Gradual disappearance of the Cholera.—Death of M. Casimir Perier.—His Funeral.—Funeral of General Lamarque.—Magnificent Military Escort.—The Duc de Fitzjames.—An Alarm.—First symptoms of popular Revolt.—Scene on the Pont Royal.—Charge on the people by a body of cavalry.—The Sommations.—General Lafayette and the Bonnet Rouge.—Popular Prejudices in France. England, and America.—Contest in the Quartier Montmartre.—The Place Louis XVI.—A frightened Sentinel.—Picturesque Bivouac of troops in the Carousel.—Critical situation.—Night-view from the Pont des Arts.—Appearance of the Streets on the following morning.—England an enemy to Liberty.—Affair at the Porte St. Denis.—Procession of Louis-Philippe through the streets.—Contest in the St. Mary.—Sudden Panic.—Terror of a national Guard and a young Conscript.—Dinner with a Courtier.—Suppression of the Revolt.
Events have thickened since my last letter. The cholera gradually disappeared, until it ceased to be the subject of conversation. As soon as the deaths diminished to two or three hundred a day, most people became easy; and when they got below a hundred, the disease might be said to be forgotten. But though the malady virtually disappeared, the public was constantly reminded of its passage by the deaths of those who, by force of extraordinary care, had been lingering under its fatal influence. M. Casimir Perier was of the number, and his death has been seized on as a good occasion to pass a public judgment on the measures of the government of the juste milieu, of which he has been popularly supposed to be the inventor, as well as the chief promoter. This opinion, I believe, however, to be erroneous. The system of the juste milieu means little more than to profess one thing and to do another; it is a stupendous fraud, and sooner or later will be so viewed and appropriately rewarded. It is a profession of liberty, with a secret intention to return to a government of force, availing itself of such means as offer, of which the most obvious, at present, are the stagnation of trade and the pressing necessities of all who depend on industry, in a country that is taxed nearly beyond endurance. Neither M. Perier, nor any other man, is the prime mover of such a system; for it depends on the Father of Lies, who usually employs the most willing agents he can discover. The inventor of the policy, sub Diabolo, is now in London. M. Perier had the merits of decision, courage, and business talents; and, so far from being the founder of the present system, he had a natural frankness, the usual concomitant of courage, that, under other circumstances, I think, would have indisposed him to its deceptions. But he was a manufacturer, and his spinning-jennies were very closely connected with his political faith. Another state of the market would, most probably, have brought him again into the liberal ranks.
The funeral obsequies of M. Perier having been loudly announced as a test of public opinion, I walked out, the morning they took place, to view the pomp. It amounted to little more than the effect which the patronage of the ministry can at any time produce. There was a display of troops and of the employés of the government, but little apparent sympathy on the part of the mass of the population. As the deceased was a man of many good qualities, this indifference was rather studied, proceeding from the discipline and collision of party politics. As an attempt to prove that the juste milieu met with popular approbations I think the experiment was a failure.
Very different was the result, in a similar attempt made by the opposition, at the funeral of General Lamarque. This distinguished officer fell also a victim to the cholera, and his interment took place on the 4th of June. The journals of the opposition had called upon its adherents to appear on this occasion, in order to convince the King and his ministers that they were pursuing a dangerous course, and one in which they were not sustained by the sentiment of the nation. The preparations wore a very different appearance from those made on the previous occasion. Then everything clearly emanated from authority; now, the government was visible in little besides its arrangements to maintain its own ascendency. The military rank of the deceased entitled him to a military escort, and this was freely accorded to his friends; perhaps the more freely, from the fact that it sanctioned the presence of so many more bayonets than were believed to be at the command of the ministers. It was said there were twenty thousand of the National Guards present in uniform, wearing, however, only their side-arms. This number may have been exaggerated, but there certainly were a great many. The whole procession, including the troops, has been estimated at a hundred thousand men. The route was by the Boulevards to the Jardin des Plantes, where the body was to be delivered to the family of the deceased, in order to be transported to the South of France for interment. Having other engagements, I merely viewed the preparations, and the commencement of the ceremonies, when I returned to our own quiet quarter of the town to pursue my own quiet occupations.
The day passed quietly enough with us, for the Faubourg St. Germain has so many large hotels, and so few shops, that crowds are never common; and, on this occasion, all the floating population appeared to have completely deserted us, to follow the procession of poor Lamarque. I do not remember to have alluded to the change produced in this particular, by the cholera, in the streets of Paris. It is supposed that at least ten thousand of those who have no other abodes, except the holes into which they crept at night, were swept out of them by this fell disease.
About five o'clock, I had occasion to go to the Rue de Rivoli, and I found the streets and the garden with much fewer people in them than was usual at that hour. There I heard a rumour that a slight disturbance had taken place on the Boulevard des Italiens, in consequence of a refusal of the Duc de Fitzjames, a leading Carlist, to take off his hat to the body of Lamarque, as he stood at a balcony. I had often met M. de Fitzjames in society, and, although a decided friend of the old regime, I knew his tone of feeling and manners to be too good, to credit a tale so idle. By a singular coincidence, the only time I had met with General Lamarque in private was at a little dinner given by Madame de M——, at which Monsieur de Fitzjames was also a guest. We were but five or six at table, and nothing could be more amicable, or in better taste, than the spirit of conciliation and moderation that prevailed between men so widely separated by opinion. This was not long before Gen. Lamarque was attacked by his final disease, and as there appeared to me to be improbability in the rumour of the affair of the Boulevards, I quite rightly set it down as one of the exaggerations that daily besiege our ears. It being near six, I consequently returned home to dinner, supposing that the day would end as so many had ended before.
We were at table, or it was about half-past six o'clock, when the drum beat the rappel. At one period, scarcely a day passed that we did not hear this summons; indeed, so frequent did it become, that I make little doubt the government resorted to it as an expedient to strengthen itself, by disgusting the National Guards with the frequency of the calls; but of late, the regular weekly parades excepted, we had heard nothing of it. A few minutes later, François, who had been sent to the porte-cochère, returned with the intelligence that a soldier of the National Guard had just passed it, bleeding at a wound in the head. On receiving this information, I left the hotel and proceeded towards the river. In the Rue du Bac, the great thoroughfare of the faubourg, I found a few men, and most of the women, at their shop-doors, and portes-cochères, but no one could say what was going on in the more distant quarters of the town. There were a few people on the quays and bridges, and, here and there, a solitary National Guard was going to his place of rendezvous. I walked rapidly through the garden, which, at that hour, was nearly empty, as a matter of course, and passing under the arch of the palace, crossed the court and the Carrousel to la Rue de Richelieu. A profound calm reigned in and about the chateau; the sentinels and loungers of the Guards seeming as tranquil as usual. There was no appearance of any coming and going with intelligence, and I inferred that the royal family was either at St. Cloud, or at Neuilly. Very few people were in the Place, or in the streets; but those who were, paused occasionally, looking about them with curiosity, and almost uniformly in a bewildered and inquiring manner.
I had reached the colonnade of the Théâtre Français, when a strong party of gendarmes à cheval went scouring up the street, at a full gallop. Their passage was so swift and sudden, that I cannot say in which direction they came, or whither they went, with the exception that they took the road to the Boulevards. A gendarme à pied was the only person near me, and I asked him, if he could explain the reason of the movement. "Je n'en sais rien," in the brusque manner that the French soldiers are a little apt to assume, when it suits their humours, was all the reply I got.
I walked leisurely into the galleries of the Palais Royal, which I had never before seen so empty. There was but a single individual in the garden, and he was crossing it swiftly, in the direction of the theatre. A head was, now and then, thrust out of a shop-door, but I never before witnessed such a calm in this place, which is usually alive with people. Passing part of the way through one of the glazed galleries, I was started by a general clatter that sprung up all around me in every direction, and which extended itself entirely around the whole of the long galleries. The interruption to the previous profound quiet, was as sudden as the report of a gun, and it became general, as it were, in an instant. I can liken the effect, after allowing for the difference in the noises, to that of letting fly sheets, tacks, and halyards, on board a vessel of war, in a squall, and to a sudden call to shorten sail. The place was immediately filled with men, women, and children, and the clatter proceeded from the window-shutters that were going up all over the vast edifice, at the same moment. In less than five minutes there was not a shop-window exposed.
Still there was no apparent approach of danger. The drums had almost ceased beating, and as I reached the Carrousel, on my way back to the Rue St. Dominique, I saw nothing in the streets to justify all this alarm, which was either the result of a panic, or was calculated for political effect; artifice acting on apprehension. A few people were beginning to collect on the bridges and quays, and there was evidently a greater movement towards the Pont Neuf, than in the lower parts of the town. As I crossed the Pont Royal, a brigade of light artillery came up the quays from the Ecole Militaire, the horses on the jump, and the men seated on the carriages, or mounted, as belongs to this arm. The noise and hurry of their passage was very exciting, and it gave an impulse to the shopkeepers of the Rue du Bac, most of whom now began to close their windows. The guns whirled across the bridge, and dashed into the Carrousel, on a gallop, by the guichet of the Louvre.
Continuing down the Rue du Bac, the street was full of people, chiefly females, who were anxiously looking towards the bridge. One garçon, as he aided his master in closing the shop-window, was edifying him with anathemas against "ces messieurs les républicains," who were believed to be at the bottom of the disturbance, and for whom he evidently thought that the artillery augured badly. The next day he would be ready to shout vive la république under a new impulse; but, at present, it is "vive le commerce!"
On reaching the hotel, I gave my account of what was going on, pacified the apprehensions that had naturally been awakened, and sallied forth a second time, to watch the course of events.
By this time some forty or fifty National Guards were collected on the quay, by the Pont Royal, a point where there ought to have been several hundreds. This was a sinister omen for the government, nor was the appearance of the crowd much more favourable. Tens of thousands now lined the quays, and loaded the bridges; nor were these people rabble, or sans culottes, but decent citizens, most of whom observed a grave, and, as I thought, a portentous silence. I make no manner of doubt that had a thousand determined men appeared among them at that moment, headed by a few leaders of known character, the government of Louis-Philippe would have dissolved like melting snow. Neither the National Guard, the army, nor the people were with it. Every one evidently waited the issue of events, without manifesting much concern for the fate of the present regime. Indeed it is not easy to imagine greater apathy, or indifference to the result, than was nearly everywhere visible. A few shopkeepers alone seemed troubled.
On the Pont Royal a little crowd was collected around one or two men of the labouring classes, who were discussing the causes of the disturbance. First questioning a respectable-looking by-stander as to the rumours, I mingled with the throng, in order to get an idea of the manner in which the people regarded the matter. It would seem that a collision had taken place between the troops and a portion of the citizens, and that a charge had been made by a body of cavalry on some of the latter, without having observed the formalities required by the law. Some of the people had raised the cry "aux arms;" several corps de garde had been disarmed, and many thousands were rallying in defence of their liberties. In short everything wore the appearance of the commencement of another revolution. The point discussed by the crowd, was the right of the dragoons to charge a body of citizens without reading the riot act, or making what the French call, the "sommations." I was struck with the plain common sense of one or two of the speakers, who were of the class of artisans, and who uttered more good reason, and displayed more right feeling, in the five minutes I listened, than one is apt to meet with, on the same subjects, in a year, in the salons of Paris. I was the more struck by this circumstance, in consequence of the manner in which the same topic had been broached, quite lately, in the Chamber of Deputies.
In one of the recent affairs in the east of France, the troops had fired on a crowd, without the previous sommations, in consequence, as was alleged, of some stones being hurled from the crowd against themselves. Every one, who has the smallest knowledge of a government of laws, understands its action in an affair of this sort. Ten thousand people are in a street, in their own right, and half a dozen of them commit an outrage. Military force becomes necessary, but before it is applied certain forms are required, to notify the citizen that his ordinary rights are suspended, in the interests of public order, and to warn him to go away. This is a provision that the commonest intellect can understand; and yet some of the leading administration men, lawyers too, maintained that soldiers had the rights of other men, and if stones were hurled at them from a crowd, they were perfectly justifiable in using their arms against that crowd! It is only necessary, you will perceive, to employ an agent, or two, to cast a few stones from a crowd, to place every collection of citizens at the mercy of an armed force, on this doctrine. A soldier has the right of a citizen to defend himself beyond dispute, against the man who assails him; but a citizen who is assailed from a crowd has no right to discharge a pistol into that crowd, by way of defending himself. But this is of a piece with most of the logic of the friends of exclusion. Their cause is bad, and their reasoning is necessarily bad also.
From the Pont Royal I proceeded to the Pont Neuf, where the collection of people was still more numerous, every eye being fastened on the quays in the direction of the Place de la Bastille, near which the disturbance had commenced. Nothing, however, was visible, though, once or twice, we heard a scattering fire of musketry. I waited here an hour, but nothing farther was heard, and, according to promise, I returned to the hotel, to repeat the little I had seen and gathered. In passing, I observed that the number of National Guards at the Pont Royal had increased to about a hundred.
After quieting the apprehensions of my family, I proceeded to quiet those of a lady of my acquaintance, who was nearly alone in her lodgings. I found her filled with apprehensions, and firmly believing that the present government was to be overturned. Among other things, she told me that the populace had drawn General Lafayette, in triumph, to his own house, and that, previously to the commencement of the conflict, he had been presented with a bonnet rouge, which he had put upon his head. The bonnet rouge, you will understand, with all Frenchmen is a symbol of extreme Jacobinism, and of the reign of terror. I laughed at her fears, and endeavoured to convince her that the idle tale about General Lafayette could not be true. So far from wishing to rule by terror, it was his misfortune not to resort to the measures of caution that were absolutely necessary to maintain his own legal ascendancy, whenever he got into power. He was an enthusiast for liberty, and acted on the principle that others were as well disposed and as honest as himself. But to all this she turned a deaf ear, for, though an amiable and a sensible woman, she had been educated in the prejudices of a caste, being the daughter and sister of peers of France.
I found the tale about General Lafayette quite rife, on going again into the streets. The disposition to give credit to vulgar reports of this nature, is not confined to those whose condition in life naturally dispose them to believe the worst of all above them, for the vulgar-minded form a class more numerous than one might be induced to think, on glancing a look around him. Liberality and generosity of feeling is the surest test of a gentleman; but, in addition to those of training and of a favourable association, except in very peculiar cases, they are apt to require some strong natural advantages, to help out the tendencies of breeding and education. Every one who has seen much of the world, must have remarked the disposition, on the part of those who have not had the same opportunities, to cavil at opinions and usages that they cannot understand, merely because they do not come within the circle of their own every-day and familiar usages. Our own country abounds with these rustic critics; and I can remember the time when there was a species of moral impropriety attached to practices that did not enter into every man's habits. It was almost deemed immoral to breakfast or dine at an hour later than one's neighbour. Now, just this sort of feeling, one quite as vulgar, and much more malignant, prevails in Europe against those who may see fit to entertain more liberal notions in politics than others of their class. In England, I have already told you, the system is so factitious, and has been so artfully constructed, by blending church and state, that it must be an uncommonly clever man who, in politics, can act vigorously on the golden rule of Christ, that of doing "unto others, as you would have others do unto you," and escape the imputation of infidelity! A desire to advance the interests of his fellow-creatures, by raising them in the social scale, is almost certain to cause a man to be set down as destitute of morals and honesty. By imputations of this nature, the efforts and influence of some of the best men England has ever produced, have been nearly neutralized, and there is scarcely a distinguished liberal in the kingdom, at this moment, whom even the well-meaning of the church-and-state party do not regard with a secret distrust of his intentions and character. In the practice of imitation this feeling has even extended (though in a mitigated form) to America, a country in which, were the truth felt and understood, a man could not possibly fulfil all the obligations of education and superior training, without being of the party of the people. Many gentlemen in America, beyond dispute, are not of the popular side, but I am of opinion that they make a fundamental mistake as gentlemen. They have permitted the vulgar feelings generated by contracted associations and the insignificant evils of a neighbourhood, to still within them the high feelings and generous tendencies that only truly belong to the caste.
In France, the English feeling, modified by circumstances, is very apparent, although it is not quite so much the fashion to lay stress on mere morality. The struggle of selfishness and interests is less veiled and mystified in France than on the other side of the Channel. But the selfish principle, if anything, is more active; and few struggle hard for others, without being suspected of base motives.
By looking back at the publications of the time, you will learn the manner in which Washington was vituperated by his enemies, at the commencement of the revolution. Graydon, in his "Memoirs of a Life spent in Pennsylvania," mentions a discourse he held with a young English officer, who evidently was well disposed, and wished to know the truth. This gentleman had been taught to believe Washington an adventurer, who had squandered the property of a young widow whom he had married, by gambling and dissipation, and who was now ready to embark in any desperate enterprise to redeem his fortune! This, then, was probably the honest opinion the British army, in 1776, entertained of the man, whom subsequent events have shown to have been uniformly actuated by the noblest sentiments, and who, instead of being the adventurer represented, is known to have put in jeopardy a large estate, through disinterested devotion to the country, and the prevailing predominant trait of whose character was an inflexible integrity of purpose. Now, Lafayette is obnoxious to a great deal of similar vulgar feeling, without being permitted, by circumstances, to render the purity of his motives as manifest, as was the better fortune of his great model, Washington. The unhandsome and abrupt manner in which he was dismissed from the command of the National Guards, though probably a peace-offering to the allies, was also intended to rob him of the credit of a voluntary resignation. —But, all this time, we are losing sight of what is passing in the streets of Paris.
Troops of the line began to appear in large bodies as the evening closed, and the reports now came so direct as to leave no doubt that there was a sharp contest going on in the more narrow streets of the Quartier Montmartre. All this time the feelings of the crowd on the bridges and quays appeared to be singularly calm. There was little or no interest manifested in favour of either side, and, indeed, it would not be easy to say what the side opposed to the government was. The Carlists looked distrustful, the republicans bold, and the juste milieu alarmed.
I went back to the hotel to make my report, again, about nine, and then proceeded by the quay and the Pont Louis XVI. to the Carrousel. By the way, I believe I have forgotten to say, in any of my letters, that in crossing the Place Louis XVI, with a French friend, a month or two since, he informed me he had lately conversed with Count—, who had witnessed the execution of Louis XVI, and that he was told there was a general error prevalent as regarded the spot where the guillotine was erected on that occasion. According to this account, which it is difficult to believe is not correct, it was placed on the side of the Place near the spot where the carriages for Versailles usually stand, and just within the borgnes that line the road that here diverges towards the quay. While correcting popular errors of this sort, I will add that M. Guillotine, the inventor of that instrument that bears his name, is, I believe, still living; the story of his having been executed on his own machine, being pure poetry.
Passing by the Rue de Rivoli, I went to see an English lady of our acquaintance, who resided in this quarter of the town. I found her alone, uneasy, and firmly persuaded that another revolution had commenced. She was an aristocrat by position, and though reasonably liberal, anxious to maintain the present order of things, like all the liberal aristocrats, who believe it to be the last stand against popular sway. She has also friends and connexions about the person of the King, and probably considered their fortunes as, in some measure, involved in those of the court. We condoled with each other, as a matter of course; she, because there was a revolution, and I, because the want of faith, and the stupendous frauds, practised under the present system, rendered it necessary.
It was near eleven o'clock before I quitted this part of the town. The streets were nearly deserted, a patrol occasionally passing; but the strangers were few, scarcely any having yet returned after their flight from the cholera. The gates of the garden were closed, and I found sentinels at the guichets of the Carrousel, who prevented my return by the usual route. Unwilling to make the détour by the way I had come, I proceeded by the Rue de Rivoli. As I was walking quite near to the palace, in order to avoid some mud, I came suddenly on a Garde National who was placed behind a sentry-box en faction. I cannot describe to you the furious scream with which this man cried "Allez au large." If he took me for a body of bloody-minded republicans, rushing forward to disarm him, I certainly thought he was some wild beast. The man was evidently frightened, and just in a condition to take every bush for an enemy. It is true the other party was rather actively employed in disarming the different guards, but this fellow was within a hundred feet of the Etat Major, and in no sort of danger. Notwithstanding the presented bayonet, I am not quite certain he would not have dropped his arms had I lifted my walking-stick, though one runs more hazard from a robber, or a sentinel, who is frightened, than from one who is cool. There was, however, no blood shed.
Finding the Carrousel closed to me, I passed into the Rue St. Honoré, which was also pretty well garnished with troops. A few truculent youths were shouting a short distance ahead of me, but, on the appearance of a patrol, they ran off. At length I got as far as the Rue du Coq St. Honoré, and seeing no one in the street, I turned short round its corner, thinking to get into the court of the Louvre, and to the other side of the river by the Pont des Arts. Instead of effecting this clever movement, I ran plump on a body of troops, who were drawn up directly across the street, in a triple line. This was a good position, for the men were quite protected from a fire, up or down the great thoroughfare, while by wheeling on either flank they were ready to act, in a moment, in either direction.
My reception was not flattering, but the officer in command was too cool, to mistake a solitary individual for a band of rebels, and I was suffered to continue up the Rue St. Honoré. I got into the rear of this guard by turning through the next opening. The court of the Louvre was unguarded and empty, and passing through it, I got a glimpse of a picturesque bivouac of troops in the Carrousel. Seeing no obstruction, I went in that direction, and penetrated to the very rear of a squadron of cuirassiers, who were dismounted, forming the outer line of the whole body. There may have been three or four thousand men of all arms assembled in this spot, chiefly, if not all, regular troops. I stayed among them unobserved, or at least, unmolested, near half an hour, watching the effect of the different groups, by the light of the camp fires. Strong patrols, principally cavalry, went and came constantly, and scarcely five minutes passed without the arrival and departure of mounted expresses, the head-quarters of the National Guards being in the palace.
It was drawing towards midnight, and I bethought me of the uneasiness of those I had left in the Rue St. Dominique. I was retiring by the upper guichet, the only one unguarded, and had nearly reached it, when a loud shout was heard on the quay. This sounded like service, and it was so considered by the troops, for the order "aux armes" was given in a moment. The cuirassiers mounted, wheeled into platoons, and trotted briskly towards the enemy with singular expedition. Unluckily, they directed their advance to the very guichet which I was also approaching. The idea of being caught between two fires, and that in a quarrel which did not concern me, was not agreeable. The state of things called for decision, and knowing the condition of affairs in the Carrousel, I preferred siding with the juste milieu, for once in my life.
The cuirassiers were too much in a hurry to get through the guichet, which was a defile, and too steady to cut me down in passing; and, first giving them a few minutes to take the edge off the affair, if there was to be any fighting, I followed them to the quay.
This alarm was real, I understood next day; but the revolters made their retreat by the Pont des Arts, which is impracticable for cavalry, attacking and carrying a corps de garde, in the Quartier St. Jacques. The cuirassiers were trotting briskly towards the Pont Neuf, in order to get at them, when I came out on the quay, and, profiting by the occasion, I got across the river, by the Pont des Arts.
It was strange to find myself alone on this bridge at midnight, in the heart of a great capital, at a moment when its streets were filled with troops, while contending factions were struggling for the mastery, and perhaps the fate of not only France, but of all Europe, was hanging on the issue! Excited by these reflections, I paused to contemplate the scene.
I have often told you how picturesque and beautiful Paris appears viewed from her bridges. The finest position is that of the Pont Royal; but the Pont des Arts, at night, perhaps affords even more striking glimpses of those ancient, tall, angular buildings along the river, that, but for their forms and windows, would resemble low rocky cliffs. In the centre of this mass of dwellings, among its damp and narrow streets, into which the sun rarely penetrates, lay bodies of men, sleeping on their arms, or merely waiting for the dawn, to decide the fate of the country. It was carrying one back to the time of the "League" and the "Fronde," and I involuntarily cast my eyes to that balconied window in the Louvre, where Charles IX. is said to have stood when he fired upon the flying Protestants. The brooding calm that reigned around was both characteristic and strange. Here was an empire in jeopardy, and yet the population had quietly withdrawn into their own abodes, awaiting the issue with as much apparent tranquillity, as if the morrow was to be like another day. Use, and a want of sympathy between the governed and their governors, had begotten this indifference.
When I reached the Quai Voltaire, not a man was visible, except a picket on the Pont Royal. Not knowing but some follower of the House of Orleans, more loyal than usual, might choose to detain me, because I came from America, I passed down one of the first streets, entering the Rue du Bac, at some distance from the bridge. I met but half a dozen people between the quays and the Hotel de ——, and all the shops were hermetically sealed. As soon as I entered, the porter shut and barred the gate of our own hotel, and we retired, to rise and see what a "night might bring forth."
"Les canons grondent dans les rues, monsieur" was the remark of the porter, as I passed out into the street next morning. The population was circulating freely in our part of the town; the shops, too, were re-opened, and it appeared to be pretty generally understood that no fighting was to take place in that vicinity. Passing up the Rue du Bac, I met three Gardes Nationaux, who, by their conversation, were fresh from the field, having passed the night in what may be called the enemy's country. They were full of marvels, and, in their own opinion, full of glory.
The streets were now alive with people, the quays and bridges being still resorted to, on account of their affording an unobstructed avenue to the sounds that came from the quarter where the conflict was going on. Occasionally, a discharge of musketry reached these spots, and once or twice I heard the report of a gun; but the firing was desultory, far from heavy, and irregular.
In the Carrousel I met an English acquaintance, and we agreed to go towards the scene of action together, in order to learn what was going on. My companion was loud in his complaints against the revolters, who, he said, would retard the progress of liberty half a century by their rashness. The government would put them down, and profit by its victory to use strong measures. I have learned to distrust the liberalism of some of the English, who are too apt to consult their own national interests, in regarding the rights of their neighbours. This, you will say, is no more than human nature, which renders all men selfish. True; but the concerns of few nations being as extensive, varied, and artificial, as those of England, the people of other countries are not liable to be influenced by so many appeals to divert them from a sound and healthful state of feeling. England, as a nation, has never been a friend of liberty in other nations, as witness her long and bitter hostility to ourselves, to France and Holland, and her close alliance with Turkey, Persia, etc., etc. Just at this moment, apprehension of Russia causes her to dilate a little more than usual on the encouragement of liberty; but it is a mystification that can deceive no one of the least observation. Of whatever sins England is to be accused, as a nation, she cannot be accused of that of political propagandism. Even her own recent progress in liberty has been the result of foreign and external example. I now speak of the state, which extends its influence very far into society; but there are many individuals who carry their principles as far as any men on earth. This latter class, moreover, is largely and rapidly on the increase, has always effected, and will still effect, far more than the slate itself in favour of freedom.
We went by the Palais Royal, the Passages Vivienne, and du Panorama, to the Boulevards. The streets were filled with people, as on a fête, and there appeared still to be a good deal of anxiety as to the result. There were plenty of troops, report saying that sixty thousand men were under arms on the side of the government. Half that number would suffice to assure its success unless there should prove to be disaffection. Had a single regiment of the line declared against the King the previous day, or even on the 6th of June, Louis-Philippe, in my opinion, would have been dethroned. But, so far as I can learn, none of the principal persons of the opposition appeared against him on this occasion, or seemed to have any connexion with the affair.
My companion left me on the Boulevards, and I proceeded towards the Porte St. Denis where there was evidently something like a contest. There was a little firing, and I met one or two wounded men, who were retiring to their casernes. One was shot through the body. But the affair at the Porte St. Denis proved to be nothing serious, and was soon over. The revolters had retired into the Rue St. Méry, where they were closely encircled by large bodies of troops, and whither I did not deem it prudent to follow them. The struggle, in that direction, was much sharper, and we occasionally heard cannon.
You will probably be curious to know if one did not feel uneasy, in walking about the streets of a town, while so many men were contending in its streets. A moment's reflection will show you that there was little or no danger. One could find a cover in a moment. The streets were thronged, and it was little probable that either party would wantonly fire on the mass. The contest was confined to a particular part of the town, and then a man of ordinary discretion would hardly be so silly as to expose himself unnecessarily, in a quarrel with which he had no concern. Women and children were certainly killed on this occasion, but it was probably under circumstances that did not, in the least, affect the great body of the inhabitants.
The cafés were frequented as usual, and a little distance from the scene of action, everything wore the air of an ordinary Sunday, on which the troops were to be reviewed. The morning passed in this manner, when, about four o'clock, I again found myself at the Pont Royal, after paying a visit to the hotel. Here I met two American friends, and we walked by the quay of the palace, towards the Pont Neuf. The people were in a dense crowd, and it was even difficult to penetrate the mass. Just before we reached the bridge, we heard shouts and cries of Vive le Roi, and presently I saw M. de Chabot-Rohan, the first honorary aide-de-camp, a gentleman whom I personally knew, and who usually led the cortege of the King. It would seem that Louis-Philippe had arrived from the country, and had passed by the Boulevards to the Place de la Bastille, whence he was now returning to the Tuileries, by the quays. His appearance in the streets, during such a scene, has been much lauded, and the firmness necessary to the occasion, much dwelt on in the papers. A very timid man might certainly have been afraid to expose his person in this manner, but the risk was by no means as great as has been supposed. The cortege was nowhere under fire, nor, but for, a few minutes, near the scene of action; and it was not easy to assassinate a man moving through streets that were filled with troops. Au reste, there is no reason whatever to suppose the King would not have behaved personally well, in far more critical circumstances. The royal party passed into the Carrousel by the court of the Louvre, while we turned upon the bridge.
The Pont Neuf was crowded with troops, who occupied the trottoirs, and with men, women, and children. There had been some skirmishing at the Place de Grève, and the scene of the principal contest, the Rue St. Méry, was near by. We were slowly threading the crowd with our faces towards the island, when a discharge of musketry (four or five pieces at most), directly behind us, and quite near, set everybody in motion. A flock of sheep would not have scattered in greater confusion, at the sudden appearance of a strange dog among them, than the throng on the bridge began to scamper. Fear is the most contagious of all diseases, and, for a moment, we found ourselves running with the rest. A jump or two sufficed, however, and we stopped. Two soldiers, one a National Guard, and the other a young conscript, belonging to the line, caught my eye, and knowing there was no danger, we had time to stop and laugh at them. The National Guard was a little Mayeux-looking fellow, with an abdomen like a pumpkin, and he had caught hold of his throat, as if it were actually to prevent his heart from jumping out of his mouth. A caricature of fright could scarcely be more absurd. The young conscript, a fair red-haired youth, was as white as a sheet, and he stood with his eyes and mouth open, like one who thought he saw a ghost, immoveable as a statue. He was sadly frightened, too. The boy would probably have come to, and proved a good soldier in the end; but as for Mr. Mayeux, although scarcely five feet high, he appeared as if he could never make himself short enough. He had evidently fancied the whole affair a good joke, up to that precise moment, when, for the first time, the realities of a campaign burst upon his disordered faculties. The troops in general, while they pricked up their ears, disdained even to shoulder their arms. For those on the bridge, there was, in truth, no danger, although the nearness of the volley, and the suddenness of the alarm, were well adapted to set a crowd in motion. The papers next day, said one or two had been slain by this discharge, which actually came from the revolters.
You will probably be surprised, when I tell you that I had an engagement to dine to-day, with a gentleman who fills a high situation near the person of the King. He had sent me no notice of a postponement, and as I had seen him pass in the cortège, I was reminded that the hour to dress was near. Accordingly, I returned home, in order to prove to him that I was as indifferent as any Frenchman could be, to the events we had all just witnessed. I found a dozen people assembled in the drawing-room of Madame ——, at six o'clock precisely, the same as if Paris were quite tranquil. The General had not yet returned, but I was enabled to report that he had entered the palace in safety. A moment before the dinner was announced, he returned, and brought the information that the revolt was virtually suppressed, a few desperate individuals, who had thrown themselves into a church, alone holding out. He was in high spirits, and evidently considered the affair a triumph to Louis-Philippe.
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