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Chapter 10


MY VISIT TO THE BARRICADE

My coachman deposited me at the corner of Saint Eustache, and said to
me, "Here you are in the hornets' nest."

He added, "I will wait for you in the Rue de la Vrillière, near the
Place des Victoires. Take your time."

I began walking from barricade to barricade.

In the first I met De Flotte, who offered to serve me as a guide. There
is not a more determined man than De Flotte. I accepted his offer; he
took me everywhere where my presence could be of use.

On the way he gave me an account of the steps taken by him to print our
proclamations; Boulé's printing-office having failed him, he had applied
to a lithographic press, at No. 30, Rue Bergère, and at the peril of
their lives two brave men had printed 500 copies of our decrees. These
two true-hearted workmen were named, the one Rubens, the other Achille
Poincellot.

While walking I made jottings in pencil (with Baudin's pencil, which I
had with me); I registered facts at random; I reproduce this page here.
These living facts are useful for History; the _coup d'état_ is there,
as though freshly bleeding.

"Morning of the 4th. It looks as if the combat was suspended. Will it
burst forth again? Barricades visited by me: one at the corner of
Saint Eustache. One at the Oyster Market. One in the Rue Mauconseil.
One in the Rue Tiquetonne. One in the Rue Mandar (Rocher de Cancale).
One barring the Rue du Cadran and the Rue Montorgueil. Four closing
the Petit-Carreau. The beginning of one between the Rue des Deux
Portes and the Rue Saint Sauveur, barring the Rue Saint Denis. One,
the largest, barring the Rue Saint Denis, at the top of the Rue
Guérin-Boisseau. One barring the Rue Grenetat. One farther on in the
Rue Grenetat, barring the Rue Bourg-Labbé (in the centre an overturned
flour wagon; a good barricade). In the Rue Saint Denis one barring the
Rue de Petit-Lion-Saint-Sauveur. One barring the Rue du Grand
Hurleur, with its four corners barricaded. This barricade has already
been attacked this morning. A combatant, Massonnet, a comb-maker of
154, Rue Saint Denis, received a ball in his overcoat; Dupapet, called
'the man with the long beard,' was the last to stay on the summit of
the barricade. He was heard to cry out to the officers commanding the
attack, 'You are traitors!' He is believed to have been shot. The
troops retired--strange to say without demolishing the barricade. A
barricade is being constructed in the Rue du Renard. Some National
Guards in uniform watch its construction, but do not work on it. One
of them said to me, 'We are not against you, you are on the side of
Right.' They add that there are twelve or fifteen barricades in the
Rue Rambuteau. This morning at daybreak the cannon had fired
'steadily,' as one of them remarks, in the Rue Bourbon-Villeneuve. I
visit a powder manufactory improvised by Leguevel at a chemist's
opposite the Rue Guérin-Boisseau.

"They are constructing the barricades amicably, without angering any
one. They do what they can not to annoy the neighborhood. The combatants
of the Bourg-Labbé barricades are ankle-deep in mud on account of the
rain. It is a perfect sewer. They hesitate to ask for a truss of straw.
They lie down in the water or on the pavement.

"I saw there a young man who was ill, and who had just got up from his
bed with the fever still on him. He said to me, 'I am going to my death'
(he did so).

"In the Rue Bourbon-Villeneuve they had not even asked a mattress of the
'shopkeepers,' although, the barricade being bombarded, they needed them
to deaden the effect of the balls.

"The soldiers make bad barricades, because they make them too well. A
barricade should be tottering; when well built it is worth nothing; the
paving-stones should want equilibrium, 'so that they may roll down on
the troopers,' said a street-boy to me, 'and break their paws.' Sprains
form a part of barricade warfare.

"Jeanty Sarre is the chief of a complete group of barricades. He
presented his first lieutenant to me, Charpentier, a man of thirty-six,
lettered and scientific. Charpentier busies himself with experiments
with the object of substituting gas for coal and wood in the firing of
china, and he asks permission to read a tragedy to me 'one of these
days.' I said to him, 'We shall make one.'

"Jeanty Sarre is grumbling at Charpentier; the ammunition is failing.
Jeanty Sarre, having at his house in the Rue Saint Honoré a pound of
fowling-powder and twenty army cartridges, sent Charpentier to get them.
Charpentier went there, and brought back the fowling-powder and the
cartridges, but distributed them to the combatants on the barricades
whom he met on the way. 'They were as though famished,' said he.
Charpentier had never in his life touched a fire-arm. Jeanty Sarre
showed him how to load a gun.

"They take their meals at a wine-seller's at the corner, and they warm
themselves there. It is very cold. The wine-seller says, 'Those who are
hungry, go and eat.' A combatant asked him, 'Who pays?' 'Death,' was the
answer. And in truth some hours afterwards he had received seventeen
bayonet thrusts.

"They have not broken the gas-pipes--always for the sake of not doing
unnecessary damage. They confine themselves to requisitioning the
gasmen's keys, and the lamplighters' winches in order to open the pipes.
In this manner they control the lighting or extinguishing.

"This group of barricades is strong, and will play an important part. I
had hoped at one moment that they would attack it while I was there. The
bugle had approached, and then had gone away again. Jeanty Sarre tells
me 'it will be for this evening.'

"His intention is to extinguish the gas in the Rue du Petit-Carreau and
all the adjoining streets, and to leave only one jet lighted in the Rue
du Cadran. He has placed sentinels as far as the corner of the Rue Saint
Denis; at that point there is an open side, without barricades, but
little accessible to the troops, on account of the narrowness of the
streets, which they can only enter one by one. Thence little danger
exists, an advantage of narrow streets; the troops are worth nothing
unless massed together. The soldier does not like isolated action; in
war the feeling of elbow to elbow constitutes half the bravery. Jeanty
Sarre has a reactionary uncle with whom he is not on good terms, and who
lives close by at No. 1, Rue du Petit-Carreau.--'What a fright we shall
give him presently!' said Jeanty Sarre to me, laughing. This morning
Jeanty Sarre has inspected the Montorgueil barricade. There was only one
man on it, who was drunk, and who put the barrel of his gun against his
breast, saying, 'No thoroughfare.' Jeanty Sarre disarmed him.

"I go to the Rue Pagevin. There at the corner of the Place des Victoires
there is a well-constructed barricade. In the adjoining barricade in the
Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, the troops this morning made no prisoners.
The soldiers had killed every one. There are corpses as far as the Place
des Victoires. The Pagevin barricade held its own. There are fifty men
there, well armed. I enter. 'Is all going on well?' 'Yes.' 'Courage.' I
press all these brave hands; they make a report to me. They had seen a
Municipal Guard smash in the head of a dying man with the butt end of
his musket. A pretty young girl, wishing to go home, took refuge in the
barricade. There, terrified, she remained for an hour. When all danger
was over, the chef of the barricade caused her to be reconducted home by
the eldest of his men.

"As I was about to leave the barricade Pagevin, they brought me a
prisoner, a police spy, they said.

"He expected to be shot. I had him set at liberty."

Bancel was in this barricade of the Rue Pagevin. We shook hands.

He asked me,--

"Shall we conquer?"

"Yes," I answered.

We then could hardly entertain a doubt.

De Flotte and Bancel wished to accompany me, fearing that I should be
arrested by the regiment guarding the Bank.

The weather was misty and cold, almost dark. This obscurity concealed
and helped us. The fog was on our side.

As we reached the corner of the Rue de la Vrillière, a group on
horseback passed by.

It consisted of a few others, preceded by a man who seemed a soldier,
but who was not in uniform. He wore a cloak with a hood.

De Flotte nudged me with his elbow, and whispered,--

"Do you know Fialin?"

I answered,--

"No."

"Have you seen him?

"No."

"Do you wish to see him?"

"No."

"Look at him."

I looked at him.

This man in truth was passing before us. It was he who preceded the
group of officers. He came out of the Bank. Had he been there to effect
a new forced loan? The people who were at the doors looked at him with
curiosity, and without anger. His entire bearing was insolent. He turned
from time to time to say a word to one of his followers. This little
cavalcade "pawed the ground" in the mist and in the mud. Fialin had the
arrogant air of a man who caracoles before a crime. He gazed at the
passers-by with a haughty look. His horse was very handsome, and, poor
beast, seemed very proud. Fialin was smiling. He had in his hand the
whip that his face deserved.

He passed by. I never saw the man except on this occasion.

De Flotte and Bancel did not leave me until they had seen me get into my
vehicle. My true-hearted coachman was waiting for me in the Rue de la
Vrillière. He brought me back to No 15, Rue Richelieu.


Victor Hugo