The Memoirs of Victor Hugo
Part 3 out of 6
d'Elchingen. The other day he said to his mother:
"Wurtemberg is an ambitious fellow. When we play
he always wants to be the leader. Besides, he insists upon
being called Monseigneur. I don't mind calling him
Monseigneur, but I won't let him be leader. One day I
invented a game, and I said to him: 'No, Monseigneur, you
are not going to be the leader. I will be leader, for I
invented the game, and Chabannes will be my lieutenant.
You and the Count de Paris will be soldiers.' Paris was
willing, but Wurtemberg walked away. He is an ambitious fellow."
Of these young mothers of the Château, apart from the
Duchess d'Orleans, Mme. de Joinville is the only one who
does not spoil her children. At the Tuileries, everybody,
even the King himself, calls her little daughter
"Chiquette." The Prince of Joinville calls his wife
"Chicarde" since the pierrots' ball, hence "Chiquette." At
this pierrots' ball the King exclaimed: "How Chicarde
is amusing herself!" The Prince de Joinville danced all
the risquée dances. Mme. de Montpensier and Mme.
Liadères were the only ones who were not decolletees. "It
is not in good taste," said the Queen. "But it is pretty,"
observed the King.
III. THE PRINCES.
At the Tuileries the Prince de Joinville passes his time
doing all sorts of wild things. One day he turned on all
the taps and flooded the apartments. Another day he cut
all the bell ropes. A sign that he is bored and does not
know what to do with himself.
And what bores these poor princes most is to receive and
talk to people ceremoniously. This is almost a daily
obligation. They call it--for princes have their
slang--"performing the function." The Duke de Montpensier
is the only one who performs it gracefully. One day the Duchess
d'Orleans asked him the reason. He replied: 'It amuses me."
He is twenty years old, he is beginning.
When the marriage of M. de Montpensier with the
Infanta was published, the King of the Belgians was sulky
with the Tuileries. He is an Orleans, but he is a Coburg.
It was as though his left hand had smitten his right cheek.
The wedding over, while the young couple were making
their way from Madrid to Paris, King Leopold arrived at
Saint Cloud, where King Louis Philippe was staying. The
King of the Belgians wore an air of coldness and severity.
Louis Philippe, after dinner, took him aside into a recess
of the Queen's drawing-room, and they conversed for fully
an hour. Leopold's face preserved its thoughtful and
*English* expression. However at the conclusion of the
conversation, Louis Philippe said to him:
"He is precisely the man I do not want to see."
"See him," urged the King. "We will resume this
conversation when you have done so."
The next day M. Guizot waited upon King Leopold. He
had with him an enormous portfolio filled with papers.
The King received him. His manner was cold in the
extreme. Both were reserved. It is probable that M. Guizot
communicated to the King of the Belgians all the
documents relative to the marriage and all the diplomatic
papers. No one knows what passed between them. What
is certain is that when M. Guizot left the King's room
Leopold's air was gracious, though sad, and that he was heard
to say to the Minister as he took leave of him: "I came
here greatly dissatisfied with you. I shall go away
satisfied. You have, in fact, in this affair acquired a new title
to my esteem and to our gratitude. I intended to scold
you; I thank you."
These were the King's own words.
The Prince de Joinville's deafness increases. Sometimes
it saddens him, sometimes he makes light of it. One
day he said to me: "Speak louder, I am as deaf as a post."
On another occasion he bent towards me and said with a
"~J'abaisse le pavillion de l'oreille.~"
"It is the only one your highness will ever lower," I replied.
M. de Joinville is of somewhat queer disposition. Now
he is joyous to the point of folly, anon gloomy as a
hypochondriac. He is silent for three days at a time, or his bursts
of laughter are heard in the very attics of the Tuileries.
When he is on a voyage he rises at four o'clock in the
morning, wakes everybody up and performs his duties as
a sailor conscientiously. It is as though he were to win his
He loves France and feels all that touches her. This
explains his fits of moodiness. Since he cannot talk as he
wants to, he keeps his thoughts to himself, and this sours
him, He has spoken more than once, however, and
bravely. He was not listened to and he was not heeded.
"They needn't talk about me," he said to me one day, "it
is they who are deaf!"
Unlike the late Duke d'Orleans, he has no princely
coquettishness, which is such a victorious grace, and has no
desire to appear agreeable. He rarely seeks to please
individuals. He loves the nation, the country, his profession,
the sea. His manner is frank, he has a taste for noisy
pleasures, a fine appearance, a handsome face, with a kind heart,
and a few feats of arms to his credit that have been
exaggerated; he is popular.
M. de Nemours is just the contrary. At court they say:
"There is something unlucky about the Duke de Nemours."
M. de Montpensier has the good sense to love, to esteem
and to honour profoundly the Duchess d'Orleans.
The other day there was a masked and costumed ball,
but only for the family and the intimate court circle--the
princesses and ladies of honour. M. de Joinville
appeared all in rags, in complete Chicard costume. He was
extravagantly gay and danced a thousand unheard-of
dances. These capers, prohibited elsewhere, rendered the
Queen thoughtful. "Wherever did he learn all this?"
she asked, and added: "What naughty dances! Fie!"
Then she murmured: "How graceful he is!"
Mme. de Joinville was dressed as a bargee and affected
the manner of a street gamin. She likes to go to those
places that the court detests the most, *the theatres and
concerts of the boulevards*.
The other day she greatly shocked Mme. de Hall, the
wife of an admiral, who is a Protestant and Puritan, by
asking her: "Madame, have you seen the "Closerie des
The Prince de Joinville had imagined a nuisance that
exasperated the Queen. He procured an old barrel organ
somewhere, and would enter her apartments playing it and
singing in a hoarse, grating voice. The Queen laughed at
first. But it lasted a quarter of an hour, half an hour.
"Joinville, stop it!" He continued to grind away.
"Joinville, go away!" The prince, driven out of one door,
entered by another with his organ, his songs and his
hoarseness. Finally the Queen fled to the King's apartments.
The Duchess d'Aumale did not speak French very
fluently; but as soon as she began to speak Italian, the
Italian of Naples, she thrilled like a fish that falls back
into the water, and gesticulated with Neapolitan verve.
"Put your hands in your pockets," the Duke d'Aumale
would say to her. "I shall have to have your hands tied.
Why do you gesticulate like that?"
"I didn't notice it," the princess would reply.
"That is true, she doesn't notice it," said the Prince to
me one day. "You wouldn't believe it, but my mother,
who is so dignified, so cold, so reserved when she is
speaking French, begins gesticulating like Punchinello when by
chance she speaks Neapolitan."
The Duke de Montpensier salutes passers-by graciously
and gaily. The Duke d'Aumale does not salute more often
than he is compelled to; at Neuilly they say he is afraid
of ruffling his hair. The Duke de Nemours manifests less
eagerness than the Duke de Montpensier and less negligence
than the Duke d'Aumale; moreover, women say
that when saluting them he looks at them in a most
Donizetti's "Elixir of Love" was performed at court on
February 5, 1847, by the Italian singers, the Persiani,
Mario, Tagliafico. Ronconi acted (acted is the word, for
he acted very well) the role of Dulcamara, usually
represented by Lablache. It was in the matter of size, but not
of talent, a giant in the place of a dwarf. The decoration
of the theatre at the Tuileries was then still the same as
it had been in the time of the Empire--designs in gold on
a grey background, the ensemble being cold and pale.
There were few pretty women present. Mme. Cuvillier-Floury
was the prettiest; Mme. V. H. the most handsome.
The men were in uniform or full evening dress. Two officers
of the Empire were conspicuous in their uniforms of
that period. Count Dutaillis, a one-armed soldier of the
Empire, wore the old uniform of a general of division,
embroidered with oak leaves to the facings. The big straight
collar reached to his occiput; his star of the Legion of
Honour was all dented; his embroidery was rusty and
dull. Count de Lagrange, an old beau, wore a white
spangled waistcoat, black silk breeches, white, or rather
pink, stockings; shoes with buckles on them, a sword at
his side, a black dress coat, and a peer's hat with white
plumes in it. Count Dutaillis was a greater success than
Count de Lagrange. The one recalled Monaco and Trenitz;
the other recalled Wagram.
M. Thiers, who the previous day had made a somewhat
poor speech, carried opposition to the point of wearing a
The Duchess de Montpensier, who had attained her fifteenth
birthday eight days before, wore a large crown of
diamonds and looked very pretty. M. de Joinville was
absent. The three other princes were there in
lieutenant-general's uniform with the star and grand cordon of the
Legion of Honour. M. de Montpensier alone wore the
order of the Golden Fleece.
Mme. Ronconi, a handsome person, but of a wild and
savage beauty, was in a small box on the stage, in rear
of the proscenium. She attracted much attention.
There was no applause, which chilled the singers and
Five minutes before the piece terminated the King began
to pack up. He folded his programme and put it in his
pocket, then he wiped the glasses of his opera-glass, closed
it up carefully, looked round for the case which he had laid
on his chair, placed the glass in it and adjusted the hooks
very scrupulously. There was a good deal of character in
his methodical manner.
M. de Rambuteau was there. His latest "rambutisms"
(the word was Alexis de Saint-Priest's) were recounted
among the audience. It was said that on the last day of
the year M. de Rambuteau wrote on his card: "M. de
Rambuteau et Venus," or as a variation: "M. de Rambuteau,
Venus en personne."
Wednesday, February 24, the Duke de Nemours gave a
concert at the Tuileries. The singers were Mlle. Grisi,
Mme. Persiani, a Mme. Corbari, Mario, Lablache and
Ronconi. M. Aubert, who conducted, did not put any of
his own music on the programme: Rossini, Mozart, and
Donizetti, that was all.
The guests arrived at half-past eight. The Duke de
Nemours lives on the first floor of the Pavilion de Marsan,
over the apartments of the Duchess d'Orleans. The guests
waited in a first salon until the doors of the grand salon
were opened, the women seated, the men standing. As
soon as the prince and princess appeared the doors were
thrown wide open and everybody went in. This grand salon
is a very fine room. The ceiling is evidently of the time
of Louis XIV. The wails are hung with green damask
striped with gold. The inner window curtains are of red
damask. The furniture is in green and gold damask. The
ensemble is royal.
The King and Queen of the Belgians were at this
concert. The Duke de Nemours entered with the Queen, his
sister, upon his arm, the King giving his arm to the
Duchess de Nemours. Mmes. d'Aumale and de Montpensier
followed. The Queen of the Belgians resembles
the Queen of the French, save in the matter of age. She
wore a sky-blue toque, Mme. d'Aumale a wreath of roses,
Mme. de Montpensier a diadem of diamonds, Mme. de Nemours
her golden hair. The four princesses sat in high-backed
chairs opposite the piano; all the other women sat
behind them; the men were in the rear, filling the doorway
and the first salon. The King of the Belgians has a rather
handsome and grave face, and a delicate and agreeable
smile; he was seated to the left of the princesses.
The Duke de Brogue sat on his left. Next to the Duke
were Count Mole and M. Dupin senior. M. de Salvandy,
seeing an empty chair to the right of the King, seated
himself upon it. All five wore the red sash, including M.
Dupin. These four men about the King of the Belgians
represented the old military nobility, the parliamentary
aristocracy, the pettifogging bourgeoisie, and moonshine
literature; that is to say, a little of what France possesses
that is illustrious, and a little of what she possesses that is
MM. d'Aumale and de Montpensier were to the right
in the recess of a window with the Duke of Wurtemberg,
whom they called their "brother Alexander." All the
princes wore the grand cordon and star of Leopold in
honour of the King of the Belgians; MM. de Nemours
and de Montpensier also wore the Golden Fleece. The
Fleece of M. de Montpensier was of diamonds, and magnificent.
The Italian singers sang standing by the piano. When
seated they occupied chairs with wooden backs.
The Prince de Joinville was absent, as was also his wife.
It was said that lately he was the hero of a love affair. M.
de Joinville is prodigiously strong. I heard a big lackey
behind me say: "I shouldn't care to receive a slap from
him." While he was strolling to his rendezvous M. de
Joinville thought he noticed that he was being followed.
He turned back, went up to the fellow and struck him.
After the first part of the concert MM. d'Aumale and
de Montpensier came into the other salon where I had taken
refuge with Théophile Gautier, and we chatted for fully
an hour. The two princes spoke to me at length about
literary matters, about "Les Burgraves," "Ruy Blas," "Lucrèce
Borgia," Mme. Halley, Mlle. Georges, and Frédérick
Lemaitre. Also a good deal about Spain, the royal
wedding, bull-fights, hand-kissings, and etiquette, that M. de
Montpensier "detests." "The Spaniards love royalty," he
added, "and especially etiquette. In politics as in religion
they are bigots rather than believers. They were greatly
shocked during the wedding fetes because the Queen one
day dared to venture out afoot!"
MM. d'Aumale and de Montpensier are charming young
men, bright, gay, gracious, witty, sincere, full of that ease
that communicates itself to others. They have a fine air.
They are princes; they are perhaps men of intellect. M.
de Nemours is embarrassed and embarrassing. When he
comes towards you with his blond whiskers, his blue eyes,
his red sash, his white waistcoat and his melancholy air he
perturbs you. He never looks you in the face. He always
casts about for something to say and never knows what he
November 5, 1847.
Four years ago the Duke d'Aumale was in barracks at
Courbevoie with the 17th, of which he was then colonel.
During the summer, in the morning, after the manoeuvres
which took place at Neuilly, he frequently strolled back
along the river bank, alone, his hands behind his back.
Nearly every day he happened upon a pretty girl
named Adele Protat, who every morning went from
Courbevoie to Neuilly and returned at the same hour as M.
d'Aumale. The young girl noticed the young officer in
undress uniform, but was not aware that he was a prince.
At length they struck up an acquaintance, and walked and
chatted together. Under the influence of the sun, the
flowers, and the fine mornings something very much like
love sprang up between them. Adele Protat thought she
had to do with a captain at the most. He said to her:
"Come and see me at Courbevoie." She refused. Feebly.
One evening she was passing near Neuilly in a boat.
Two young men were bathing. She recognized her officer.
"There is the Duke d'Aumale," said the boatman.
"Really!" said she, and turned pale.
The next day she had ceased to love him. She had seen
him naked, and knew that he was a prince.
IN THE CHAMBER OF PEERS.
IN THE CHAMBER OF PEERS.
Yesterday, February 22, I went to the Chamber of
Peers. The weather was fine and very cold, in spite of the
noonday sun. In the Rue de Tournon I met a man in the
custody of two soldiers. The man was fair, pale, thin,
haggard; about thirty years old; he wore coarse linen
trousers; his bare and lacerated feet were visible in his
sabots, and blood-stained bandages round his ankles took
the place of stockings; his short blouse was soiled with
mud in the back, which indicated that he habitually slept
on the ground; his head was bare, his hair dishevelled.
Under his arm was a loaf. The people who surrounded
him said that he had stolen the loaf, and it was for this
that he had been arrested.
When they reached the gendarmerie barracks one of the
soldiers entered, and the man stayed at the door guarded by
the other soldier.
A carriage was standing at the door of the barracks. It
was decorated with a coat of arms; on the lanterns was a
ducal coronet; two grey horses were harnessed to it;
behind it were two lackeys. The windows were raised, but
the interior, upholstered in yellow damask, was visible.
The gaze of the man fixed upon this carriage, attracted mine.
In the carriage was a woman in a pink bonnet and costume
of black velvet, fresh, white, beautiful, dazzling, who was
laughing and playing with a charming child of sixteen
months, buried in ribbons, lace and furs.
This woman did not see the terrible man who was
gazing at her.
I became pensive.
This man was no longer a man for me; he was the
spectre of misery, the brusque, deformed, lugubrious
apparition in full daylight, in full sunlight, of a revolution
that is still plunged in darkness, but which is approaching.
In former times the poor jostled the rich, this spectre
encountered the rich man in all his glory; but they did not
look at each other, they passed on. This condition of
things could thus last for some time. The moment this
man perceives that this woman exists, while this woman
does not see that this man is there, the catastrophe is inevitable.
Fabvier had fought valiantly in the wars of the Empire;
he fell out with the Restoration over the obscure affair
of Grenoble. He expatriated himself about 1816. It
was the period of the departure of the eagles. Lallemand
went to America, Allard and Vannova to India, Fabvier to
The revolution of 1820 broke out. He took an heroic
part in it. He raised a corps of four thousand palikars, to
whom he was not a chief, but a god. He gave them
civilization and taught them barbarity. He was rough and
brave above all of them, and almost ferocious, but with that
grand, Homeric ferocity. One might have thought that he
had come from a tent of the camp of Achilles rather than
from the camp of Napoleon. He invited the English
Ambassador to dinner at his bivouac; the Ambassador found
him seated by a big fire at which a whole sheep was roasting;
when the animal was cooked and unskewered, Fabvier placed
the heel of his bare foot upon the neck of the smoking and
bleeding sheep and tore off a quarter, which he offered to
the Ambassador. In bad times nothing daunted him. He was
indifferent alike to cold, heat, fatigue and hunger; he never
spared himself. The palikars used to say: "When the soldier
eats cooked grass Fabvier eats it green."
I knew his history, but I had not seen him when, in
1846, General Fabvier was made a peer of France. One
day he had a speech to make, and the Chancellor
announced: "Baron Fabvier has the tribune." I expected
to hear a lion, I thought an old woman was speaking.
Yet his face was a truly masculine one, heroic and
formidable, that one might have fancied had been moulded
by the hand of a giant and which seemed to have
preserved a savage and terrible grimace. What was so strange
was the gentle, slow, grave, contained, caressing voice that
was allied to this magnificent ferocity. A child's voice
issued from this tiger's mouth.
General Fabvier delivered from the tribune speeches
learned by heart, graceful, flowery, full of allusions to the
woods and country--veritable idylls. In the tribune this
Ajax became a Némorin.
He spoke in low tones like a diplomat, he smiled like a
courtier. He was not averse to making himself agreeable
to princes. This is what the peerage had done for him. He
was only a hero after all.
August 22, 1846.
The Marquis de Boissy has assurance, coolness, self-possession,
a voice that is peculiar to himself, facility of speech,
wit occasionally, the quality of imperturbability, all the
accessories of a great orator. The only thing he lacks is
talent. He wearies the Chamber, wherefore the Ministers
do not consider themselves bound to answer him. He talks
as long as everybody keeps quiet. He fences with the
Chancellor as with his particular enemy.
Yesterday, after the session which Boissy had entirely
occupied with a very poor speech, M. Guizot said to me:
"It is an affliction. The Chamber of Deputies would
not stand him for ten minutes after the first two times.
The Chamber of Peers extends its high politeness to him,
and it does wrong. Boissy will not be suppressed until the
day the whole Chamber rises and walks out when he asks
permission to speak."
"You cannot think of such a thing," said I. "Only he
and the Chancellor would be left. It would be a duel
It is the custom of the Chamber of Peers never to repeat
in its reply to the speech from the throne the titles that
the King gives to his children. It is also the custom never to
give the princes the title of Royal Highness when speaking
of them to the King. There is no Highness in presence of
To-day, January 18, the address in reply to the speech
from the throne was debated. Occasionally there are
flashes of keen and happy wit in M. de Boissy's nonsense.
He remarked to-day: "I am not of those who are grateful
to the government for the blessings of providence."
As usual he quarrelled with the Chancellor. He was
making some more than usually roving excursion from the
straight path. The Chamber murmured and cried: "Confine
yourself to the question." The Chancellor rose:
"Monsieur the Marquis de Boissy," he said, "the Chamber
requests that you will confine yourself to the question
under discussion. It has saved me the trouble of asking
you to do so." ("Our colleague might as well have said
'spared me!'" I whispered to Lebrun.)
"I am delighted on your account, Monsieur the
Chancellor," replied M. de Boissy, and the Chamber laughed.
A few minutes later, however, the Chancellor took his
revenge. M. de Boissy had floundered into some quibble
about the rules. It was late. The Chamber was becoming
"Had you not raised an unnecessary incident," observed
the Chancellor, "you would have finished your speech a
long time ago, to your own satisfaction and that of
Whereat everybody laughed.
"Don't laugh!" exclaimed the Duke de Mortemart.
"Laughter diminishes the prestige of a constituted body."
M. de Pontécoulant said: "M. de Boissy teases Monsieur
the Chancellor, Monsieur the Chancellor torments
M. de Boissy. There is a lack of dignity on both sides!"
During the session the Duke de Mortemart came to my
bench and we spoke about the Emperor. M. de Mortemart
went through all the great wars. He speaks nobly of him.
He was one of the Emperor's orderlies in the Campaign of
"It was during that campaign that I learned to know the
Emperor," he said. "I was near him night and day. I
saw him shave himself in the morning, sponge his chin,
pull on his boots, pinch his valet's ear, chat with the
grenadier mounting guard over his tent, laugh, gossip, make
trivial remarks, and amid all this issue orders, trace plans,
interrogate prisoners, decree, determine, decide, in a
sovereign manner, simply, unerringly, in a few minutes,
without missing anything, without losing a useful detail or a
second of necessary time. In this intimate and familiar life
of the bivouac flashes of his intellect were seen every
moment. You can believe me when I say that he belied the
proverb: 'No man is great in the eyes of his valet.'"
"Monsieur the Duke," said I, "that proverb is wrong.
Every great man is a great man in the eyes of his valet."
At this session the Duke d'Aumale, having attained his
twenty-fifth birthday, took his seat for the first time. The
Duke de Nemours and the Prince de Joinville were seated
near him in their usual places behind the ministerial bench.
They were not among those who laughed the least.
The Duke de Nemours, being the youngest member of
his committee, fulfilled the functions of secretary, as is
customary. M. de Montalembert wanted to spare him the
trouble. "No," said the prince, "it is my duty." He
took the urn and, as secretary, went the round of the table
to collect the votes.
At the close of the session of January 21, 1847, at which
the Chamber of Peers discussed Cracow and kept silent
concerning the frontier of the Rhine, I descended the grand
staircase of the Chamber in company with M. de
Chastellux. M. Decazes stopped me and asked:
"Well, what have you been doing during the session?"
"I have been writing to Mme. Dorval." (I held the
letter in my hand.)
"What a fine disdain! Why did you not speak?"
"On account of the old proverb: 'He whose opinion is
not shared by anybody else should think, and say nothing.'
"Did your opinion, then, differ from that of the others?"
"Yes, from that of the whole Chamber."
"What did you want then?"
"Whew! the devil!"
"I should have protested and spoken without finding
any echo to my words; I preferred to say nothing."
"Ah! the Rhine! To have the Rhine! Yes, that is a
fine idea. Poetry! poetry!"
"Poetry that our fathers made with cannon and that we
shall make again with ideas!"
"My dear colleague," went on M. Decazes, "we must
wait. I, too, want the Rhine. Thirty years ago I said to
Louis XVIII.: 'Sire, I should be inconsolable if I thought
I should die without seeing France mistress of the left bank
of the Rhine. But before we can talk about that, before
we can think of it even, we must beget children.'"
"Well," I replied, "that was thirty years ago. We have
begotten the children."
April 23, 1847.
The Chamber of Peers is discussing a pretty bad bill on
substitutions for army service. To-day the principal
article of the measure was before the House.
M. de Nemours was present. There are eighty
lieutenant-generals in the Chamber. The majority considered
the article to be a bad one. Under the eye of the Duke de
Nemours, who seemed to be counting them, all rose to vote
in favour of it.
The magistrates, the members of the Institute and the
ambassadors voted against it.
I remarked to President Franck-Carré, who was seated
next to me: "It is a struggle between civil courage and
The article was adopted.
June 22, 1847.
The Girardin* affair was before the Chamber of Peers
to-day. Acquittal. The vote was taken by means of balls,
white ones for condemnation, black ones for acquittal.
There were 199 votes cast, 65 white, 134 black. In placing
my black ball in the urn I remarked: "In blackening him
we whiten him."
* Emile de Girardin had been prosecuted for publishing an
article in a newspaper violently attacking the government.
I said to Mme. D--: "Why do not the Minister and
Girardin provoke a trial in the Assize Court?"
She replied: "Because Girardin does not feel himself
strong enough, and the Minister does not feel himself pure
MM. de Montalivet and Mole and the peers of the Château
voted, queerly enough, for Girardin against the
Government. M. Guizot learned the result in the Chamber of
Deputies and looked exceedingly wrath.
June 28, 1847.
On arriving at the Chamber I found Franck-Carre
In his hand was a prospectus for champagne signed by
the Count de Mareuil, and stamped with a peer's mantle
and a count's coronet with the de Mareuil arms. He had
shown it to the Chancellor, who had replied: "I can do
"I could do something, though, if a mere councillor
were to do a thing like that in my court," said
Franck-Carré to me. "I would call the Chambers together and
have him admonished in a disciplinary manner."
Discussion by the committees of the Chamber of Peers
of the address in reply to the speech from the throne.
I was a member of the fourth committee. Among other
changes I demanded this. There was: "Our princes, your
well-beloved children, are doing in Africa the duties of
servants of the State." I proposed: "The princes, your
well-beloved children, are doing," etc., "their duty as
servants of the State." This fooling produced the effect
of a fierce opposition.
January 14, 1848.
The Chamber of Peers prevented Alton-Shée from
pronouncing in the tribune even the name of the Convention.
There was a terrific knocking upon desks with paper-knives
and shouts of "Order! Order!" and he was compelled
almost by force to descend from the tribune.
I was on the point of shouting to them: "You are imitating
a session of the Convention, but only with wooden knives!"
I was restrained by the thought that this ~mot~, uttered
during their anger, would never be forgiven. For myself
I care little, but it might affect the calm truths which I
may have to tell them and get them to accept later on.
THE REVOLUTION OF 1848.
I. THE DAYS OF FEBRUARY.
II. EXPULSIONS AND EVASIONS.
III. LOUIS PHILIPPE IN EXILE.
IV. KING JEROME.
V. THE DAYS OF JUNE.
VII. DEBATES ON THE DAYS OF JUNE.
THE REVOLUTION OF 1848.
I. THE DAYS OF FEBRUARY.
As I arrived at the Chamber of Peers--it was 3 o'clock
precisely--General Rapatel came out of the cloak-room
and said: "The session is over."
I went to the Chamber of Deputies. As my cab turned
into the Rue de Lille a serried and interminable column of
men in shirt-sleeves, in blouses and wearing caps, and
marching arm-in-arm, three by three, debouched from the
Rue Bellechasse and headed for the Chamber. The other
extremity of the street, I could see, was blocked by deep
rows of infantry of the line, with their rifles on their arms.
I drove on ahead of the men in blouses, with whom many
women had mingled, and who were shouting: "Hurrah for
reform!" "Hurrah for the line!" "Down with Guizot!"
They stopped when they arrived within rifle-shot
of the infantry. The soldiers opened their ranks to let
me through. They were talking and laughing. A very
young man was shrugging his shoulders.
I did not go any further than the lobby. It was filled
with busy and uneasy groups. In one corner were M. Thiers,
M. de Rémusat, M. Vivien and M. Merruau (of the
"Constitutionnel"); in another M. Emile de Girardin,
M. d'Alton-Shée and M. de Boissy, M. Franck-Carré,
M. d'Houdetot, M. de Lagrenée. M. Armand Marrast was
talking aside with M. d'Alton. M. de Girardin stopped
me; then MM. d'Houdetot and Lagrenée. MM. Franck-Carré
and Vignier joined us. We talked. I said to them:
"The Cabinet is gravely culpable. It forgot that in
times like ours there are precipices right and left and that
it does not do to govern too near to the edge. It says to
itself : 'It is only a riot,' and it almost rejoices at
the outbreak. It believes it has been strengthened by
it; yesterday it fell, to-day it is up again! But, in the
first place, who can tell what the end of a riot will be?
Riots, it is true, strengthen the hands of Cabinets, but
revolutions overthrow dynasties. And what an imprudent
game in which the dynasty is risked to save the ministry!
The tension of the situation draws the knot tighter, and
now it is impossible to undo it. The hawser may break
and then everything will go adrift. The Left has
manoeuvred imprudently and the Cabinet wildly. Both
sides are responsible. But what madness possesses the
Cabinet to mix a police question with a question of liberty
and oppose the spirit of chicanery to the spirit of
revolution? It is like sending process-servers with stamped paper
to serve upon a lion. The quibbles of M. Hébert in presence
of a riot! What do they amount to!"
As I was saying this a deputy passed us and said:
"The Ministry of Marine has been taken."
"Let us go and see!" said Franc d'Houdetot to me.
We went out. We passed through a regiment of infantry
that was guarding the head of the Pont de la Concorde.
Another regiment barred the other end of it. On the
Place Louis XV. cavalry was charging sombre and immobile
groups, which at the approach of the soldiers fled like
swarms of bees. Nobody was on the bridge except a
general in uniform and on horseback, with the cross of a
commander (of the Legion of Honour) hung round his
neck--General Prévot. As he galloped past us he shouted:
"They are attacking!"
As we reached the troops at the other end of the bridge
a battalion chief, mounted, in a bernouse with gold stripes
on it, a stout man with a kind and brave face, saluted
"Has anything happened?" Franc asked.
"It happened that I got here just in time!" replied the
It was this battalion chief who cleared the Palace of the
Chamber, which the rioters had invaded at six o'clock in
We walked on to the Place. Charging cavalry was
whirling around us. At the angle of the bridge a dragoon
raised his sword against a man in a blouse. I do not think
he struck him. Besides, the Ministry of Marine had not
been "taken." A crowd had thrown a stone at one of the
windows, smashing it, and hurting a man who was peeping
out. Nothing more.
We could see a number of vehicles lined up like a barricade
in the broad avenue of the Champs-Elysées, at the rond-point.
"They are firing, yonder," said d'Houdetot. "Can you
see the smoke?"
"Pooh!" I replied. "It is the mist of the fountain.
That fire is water."
And we burst into a laugh.
An engagement was going on there, however. The people
had constructed three barricades with chairs. The
guard at the main square of the Champs-Elysées had
turned out to pull the barricades down. The people had
driven the soldiers back to the guard-house with volleys
of stones. General Prévot had sent a squad of Municipal
Guards to the relief of the soldiers. The squad had been
surrounded and compelled to seek refuge in the guard-house
with the others. The crowd had hemmed in the
guard-house. A man had procured a ladder, mounted to
the roof, pulled down the flag, torn it up and thrown it to
the people. A battalion had to be sent to deliver the guard.
"Whew!" said Franc d'Houdetot to General Prévot,
who had recounted this to us. "A flag taken!"
"Taken, no! Stolen, yes!" answered the general quickly.
M. Pèdre-Lacaze came up arm-in-arm with Napoleon
Duchatel. Both were in high spirits. They lighted their
cigars from Franc d'Houdetot's cigar and said:
"Do you know? Genoude is going to bring in an impeachment
on his own account. They would not allow him
to sign the Left's impeachment. He would not be beaten,
and now the Ministry is between two fires. On the left, the
entire Left; on the right, M. de Genoude."
Napoleon Duchâtel added: "They say that Duvergier
de Hauranne has been carried about in triumph on the
shoulders of the crowd."
We had returned to the bridge. M. Vivien was crossing,
and came up to us. With his big, old, wide-brimmed
hat and his coat buttoned up to his cravat the ex-Minister
Of Justice looked like a policeman.
"Where are you going?" he said to me. "What is
happening is very serious!"
Certainly at this moment one feels that the whole constitutional
machine is rocking. It no longer rests squarely
on the ground. It is out of plumb. One can hear it
The crisis is complicated by the disturbed condition of
the whole of Europe.
The King, nevertheless, is very calm, and even cheerful.
But this game must not be played too far. Every rubber
won serves but to make up the total of the rubber lost.
Vivien recounted to us that the King had thrown an
electoral reform bill into his drawer, saying as he did so:
"That is for my successor!" "That was Louis XV.'s ~mot~,"
added Vivien, "supposing reform should prove to be
It appears to be true that the King interrupted M.
Salandrouze when he was laying before him the grievances
of the "Progressists," and asked him brusquely: "Are you
selling many carpets?"*
* M. Salandrouze was a manufacturer of carpets.
At this same reception of the Progressists the King noticed
M. Blanqui, and graciously going up to him asked:
"Well, Monsieur Blanqui, what do people talk about?
What is going on?"
"Sire," replied M. Blanqui, "I ought to tell the King
that in the departments, and especially at Bordeaux, there
is a great deal of agitation."
"Ah!" interrupted the King. "More agitation!" and he
turned his back upon M. Blanqui.
While we were talking Vivien exclaimed: "Listen! I
fancy I can hear firing!"
A young staff officer, addressing General d'Houdetot
with a smile, asked: "Are we going to stay here long?"
"Why?" said Franc d'Houdetot.
"Well, I am invited out to dinner," said the officer.
At this moment a group of women in mourning and children
dressed in black passed rapidly along the other pavement
of the bridge. A man held the eldest child by the
hand. I looked at him and recognized the Duke de Montebello.
"Hello!" exclaimed d'Houdetot, "the Minister of
Marine!" and he ran over and conversed for a moment
with M. de Montebello. The Duchess had become frightened,
and the whole family was taking refuge on the left
bank of the river.
Vivien and I returned to the Palace of the Chamber.
D'Houdetot quitted us. In an instant we were surrounded.
Said Boissy to me:
"You were not at the Luxembourg? I tried to speak upon
the situation in Paris. I was hooted. At the ~mot~, 'the
capital in danger,' I was interrupted, and the Chancellor,
who had come to preside expressly for that purpose, called
me to order. And do you know what General Gourgaud
said to me? 'Monsieur de Boissy, I have sixty guns with
their caissons filled with grape-shot. I filled them myself.'
I replied: 'General, I am delighted to know what is really
thought at the Château about the situation.'"
At this moment Durvergier de Hauranne, hatless, his
hair dishevelled, and looking pale but pleased, passed by
and stopped to shake hands with me.
I left Duvergier and entered the Chamber. A bill relative
to the privileges of the Bank of Bordeaux was being
debated. A man who was talking through his nose occupied
the tribune, and M. Sauzet was reading the articles of
the bill with a sleepy air. M. de Belleyme, who was coming
out, shook hands with me and exclaimed: "Alas!"
Several deputies came up to me, among them M. Marie,
M. Roger (of Loiret), M. de Rémusat, and M. Chambolle.
I related to them the incident of the tearing down of the
flag, which was serious in view of the audacity of the attack.
"What is even more serious," said one of them, "is that
there is something very bad behind all this. During the
night the doors of more than fifteen mansions were marked
with a cross, among the marked houses being those of the
Princess de Liéven, in the Rue Saint Florentin, and of
Mme. de Talhouët."
"Are you sure of this?" I asked.
"With my own eyes I saw the cross upon the door of
Mme. de Liéven's house," he replied.
President Franck-Carré met M. Duchâtel this morning
and said: "Well, how goes it?"
"All is well," answered the Minister.
"What are you going to do about the riot?"
"I am going to let the rioters alone at the rendezvous
they arranged for themselves. What can they do in the
Place Louis XV. and the Champs-Elysées? It is raining.
They will tramp about there all day. To-night they will
be tired out and will go home to bed."
M. Etienne Arago entered hastily at this juncture and
said: "There are seven wounded and two killed already.
Barricades have been erected in the Rue Beaubourg and
in the Rue Saint Avoye."
After a suspension of the session M. Guizot arrived. He
ascended the tribune and announced that the King had
summoned M. Mole, to charge him with the formation of
a new Cabinet.
Triumphant shouts from the Opposition, shouts of rage
from the majority.
The session ended amid an indescribable uproar.
I went out with the deputies and returned by way of the quays.
In the Place de la Concorde the cavalry continued to
charge. An attempt to erect two barricades had been made
in the Rue Saint Honoré. The paving-stones in the Marché
Saint Honoré were being torn up. The overturned omni-buses,
of which the barricades had been made, had been
righted by the troops. In the Rue Saint Honoré the crowd
let the Municipal Guards go by, and then stoned them in
the back. A multitude was swarming along the quays like
irritated ants. A very pretty woman in a green velvet hat
and a large cashmere shawl passed by amid a group of
men wearing blouses and with bared arms. She had raised
her skirt very high on account of the mud, with which she
was much spattered; for it was raining every minute. The
Tuileries were closed. At the Carrousel gates the crowd
had stopped and was gazing through the arcades at the
cavalry lined up in battle array in front of the palace.
Near the Carrousel Bridge I met M. Jules Sandeau.
"What do you think of all this?" he queried.
"That the riot will be suppressed, but that the revolution
On the Quai de la Ferraille I happened upon somebody
else I knew. Coming towards me was a man covered with
mud to the neck, his cravat hanging down, and his hat
battered. I recognized my excellent friend Antony
Thouret. Thouret is an ardent Republican. He had been
walking and speech-making since early morning, going
from quarter to quarter and from group to group.
"Tell me, now, what you really want?" said I. "Is it
"Oh! no, not this time, not yet," he answered. "What
we want is reform--no half measures, oh! dear no, that
won't do at all. We want complete reform, do you
hear? And why not universal suffrage?"
"That's the style!" I said as we shook hands.
Patrols were marching up and down the quay, while the
crowd shouted "Hurrah for the line!" The shops were
closed and the windows of the houses open.
In the Place du Châtelet I heard a man say to a group:
"It is 1830 over again!"
I passed by the Hotel de Ville and along the Rue Saint
Avoye. At the Hotel de Ville all was quiet. Two National
Guards were walking to and fro in front of the gate,
and there were no barricades in the Rue Saint Avoye. In
the Rue Rambuteau a few National Guards, in uniform,
and wearing their side arms, came and went. In the Temple
quarter they were beating to arms.
Up to the present the powers that be have made a show
of doing without the National Guard. This is perhaps
prudent. A force of National Guards was to have taken a
hand. This morning the guard on duty at the Chamber
refused to obey orders. It is said that a National Guardsman
of the 7th Legion was killed just now while interposing
between the people and the troops.
The Mole Ministry assuredly is not a Reform one, but
the Guizot Ministry had been for so long an obstacle to
reform! Its resistance was broken; this was sufficient to
pacify and content the child-like heart of the generous
people. In the evening Paris gave itself up to rejoicing. The
population turned out into the streets; everywhere was
heard the popular refrain ~Des lampioms! des larnpioms!~
In the twinkling of an eye the town was illuminated as
though for a fête.
In the Place Royale, in front of the Mairie, a few yards
from my house, a crowd had gathered that every moment
was becoming denser and noisier. The officers and
National Guards in the guard-house there, in order to get
them away from the Maine, shouted: "On to the Bastille!"
and, marching arm-in-arm, placed themselves at
the head of a column, which fell in joyously behind them
and started off shouting: "On to the Bastille!" The
procession marched hat in hand round the Column of July,
to the shout of "Hurrah for Reform!" saluted the troops
massed in the Place with the cry of "Hurrah for the
line!" and went off down the Faubourg Saint Antoine.
An hour later the procession returned with its ranks greatly
swelled, and bearing torches and flags, and made its way to
the grand boulevards with the intention of going home by
way of the quays, so that the whole town might witness the
celebration of its victory.
Midnight is striking. The appearance of the streets has
changed. The Marais quarter is lugubrious. I have just
returned from a stroll there. The street lamps are broken
and extinguished on the Boulevard Bourdon, so well named
the "dark boulevard." The only shops open to-night were
those in the Rue Saint Antoine. The Beaumarchais Theatre
was closed. The Place Royale is guarded like a place
of arms. Troops are in ambush in the arcades. In the Rue
Saint Louis, a battalion is leaning silently against the walls
in the shadow.
Just now, as the clock struck the hour, we went on to
the balcony listening and saying: "It is the tocsin!"
I could not have slept in a bed. I passed the night in
my drawing-room, writing, thinking and listening. Now
and then I went out on the balcony and strained my ears
to listen, then I entered the room again and paced to and
fro, or dropped into an arm-chair and dozed. But my
slumber was agitated by feverish dreams. I dreamed that
I could hear the murmur of angry crowds, and the report
of distant firing; the tocsin was clanging from the church
towers. I awoke. It was the tocsin.
The reality was more horrible than the dream.
This crowd that I had seen marching and singing so
gaily on the boulevards had at first continued its pacific
way without let or hindrance. The infantry regiments, the
artillery and cuirassiers had everywhere opened their ranks
to let the procession pass through. But on the Boulevard
des Capucines a mass of troops, infantry and cavalry, who
were guarding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its
unpopular Minister, M. Guizot, blocked the thoroughfare.
In front of this insurmountable obstacle the head of the
column tried to stop and turn; but the irresistible pressure
of the enormous crowd behind pushed the front ranks on.
At this juncture a shot was fired, on which side is not
known. A panic ensued, followed by a volley. Eighty
fell dead or wounded. Then arose a general cry of horror
and fury: "Vengeance!" The bodies of the victims were
placed in a tumbril lighted by torches. The crowd faced
about and, amid imprecations, resumed its march, which
had now assumed the character of a funeral procession. In
a few hours Paris was bristling with barricades.
At daybreak, from my balcony, I see advancing a noisy
column of people, among whom are a number of National
Guards. The mob stops in front of the Mairie, which
is guarded by about thirty Municipal Guards, and with
loud cries demands the soldiers' arms. Flat refusal by
the Municipal Guards, menacing clamours of the crowd.
Two National Guard officers intervene: "What is the use
of further bloodshed? Resistance will be useless." The
Municipal Guards lay down their rifles and ammunition
and withdraw without being molested.
The Mayor of the Eighth Arrondissement, M. Ernest
Moreau, requests me to come to the Mairie. He tells me
the appalling news of the massacre on the Boulevard des
Capucines. And at brief intervals further news of
increasing seriousness arrives. The National Guard this time has
definitely turned against the Government, and is
shouting: "Hurrah for Reform!" The army, frightened
at what it did yesterday, appears resolved not to
take any further part in the fratricidal struggle. In the
Rue Sainte Croix la Bretonnerie the troops have fallen
back before the National Guard. At the neighbouring
Mairie of the Ninth Arrondissement, we are informed, the
soldiers are fraternising and patrolling with the National
Guard. Two other messengers in blouses arrive almost
together: "The Reuilly Barracks has been taken." "The
Minimes Barracks has surrendered."
"And from the Government I have neither instructions
nor news! "says M. Ernest Moreau. "What Government,
if any, is there? Is the Mole Ministry still in existence?
What is to be done?"
"Go to the Prefecture of the Seine," advises M. Perret,
a member of the General Council. "It isn't far to the
Hotel de Ville."
"Well, then, come with me."
They go. I reconnoitre round the Place Royale.
Everywhere reign agitation, anxiety and feverish
expectation. Everywhere work is being actively pushed upon
barricades that are already formidable. This time it is more
than a riot, it is an insurrection. I return home. A soldier
of the line, on sentry duty at the entrance to the Place
Royale, is chatting amicably with the vedette of a barricade
constructed twenty paces from him.
At a quarter past eight M. Ernest Moreau returns from
the Hotel de Ville. He has seen M. de Rambuteau and
brings slightly better news. The King has entrusted the
formation of a Cabinet to Thiers and Odilon Barrot.
Thiers is not very popular, but Odilon Barrot means
reform. Unfortunately the concession is coupled with a
threat: Marshal Bugeaud has been invested with the
general command of the National Guard and of the army.
Odilon Barrot means reform, but Bugeaud means repression.
The King is holding out his right hand and clenching
his left fist.
The Prefect requested M. Moreau to spread and proclaim
the news in his quarter and in the Faubourg Saint Antoine.
"This is what I will do," says the Mayor.
" Very good," I observe, "but believe me, you will do
well to announce the Thiers-Barrot Ministry and say
nothing about Marshal Bugeaud."
"You are right."
The Mayor requisitions a squad of National Guards,
takes with him his two deputies and the Municipal
Councillors present, and descends into the Place Royale. The
roll of drums attracts the crowd. He announces the new Cabinet.
The people applaud and raise repeated shouts of "Hurrah
for Reform!" The Mayor adds a few words recommending harmony
and the preservation of order, and is universally applauded.
"The situation is saved!" he says, grasping my hand.
"Yes," I answer, "if Bugeaud will give up the idea of
being the saviour."
M. Ernest Moreau, followed by his escort, goes off to
repeat his proclamation in the Place de la Bastille and the
faubourg, and I return home to reassure my family.
Half an hour later the Mayor and his cortege return
greatly agitated and in disorder to the Mairie. This is what
The Place de la Bastille was occupied at its two extremities
by troops, leaning on their rifles. The people
moved freely and peaceably between the two lines. The
Mayor, arrived at the foot of the July column, made his
proclamation, and once again the crowd applauded
vigorously. M. Moreau started towards the Faubourg Saint
Antoine. At this moment a number of workingmen accosted
the soldiers amicably and said: "Your arms, give
up your arms." In obedience to the energetic orders of
their captain the soldiers refused. Suddenly a shot was
fired; it was followed by other shots; the terrible panic
of the previous day was perhaps about to be renewed. M.
Moreau and his escort were pushed about, thrown down.
The firing on both sides lasted over a minute, and five or
six persons were killed or wounded.
Fortunately, this time the affray occurred in broad
daylight. At the sight of the blood they had shed there was
a revulsion of feeling on the part of the troops, and after a
moment of surprise and horror the soldiers, prompted by
an irresistible impulse, raised the butts of their rifles in
the air and shouted: "Long live the National Guard!" The
general in command, being powerless to control his men,
went off to Vincennes by way of the quays and the people
remained masters of the Bastille and of the faubourg.
"It is a result that might have cost more dear, in my case
especially," remarks M. Moreau and he shows us his hat
which has been pierced by a bullet. "A brand new hat,"
he adds with a laugh.
Half past ten o'clock.--Three students from the Ecole
Polytechnique have arrived at the Mairie. They report
that the students have broken out of the school and
have come to place themselves at the disposition of the
people. A certain number have therefore distributed
themselves among the mairies of Paris.
The insurrection is making progress every hour. It now
demands that Marshal Bugeaud be replaced and the Chamber
dissolved. The pupils of the Ecole Polytechnique go
further and talk about the abdication of the King.
What is happening at the Tuileries? There is no news,
either, from the Ministry, no order from the General Staff.
I decide to go to the Chamber of Deputies, by way of the
Hotel de Ville, and M. Ernest Moreau is kind enough to
We find the Rue Saint Antoine bristling with barricades.
We make ourselves known and the insurgents help us to
clamber over the heaps of paving-stones. As we draw
near to the Hotel de Ville, from which the roar of a great
crowd reaches our ears, and as we cross some ground on
which are buildings in course of erection, we see coming
towards us with hurried steps M. de Rambuteau, the
Prefect of the Seine.
"Hi! Monsieur the Prefect, what brings you here?" I cry.
"Prefect! Do I know whether I am still Prefect?" he
replies with a surly air.
A crowd, which looks anything but benevolent, has already
begun to gather. M. Moreau notices a house that is
to let. We enter it, and M. de Rambuteau recounts his
"I was in my office with two or three Municipal
Councillors," he says, "when we heard a great noise in the
corridor. The door was thrown violently open, and there
entered unto me a big strapping captain of the National
Guard at the head of an excited body of troops.
"'Monsieur,' said the man, 'you must get out of here.'
"'Pardon me, Monsieur, here, at the Hotel de Ville I
am at home, and here I propose to stay.'
"'Yesterday you were perhaps at home in the Hotel de
Ville; to-day the people are at home in it.'
"'Go to the window and look out on the square.'
"The square had been invaded by a noisy, swarming
crowd in which workingmen, National Guards and soldiers
were mingled pell-mell. And the rifles of the soldiers wore
in the hands of the men of the people. I turned to the
intruders and said:
"'You are right, messieurs, you are the masters here.'
"'Well, then,' said the captain, 'instruct your employés
to recognise my authority.'
"That was too much. I replied: 'What do you take me
for?' I gathered up a few papers, issued a few orders, and
here I am. Since you are going to the Chamber, if there
is still a Chamber, tell the Minister of the Interior, if the
Ministry still exists, that at the Hotel de Ville there is no
longer either Prefect or Prefecture."
It is with great difficulty that we make our way through
the human ocean that with a noise as of a tempest covers
the Place de Hotel de Ville. At the Quai de la Mégisserie
is a formidable barricade; thanks to the Mayor's sash
shown by my companion we are allowed to clamber over
it. Beyond this the quays are almost deserted. We reach
the Chamber of Deputies by the left bank of the river.
The Palais Bourbon is encumbered by a buzzing crowd
of deputies, peers and high functionaries. From a rather
large group comes the sharp voice of M. Thiers: "Ah!
here is Victor Hugo!" He comes to us and asks for news
about the Faubourg Saint Antoine. We add that about
the Hotel de Ville. He shakes his head gloomily.
"And how are things here?" I question in turn. "But
first of all are you still a Minister?"
"I? Oh! I am nobody! Odilon Barrot is President of
the Council and Minister of the Interior."
"And Marshal Bugeaud?"
"He has also been replaced by Marshal Gerard. But
that is nothing. The Chamber has been dissolved, the
King has abdicated and is on his way to Saint Cloud, and
the Duchess d'Orleans is Regent. Ah! the tide is rising,
M. Thiers advises us, M. Ernest Moreau and me, to come
to an understanding with M. Odilon Barrot. Action by us
in our quarter, which is such an important one, can be of
very great utility. We therefore set out for the Ministry
of the Interior.
The people have invaded the Ministry and crowded it to
the very office of the Minister, where a not over respectful
crowd comes and goes. At a large table in the middle of
the vast room secretaries are writing. M. Odilon Barrot
his face red, his lips compressed and his hands behind his
back, is leaning against the mantelpiece.
"You know what is going on, do you not?" he says
when he sees us; "the King has abdicated and the Duchess
d'Orleans is Regent."
"If the people so wills," says a man in a blouse who is
The Minister leads us to the recess of a window, looking
uneasily about him as he does so.
"What are you going to do? What are you doing?" I
"I am sending telegrams to the departments."
"Is this very urgent?"
"France must be informed of events."
"Yes, but meanwhile Paris is making events. Alas!
has it finished making them? The Regency is all very
well, but it has got to be sanctioned."
"Yes, by the Chamber. The Duchess d'Orleans ought
to take the Count de Paris to the Chamber."
"No, since the Chamber has been dissolved. If the
Duchess ought to go anywhere, it is to the Hotel de Ville."
"How can you think of such a thing! What about the
"There is no danger. A mother, a child! I will answer
for the people. They will respect the woman in the
"Well, then, go to the Tuileries, see the Duchess
d'Orleans, advise her, enlighten her."
"Why do you not go yourself?"
"I have just come from there. Nobody knew where the
Duchess was; I could not get near her. But if you see her
tell her that I am at her disposal, that I await her orders.
Ah! Monsieur Victor Hugo, I would give my life for that
woman and for that child!"
Odilon Barrot is the most honest and the most devoted
man in the world, but he is the opposite of a man of action;
one feels trouble and indecision in his words, in his look, in
his whole person.
"Listen," he goes on, "what must be done, what is urgent,
is that the people should be made acquainted with
these grave changes, the abdication and Regency. Promise
me that you will proclaim them at your mairie, in the
faubourg, and wherever you possibly can."
I go off, with M. Moreau, towards the Tuileries.
In the Rue Bellechasse are galloping horses. A squadron
of dragoons flashes by and seems to be fleeing from a
man with bare arms who is running behind them and
brandishing a sword.
The Tuileries are still guarded by troops. The Mayor
shows his sash and they let us pass. At the gate the
concierge, to whom I make myself known, apprises us that
the Duchess d'Orleans, accompanied by the Duke de Nemours,
has just left the château with the Count de Paris,
no doubt to go to the Chamber of Deputies. We have,
therefore, no other course than to continue on our way.
At the entrance to the Carrousel Bridge bullets whistle
by our ears. Insurgents in the Place du Carrousel are
firing upon the court carriages leaving the stables. One
of the coachmen has been killed on his box.
"It would be too stupid of us to stay here looking on
and get ourselves killed," says M. Ernest Moreau. "Let
us cross the bridge."
We skirt the Institute and the Quai de la Monnaie. At
the Pont Neuf we pass a band of men armed with pikes,
axes and rifles, headed by a drummer, and led by a man
brandishing a sabre and wearing a long coat of the King's
livery. It is the coat of the coachman who has just been
killed in the Rue Saint Thomas du Louvre.
When we arrive, M. Moreau and I, at the Place Royale
we find it filled with an anxious crowd. We are
immediately surrounded and questioned, and it is not without
some difficulty that we reach the Mairie. The mass of
people is too compact to admit of our addressing them in the
Place. I ascend, with the Mayor, a few officers of the
National Guard and two students of the Ecole Polytechnique,
to the balcony of the Mairie. I raise my hand, the crowd
becomes silent as though by magic, and I say:
"My friends, you are waiting for news. This is what we
know: M. Thiers is no longer Minister and Marshal Bugeaud
is no longer in command (applause). They have
been replaced by Marshal Gerard and M. Odilon Barrot
(applause, but less general). The Chamber has been
dissolved. The King has abdicated (general cheering). The
Duchess d'Orleans is Regent." (A few isolated bravos,
mingled with low murmurs.)
"The name of Odilon Barrot is a guarantee that the
widest and most open appeal will be made to the nation;
and that you will have in all sincerity a representative
My declaration is responded to with applause from several
points, but it appears evident that the great bulk of the
crowd is uncertain as to what view of the situation they
ought to take, and are not satisfied.
We re-enter the hall of the Mairie.
"Now," I say to M. Ernest Moreau, "I must go and
proclaim the news in the Place de la Bastille."
But the Mayor is discouraged.
"You can very well see that it is useless," he says sadly.
"The Regency is not accepted. And you have spoken here
in a quarter where you are known and loved. At the Bastille
your audience will be the revolutionary people of the
faubourg, who will perhaps harm you."
I will go," I say, "I promised Odilon Barrot that I would."
"I have changed my hat," the Mayor goes on, "but
remember my hat of this morning."
"This morning the army and the people were face to
face, and there was danger of a conflict; now, however, the
people are alone, the people are the masters."
"Masters--and hostile; have a care!"
"No matter, I have promised, and I will keep my promise.
I tell the Mayor that his place is at the Mairie and that
he ought to stay there. But several National Guard officers
present themselves spontaneously and offer to accompany me,
among them the excellent M. Launaye, my former captain. I
accept their friendly offer, and we form a little procession
and proceed by the Rue du Pas de la Mule and the Boulevard
Beaumarchais towards the Place de la Bastille.
Here are a restless, eager crowd in which workingmen
predominate, many of them armed with rifles taken from
the barracks or given up to them by the soldiers; shouts
and the song of the Girondins: "Die for the fatherland!"
numerous groups debating and disputing passionately.
They turn round, they look at us, they interrogate us:
"What's the news? What is going on?" And they follow
us. I hear my name mentioned coupled with various
sentiments: "Victor Hugo! It's Victor Hugo!" A few
salute me. When we reach the Column of July we are
surrounded by a considerable gathering. In order that I may
be heard I mount upon the base of the column.
I will only repeat the words which it was possible for me
to make my turbulent audience hear. It was much less a
speech than a dialogue, but the dialogue of one voice with
ten, twenty, a hundred voices more or less hostile.
I began by announcing at once the abdication of Louis
Philippe, and, as in the Place Royale, applause that was
practically unanimous greeted the news. There were also,
however, cries of "No! no abdication, deposition! deposition!"
Decidedly, I was going to have my hands full.
When I announced the Regency violent protests arose:
"No! no! No Regency! Down with the Bourbons! Neither King
nor Queen! No masters!"
I repeated: "No masters! I don't want them any more
than you do. I have defended liberty all my life."
"Then why do you proclaim the Regency?"
"Because a Queen-Regent is not a master. Besides, I
have no right whatever to proclaim the Regency; I merely
"No! no! No Regency!"
A man in a blouse shouted: "Let the peer of France
be silent. Down with the peer of France!" And he levelled
his rifle at me. I gazed at him steadily, and raised
my voice so loudly that the crowd became silent: "Yes,
I am a peer of France, and I speak as a peer of France.
I swore fidelity, not to a royal personage, but to the
Constitutional Monarchy. As long as no other government is
established it is my duty to be faithful to this one. And I
have always thought that the people approved of a man
who did his duty, whatever that duty might be."
There was a murmur of approbation and here and there
a few bravos. But when I endeavoured to continue: "If
the Regency--" the protests redoubled. I was permitted
to take up only one of these protests. A workman
had shouted: "We will not be governed by a woman."
I retorted quickly:
"Well, neither will I be governed by a woman, nor even
by a man. It was because Louis Philippe wanted to govern
that his abdication is to-day necessary and just. But a
woman who reigns in the name of a child! Is that not a
guarantee against all thought of personal government?
Look at Queen Victoria in England--"
"We are French, we are!" shouted several voices. "No
"No Regency? Then, what? Nothing is ready, nothing! It
means a total upheaval, ruin, distress, civil war,
perhaps; in any case, it is the unknown."
One voice, a single voice, cried: "Long live the Republic!"
No other voice echoed it. Poor, great people, irresponsible
and blind! They know what they do not want, but they do not
know what they do want.
From this moment the noise, the shouts, the menaces
became such that I gave up the attempt to get myself
heard. My brave Launaye said: "You have done what
you wanted to, what you promised to do; the only thing
that remains for us to do is to withdraw."
The crowd opened before us, curious and inoffensive.
But twenty paces from the column the man who had
threatened me with his rifle came up with us and again
levelled his weapon at me, shouting: "Down with the
peer of France!" "No, respect the great man!" cried a
young workman, who, with a quick movement, pushed the
rifle downward. I thanked this unknown friend with a
wave of the hand and passed on.
At the Mairie, M. Ernest Moreau, who it appears had
been very anxious about us, received us with joy and
cordially congratulated me. But I knew that even when their
passions are aroused the people are just; and not the
slightest credit was due to me, for I had not been uneasy
in the least.
While these things were happening in the Place de la
Bastille, this is what was taking place at the Palais
There is at this moment a man whose name is in everybody's
mouth and the thought of whom is in everybody's
mind; that man is Lamartine. His eloquent and vivid
_History of the Girondins_ has for the first time taught the
Revolution to France. Hitherto he had only been illustrious;
he has become popular and may be said to hold
Paris in his hand.
In the universal confusion his influence could be decisive.
This is what they said to themselves in the offices of
the National, where the possible chances of the Republic
had been weighed, and where a scheme for a provisional
government had been sketched, from which Lamartine had
been left out. In 1842, at the time of the debate over the
Regency which resulted in the choice of the Duke de Nemours,
Lamartine had pleaded warmly for the Duchess
d'Orleans. Was he imbued with the same ideas to-day?
What did he want? What would he do? It was necessary that
this should be ascertained. M. Armand Marrast,
the editor-in-chief of the National, took with him three
notorious Republicans, M. Bastide, M. Hetzel, the publisher,
and M. Bocage, the eminent comedian who created
the role of Didier in "Marion de Lorme." All four went to
the Chamber of Deputies. They found Lamartine there
and held a conference with him in one of the offices.
They all spoke in turn, and expressed their convictions
and hopes. They would be happy to think that Lamartine
was with them for the immediate realization of the Republic.
If, however, he judged that the transition of the
Regency was necessary they asked him to at least aid them
in obtaining serious guarantees against any retrogression.
They awaited with emotion his decision in this great matter.
Lamartine listened to their reasons in silence, then requested
them to allow him a few minutes for reflection.
He sat apart from them at a table, leaned his head upon
his hands, and thought. His four visitors, standing and
silent, gazed at him respectfully. It was a solemn moment.
"We listened to history passing," said Bocage to me.
Lamartine raised his head and said: "I will oppose the Regency."
A quarter of an hour later the Duchess d'Orleans arrived at
the Chamber holding by the hand her two sons,
the Count de Paris and the Duke de Chartres. M. Odilon.
Barrot was not with her. The Duke de Nemours accompanied her.
She was acclaimed by the deputies. But, the Chamber
having been dissolved, were there any deputies?
M. Crémieux ascended the tribune and flatly proposed
a provisional government. M. Odilon Barrot, who had
been fetched from the Ministry of the Interior, made his
appearance at last and pleaded for the Regency, but without
éclat and without energy. Suddenly a mob of people
and National Guards with arms and flags invaded the
chamber. The Duchess d'Orleans, persuaded by her
friends, withdrew with her children.
The Chamber of Deputies then vanished, submerged by
a sort of revolutionary assembly. Ledru-Rollin harangued
this crowd. Next came Lamartine, who was awaited and
acclaimed. He opposed the Regency, as he had promised.
That settled it. The names for a provisional government
were proposed to the people. And by shouts of "yes" or
"no" the people elected successively: Lamartine, Dupont
de l'Eure, Arago, and Ledru-Rollin unanimously, Crémieux,
Gamier-Pages, and Marie by a majority.
The new ministers at once set out for the Hotel de Ville.
At the Chamber of Deputies not once was the word
"Republic" uttered in any of the speeches of the orators,
not even in that of Ledru-Rollin. But now, outside, in
the street, the elect of the people heard this words this
shout, everywhere. It flew from mouth to mouth and filled
the air of Paris.
The seven men who, in these supreme and extreme days,
held the destiny of France in their hands were themselves
at once tools and playthings in the hands of the mob, which
is not the people, and of chance, which is not providence.
Under the pressure of the multitude; in the bewilderment
and terror of their triumph, which overwhelmed them, they
decreed the Republic without having time to think that
they were doing such a great thing.
When, having been separated and dispersed by the violent
pushing of the crowd, they were able to find each
other again and reassemble, or rather hide, in one of the
rooms of the Hotel de Ville, they took half a sheet of paper,
at the head of which were printed the words: "Prefecture
of the Seine. Office of the Prefect." M. de Rambuteau
may that very morning have used the other half of the
sheet to write a love-letter to one of his "little
bourgeoises," as he called them.
Under the dictation of terrible shouts outside Lamartine
traced this phrase:
"The Provisional Government declares that the Provisional
Government of France is the Republican Government, and
that the nation shall be immediately called upon
to ratify the resolution of the Provisional Government and
of the people of Paris."
I had this paper, this sheet smeared and blotted with
ink, in my hands. It was still stamped, still palpitating,
so to speak, with the fever of the moment. The words
hurriedly scribbled were scarcely formed. ~Appelée~ was written
When these half dozen lines had been written Lamartine
handed the sheet to Ledru-Rollin.
Ledru-Rollin read aloud the phrase: "The Provisional
Government declares that the Provisional Government of
France is the Republican Government--"
"The word 'provisional' occurs twice," he commented.
"That is so," said the others.
"One of them at least must be effaced," added Ledru-Rollin.
Lamartine understood the significance of this grammatical
observation, which was simply a political revolution.
"But we must await the sanction of France," he said.
"I can do without the sanction of France' cried Ledru-Rollin,
"when I have the sanction of the people."
"Of the people of Paris. But who knows at present
what is the will of the people of France?" observed Lamartine.
There was an interval of silence. The noise of the multitude
without sounded like the murmuring of the ocean.
Ledru-Rollin went on:
"What the people want is the Republic at once, the
Republic without waiting."
"The Republic without any delay?" said Lamartine,
covering an objection in this interpretation of
"We are provisional," returned Ledru-Rollin, "but the
Republic is not!"
M. Crémieux took the pen from Lamartine's hands,
scratched out the word "provisional" at the end of the
third line and wrote beside it: "actual."
"The actual government? Very well!" said Ledru-Rollin,
with a slight shrug of the shoulder.
The seal of the City of Paris was on the table. Since
1830 the vessel sailing beneath a sky starred with
fleurs-de-lys and with the device, ~Proelucent clarius astris~, had
disappeared from the seal of the City. The seal was merely
a circle with the words "Ville de Paris" in the centre.
Crémieux took the seal and stamped the paper so hastily with
it that the words appeared upside down.
But they did not sign this rough draught. Their whereabouts
had been discovered; an impetuous stream was surging against
the door of the office in which they had taken
refuge. The people were calling, ordering, them to go to
the meeting-hall of the Municipal Council.
There they were greeted by this clamour: "The Republic! Long
live the Republic! Proclaim the Republic!" Lamartine, who
was at first interrupted by the cries, succeeded at length
with his grand voice in calming this feverish impatience.
The members of the Provisional Government were thus
enabled to return and resume their session and lively
discussion. The more ardent ones wanted the document to
read: "The Provisional Government proclaims the Republic."
The moderates proposed: "The Provisional Government desires
the Republic." A compromise was
reached on the proposition of M. Crémieux, and the sentence
was made to read: "The Provisional Government
"is for" the Republic." To this was added: "subject to the
ratification of the people, who will be immediately consulted."
The news was at once announced to the crowds in the
meeting-hall and in the square outside, who would listen
to nothing but the word "republic," and saluted it with
The Republic was established. ~Alea jacta~, as Lamartine
During the morning everything at and in the neighbourhood
of the Mairie of the Eighth Arrondissement was
relatively calm, and the steps to maintain order taken the
previous day with the approval of M. Ernest Moreau appeared
to have assured the security of the quarter.* I thought
I might leave the Place Royale and repair towards
the centre of the city with my son Victor. The restlessness
and agitation of a people (of the people of Paris!) on
the morrow of a revolution was a spectacle that had an
irresistible attraction for me.
* On the evening of the 24th, there had been reason to apprehend
disturbances in the Eighth Arrondissement, disturbances particularly serious
in that they would not have been of a political character. The prowlers
and evil-doers with hang-dog mien who seem to issue from the earth in
times of trouble were very much in evidence in the streets. At the
Prison of La Force, in the Rue Saint Antoine, the common law criminals
had begun a revolt by locking up their keepers. To what public
force could appeal be made? The Municipal Guard had been disbanded,
the army was confined to barracks; as to the police, no one would have
known where to find them. Victor Hugo, in a speech which this time
was cheered, confided life and property to the protection and devotedness
of the people. A civic guard in blouses was improvised. Empty
shops that were to let were transformed into guard houses, patrols were
organized and sentries posted. The rebellious prisoners at La Force,
terrified by the assertion that cannon (which did not exist) had been
brought to bear upon the prison and that unless they surrendered
promptly and unconditionally they would be blown sky-high, submitted
quietly and returned to work.
The weather was cloudy, but mild, and the rain held
off. The streets were thrilling with a noisy, joyous crowd.
The people continued with incredible ardour to fortify the
barricades that had already been constructed, and even to
build new ones. Bands of them with flags flying and drums
beating marched about shouting "Long live the Republic!" and
singing the "Marseillaise and Die for the Fatherland!" The cafés were
crowded to overflowing, but many of the shops were closed,
as on holidays; and, indeed, the city did present a
I made my way along the quays to the Pont Neuf.
There, at the bottom of a proclamation I read the name of
Lamartine, and having seen the people, I experienced the
desire to see my great friend. I therefore turned back
with Victor towards the Hotel de Ville.
As on the previous day, the square in front of the building
was filled with a crowd, and the crowd was so compact
that it immobilized itself. It was impossible to approach the
steps of the front entrance. After several attempts to get
somewhere near to them, I was about to force my way back
out of the crowd when I was perceived by M. Froment-Meurice,
the artist-goldsmith, brother of my young friend,
Paul Meurice. He was a major of the National Guard,
and on duty with his battalion at the Hotel de Ville.
"Make way!" he shouted authoritatively. "Make way
for Victor Hugo!" And the human wall opened, how I
do not know, before his epaulettes.
The entrance once passed, M. Froment-Meurice guided
us up all sorts of stairways, and through corridors and
rooms encumbered with people. As we were passing a
man came from a group, and planting himself in front of
me, said: "Citizen Victor Hugo, shout 'Long live the
"I will shout nothing by order," said I. "Do you
understand what liberty is? For my part, I practise it. I
will shout to-day 'Long live the people!' because it pleases
me to do so. The day when I shout 'Long live the Republic!'
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