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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesNapoleon The Little - Book 3 - The Coup D'etat At Bay
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Napoleon The Little - Book 3 - The Coup D'etat At Bay Post by :andrewteg Category :Long Stories Author :Victor Hugo Date :May 2012 Read :1462

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Napoleon The Little - Book 3 - The Coup D'etat At Bay





"THE COUP D'ETAT AT BAY (1) By Victor Hugo. This book will shortly be published. It will be a complete narrative of the infamous performance of 1851. A large part of it is already written; the author is at this moment collecting materials for the rest.

He deems it apropos to enter somewhat at length into the details of this work, which he has imposed upon himself as a duty.

The author does himself the justice to believe that in writing this narrative,--the serious occupation of his exile,--he has had constantly present to his mind the exalted responsibility of the historian.

When it shall appear, this narrative will surely arouse numerous and violent outcries; the author expects no less; one does not with impunity cut to the quick of a contemporaneous crime, at the moment when that crime is omnipotent. However that may be, and however violent the outcries, more or less interested, and to the end that we may judge beforehand of its merit, the author feels called upon to explain in what way and with what scrupulous devotion to the truth this narrative will have been written, or, to speak more accurately, this report of the crime will have been drawn. This history of the 2nd of December will contain, in addition to the general facts, which everybody knows, a very large number of unknown facts which are brought to light for the first time therein. Several of these facts the author himself saw and touched and passed through; of them he can say: _Quoeque ipse vidi et quorum pars fui. The members of the Republican Left, whose conduct was so fearless, saw these facts as he did, and he will not lack their testimony. For all the rest, the author has resorted to a veritable judicial investigation; he has constituted himself, so to speak, the examining magistrate of the performance; every actor in the drama, every combatant, every victim, every witness has deposed before him; for all the doubtful facts, he has brought the opposing declarations, and at need the witnesses, face to face. As a general rule historians deal with dead facts; they touch them in the tomb with their judicial wands, cause them to rise and question them. He has dealt with living facts.

All the details of the 2nd of December have in this wise passed before his eyes; he has recorded them all, weighed them all--not one has escaped him. History will be able to complete this narration, but not to weaken it. The magistrates were recreant to their trust, he has performed their functions. When direct, spoken testimony has failed him, he has sent to the spot what one might call genuine investigating commissions. He might cite many a fact for which he has prepared genuine interrogatories to which detailed replies were made. He repeats that he has subjected the 2nd of December to a long and severe examination. He has carried the torch so far as he was able. Thanks to this investigation he has in his possession nearly two hundred reports from which the book in question will emerge. There is not a single fact beneath which, when the book is published, the author will not be able to put a name. It will be readily understood that he will abstain from doing so, that he will even substitute sometimes for the real names, yes and for accurate indications of places, designations as obscure as possible, in view of the pending proscriptions. He has no desire to furnish M. Bonaparte with a supplemental list.

It is undoubtedly true that in this narrative of the 2nd of December, the author is not, any more than in this present book, "impartial," as people are accustomed to say of a history when they wish to praise the historian. Impartiality--a strange virtue, which Tacitus does not possess. Woe to him who should remain impartial in face of the bleeding wounds of liberty! In presence of the deed of December 2nd, 1851, the author feels that all human nature rises to arms within his breast; he does not conceal it from himself, and every one should perceive it when reading him. But in him the passion for truth equals the passion for right. The wrathful man does not lie. This history of the 2nd of December, therefore,--he declares as he is about to quote a few pages of it,--will have been written, we have just seen by what method, under conditions of the most absolute reality.

We deem it profitable to detach from it and to publish in this place a chapter which, we think, will make an impression on men's minds, in that it casts a new light on the "success" of M. Bonaparte. Thanks to the judicious reticences of the official historiographers of the 2nd of December, people are not sufficiently apprised how near the _coup d'etat came to being abortive, and they are altogether ignorant as to the means by which it was saved. We proceed to place this special detail before the reader's eyes.

(The author has concluded to reserve for this book alone the chapter in question which now forms an integral part thereof. He has therefore rewritten for the _History of a Crime_, the narrative of the events of December 4, with new facts, and from another point of view.)


"The resistance had assumed unexpected proportions.

"The combat had become menacing; it was no longer a combat, but a battle, which was engaged on all sides. At the Elysee and the different departments, people began to turn pale; they had wished for barricades, and they had got them.

"All the centre of Paris was becoming covered with improvised redoubts; the quarters thus barricaded formed a sort of immense trapezium, between the Halles and Rue Rambuteau on one side, and the boulevards on the other; bounded on the east by Rue du Temple, and on the west by Rue Montmartre. This vast network of streets, cut in all directions by redoubts and entrenchments, assumed every hour a more terrible aspect, and was becoming a kind of fortress. The combatants at the barricades pushed their advance guards as far as the quays. Outside the trapezium, which we have described, the barricades extended, as we have said, as far as Faubourg Saint-Martin, and to the neighbourhood of the canal. The quarter of the schools, whither the Committee of Resistance had despatched Representative de Flotte, had risen even more generally than on the evening before; the suburbs were taking fire; the drums were beating to arms at the Batignolles; Madier de Montjau was arousing Belleville; three enormous barricades were in course of construction at the Chapelle-Saint-Denis. In the business streets the citizens were delivering up their muskets, and the women were making lint. 'All is going well! Paris is up!' exclaimed B----, to us, as he entered the Committee of Resistance with a face radiant with joy.(2) Fresh intelligence reached us every instant; all the permanent committees of the different quarters placed themselves in communication with us. The members of the committee deliberated and issued orders and instructions for the combat in every direction. Victory seemed certain. There was a moment of enthusiasm and joy when all these men, still standing between life and death, embraced one another.--'Now,' exclaimed Jules Favre, 'let but a regiment come over, or a legion, and Louis Bonaparte is lost!'--'To-morrow, the Republic will be at the Hotel de Ville!' said Michel de Bourges. All was ferment, all was excitement; in the most peaceful quarters the proclamations were torn down, and the ordinances defaced. On Rue Beaubourg, the women cried from the windows to the men employed in erecting a barricade: 'Courage!' The agitation reached even to Faubourg Saint-Germain. At the headquarters on Rue de Jerusalem, which is the centre of the great cobweb that the police spreads over Paris, everyone trembled; their anxiety was immense, for they saw the possibility that the Republic would triumph. In the courtyards, in the bureaus, and in the passages, the clerks and sergents-de-ville began to talk with affectionate regret of Caussidiere.

(2) A Committee of Resistance, charged with the task
of centralizing the action and directing the combat,
had been named on the evening of the 2nd of December,
by the members of the Left assembled at the house
of Representative Lafon, Quai Jemmappes, No. 2.
This committee, which was obliged to change its retreat
twenty-seven times in four days, and which, so to say,
sat night and day, and did not cease to act for a
single instant during the various crises of the _coup
d'etat_, was composed of Representatives Carnot, de
Flotte, Jules Favre, Madier de Montjau, Michel de
Bourges, Schoelcher, and Victor Hugo.

"If one can believe what has oozed out from this den, the prefect, Maupas, who had been so warm in the cause the evening before, and was put forward so odiously, began to back out and lose courage. It seemed as if he were listening with terror to the noise, as of a rising flood, made by the insurrection--by the holy and legitimate insurrection of the right. He stammered and hesitated while the word of command died away upon his tongue. 'That poor young man has the colic,' said the former prefect, Carlier, on leaving him. In this state of consternation, Maupas clung to Morny. The electric telegraph maintained a perpetual dialogue from the Prefecture of Police to the Department of the Interior, and from the Department of the Interior to the Prefecture of Police. All the most alarming news, all the signs of panic and confusion were passed on, one after another, from the prefect to the minister. Morny, who was less frightened, and who is, at least, a man of spirit, received all these shocks in his cabinet It is reported that at the first communication he said: 'Maupas is ill;' and to the question: 'What is to be done,' replied by the telegraph: 'Go to bed!' To the second question he still replied: 'Go to bed!' and, as the third, losing all patience he answered: 'Go to bed and be d----d!'

"The zeal of the government agents was fast giving way and beginning to change sides. A courageous man, who had been despatched by the Committee of Resistance to rouse Faubourg Saint-Marceau, was arrested on Rue des Fosses-Saint-Victor, with his pockets filled with the proclamations and decrees of the Left. He was immediately marched off in the direction of the Prefecture of Police. He expected to be shot. As the escort which was conducting him passed the Morgue on Quai-Saint-Michel, musket-shots were heard in the Cite. The sergent-de-ville at the head of the escort said to the soldiers: 'Go back to your guard-house; I will take care of the prisoner,' As soon as the soldiers were gone, he cut the cords with which the prisoner's hands were fastened, and said to him: 'Go, I spare your life; don't forget that it was I who set you at liberty. Look at me well, so that you may know me again.'

"The principal military accomplices held a council. The question was discussed whether it was not necessary for Louis Bonaparte to quit Faubourg Saint-Honore immediately, and remove either to the Invalides or to the Palais du Luxembourg, two strategic points more easy to defend against a _coup de main than the Elysee. Some preferred the Invalides, others the Luxembourg; the subject gave rise to an altercation between two generals.

"It was at this moment that the ex-King of Westphalia, Jerome Bonaparte, seeing that the _coup d'etat was tottering to its fall, and having some care for the morrow, wrote his nephew the following significant letter:--

* * * * "My dear Nephew,--The blood of Frenchmen has been spilt; stop its effusion by a serious appeal to the people. Your sentiments are not rightly understood. Your second proclamation, in which you speak of the plebiscitum, is ill received by the people, who do not look upon it as re-establishing the right of suffrage. Liberty possesses no guarantee if there is not an Assembly to contribute to the constitution of the Republic. The army has the upper hand. Now is the moment to complete the material victory by a moral victory, and that which a government cannot do when beaten, it ought to do when victorious. After destroying the old parties, bring about the restoration of the people; proclaim that universal suffrage, sincere, and acting in harmony with the greatest liberty, shall name the President and the Constituent Assembly to save and restore the Republic.

"It is in the name of my brother's memory, and sharing his horror for civil war, that I now write to you; trust my long experience, and remember that France, Europe, and posterity will be called on to judge your conduct.

"Your affectionate uncle,


"On Place de la Madeleine, the two representatives, Fabvier and Crestin, met and accosted each other. General Fabvier directed his colleague's attention to four pieces of cannon which, turning in an opposite direction to that they had before been pursuing, left the Boulevard and galloped off towards the Elysee. 'Can it be that the Elysee is already on the defensive?' said the general. Crestin, pointing to the facade of the palate of the Assembly, on the other side of Place de la Revolution, replied: 'General, to-morrow we shall be there.'--From, some garrets that look on the stables of the Elysee, three travelling carriages were observed from an early hour in the morning, loaded, with the horses put to, and the postilions in their saddles ready to start.

"The impulsion was really given, the movement of rage and hatred was becoming universal, and the _coup d'etat seemed to be lost; one shock more and Louis Bonaparte would fall. Let the day but end as it had begun, and all was over. The _coup d'etat was approaching a state of despair. The hour for supreme resolutions was come. What did he intend doing? It was necessary that he should strike a great blow, an unexpected blow, a terrible blow. He was reduced to this alternative: to perish, or to save himself by a frightful expedient.

"Louis Bonaparte had not quitted the Elysee. He was in a cabinet on the ground floor, near the splendid gilt saloon, where, as a child, in 1815, he had been present at the second abdication of Napoleon. He was there alone; orders had been given that no one should be allowed to have access to him. From time to time the door was opened a little way, and the grey head of General Roguet, his aide-de-camp, appeared. The general was the only person who was allowed to open this door and enter the room. The general brought news, more and more alarming, and frequently terminated what he had to say with the words: 'The thing doesn't work;' or 'Things are going badly.' When he had finished, Louis Bonaparte, who was seated with his elbows on a table and his feet on the fire-dogs, before a roaring fire, turned his head half round on the back of his chair, and, in a most phlegmatic tone, and without apparent emotion, invariably answered in the following words: 'Let them execute my orders.' The last time that General Roguet entered the room in this manner with bad news, it was nearly one o'clock--he himself has related these details, to the honour of his master's calmness. He told the Prince that the barricades in the centre of the town still held out, and were increasing in number; that on the boulevards the cries of 'Down with the dictator' (he did not dare say 'Down with Soulouque'), and hisses everywhere hailed the troops as they passed; that before Galerie Jouffroy a major had been pursued by the crowd, and that at the corner of the Cafe Cardinal a captain of the staff had been torn from his horse. Louis Bonaparte half rose from his chair, and gazing fixedly at the general, calmly said to him: 'Very well! let Saint-Arnaud be told to execute my orders.'

"What were these orders?

"We shall see.

"Here we pause to reflect, and the narrator lays down his pen with a species of hesitation and distress of mind. We are approaching the abominable crisis of that mournful day, the 4th; we are approaching that monstrous deed from which emerged the success of the _coup d'etat_, dripping with blood. We are about to unveil the most horrible of the premeditated acts of Louis Bonaparte; we are about to reveal, to narrate, to describe what all the historiographers of the 2nd of December have concealed; what General Magnan carefully omitted in his report; what, even at Paris, where these things were seen, men scarcely dare to whisper to each other. We are about to enter upon the ghastly.

"The 2nd of December is a crime covered with darkness, a coffin closed and silent, from the cracks in which streams of blood gush forth.

"We are about to raise the coffin-lid."


"From an early hour in the morning,--for here (we insist upon this point) premeditation is unquestionable,--from an early hour in the morning, strange placards had been posted up at all the street-corners; we have transcribed these placards, and our readers will remember them. During sixty years that the cannon of revolution have, on certain days, boomed through Paris, and that the government, when menaced, has had recourse to desperate measures, nothing has ever been seen like these placards. They informed the inhabitants that all assemblages, no matter of what kind, would be dispersed by armed force, _without previous warning_. In Paris, the metropolis of civilization, people do not easily believe that a man will push his crime to the last extremity; and, therefore, these notices had been looked upon as a means of intimidation that was hideous and barbarous, but almost ridiculous.

"The public were wrong. These placards contained in germ Louis Bonaparte's whole plan. They were seriously meant.

"One word as to the spot which is about to be the theatre of the unheard-of drama, prepared and perpetrated by the man of December.

"From the Madeleine to Faubourg Poissonniere, the boulevard was unobstructed; from the Gymnase Theatre to the Theatre of the Porte Saint-Martin it was barricaded, as were Rue de Bondy, Rue Neslay, Rue de la Lune, and all the streets which bound, or debouch at, Porte Saint-Denis and Porte Saint-Martin. Beyond Porte Saint-Martin the boulevard was again free as far as the Bastile, with the exception of a single barricade, which had been begun opposite the Chateau d'Eau. Between Porte Saint-Denis and Porte Saint-Martin, seven or eight redoubts crossed the street at intervals. A square of four barricades shut in Porte Saint-Denis. Of these four barricades, that one which looked towards the Madeleine, and which was destined to receive the first impact of the troops, had been constructed at the culminating point of the boulevard, with its left resting on the corners of Rue de la Lune, and its right on Rue Mazagran. Four omnibuses, five furniture-moving vans, the office of the inspector of hackney coaches, which had been thrown down, the vespasian columns, which had been broken up, the public seats on the boulevards, the flag-stones of the steps on Rue de la Lune, the entire iron railing of the sidewalk, which had been wrenched from its place at a single effort by the powerful hand of the crowd--such was the composition of this fortification, which was hardly sufficient to block the boulevard, which, at this point, is very broad. There were no paving-stones, as the roadway is macadamized. The barricade did not even extend from one side of the boulevard to the other, but left a large open space on the side toward Rue Mazagran, where there was a house in course of erection. Observing this gap, a well-dressed young man got upon the scaffolding, and, quite unaided, without the least hurry, without even taking the cigar from his mouth, cut all the ropes of the scaffolding. The people at the neighbouring windows laughed and applauded him. An instant afterwards the scaffolding fell all at once, and with a loud noise; this completed the barricade.

"While this redoubt was being completed, a score or more of men entered the Gymnase Theatre by the stage-door, and came out a few seconds later with some muskets and a drum which they had found in the wardrobe, and which were a part of what, in theatrical language, are termed 'the properties,' One of the men took the drum and began beating to arms. The others, with the overturned vespasian columns, carriages thrown on their sides, blinds and shutters torn from their hinges, and old scenery, constructed, opposite the guard-house of Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, a small barricade as a sort of advanced post, or rather a lunette, which commanded Boulevards Poissonniere and Montmartre as well as Rue Hauteville. The troops had evacuated the guard-house in the morning. They took the flag belonging to it and planted it on the barricade. It was this same flag which was afterwards declared by the newspapers of the _coup d'etat to have been a 'red flag.'

"Some fifteen men took up their position at this advanced post. They had muskets, but no cartridges, or, at most, very few. Behind them, the large barricade, which covered Porte Saint-Denis, was held by about a hundred combatants, in the midst of whom were observed two women and an old man with white hair, supporting himself on a cane with his left hand, and, in his right, holding a musket. One of the two women wore a sabre suspended over her shoulder; while helping to tear up the railing of the sidewalk, she had cut three fingers of her right hand with the sharp edge of an iron bar. She showed the wound to the crowd, crying: '_Vive la Republique!_' The other woman had ascended to the top of the barricade, where, leaning on the flag-staff, and escorted by two men in blouses, who were armed with muskets and presented arms, she read aloud the call to arms issued by the Representatives of the Left. The crowd clapped their hands.

"All this occurred between noon and one o'clock. On this side of the barricades an immense number of people covered the pavement on both sides of the boulevard; in some places, silent; in others, crying: 'Down with Soulouque! Down with the traitor!'

"From time to time, mournful processions traversed the multitude; they consisted of files of closed litters borne by hospital attendants and soldiers. At their head marched men holding long poles, from which hung blue placards, on which was inscribed, in huge letters: _Service of the Military Hospitals_. On the curtains of the litters: _Wounded, Ambulance_. The weather was dull and rainy.

"At this time there was a great crowd at the Bourse. On all the walls bill-stickers were posting despatches announcing the adhesion of the departments to the _coup d'etat_. Even the stockbrokers, while trying to bull the market, laughed and shrugged their shoulders at these placards. Suddenly, a well-known speculator, who had for two days been a great admirer of the _coup d'etat_, made his appearance, pale and breathless, like a fugitive, and exclaimed: 'They are firing on the boulevards!'

"This is what had happened:


"A little after one o'clock, a quarter of an hour after the last order given by Louis Bonaparte to General Roguet, the boulevards throughout their whole length, from the Madeleine, were suddenly covered with cavalry and infantry. Almost the whole of Carrelet's division, composed of the five brigades of Cotte, Bourgon, Canrobert, Dulac, and Reibell, making a total of sixteen thousand four hundred and ten men, had taken up their position, and extended in echelon from Rue de la Paix to Faubourg Poissonniere. Each brigade had its battery with it. Eleven pieces were counted on Boulevard Poisonniere alone. Two of the guns, with their muzzles turned different ways, were levelled at the entrance to Rue Montmartre and Faubourg Montmartre respectively; no one knew why, as neither the street nor the faubourg presented even the appearance of a barricade. The spectators, who crowded the sidewalks and the windows, gazed in dismay at all these guns, sabres, and bayonets.

"'The troops were laughing and chatting,' says one witness. Another witness says: 'The soldiers acted strangely. Most of them were leaning on their muskets, with the butt-end on the ground, and seemed nearly falling from fatigue, or something else.' One of those old officers who are accustomed to read a soldier's thoughts in his eyes, General L----, said, as he passed Cafe Frascati: 'They are drunk.'

"There were now some indications of what was about to happen.

"At one moment, when the crowd was crying to the troops, '_Vive la Republique!_' 'Down with Louis Bonaparte!' one of the officers was heard to say, in a low voice: 'There's going to be some pigsticking!'

"A battalion of infantry debouches from Rue Richelieu. Before the Cafe Cardinal it is greeted by a unanimous cry of '_Vive la Republique!_' A writer, the editor of a Conservative paper, who happens to be on the spot, adds: '_Down with Soulouque!_' The staff officer in command of the detachment aims a blow at him with his sabre, which, being dodged by the journalist, cuts in two one of the small trees on the boulevard.

"As the 1st Regiment of Lancers, commanded by Colonel Rochefort, reached a point abreast of Rue Taitbout, a numerous crowd covered the pavement of the boulevard. They were residents of the quarter, tradesmen, artists, journalists, and among them several young mothers leading their children by the hand. As the regiment was passing, men and women--every one--cried: '_Vive la Constitution!_' _'Vive la Loi!_' '_Vive la Republique!_' Colonel Rochefort,--the same who had presided at the banquet given on the 31st of October, 1851, at the Ecole Militaire, by the 1st Regiment of Lancers to the 7th Regiment of Lancers, and who, at this banquet, had proposed as a toast, 'Prince Louis-Napoleon, the head of the State, the personification of that order of which we are the defenders!'--this colonel, when the crowd uttered the above perfectly lawful cry, spurred his horse into the midst of them through the chairs on the sidewalk, while the Lancers precipitated themselves after him, and men, women, and children were indiscriminately cut down. 'A great number remained dead on the spot,' says a defender of the _coup d'etat_; and adds, 'It was done in a moment.'(1)

(1) Captain Mauduit, _Revolution Militaire du 2 Decembre_, p. 217.

"About two o'clock, two howitzers were pointed at the extremity of Boulevard Poissonniere, a hundred and fifty paces from the little advanced barricade at the Bonne Nouvelle guard-house. While placing the guns in position, two of the artillerymen, who are not often guilty of a false manoevre, broke the pole of a caisson. '_Don't you see they are drunk!_' exclaimed a man of the lower classes.

"At half past two, for it is necessary to follow the progress of this hideous drama minute by minute, and step by step, fire was opened before the barricade languidly, and almost as if done for amusement. The officers appeared to be thinking of anything but a fight. We shall soon see, however, of what they were thinking.

"The first cannon-ball, badly aimed, passed above all the barricades and killed a little boy at the Chateau d'Eau as he was drawing water from the fountain.

"The shops were shut, as were also almost all the windows. There was, however, one window left open in an upper story of the house at the corner of Rue du Sentier. The curious spectators continued to assemble mainly on the southern side of the street. It was an ordinary crowd and nothing more,--men, women, children, and old people who looked upon the languid attack and defence of the barricade as a sort of sham fight.

"This barricade served as a spectacle pending the moment when it should become a pretext.


"The soldiers had been firing, and the defenders of the barricade returning their fire, for about a quarter of an hour, without any one being wounded on either side, when suddenly, as if by an electric shock, an extraordinary and threatening movement took place, first in the infantry, then in the cavalry. The troops suddenly faced about.

"The historiographers of the _coup d'etat have asserted that a shot, directed against the soldiers, was fired from the window which had remained open at the corner of Rue du Sentier. Others say that it was fired from the roof of the house at the corner of Rue Notre-Dame-de-Recouvrance and Rue Poissonniere. According to others, it was a pistol shot and was fired from the roof of the tall house at the corner of Rue Mazagran. The shot is contested, but what cannot be contested is that, for having fired this problematical shot, which was perhaps nothing more than the slamming of a door, a dentist, who lived in the next house, was shot. The question resolves itself into this: Did any one hear a pistol or musket shot fired from one of the houses on the boulevard? Is this the fact, or is it not? a host of witnesses deny it.

"If the shot was really fired, there still remains a question: Was it a cause, or was it a signal?

"However this may be, all of a sudden, as we have said before, cavalry, infantry, and artillery faced towards the dense crowd upon the sidewalks, and, no one being able to guess why, unexpectedly, without motive, 'without parley,' as the infamous proclamations of the morning had announced, the butchery began, from the Gymnase Theatre to the Bains Chinois, that is to say, along the whole length of the richest, the most frequented, and the most joyous boulevard of Paris.

"The army began shooting down the people at close range.

"It was a horrible and indescribable moment: the cries, the arms raised towards heaven, the surprise, the terror, the crowd flying in all directions, a shower of balls falling on the pavement and bounding to the roofs of the houses, corpses strewn along the street in a moment, young men falling with their cigars still in their mouths, women in velvet gowns shot down by the long rifles, two booksellers killed on their own thresholds without knowing what offence they had committed, shots fired down the cellar-holes and killing any one, no matter who, the Bazaar riddled with shells and bullets, the Hotel Sallandrouze bombarded, the Maison d'Or raked with grape-shot, Tortoni's carried by assault, hundreds of corpses stretched upon the boulevard, and a torrent of blood on Rue de Richelieu.

"The narrator must here again crave permission to suspend his narrative.

"In the presence of these nameless deeds, I who write these lines declare that I am the recording officer. I record the crime, I appeal the cause. My functions extend no further. I cite Louis Bonaparte, I cite Saint-Arnaud, Maupas, Moray, Magnan, Carrelet, Canrobert, and Reybell, his accomplices; I cite the executioners, the murderers, the witnesses, the victims, the red-hot cannon, the smoking sabres, the drunken soldiers, the mourning families, the dying, the dead, the horror, the blood, and the tears,--I cite them all to appear at the bar of the civilized world.

"The mere narrator, whoever he might be, would never be believed. Let the living facts, the bleeding facts, therefore, speak for themselves. Let us hear the witnesses.


"We shall not print the names of the witnesses, we have said why, but the reader will easily recognize the sincere and poignant accent of reality.

"One witness says:--

"'I had not taken three steps on the sidewalk, when the troops, who were marching past, suddenly halted, faced about towards the south, levelled their muskets, and, by an instantaneous movement, fired upon the affrighted crowd.

"'The firing continued uninterruptedly for twenty minutes, drowned from time to time by a cannon-shot.

"'At the first volley, I threw myself on the ground and crept along on the pavement like a snake to the first door I found open.

"'It was a wine-shop, No. 180, next door to the Bazaar de l'Industrie. I was the last person who went in. The firing still continued.

"'In this shop there were about fifty persons, and among them five or six women and two or three children. Three poor wretches were wounded when they came in; two of them died, after a quarter of an hour of horrible agony: the third was still alive when I left the shop at four o'clock; however, as I afterwards learned, he did not survive his wound.

"'In order to give an idea of the crowd on whom the troops fired, I cannot do better than mention some of the persons assembled in the shop.

"'There were several women, two of whom had come into the quarter to buy provisions for their dinners; a little lawyer's clerk, who had been sent on an errand by his master; two or three frequenters of the Bourse; two or three house-holders; several workmen, in wretched blouses, or in nothing. One of the unhappy beings who had taken refuge in the shop produced a deep impression on me. He was a man of about thirty, with light hair, wearing a gray paletot. He was going with his wife to dine with his family in Faubourg Montmartre, when he was stopped on the boulevard by the passage of the column of troops. At the very beginning, at the first discharge, both he and his wife fell down; he rose and was dragged into the wine-shop, but he no longer had his wife on his arm, and his despair cannot be described. In spite of all we could say, he insisted that the door should be opened so that he might run and look for his wife amid the grape-shot that was sweeping the street. It was all we could do to keep him with us for an hour. The next day, I learned that his wife had been killed, and her body found in the Cite Bergere. A fortnight afterwards I was informed that the poor wretch, having threatened to apply the _lex talionis to M. Bonaparte, had been arrested and sent to Brest, on his way to Cayenne. Almost all the persons assembled in the wine-shop held monarchical opinions, and I saw only two, a compositor named Meunier, who had formerly worked on the _Reforme_, and a friend of his, who declared themselves to be Republicans. About four o'clock, I left the shop.'

"Another witness, one of those who fancied he heard the pistol-shot on Rue de Mazagran, adds:--

"'This shot was a signal to the soldiers for a fusillade on all the houses and their windows, the roar of which lasted at least thirty minutes. The discharge was simultaneous from Porte Saint-Denis as far as the Cafe du Grand Balcon. The artillery soon took part with the musketry.'

"Another witness says:--

"'At quarter past three, a singular movement took place. The soldiers who were facing Porte Saint-Denis, suddenly faced about, resting on the houses from the Gymnase, the Maison du Pont-de-Fer, and the Hotel Saint-Phar, and immediately, a running fire was directed on the people on the opposite side of the way, from Rue Saint-Denis to Rue Richelieu. A few minutes were sufficient to cover the pavement with dead bodies; the houses were riddled with balls, and this paroxysm of fury on the part of the troops continued for three quarters of an hour.'

"Another witness says:--

"'The first cannon-shots aimed at the barricade Bonne-Nouvelle served as a signal to the rest of the troops, who fired almost simultaneously at every one within range of their muskets.'

"Another witness says:--

"'No words are powerful enough to describe such an act of barbarity. One must himself have seen in order to be bold enough to speak of it, and to attest the truth of so unspeakable a deed.'

"'The soldiers fired thousands and thousands of shots--the number is inappreciable(1)--on the unoffending crowd, and that without any sort of necessity. There was a desire to produce a deep impression. That was all.'

(1) The witness means _incalculable_, but we have
preferred to change nothing in the original depositions.

"Another witness says:--

"'The troops of the line, followed by the cavalry and the artillery, arrived on the boulevard at a time when the general excitement was very great. A musket-shot was fired from the midst of the troops, and it was easy to see that it had been fired in the air, from the smoke which rose perpendicularly. This was the signal for firing on the people and charging them with the bayonet without warning. This is a significant fact, and proves that the military wanted the pretence of a motive for beginning the massacre which followed.'

"Another witness tells the following tale:--

"'The cannon, loaded with grape-shot, cut up all the shop-fronts from the shop _Le Prophete to Rue Montmartre. From Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle they must have fired also on the Maison Billecoq, for it was struck at the corner of the wall on the Aubusson side, and the ball, having traversed the wall, penetrated the interior of the house.'

"Another witness, one of those who deny the shot, says:--

"'People have endeavoured to excuse this fusillade and these murders, by pretending that the troops had been fired on from the windows of some of the houses. Not only does General Magnan's official report seem to deny this rumour, but I assert that the discharge was instantaneous from Porte Saint-Denis to Porte Montmartre, and that there was not, previously to the general discharge, a single shot fired separately, either from the windows or by the soldiers, from Faubourg Saint-Denis to Boulevard des Italiens.'

"Another witness, who is also one of those who did not hear the shot, says:--

"'The troops were marching past the veranda of the Cafe Tortoni, where I had been about twenty minutes, when, before any report of fire-arms had reached us, they quickened their pace; the cavalry went off at a gallop, the infantry at double-quick. All of a sudden we saw, coming from the direction of Boulevard Poissonniere, a sheet of fire, which spread and came on rapidly. I can vouch for the fact that, before the fusillade began, there had been no report of fire-arms, and that not a single shot had been fired from any of the houses between the Cafe Frascati and the spot where I stood. At last we saw the soldiers before us level their muskets and threaten us. We took refuge on Rue Taitbout, under a porte-cochere. At the same moment the balls flew over our heads, and all around us. A woman was killed ten paces from me just as I ran under the porte-cochere. I can swear that, up to that time, there was neither barricade nor insurgents; there were _hunters, and there was game flying from them,--that is all.'

"This image 'hunters and game' is the one which immediately suggests itself to the mind of all those who beheld this horrible proceeding. We meet with the same simile in the testimony of another witness:--

"'At the end of my street, and I know that the same thing was observed in the neighbouring ones as well, we saw the gendarmes mobiles with their muskets, and themselves in the position of _hunters waiting for the game to rise_, that is to say, with their muskets at their shoulders, in order that they might take aim and fire more quickly.

"'In order that those persons who had fallen wounded near the doors on Rue Montmartre might receive the first necessary attentions, we could see the doors open from time to time and an arm stretched out, which hastily drew in the corpse, or dying man, whom the balls were striving to claim as their own.'

"Another witness hits upon the same image:--

"'The soldiers stationed at the corners of the streets awaited the people as they passed, _like hunters lying in wait for their game_, and as soon as they saw them in the street they fired at them _as at a target_. A great many persons were killed in this manner on Rue du Sentier, Rue Rougemont, and on Rue du Faubourg-Poissonniere.'

* * * *

"'"Go on," said the officers to the unoffending citizens who demanded their protection. At these words they went their way quickly and with confidence; but it was merely a watchword which meant _death_; for they had gone only a few steps before they fell.'

"'At the moment the firing began on the boulevards,' says another witness, 'a bookseller near the carpet warehouse was hastily closing his shop, when a number of fugitives who were striving to obtain admittance were suspected by the troops of the line, or the gendarmerie mobile, I do not know which, of having fired upon them. The soldiers broke into the bookseller's house. The bookseller endeavoured to explain matters; he was taken out, alone, before his own door, and his wife and daughters had only time to throw themselves between him and the soldiers when he fell dead. His wife had her thigh traversed by a ball, while his daughter was saved by the steel of her stays. I have been informed that his wife has since gone mad.'

"Another witness says:--

"'The soldiers entered the two booksellers' shops between _Le Prophete and M. Sallandrouze's. The murders committed there have been proved. The two booksellers were massacred on the pavement. The other prisoners were put to death in the shops.'

"Let us conclude with three extracts which it is impossible to transcribe without a shudder:--

"'For the first quarter of an hour of this scene of horror,' says a witness, 'the firing, which for a moment became less sharp, caused some persons who were only wounded to suppose that they might get up. Of those who were lying before _Le Prophete two rose. One of them fled by Rue du Sentier, from which he was only a few yards away. He reached it amid a shower of balls which carried away his cap. The other could only succeed in raising himself on his knees, in which position, with his hands clasped, he besought the soldiers to spare his life; but he fell at once, shot dead. The next day one could see in the side of the veranda of _Le Prophete a spot only a few feet in extent, which more than a hundred balls had struck.'

"'At the end of Rue Montmartre as far as the fountain, a distance of about sixty paces, there were sixty bodies of men and women, mothers, children, and young girls. All these unfortunate creatures had fallen victims of the first volley fired by the troops and the gendarmerie, who were stationed on the opposite side of the boulevard. They all fled at the first discharge, took a few steps, then fell to rise no more. One young man had taken refuge in a gateway, and tried to shelter himself behind the projection of the wall towards the boulevards. After ten minutes of badly aimed shots, he was hit, in spite of all his efforts to render himself as small as possible by drawing himself up to his full height, and he too was seen to fall, to rise no more.'


"'The plate glass and the windows in the Maison du Pont-de-Fer were all shattered. One man, who was in the courtyard, went mad with fright. The cellars were filled with women who had sought refuge there, but in vain. The soldiers fired into the shops and the cellar windows. From Tortoni's to the Gymnase Theatre similar things took place. This lasted more than an hour.'


"Let us confine ourselves to these extracts. Let us close this mournful inquest. We have proofs enough.

"The general execration of the deed is visible. A hundred other depositions which we have before us repeat the same facts in almost the same words. It is at present certain, it is proved, it is beyond the possibility of doubt, it cannot be denied, it is evident as the sunlight, that on Thursday, the 4th of December, 1851, the unoffending citizens of Paris, the citizens who were not in any way mixed up with the fighting, were shot down without warning, and massacred merely for the sake of intimidation, and that it is not possible to attach any other meaning to Monsieur Bonaparte's mysterious command.

"This execution lasted until nightfall. For more than an hour, there was, as it were, a debauch of musketry and artillery. The cannonade and the platoon-firing crossed each other indiscriminately; at one time the soldiers were killing one another. The battery of the 6th Regiment of Artillery, which belonged to Canrobert's brigade, was dismounted; the horses, rearing in the midst of the balls, broke the axles, the wheels and the poles, and of the whole battery, in less than a minute there remained only one gun in commission. A whole squadron of the 1st Lancers was obliged to seek refuge in a shed on Rue Saint-Fiacre. Seventy bullet-holes were counted the next day in the pennons of the lances. A sort of frenzy had seized the soldiers. At the corner of Rue Rougemont, and in the midst of the smoke, one general was waving his arms as if to restrain them; a medical officer of the 27th was nearly killed by the soldiers whom he endeavoured to check. A sergeant said to an officer who took hold of his arm: 'Lieutenant, you are betraying us.' The soldiers had no consciousness of themselves; they had gone mad with the crime they were ordered to commit. There comes a moment when the very outrageousness of what you are doing makes you redouble your blows. Blood is a kind of horrible wine; men get drunk with carnage.

"It seemed as if some invisible hand were launching death from the midst of a cloud. The soldiers were no longer aught but projectiles.

"Two guns in the roadway of the boulevard were pointed at the front of a single house, that of M. Sallandrouze, and fired volley after volley at it, at close range. This house, which is an old mansion of hewn stone, remarkable for its almost monumental flight of steps, being split by bullets as if by iron wedges, opened, gaped, and cracked from top to bottom. The soldiers fired faster and faster. At every discharge, the walls cracked again. Suddenly an officer of artillery galloped up, and cried, 'Hold! hold!' The house was leaning forward; another ball, and it would have fallen on the guns and the gunners.

"The artillerymen were so drunk that many of them, not knowing what they were doing, allowed themselves to be killed by the rebound of their guns. The balls came simultaneously from Porte Saint-Denis, Boulevard Poissonniere and Boulevard Montmartre; the drivers, hearing them whizzing past their ears in every direction, lay down upon their horses, while the gunners hid underneath the caissons and behind the wagons; soldiers were seen to drop their caps and fly in dismay into Rue Notre-Dame-de-Recouvrance; troopers, losing their heads, fired their carbines in the air, while others dismounted and made a breastwork of their horses. Two or three of the latter, without riders, ran here and there, mad with terror.

"The most horrible amusements were blended with the massacre. The tirailleurs from Vincennes had established themselves at one of the barricades on the boulevard which they had carried by assault, and from thence they practised shooting at persons passing at a distance. From the neighbouring houses, such shocking dialogues as this were heard: 'I'll bet I bring that fellow down.'--'I'll bet you don't.'--'I'll bet I do.' And the shot followed. When the man fell, one could guess by the roar of laughter. Whenever a woman passed, the officers cried: 'Fire at that woman; fire at the women!'

"This was one of the watchwords; on Boulevard Montmartre, where the bayonet was greatly in requisition, a young staff-captain cried: 'Prick the women!'

"One woman, with a loaf under her arm, thought she might cross Rue Saint-Fiacre. A tirailleur shot her down.

"On Rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau they did not go so far. A woman cried, 'Vive la Republique!' she was merely whipped by the soldiers. But let us return to the boulevard.

"One of the passers-by, a bailiff, was struck by a ball aimed at his head; he fell on his hands and knees, imploring mercy! He received thirteen more balls in his body. He survived: by a miraculous chance, not one of his wounds was mortal. The ball which struck his head tore the skin, and made the circuit of his skull without fracturing it.

"An old man of eighty, being found concealed somewhere or other, was brought before the steps of _Le Prophete_, and shot: he fell. 'He will have no bump on his head,' said a soldier; the old man had fallen upon a heap of dead bodies. Two young men from Issy, who had been married only a month, to two sisters, were crossing the boulevard on their way from business. They saw the muskets levelled at them, and threw themselves on their knees, crying, 'We married the two sisters!' They were killed. A dealer in cocoa, named Robert, living on Faubourg Poissonniere, No. 97, fled, with his can on his back, down Rue Montmartre; he was killed.(1) A boy of thirteen, a saddler's apprentice, was passing along the boulevard opposite the Cafe Vachette. The soldiers took aim at him. He uttered the most heart-rending cries, and, holding up a bridle that he had in his hand, waved it in the air, exclaiming, 'I am sent on an errand!' He was killed. Three balls perforated his breast. All along the boulevards were heard the shrieks and heavy falls of the wounded, whom the soldiers pierced with their bayonets, and then left, without taking the trouble to despatch them.

(1) "We may name the witness who saw this. He is one of
the proscribed; it is M. Versigny, a representative of
the people. He says:

"'I can still see, opposite Rue du Croissant, an unfortunate
itinerant vender of cocoa, with his tin can on his back,
stagger, then gradually sink in a heap, and fall dead before
a shop. Armed only with his bell, he had received all by
himself the honour of being fired at by a whole platoon.'

"The same witness adds:--'The soldiers swept the streets
with their guns, even where there was not a paving-stone
moved from its place, not a single combatant.'"

"Some villains seized the opportunity to steal. The treasurer of a company, whose offices are on Rue de la Banque, left at two o'clock to collect a note on Rue Bergere, returned with the money, and was killed on the boulevard. When his body was removed, he had neither ring, nor watch, nor the money he was taking to his office.

"On the pretence that shots had been fired at the troops, the latter entered ten or twelve houses, at random, and despatched with their bayonets every one they found. In all the houses on the boulevard, there are metal pipes by which the dirty water runs out into the gutter. The soldiers, with no idea why it was so, conceived a feeling of mistrust or hatred for such and such a house, closed from top to bottom, mute and gloomy, and like all the houses on the boulevard, seeming uninhabited, so silent was it. They knocked at the door; the door opened, and they entered. An instant after there was seen to flow from the mouth of the metal pipes a red, smoking stream. It was blood.

"A captain, with his eyes starting from their sockets, cried to the soldiers: 'No quarter!' A major vociferated: 'Enter the houses and kill every one!'

"Sergeants were heard to say: '_Pitch into the Bedouins; hit them hard!_' 'In the uncle's time,' says a witness, 'the soldiers used to call the civilians _pekins_. At present, we are Bedouins; the soldiers massacred the people to the cry of "_Give it to the Bedouins_."'

"At the Frascati Club, where many of the regular frequenters of the place were assembled, among them an old general, they heard the thunder of musketry and artillery, and could not believe that the troops were firing ball. They laughed, and said to one another: 'It's blank cartridges. What a _mise-en-scene_! What an actor this Bonaparte is!' They thought they were at the Circus. Suddenly the soldiers entered, mad with rage, and were about to shoot every one. They had no idea of the danger they were running. They continued to laugh. One of the eye-witnesses said to us: '_We thought that this was part of the buffoonery._' However, seeing that the soldiers continued to threaten them, they at last understood.--'_Kill them all!_' cried the soldiers. A lieutenant, who recognized the old general, prevented them from carrying out their threat. In spite of this, a sergeant said: 'Hold your d----d tongue, lieutenant; this isn't your affair, it's ours.'

"The troops killed for the mere sake of killing. A witness says: 'In the courtyards of the houses, they shot even the horses and dogs.'

"In the house next Frascati's, at the corner of Rue Richelieu, the soldiers were coolly going to shoot even the women and children, who were already drawn up in a mass before a platoon for that purpose when a colonel arrived. He stopped the massacre, boxed up these poor trembling creatures in the Passages des Panoramas, where he locked them in, and saved them. A celebrated writer, Monsieur Lireux, after having escaped the first balls, was led about, during an hour, from one guard-house to another, preparatory to being shot. It required a miracle to save him. The celebrated artist, Sax, who happened to be in the musical establishment of M. Brandus, was about to be shot, when a general recognized him. Everywhere else the people were killed indiscriminately.

"The first person killed in this butchery--history has in like manner preserved the name of the first person killed at the massacre of Saint Bartholomew--was one Theodore Debaecque, who lived in the house at the corner of Rue du Sentier, where the carnage began.


"When the slaughter came to an end,--that is to say when it was black night, and it had begun in broad day,--the dead bodies were not removed; they were so numerous that thirty-three of them were counted before a single shop, that of M. Barbedienne. Every square of ground left open in the asphalt at the foot of the trees on the boulevards was a reservoir of blood. 'The dead bodies,' says a witness, 'were piled up in heaps, one upon another, old men, children, blouses and paletots, assembled pell-mell, in an indescribable mass of heads, arms, and legs.'

"Another witness describes thus a group of three individuals: 'Two had fallen on their backs; and the third, having tripped over their legs, had fallen upon them.' The single corpses were rare and attracted more notice than the others. One young man, well dressed, was seated against a wall, with his legs apart, his arms half folded, one of Verdier's canes in his hand, and seemed to be looking at what was going on around him; he was dead. A little farther on, the bullets had nailed against a shop a youth in velveteen trousers who had some proof-sheets in his hand. The wind fluttered these bloody proofs, on which the fingers of the corpse were still closed. A poor old man, with white hair, was lying in the middle of the road, with his umbrella at his side. His elbow almost touched a young man in patent leather boots and yellow gloves, who had his eye-glass still in his eye. A few steps away, with her head on the sidewalk, and her feet in the road, lay a woman of the people, who had attempted to escape, with her child in her arms. Both were dead; but the mother still tightly grasped her child.'

"Ah! you will tell me, M. Bonaparte, that you are very sorry, but that it was an unfortunate affair; that in presence of Paris, ready to rise, it was necessary to adopt a decided course, and that you were forced to this extremity; that, as regards the _coup d'etat_, you were in debt; that your ministers were in debt; that your aides-de-camp were in debt; that your footmen were in debt; that you were answerable for them all; and that, deuce take it! a man cannot be a prince without spending, from time to time, a few millions too much; that one must amuse one's self and enjoy life a bit; that the Assembly was to blame for not having understood this, and for seeking to restrict you to two paltry millions a year, and, what is more, to force you to resign your authority at the expiration of your four years, and to execute the Constitution; that, after all, you could not leave the Elysee to enter the debtors' prison at Clichy; that you had in vain had recourse to those little expedients which are provided for by Article 405; that exposure was at hand, that the demagogical press was chattering, that the matter of the gold ingots threatened to become known, that you were bound to respect the name of Napoleon, and that, on my word! having no other alternative, rather than become one of the vulgar swindlers named in the code, you preferred to be one of the great assassins of history!

"So then, instead of polluting, this blood has purified you! Very good.

"I resume.


"When all was finished, Paris came to see the sight. The people flocked in crowds to those terrible places; no one interfered with them. This was what the butcher wanted. Louis Bonaparte had not done all this to hide it afterwards.

"The southern side of the boulevard was covered with torn cartridge wads; the sidewalk on the northern side disappeared beneath the mortar torn from the fronts of the houses by the bullets, and was as white as if snow had fallen on it; while pools of blood left large dark patches on that snow of ruins. The foot of the passer-by avoided a corpse only to tread upon fragments of broken glass, plaster, or stone; some houses were so riddled by the grape and cannon-balls, that they seemed on the point of tumbling down; this was the case with M. Sallandrouze's, which we have already mentioned, and the mourning warehouse at the corner of Faubourg Montmartre. 'The Billecoq house,' says a witness, 'is, at the present moment, still propped up by wooden beams, and the front will have to be partly rebuilt. The balls have made holes in the carpet warehouse in several places.' Another witness says: 'All the houses from the Cercle des Etrangers to Rue Poissonniere were literally riddled with balls, especially on the right-hand side of the boulevard. One of the large panes of plate glass in the warehouses of _La Petite Jeannette received certainly more than two hundred for its share. There was not a window that had not its ball. One breathed an atmosphere of saltpetre. Thirty-seven corpses were heaped up in the Cite Bergere; the passers-by could count them through the iron railings. A woman was standing at the corner of Rue Richelieu. She was looking on. Suddenly she felt that her feet were wet. 'Why, has it been raining?' she said, 'my feet are in the water.'--'No, madame,' replied a person who was passing, 'it is not water.'--Her feet were in a pool of blood.

"On Rue Grange-Bateliere three corpses were seen in a corner, quite naked.

"During the butchery, the barricades on the boulevards had been carried by Bourgon's brigade. The corpses of those who had defended the barricade at Porte Saint-Denis, of which we have already spoken at the beginning of our narrative, were piled up before the door of the Maison Jouvin. 'But,' says a witness, 'they were nothing compared to the heaps which covered the boulevard.'

"About two paces from the Theatre des Varietes, the crowd stopped to look at a cap full of brains and blood, hung upon a tree.

"A witness says: 'A little beyond the Varietes, I came to a corpse lying on the ground with its face downwards; I tried to raise it, aided by others, but we were repelled by the soldiers. A little farther on, there were two bodies, a man and a woman; then one alone, a workman' (we abridge the account). 'From Rue Montmartre to Rue du Sentier _one literally walked in blood_; at certain spots, it covered the sidewalk some inches deep, and, without exaggeration, one was obliged to use the greatest caution not to step into it. I counted there thirty-three corpses. The sight was too much for me: I felt great tears rolling down my cheeks. I asked leave to cross the road, in order to enter my own house, and my request was _granted as a favour_!'

"Another witness says: 'The boulevard presented a horrible sight. _We literally walked in blood. We counted eighteen corpses in about five and twenty paces.'

"Another witness, the keeper of a wine-shop on Rue du Sentier, says: 'I went along Boulevard du Temple to my house. When I got home, I had an inch of blood around the bottom of my trousers.'

"Representative Versigny has this to say: 'We could see, in the distance, almost as far as Porte Saint-Denis, the immense bivouac-fires of the infantry. The light from them, with the exception of that from a few rare lamps, was all we had to guide us amid that horrible carnage. The fighting in the daytime was nothing compared to those corpses and that silence. R. and I were half-dead with horror. A man was passing us; hearing one of my exclamations, he came up to me, took my hand, and said: "You are a republican; and I was what is called a friend of order, a reactionary, but one must be forsaken of God, not to execrate this horrible orgy. France is dishonoured." And he left us, sobbing.'

"Another witness, who allows us to give his name, a Legitimist, the honourable Monsieur de Cherville, deposes as follows: 'In the evening, I determined on continuing my sad inspection. On Rue Le Peletier I met Messieurs Bouillon and Gervais (of Caen). We walked a few steps together, when my foot slipped. I clung to M. Bouillon. I looked at my feet. I had walked into a large pool of blood. M. Bouillon then informed me, that, being at his window, in the morning, he saw a druggist, whose shop he pointed out to me, shutting his door. A woman fell; the druggist rushed forward to raise her; at the same moment, a soldier, ten paces off, aimed at him and lodged a bullet in his head. Overcome with wrath, and forgetting his own danger, M. Bouillon exclaimed to the passers-by: "You will all bear witness to what has taken place."'

"About eleven o'clock at night, when the fires of the bivouacs were everywhere lighted, M. Bonaparte allowed the troops to amuse themselves. It was like a _fete-de-nuit on the boulevards. The soldiers laughed and sang, as they threw into the fire the debris of the barricades. After this, as at Strasbourg and Boulogne, money was distributed among them. Let us hear what a witness says: 'I saw, at Porte Saint-Denis, a staff-officer give two hundred francs to the chief of a detachment of twenty men, with these words: "The prince ordered me to give you this money, to be distributed among your brave soldiers! the marks of his satisfaction will not be confined to this."--Each soldier received ten francs.'

"On the evening of the battle of Austerlitz, the Emperor said: 'Soldiers, I am content with you.'

"Another person adds: 'The soldiers, with cigars in their mouths, twitted the passers-by and jingled the money in their pockets.' Another says: 'The officers broke the rolls of louis d'or _like sticks of chocolate_.'

"The sentinels allowed only women to pass; whenever a man made his appearance, they cried: 'Be off!' Tables were spread in the bivouacs, and officers and soldiers drank around them. The flame of the braziers was reflected on all those merry faces. The corks and capsules of the champagne bottles floated on the red torrents of blood. From bivouac to bivouac the soldiers exchanged loud cries and obscene jokes. They saluted one another with: 'Long live the grenadiers!' 'Long live the lancers!' and all joined in, 'Long live Louis-Napoleon!' One heard the clinking of glasses, and the crash of broken bottles. Here and there, in the shadow, women, with a taper of yellow wax or a lantern in their hands, prowled among the dead bodies, gazing at those pale faces, one after another, and seeking a son, a father, or a husband.


"Let us hasten to have done with these ghastly details.

"The next day, the fifth, something terrible was seen in the cemetery of Montmartre.

"An immense space, the exact location of which is unknown to this day, was 'utilized' for the temporary interment of some of those who had been massacred. They were buried with their heads above ground, in order that their relations might recognize them. Most of them had also their feet above ground, with a little earth upon their breasts. The crowd flocked to the spot, the sightseers pushed one here and there, they wandered about among the graves, and, at times, one felt the earth giving way beneath one's feet: one was walking on the stomach of a corpse. One turned and beheld a pair of boots, of sabots, or of women's shoes; while on the other side was the head, which the pressure on the body caused to move.

"An illustrious witness, the great sculptor David, who is now proscribed and wandering far from France, says:--

"'In the cemetery of Montmartre, I saw about forty bodies with their clothes still on them; they had been placed side by side and a few shovelfuls of earth hid all except their heads, which had been left uncovered in order that they might be recognized by their relations. There was so little earth that their feet were still visible; the crowd, horrible to say, was walking on their bodies. Among them were young men with noble features, bearing the stamp of courage; in the midst was a poor woman, a baker's servant, who had been killed while she was carrying bread to her master's customers, and near her a young girl who sold flowers on the boulevards. Those persons who were looking for friends who had disappeared, were obliged to trample the bodies under foot, in order to obtain a near view of their faces. I heard a man of the lower classes say, with an expression of horror: "It is like walking upon a spring-board."'

"The crowd continued to flock to the various spots where the victims had been carried, especially to the Cite Bergere, so that, on this day, the fifth, as the numbers increased to such an extent as to become troublesome, and as it was necessary to get rid of them, these words, written in capital letters on a large placard, were to be seen at the entrance of the Cite Bergere: 'There are no more dead bodies here.'

"The three naked corpses on Rue Grange-Bateliere were not removed until the evening of the fifth.

"It is evident, and we insist upon it, that at first, and for the advantage which it wished to derive from it, the _coup d'etat did not make the least endeavour to conceal its crime; shame did not come until later; the first day, on the contrary, it flaunted it. It was not content with atrocity, it must needs add cynicism. Massacre was but a means; the end was intimidation.


"Was this end attained?


"Immediately afterwards, as early as the evening of December 4, the public excitement subsided. Paris was frozen with stupor. The indignation that raised its voice before the _coup d'etat_, held its peace before the carnage. The affair had ceased to resemble anything in history. One felt that one had to deal with a man of a hitherto unknown type.

"Crassus crushed the gladiators; Herod slaughtered the infants; Charles IX exterminated the Huguenots; Peter of Russia, the Strelitz; Mehemet Ali, the Mamelukes; Mahmoud, the Janissaries; while Danton massacred the prisoners. Louis Bonaparte had just discovered a new sort of massacre--the massacre of the passers-by.

"This massacre ended the struggle. There are times when what should exasperate a people, strikes them with terror. The population of Paris felt that a ruffian had his foot upon his throat. It no longer offered any resistance. That same evening Mathieu (of the Drome) entered the place where the Committee of Resistance was sitting and said to us: 'We are no longer in Paris, we are no longer under the Republic; we are at Naples under the sway of King Bomba.'

"From that moment, in spite of all the efforts of the committee, of the representatives, and of their courageous allies, there was, save at certain points only,--such as the barricade of the Petit-Carreau, for instance, where Denis Dussoubs, the brother of the representative, fell so heroically,--naught but a resistance which resembled the last convulsions of despair rather than a combat. All was finished.

"The next day, the 5th, the victorious troops paraded on the boulevards. A general was seen to show his naked sword to the people, and to exclaim: 'The Republic--here it is!'

"Thus an infamous butchery, the massacre of the passers-by, was included, as a supreme necessity, in the 'measure' of the 2nd of December. To undertake it, a man must be a traitor; to make it successful, he must be an assassin.

"It was by this proceeding that the _coup d'etat conquered France and overcame Paris. Yes, Paris! It is necessary for one to repeat it again and again to himself,--it was at Paris that all this happened!

"Great God! The Russians entered Paris brandishing their lances and singing their wild songs, but Moscow had been burnt; the Prussians entered Paris, but Berlin had been taken; the Austrians entered Paris, but Vienna had been bombarded; the English entered Paris, but the camp at Boulogne had menaced London; they came to our barriers, these men of all nations, with drums beating, trumpets resounding, colours flying, swords drawn, cannon rumbling, matches lighted, drunk with excitement, enemies, conquerors, instruments of vengeance, shrieking with rage before the domes of Paris the names of their capitals,--London, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow! The moment, however, that they crossed the threshold of the city, the moment that the hoofs of their horses rang upon the pavement of our streets, Englishmen, Austrians, Prussians, Russians, on entering Paris, beheld in its walls, its buildings, its people, something predestined, something venerable and august; they all felt a holy sentiment of respect for the sacred city; they all felt that they had before them, not the city of one people, but the city of the whole human race; they all lowered the swords they had raised! Yes, to massacre the Parisians, to treat Paris like a place taken by assault, to deliver up to pillage one quarter of the town, to outrage the second Eternal City, to assassinate civilization in her very sanctuary, to shoot down old men, children, and women, in this illustrious spot, this home of the world; that which Wellington forbade his half-naked Highlanders, and Schwartzenberg his Croats to do; that which Blucher did not suffer his Landwehr to do, and which Platow dared not allow his Cossacks to undertake,--all these things hast thou, base wretch, caused to be done by French soldiers!"

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