappointed when peace was made with the Germans, and had joined the Commune in a moment of patriotic enthusiasm. Once in its service, there was no way to escape.

On May 23 the Versaillais were gaining every moment. There was a man named Matillion, charged by the Central Committee to do anything or to burn anything to prevent their advance. That night, when houses that he had set on fire were blazing in the Rue Royale (he had had petroleum pumped upon them by fire-engines), there was a fierce orgy held by the light of the flames before the Church of Page 346 the Madeleine. A wild, demon-like dance was led by three women who had done duty all day as pétroleuses,—Florence, Aurore, and Marie. Marie had been publicly thanked at the Hôtel-de-Ville for sending a cannonball through one of the statues before the Chamber of Deputies.

Three battalions of Communist soldiers stationed in the Ministry of Marine, which had been converted into a hospital, took advantage of the fact that the general attention was fixed upon this orgy to quit their post and steal away, leaving the Ministry undefended. It was eleven at night; Colonel Brunel was sending to the Central Committee for fresh soldiers and fresh orders, when a paper was given him. He read it, turned pale, and sent for the doctor. "The Central Committee," he said, "orders me to blow up this building immediately." "But my wounded?" cried the doctor. There were one hundred and seven wounded soldiers of the Commune in the hospital. There was no place to which they could be moved, and no means of transportation. Colonel Brunel sent an orderly to represent the case to the Committee. All he could obtain was a detail of National Guards to assist in carrying away the wounded, together with a positive order to burn down the building. As the sick men were being very slowly carried out, a party arrived, commanded by a drunken officer, and carrying buckets of coal-oil and other combustibles, which they scattered about the rooms. By this time the fires of the Versaillais gleamed through the trees in the Champs Élysées. The Rue Royale, near at hand, was in flames. Across the Seine, the Rue de Lille was burning. The Ministry of Finance and the palace of the Tuileries seemed a sea of flame. In the Ministry of Marine were two clerks, long attached to that branch of the Government service, who had been requested by Admiral Pothereau, the Minister for Naval Affairs, to remain at their post and endeavor to protect the papers and property. Their names were Gablin and Le Sage. M. Le Sage had his wife with him in the building. These men resolved to save the Ministry, or perish. While Le Sage, who was Page 347 expert in gymnastics, set out to see if he could reach the general in command of the Versaillais, Gablin turned all his energies to prevent the impending conflagration. Putting on an air of haste and terror, he rushed into the room where the soldiers were refreshing themselves, and cried out lustily that the Versaillais were upon them, but that if they followed him, he would save them. Under pretence of showing them a secret passage, he led them into a chamber and locked the door. Then he turned his attention to their commander. He represented to him that the Versaillais were close at hand, and promised him safety and a handsome reward if he would not set fire to the building. "But I have my orders!" objected the half-tipsy officer. "I have the order you had better obey," replied Gablin, pointing a pistol at his head. "Now, shall I fire, or shall I reward you?" The officer gave in. He helped M. Gablin to pour the buckets of coal-oil into the gutters in the courtyard, to clear away the powder, and to drench the floors with water. Then Gablin took him to a chamber, gave him plain clothes, and locked him in. He fell asleep upon the bed in a moment.

Le Sage meanwhile had made his way over the roofs of neighboring houses, and then descended to the Champs Élysées. He was arrested several times by sentries, but at last made his way to General Douai. The general heard his story, and then put a paper into his hand, saying, "The Ministry of Marine is already ours." Admiral Pothereau himself, at three o'clock in the morning, was looking towards his old offices and residence from the Champs Élysées. He remarked to an aide-de-camp and to another officer: "All looks very quiet. Suppose we go and reconnoitre, and see how near we can approach my official home." They held their swords in their hands, and, followed by three gendarmes, cautiously drew near the Ministry. They met with no opposition, and finally walked in. "Where's Le Sage?" was the admiral's first question. "He is out looking for you, M. le Ministre," cried Le Sage's wife, shedding tears of anxiety.

Page 348 Thus the Ministry of Marine was captured by the minister; but the building itself and all its valuable documents had been preserved by the fidelity of two young men.

As for the Communist officer, when he came to himself he sincerely repented his connection with the Commune. He was pardoned, became a respectable citizen, and found a true friend in M. Gablin.



The Commune cost Paris fourteen thousand lives. Eight thousand persons were executed; six thousand were killed in open fight. Before the siege Paris had contained two million and a quarter of inhabitants: she had not half that number during the Commune, notwithstanding the multitude of small proprietors and peasants who had flocked thither from devastated homes.

Monday, May 29, found the city in the hands of the Versaillais. The Provisional Government and its Parliament were victorious. The army, defeated at Sedan, had conquered its insurgent countrymen. All that remained of the Commune was wreck and devastation. The Tuileries, the Column of the Place Vendôme, the Treasury, the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the Hôtel-de-Ville, or City Hall, were destroyed, besides two theatres, the Law Courts, or Palais de Justice, the offices of the Council of State and the Court of Accounts, the State Safe Deposit (Caisse des Dépôts et de Consignations), the Library of the Louvre, the manufactory of Gobelin's tapestry, the Prefecture of Police, eight whole streets, and innumerable scattered private houses. The vengeance of the soldiers as they made their way from street to street, from barricade to barricade, was savage and indiscriminate. Every man arrested whose hands were black with powder was carried to a street corner or a courtyard, and summarily shot. Of course many wholly innocent persons perished, for the troops of the Commune had been of two kinds,—the National Guard and the Volunteers. Most of the latter were devils incarnate. Page 350 Among them were the Vengeurs de Flourens, who were foremost in executions, and bands called by such names as Les Enfants du Père Duchêne and Les Enfants Perdus. The National Guards were of three classes,—genuine Communists, workmen whose pay was their only resource for the support of their families, and pressed men, forced to fight, of whom there were a great many.

I have before me three narratives written by gentlemen who either suffered or participated in the Great Revenge. One was a resident in Paris who had taken no part either for or against the Commune; one had served it on compulsion as a soldier; and one was an officer of the Versailles army, who on May 21 led his troops through a breach into the city, and fought on till May 27, when all was over.

It seems to me that such accounts of personal experience in troubled times give a far more vivid picture of events than a mere formal narration. I therefore quote them in this chapter in preference to telling the story in my own words.

The first is by Count Joseph Orsi,[1] whose visit to Raoul Rigault's office at the Prefecture of Police has already been told. He was left unmolested by the Commune, most probably because in early life he had been a member of those secret societies in Italy to which Louis Napoleon himself belonged. He says,—

[Footnote 1: Published in Fraser's Magazine, 1879.]

"On May 22 Paris was entering the last stage of its death struggle. The army of Versailles had entered it from four different points. The fight was desperate. Barricades were erected in almost every street. Prisoners on both sides were shot in scores at the street-corners. Three of the largest houses in the Rue Royale, where I lived, were on fire. Soldiers of the regular army were beginning to appear in our quarter, and early on Thursday, May 25, I heard the bell of my apartment ring violently. I opened it, and found myself face to face with twelve voltigeurs of the Versailles army; commanded by a lieutenant, who ordered the soldiers to search the house and shoot any one wearing a uniform. He told me that he must occupy my drawing-room, which looked on the Rue Royale, for the purpose of Page 351 firing on the insurgents, who were holding a barricade where the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré joins the Rue Royale. My wife was seated on her sofa. He ordered her to leave the room. She resisted, and was removed by force. The soldiers then began firing on the insurgents from the windows. The insurgents had possession of the upper floors of some houses facing mine, and fired with such effect that the soldiers were driven from their position. The officer withdrew his men from the drawing-room and asked for a map of Paris, for he did not know exactly where he was. I made a friend of him by pointing to my pictures, everyone of which proved me to be a friend and follower of the emperor. He asked me if I had any wine to give his men, who had had nothing to eat or drink since the previous night. While they were partaking of bread and wine in the kitchen, and I was talking with the officer in the dining-room, a shot fired from across the street struck the officer on the temple. He fell as if struck dead. His soldiers rushed in and seized me. They were about to shoot me on the spot, when luckily my servant, with water and vinegar, brought the officer to his senses, so that he could raise his hand and make a sign to the soldiers, who had me fast by both my arms, to keep quiet. By God's mercy the officer had only been stunned. He had been hit, not by a bullet, but by a piece of brick forced out of the wall by a shot. I was released, but the soldiers were far from satisfied, believing their officer had accepted this explanation only to spare my life. They left my house at nightfall, and afterwards the fire of the insurgents became so hot that the front wall of the house fell in, and everything I had was smashed to pieces.

"The next morning, May 26, as I was searching for some valuable papers among the ruins, two men in plain clothes entered and ordered me to follow them to the Prefecture of Police, temporarily located on the Quai d'Orsay. As Paris was by this time completely under military rule I was examined by an officer. I told him that, not knowing for what purpose I was wanted, I had left my papers at home, and was sent under charge of two men to fetch them. I was also given to understand that I had better make any arrangements I thought necessary for my wife, which led me to think it probable I should be shot or imprisoned. It was a reign of terror of a new kind, of which I could never have expected to be a victim. As we were crossing the Place de la Concorde we saw half a dozen soldiers who had seized four Federals on the barricade close by. A struggle was going on for life or death. The soldiers, having at last the Page 352 upper hand, strove to drag the Federals to the wall of the Ministry of Marine to be shot. The poor wretches were imploring for mercy, and refused to stand erect. Seeing this, the soldiers shot them one after the other as they lay upon the ground.

"I was finally disposed of, in company with other prisoners, in some large stables and carriage houses. Some of us were in plain clothes, some in uniform. We were all packed together so closely that there was not even the possibility of lying down upon the stones. Bread and water alone were given us. On the approach of night we were shut in like cattle, with the intimation that any attempt to revolt or escape would be followed by instant execution.

"The next morning, May 27, at dawn, ten soldiers, with an officer at their head, began calling by name eight or ten prisoners at a time from one of our places of confinement, and they were dragged away, God knows where. Utter dejection and despair were depicted on the face of every man, especially on those who had been seized on the barricades or in uniform. That afternoon I was called out, being part of a batch of nine prisoners, mostly in plain clothes. On that day rain fell incessantly. We thought as we marched through the mud and drizzle that we were going to be shot en masse without any further trial; but on reaching the Champ de Mars, our escort was ordered to take us to the barracks that are near it. There our names were taken down by an officer, and we were locked up in a room where seven other prisoners had already been confined. It would be too horrible to relate the filth and closeness of that place, which might have held seven or eight people, and we were sixteen! There was a board fitted between two walls where seven people could lie. This was appropriated before we got there. We were forced to stand up or to lie down on the stones, which were damp and inexpressibly dirty. We remained thus for two days. On the 29th the door opened at seven A. M. Eight soldiers were drawn up outside. The sergeant called out one of the prisoners named Lefevre, who wore a National Guard's uniform. The poor fellow stepped out between the two lines of soldiers, and the door closed on him. He was taken before the colonel, who was instructed to examine the prisoners, and had the discretionary power of ordering them to be shot on the spot, or of sending them to Versailles to appear before the superior commission, by whom they were either set at liberty or sentenced to transportation. Poor Lefevre was not heard of again. We thought we heard a brisk volley of musketry in the large courtyard, but we had been so accustomed to such noises Page 353 that it did not attract general attention. Later in the day another prisoner was called out in the same manner, and he came back no more; this time the noise of the discharge was distinct, and made us alive to the imminence of our fate. On the third prisoner being called out, he refused to go. Two soldiers had to take him by force. He fought desperately for his life. The door was shut. We had not long to wait; the discharge of musketry re-echoed in our cell, and caused within it such a scene of despair as baffles description.

"Next day four men were taken out and executed, which reduced our number to nine. By this time we had recovered from the shots and heeded little what was going to take place, as every one of us had bidden adieu to this world and made his peace with God.

"On May 31 our door was opened again. Twelve soldiers were drawn up before it. We were all ordered out. We thought we were going to be shot en masse, to make quicker work of us. To my amazement, we saw a large column of about four hundred prisoners, four abreast, between two lines of grenadiers. Evidently we were intended to form the last contingent to it. The soldiers having been drawn up in two long lines on both sides of the column, an officer drew his sword, and standing up on a wine-hogshead, shouted: 'Soldiers, load arms.' This being done, he added: 'Fire on any prisoner who attempts to revolt or escape.'

"We then took the road to the Western Railroad, where we were put into cattle vans and goods vans, with scarcely room to breathe, and reached Versailles about six P. M. A detachment of soldiers escorted us to Satory. The column marched in to the artillery depot, and the gates were closed. I happened to be the right-hand man of the four last prisoners in the column, so that I stood only three or four yards from the officer in command of the place, who stood looking at the prisoners, with his arms folded and his officers beside him. I saw him staring at me, which I attributed to my being the best-dressed man of the party. Presently he walked slowly up to me, and measuring me from head to foot with what I took to be a diabolical sneer, cried, 'Ho! Ho! the ribbon of the Legion of Honor! You got it, I suppose, on the barricades!' With that I felt a sharp pull at my coat. Quick as thought, I brought my hand down, and caught his firmly as he was trying to tear the ribbon from my breast. In my agitated state of mind I had not been aware I was wearing a coat that had it on. 'You may shoot me, Captain,' I said, 'but you shall not wrest that ribbon from me.' Page 354 'Where did you get it?' 'The prince president of the Republic, Louis Napoleon, gave it me.' 'When?' 'On September 23, 1853.' 'How is it, then, that you were arrested? Was it on a barricade?' 'No, Captain, in my own apartment. It is not likely I should fight for the Commune after having been a devoted friend of the emperor for forty years.' 'Your name?' 'Count Joseph Orsi.' He looked at me again, and having joined his officers, to whom he related what had taken place, he turned round and in a loud voice said to me: 'Come out of the ranks.' Then, seeing a gendarme close by, he said: 'Do not lose sight of this prisoner.'"

For two days the captain kept Count Orsi in his office and encouraged him to write to any friends he might have in Versailles. Count Orsi named M. Grévy (afterwards president) as having been for years his legal adviser, and he wrote a few lines to various other persons. But there were no posts, and in the confusion of Versailles at that moment there seemed little chance that his notes would reach their destination. Two days later an order came to Satory to send all prisoners to Versailles, and the kind-hearted captain was forced to return Count Orsi to the column of his fellow-prisoners.

At Versailles they were shut up in the wine-cellars of the palace, forty-five feet underground. The prisoners confined there were the very dregs and scum of the insurrection. The cellars had only some old straw on the floors, left there by the Prussians. There were six hundred men confined in this place, and the torture they endured from the close air, the filth, and the impossibility of lying down at night was terrible.

Count Orsi was ten days in this horrible prison. At last one evening he heard his name called. His release had come. On going to the door he was taken before a superior officer, who expressed surprise and regret at the mistake that had been committed, and at once set him at liberty. A brave little boy, charged with one of his notes, had persevered through all kinds of difficulties in putting it into the hands of the English lady to whom it was addressed. This lady and the Italian ambassador had effected Count Orsi's Page 355 release. He was ill with low fever for some weeks in consequence of the bad air he had breathed during his confinement. Subsequently he discovered that personal spite had caused his arrest as a friend of the Commune.

My next account of those days is drawn from the experience of the Marquis de Compiègne,[1] one of the Versailles officers. He was travelling in Florida when the Franco-Prussian war broke out, but hastened home at once to join the army. He fought at Sedan and was taken prisoner to Germany, but returned in time to act against the Commune. Afterwards he became an explorer in the Soudan, and in 1877 was killed in a duel.

[Footnote 1: His narrative was published in the "Supplément Littéraire du Figaro."]

On the 20th of May, news having reached Versailles that the first detachment of regular troops had made their way into Paris, M. de Compiègne hastened to join his battalion, which he had that morning quitted on a few hours' leave. As they approached the Bois de Boulogne at midnight, the sky over Paris seemed red with flame. They halted for some hours, the men sleeping, the officers amusing themselves by guessing conundrums; but as day dawned, they entered Paris through a breach in the defences. The young officer says,—

"I shall never forget the sight. The fortifications had been riddled with balls; the casemates were broken in. All over the ground were strewn haversacks, packets of cartridges, fragments of muskets, scraps of uniforms, tin cans that had held preserved meats, ammunition-wagons that had been blown up, mangled horses, men dying and dead, artillerymen cut down at their guns, broken gun-carriages, disabled siege-guns, with their wheels splashed red from pools of blood, but still pointed at our positions, while around were the still smoking walls of ruined private houses. A company of infantry was guarding about six hundred prisoners, who with folded arms and lowering faces were standing among the ruins. They were of all ages, grades, and uniforms,—boys of fifteen and old men, general officers covered with gold lace, and beggars in rags: Avengers of Flourens, Page 356 Children of Père Duchêne, Chasseurs and Zouaves, Lascars, Turcos, and Hussars. We halted a little farther in the city. We were very hungry, but all the shops were closed. I got some milk, but some of my comrades, who wanted wine, made a raid into the cellar of an abandoned house, and were jumped upon by an immense negro dressed like a Turco, whom they took for the devil. Glad as we all were to be in Paris, the sight as we marched on was most melancholy. Fighting seemed going on in all directions, especially near the Tuileries and the Place de la Concorde. The Arch of Triumph was not seriously injured. On the top of it were two mortars, and the tricolored flag had been replaced by the drapeau rouge. Detachments were all the time passing us with prisoners. They were thrust for safe-keeping wherever space could be found. I am sorry to say that they were cruelly insulted, and, as usual, those who had fought least had the foulest tongues. There was one party of deserters still in uniform, with their coats turned inside out. I saw one of the prettiest girls I have ever seen, among the prisoners. She was about fourteen, dressed as a cantinière, with a red scarf round her waist. A smile was on her lips, and she carried herself proudly.

"That morning, May 22, I saw nobody shot. I think they wanted to take all the prisoners they could to Versailles as trophies of victory. About one o'clock we received orders to march, and went down the Boulevard Malesherbes. All the inhabitants seemed to be at their windows, and in many places we were loudly welcomed. It was strange to me to be marching with arms in my hands, powder-stained and dirty, along streets I had so often trodden gay, careless, and in search of pleasure.

"On the march we passed the Carmelite Convent, where my sister was at school; and as we halted, I was able to run in a moment and see her. Only an hour or two before; the nuns had had a Communist picket in their yard.

"We marched on to the Parc Monceau [once Louis Philippe's private pleasure-garden]. There our men were shooting prisoners who had been taken with arms in their hands. I saw fifteen men fall,—and then a woman.

"That night volunteers were called for to defend an outlying barricade which had been taren from the insurgents, and of which they were endeavoring to regain possession. Our captain led a party to this place, and in a tall house that overlooked the barricade he stationed three of us. There, lying flat on our faces on a billiard-table, we exchanged many shots with the enemy. A number of National Guards came up and surrendered Page 357 to us as prisoners. As soon as one presented himself with the butt of his musket in the air, we made him come under the window, where two of us stood ready to fire in case of treachery, while the third took him to the lieutenant. In the course of the night I was slightly wounded in the ear. A surgeon pinned it up with two black pins.

"It was now May 23,—an ever-memorable day. We were pushing on into Paris, and were to attack Montmartre; but first we had to make sure of the houses in our rear. Then began that terrible fighting in the streets, when every man fights hand to hand, when one must jump, revolver in hand, into dark cellars, or rush up narrow staircases with an enemy who knows the ground, lying in wait. Two or three shots, well aimed, come from one house, and each brings down a comrade. Exasperated, we break in the door and rush through the chambers. The crime must be punished, the murderers are still on the spot; but there are ten men in the house. Each swears that he is innocent. Then each soldier has to take upon himself the office of a judge. He looks to see if the gun of each man has been discharged recently, if the blouse and the citizen's trousers have not been hastily drawn over a uniform. Death and life are in his hands; no one will ever call him to account for his decision. Women and children fall at his feet imploring pity; through all the house resound sobs, groans, and the reports of rifles. At the corner of every street lie the bodies of men shot, or stand prisoners about to be executed.

"I was thankful when the moment came to attack the heights of Montmartre, and to engage in open warfare. General Pradié, our brigadier-general, marched at our head, greatly exposed, because of the gold lace on his uniform. An insurgent, whom we had taken prisoner, suddenly sprang from his guards, seized the general's horse, and presented at him a revolver that he had hidden in his belt. The general, furious, cried, 'Shoot him! shoot him!' But we dared not, they were too close together. Suddenly the man sprang back, gained the street, and though twenty of us fired in haste at once, every ball missed him. Leaping like a goat, he made his escape. The general was very angry. Step by step we made our way, slowly, it is true, but never losing ground. About two hundred yards from Montmartre were tall houses and wood-yards where many insurgents had taken refuge. These sent among us a shower of balls. We had sharp fighting in this place, but succeeded in gaining the position. Then we halted for about two hours, to make preparations for an attack upon the heights. Some of us while we Page 358 halted, fired at the enemy, some raided houses and made prisoners; some went in search of something to eat, but seldom found it. I was fortunate, however, while taking some prisoners to the provost-marshal, to be able to buy a dozen salt herrings, four pints of milk, nine loaves of bread, some prunes, some barley-sugar, and a pound of bacon. I took all I could get, and from the colonel downward, all my comrades were glad to get a share of my provisions. The heights of Montmartre had been riddled by the fire from Mont Valérien. Sometimes a shell from our mortars would burst in the enemy's trenches, when a swarm of human beings would rush out of their holes and run like rabbits in a warren."

The punishment of the unfortunate, as well as of the guilty, was very severe. Their imprisonment in the Great Orangery at Versailles, where thousands of orange-trees are stored during the winter, involved frightful suffering. A commission was appointed to try the prisoners, but its work was necessarily slow. It was more than a year before some of the captured leaders of the Commune met their fate. Those condemned were shot at the Buttes of Satory,—an immense amphitheatre holding twenty thousand people, where the emperor on one of his fêtes, in the early days of his marriage, gave a great free hippodrome performance, to the intense gratification of his lieges.

Some prisoners were transported to New Caledonia; Cayenne had been given up as too unhealthy, and this lonely island in the far Pacific Ocean had been fixed upon as the Botany Bay for political offenders. Some of the leaders in the Council of the Commune were shot in the streets. Raoul Rigault was of this number. Some were executed at Satory; some escaped to England, Switzerland, and America; some were sent to New Caledonia, but were amnestied, and returned to France to be thorns in the side of every Government up to the present hour; some are now legislators in the French Chamber, some editors and proprietors of newspapers. Among those shot in the heat of vengeance at Satory was Valin, who had vainly tried to save the hostages. Deleschuze, in despair at the cowardice of his associates, quietly sought a barricade when affairs grew Page 359 desperate, and standing on it with his arms folded, was shot down. Cluseret, who had real talent as an artist, had an exhibition a few years since of his pictures in Paris, and writing to a friend concerning it, speaks thus of himself:[1]

[Footnote 1: Le Figaro.]

"You can tell me the worst. When a man has passed through a life full of vicissitudes as I have done, during seventeen years of which I have seen many campaigns, fighting sometimes three hundred and sixty-five days in a year, or marching and counter-marching, without tents or anything; when one has been three times outlawed and under sentence of death; when one has known much of imprisonment and exile; when one has suffered from ingratitude, calumny, and poverty,—one is pretty well seasoned, and can bear to hear the truth."

One thousand and thirty-one women were among the prisoners at Versailles and Satory. Many of them were women of the worst character. Eight hundred and fifty were set at liberty; four were sent to an insane asylum; but doctors declared that nearly every woman who fought in the streets for the Commune was more or less insane.

The most important of all captures was that of Rochefort. He had been a leading man in the Council of the Commune, but was so great a favorite with men of literature, besides having strong friends and an old schoolfellow in Thiers' cabinet, that he escaped with transportation to the Southern Seas. On May 20, when he saw that the end of the Commune was at hand, he procured from the Delegate for Foreign Affairs passports for himself and his secretary. It is thought that the delegate, enraged at Rochefort's purpose of deserting his colleagues, betrayed him to the Prussians who held the fort of Vincennes. The Prussians sent word to the frontier, and there the fugitives were arrested. Rochefort had no luggage, but in his pocket was a great deal of miscellaneous jewelry, a copy of "Monte Cristo," and some fine cigars. Escorted by Uhlans, he was brought to St. Germains, and delivered over to the Versailles Government. For a long time his fate hung in the balance, and it seemed improbable that even the exertions of Page 360 M. Thiers, the President, and Jules Favre, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, could save him.

Having told of the last days of the Commune as seen by Count Orsi and the Marquis de Compiègne, there remains one more narrative,—the experiences of a man still more intimately connected with the events of that terrible period, though, like a soldier in battle, he seems to have been able to see only what was around him, and could take no general view of what went on in other parts of the field.

The writer was all English gentleman who published his narrative immediately after he returned to England in September and October, 1871, in "Macmillan's Magazine." "The writer," says the editor, "is a young gentleman of good family and position. His name, though suppressed for good reasons, is known to us, and we have satisfied ourselves of the trustworthiness of the narrative." He says:

"I left England very hurriedly for France on March 29, 1871. I had neglected to procure a passport, and had no papers to prove my identity. I travelled from Havre to Paris without trouble, and on the train met two men whom I saw afterwards as members of the Council of the Commune. The first thing that struck me on my arrival in Paris was the extreme quietness of the streets. During the first week of my stay I was absorbed in my own business, and saw nothing; but on Monday, April 10, my own part in the concerns of the Commune began. I was returning home from breakfast about one o'clock in the day, when I met a sergeant and four men in the street, who stopped me, and the sergeant said: 'Pardon, Citizen, but what is your battalion?' I answered that, being an Englishman, I did not belong to any battalion. 'And your passport, Citizen?' On my replying that I had none, he requested me to go with him to a neighboring mairie, and I was accordingly escorted thither by the four men. On my arrival I was shown into a cell, comfortable enough, though it might have been cleaner. Having no evidence of my nationality, I felt it was useless to apply to the Embassy; all the friends I had in Paris who could have identified me as all Englishman had left the city some days before, and as I reflected, it appeared to me that if required to serve the Commune, no other course would be left to me. One thing, however, I resolved,—to keep myself as much in the background as possible. In three or four hours I was conducted Page 361 before the members of the Commune for that arrondissement. They received me civilly, asked my name, age, profession, etc., and then one of them, taking up a paper, proceeded to say that I must be placed in a battalion for active service, as I was under forty years of age. 'Gentlemen,' I replied, 'your political affairs are of no interest to me, and it is my misfortune to be placed in this unpleasant predicament. But I tell you plainly, you may shoot me if you will, but I absolutely refuse to leave Paris to fight the Versaillais, who are no enemies of mine in particular, and I therefore demand to be set at liberty.' Upon this they all laughed, and told me to leave the room. After a little time I was recalled, and told I should be placed in a compagnie sédentaire. I again remonstrated, and demanded to be set at liberty, when they said I was drunk, and ordered me to be locked into my cell, whence I was transferred to my battalion the next morning. I found my captain a remarkably pleasant man, as indeed were all my comrades in my company, and I can never forget the kindness I met with from them. My only regret is my utter ignorance of their fate. I can scarcely hope they all escaped the miserable fate that overtook so many; but I should rejoice to know that some were spared. On entering the captain's office and taking off my hat, I was told to put it on again, 'as we are all equal here, Citizen;' and after the captain had said a few words to me, I was regaled with bread, sardines, and wine,—the rations for the day. The captain was a young man of six-and-twenty, with a particularly quiet, gentlemanly manner (he was, I believe, a carpet-weaver). He had been a soldier, and had served in Africa with distinction.

"The account of my daily duties as a member of this company from April 10 to May 23 may be here omitted. I became orderly to one of the members of the Commune, and being supplied with a good horse (for as an Englishman I was supposed to be able to ride), I spent much of my time in carrying messages. On the morning of Tuesday, May 23, our colonel told us of the death of Dombrowski, who had been shot during the night, though particulars were not known. I was sorry to hear of his end, for he had been disposed to be kind to me, and I knew then that the cause of the Commune was utterly lost, as he was the only able man among them. The night before, we had seen such a fire as I never saw before, streaming up to the sky in two pillars of flame. I was told it was the Tuileries. The Versaillais were already within the walls of Paris, but this we in the centre of the city did not know. The news spread during the day, however, and there was a great panic in the Page 362 evening. Everybody began to make preparations for flight, the soldiers being anxious to get home and change their uniforms for plain clothes. No one knew with any degree of certainty where the enemy really was, nor how far he had advanced; only one thing was certain, that the game was played out, and that sauve qui peut must be the order of the day. Men, women, and children were rushing frantically about the streets, demanding news, and repeating it with a hundred variations. The whole scene was lit up by fires which blazed in all directions. At last the night gave place to dawn, and the scene was one to be remembered for a lifetime. The faces of the crowd wore different expressions of horror, amazement, and abject terror.... Early in the morning of Wednesday 24th, I, with some others, was ordered to the barricade of La Roquette.[1] My companions were very good fellows, with one exception,—a grumpy old wretch who had served in Africa, and could talk about nothing but the heat of Algeria and the chances for plunder he had let slip there. Finding nothing to do at the barricade, I tied my horse and fell asleep upon the pavement. I dreamed I was at a great dinner-party in my father's house, and could get nothing to eat, though dishes were handed to me in due course. Many times afterwards my sleeping thoughts took that direction. I really believe that there were times when I and many others would willingly have been shot, if we could have secured one good meal, When I awoke, about mid-day, in the Rue de la Roquette, I found my companions gone to the mairie of the Eleventh Arrondissement, and I followed them. Our uniform was not unlike that of the troops of the line in the French army, so we were taken by the crowd for deserters, and hailed with 'Ah, les bon garçons! Ah, les bons patriotes!' and we shouted back in turn with all our might, 'Vive la Commune! Vive la République!' Those words were in my mouth the whole of the next three days. The people never saw a horseman without shrieking to him, 'How is all going on at present?' To which the answer was invariably, 'All goes well! Vive la Commune! Vive la République!' though the enemy might at that moment be within five hundred yards. Indeed, the infatuation and credulity displayed by the French, not only during the insurrection, but the whole war, was absurd. Tell them on good authority that they had lost a battle or been driven back, they would answer that you were joking, and you might think yourself Page 363 lucky to escape with a whole skin; but say nothing but 'All goes well! We have won!' and without stopping to inquire, they would at once cheer and shout as if for a decisive victory."

[Footnote 1: At that time the execution of the hostages was taking place within the prison.]

The next duty of our Englishman was to act as mounted orderly to captains who were ordered to visit and report on the state of the barricades, also to command all citizens to go into their houses and close the doors and windows. There was little enthusiasm at the barricades, and everywhere need of reinforcements. The army of the Commune was melting away. The most energetic officer they saw was a stalwart negro lieutenant,—possibly the man who, as De Compiègne tells us, had scared some Versaillais in a cellar on the 22d of May.

On the night of Thursday, May 25, the Column of July was a remarkable sight. It had been hung with wreaths of immortelles, and those caught fire from an explosive. Elsewhere, except for burning buildings, there was total darkness. There was no gas in Paris, of course. And here our Englishman goes on to say that so far as his experience went, he saw no pétroleuses nor fighting women, nor did he believe in their existence.

By Friday, May 26, provisions and fodder were exhausted, and it was hard for the soldiers of the Commune to get anything to eat. Our Englishman, in the general disorganization, became separated from his comrades, and joined himself to a small troop of horsemen wearing the red shirt of Garibaldi, who swept past him at a furious gallop. They were making for the cemetery of Père la Chaise. "All is lost!" they cried. "To get there is our only chance of safety." Yet they still shouted to the men and women whom they passed, "All goes well! Vive la Commune! Vive la République!" By help of an order to visit all the posts, which the Englishman had in his pocket, they obtained admittance into Père la Chaise. There were five Poles in the party, one Englishman, and one Frenchman; "and certainly," adds the narrator, "they were no credit to their respective nations. It was on their faces that I Page 364 remarked for the first time that peculiar hunted-down look which was afterwards to be seen on every countenance, and I presume upon my own."

Our Englishman rode up to a battery in Père la Chaise, planted on the spot made famous by a celebrated passage in "Le Père Goriot," in which Balzac describes Rastignac, on the eve of finally selling himself to Satan, as standing and gazing down on Paris, to conquer a high place in which is to be his reward. The observer who saw the city from the same spot on the 26th of May, 1871, says,—

"Beneath me lay stretched out like a map the once great and beautiful city, now, alas! given over a prey to fire and sword. I could see smoke rising from many a heap of ruins that but a few short hours before had been a palace or a monument of art. It was impossible, however, to decide what buildings were actually burning, for a thick, misty rain had set in, which prevented my seeing distinctly. In my descent I passed the place where the body of Dombrowski was lying. He had been shot from behind, and the ball had passed through his body. At the gate of the cemetery I found a man waiting for me with news that Belleville was to be our rendezvous. Words cannot paint the spectacle that Belleville presented. It was the last place left, the only refuge remaining; and such an assemblage as was collected there it would be difficult to find again. There were National Guards of every battalion, Chasseurs Fédérés in their wonderful uniform,—a sort of cross between Zouave, linesman, and rifleman,—Enfants Perdus in their green coats and feathers (very few of these were to be seen, as they had no claim to quarter, nor did they expect any), Chasseurs à Cheval of the Commune, in their blue jackets and red trousers, leaning idly against the gates of their stables, Éclaireurs de la Commune in blue, Garibaldians in red, hussars, cantinières, sailors, civilians, women, and children, all mixed up together in the crowded streets, and looking the picture of anxiety. In the afternoon about four o'clock we were ordered to mount and to escort 'ces coquins,'—as the officer called a party of prisoners. They were forty-five gendarmes and six curés, who were to be shot in the courtyard of a neighboring building. We obeyed our orders and accompanied them to their destination. I was told off to keep back the crowd. The men about to die, fifty-one in all, were placed together, and the word was given to fire. Some Page 365 few, happier than the rest, fell at once, others died but slowly. One gendarme made an effort to escape but was shot through the stomach, and fell, a hideous object, to the ground. One old curé, with long hair white as snow, had the whole of one side of his head shot away, and still remained standing. After I had seen this, I could bear it no longer, but, reckless of consequences, moved away and left the ground, feeling very sick. As I was in the act of leaving, I observed a lad, a mere boy of fourteen or fifteen, draw a heavy horseman's pistol from his belt and fire in the direction of the dead and dying. He was immediately applauded by the mob, and embraced by those who stood near as 'a good patriot.' And here let me remark that those who have thought it cruel and inhuman on the part of the conquerors to arrest and detain as prisoners gamins of from twelve to sixteen, are quite mistaken. Those who remained at the barricades to the last, and were most obstinate in their defence, were the boys of Paris. They were fierce and uncontrollable, and appeared to be veritably possessed of devils. The difference between the irregular corps and the National Guard was that the latter had, with very few exceptions, been forced to serve, like myself, under compulsion, or by the stern necessity of providing bread for their wives and children, while the Irregulars were all volunteers, and had few married men in their ranks."

Later in the day two mounted officers in plain clothes, one of them a captain, whom our friend had served as orderly, called him and an artilleryman out of the ranks, and ordered them to accompany them. After a devious course through obscure streets of Paris, the officers gave them some money, and ordered them to go into the next street and see if they could procure plain clothes. Having done so, they returned to the place where their officers had promised to wait for them; but they had disappeared. This was, in truth, a good-natured ruse to save the lives of the two privates, though at the time it was not so understood. Not knowing what to do, they attempted to return to their regiments, but at the first outpost they were challenged by the sentry. They had been away five hours, and the countersign had been changed. They were arrested, and carried to the nearest mairie. They were led upstairs and taken before a member of the Commune who was sitting at a Page 366 table covered with papers, busily writing, surrounded by men of all ranks and uniforms. On hearing their story, he turned round, and said, in excellent English, "What are you doing here, an Englishman and in plain clothes?" The Englishman had grown angry. He answered recklessly: "Yes, I am English, and I have been compelled to serve your Commune. I don't know what your name is, or who you are, but I request that you give me a paper to allow me to quit Paris without further molestation." The member of the Commune smiled, and answered: "There is only one thing to be done with you. Here, sergeant!" And the Englishman and the artilleryman were escorted to the guard-room. There everything of value was taken from them. The Englishman lost his watch, his money, and what he valued more, his note-book and papers. He wore a gold ring, the gift of his mother; and as it was difficult to get off, some of the soldiers proposed amputating the finger.

Next, a species of court-martial was held, which in a few minutes passed sentence that they were to be shot at nine the next morning, for "refusing to serve the Commune!" They had been asked no questions, no evidence had been heard, and no defence had been allowed them. Says the Englishman,—

"We were conducted to the Black Hole. There we found nine others who were to suffer the same fate in the morning. I was too tired to do anything but throw myself on a filthy mattress, and in a few minutes I was sleeping what I thought was my last sleep on earth. I was roused at daybreak by a tremendous hammering of my companions on the door of our cell. I was irritated, and asked angrily why they could not allow those who wished to be quiet to remain so. They answered by telling me to climb up to the window and look into the courtyard. I found it strewn with corpses. The mairie had been evacuated during the night, and it was evident we should not be executed. In vain we tried to force the door of our cell; all we could do was to make as much noise as possible to attract attention. At last a sergeant of the National Guard procured the keys, the heavy door was opened, and we were free. I avoided Page 367 a distribution of rifles and ammunition, and passed out into the street, hoping that my troubles were over. Alas! they were only just begun; for the first sight that met my eyes as I stepped into the street was a soldier of the Government, calling on all those in sight to surrender and to lay down their arms. I gave myself up as a prisoner of war. It was Whit-Sunday, May 28. Happily my name was written down as one of those taken without arms.

"I was placed in a party of prisoners, and we were marched to the Buttes de Chaumont, passing in our way many a barricade, or rather the remains of them. Here, the body of a man shot through the head was lying stiff and cold upon the pavement; there, was a pool of coagulated blood; there, the corpse of a gentleman in plain clothes, apparently sleeping, with his head buried in his arms; but a small red stream issuing from his body told that he slept the sleep of death. Some, as we marched on, kept silence, some congratulated themselves that all was over, while some predicted our immediate execution. All had the same hunted-down, wearied look upon their faces that I have before alluded to. At last we were halted and given over to the charge of a regiment of the line. The first order given was, 'Fling down your hats!' Luckily I had a little silk cap, which I contrived to slip into my pocket, and which was afterwards of great comfort to me. We stood bare-headed in the blazing sun some time, till our attention was called to a sound of shooting, and a whisper went round: 'We are all to be shot.' The agonized look on the faces of some, I can never forget; but these were men of the better sort, and few in number: the greater part looked sullen and stolid, shrugged their shoulders, and said, 'It won't take long; a shot, and all is over.'

"A boy about four files behind me was a pitiable object; his cries and his frantic endeavors to attract notice to a document of some sort he held in his hand, were silenced at last by a kick from an officer and a 'Tais-toi, crapaud!' Very different was it with a poor child of nine, who stood next to me. He never cried nor uttered a word of complaint, but stood quietly by my side for some time, looking furtively into my face. At last he ventured to slip his little hand into mine, and from that time till the close of that terrible day we marched hand in hand. Meantime the executions went on. I counted up to twenty, and afterwards I believe some six or seven more took place. Those put to death were nearly all officers of the National Guard. One who was standing near me, a paymaster, had his little bag containing the pay of his men, which he had received the Page 368 day before, but had not been able to distribute among them. He now gave it away to those standing round him (I among them getting a few francs), saying, 'I shall be shot; but this money may be of use to you, my children, in your sad captivity.' He was led out and shot a few minutes afterwards. They all, without exception, met their fate bravely and like men. There was no shrinking from death, or entreaties to be spared, among those I saw killed.

"After an hour we resumed our march, the mob saluting us with the choicest selection of curses and abusive epithets I ever heard. We passed down the Rue Royale, the bystanders calling on us to look upon the ruin we had caused, through the Champs Élysées to the Arch of Triumph, marching bare-headed, under a burning sun. At length, in the Avenue de l'Impératrice, an order to halt was given. There, weary and footsore, many dropped down on the ground, waiting for death, which we were now convinced was near at hand. For myself, I felt utterly numbed and contented to die, and I think I should have received with equal indifference the news of my release. I remember plotting in my mind how I could possibly get news of my fate conveyed to my parents in England. Could I ask one of the soldiers to convey a message for me? And would he understand what to do? With such thoughts, and mechanically repeating the Lord's Prayer to myself at intervals, I whiled away more than an hour, until an order, 'Get up, all of you,' broke the thread of my meditations. Presently General the Marquis de Gallifet (he who had served the emperor in Mexico) passed slowly down the line, attended by several officers. He stopped here and there, selecting several of our number, chiefly the old or the wounded, and ordered them to step out of the ranks. His commands were usually couched in abusive language. A young man near me called out, 'I am an American. Here is my passport. I am innocent.' 'Silence! We have foreigners and riff-raff more than enough. We have got to get rid of them,' was the general's reply. All chance was over now, we thought; we should be shot in a few minutes. Our idea was that those who had been placed aside were to be spared, and those about me said: 'It is just. They would not shoot the aged and the wounded!' Alas! we were soon to be undeceived. Again we started, and were ordered to march arm in arm to the Bois de Boulogne. There those picked out of our ranks by General de Gallifet—over eighty in number—were all shot before our eyes; yet so great was our thirst that many, while the shooting was going on, were struggling for Page 369 water, of which there was only a scant supply. I was not fortunate enough to get any.

"The execution being over, we proceeded, now knowing that our destination was Versailles. Oh, the misery and wretchedness of that weary march! The sun poured fiercely down on our uncovered heads, our throats were parched with thirst, our blistered feet and tired legs could hardly support our aching bodies. Now and again a man utterly worn out would drop by the wayside. One of our guard would then dismount, and try by kicks and blows to make him resume his place in the line. In all cases those measures proved unavailing, and a shot in the rear told us that one of our number had ceased to exist. The executioner would then fall into his place, laughing and chatting gayly with his comrades.

"Towards eight o'clock in the evening we entered Versailles. If the curses we had endured in Paris were frightful and numerous, here they were multiplied tenfold. We toiled up the hill leading to Satory, through mud ankle deep. 'There stand the mitrailleuses, ready for us,' said one of my companions. Then, indeed, for the first time I felt afraid, and wished I had been among those who had been executed in the daytime, rather than be horribly wounded and linger in my misery; for no sure aim is taken by a mitrailleuse.

"The order came to halt, and I waited for the whirring sound; but, thank God! I waited in vain. We set ourselves in motion once more, and soon were in an immense courtyard surrounded by walls, having on one side large sheds in which we were to pass the night. With what eagerness did we throw ourselves on our faces in the mud, and lap up the filthy water in the pools! There was another Englishman, as well as several Americans, among our number, also some Dutch, Belgians, and Italians. The Englishman had arrived in Paris from Brest on May 14 to 'better himself,' and had been immediately arrested and put in prison by the Commune. Being released on the 21st of May, he was captured the next day by the Versaillais. I remained all the time with him till my release.

"On Wednesday, May 31, we were despatched to Versailles to be examined at the orangerie. The orangerie is about seven hundred feet long and forty broad, including two wings at either end. It is flagged with stone, on which the dust accumulates in great quantities. According to my experience, it is bitterly cold at night, and very hot in the daytime. Within its walls, instead of fragrant orange-trees, were four to five thousand human beings, now herded together in Page 370 a condition too miserable to imagine, a prey to vermin, disease, and starvation.

"The general appearance of the crowd of captives was, I must confess, far from prepossessing. They were very dirty, very dusty and worn out, as I myself was probably, and no wonder; the floor was several inches thick in dust, no straw was attainable, and washing was impossible. I gained some comparative comfort by gathering up dust in a handkerchief and making a cushion of it. Thursday, June 1, dragged on as miserably as its predecessor, the only event being the visit of a deputy, which gave rise to great anticipations, as he said, in my hearing, that our condition was disgraceful, and that straw and a small portion of soup ought to be allowed us.

"The terrible scenes and sufferings we had gone through had deprived many of our number of their reason. Some of the madmen were dangerous, and made attempts to take the lives of their companions; others did nothing but shout and scream day and night. The second night we passed in the orangerie the Englishman and I thought we had secured a place where we might lie down and sleep in the side gallery; but at midnight we were attacked by one of the most dangerous of the madmen. It was useless to hope to find any other place to lie down in, and we had no more rest that night, for several maniacs persisted in following us wherever we went, and would allow us no repose. I counted that night forty-four men bereft of reason wandering about and attacking others, as they had done ourselves.

"The next day we found ourselves at last in the ranks of those who were to leave the orangerie. Our names were inscribed at eleven o'clock, and we stood in rank till seven in the evening, afraid to lose our places if we stirred. What our destination might be, was to us unknown; but there was not a man who was not glad to quit the place where we had suffered such misery."

Their destination proved to be Brest, which they reached at midnight of the next day, after travelling in cattle-cars for about thirty hours. They were transferred at once to a hulk lying in the harbor, clean shirts and water to wash with were given them, which seemed positive luxuries. Their treatment was not bad; they had hammocks to sleep in, and permission to smoke on deck every other day. But the sufferings they had gone through, and the terribly foul air of the orangerie, had so broken them down that most of Page 371 them were stricken by a kind of jail-fever. Many, without warning, would drop down as if in a fit, and be carried to a hospital ship moored near them, to be seen no more.

Our Englishman remained three weeks on board this hulk, and then escaped; but by what means he did not, in October, 1871, venture to say.

He concludes his narrative with these words:—

"When I think of those who were with me who still remain in the same condition, and apparently with no chance of release, my heart grows sick within me, and I can only be thankful to Almighty God for my miraculous and providential escape. In conclusion let me say, as one who lived and suffered among them, that so far from speaking hardly of the miserable creatures who have been led astray, one ought rather to pity them. The greater part of those who served the Commune (for all in Paris, with but few exceptions, did serve) were 'pressed men' like myself. But those who had wives and children to support and were without work—nay, even without means of obtaining a crust of bread (for the siege had exhausted all their little savings)—were forced by necessity to enroll themselves in the National Guard for the sake of their daily pay.

"In the regular army of the Commune (if I may so style the National Guard) there were but few volunteers, and these were in general orderly and respectable men; but the irregular regiments, such as the Enfants Perdus, Chasseurs Fédérés, Défenseurs de la Colonne de Juillet, etc., were nothing but troops of blackguards and ruffians, who made their uniforms an excuse for robbery and pillage. Such men deserved the vengeance which overtook the majority of them."

Fig. 17



The fall of the Commune took place in the last week of May, 1871. We must go back to the surrender of Paris, in the last week of January of the same year, and take up the history of France from the election of the National Assembly called together at Bordeaux to conclude terms of peace with the Prussians, to the election of the first president of the Third Republic, during which time France was under the dictatorship of M. Thiers.

Adolphe Thiers was born in Marseilles, April 16, 1797. He was a poor little baby, whose father, an ex-Jacobin, had fled from France to escape the counter-revolution. The doctor who superintended his entrance into the world recorded that he was a healthy, active child, with remarkably short legs. These legs remained short all his life, but his body grew to be that of a tall, powerful man. His appearance was by no means aristocratic or dignified if seen from a distance, but his defects of person were redeemed by the wondrous sparkle in his eyes. The family of his mother, on the maternal side, was named Lhommaça, and was of Greek origin. It came from the Levant, and its members spoke Greek among themselves. Madame Thiers' father was named Arnic, and his descent was also Levantine. Mademoiselle Arnic made a love-match in espousing Thiers, a widower, who after the 9th Thermidor had taken refuge under her father's roof. A writer who obtained materials for a sketch of Thiers from the Thiers himself, says,—

"She pitied him, she was dazzled by his brilliant parts, charmed by his plausible manners, and regardless of his poverty and his incumbrance of many children, she insisted on Page 373 marrying him. Her family was indignant, and cast her off; nor did she long find comfort in her husband. She was a Royalist, and remained so to the end of her days; he was a Jacobin. Moreover, she soon found that his tastes led him to drink and dissipation."

This man, the father of Thiers, was small of stature, mercurial in temperament, of universal aptitudes, much wit, and a perennial buoyancy of disposition. His weakness, like his son's, was a passion for omniscience. Some one said of him: "He talks encyclopedia, and if anybody asked him, would be at no loss to tell you what was passing in the moon." He had been educated for the Bar, and belonged to a family of the haute bourgeoisie of Provence; but everything was changed by the revolutionary see-saw, and shortly before his son was born, he had been a stevedore in the docks of Marseilles. His father (the statesman's grandfather) had been a cloth merchant and a man of erudition. He wrote a History of Provence, and died at the age of ninety-five. The Thiers who preceded him lived to be ninety-seven, and was a noted gastronome, whose house at Marseilles in the early part of the eighteenth century was known far and wide for hospitality and good cheer. He was ruined by speculative ventures in the American colonies.

Thiers' grandfather, the cloth merchant, was a Royalist, who brought down upon himself the wrath of the Jacobins by inciting the more moderate party in Marseilles to seize the commissioners sent to them by the Convention, and imprison them in the Château d'If. His son (Thiers' father), being himself a Jacobin, helped to release the prisoners, and accepted an office under them in Marseilles. This was the reason why he had to conceal himself during the reaction that followed the fall of Robespierre. But all his life he bobbed like a cork to the surface of events, or with equal facility sank beneath them. He seems to have been "everything by turns, and nothing long." Among other employments he became an impressario, and went with an opera troupe to Italy. There for a time he kept a gaming table, and finally turned up at Joseph Bonaparte's court at Page 374 Naples. He became popular with King Joseph, and followed him to Madrid. He was a French Micawber, without the domestic affections of his English counterpart, but with far more brilliant chances. His wife was left to struggle at Marseilles with her own boy to support, and with a host of step-children. What she would have done but for the kindness of her mother, Madame Arnic, it is hard to tell.

Meantime Adolphe was adopted and educated by Madame Arnic. She had provided him from his birth with influential patrons in the persons of two well-to-do godfathers. The boy was brought up in one of those beautiful bastides, or sea-and-country villas, which adorn the shores of Provence. There he ran wild with the little peasant boys, and subsequently in Marseilles with the gamins of the city.

His cousin, the poet André Chénier, got him an appointment to one of the lycées, or high-schools, established by Napoleon; but his grandmother would not hear of his "wearing Bonaparte's livery." The two god-fathers had to threaten to apply to the absent Micawber on the subject, if the boy's mother and grandmother stood in the way of his education. They yielded at last, and accepted the appointment offered them. Adolphe passed with high marks into the institution, and it cost him no trouble to keep always at the head of his classes. But in play hours there was never a more troublesome boy. He so perplexed and annoyed his superiors that they were on the eve of expelling him, when a new master came to the lycée from Paris, and all was changed. This master had ruined his prospects by writing a pamphlet against the Empire. A warm friendship sprang up between him and his brilliant pupil. The good man was an unbending republican. When Thiers became Prime Minister of France under Louis Philippe, he wrote to his old master and offered him an important post in the Bureau of Public Instruction; but the old man refused it. He would not accept Louis Philippe as "the best of republics," and ended his letter by saying: "The best thing I can wish you is that you may soon retire from office, and that for a long time."

Page 375 The influence of this new teacher roused all Thiers' faculties and stimulated his industry. From that time forward he became the most industrious man of his age. The bulletins and the victories of Napoleon excited his imagination. He would take a bulletin for his theme, and write up an account of a battle, supplementing his few facts by his own vivid imagination. His idea was that France must be the strongest of European powers, or she would prove the weakest; she could not hold a middle place in the federation of European nations.

When Thiers had finished his school course his grandmother mortgaged her house to supply funds for his entrance into the college at Aix. He could not enter the army on account of his size, and he aspired to the Bar. His family was very poor at that period. Thiers largely supported himself by painting miniatures, which it is said he did remarkably well.

At Aix he found good literary society and congenial associations. His friendship with his fellow-historian, Mignet, began in their college days. At Aix, too, where he was given full liberty to enjoy the Marquis d'Alberta's gallery of art and wonderful collection of curiosities and bronzes, he acquired his life-long taste for such things. Aix was indeed a place full of collections,—of antiquities, of cameos, of marbles, etc.

Thiers' first literary success was the winning a prize at Nîmes for a monograph on Vauvenargues, a moralist of the eighteenth century, called by Voltaire the master-mind of his period. He won this prize under remarkable circumstances. The commission to award it was composed, largely of Royalists, who did not like to assign it to a competitor, who, if not a Republican, was at least a Bonapartist. Thiers had read passages from his essay to friends, and the commissioners were aware of its authorship. They therefore postponed their decision. Meantime Thiers wrote another essay on the same subject. Mignet had it copied, and forwarded to Nîmes from Paris, with a new motto. This essay won the first prize; and Thiers' other essay won Page 376 the second prize, greatly to his amusement and delight, and to the annoyance and discomfiture of the Committee of Decision.

With six hundred francs in his pocket ($120), he went up to Paris, making the journey on foot. Having arrived there, he made his way to his friend Mignet's garret, weary and footsore, carrying his bundle in his hand. Mignet was not at home; but in the opposite chamber, which Thiers entered to make inquiries for his friend, was a gay circle of Bohemians, who were enjoying a revel. The traveller who broke in upon their mirth is thus described:—

"He wore a coat that had been green, and was faded to yellow, tight buff trousers too short to cover his ankles, and dusty, and glossy from long use, a pair of clumsy blucher boots, and a hat worthy of a place in the cabinet of an antiquary. His face was tanned a deep brown, and a pair of brass-rimmed spectacles covered half his face."

That was about 1821. Thiers was then not a profound politician, nor was he very clear as to theories about republicanism; but he was an enthusiast for Napoleon, an enthusiast for France. He employed his leisure in making notes in the public libraries on the events between 1788 and 1799,—the year of the 18th Brumaire. His future History of the Revolution, Consulate, and Empire began, unconsciously to himself, to grow under his hand. He had hoped to be called to the Bar in Paris; but as his want of height had prevented his entering the army, so his want of money prevented his entrance to the ranks of the lawyers of the capital. The council which recommends such admissions required at that period that the person seeking admittance should show himself possessed of a well-furnished domicile and a sufficient income. Thiers' resources fell far short of this. For a while he supported himself in Paris as best he could, partly by painting fans; he then returned to Aix, where he was admitted to the Bar. But he could not stay long away from Paris. He returned, and again struggled with poverty, painting and making applications for literary Page 377 and newspaper work in all directions. At last, about the time of Louis XVIII.'s death, Manuel, the semi-republican deputy from Marseilles, took him up. He was then engaged upon his History, and was private secretary to the Duc de Liancourt, to whose notice he had been brought by Talleyrand in a letter which said: "Two young men have lately brought me strong recommendations. One is gentlemanly and appears to have the qualifications you desire in a secretary; the other is uncouth to a degree, but I think I can discern in him sparks of the fire of genius." The duke's reply was brief: "Send me the second one."

In 1826 Thiers began to attract public notice as a clever and somewhat turbulent opponent of the priest party under Charles X. He got his first journalistic employment from the editor of a leading paper in Paris, the "Constitutionnel." He had a letter of introduction to the editor, who, nowise impressed by his appearance, and wishing to get rid of him, politely said he had no work vacant on the paper except that of criticising the pictures in the Salon, which he presumed M. Thiers' could not undertake. On the contrary, Thiers felt sure he could do the work, which the editor, confident of his failure, allowed him to try. The result was a review that startled all Paris, and Thiers was at once engaged on the "Constitutionnel" as literary, dramatic, and artistic critic. He proved to have a perfect genius for journalism, and all his life he considered newspaper work his profession. Before long he aspired to take part in the management of his paper, and to that end saved and scraped together every cent in his power, assisted by a German bookseller named Schubert, the original of Schmuke, in Balzac's "Cousin Pons." The "Constitutionnel" grew more and more popular and more and more powerful; but still Thiers' means were very small, and he was bent on saving all he could to establish a new newspaper, the "National." He was engaged to be married to a young lady at Aix, whose father thought he was neglecting her, and came up to Paris to see about it. Thiers pleaded for delay. He had not money enough, he said, to set up housekeeping. Page 378 A second time the impatient father came to Paris on the same errand, and on receiving the same answer, assaulted Thiers publicly and challenged him. The duel took place. Thiers fired in the air, and his adversary's ball passed between his little legs. Nobody was hurt, but the match was broken off, and the young lady died of the disappointment. Thiers kept every memorial he had of her sacredly to the day of his death, and in the time of his power sought out and provided for the members of her family.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about M. Thiers was the unusual care he took to prepare himself fully before writing or speaking. He had every subject clearly and fully in his own mind before he put pen to paper, and when he began to write, he did so with extraordinary rapidity; nor would he write any account of anything, either in a newspaper or in his history, till he had visited localities, conversed with eye-witnesses, and picked up floating legends.

By an accident he became acquainted before other Parisian journalists with the signing of the Ordinances by Charles X., July 26, 1830. He had also good reason to think that Louis Philippe, if offered the crown of France or the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom, would accept it. While fighting was going on in Paris, he and Ary Scheffer, the artist, were the two persons deputed to go to Neuilly and sound the Duke of Orleans. As we have seen, Marie Amélie, the duke's wife, indignantly refused their overtures in the absence of her husband, while Madame Adélaïde, his sister, encouraged them.

Thiers, Laffitte, and Lafayette became the foremost men in Paris at this crisis, and at the end of some days Louis Philippe became king of the French. He wanted to make Thiers one of his ministers, but Thiers characteristically declined so high an office until he should have served an apprenticeship to ministerial work in an under secretary-ship, and knew the machinery and the working of all departments of government.

Thus far I have not spoken of Thiers' "History of the Revolution." It appeared first in monthly parts. Up to Page 379 the publication of the first number, in 1823, no writer in France had dared to speak well of any actor in the Revolution. Thiers' History, as it became known, created a great sensation. Thiers himself was supposed by the general public (both of his own country and of foreign nations) to be a wild revolutionist. At first the critics knew not how to speak of a book that admired the States-General and defended the Constitutional Convention; but by the time the third volume was completed, in 1827, it was bought up eagerly. The work was published afterwards in ten volumes, and the "History of the Consulate and Empire," which appeared between 1845 and 1861, is in twenty volumes; but it is only fair to say that the print is very large and the illustrations are very numerous, and that the portraits especially are beyond all praise.

From 1831 to 1836, Thiers was one of Louis Philippe's ministers, and from 1836 to 1840 he was Prime Minister, or President of the Council.

As soon as Thiers rose to power his mercurial father made his appearance in Paris. Thiers was disposed to receive him very coldly. "What have you ever done for me that you have any claim on me?" he asked. "My son," replied the prodigal parent, "if I had been an ordinary father and had stayed by my family and brought up a houseful of children in obscurity, do you suppose you would have been where you are now?" At this Thiers laughed, and gave his father a post-mastership in a small town in the South of France called Carpentras. There the old gentleman lived, disreputable and extravagant to the last, surrounded by a large family of dogs.

Thiers provided at the earliest possible moment for his mother and grandmother, buying for the latter a pretty little property which she had always coveted, near Aix, and taking his mother to preside over his own home. But Madame Thiers felt out of place in her son's life, and preferred to return to the property given to Madame Arnic, where she spent the rest of her days with the old lady. Lamartine tells a pretty anecdote of Thiers' relations with Page 380 his mother. The poet and the statesman had been dining together at a friend's house, in 1830, when Thiers was already a cabinet officer. On leaving together after dinner, they found in the ante-room an elderly woman plainly and roughly dressed. She was asking for M. Thiers, who, as soon as he saw her, ran to her, clasped her in his arms, kissed her, and then, leading her by both hands up to the poet, cried joyously: "Lamartine, this is my mother!"

In 1834 Thiers married a beautiful young girl fresh from her pension, Mademoiselle Dosne, who was co-heiress with her mother and her father to a great fortune. Unhappily Thiers had fallen first in love with the mother; but he accepted the daughter instead. The early married life of Madame Thiers was saddened by her knowledge of this state of things. She was devoted to the interests of her husband, and watched over him as a mother might have watched over a child. She was an accomplished woman and most careful housekeeper, and had received an excellent education. She knew many languages, and turned all English or German documents required by her husband into French. She was also a charming hostess, but she lived under the shadow of a great sorrow.

When Thiers was to be married, he paid his father twelve thousand francs (about $2,500) for the legal parental consent which is necessary in a French marriage; but he was by no means anxious to have his irrepressible parent at his wedding. For three weeks before the event he hired all the places in all the stage-coaches running through Carpentras to Lyons.

In 1840 M. Thiers went out of office, in consequence of a dispute with England about the Eastern Question. The only charge that his enemies ever brought against him affecting his honor as a politician was that of employing the Jew Deutz to act the part of Judas towards the Duchesse de Berri; but for that he could plead that it solved a difficulty, and probably saved many lives.

During the Second Empire he kept much in retirement. At first he had thought that Prince Louis Napoleon, seeing Page 381 in him the historian and panegyrist of the Great Emperor, would call him to his councils. But he was quite mistaken. He could not—nor would he—have served Louis Napoleon's turn as did such men as Persigny, Saint-Arnaud, De Maupas, and De Morny. When the coup d'état came, Thiers was imprisoned with the other deputies, the only favor allowed him being a bed, while the other deputies had no couch but the floor.

In 1869 there was a general election in France, which was carefully manipulated by the Government, in order that, if possible, no deputy might be sent to the Chamber who would provoke discussion on the changes in the Constitution submitted by the emperor. Thiers thought it time for him to re-enter public life and to speak out to his countrymen. At this time one of the gentlemen attached to the English embassy in Paris had a conversation with him. "For a man," he says, "of talents, learning, and experience, I never met one who impressed me as having so great an idea of his own self-importance;" but the visitor was at the same time impressed by his frankness and sincerity. Speaking of the Emperor Napoleon III., and foreseeing his downfall, he said: "What will succeed him, I know not. God grant it may not be the ruin of France!... For a long time I kept quiet. It was no use breaking one's head against the wall; but now we have revolution staring us in the face as an alternative with the Empire; and do you think I should be doing well or rightly by my fellow-citizens, were I to keep in the background? If I am wanted, I shall not fail." As he spoke, the fire in his eyes sparkled right through the glass of his spectacles, and all the time he talked, he was walking rapidly up and down. When greatly animated, he seemed even to grow taller and taller, so that on some great occasion a lady said of him to Charles Greville: "Did you know, Thiers is handsome! and is six feet high!"

When the fall of the Empire occurred, in September, 1870, M. Thiers was in Paris; but when the Committee of Defence was formed, he quitted the capital, before the arrival Page 382 of the Prussians, to go from court to court,—to London, St. Petersburg, Vienna,—to implore the intervention of diplomacy, and to prove how essential to the balance of power in Europe was the preservation of France. His feeling was that France ought promptly to have made peace after Sedan, that her cause then was hopeless for the moment, and that by making the best terms she could, and by husbanding her resources, she might rise in her might at a future day. These views were not in the least shared by Gambetta, who believed—as, indeed, most Frenchmen and most foreigners believed in 1870—that a general uprising in France would be sufficient to crush the Prussians. Thiers knew better; his policy was to save France for herself and from herself at the same time.

Fig. 18

We already know the story. Gambetta escaped from Paris in a balloon, and joined Crémieux and Garnier-Pagès, the other two members of the Committee of Defence who were outside of Paris. At Tours they had set up a sort of government, and there, in virtue of being the War Minister of the Committee of Defence, Gambetta proceeded to take all power into his own hands, and to become dictator of masterless France. It was like a shipwreck in which, captain and officers being disabled, the command falls to the most able seaman. Gambetta had no legal right to govern France, but he governed it by right divine, as the only man who could govern it.

This is how a newspaper writer speaks—and justly—of Gambetta's government:—

"From the moment when he dropped, tired out with his journey by balloon, into his chair in the archiepiscopal palace at Tours, and announced that he was invested with full powers to defend the country, no one throughout France seriously disputed his authority. His colleagues became his clerks. The treasury was empty, but he re-filled it. The arsenal was half empty, but in six weeks one great army, and almost two, were supplied with artillery, horses, gunners, and breech-loaders. The Lyons Reds had been told that they were wicked fools, and Communists and Anarchists ripe for revolt in Toulouse, Page 383 Lyons, and Marseilles had been put down. The respectables everywhere rose at his summons, anarchy and military disobedience quailed."

The fortunes of war forced Gambetta and his Government from the banks of the Loire to Bordeaux. There, at the close of January, 1871, Jules Favre arrived from the Central Committee in Paris to announce, with shame and grief, that resistance was over: Paris had capitulated to the Prussians; and it only remained to elect a General Assembly which should create a regular government empowered to make peace with the enemy.

For a few hours that night the fate of France hung trembling in the scales. Thiers was in Bordeaux. He was known to think that France could only save what was left by accepting the armistice. Gambetta was known to be for No Surrender! Which should prevail? Would the dictator lay aside his power without a struggle?

Gambetta rose to the occasion during the night; but here the histories of Thiers and Gambetta run together; therefore, before I tell of what happened the next day, let me say a few words about the personal history of Léon Gambetta. He was only thirty-three years old at this time, having been born in 1838, when Thiers was forty-one years of age.

Gambetta's birthplace was Cahors, that city in the South of France stigmatized by Dante as the abode of usurers and scoundrels. His family was Italian and came from Genoa, but he was born a Frenchman, though his Italian origin, temperament, and complexion were constantly cast up against him. In his infancy he had been intended for the priesthood, and was sent, when seven years old, to some place where he was to be educated and trained for it. He soon wrote to his father that he was so miserable that if he were not taken away he would put out one of his eyes, which would disqualify him for the priestly calling. His father took no notice of the childish threat, and Gambetta actually plucked out one of his own eyes.

In 1868 he was a young lawyer in Paris; but his eloquence Page 384 and ability were known only at the Café Procope to a circle of admiring fellow-Bohemians. On All Saints Day, 1868, the Press, presuming on the recent relaxation of personal government by the emperor, applauded the crowds who went to cover with funeral wreaths the grave of Baudin at Père la Chaise. Baudin had been the first man killed on Dec. 2, 1851, when offering resistance to the coup d'état. The Press was prosecuted for its utterances on this occasion. Gambetta defended one of the journals. Being an advocate, he could say what he pleased without danger of prosecution, and all Paris rang with the bitterness of his attack upon the Empire. From that moment he was a power in France. In person he was dark, short, stout, and somewhat vulgar, nor was there any social polish in his manners.

Not long after his great speech in defence of the Press, in the matter of Baudin, Gambetta was elected to the Chamber by the working-men of Belleville, and at the same time by Marseilles. He entered the Chamber as one wholly irreconcilable with the Empire or the emperor. His eloquence was heart-stirring, and commanded attention even from his adversaries.

When, on Sept. 4, 1870, the downfall of the Empire was proclaimed, Gambetta was made a member of the Council of Defence, and became Minister of the Interior. He remained in Paris until after the siege had begun; but he burned to be where he could act, and obtained the consent of his colleagues to go forth by balloon and try to stir up a warlike spirit in the Provinces. He was made Minister of War in addition to being Minister of the Interior. From Nov. 1, 1870, to Jan. 30, 1871, his efforts were almost superhuman; and but for Bazaine's surrender at Metz, they might have been successful.

Gambetta raised two armies,—one under General Aurelles des Paladines and General Chanzy; the other under Bourbaki and Garibaldi. The first was the Army of the Loire, the second of the Jura.

When the plan of co-operation with Bazaine's one hundred and seventy-five thousand well-trained troops had Page 385 failed, and the Army of the Loire had been repulsed at Orleans, Gambetta with his Provisional Government moved to Bordeaux. Thither came Thiers, returned from his roving embassy,—a mission of peace whose purpose had been defeated by the warlike movements of Gambetta's armies.

Gambetta in the early days of his dictatorship wrote to Jules Favre: "France must not entertain one thought of peace." He sincerely believed any effort at negotiation with the Prussians an acknowledgment of weakness, and he fondly fancied that a little more time and experience would turn his raw recruits into armies capable of driving back the Prussians, when the experienced generals and soldiers of France had failed.

And now we have reached that terrible hour when news was received at Bordeaux that all Gambetta's efforts had been useless; that Paris had consented to an armistice; that an Assembly was to be elected, a National Government to be formed; and that to resist these things or to persist longer in fighting the Prussians would be to provoke civil war.

No wonder that Gambetta and Thiers, both devoted Frenchmen, both leaders of parties with opposing views,—the one resolved on No surrender, the other urging Peace on the best terms now procurable,—passed a terrible night after Jules Favre's arrival at Bordeaux, Gambetta debating what was his duty as the idol of his followers and as provisional dictator, Thiers dreading lest civil war might be kindled by the decision of his rival.

Hardly less anxious were the days while a general election was going on. Bordeaux remained feverish and excited till February 13, when deputies from all parts of France met to decide their country's fate in the Bordeaux theatre. Notabilities from foreign countries were also there, to see what would be done at that supreme moment.

Seven hundred and fifty deputies had been sent to the Assembly, and it was clear from the beginning that that body was not Republican. But the Anti-Republicans were divided into three parties,—Imperialists, Legitimists, and Page 386 Orleanists, each of which preferred an orderly and moderate republic to the triumph of either of the other two. Moreover, that was not the time for deliberations concerning a permanent form of government. The deputies were met to make a temporary or provisional government, qualified to accept or to refuse the hard terms of peace offered by the Prussians. The two leaders of the Assembly were Thiers and Gambetta,—the one in favor of peace, the other of prolonging the war. We can see now how much wiser were the views of the elder statesman than those of the younger; but we see also what a bitter pang Gambetta's patriotic spirit must have suffered by the downfall of his dictatorship.

The Assembly had been three days in session, clamorous, riotous, and full of words, when in the middle of the afternoon of Feb. 16, 1871, two delegates from Alsace and Lorraine appeared, supported by Gambetta. The Speaker—that is, the president of the Assembly—was M. Jules Grévy, who had held the same office in 1848; he found it hard to restrain the excitement of the deputies. The delegates came to implore France not to deliver them over to the Germans; to remember that of all Frenchmen the Alsatians had been the most French in the days of the Revolution, and that in all the wars of France for more than a century they had suffered most of all her children. No wonder the hearts of all in the Assembly were stirred.

"At this moment there appeared in the midde aisle of the theatre a small man, with wrinkled face and stubbly white hair. He seemed to have got there by magic, for no one had seen him spring into that place. He looked around him for an instant, much as a sailor glances over the sky in a storm, then, stretching out his short right arm, he made a curious downstroke which conveyed an impression of intense vitality and will. Profound silence was established in a moment. The elderly man then made another gesture, throwing his arm up, as if to say: 'Good! Now you will listen.' He then, in a thin, piping, but distinctly audible voice, began a sharp practical address. Everyone listened with the utmost attention; none dared to interrupt him. He spoke for five minutes, nervously pounding the air from Page 387 time to time, and sometimes howling his words at the listeners in a manner that made them cringe. He counselled moderation, accord, decency, but above all, instant action. 'The settlement of the Alsace-Lorraine question,' said he, 'will virtually decide whether we have peace or continued war with Prussia.' Then, with an imperious gesture of command, he turned away. 'Come,' he said, 'let us to our committee-rooms, and let us say what we think.'"

Two hours later, the committee appointed to recommend a chief of the executive power announced that its choice had fallen on this orator, M. Thiers. At once he was proclaimed head of the French Republic, but not before he had hurried out of the theatre. Then the session closed, and a quarter of an hour after, Lord Lyons, the English ambassador, had waited on M. Thiers to inform him that Her Majesty's Government recognized the French Republic.

From that moment, for more than two years, M. Thiers was the supreme ruler of France. His work was visible in every department of administration. Ministers, while his power lasted, simply obeyed his commands.

There were some amusing, gossipy stories told in Bordeaux of Thiers' entrance into possession of Gambetta's bachelor quarters at the Prefecture. "Pah! what a smell of tobacco!" he is said to have cried, as he strutted into his deposed rival's study. All his family joined him in bewailing the condition of the house; and until it could be cleansed and purified they were glad to accept an invitation to take refuge in the archbishop's palace. In a few days all was put to rights, and a guard of honor was set to keep off intruders on the chief's privacy. On the first day of this arrangement, M. Thiers addressed some question to the sentinel. The man was for a moment embarrassed how to answer him. M. Thiers was for the time the chief executive officer of the Republic, but he was not formally its president. The soldier's answer, "Oui, mon Exécutif," caused much amusement.

At this time there was no suspicion in men's minds Page 388 that it was the intention of M. Thiers to form a permanent republic. The feeling of the country was Royalist. The difficulty was what royalty? It seemed to all men, and very probably to Thiers himself, that that question would be answered in favor of Henri V., the Comte de Chambord.

Gambetta, resigning his power without a word, retired to San Sebastian, just over the Spanish frontier. There he lived in two small rooms over a crockery-shop. "He is jaded for want of sleep," writes a friend, "and distressed by money matters." Much of his time he spent in fishing, no doubt meditating deeply on things present, past, and future.

No pains were spared to induce him to give in his adhesion to one of the candidates for royalty. His best friend wrote thus to him:—

"Those wretches the Communists have destroyed all my illusions, but perhaps I could have forgiven them but for their ingratitude to you. See how their newspapers have reviled you! A time may come when a republic may be possible in France; but that day is not with us yet. Let us acknowledge that we have both made a mistake. As for you, with your unrivalled genius you have now a patriotic career open before you, if you will cast in your lot with the men who are now going to try and quell anarchy."[1]

[Footnote 1: Clément Laurier, Cornhill Magazine, 1883.]

Besides this, offers were made him of the prime minister-ship, a dukedom, a Grand Cordon, and other preferment; but Gambetta only laughed at these proposals. He was a man who had many faults, but he was always honest and true. Both he and M. Thiers were devoted Frenchmen, patriots in the truest sense of the word, and each took opposite views. That Thiers was right has been proved by time.

On March 16 the Government of the Provisional Republic removed from Bordeaux to Versailles. Nobody dreamed of the pending outbreak of the Commune; all the talk was of fusion between the elder Bourbon branch and the House of Orleans.

Page 389 Thiers was decidedly opposed to taking the seat of government to Paris, nor did he wish a new election for an Assembly; he preferred Fontainebleau for the seat of government, but fortunately (looking at the matter in the light of events) Versailles was chosen.

Then, to the great indignation of Madame Thiers, the Royalists at once took measures to prevent M. Thiers from installing himself in Louis XIV.'s great bedchamber. "The Château," they said, "was to become the abode of the National Legislature, the state rooms must be devoted to the use of members, and the private apartments should be occupied by M. Grévy, the president of the Assembly."

"M. Thiers would no doubt have liked very much to sleep in Louis XIV's bed, and to have for his study that fine room with the balcony from which the heralds used to announce in the same breath the death of one king and the accession of another. His secretary could not help saying that it seemed fit that the greatest of French national historians should be lodged in the apartments of the greatest of French kings; but as this idea did not make its way, M. and Madame Thiers yielded the point, saying that the chimneys smoked, and that the rooms were too large to be comfortable."

On seeing a caricature in which some artist had represented him as a ridiculous pigmy crowned with a cotton night-cap and lying in an enormous bed, surrounded by the majestic ghosts of kings, Thiers was at first half angry; then he said: "Louis XIV. was not taller than I, and as to his other greatness, I doubt whether he ever would have had a chance of sleeping in the best bed of Versailles if he had begun life as I did."[1]

[Footnote 1: Temple Bar.]

So M. Thiers went to reside where the Emperor William had had his quarters, at the Prefecture of Versailles, and soon the palace was filled with refugees from Paris. Many of the state apartments were turned into hospital wards. Louis XIV.'s bedchamber was given up to the finance committee.

Page 390 The thing to be done, with speed and energy, as all men felt, was to re-besiege Paris and put down the Commune. All parties united in this work; but the conservatives confidently believed that when this was done, Thiers and the moderate Republicans would join them in giving France a stable government under the Comte de Chambord.

On Sept. 19, 1821, when that young prince was a year old, a public subscription throughout France had presented him with the beautiful old Château de Chambord, built on the Loire by Francis I., and from which he adopted his title when in exile.

After the young prince had been removed from his mother's influence, he was carefully brought up in the most Bourbon of Bourbon traditions. When he became a man he travelled extensively in Europe. In 1841 he broke his leg by falling from his horse, and was slightly lame for the rest of his life. In 1846 he married Marie Thérèse Beatrix of Modena, who was even more strictly Bourbon than himself. He and his wife retired to Fröhsdorf, a beautiful country seat not very far from Vienna. There they were constantly visited by travelling Frenchmen of all parties, and on no one did the prince fail to make a favorable impression. He was good, upright, cultivated, kindly, but inflexibly wedded to the traditions of his family. He loved France with his whole soul, and was glad of anything that brought her good and glory. But France was his,—his by divine right; and this right France must acknowledge. After that, there was not anything he would not do for her.

Fig. 19

But France was not willing to efface all her history from 1792 to 1871, with the exception of the episode of the Restoration, when school histories were circulated mentioning Marengo, Austerlitz, etc., as victories gained under the king's lieutenant-general, M. de Bonaparte.

During the Empire, under Napoleon III., the Comte de Chambord had remained nearly passive at Fröhsdorf. His life was passed in meditation, devotion, the cultivation of literary tastes, and a keen interest in all the events that were passing in his native country. During the Franco-Prussian Page 391 war he sent words of encouragement to his suffering countrymen, and nobly refrained from embarrassing the affairs of France by any personal intrigues; but when the war and the Commune were over, and his chances of the throne grew bright, he issued a proclamation which has been called "an act of political suicide."

On May 8, three weeks before the downfall of the Commune, he put forth his first manifesto. Here is what an English paper said of it a few days before his next—the suicidal—proclamation appeared:—

"The Comte de Chambord does not, of course, surrender his own theory of his own place on earth, but he does offer some grave pledges intended to diminish suspicion as to the deduction he draws from his claim to be king by right divine. He renounces formally and distinctly any intention of exercising absolute power, and pledges himself, as he says, 'to submit all acts of his government to the careful control of representatives freely elected.' He declares that if restored he will not interfere with equality, or attempt to establish privileges. He promises complete amnesty, and employment under his government to men of all parties; and finally he pledges himself to secure effectual guarantees for the Pope [then trembling on his temporal throne in Italy]."

The English journalist continues,—

"The tone of this whole paper is that of a man who believes that a movement will be made in his favor which may succeed, if only the factions most likely to resist can be temporarily conciliated. There is no especial reason that we can see that he should not be chosen. He has neither sympathized with the Germans, nor received support from them. He has not bombarded Paris. He is not more hated than any other king would be,—perhaps less; for Paris has no gossip to tell of his career. Indeed, there are powerful reasons in favor of the choice. His restoration, since the Comte de Paris is his heir, would eliminate two of the dynastic parties which distract France, and would relink the broken chain of history. And to a people so weary, so dispirited, so thirsty for repose, that of itself must have a certain charm."

But all these advantages he destroyed for himself by a new proclamation issued five weeks later. In it he said,—

Page 392 "I can neither forget that the monarchical right is the patrimony of the nation, nor decline the duties which it imposes on me. I will fulfil these duties, believe me, on my word as an honest man and as a king."

So far was good; but proceeding to announce that thenceforward he assumed the title of Henri V., he goes on to apostrophize the "White Flag" of the Bourbons. He says,—

"I received it as a sacred trust from the old king my grandfather when he was dying in exile. It has always been for me inseparable from the remembrance of my absent country. It waved above my cradle, and I wish to have it shade my tomb. Henri V. cannot abandon the 'White Flag' of Henri IV."

This manifesto, written without consulting those who were working for his cause in France, settled the question of his eligibility. France was not willing, for the sake of Henri V., to give up her tricolor,—the flag of so many memories. Its loss had been the bitterest humiliation that the nation had had to suffer at the Restoration.

The Comte de Chambord's own friends were cruelly disappointed; the moderate Republicans, who had been ready to accept him as a constitutional monarch, said at once that he was far too Bourbon. There was no longer any hope, unless he could be persuaded, on some other convenient occasion, to renounce the "White Flag."

This matter being settled by the Comte de Chambord himself, all M. Thiers' attention was turned to two things,—the disposal of the Communist prisoners, and the payment of the indemnity demanded by the Germans, the five milliards.

We are glad to know that Thiers disapproved of the revengeful feeling that pervaded politicians and society, regarding the Communist prisoners. He tried to save General Rossel, and failed. Rochefort and others he protected. He wished for a general amnesty, excluding only the murderers of Thomas, Lecomte, and the hostages. He said, when some one was speaking to him of the sufferings Page 393 of those Communists (or supposed Communists) who were confined at Satory and in the Orangerie at Versailles: "It was dreadful, but it could not be avoided. We had twenty thousand prisoners, and not more than four hundred police to keep guard over them. We had to depend on the rough methods of an exasperated soldiery."

As to the indemnity, the promptness with which it was paid was marvellous. The great bankers all over Europe, especially those of Jewish connection, came forward and advanced the money. In eighteen months the five milliards of francs were in the coffers of the Emperor William, and the last Prussian soldier had quitted the soil of France. The loan raised by the Government for the repayment of the sums advanced for the indemnity was taken up with enthusiasm by all classes of the French people.

The horrible year of 1871 was followed by one of perfect peace and great prosperity. The title of President of the French Republic was conferred on M. Thiers for seven years. "The nation seemed re-flowering, like a large plantation in a spring which follows a hard winter." Trade revived. The traces of war and civil strife were effaced with amazing promptness from the streets of Paris. The army and all public services were reorganized, and to crown these blessings, the land yielded such a harvest as had not been seen for half a century. M. Thiers was never much addicted to religious emotion; but when, on a Sunday in July, 1872, the news came to him by telegram of the glorious ingathering of the harvest in the South of France, he was quite overcome. "Let us thank God," he cried, clasping his hands. "He has heard us; our mourning is ended!"

M. Thiers was by that time living in Paris in the Élysée. He had continued to reside at the Prefecture of Versailles while the Assembly was in session, but he came to the Élysée during its recess, and kept a certain state there. Yet he never would submit himself to the restraints of etiquette. One who knew him well says:—

Page 394 "He was bourgeois to the finger-tips. His character was a curious effervescing mixture of talent, learning, vanity, childish petulance, inquisitiveness, sagacity, ecstatic patriotism, and ambition. He was a splendid orator, with the voice of an old coster-woman; a savant with the presumption of a school-boy; a kind-hearted man, with the irritability of a monkey; a masterly administrator, with that irresistible tendency to intermeddle with everything which is intolerable to subordinates. He had a sincere love of liberty, with the instincts of a despot."

M. Thiers had during his long life been a collector of pictures, bronzes, books, manuscripts, and curious relics. His house in the Place Saint-Georges was a museum of these treasures, but a museum so arranged that it contributed to sociability and the enjoyment of his visitors. He had acquired this taste for collecting in his early days at Aix. During the Commune his house was razed to the ground, not one stone being left upon another.

When the Commune put forth its decree for this act of vandalism, Thiers' consternation was pathetic. The ladies of his family did everything that feminine energy and ingenuity could suggest to avert the calamity. But when the destruction had taken place, Thiers bore his loss with dignity. His collections were very fine, but he had always been afraid of their being damaged, and did not show them to strangers. When the Commune sent the painter Courbet to appraise their value, he estimated the bronzes alone at $300,000.[1] M. Thiers' collection of Persian, Chinese, and Japanese curios was also almost unique. After the overthrow of the Commune, Madame Thiers and her sister did their utmost to recover such of these treasures as had passed into the hands of dealers. Many of these men gave back their purchases, and none demanded extravagant prices. A great deal was recovered, and the house on the Place Saint-Georges was rebuilt at the public cost.

[Footnote 1: Le Figaro.]

It was on the 5th of September, 1872, that the last German soldier quitted France and the five milliards of francs Page 395 (in our money a thousand millions of dollars) had been paid.[1]

[Footnote 1: When looking over letters and papers concerning this period, I found among them many original notes from M. and Madame Thiers. They all had broad black borders. I learned afterwards that Thiers and his family used mourning paper so long as a single German soldier remained on French soil. Thiers' writing was thick and splashy. He always wrote with a quill pen. Early in life he had, like Sir Walter Raleigh, projected a History of the World; and as he never wrote of anything whose locality he had not seen, he had made his preparations to circumnavigate the globe, when he was arrested by the state of public affairs while on his way to Havre.]

I borrow the words of another writer speaking of this supreme effort on the part of France:—

"After the most frightful defeat of modern times, with one third of her territory in the enemy's hands, with her capital in insurrection, and her available army all required to restore order, France in eighteen months paid a fine equal to one fourth of the English National Debt; elected a bourgeois of genius to her head; obeyed him on points on which she disagreed with him; and endured a foreign occupation without giving one single pretext for real severity.... The people of France had no visible chiefs; the only two men who rose to the occasion were M. Thiers and Gambetta. If M. Thiers showed tact, wisdom, and above all courage and firmness, in probably the most difficult position in which man was ever placed, surely we may pause to admire Gambetta.... Daring in all things, under the Empire he denounced Napoleonism, and by his eloquence and courage he guided timid millions and rival factions from the day when Napoleon III. was deposed. Under the Empire he had yearned to restore the true life of the nation; when the Empire was overturned he could not believe that that life was impaired. He thought it would be easy for France to rise as one man and drive out the invader. As each terrible defeat was experienced, he regarded it as only a momentary reverse. He had such abounding faith in his cause,—the cause of France, the cause of French Republicanism,—that he could not believe in failure. Of course, to have been a more clear-sighted statesman, like M. Thiers, would have been best; but there is something very noble in the blind zeal of this disappointed man."

It moves one to pity to think of Gambetta weeping in Page 396 the streets of Bordeaux, as we are told he did, when the bitter news of the surrender of Paris made all his labors useless, and dashed to the ground his cherished hopes. Without one word to trouble the flow of events that were taking a course contrary to all his expectations, he resigned his dictatorship when it could no longer be of service to his country, and took himself out of the way of intrigues in his favor, passing over the Spanish frontier. As soon as the Germans were out of France, M. Thiers also was prepared to resign his power. He called a National Assembly to determine the form of government.

There were several points of primary importance to be settled at once; first: should France be a monarchy, or a republic?

That she would again become a monarchy was generally anticipated; but the Comte de Chambord had, as we have seen, forfeited his chances for the moment. If France were a republic, who should be her president? Should there be a vice-president? Should the president be elected by the Chamber, or by a vote of the people? Should there be one Chamber, or two?

M. Thiers was opposed to having any vice-president, and was in favor of two Chambers. He vehemently urged the continuance of the Republic, saying that a monarchy was impossible. There was but one throne, and there were three dynasties to dispute it. On one occasion he said: "Gentlemen, I am an old disciple of the monarchy [he was probably alluding to the opinions which his mother and his grandmother had endeavored to instil into him]. I am what is called a Monarchist who practises Republicanism for two reasons,—first, because he agreed to do so, secondly, because practically he can do nothing else."

The Assembly proclaimed the continuance of the Republic, and likewise the continuance of M. Thiers as its president for seven years.

On several occasions after this, M. Thiers carried his point with the Assembly by threatening to resign; and as the Assembly was quite aware how difficult it would be to Page 397 put anyone in his place, the threat always resulted in his victory.

The immediate cause which led to the fall of M. Thiers on May 24, 1873, after he had sat for two years and a month in the presidential chair, was a dispute concerning the election of M. Charles de Rémusat (son of the lady who has given her memoirs to the world). M. de Rémusat was the Government candidate for a deputyship vacant in the Paris representation. He was at the time Thiers' Minister for Foreign Affairs, a personal friend of the president, a distinguished man of letters, and an old Orleanist converted to Republicanism. The opposing candidate was M. Barodet, a Radical of extreme opinions. The Monarchists also brought forward their candidate. He had only twenty-seven thousand votes; but these succeeded in defeating M. de Rémusat, who had one hundred and thirty-five thousand, while the Radicals voted solidly for Barodet, giving him one hundred and fifty-five thousand.

The blame of this defeat was thrown on M. Thiers. The Monarchists, who had once called him "that illustrious statesman," now spoke of him as "a fatal old man." They attacked him in the Assembly; the Radicals supported them. M. Thiers was defeated on some measure that he wished should pass, and sent in his resignation. It was accepted by three hundred and sixty-two votes against three hundred and forty-eight. He had fallen; and yet a plébiscite throughout the country would have given a large popular vote in favor of the man "who had found France defeated, her richest provinces occupied, her capital in the hands of savages, and had concluded peace and restored order, and found the stupendous sum required for the liberation and organization of the country, founding the Republic, and bringing order and prosperity back once more." Indeed, the peasants even credited him with their good harvests and the revival of spirit in the army, till they almost felt for him a sentiment of personal loyalty.

Expelled from power when seventy-eight years of age, M. Thiers retired to a little sunny, dusty entresol on the Page 398 Boulevard Malesherbes, where the noise and glare greatly disturbed him. At Tours, in the lull of events before the surrender of Paris, he had collected books and studied botany. As soon as he was installed on the Boulevard Malesherbes he asked Leverrier, the astronomer, to continue with him the astronomical studies with which at Versailles he had indulged himself in brief moments of leisure, remarking that he had seen a good deal of the perversity of mankind, and that he now wished to refresh himself with the orderly works of God.

Shortly after this he removed to better quarters, where his rooms opened on a garden. In this garden he received his friends on Sunday mornings from seven to nine, attired in a wadded, brown cashmere dressing-gown, a broad-brimmed hat, a black cravat, patent-leather shoes, and black gaiters. As he talked, he held his magnifying-glass in his hand, ready to examine any insect or blade of grass that might come under observation.

One more great service he rendered to his country. Prince Bismarck, alarmed by the state of things in France, showed symptoms of intending to seize Belfort, that fortress in the Vosges which had never surrendered to the Germans, and which France had been permitted to retain. Thiers induced Russia to intervene, and went to Switzerland to thank Prince Gortschakoff personally for his services on the occasion.

Thiers died at Saint-Germains four years after his downfall, at the age of eighty-two. His last earthly lodging was in the Pavilion Henri IV. (now an hotel), where Louis XIV. was born.

By his will he left the State, not only all his collections, which so far as possible he had restored, but the numerous historical materials which he had gathered for his works, as well as his house, after his wife's death, in the Place Saint-Georges. The collections are there as he left them; the historical documents have been removed to the Archives.

To Marseilles, his native city, he left his water-color copies of the chief works of the great masters in Italy.

Page 399 Thiers was childless. Whatever may have been the personal relations in which he stood to his wife, no woman was ever more truly devoted to the interests of her husband. She seems to have lived but for him.

People in society laughed at her plain dressing and her careful housekeeping; but "her heart dilated with gladness when she felt that the eyes of the world were fixed with admiration on M. Thiers." Her manner to him was that of a careful and idolizing nurse, his to her too often that of a petulant child. She always called him M. Thiers, he always addressed her as Madame Thiers,—indeed, he is almost unknown by his name of Adolphe, nor do men often speak of him simply as Thiers. "Monsieur Thiers" he was and will always be in history, whose tribunal he said he was not afraid to face. Even his cards were, contrary to French custom, always printed "Monsieur Thiers."

Both M. and Madame Thiers were very early risers, and both had an inconvenient habit of falling asleep at inopportune times.

To the last, Madame Thiers took a loving interest in Belfort, because her husband had saved it from the Germans. Its poor were objects of her especial solicitude. Only an hour before her death, hearing that the Maire of Belfort had called, she expressed a wish to see him, and endeavored to address him, pointing to a bust of M. Thiers; but she was unable to make herself understood; her powers of speech had failed her.

Two rules M. Thiers never departed from: one was, as he said himself, "to defend ferociously the public purse," the other, never to give house-room to any but first-rate objects of art. Some of his pictures were very dear to him. Several of his bronzes, which were pillaged by the Commune and never recovered, were mourned by him as if they had been his friends. He had been wont to call them "the school-masters of his soul."



Marshal MacMahon, the Duke of Magenta, was of Irish descent, his ancestors having followed James II. into exile, and distinguished themselves at the Battle of the Boyne. Their descendant, Patrice (or Patrick), the subject of this sketch, was the sixteenth of seventeen children.

He was born when French glory was at its height, under the First Empire, in the summer of 1806. When he was seventeen he was sent to the military school at Saint-Cyr. There his Irish dash and talent soon won him renown. In Algeria he acquired fame and fortune and the Cross of the Legion of Honor. In 1830 he went to the siege of Antwerp, at the time when the French insisted on promoting a revolution in Belgium, and the moment that enterprise was over, he retired to Algeria. At twenty-five he was a captain and had distinguished himself at the siege of Constantine, fighting side by side with the Duc de Nemours and that other French officer of Irish descent, Marshal Niel. At forty-four he was a general of division, and had seen twenty-seven years of service. The Arabs called him the Invulnerable.

He went to the Crimean War, and there led the attack on the Malakoff, holding his post until the place was won. Devoted to his profession, he was diffident in society. He was named a senator by Napoleon III. after his return from the Crimea, but declined to take his seat, refusing at the same time some other proffered honors. He was sent Page 401 back to Algeria at his own request, and stayed there, fighting the Arabs, for five years. Then, returning to Paris, he took his seat in the Senate, where he opposed some of the arbitrary decrees of the emperor.[1]

[Footnote 1: Temple Bar, "Courts of the three Presidents, Thiers, MacMahon, and Grévy," 1884.]

In the Italian War in 1859 he fought with distinguished bravery, and on the battlefield of Magenta was made a Marshal of France and Duke of Magenta. After being ambassador at Berlin he was sent to bear the emperor's congratulations to King William on his accession, and to attend his coronation. He was again sent to Algeria as its governor-general. He had already married Marie, daughter of the Duc de Castries. She was very rich, and connected with some of the most opulent bankers in Vienna.

Marshal MacMahon came back to France at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, and was given the command of the First Army Corps; but the emperor insisted on commanding his own armies as general-in-chief. The day before the surrender at Sedan, Marshal MacMahon had been badly wounded, and had to resign his command to General Ducrot. Ducrot being also wounded, it became the sad duty of General Wimpffen to sign the capitulation. Marshal MacMahon was taken as a prisoner to Wiesbaden, where he remained till the close of the war. He got back to Paris forty-eight hours before the outbreak of the Commune. A commander was needed for the forces of France. M. Thiers chose Marshal MacMahon, who with tears in his eyes thanked him for the opportunity of retrieving his lost reputation and doing service for France. After he had collected his army, which it took some weeks to bring back from Germany, to equip, and to reorganize, his men fought desperately for seven days, pushing their way step by step into the heart of the capital, till on May 28, 1871, the marshal addressed a proclamation to France, informing Frenchmen that the Commune was at an end. He then passed out of public sight, eclipsed by the superior radiance of Page 402 Thiers and Gambetta. But as time went on, and it was determined by the Monarchists to coalesce with the extreme Radicals and get rid of M. Thiers, who was laboring to establish a law and order Republic, the newspapers of both the Conservative and Radical parties began to exalt the marshal's merits at the expense of "that sinister old man," M. Thiers. After six months of this trumpet-blowing by the opposition Press, the idea was planted in the minds of Frenchmen that Marshal MacMahon was the statesman who might bring France out of all her difficulties.

It was ascertained by the Monarchists that Marshal MacMahon would accept the presidency if it were offered him, and would consider himself a stop-gap until such time as France should make up her mind whether the Comte de Chambord or some one else should be her king.

The attack on M. Thiers was then organized. M. Thiers was defeated. He sent in his resignation, and it was accepted by a small majority in the Chamber. A moment after, Marshal MacMahon was proposed as his successor, and immediately elected (May 24, 1873).

At this time the parties in the French Chamber were seven, and their policy was for two or more of them to combine for any temporary object. Legitimists, Orleanists, and Bonapartists formed the Right; Anarchists, Red Republicans, and decided Republicans formed the Left; while the Centre was made up of men of moderate opinions of all parties who were willing to accept an orderly and stable government of any kind. This party may be said to represent to the present hour the prevailing state of public feeling in France.

The three parties on the Left quarrelled fiercely among themselves; the three parties on the Right did the same. Both Left and Right, however, were eager to rally the Centre to their side. The coalitions, hatreds, and misunderstandings of these seven parties constitute for eighteen years almost the entire history of the Third Republic.

In 1873 the Monarchists,—that is, the three parties on the Right—were stronger than the combined parties on the Left, Page 403 but not so strong if the Moderates of the Centre voted with the Left Republicans. Again, if the Legitimists, Orleanists, and the Centre should unite, and the Bonapartists should go over to the Left, the Left would be the stronger.

The Duc de Broglie, an excellent man, grandson of Madame de Staël, was made President MacMahon's prime minister. So far the Monarchists had prospered. They had command of the president, the Assembly, and the army. These were all prepared to accept Henri V., provided he would retreat from the position he had taken up in 1871, consent to become a constitutional sovereign, give up his White Flag, and accept the Tricolor. The Monarchists appointed a Committee of Nine to negotiate this matter with the prince at Fröhsdorf; but Marshal MacMahon gave them this warning: "If the White Flag is raised against the Tricolor, the chassepots will go off of themselves, and I cannot answer for order in the streets or for discipline in the army."

With great difficulty the nine succeeded in procuring an assurance from the Comte de Chambord that he would leave the question of the flag to be decided in concert with the Assembly after his restoration. Meantime he came to Versailles and remained hidden in the house of one of his supporters. Everybody urged him to accept the conditions on which alone he could reign, and fulfil the hopes of his faithful followers. They implored him to ascend the throne as a constitutional sovereign, and to accept the Tricolor, in deference to the wishes of the people and his friends.

He passed an entire night in miserable indecision, walking up and down his friend's dining-room, debating with himself whether he would give way. It had been arranged that the next day he should present himself suddenly in the Assembly, be hailed with acclamation by his supporters, and be introduced by the marshal-president himself as Henri Cinq. The building was to be guarded by faithful troops, the telegraph was prepared to flash the news through France, the very looms at Lyons were weaving silks brocaded Page 404 with fleurs de lys. But Henri V. could not bring himself to comply. He fled away from Versailles before dawn. "He is an honest man," said M. Thiers, "and will not put his flag in his pocket." A few days later he published at Salzburg a letter in which he protested against the pressure his friends had brought to bear on him. "Never," he said, "will I become a revolutionary king," by which he meant a king who reigned under a constitution; never, he protested, would he sacrifice his honor to the exigencies of parties; "and," he concluded, "never will I disclaim the standard of Arques and of Ivry!"

"The count," said an English newspaper, "seems to have forgotten that Arques and Ivry were Protestant victories."

"My person," continued the count, "is nothing; my principle is everything. I am the indispensable pilot, the only man capable of guiding the vessel into port, because for this I have mission and authority."

Thus ended all chances for Henri V. The Orleans princes, having concluded a compact with him as his heirs, felt themselves bound in honor to refuse to accept any compromise which "the head of the family" did not approve.

It can be easily imagined how provoked and disappointed were all those who had rallied to the king's party. There remained nothing to do but to strengthen the Republic and to provide it with a permanent constitution. A Committee of Thirty was appointed to draw up the document. The constitution was very conservative. It has now been in force nineteen years, but it has never worked smoothly, and the object of the extreme Republicans, who have clamored for "revision," has been to eliminate its conservative elements and make it Red Republican. It is impossible for a people who change their government so often to have much respect or love for any constitution.

The Marshal-Duke of Magenta had accepted the presidency without any great desire to retain it; nevertheless, he established his household on a semi-royal footing, as though he intended, as some thought, that there should be at least a temporary court, to prepare the way for what might be at Page 405 hand. M. Thiers had been a bourgeois president; the marshal was a grand seigneur. M. Thiers' servants had been clothed in black; the marshal's wore gay liveries of scarlet plush, and gray and silver. When M. Thiers took part in any public ceremony he drove in a handsome landau with a mounted escort of Republican Guards, and his friends (he never called them his suite) followed as they pleased in their own carriages. But the marshal's equipages were painted in three shades of green, and lined with pearl-gray satin. They were drawn by four gray horses, with postilions and outriders. To see M. Thiers on business was as easy as it is to see the President at the White House. Anybody could be admitted on sending a letter to his secretary. To journalists he was always accessible, believing himself still to belong to their profession. But to approach the marshal was about as hard as to approach a king, and he hated above all things newspaper writers.

In 1873 the Shah of Persia came to Paris, and the marshal entertained him magnificently. He gave him a torch-light procession of soldiers, a gala performance at the Grand Opera, and a banquet in the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles. The Parisians regretted that the visit had not been made in M. Thiers' time, when society might have been amused by stories of how the omniscient little president had instructed the shah, through an interpreter, as to Persian history and the etymology of Oriental languages; but society had a good story connected with the visit, after all. During the state banquet at Versailles the shah turned to the Duchess of Magenta, and asked her, in a French sentence some one had taught him for the occasion, why her husband did not make himself emperor.

The marshal was content to hold his place as president, and the Duc de Broglie governed for him, except in anything relating to military affairs. On these the marshal always had his way.

The Duc de Broglie's government, which was all in the interest of the monarchical principle, became distrusted Page 406 and unpopular. In one year twenty-one Republicans and six Bonapartists gained seats in the Assembly, while the Orleanist and Legitimist parties gained not one. By 1874 the cause of royalty in France was at a low ebb. In this year—a year after the downfall of M. Thiers—the Duc de Broglie was defeated in the Chamber on some measure of small importance; but his defeat turned him summarily out of office. The Left Centre—that is, the Republicans from conviction—was the strongest of the seven parties. The Republic seemed established on a basis of law and order.

According to the constitution, the president was chosen for seven years, with the chance of re-election; the Chamber of Deputies was elected for seven years by universal suffrage, but every year one third of its members had to retire into private life or stand for a new election. The Senate was chosen by a complicated arrangement,—partly by the Chamber, partly by a sort of electoral college, the members of which were drawn from the councils of departments, the arrondissements, and the municipalities of cities. As Gambetta said: "So chosen, it could not be a very democratic assemblage."

"Arrondissement," in the political language of our Southern States, would be translated electoral districts either in town or country. In the Northern States it would mean districts for the cities, townships in the country.

The Speaker, or President of the Chamber, at Tours, at Bordeaux, and at Versailles, until a month before the downfall of M. Thiers, had been the immaculately respectable M. Jules Grévy, who had entered public life in 1848. He had been deposed during the period when the Monarchists had strength and felt sure of the throne for Henri V., and he had been replaced by a M. Buffet. It was M. Buffet who became prime minister on the downfall of the Duc de Broglie. Marshal MacMahon by no means relished being governed by a cabinet composed of men of more advanced republican opinions than his own. But it is useless to go deeper into the parliamentary squabbles of this period.

Page 407 Then began the quarrel of which we have read so often in Associated Press telegrams,—the dispute concerning the scrutin de liste and the scrutin d'arrondissement. "Scrutin" means ballot; "scrutin de liste" means that electors might choose any Frenchman as their candidate; "scrutin d'arrondissement," that they must confine their choice to some man living in the district for which he wished to stand. The Left disapproved the scrutin d'arrondissement, which gave too much scope, it said, for local interests to have weight over political issues. In our own country local interests are provided for by State legislatures, and in elections for Congress the scrutin d'arrondissement is adopted.

On the last day of December, 1875, the National Assembly was dissolved. Confused, uninteresting, factious as it had been on points of politics, it had at least taught Frenchmen something of parliamentary tactics and the practical system of compromise. The American government is said to be based on compromise. In France, "all or nothing" had been the cry of French parties from the beginning.

The leader of the Left was now Gambetta, who managed matters with discretion and in a spirit of compromise. From this policy his immediate followers have been called "opportunists," because they stood by, watching the course of events, ready to promote their own plans at every opportunity.

The new Assembly proved much too republican to please the marshal. In every way his situation perplexed and worried him. He was not a man of eminent ability, and had never been trained to politics. He had been used to govern as a soldier. His head may have been a little turned by the flatteries so freely showered on him before his election, and he had come to entertain a belief that he was indispensable to France. He saw himself the protector of order against revolutionary passions, and conceived himself to be adored as the sole hope of the people. "Believing this, he could hardly have been expected to conform to the simple formulas which govern the councils of constitutional kings." Moreover, behind the marshal was his friend the Page 408 Duc de Broglie, "now counselling compromise and now resistance, but always meditating a sudden blow in favor of monarchy."

By the close of 1876 it became so evident that the government of France could not be carried on upon strictly conservative principles that even the Duc de Broglie advised the marshal to form a Cabinet from the Left, under the prime ministership of M. Jules Simon. This gentleman had been one of the five Jules's in the Committee of Defence in 1870. He was an upright man, very liberal in his opinions, and philosophic in his tendencies, which made him especially unacceptable to Marshal MacMahon.

Simon formed a ministry, which governed, with perpetual parliamentary disputes, till May 16, 1877. On that day Marshal MacMahon sent a letter to his prime minister, telling him that he did not appear to have sufficient support in the Chamber to carry on the government, and reproaching him with his Radical tendencies. Of course the minister and his colleagues at once resigned. The marshal then dissolved the Chamber, and appealed to the people, placing the Duc de Broglie ad interim at the head of affairs.

In spite of all the marshal and his friends could do to secure a Conservative majority in the new Chamber, it was largely and strongly Republican. There was no help for it; as Gambetta said, the marshal must either se soumettre, ou se démettre,—choose submission or dismission.

He had a passing thought of again dissolving the unruly Chamber, and governing by the Senate alone. He found, however, that the country did not consider him indispensable, and was prepared to put M. Thiers in his place if he resigned.

But M. Thiers did not live to receive that proof of his country's gratitude. He died, as we have seen, in the summer of 1877, and the next choice of the Republican party was M. Jules Grévy.

Fig. 20

For two years longer the marshal held the reins of government, but he resigned on being required to sign a resolution changing the generals who commanded the four Page 409 army corps. "In a letter full of dignity," says M. Gabriel Monod, "and which appeared quite natural on the part of a soldier more concerned for the interests of the army than for those of politics, he tendered his resignation. The two Chambers met together, and in a single sitting, without noise or disturbance, M. Jules Grévy was elected, and proclaimed president of the French Republic for seven years."

It is said that in 1830, when Charles X. published his ordinances and placarded his proclamation on the walls of Paris, a young law-student, who was tearing down one of them, was driven off with a kick by one of the king's officers. The officer was Patrice MacMahon; the law-student Jules Grévy.

M. Grévy was pre-eminently respectable. He was born in the Jura mountains, Aug. 15, 1813. His father was a small proprietor. Diligence and energy rather than brilliancy distinguished the young Jules in his college career. When his college life ended, he went up to Paris and studied for the Bar. MacMahon's kick roused his pugnacity. He went home, took down an old musket, and joined the insurgents, leading an attack upon some barracks where the fighting was severe. The Revolution having ended in a constitutional monarchy, he went into a lawyer's office, and plodded on in obscurity for eighteen years.

In 1848 he rendered services to the Provisional Government, and the farmers of his district in the Jura elected him their deputy. He went into the Chamber as an Advanced Republican, and voted for the banishment of the Orleans family, for a republic without a president, and for other extreme measures. Before long he was elected vice-president of the Chamber.

Then came the Empire, and M. Grévy went back to his law-books. He and his brother must have prospered at the Bar, for in 1851 they had houses in Paris, in which after the coup d'état Victor Hugo and his friends lay concealed.

When the emperor attempted constitutional reforms, in 1869, Grévy was again elected deputy from the Jura. He acted with dignity and moderation, though he voted always Page 410 with the advanced party. Gambetta he personally disliked, having an antipathy to his dictatorial ways. When the National Assembly met at Bordeaux to decide the fate of France, Grévy was made its Speaker, or president; but when the coup d'état in favor of Henri V. was meditated, he was got rid of beforehand, after he had presided for two turbulent years over an Assembly distracted and excited. Everyone respected M. Grévy. There was very little of the typical Frenchman in his composition. He was of middle height, rather stout, with a large bald, well-shaped head. He was no lover of society, but was a diligent worker, and his favorite amusements were billiards and the humble game of dominoes. His wife was the good woman suited to such a husband; but his daughter, his only child, was considered by Parisian society pretentious and a blue-stocking. She married, after her father's elevation to the presidency, M. Daniel Wilson, a Frenchman, in spite of his English name. M. Grévy's Eli-like toleration of the sins of his daughter's husband caused his overthrow.

In Marshal MacMahon's time there were two points on which he as president insisted on having his own way; that is, anything relating to army affairs, or to the granting civilians the cross of the Legion of Honor. He did not object to the decoration of civilians, but he insisted upon knowing the antecedents of the gentlemen recommended for the distinction. Well would it have been for M. Grévy had he followed the example of his predecessor. The marshal would never give the cross to a man whom he knew to be a free-thinker. His reply to such applications always was: "If he is not a Christian, what does he want with a cross?"

It is said that in 1877, when the marshal thought of resigning rather than accepting such an advanced Republican as M. Jules Simon as chief of his Cabinet, he sent for M. Grévy, and asked him point-blank: "Do you want to become president of the Republic?" "I am not in the least ambitious for that honor," replied M. Grévy. "If I were sure you would be elected in my place, I would resign," continued the marshal; "but I do not know what would Page 411 happen if I were to go." "My strong advice to you is not to resign," said M. Grévy; "only bring this crisis to an end by choosing your ministers out of the Republican majority, and you will be pleased with yourself afterwards for having done your duty."

"Well, you are an honest man, M. Grévy; I wish there were more like you," said the marshal; and having shaken hands with M. Grévy, he dismissed him, though without promising to follow his advice. He reflected on it that night, however, and adopted it the next morning. But when advised to take Gambetta for his minister, he replied: "I do not expect my ministers to go to mass with me or to shoot with me; but they must be men with whom I can have some common ground of conversation, and I cannot talk with ce monsieur-là." Indeed, Gambetta was often shy and awkward in social intercourse, seldom giving the impression in private life of the powers of burning eloquence with which he could in public move friend or foe. Nor had M. Grévy been by any means always in accord with the fiery Southerner. At Tours he objected to Gambetta's measures as wholly unconstitutional. "You are one of those men," retorted Gambetta, "who expect to make omelettes without breaking the eggs." "You are not making omelettes, but a mess," retorted M. Grévy.

Both the marshal and his successor were sportsmen and gave hunting-parties, those of the marshal being as much in royal style as possible. M. Grévy preferred republican simplicity. When he was allowed, as Speaker of the House, to live in Marie Antoinette's apartments in the Château of Versailles, he might have been seen any day sauntering about the streets with his hands in his pockets, or smoking his cigar at the door of a café. He had a brougham, but he rarely used it. His coachman grumbled at having to follow him at a foot-pace when he took long walks into the country. His servants did not, like the marshal's, wear gray and scarlet liveries, but his household arrangements were more dignified and liberal than those of M. Thiers. He had a curious way of receiving his friends sans cérémonie. Three mornings in Page 412 the week his old intimate associates,—artists, journalists, deputies, etc.,—entered the presidential palace unannounced, and went straight to an apartment fitted up for fencing. There, taking masks and foils, they amused themselves, till presently M. Grévy would come in, make the tour of the room, speak a few words to each, and invite one or two of them to breakfast with him.

Both M. Grévy and Marshal MacMahon held their Cabinet meetings in that salle of the Élysée which is hung round with the portraits of sovereigns. Opposite to M. Grévy's chair hung a portrait of Queen Victoria; and it was remarked that he always gazed at her while his ministers discoursed around him. But his happiness, poor man! was in his private apartments, where his daughter, her husband, M. Wilson, and his little grandchild made part of his household.

M. Gréevy gave handsome dinners at the Élysée, and Madame Grévy and Madame Wilson gave receptions, and occasionally handsome balls. Everything was done "decently and in order," much like an American president's housekeeping, but without show or brilliancy.

Having indulged in this gossip about the courts of the presidents (for much of which I am indebted to a writer in "Temple Bar"), we will turn to graver history.

When M. Grévy became president, Gambetta succeeded to his place as president of the Chamber. He did not desire the post of prime minister. His new position made him the second man in France, and seemed to point him out as the future candidate for the presidency.

M. Defavre became chief of the Cabinet, and M. Waddington Minister for Foreign Affairs. But Gambetta, whether in or out of office, was the leader of his party, and a sense of the responsibilities of leadership made him far more cautious and less fiery than he had been in former days. Yet even then he had said emphatically: "No republic can last long in France that is not based on law, order, and respect for property."

In August, 1880, however, eighteen months after M. Page 413 Grévy's elevation to the presidency, Gambetta became prime minister. He flattered himself that he might do great things for France, for he believed that he could count on the support of every true Republican. He was mistaken. Three months after he accepted office, the Radicals and the Conservatives combined for his overthrow. He was defeated in the Chamber on a question of the scrutin de liste, and resigned.

Gambetta's disappointment was very great. He had counted on his popularity, and had hoped to accomplish great things. He was a man of loose morals and of declining health, for, unsuspected by himself, a disorder from which he could never have recovered, was undermining his strength; this made him irritable. On the 30th of August, 1882, he was visiting, at a country house near Paris, a lady of impaired reputation; there he was shot in the hand. The wound brought on an illness, of which he died in December. It has never been known whether the shot was fired by the woman, as was generally suspected, or whether his own pistol, as he asserted, was accidentally discharged.

He was buried at Père la Chaise, without religious services; but his coffin was followed by vast crowds, and all Frenchmen (even his enemies, and they were many) felt that his country had lost an honest patriot and a great man.

On the centennial anniversary of the opening act of the French Revolution, a statue of Gambetta was unveiled in the Place du Carrousel, the courtyard of French kings. No future king, if any such should be, will dare to displace it. Gambetta's life was a sad one, and his death was sadder still. With all his noble qualities,—and there are few things nobler in history than the manner in which he effaced himself to give place to his rival,—how great he might have been, had he learned early to apply his power of self-restraint to lesser things!

Gambetta wanted Paris to remain the city of cities, the centre of art, fashion, and culture; and he took up the Page 414 Emperor Napoleon's policy of beautifying and improving it by costly public works. "Je veux ma république belle, bien parée" ("I want my republic beautiful and well dressed") was a sentence which brought him into trouble with the Radicals, who said he had no right to say "my republic," as if he were looking forward to being its dictator. He voted for the return of the Communists from New Caledonia, and during the last two years of his life these returned exiles never ceased to thwart him and revile him. Some one had prophesied to him that this would be the case. "Bah!" he answered, "the poor wretches have suffered enough. I might have been transported myself, had matters turned out differently in 1870."[1] Had he lived, it is probable that in 1886 he would have supplanted M. Grévy. "Nor," says one of his friends, "can it be doubted that, loving the Republic as he did, and having served it with so much devotion and honesty, he would have found in his love a power of self-restraint to keep him from courses that might have been hurtful to his own work." For the establishment of the Republic was principally "his own work." He proclaimed its birth, standing in a window of the Hôtel de Ville in 1870; he gave it a baptism of some glory in the fiery, though hopeless, resistance he opposed to the German invasion; and he kept it standing at a time when it needed the support of a sturdy, vigilant champion. To the end it must be believed that he would, as far as in him lay, have preserved it from harm. Not long before his death, during a lull in his pain, which for a moment roused a hope of his recovery, he said to his doctor: "I have made many mistakes, but people must not imagine I am not aware of them; I often think over my faults, and if things go well I shall try the patience of my friends less often. On se corrige!"

[Footnote 1: Cornhill Magazine, 1883.]

When Gambetta was dead, the man who stepped into his place was Jules Ferry. He was a lawyer, born in the Vosges in 1832. He had never been personally intimate with Gambetta, but he succeeded to his political inheritance, Page 415 became chief of his party, secured the majority that Gambetta never could get in the Chamber, and did all that Gambetta had failed to do.

His attention when prime minister was largely devoted to the development of French industry in colonies. He began a war in Tonquin, he annexed Tunis, and commenced aggressions in Madagascar. All of these enterprises have proved difficult, unprofitable, and wasteful of life and money.

The position of France with relation to other powers has become very isolated. Her best friend, strange to say, is Russia,—the young Republic and the absolute czar! Germany, Austria, and Italy form the alliance called the Dreibund. But their military force united is not quite equal to that of France and Russia combined. If Russia ever attacks the three powers of Central Europe on the East, it is not to be doubted that France will rush upon Alsace and Lorraine. The mob of Paris, in 1884, put M. Grévy to much annoyance and embarrassment by hissing and hooting the young king of Spain on his way through the French capital because he had accepted the honorary colonelcy of a German regiment, and M. Grévy and his Foreign Minister had profoundly to apologize. The incident was traceable, it was said at the time, to the indiscretions of M. Daniel Wilson, the president's son-in-law, whose melancholy story remains to be told.

Shortly before Gambetta's death, occurred that of the Prince Imperial in Zululand, and that of the Comte de Chambord in Austria.

The son of Napoleon III. had been educated at Woolwich, the West Point Academy of England. When the Zulu war broke out, all his young English companions were ordered to Africa, and he entreated his mother to let him go. He wanted to learn the art of war, he said, and perhaps too he wished to acquire popularity with the people of England, in view of a future alliance with a daughter of Queen Victoria. The general commanding at the seat of war was far from glad to see him. He knew the dangers Page 416 of savage warfare, and felt the responsibility of such a charge. For some time he kept the prince working in an office, but at last permitted him to go on a reconnoitring expedition, where little danger was anticipated. There is no page in history so dishonorable to the valor and good conduct of an English gentleman as that which records how, when surprised by Zulus, the young prince was deserted by his superior officer and his companions, and while trying to mount his restive horse, was slain.

He left a will leaving his claims (such as they were) to the imperial throne of France to his young cousin Victor Napoleon, thus overlooking the father of that young prince, Jérôme Napoleon, the famous Plon-Plon.

The reconciliation which in 1873 took place between the Comte de Chambord and his distant cousins of the house of Orleans never resulted in cordial relations, though the Comte de Paris, as his cousin's heir, visited the Comte de Chambord at Fröhsdorf. The Comtesse de Chambord despised and disliked the family of Orleans, and the Monarchist party in France still remained divided into Legitimists and Orleanists, the latter protesting that they only desired a constitutional sovereign, and did not hold to the doctrine of right divine.

The Comte de Chambord died Aug. 24, 1883. His malady was cancer in the stomach, complicated by other disorders. The Orleanist princes hastened to Fröhsdorf to attend his funeral, but they were so disdainfully treated by his widow that they deemed it due to their self-respect to retire before the obsequies. This is how "Figaro," a leading Legitimist journal in Paris, speaks of the Comte de Chambord:—

"He had noble qualities and great virtues. What most distinguished him was an intense feeling of royal dignity, which he guarded most jealously by act and word. But we may be permitted to doubt whether the fifty-three years he had passed in exile had qualified him to understand and to sympathize with the great changes in public opinion in his own country, and the true tendencies of the present and the rising generation. In his Page 417 youth he was entirely guided by others, but after the coup d'état of 1851 he took things into his own hands, and directed his course up to the last moment with a firmness which admitted of neither contradiction nor dispute. He sincerely wished to promote liberty; there was nothing in him of the despot, but he had lived all his life out of France, and could not comprehend the preferences and the habits which had grown into national feeling. He was kindly, genial, intelligent, witty, dignified, and affable. He only needed to have been brought up among his people to have made an admirable sovereign. Had the first plan of the Revolution of 1830 been carried out, and the young prince been made king, with Louis Philippe lieutenant-general till his majority, it is possible that France might have been spared great tribulations. For our own part," continues the "Figaro," "we have always looked upon monarchy as the best government for the peace, prosperity, and liberty of France; but with the personal politics of the Comte de Chambord we could not agree. After all France had gone through, it was necessary to nationalize the king, and to royalize the nation. M. le Comte de Chambord utterly refused to yield anything to constitutional ideas and to become what he called the king of the Revolution. It is true that the White Flag of the Bourbons had been associated with a long line of glories in France, but for a hundred years the Tricolor had been the flag under which French soldiers had marched to victory. It was this matter of the flag that prevented the success of the plan of restoration in 1873, two months after the Comte de Paris had so patriotically sacrificed some of his own most cherished feelings by his reconciliation (for his country's sake) with his cousin at Fröhsdorf. The party could do nothing without its head. The Orleanist princes would not act without their chief, and the opportunity passed, perhaps never to return."

"Henri V. never hesitated about the matter of the flag," says another writer. "He regarded its color as above everything important. The question of white or tricolor was to him a vital thing. He said: 'Kings have their private points of personal honor like mere citizens. I should feel myself to be sacrificing my honor, since I was born a king, if I made any concessions on the subject of the White Flag of my family. With respect to other things I may concede; but as to that, never, never! The only thing for which I have ever reproached Louis XVI. was for having for one moment suffered the bonnet rouge to be placed upon his head to save his royalty. Now you are proposing to me to do the same thing. No!' The count had Page 418 drawn up a constitution for France after his own ideas, but he would show it to no man. No human being had any power to influence him. But he was heard to say more than once: 'I will never diminish the power of the sovereign. I desire liberty and progress to emanate from the king. Royalty should progress with the age, but never cease to be itself in all things.' He deemed the authority he claimed to be his by right divine; but one may be permitted to think," concludes this writer, "that this authority, if it came from Heaven, has been recalled there."

Four months before his death he had a touching interview with his heir, the Comte de Paris, at Fröhsdorf. The count little expected then that he would be prevented from taking the part of chief mourner at the funeral which took place Sept. 1, 1883, at Göritz, when the king, who had never reigned, was laid beside Charles X., his grandfather.

We may best conclude this account of the Comte de Chambord with some touching words which he addressed to his disappointed supporters in 1875:—

"Sometimes I am reproached for not having chosen to reign when the opportunity was offered me, and for having perhaps lost that opportunity forever. This is a misconception. Tell it abroad boldly. I am the depositary of Legitimate Monarchy. I will guard my birthright till my last sigh. I desire royalty as my heritage, as my duty, but never by chance or by intrigue. In other times I might have been willing (as some of my ancestors have been) to recover my birthright by force of arms. What would have been possible and reasonable formerly, is not so now. After forty years of revolution, civil war, invasion, and coups d'état, the monarchy I represent can only commend itself to Europe and the French people as one of peace, conciliation, and preservation. The king of France must return to France as a shepherd to his fold, or else remain in exile. If I must not return, Divine Providence will bear me witness before the French people that I have done my duty with honest intentions. In the midst of the prevailing ignominies of the present age it is well that the life and policy of an exiled king should stand out white in all their loyalty."

There was little of general interest in French politics during the remaining years of M. Grévy's first administration, Page 419 which ended early in 1886. He was the first French president who had reached the end of his term. He was quietly re-elected by the joint vote of the two Chambers, not so much because he was popular as because there seemed no one more eligible for the position. He had not had much good fortune in his administration. M. Ferry's colonization schemes had cost great sums of money and had led to jealousies and disputes with foreign nations. French finances had become embarrassed. The French national debt in 1888 was almost twice as great as that of England, and the largest additions to it were made during M. Grévy's presidency, when enormous sums were spent on public works and on M. Ferry's colonial enterprises. The mere interest on the debt amounts annually to fifty millions of dollars, and every attempt at reduction is frustrated by the Chambers, which are unwilling to approve either new taxes or new loans.

The two principal points of interest during the latter years of M. Grévy's first term of office concerned the persecution of the Church and the persecution of the princes of the house of Orleans.

The Republic began by taking down the crucifixes in all public places, such as court-rooms, magistrates' offices, and public schools; for in France men swear by holding up a hand before the crucifix, instead of by our own irreverent and dirty custom of "kissing the book." Then the education of children was made compulsory; but schools were closed that had been taught by priests, monks, or nuns. Next, sisters of charity were forbidden to nurse in the hospitals, their places being supplied by women little fitted to replace them.

As to the Orleans princes, in 1886, the year of M. Grévy's second election, they were summarily ordered to quit France; not that they had done anything that called for exile, but because Prince Napoleon (who called himself the Prince Imperial and head of the Bonaparte dynasty) had put forth a pamphlet concerning his pretensions to the imperial throne. This led to the banishment of all members Page 420 of ex-royal families from French soil, and their erasure from the army list, if they were serving as French soldiers.

This decree was particularly hard upon the Duc d'Aumale, who was a French general, and had done good service under Chanzy and Gambetta in the darkest days of the calamities of France.

The Comte de Paris deeply felt the outrage. He gave the world to understand that he had never conspired against the French Republic while living on his estates in France, but felt free to do so after this aggression.

The Duc d'Aumale avenged himself by an act of truly royal magnificence. He published part of his will, bequeathing to the French Institute, of which he was a member, that splendid estate and palace of Chantilly which he had inherited from his godfather, the old Duke of Bourbon. With its collections, its library, its archives, and its pictures, the gift is valued at from thirty-five to forty millions of francs. The revenue of the estate is to be spent in enriching the collections, in encouraging scientific research, in pensioning aged authors, artists, and scientific discoverers.

"It is the grandest gift," says M. Gabriel Monod, "ever given to a country. It is worthy of a prince who joins to the attractive grace of noble breeding and the finest qualities of a soldier, the talents of a man of letters, the learning of a scholar, and the taste of an artist."

M. Grévy—le vieux, "the old fellow," as his Parisians irreverently called him—was deeply attached to his daughter, whose husband, M. Daniel Wilson, a presumptuous, speculative person, had made himself obnoxious to society and to all the political parties. This man lived at the Élysée with his family, and made free use of presidential privileges. It is said that by using the president's right of franking letters for his business affairs, he saved himself in postage forty-thousand francs per annum. He also made use of information that he obtained as son-in-law of the president to further his own interests, and once or twice he got M. Grévy into trouble by the unwarrantable publication of certain matters in a newspaper of which he was the proprietor. Page 421 Besides this he was at the head of a great number of financial schemes, whose business he conducted under the roof of the Élysée. Before he married Mademoiselle Grévy, a conseil de famille had deprived him of any control over his property till he came of age, on account of his recklessness; but he was what in America we call "a smart man," and M. Grévy was very much attached to him.

In the early days of 1887 a person who considered himself defrauded in a nefarious bargain he was trying to make with an adventuress, denounced to the police of Paris a Madame Limouzin, to whom he had paid money on her promise to secure for him the decoration of the Legion of Honor. He wanted it to promote the sale of some kind of patent article in which he was interested. To the astonishment of the police, when they raided the residence of Madame Limouzin, letters were found compromising two generals,—General Caffarel, who had been high in the War Department when General Boulanger was minister, and General d'Andlau, author of a book, much commended by military authorities, on the siege of Metz.

General Caffarel was a gallant old officer, and it is said the scene was most piteous when, as part of his punishment, the police tore from his coat his own decoration of the Legion of Honor. The War Minister tried to smother the scandal and to save the generals, but it got into the public prints, with many exaggerations. General d'Andlau took to flight. The police arrested Madame Limouzin, her accomplice, Madame Ratazzi, and several other persons. The public grew very much excited. It was said that state secrets were given over to pillage, that they were sold to the Germans, that the Government was at the mercy of thieves and jobbers. "One figure," wrote M. Monod, "stood out from the rest as a mark for suspicion. It was that of M. Daniel Wilson. He had never been popular with frequenters of the Élysée. He was a rich man, both on his own and his wife's side, and was an able man and a man of influence in business affairs. He had been Under-Secretary of Finance and President of the Committee of the Page 422 Budget." Many thought he had the best chance of any man for succeeding M. Grévy as president of France. He was, however, one of those unquiet spirits who may be found frequently among speculators and financiers. He had no scruple about using his position to promote his own business interests and the interests of the schemes in which he was engaged, nor did he hesitate to give useful information to leaders who favored his own views in the Chambers and were in opposition to the ministers he disliked. Thus the son-in-law of the president intrigued against the president's ministers, and Jules Ferry, leader of the Republican law and order party in the Chamber, and his followers, could not forgive him for having thus betrayed them. Wilson belonged to the advanced section of the Republican party, the Reds; but he was not so popular with them that they were unwilling to attack him, provided they could thereby get rid of M. Grévy, and put a more advanced Republican in his place.

No positive accusation, however, in the matter of Madame Limouzin could have been brought against M. Wilson, had it not been discovered by that lady's counsel that two of the letters seized and held as evidence—letters from M. Wilson to Madame Limouzin—were written on paper manufactured after their date,—an incident not unfamiliar to readers of old-fashioned English novels. The real letters, therefore, had undoubtedly been abstracted, and replaced by others of a less compromising kind.

The Ministry, which up to the time of this discovery had endeavored to keep the name of the president's son-in-law from being connected with the sale of decorations of the Legion of Honor, was obliged to authorize his prosecution; and the Prefect of Police, who was suspected of having given back to M. Wilson his own letters, was forced to resign.[1]

[Footnote 1: There is a similar incident in Balzac's "Cousin Pons."]

When the trial of M. Wilson and the prefect came on, they were acquitted, not by a verdict of Not Guilty, but because the French Code contained no clause that constituted Page 423 it an offence for a man to obtain possession of his own letters. The judge, when he acquitted the accused, stated that there was no doubt whatever of the substitution. Then from all sides information began to pour in from people who had paid money to M. Wilson to procure them ministerial or presidential favors, and such disclosures could not but reflect on M. Grévy. Instantly his enemies seized their opportunity. For once, Monarchists and Anarchists united and endeavored to force the president to resign; but the old man stood by his son-in-law in his hour of adversity, and would not go.

Then the coalition changed its base, and attacked M. Rouvier, the prime minister. He was outvoted in the Chamber on some insignificant question; and having no parliamentary majority, he was forced to resign. By no efforts could M. Grévy get anyone to take his place. Once he thought he had persuaded M. Clemenceau, a Radical leader, to form a ministry; but his party gave him to understand that they would not support him.

The president, then seventy-five years of age, was in a position in which anyone but a partisan political opponent must have been moved to pity him. He had been so long and so loudly extolled for his extreme respectability and his austere virtues that he had never dreamed that public opinion on such a point as this could turn against him. He could not endure the idea of being dismissed with contempt less than two years after his re-election to the presidency by the unanimous vote of all Republicans. He was willing to go, but he did not choose to be forced to go by the brutal summons of an infuriated public. Yet France, pending his decision, was without a government. Something had to be done. He employed every device to gain time. He had interviews with men of various parties. He grew more and more care-worn and aged. His troubles showed themselves in his carriage and his face. "By turns he was insinuating, eloquent, lively, pathetic. He showed a suppleness and a tenacity of purpose that amazed those brought into contact with him. If he could but gain time, Page 424 he hoped that the Republicans would disagree about his successor, and decide to rally round him; but at last he was forced to send in his resignation. He did so Dec. 1, 1887, in a message which, by the confusion of its language, betrayed the anguish of his mind." A few days after giving up his quarters at the Élysée as president of the Republic, he was stricken down by paralysis.

When the resignation of M. Grévy had been accepted, came the question, Who should succeed him? If the Republican party split and failed to choose a president, the Monarchists might seize their opportunity. The candidate most acceptable to the Moderate Republicans was M. Jules Ferry, but he was unpopular with the Radicals. He had belonged to the Committee of Defence and the Government of Versailles which had put down the Commune. His colonial policy had not been a success, and he was known to have no toleration for the Reds. Mobs collected in the streets shouting "À bas Ferry!" He was accused of being the candidate of the Comte de Paris, of the pope, of Bismarck. He was "Ferry the traitor! Ferry the Prussian! Ferry the clerical! Ferry the Orleanist!" The Radicals, with the ex-Communist, General Eudes, at their head, swore to take up arms if Ferry were elected by the Chambers. The Moderate Republicans were not strong enough, without help, to carry his election. It was a case when a "dark horse" was wanted, an obscure man, against whom nothing was known.

The Radicals proposed two candidates,—M. De Freycinet, who, though not a Radical, was thought weak enough to be ruled by them, and M. Floquet. But the Moderates would not lend their aid to elect either of these men. At last both parties united on M. Sadi-Carnot.

Fig. 21

There were two reasons for his election: the first lay in his name; he was the grandson of Lazare Carnot, elected deputy in 1792 to the National Convention from Arras, at the same time as his friend Robespierre. This man and Robespierre had belonged to the same Literary Society in Arras,—a club into which no one could be admitted without Page 425 writing a love-song.[1] Lazare Carnot was the good man of the Revolution. Not a stain rests upon his character. He organized the glorious armies of the Republic, and was afterwards one of the members of the Directory. His son, Hippolyte Camot, as the oldest member in the Senate in 1887, had the duty of announcing to his own son, Sadi-Carnot, his election to the highest office in the gift of his countrymen. M. Hippolyte Carnot was a man of high character, who during a long life had filled many public offices. He was also a man of letters, and wrote a Life of Barère,—a book that will be best remembered by having come under the lash of Macaulay. Every cut inflicted upon Barère tells, and we delight in its severity.

The second reason for Sadi-Carnot's election was the popularity he acquired from its being supposed that when he was at the head of the Committee of Finance he had resisted some illegal demands made on the Treasury by M. Wilson. The demands were resisted, it is true, but not more by M. Carnot than by his colleagues. "He was made president of the French Republic," some one said, "for an act of integrity he had never committed, and for giving himself the trouble to be born, like any heir of royalty."

He is a good man, who has made no enemies, either in public or private life. It may also be added that he seems to have attracted few personal friends. The Republic has grown in strength, and factious opposition has decreased during his administration. His republicanism is not advanced or rabid. He is rigidly honest. He has a charming wife, who, though slightly deaf, enjoys society and gives brilliant receptions.

[Footnote 1: See Robespierre's in the "Editor's Drawer," Harper's Magazine, 1889.]

Poor M. Grévy passed away into sorrow and obscurity. He took up his residence on his estate in the Department of the Jura, where, in September, 1891, he died. M. Wilson appears first to have made all his own relations rich, and then by speculations to have ruined them.

In contemplating the disastrous end of M. Grévy we Page 426 must remember that the scandal which caused his fall, after so many years of honorable service for his country, amounts, so far as he was concerned, to very little. The only fault of which he can be accused was that of too great toleration of the speculative propensities of his son-in-law. It was proved, indeed, that there were agencies in the hands of disreputable persons in Paris for the purchase and sale of influence and honors, but there was little or no evidence that these agencies had had any influence with the public departments. The existence of such agencies under the Empire would have excited little comment. That the trials of Madame Limouzin, General Caffarel, and M. Wilson so excited the public and produced such consequences, may be proof, perhaps, of a keener sense of morality in the Parisian people.

Some one said of M. Grévy that he was a Radical in speech and a Moderate in action, so that he pleased both parties. The strongest accusation against him was his personal love of economy, and his entire indifference to show, literature, or art. It was also considered a fault in him as a French president that he showed little inclination to travel. Socially, the polite world accused him of wearing old hats and no gloves. On cold days he put his hands in his pockets, which in the eyes of some was worse than putting them for his own purposes into the pockets of other people.

Fig. 22

Page 427 CHAPTER XX.


Up to 1886 the name of General Boulanger commands no place upon the page of history. After that year it was scattered broadcast. For four years it was as familiar in the civilized world as that of Bismarck.

A new word was coined in 1886 to meet a want which the general's importance had created. That word was boulangisme, though it would be hard to give it a definition in the dictionary. We can only say that it meant whatever General Boulanger might be pleased to attempt.

George Ernest Jean Marie Boulanger was born in the town of Rennes, in Brittany, in 1837.[1] His father had been a lawyer, and was head of an insurance company. He spent the latter days of his life at Ville-d'Avray, near Paris; and as he did not die till 1884, he lived to see his son a highly considered French officer, though he had not then given promise of being a popular hero and a world-famous man. General Boulanger's mother was named Griffith; she was a lady belonging apparently to the upper middle class in Wales. She had a great admiration for George Washington, and the future French hero received one of his names from the American "father of his country." In his boyhood Boulanger was always called George; but when he came of age he preferred to call himself Ernest, which is the baptismal name by which he is generally known.

[Footnote 1: Turner, Life of Boulanger.]

In 1851 his parents took him to England to the Great Exhibition. He afterwards passed some months with his maternal relatives at Brighton, and was sent to school there; Page 428 but he had such fierce quarrels with the English boys in defence of his nationality that the experiment of an English education did not answer. At the age of seventeen he was admitted to the French military school at Saint-Cyr, and two years later was in Algeria, as a second lieutenant in a regiment of Turcos. His experiences in Africa were of the kind usual in savage warfare; but he became a favorite with his men, whom he cared for throughout his career with much of that fatherly interest which distinguished the Russian hero, General Skobeleff.—

When the war with Italy broke out, in 1859, Boulanger and his Turcos took part in it. He was severely wounded in his first engagement, and lay long in the hospital, attended by his mother. He received, however, three decorations for his conduct in this campaign, in which he was thrice wounded. On the last occasion, as he lay in hospital, he received a visit of sympathy from the Empress Eugénie, then in the very zenith of her beauty and prosperity.

Boulanger's next service was in Tonquin, where on one occasion he fought side by side with the Spaniards, and received a fourth decoration, that of Isabella the Catholic.

He was next assigned to home duty at Saint-Cyr; and when the terrible war of 1870 broke out, and all the cadets were drafted into the army as officers, he was made major of a regiment, which was at Mézières, on the Belgian frontier, when MacMahon and the emperor surrendered at Sedan. Boulanger and his command escaped with Vinoy's troops from the disaster, and got back to Paris, where he kept his men in better order during the siege than any other officer. They took part in the sortie made to join Chanzy's Army of the Loire, in November, 1870, and in a skirmish with the Prussians he was again badly wounded. When the Prussian army entered Paris on March 5, 1871, Boulanger and the regiment under his command had the unpleasant duty of guarding the streets along their line of march to insure them a safe passage.

In 1874 when thirty-seven years of age, Boulanger was a colonel, with the breast of his uniform covered with decorations; Page 429 but he had taken no part whatever in politics, and was not known to have any political views, save that he called himself a fervent Republican, and personally resented any aristocratic assumptions on the part of inferior officers.

In 1881 he was sent by the French Government to the United States, in company with the descendants of Lafayette and Rochambeau, to attend the Yorktown celebration. Amongst all the French delegation Boulanger was distinguished by his handsome person and agreeable manners, while his knowledge of English made him everywhere popular. He was already married to his cousin, Mademoiselle Renouard, and had two little daughters, Hélène and Marcelle.

When the Minister of War gave Boulanger his appointment on the mission to Yorktown, he cautioned him that he must not shock the quiet tastes of American republicans by wearing too brilliant uniforms. Fortunately Colonel Boulanger did not accept the hint, and on all public occasions during his visit to this country he attracted the admiration of reporters and spectators as the handsomest man in the French group, wearing the most showy uniform, with the greatest number of glittering decorations. He was tall, with handsome auburn beard and hair, and very regular features. Even in caricatures the artist has been obliged to represent him as very handsome.

After his return to France, Boulanger was sent to Tunis,—a State recently annexed by the French, who were jealous of the power acquired by Great Britain on the southern shores of the Mediterranean by her protectorate in Egypt. Here Boulanger's desire to conduct things in a military way led to disputes with the civil authorities, and he returned to France in 1885, where M. de Freycinet, then head of a new Cabinet, made him Minister of War. He at once set to work to reform the army. He told his countrymen that if they ever hoped to take revenge upon the Germans (or rather revanche; for the words do not mean precisely the same thing), they must have their army in a much better state of preparation than it was in 1870. Instantly a cry Page 430 arose in France that General Boulanger was the man who sought a war with Germany, and who would lead French armies to the reconquest of Alsace and Lorraine. The French peasantry have never been able to accept the loss of Alsace and Lorraine as an accomplished fact; they look on the retention of those provinces by the Germans as a temporary arrangement until France can at the right moment wrest them out of her powerful rival's hand.

Boulanger's popularity rose to fever-heat. The Boulanger March, with its song, "En revenant de la revue," was played and sung in all the cafés chantants of Paris. The general rode a black horse as handsome as himself. Some one has said, "As a political factor, Boulanger was born of a horse and a song."

In 1886 he advocated the exile of the Orleans princes and the erasure of the Duc d'Aumale's name from the list of French generals. For this he was reproached with ingratitude to the duke, who had once been his commanding officer. His own letter of thanks for kindness, favors, and patronage was produced, and Boulanger could only defend himself by pronouncing it a forgery.

He made many changes in army regulations, which increased his popularity with the army. One was all order to the men to wear their beards, and as in the French army soldiers had always been obliged to shave except when on active service, this was interpreted, in the excited state of public feeling, into an intimation of the probability of a speedy declaration of war. As War Minister, the general also extended the time when soldiers on leave might stay out at night, and relieved them from much of the heavy weight that on the march they had had to carry. He broke up certain semi-aristocratic clubs in the regiments which controlled army opinion, and gave more weight to the sentiments of the sub-officers.

But before long the Ministry, in which he represented the War Department, came to an end,—as, indeed, appears to have been the fate of all the ministries under the administration of M. Grévy. No policy, no reforms, could be Page 431 carried out under such frequent changes. The popular cry was that the popular favorite must retain his portfolio as War Minister in the new Cabinet; and this occasioned considerable difficulty. The general had begun to be feared as a possible dictator. His popularity was immense; but what his place might be in politics no one could precisely tell. That he was the idol of the nation was certain; but was he a Radical of the Belleville type, or a forthcoming Napoleon Bonaparte,—an Imperialist on his own account, or a Jacobin?

The fall of the second Ministry in which he served put him out of office, and the War Minister who succeeded him proceeded to bid for popularity by fresh reforms, which the Radical Deputies thought might be acceptable to the people. Those who deal with the French peasant should never lose sight of the fact that the peace and prosperity of himself and of his household stand foremost in his eyes. The Frenchman, as we depict him in imagination or in fiction, is as far as possible from the French peasant. If ideas contrary to his selfish interests ever make their way into his mind, they are due to the leaven of old French soldiers scattered through the villages. So when the new Minister of War proposed, and the Chamber of Deputies passed, an ordinance that made it illegal to buy a substitute, and required every Frenchman, from eighteen to twenty-one years of age, to serve in the army, the peasant found small consolation for the loss of his sons' services in the thought that the son of a duke must serve as well as the son of a laborer. Boulanger had introduced no such measure. "Vive le Général Boulanger!"

Another measure, passed about the same time, brought great trouble into families. It was a law making education compulsory, and was loaded with vexatious and arbitrary regulations. Every child privately educated had to pass, semi-annually, a strict examination before certain village authorities. This gave rise in families to all sorts of tribulations. France is not exactly a land of liberty; personal liberty is sacrificed to efforts to enforce equality.

Page 432 General Boulanger after his loss of office was given the command of the Thirteenth Army Corps, and was sent into a sort of exile at its headquarters at Clermont-Ferrand. At the railroad-station in Paris a great crowd awaited him on the day of his departure. It broke down the barriers, and delayed in-coming and out-going trains, as it pressed around him. At first the general seemed pleased by this evidence of his popularity; then he began to feel the truth of what a friend whispered to him, "These twenty thousand men will make you forty thousand enemies," and he grew embarrassed and annoyed by the demonstration. Finally he mounted a locomotive, and made a brief speech to the people; then the train steamed out of the station.

The exile of the general to Clermont-Ferrand, and the harsh measures taken against him by the man who succeeded him in the War Office, caused his popularity with the populace daily to increase. He was felt to be a power in the State, and this, when he perceived it, awakened his ambition.

In November, 1887, when all parties in France were anticipating the resignation of M. Grévy after the exposure of his son-in-law, the majority of Frenchmen, outside the Chamber of Deputies, dreaded the election of M. Jules Ferry to his place, and prophesied that it would be the signal for another civil war. This was the opinion held (rightly or wrongly) by M. Grévy himself, by General Boulanger, and by the Comte de Paris. By the last day of November, when it seemed impossible for M. Grévy to retain office, because no leader of influence in the Chamber would help him to form a ministry, Boulanger, who had come up to Paris, met a small party of his friends, including M. Clemenceau, leader of the Radical party, and Rochefort, the leader of the Radical press, at dinner at the house of M. and Madame Laguerre.[1] M. Laguerre was a deputy who supported Boulanger in the Chamber against his enemies. Two gentlemen present had that afternoon seen M. Grévy, who had implored them to find some leader who would form a Page 433 ministry; already had M. Clemenceau been thought of, but he was undecided. It was evident that if he would secure the out-of-doors support of Boulanger's popularity, his ministry must include Boulanger. It seemed equally certain that if it did so, it would be beset by enemies in the Chamber. In the midst of a heated discussion on the subject, General Boulanger about midnight was mysteriously called away.

[Footnote 1: See "Les Coulisses du Boulangisme," published in "Figaro," and attributed to M. Mermieux.]

The person who summoned him was the editor of the "Cocarde," the Boulangist newspaper, who had been sounded that afternoon by an agent of the Comte de Paris to know if it were probable that Boulanger would join the Monarchists to defeat the chances of Jules Ferry. The party of the Comte de Paris had recently gathered strength both by the death of the Comte de Chambord and that of the Prince Imperial. But it was also divided. There were those who called themselves of the old school, who held to the high-minded traditions which had caused M. Thiers to say to one of them in 1871, "You are of all parties the most honest,—I do not say the most intelligent, but the most honest;" and the men of the new school,—men of the close of the century, as they called themselves,—who thought all means good that led to a good end, and were for energetic action. To this party belonged the Comtesse de Paris, daughter of the Duc de Montpensier and of the Infanta Luisa of Spain. She had been known to say emphatically: "I don't like people who are always going to do something to-morrow,—like the Comte de Chambord; such princes die in exile."

The Duc d'Aumale, on the contrary, despised crooked ways; and the hope of an intrigue or alliance with General Boulanger was not named to him by his nephew, especially as there was good reason to think he would never have consented to make a useful instrument of the man who had so ill-treated him when Minister of War.

The idea, however, had suddenly presented itself to the agents of the Comte de Paris (if it had not been previously suggested to him) that General Boulanger might be won over to play the part of General Monk, or failing this, that he Page 434 might not be unwilling to ally himself with the Monarchists to defeat the election of M. Ferry.

It was to hold an interview with the gentleman who represented the cause of the Comte de Paris that Boulanger was summoned from the conference going on at M. Laguerre's.

The Royalist agent proposed that M. Grévy should be retained as president, and promised that his party in the Chamber would support any ministry which should include General Boulanger, and of which he should be virtually the head. In return, Boulanger was to give his support to an appeal to the people, to see what form of government France would prefer. It was added that if Boulanger were Minister of War, he could do what he pleased with the army; and thus France, well managed, might change from a republic to a monarchy by the will of the people and without civil war.

The general listened quietly to these suggestions. "There is nothing you could ask that would be too much to reward the services you would render to our country," said the agent of the Royalists; "and remember that the highest fortunes under a Republic are the most unstable. Give us your word to do what we ask, and then at least M. Ferry will never be president." "I give you my word," said Boulanger. But the other then suggested that so important an arrangement must be ratified by some person higher in the confidence of the Comte de Paris than himself; and he went in haste for the Baron de Makau. That gentleman showed General Boulanger a letter from the Comte de Paris, giving him full powers as his representative. The general was to support the proposal for a popular vote for or against the restoration of monarchy, and to use his influence with the people in its favor. If monarchy were restored, he was to be made head of the army. After a long conversation the general departed, promising to sound the chiefs of the Radicals, and ascertain which of them would be most available to carry out the plan.

Page 435 But to his friend the editor of the "Cocarde," who seemed alarmed at the extent of his promises, he said, as soon as they were alone together, "I would do anything to avoid civil war and the election of Ferry; but what fools these people must be to put themselves in my power!"

He spoke no more till they returned to the house where they had left the dinner-party. The discussion was going on as before, only M. Clemenceau had made up his mind that he would not undertake to form a ministry, and M. Andrieux had been summoned from his bed to know if he would do so. He expressed his willingness to undertake the task, but said frankly that he could not offer the War Office to General Boulanger. "Anything else, my dear general, you shall have," he said, "and in a few months probably you may have that also; but if you formed part of the Cabinet at first, I could not conciliate the Chamber. You shall be military governor of Paris,—the noblest military post in the world."

But this offer was incompatible with the secret engagements that the general had entered into not an hour before. The conference, therefore, broke up at five in the morning without a decision having been reached.

The next morning the two gentlemen who had been charged by M. Grévy to procure him a prime minister, and if possible a cabinet, reported the failure of their mission. "Then all is over for me," said M. Grévy; "I shall at once send in my resignation."

The resignation was accepted, and greatly to the surprise of the general public,—for already the streets were full of excited citizens,—M. Sadi-Carnot was elected president, almost without discussion, and without disorder. His election put an end to the secret arrangement between Boulanger and the Royalists, and appeared likely to give France a more settled government than it had enjoyed since the Republic came into existence. The Exposition of 1889, too, was at hand, and Paris was very anxious that no political convulsions should frighten away strangers.

Page 436 The general was deeply hurt by his unpopularity in the Chamber, and by the way in which his former friends had thrown him over; but he still had the mob, the army, and the peasantry for his partisans, nor was he without the sympathy of the Bonapartists.

It was not long before he got into trouble with the War Department for coming to Paris without leave. It had not been usual for a general of division to ask leave of the Minister of War for a brief absence, nor could General Boulanger forget that he himself had been War Minister not many months before.

The general complained bitterly of the way he had been followed up by the police, as if he had been a criminal. "From the time I left the Ministry of War," he said,[1] "I have been spied upon and shadowed like a thief. Even my orderly has been bribed to report facts and falsehoods concerning me. My letters have been opened, and copies of my telegrams lie on every minister's table." He was deprived of his command, and retired from active service.

[Footnote 1: To a reporter for "Figaro."]

This measure, so far from rendering him innocuous to the Opportunist party, brought him into Parliament[2] (as the French Chambers are now called) and increased his popularity. He had been already elected deputy both from the Department of the Aisne and the Department of the Dordogne,—the latter without his proposing himself as a candidate, although he was ineligible, and could not take his seat, since at the time of his election he was an officer of the Government, holding a command. Having now retired into private life, he stood for the Department of Le Nord, where he was received with enthusiasm and elected by an immense majority. From all quarters came telegraphic messages to him from candidates for parliamentary honors, offering to resign their seats in favor of the popular hero. Even Corsica was anxious to have him for her Page 437 deputy. But it was not only his own election which concerned General Boulanger; he wished to secure the election of his followers. For that purpose election funds were needed, and the alliance with the Royalists was renewed. Whenever a Royalist candidate had a certainty of election, no Boulangist candidate was to contend against him. In other cases the agents of the Comte de Paris were openly to encourage their followers to vote for the nominee of the ally who was to assist the Monarchists to oppose the Government. There would have been great difficulty in raising the money needed for this electoral campaign, had it not been for a lady of high rank, the Duchesse d'Uzès, of unspotted reputation, and of great enthusiasm for the cause of royalty, who poured her whole fortune (over three million francs) into the joint treasury. The alliance between Boulanger and the Royalists was a profound secret. Very few Boulangists suspected that their election expenses were being paid by funds drawn from the purses of the supporters of monarchy.

[Footnote 2: Parliament before this time meant in French history the Provincial Courts, that had chiefly legal functions.]

For more than a year the popularity of "Le brav' Général" kept the various ministries that succeeded each other in Paris and their officials all over France, in perpetual anxiety. Boulanger made journeys almost like royal progresses into the Departments. Everywhere crowds cheered him, reporters followed him, his name was in everybody's mouth, his doings filled columns of the newspapers in many languages, and his flower, the carnation, was embroidered on tablecloths and worn in button-holes. All newspapers and reviews seem to have agreed that no man had been so popular in France since the days of the Great Emperor. He liked the position thrust upon him, and accepted gracefully and graciously the adoration he received,—an adoration born partly of infectious curiosity, partly from a love of what is phenomenal, partly from the attraction of the unexpected, and above all from the national need of some object of idolatry. France had been long destitute of any one to whom she might pay personal devotion. Every peasant's cottage throughout France was soon decorated Page 438 with his chromo. He has even been seen on his black horse adorning the bamboo hut of a king in Central Africa. Pamphlets, handbills, and brief biographies were scattered by his friends throughout the Provinces. His very name, Boulanger—Baker—helped his popularity. A corn-law passed in France was obnoxious to the country, as tending to make bread more dear; "Boulanger is to bring us cheap bread! Long live our Boulanger!" became the popular cry.

But all this enthusiasm seems to have been founded only on expectation. General Boulanger had done nothing that might reasonably have attracted national gratitude and adoration. Yet there was a strong feeling throughout France that Boulanger would save the country from what was called the Parliamentary régime. France had become weary of the squabbles of the seven parties in the Chamber, of the rapid changes of ministry, of the perpetual coalitions, lasting just long enough to overthrow some chief unpopular with two factions strong enough by combination to get rid of him. The Chamber, it was said, though unruly and disorganized, had usurped all the functions of government, and a republic without an executive officer who can maintain himself at its head, has never been known to stand. In France fashion is everything, and in France, in 1888, it was the fashion to speak ill of parliamentary government.

"Why am I a Boulangist?" cried a young and ardent writer of the party.[1] "Why are my friends Boulangists? Because the general is the only man in France capable of carrying out the expulsion of mere talkers from the Chamber of Deputies,—men who deafen the public ear, and are good for nothing. Gentlemen, a few hundreds of you, ever since 1870, have carried on the government. All of you are lawyers or literary men, none of you are statesmen."

[Footnote 1: Le Figaro.]

At the height of the popularity of the general his career was very near being cut short by a political duel. In France, as we have seen in the history of the Duchesse de Page 439 Berri, it is not an unheard-of thing to get rid of a political adversary by a challenge. After Boulanger had insulted the Duc d'Aumale while he was Minister of War, a challenge passed between himself and an Orleanist, M. le Baron de Lareinty. Boulanger stood to receive the fire of his adversary, but did not fire in return. He was subsequently anxious to fight Jules Ferry; but Jules Ferry declined any meeting of the kind. After he entered the Chamber, his great enemy, Floquet, who was then in the Cabinet, called him in the course of debate "A Saint-Arnaud of the cafés chantants!" Boulanger challenged him for this, and the duel took place with swords. Floquet was slightly wounded, but the general's foot slipped, and he received his adversary's sword-point in his throat. It was almost a miracle that it did not sever the jugular vein. For some time "Le brav' Général's" life was despaired of; but when he was pronounced out of danger, Paris amused itself with the thought that the most prominent soldier in the French army had nearly met his death at the hands of an elderly lawyer.

Since the funds furnished to Boulanger for the election expenses of his candidates, and even for his own personal expenses, came from the Royalist party, he was more bound to it than ever; but he pretended to be guided by a body that called itself the National Republican Committee, which he assured his friends, the Monarchists, he used only as a screen. When Madame d'Uzès threw her last million into the gulf, it seemed expedient to the Royalists to exact more definite pledges from Boulanger than his word as a soldier. "If the present Government of France is overthrown," they said, "and an appeal made to the people, who will fill the interregnum? Will General Boulanger, if all power is intrusted to him, consent to give it up, if the nation votes for monarchy? And with all the machinery of government in his hands, is it certain that a plébiscite would be the free vote of the people?"

A general election was to take place in the summer of 1889, at the height of the Universal Exposition. Hitherto Page 440 the various elections in which Boulanger had contended had been for vacant seats in the old Assembly. He was anxious to test his popularity in Paris by standing for the workman's quarter of Belleville; and in spite of his being opposed by the Radicals in the Chamber, as well as by the Government, he was elected by a large majority.

The Government then changed its method of attack. It brought in a bill changing the selection of parliamentary candidates from the scrutin de liste to the scrutin d'arrondissement. Boulanger therefore would be eligible for election only in the district in which he was domiciled.

Besides the National Republican Committee (which the general called his screen), there was formed all over France a Boulangist society called the League of Patriots. This league was now attacked by the Government as a conspiracy. A High Court of Justice was formed by the Senate, before which its leaders were summoned to appear. Boulanger became seriously alarmed. He did not see how he could act if shut up in prison. His apprehensions were carefully augmented by the heads of the police, who had placed one of their agents about his person.[1] This man showed him a pretended order for his arrest on April 1, 1889. The question of his retirement into Belgium if his liberty were threatened had been already debated by himself and his friends. Nearly all of them were against it. "Let not the people think our general could run away," said some. But others answered, "They will say it is a smart trick; that the general has cheated the Government."

[Footnote 1: Les Coulisses du Boulangisme.]

After seeing the false document which was shown him, with great pretence of secrecy, by the police agent, the general hesitated no longer. On the evening of April 1, accompanied by Madame de Bonnemains, a lady to whom he was paying devoted attention, pending a divorce from his wife, he went to Brussels, followed by his friend Count Dillon, the go-between in financial matters between the Royalists and himself. The Cabinet of M. Carnot had Page 441 learned the value of the saying, "If your enemy wishes to take flight, build him a bridge of gold."

The departure of the general threw consternation into the ranks of his followers. "It cannot be!" they cried. Then they consoled themselves with the reflection that he must soon return, as he had done once before under somewhat similar circumstances.

But he did not return. The Government had triumphed. Boulanger's power was broken; like a wave, it had toppled over when its crest was highest. The High Court of Justice condemned Deroulède the poet, Rochefort, and Dillon, to confinement for life in a French fortress. The sentence, however, was simply one of outlawry, for they were all with Boulanger.

The exiles did not stay long in Brussels. The Government of Belgium objected to their remaining so near the frontier of France,—for in Brussels a telephone connected them with Paris,—and they went over to London. There, at the general's request, he had an interview with the Comte de Paris. But their conversation was limited to useless compliments and military affairs. Boulanger's power as a political leader was at an end; the friends of the prince would advance him no more funds, and in the elections, which took place very quietly in France during the summer, he and his friends suffered total defeat.

The Government of France—strengthened not only by the success of the Exposition, by its great triumph at the elections, and by the discomfiture of its enemies, but also by the conviction forced upon parliamentary leaders that the country was weary of mere talk and discord, and demanded harmony and action—now became the strongest Government that France had enjoyed for a long time. The Republic had passed the point of danger, the eighteenth year, which had been the limit of every dynasty or form of government in France for over a century. It rallied to itself men from the ranks of all its former enemies, but its greatest victory was over the Monarchists. The wreck of their cause by the alliance with a military adventurer was Page 442 a blunder in the eyes of one section of the Royalists; in the eyes of another, it was a dishonor that amounted almost to a crime.

Boulanger had rallied to himself the clerical party in France by the promise of a republic strong enough to protect the weak,—"a republic that would concern itself with the interests of the people, and be solicitous to preserve individual liberty in all its forms, especially liberty of conscience, that liberty the most to be valued of all,"[1] Such a republic it seems possible the Third Republic may now become, especially since it is on all hands conceded that there is a reaction in France in favor of religious liberty, for those who are religious as well as for those who are "philosophers."

[Footnote 1: Speech at Tours.]

President Carnot has been an eminently respectable president. He has committed no blunders, and if he has awakened little enthusiasm, he has called forth no animosities. The worst that can be said of him is embodied in caricatures, where he always appears ready to serve some useful purpose, as a jointed wooden figure that can be put to many a use.

The French army is now stronger and better disciplined, and more full of determination to conquer, than any French army has ever been before. But no ruler of France can be anxious to precipitate a war with Germany; and judging from the present state of feeling among the French, there appear to be no serious political breakers ahead. Of course in France the unexpected is always to be expected, and what a day may bring forth, nobody knows.

Sir Charles Dilke tells us that in 1887, when a friend of his was going to France, he asked him to ascertain for him if General Boulanger were a soldier, a mountebank, or an ass; and the answer brought back to him was, "He is a little of them all." The general, after his interview in London with the Comte de Paris, took up his residence in the island of Jersey. He cannot but have felt that his popularity had failed him, and that his enchanter's wand Page 443 was broken. From time to time he made spasmodic efforts to bring himself again to the notice of the public. He offered repeatedly to return to France and stand his trial for conspiracy, provided that the trial might be conducted before a regular court of justice, and not before an especial committee appointed by the Chambers.

Meantime his domestic relations must have caused him poignant anxiety. His wife was his cousin,—a lady of the haute bourgeoisie in a provincial town. She appears to have felt herself unequal to what might be required of her as the wife of the national hero. She entertained apprehensions that her fate might be that of the Empress Josephine. When her husband became War Minister, she declined to preside over his receptions, and withdrew herself from his official residence, taking with her her two daughters, Hélène and Marcelle. Thus deserted, Boulanger became open to scandals and reports, some true, and some false, such as would inevitably be circulated in France concerning such a man's relations with women. It is quite certain, however, that at the height of his popularity he became infatuated with the divorced wife of a Baron de Bonnemains,—a lady well connected, and up to the time when Boulanger became her lover, of unstained reputation. She was also rich, having a fortune of 1,500,000 francs. She was not very beautiful, but was tender, gracious, and womanly. M. de Bonnemains had not made her a good husband, and her friends rejoiced when the law gave her a divorce. General Boulanger and his wife seem to have agreed to sever their marriage tie under the new French divorce law, which requires both parties to be examined by a judge, who is to try if possible to reconcile them; but at the last moment Madame Boulanger refused, upon religious grounds, her assent to a divorce, and the marriage of the general with Madame de Bonnemains became thenceforward impossible.

The story is not a pleasant one, but it is necessary to relate it, because of its results.

Madame de Bonnemains, whose constitution was consumptive, drooped and sickened in Jersey. She removed Page 444 in the spring of 1891 to Brussels to try one of the new schemes for the cure of pulmonary trouble. The remedy seems to have hastened her death, which took place in July. General Boulanger never recovered from her loss. His friends and his funds had failed him, and the death of this woman, whom he had passionately loved, completely overwhelmed him. He spoke constantly of suicide, and in spite of precautions taken by his friends, he carried his purpose into effect upon her grave in the cemetery of Brussels, October 2, 1891.

Whatever General Boulanger's faults may have been in relation to other women, he was devoted to his mother. The latter, who was eighty-six years old at the time of his death, resided in Paris, and when he was in the city he never suffered a day to pass without visiting her. A lock of her white hair was on his breast when he was dressed for burial.

Page 445 INDEX.

Abdul Aziz, Sultan, 232.

Abdul Kader, 82, 94.

Abdul Medjid, 86.

About, Edmond, quoted, 248.

Adélaïde, Madame, of Orleans, 20, 25, 26, 55, 83, 108.

Affre, Denis Auguste, Archbishop of Paris, 142 et seq.

African generals, 94; their imprisonment, 159 et seq.

Albert, Prince, 100; visits Boulogne, 180-182; his opinion of the emperor, 182-184, 217; of Maximilian, 192.

Algeria, 82, 83, 94, 134.

Alison, Sir Archibald, quoted, 142, 150.

Alsace and Lorraine, 241, 242, 246-249, 386, 387.

America, demands payment of French Spoliation Claims, 81; Louis Napoleon sent to, 69; relations with Mexico, 195, 196, 210; Boulanger in, 429.

Americans, what they saw of the coup d'état, 160-162; of Paris in 1870, 241, 245; of the siege, 273, 275; of Versailles, 282-286.

Angoulême, Louis Antoine, Duke of, and Dauphin, 12, 13, 21, 24, 26.

Angoulême, Marie Thérèse, Duchess of, and Dauphine, 13, 28, 29, 48, 49.

Appert, chaplain to Queen Marie Amélie, quoted, 56, 57.

Arenenberg, 62, 64, 69.

Aumale, Henri d'Orléans, Duke of, 37, 38, 94, 134, 420, 430, 433.

Barbès, 95, 140.

Barrot, Odillon, 110, 112-114, 157.

Baudin, 158, 384.

Bazaine, Marshal, 202, 204, 257, 258, 270, 277, 287, 288, 384.

Belfort, 288, 299, 398, 399.

Benedetti, 232.

Bergeret, General, war delegate, 307, 309.

Berri, Charles Ferdinand, Duke of, 12, 13.

Berri, Marie Caroline, Duchess of, 12, 13, 22, 26, 29, 40-49.

Bismarck, Otto von, Prince, 219, 254, 264, 267, 268, 271, 293-298.

Blanc, Louis, quoted, 34, 40, 41, 46, 52, 53, 65, 70; Louis Blanc himself, 130, 133, 134, 137, 140, 305, 306.

Bombardment, of Paris, by the Prussians, 278, 279, 298, 299; during the Commune, 309, 310; of Strasburg, 286, 287.

Bonjean, Louis, Senator and Judge, 327, 330, 332, 333, 345.

Bordeaux, 300, 383, 385-388.

Bordeaux, Duke of. See Chambord.

Boulanger, George Ernest Jean Marie, General, boyhood, 427, 428; army life, 428, 429; sent to America, 429; to Tunis, 429; Minister of War, 429, 430; popularity, 430-432; intrigues with Legitimists, 433-439; influence declines, 440; leaves France, 440-442; domestic relations, 443; death, 444.

Bourbaki, General, 288, 384.

Bourbons, 10, 14.

Page 446 Bourbon, Louis Henri Joseph, Duke of, 38, 39, 40.

Broglie, Duke of, 405-408.

Burgoyne, Sir John, 260, 262.

Caffarel, General, 421.

Cannon, 274, 275; at Montmartre, 301, 302.

Canrobert, Marshal, 216.

Carbonari, 14; Louis Napoleon and his brother take the oaths, 63; never absolved, 70, 71, 179, 180, 186.

Carlotta, Empress of Mexico, 36, 37, 192-194, 198, 199, 201, 203, 204, 211.

Carmagnole, 23.

Carnot, Hippolyte, 125, 425.

Carnot, Sadi, fourth President of Third Republic, 424, 425, 435.

Carrel, Armand, 47.

Catholic lady in Red Paris, 310-313.

Cavaignac, Eugène, General, War Minister, Dictator, 140, 142-144, 149, 152, 159, 160, 164.

Chambord, Comte de, Henri V., Duc de Bordeaux, 12, 26-29, 32, 40, 48, 49, 390, 391, 392, 403, 404, 416-418, 433.

Changarnier, General, 82, 138, 139, 146, 148, 150, 152, 159, 160, 164.

Chapultepec, 200, 209.

Charles X., 12, 15-17, 20-33.

Chasseurs d'Afrique, 308.

Christian Brothers, 277.

Clemenceau, 306.

Clément Thomas, General, 302, 392.

Club of Communist, 273.

Cluseret, General, war delegate, 308, 309, 310, 317, 318, 359.

Commune, 265, 300-307, 314, 321, 330, 349, 358, 359.

Compiègne, Château de, 169, 176.

Compiègne, Marquis de, narrative of suppression of the Commune, 355-358.

Constantine, 82, 83, 93, 94.

Council of the Commune, 306, 316, 317, 319, 320, 358.

Coup d'état, 150-163.

Courbet, artist, 315.

Courbevoie, 88, 306, 307.

Crimean War, 180, 185, 187, 219, 400.

Crozès, Abbé, 323.

Darboy, Archbishop of Paris, 323, 324, 329-333.

Decazes, Duc de, 11.

Deleschuze, war delegate, 317, 337, 358, 359.

Deputies imprisoned, 157, 158.

Deutz, 44, 45, 380.

Dickens, Charles, quoted, 182.

Dombrowski, General, 309, 321, 361.

Dominicans of Arceuil, 341, 342.

Duguerry, Gaspard, Abbé, 323, 330, 332.

Duval, General, 307.

Eagle, 75.

Égalité, Philippe, Duke of Orleans, 17, 18.

Erckmann-Chatrian, quoted, 238, 247, 248.

Escobedo, General, 206, 208, 210.

Eudes, General and war delegate, 307, 317.

Eugénie, Empress, 167-176, 185, 186, 197, 216, 217, 220, 221, 232, 234-237, 241, 243, 251, 257-261, 428.

Evans, Dr. Thomas, 259, 260.

Faure, sings the "Marseillaise," 240, 241, 244.

Favre, Jules, 257, 267, 268, 270, 279, 291-295, 298, 299.

Ferré, 314, 315, 331, 333, 337.

Ferry, Jules, 257, 414, 415, 424.

Feuchères, Madame de, 39, 40.

Fieschi, 34, 49-53.

Fleury, General, 151, 177, 178, 223.

Flourens, 307.

Fortifications of Paris, 262-264.

France under Louis XVIII., 9, 10, 11, 15; under Charles X., 16, 17, 20, 21; under Louis Philippe, 34, 35, 81, 107, 108, 109; under the Provisional Government, 125, 126, 133, 135-140; under the Empire, 178, 179, 218, 226, 227, 228; during the Franco-Prussian War, 238, 239, 246, Page 447 247; under the Third Republic, 385, 393, 438, 441, 442.

Francis, king of Naples, his political creed, 15, 16.

Franco-Prussian War declared, 232; preparations in France, 238, 239, 246, 249, 250; in Prussia, 238, 247; campaign from August 2 to September 4, 241-244, 247-249, 251-255; siege of Paris, 262-264, 268-279; war in the provinces, 286-288.

Funeral of Napoleon I., 87-92; of victims, 1848, 123; of Lamartine, 146.

Gallifet, Marquis de, 204, 368, 369.

Gambetta, Leon, 257, 270, 277, 278, 382-385, 388, 395, 396, 411-414.

Garibaldi, Giuseppe, General, 288, 296-298, 306.

Genton, 330.

German Emperor. See William.

German Empire, 288, 289, 290, 291, 298.

German soldiers, 247, 248, 283, 284, 285.

Germans, residents in France, 250, 251.

Government, Provisional, in 1848, 117, 118, 122, 125, 130-139; in 1870, 257, 262, 267, 270, 271; in 1871, 372, 396.

Grand Livre, 339, 340.

Greville, Charles, quoted, 11, 12, 16, 17, 35, 87.

Grévy, Jules, third President of Third Republic, 157, 406, 408-414, 418, 419, 423-426, 435.

Guillotine burned, 315.

Guizot, 101, 110, 112.

Ham, 34, 76-80, 160, 163, 164.

Hartwell, 11, 12.

Henri V. See Chambord.

Henrion, 331, 333.

Hérisson, Comte d', 291-295.

Hohenlohe, Princess Adélaïde, 166.

Hohenzollern, Prince Leopold of, 231; his sister, 166.

Home, the Spiritualist, 220, 221.

Hortense, Queen of Holland, 59, 60, 63, 64, 69, 234.

Hostages, their arrest, 323, 324; imprisonment, 325, 326, 327, 329; execution, 328-335, 364, 365.

Hôtel-de-Ville, 26, 27, 123, 130-132, 138, 187, 270, 271, 279, 302, 303, 306, 321.

Hugo, Victor, 96, 153-156, 251-253, 273, 304.

Ibrahim Pasha, 84, 86.

Indemnity to the Prussians, 294, 295, 299, 373, 394.

Irving, Washington, quoted, 168, 173.

Isabella, Queen of Spain, 100, 101, 220.

Ismaïl Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, 232-236.

Jackson, Andrew, General, 81, 82.

Jaumont, quarries of, 249, 258.

Jecker, Mexican banker, 202, 330.

Joinville, Philippe, Prince de, 37, 87, 91, 108, 109.

Juarez, President of Mexican Republic, 195, 197, 202, 209, 210.

Juarists, 198, 201, 202, 205.

Khedive of Egypt. See Ismaïl Pasha.

Lafarge, Madame, 108.

Lafayette, Gilbert, Marquis de, 14, 15, 26, 27, 35, 83.

Laffitte, 14, 15, 25, 27, 83.

Laguerre, 432, 433.

Lamartine, Alphonse de, 109, 117, 125-133, 135, 136, 138, 140, 146.

Lamazou, Abbé de, narrative of resistance in La Roquette, 334-336.

Lecomte, General, 302, 392.

Ledru-Rollin, 125, 137-139, 140.

Limouzin, Madame, 421, 422.

Loire, Army of the, 274, 276, 277.

Page 448 Lopez, General, 201, 206, 207, 214.

Louis XVIII., 9-15.

Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, 59-61, 63, 80.

Louis Napoleon, 58, 61-80, 140, 141, 144-146, 150, 153; as Prince President, 146-149, 165, 166. As Emperor, see Napoleon III.

Louis Philippe, King of the French, 17-20, 25-27, 34-37, 49-51, 54, 83, 91, 95, 102, 107-112, 114, 121, 134.

Lucchesi Palli, Count, 137, 138, 140.

Lullier, 307, 317.

Luzy, Mademoiselle de, 103, 104, 106, 107.

Macaulay, Lord, 425.

MacMahon, Patrice, Marshal, Duke of Magenta, second President of Third Republic, 14, 248, 251, 253, 384, 400, 402, 407-412.

Mahmoud II., Sultan, 84, 85, 86.

Malmesbury, Lord, quoted, 261, 262.

Marie Amélie, Queen of the French, 19, 50, 51, 54-57, 97-99, 112.

Marmont, Marshal, Duke of Ragusa, 21, 22, 26.

"Marseillaise," 239-241, 244,245.

Maupas, De, Prefect of Police, 150-153.

Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, 58, 191-194, 198-214.

Mégy, 316, 331, 336-338.

Mehemet Ali, 84-87.

Mejia, General, 205, 207, 209, 211-213.

Mexico, 194-198, 200-205.

Ministry of Marine (Navy Department building), 345-348.

Ministry of National Defence, 246, 251, 262, 266, 269-271, 279.

Miramar, 193, 194, 201, 203.

Miramon, General, 205, 207, 209, 211, 212, 213.

Mobiles, 122, 133, 138, 249, 250, 263, 267, 269.

Moltke, General von, 188, 189, 264, 298, 299.

Monroe doctrine, 196.

Montholon, Count, 74, 76.

Montijo. See Eugénie and Teba.

Montpensier, Duke of, 37, 95, 100, 101, 115, 231.

Montpensier, Duchess of, 37, 100, 101, 115, 433.

Morey, 51-53.

Morny, Duc de, 150, 152, 153, 157, 160, 169, 177, 178.

Mortier, Marshal, Duke of Treviso, 50.

Napoleon I., 58, 59, 62, 65; funeral of, 87-92, 226.

Napoleon II., Duc de Reichstadt, 58, 64, 191.

Napoleon III., 165, 166, 170, 175, 190-197, 202, 203, 215, 216-228, 249, 252, 254-256, 261, 262.

Napoleon, eldest son of Louis and Hortense, 60.

Napoleon, second son of Louis and Hortense, 61, 62, 63, 179.

Napoleon (Plon-Plon), son of King Jérôme, 166, 171, 220, 419.

National Guard, 35, 88, 89, 133, 138, 263, 268, 269, 280, 295, 301-303, 305, 349, 350, 365, 371.

National workshops, 133, 141-144.

Narratives: Louis Napoleon's descent on Boulogne, 71-76; his escape from Ham, 70-80; of Victor Hugo during the coup d'état, 155, 156; of an American, 160-162; of the entry of the Prussians into Versailles, 282-286; of a lady in Red Paris, 310-313; of Paul Seigneret, 324-328; of the Abbé Lamazou, 334-336; of Count Orsi during the Commune, 313, 314; of his arrest as a Communist, 355-358; of a victim of Paris and Versailles, 360-371.

Nemours, Duc de, 37, 50, 108, 109, 113, 118.

Neuilly, 54, 96-99, 217.

Nolte, Vincent, anecdote of Lafayette, 14, 15.

O'Brien, Smith, 135, 136.

Oliphant, Mrs. M. E. W., quoted, 131, 132, 350, 351.

Page 449 Ollivier, Émile, 224, 225, 245, 246.

Ordonannces, 17, 20-24.

Orleans family, 36, 37, 95, 140, 217, 388, 419, 420.

Orleans, Ferdinand, Duke of, 36, 93, 95-100.

Orleans, Hélène, Duchess of, 115-118.

Orsi, Joseph, Count, 71, 72; quoted, 73, 313-316, 352, 353, 354-358.

Orsini, Felice, 185, 219.

Oudinot, Duke of Reggio, General, 147, 148.

Palikao, Count Montauban, 246, 249.

Paris in 1830, 16, 17, 21, 22-25, 27; in 1848, 111-121; under the Empire, 227; in July, 1870, 239, 240; in August, 1870, 244-246, 249, 250; in September, 256, 258, 262-264, 266; in the siege, 266, 269, 271-281; during the Commune, 305, 309-313, 315, 316, 320-322, 362, 363.

Paris, Comte de, 114, 420, 433, 441, 442.

Parties in 1820, 9-11; in 1830, 21, 26, 28, 34, 35; in 1848, 108, 109, 122-126; in 1850, 135, 136, 139, 140, 147-149; in 1871, 385, 386; in 1873, 402-404; in 1889, 441, 442; Legitimists, 41, 433.

Pasquier, Dr., 307.

Peace signed, 280, 281, 299.

Peasants, 121, 145, 183, 184, 246, 431.

Persiguy, Fialin, Duc de, 72, 76, 150, 151, 177, 178, 190.

Petit, General, 136.

Pétroleuses, 321, 322.

Pigeon post, 273, 274.

Piguellier, Colonel, 75.

Plébiscites, 144, 165, 183, 184, 230, 231, 298.

Poiret, 335.

Polignac, Prince, 16, 17, 20, 23, 24.

Praslin, Duc de, 102 et seq.

Prefecture of Police, 163, 325, 326, 342-345.

Prince Imperial (Napoleon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph), 64, 65, 187-190, 242, 243, 260, 415, 416.

Provisional Government, 1848, 121, 122, 125, 130-139; in 1871, 372, 387, 389, 394-396.

Queretaro, 205, 206, 207-213.

Rambouillet, 27, 28.

Reichshoffen. See Wörth.

Rémusat, 397.

Republic, Second, 130-49, 165; Third, 257, 262, 265, 372, 404, 435, 438-442.

Restoration 9-15.

Revolution, 1830, 20-28; 1848, 108-126, 132; 1870, 257, 258, 262.

Rochefort, Henri, Marquis de, 229, 257, 270, 317, 259, 392, 432.

Rome, 147, 148.

Rossel, General, War delegate, 318, 319, 392.

Saarbruck, 241, 242, 244.

Salm-Salm, Prince, 205, 207; Princess, 208, 209.

Saint-Arnaud, Jacques Leroy, Marshal, 83, 151, 178.

Sarcey, Francisque de, quoted, 267, 270, 276, 277.

Scrutin de liste, Scrutin d'arrondissement, 406, 407, 440.

Seigneret, Paul, 324-328.

Seisset, Admiral, 305.

Simon, Jules, 257, 308, 408, 410.

Soledad, La, treaty of, 197, 198.

Shah of Persia, 405.

Spain, 12, 231, 232.

Spanish marriages, 100, 101, 102, 109.

"Spectator," The, quoted, 242.