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Chapter 6


DENIS DUSSOUBS

Gaston Dussoubs was one of the bravest members of the Left. He was a
Representative of the Haute-Vienne. At the time of his first appearance
in the Assembly he wore, as formerly did Théophile Gautier, a red
waistcoat, and the shudder which Gautier's waistcoat caused among the men
of letters in 1830, Gaston Dussoubs' waistcoat caused among the Royalists
of 1851. M. Parisis, Bishop of Langres, who would have had no objection
to a red hat, was terrified by Gaston Dussoubs' red waistcoat. Another
source of horror to the Right was that Dussoubs had, it was said, passed
three years at Belle Isle as a political prisoner, a penalty incurred by
the "Limoges Affair." Universal Suffrage had, it would seem, taken him
thence to place him in the Assembly. To go from the prison to the Senate
is certainly not very surprising in our changeful times, although it is
sometimes followed by a return from the Senate to the prison. But the
Right was mistaken, the culprit of Limoges was, not Gaston Dussoubs, but
his brother Denis.

In fine, Gaston Dussoubs inspired fear. He was witty, courageous, and
gentle.

In the summer of 1851 I went to dine every day at the Concièrgerie with
my two sons and my two imprisoned friends. These great hearts and great
minds, Vacquerie, Meurice, Charles, and François Victor, attracted men of
like quality. The livid half-light that crept in through latticed and
barred windows disclosed a family circle at which there often assembled
eloquent orators, among others Crémieux, and powerful and charming
writers, including Peyrat.

One day Michel de Bourges brought to us Gaston Dussoubs.

Gaston Dussoubs lived in the Faubourg St. Germain, near the Assembly.

On the 2d of December we did not see him at our meetings. He was ill,
"nailed down" as he wrote me, by rheumatism of the joints, and compelled
to keep his bed.

He had a brother younger than himself, whom we have just mentioned, Denis
Dussoubs. On the morning of the 4th his brother went to see him.

Gaston Dussoubs knew of the _coup d'état_, and was exasperated at being
obliged to remain in bed. He exclaimed, "I am dishonored. There will be
barricades, and my sash will not be there!"

"Yes," said his brother. "It will be there!"

"How?"

"Lend it to me."

"Take it."

Denis took Gaston's sash, and went away.

We shall see Denis Dussoubs later on.

Victor Hugo