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Chapter 10


WHAT FLEURY WENT TO DO AT MAZAS

During the same night towards four o'clock the approaches of the
Northern Railway Station were silently invested by two regiments; one
of Chasseurs de Vincennes, the other of _Gendarmerie Mobile_. Numerous
squads of _sergents de ville_ installed themselves in the terminus. The
station-master was ordered to prepare a special train and to have an
engine ready. A certain number of stokers and engineers for night
service were retained. No explanation however was vouchsafed to any
one, and absolute secrecy was maintained. A little before six o'clock a
movement was apparent in the troops. Some _sergents de ville_ came
running up, and a few minutes afterwards a squadron of Lancers emerged
at a sharp trot from the Rue du Nord. In the centre of the squadron and
between the two lines of horse-soldiers could be seen two police-vans
drawn by post-horses, behind each vehicle came a little open barouche,
in which there sat one man. At the head of the Lancers galloped the
aide-de-camp Fleury.

The procession entered the courtyard, then the railway station, and the
gates and doors were reclosed.

The two men in the barouches made themselves known to the Special
Commissary of the station, to whom the aide-de-camp Fleury spoke
privately. This mysterious convoy excited the curiosity of the railway
officials; they questioned the policemen, but these knew nothing. All
that they could tell was that these police-vans contained eight places,
that in each van there were four prisoners, each occupying a cell, and
that the four other cells were filled by four _sergents de ville_
placed between the prisoners so as to prevent any communication between
the cells.

After various consultations between the aide-de-camp of the Elysée and
the men of the Prefect Maupas, the two police-vans were placed on
railway trucks, each having behind it the open barouche like a wheeled
sentry-box, where a police agent acted as sentinel. The engine was
ready, the trucks were attached to the tender, and the train started. It
was still pitch dark.

For a long time the train sped on in the most profound silence.
Meanwhile it was freezing, in the second of the two police-vans, the
_sergents de ville_, cramped and chilled, opened their cells, and in
order to warm and stretch themselves walked up and down the narrow
gangway which runs from end to end of the police-vans. Day had broken,
the four _sergents de ville_ inhaled the outside air and gazed at the
passing country through a species of port-hole which borders each side
of the ceiling of the passage. Suddenly a loud voice issued from one of
the cells which had remained closed, and cried out, "Hey! there! it is
very cold, cannot I relight my cigar here?"

Another voice immediately issued from a second cell, and said, "What! it
is you? Good-morning, Lamoricière!"

"Good-morning, Cavaignac!" replied the first voice.

General Cavaignac and General Lamoricière had just recognized each
other.

A third voice was raised from a third cell. "Ah! you are there,
gentlemen. Good-morning and a pleasant journey."

He who spoke then was General Changarnier.

"Generals?" cried out a fourth voice. "I am one of you!"

The three generals recognized M. Baze. A burst of laughter came from the
four cells simultaneously.

This police-van in truth contained, and was carrying away from Paris,
the Questor Baze, and the Generals Lamoricière, Cavaignac, and
Changarnier. In the other vehicle, which was placed foremost on the
trucks, there were Colonel Charras, Generals Bedeau and Le Flô, and
Count Roger (du Nord).

At midnight these eight Representative prisoners were sleeping in their
cells at Mazas, when they heard a sudden knocking at their doors, and a
voice cried out to them, "Dress, they are coming to fetch you." "Is it to
shoot us?" cried Charras from the other side of the door. They did not
answer him. It is worth remarking that this idea came simultaneously to
all. And in truth, if we can believe what has since transpired through
the quarrels of accomplices, it appears that in the event of a sudden
attack being made by us upon Mazas to deliver them, a fusillade had been
resolved upon, and that St. Arnaud had in his pocket the written order,
signed "Louis Bonaparte."

The prisoners got up. Already on the preceding night a similar notice
had been given to them. They had passed the night on their feet, and at
six o'clock in the morning the jailer said to them, "You can go to bed."
The hours passed by; they ended by thinking it would be the same as the
preceding night, and many of them, hearing five o'clock strike from the
clock tower inside the prison, were going to get back into bed, when the
doors of their cells were opened. All the eight were taken downstairs
one by one into the clerk's office in the Rotunda, and were then ushered
into the police-van without having met or seen each other during the
passage. A man dressed in black, with an impertinent bearing, seated at
a table with pen in hand, stopped them on their way, and asked their
names. "I am no more disposed to tell you my name than I am curious to
learn yours," answered General Lamoricière, and he passed outside.

The aide-de-camp Fleury, concealing his uniform under his hooded cloak,
stationed himself in the clerk's office. He was charged, to use his own
words, to "embark" them, and to go and report their "embarkation" at the
Elysée. The aide-de-camp Fleury had passed nearly the whole of his
military career in Africa in General Lamoricière's division; and it was
General Lamoricière who in 1848, then being Minister of War, had
promoted him to the rank of major. While passing through the clerk's
office, General Lamoricière looked fixedly at him.

When they entered the police-vans the generals were smoking cigars. They
took them from them. General Lamoricière had kept his. A voice from
outside cried three separate times, "Stop his smoking!" A _sergent de
ville_ who was standing by the door of the cell hesitated for
some time, but however ended by saying to the general, "Throw away your
cigar."

Thence later on ensued the exclamation which caused General Cavaignac to
recognize General Lamoricière. The vehicles having been loaded they set
off.

They did not know either with whom they were or where they were going.
Each observed for himself in his box the turnings of the streets, and
tried to speculate. Some believed that they were being taken to the
Northern Railway Station; others thought to the Havre Railway Station.
They heard the trot of the escort on the paving-stones.

On the railway the discomfort of the cells greatly increased. General
Lamoricière, encumbered with a parcel and a cloak, was still more jammed
in than the others. He could not move, the cold seized him, and he ended
by the exclamation which put all four of them in communication with each
other.

On hearing the names of the prisoners their keepers, who up to that time
had been rough, became respectful. "I say there," said General
Changarnier, "open our cells, and let us walk up and down the passage
like yourselves." "General," said a _sergent de ville_, "we are forbidden
to do so. The Commissary of Police is behind the carriage in a barouche,
whence he sees everything that is taking place here." Nevertheless, a
few moments afterwards, the keepers, under pretext of cold, pulled up
the ground-glass window which closed the vehicle on the side of the
Commissary, and having thus "blocked the police," as one of them
remarked, they opened the cells of the prisoners.

It was with great delight that the four Representatives met again and
shook hands. Each of these three generals at this demonstrative moment
maintained the character of his temperament. Lamoricière, impetuous and
witty, throwing himself with all his military energy upon "the Bonaparte;"
Cavaignac, calm and cold; Changarnier, silent and looking out through
the port-hole at the landscape. The _sergents de ville_ ventured to put
in a word here and there. One of them related to the prisoners that the
ex-Prefect Carlier had spent the night of the First and Second at the
Prefecture of Police. "As for me," said he, "I left the Prefecture at
midnight, but I saw him up to that hour, and I can affirm that at
midnight he was there still."

They reached Creil, and then Noyon. At Noyon they gave them some
breakfast, without letting them get out, a hurried morsel and a glass of
wine. The Commissaries of Police did not open their lips to them. Then
the carriages were reclosed, and they felt they were being taken off the
trucks and being replaced on the wheels. Post horses arrived, and the
vehicles set out, but slowly; they were now escorted by a company of
infantry _Gendarmerie Mobile_.

When they left Noyon they had been ten hours in the police-van. Meanwhile
the infantry halted. They asked permission to get out for a moment "We
consent," said one of the Commissaries of the Police, "but only for a
minute, and on condition that you will give your word of honor not to
escape." "We will give our word of honor," replied the prisoners.
"Gentlemen," continued the Commissary, "give it to me only for one
minute, the time to drink a glass of water." "No," said General
Lamoricière, "but the time to do the contrary," and he added, "To Louis
Bonaparte's health." They allowed them to get out, one by one, and they
were, able to inhale for a moment the fresh air in the open country by
the side of the road.

Then the convoy resumed its march.

As the day waned they saw through their port-hole a mass of high walls,
somewhat overtopped by a great round tower. A moment afterwards the
carriages entered beneath a low archway, and then stopped in the centre
of a long courtyard, steeply embanked, surrounded by high walls, and
commanded by two buildings, of which one had the appearance of a
barrack, and the other, with bars at all the windows, had the appearance
of a prison. The doors of the carriages were opened. An officer who wore
a captain's epaulets was standing by the steps. General Changarnier came
down first. "Where are we?" said he. The officer answered, "You are at
Ham."

This officer was the Commandant of the Fort. He had been appointed to
this post by General Cavaignac.

The journey from Noyon to Ham had lasted three hours and a half. They
had spent thirteen hours in the police van, of which ten were on the
railway.

They led them separately into the
prison, each to the room that was allotted to him. However, General
Lamoricière having been taken by mistake into Cavaignac's room, the two
generals could again exchange a shake of the hand. General Lamoricière
wished to write to his wife; the only letter which the Commissaries of
Police consented to take charge of was a note containing this line: "I
am well."

The principal building of the prison of Ham is composed of a story above
the ground floor. The ground floor is traversed by a dark and low
archway, which leads from the principal courtyard into a back yard, and
contains three rooms separated by a passage; the first floor contains
five rooms. One of the three rooms on the ground floor is only a little
ante-room, almost uninhabitable; there they lodged M. Baze. In the
remaining lower chambers they installed General Lamoricière and General
Changarnier. The five other prisoners were distributed in the five rooms
of the first floor.

The room allotted to General Lamoricière had been occupied in the time
of the captivity of the Ministers of Charles X. by the ex-Minister of
Marine, M. d'Haussez. It was a low, damp room, long uninhabited, and
which had served as a chapel, adjoining the dreary archway which led
from one courtyard to the other, floored with great planks slimy and
mouldy, to which the foot adhered, papered with a gray paper which had
turned green, and which hung in rags, exuding saltpetre from the floor
to the ceiling, lighted by two barred windows looking on to the
courtyard, which had always to be left open on account of the smoky
chimney. At the bottom of the room was the bed, and between the windows
a table and two straw-bottomed chairs. The damp ran down the walls. When
General Lamoricière left this room he carried away rheumatism with him;
M. de Haussez went out crippled.

When the eight prisoners had entered their rooms, the doors were shut
upon them; they heard the bolts shot from outside, and they were told:
"You are in close confinement."

General Cavaignac occupied on the first floor the former room of M. Louis
Bonaparte, the best in the prison. The first thing which struck the eye
of the General was an inscription traced on the well, and stating the day
when Louis Bonaparte had entered this fortress, and the day when he had
left it, as is well known, disguised as a mason, and with a plank on his
shoulder. Moreover, the choice of this building was an attention on the
part of M. Louis Bonaparte, who having in 1848 taken the place of General
Cavaignac in power; wished that in 1851 General Cavaignac should take his
place in prison.

"Turn and turn about!" Morny had said, smiling.

The prisoners were guarded by the 48th of the Line, who formed the
garrison at Ham. The old Bastilles are quite impartial. They obey those
who make _coups d'état_ until the day when they clutch them. What do
these words matter to them, Equity, Truth, Conscience, which moreover in
certain circles do not move men any more than stones? They are the cold
and gloomy servants of the just and of the unjust. They take whatever is
given them. All is good to them. Are they guilty? Good! Are they
innocent? Excellent! This man is the organizer of an ambush. To prison!
This man is the victim of an ambush! Enter him in the prison register!
In the same room. To the dungeon with all the vanquished!

These hideous Bastilles resemble that old human justice which possessed
precisely as much conscience as they have, which condemned Socrates and
Jesus, and which also takes and leaves, seizes and releases, absolves
and condemns, liberates and incarcerates, opens and shuts, at the will
of whatever hand manipulates the bolt from outside.


Victor Hugo