THE SIEGE OF PARIS.
EXTRACTS FROM NOTE-BOOKS
BRUSSELS, September 1.--Charles* leaves this morning
with MM. Claretie, Proust, and Frédérix for Virton.
Fighting is going on near there, at Carignan. They will
see what they can of the battle. They will return tomorrow.
* Victor Hugo's son.
September 2.--Charles and his friends did not return to-day.
September 3.--Yesterday, after the decisive battle had
been lost, Louis Napoleon, who was taken prisoner at
Sedan, surrendered his sword to the King of Prussia. Just
a month ago, on August 2, at Sarrebrück, he was playing
To save France now would be to save Europe.
Shouting newsboys pass, with enormous posters on which
are the words: "Napoleon III. a Prisoner."
5 o'clock.--Charles and our friends have returned.
9 o'clock.--Meeting of exiles at which Charles and I are
Query: Tricolour flag or red flag?
September 4.--The deposition of the Emperor is proclaimed
At 1 o'clock a meeting of exiles is held at my house.
At 3 o'clock I receive a telegram from Paris couched
in the following terms: "Bring the children with you."
Which means "Come."
MM. Claretie and Proust dined with us.
During the dinner a telegram signed "François Hugo"
arrived, announcing that a provisional government had
been formed: Jules Favre, Gambetta, Thiers.
September 5.--At 6 o'clock in the morning a telegram
signed "Barbieux," and asking the hour of my arrival in
Paris, is brought to me. I instruct Charles to answer that
I shall arrive at 9 o'clock at night. We shall take the
children with us. We shall leave by the 2.35 o'clock train.
The Provisional Government (according to the newspapers)
is made up of all the Deputies of Paris, with the
exception of Thiers.
At noon, as I was about to leave Brussels for Paris, a
young man, a Frenchman, accosted me in the Place de la
Monnaie and said:
Monsieur, they tell me that you are Victor Hugo."
"Be so kind as to enlighten me. I would like to know
whether it is prudent to go to Paris at present."
"Monsieur, it is very imprudent, but you should go,"
was my reply.
We entered France at 4 o'clock.
At Tergnier, at 6.30, we dined upon a piece of bread, a
little cheese, a pear and a glass of wine. Claretie insisted
upon paying, and said: "I want particularly to give you
a dinner on the day of your return to France."
En route I saw in the woods a camp of French soldiers,
men and horses mingled. I shouted to them: "Long live
the army!" and I wept.
At frequent intervals we came across train-loads of soldiers
on their way to Paris. Twenty-five of these passed
during the day. As one of them went by we gave to the
soldiers all the provisions we had, some bread, fruit and
wine. The sun shone brightly and was succeeded by a
We arrived in Paris at 9.35 o'clock. An immense crowd
awaited me. It was an indescribable welcome. I spoke
four times, once from the balcony of a café and thrice from
When I took leave of this ever-growing crowd, which
escorted me to Paul Meurice's, in the Avenue Frochot, I
said to the people: "In one hour you repay me for twenty
years of exile."
They sang the "Marseillaise" and the "Chant du Depart."
They shouted: "Long live Victor Hugo!"
The journey from the Northern Railway station to the
Rue Laval took two hours.
We arrived at Meurice's, where I am to stay, at mid-night.
I dined with my travelling companions and Victor.
I went to bed at 2 o'clock.
At daybreak I was awakened by a terrible storm. Thunder
I shall take breakfast with Paul Meurice, and we shall
dine together at the Hotel Navarin, in the Rue Navarin,
where my family is staying.
PARIS, September 6.--Innumerable visits, innumerable
Rey came to ask me whether I would consent to join a
triumvirate composed as follows: Victor Hugo, Ledru-Rollin,
and Schoelcher. I refused. I said: "It is almost
impossible to amalgamate me."
I recalled several things to his mind. He said: "Do
you remember that it was I who received you when you
arrived at the Baudin barricade?"* I replied: "I remember
the fact so well that--. And I recited the lines at the
beginning of the piece (unpublished) upon the Baudin
~La barricade était livide dans l'aurore,
Et comme j'arrivais elle fumait encore.
Rey me serra la main et dit: Baudin est mort...~
* Representative Baudin was killed on the barricade in the
Faubourg Saint Antoine on December 2, 1852, during Louis Bonaparte's
He burst into tears.
September 7.--Louis Blanc, d'Alton-Shée, Banville and
others came to see me.
The women of the Markets brought me a bouquet.
September 8.--I am warned that it is proposed to assassinate
me. I shrug my shoulders.
This morning I wrote my "Letter to the Germans." It will
be sent tomorrow.
Visit from General Cluseret.
At 10 o'clock I went to the office of the Rappel to correct
the proofs of my "Letter to the Germans."
September 9.--Received a visit from General Montfort.
The generals are asking me for commands, I am being
asked to grant audiences, office-seekers are asking me for
places. I reply: "I am nobody."
I saw Captain Feval, husband of Fanny, the sister of
Alice.* He was a prisoner of war, and was released on
* Wife of Charles Hugo.
All the newspapers publish my "Appeal to the Germans."
September 10.--D'Alton-Shée and Louis Ulbach lunched
with us. Afterwards we went to the Place de la Concorde.
At the foot of the flower-crowned statue of Strasburg is a
register. Everybody comes to sign the resolution of public
thanks. I inscribed my name. The crowd at once surrounded
me. The ovation of the other night was about to
recommence. I hurried to my carriage.
Among the persons who called upon me was Cernuschi.
September 11.--Received a visit from Mr. Wickham
Hoffman, Secretary of the United States Legation. Mr.
Washburne, the American Minister, had requested him to
ask me whether I did not think that some good might
result were he to intervene *officiously* and see the King of
Prussia. I sent him to Jules Favre.
September 12.--Among other callers was Frédérick Lemaître.
September 13.--To-day there is a review of the army of
Paris. I am alone in my chamber. The battalions march
through the streets singing the "Marseillaise" and the "Chant
du Depart." I hear this immense shout:
For France a Frenchman should live,
For France a Frenchman should die.*
* The "Chant du Depart."
I listen and I weep. On, valiant ones! I will go where
Receive a visit from the United States Consul-General
and Mr. Wickham Hoffman.
Julie* writes me from Guernsey that the acorn I planted
on July 14 has sprouted. The oak of the United States
of Europe issued from the ground on September 5, the day
of my return to Paris.
* Victor Hugo's sister-in-law.
September 14.--I received a visit from the committee
of the Société des Gens de Lettres, which wants me to be
its president; from M. Jules Simon, Minister of Public
Instruction; from Colonel Piré, who commands a corps of
September 16.--One year ago to-day I opened the Peace
Congress at Lausanne. This morning I wrote the "Appeal to
Frenchmen" for a war to the bitter end against the invasion.
On going out I perceived hovering over Montmartre the
captive balloon from which a watch is to be kept upon the
September 17.--All the forests around Paris are burning.
Charles made a trip to the fortifications and is perfectly
satisfied with them. I deposited at the office of the
Rappel 2,088 francs 30 centimes, subscribed in Guernsey
for the wounded and sent by M. H. Tupper, the French
At the same time I deposited at the "Rappel" office a
bracelet and earrings of gold, sent anonymously for the wounded
by a woman. Accompanying the trinkets was a little
golden neck medal for Jeanne.*
* Victor Hugo's little granddaughter.
September 20.--Charles and his little family left the
Hotel Navarin yesterday and installed themselves at 174,
Rue de Rivoli. Charles and his wife, as well as Victor,
will continue to dine with me every day.
The attack upon Paris began yesterday.
Louis Blanc, Gambetta and Jules Ferry came to see me
I went to the Institute to sign the Declaration that it
proposes to issue encouraging the capital to resist to the last.
I will not accept any limited candidacy. I would accept
with devotedness the candidacy of the city of Paris. I want
the voting to be not by districts, with local candidates, but
by the whole city with one list to select from.
I went to the Ministry of Public Instruction to see Mme.
Jules Simon, who is in mourning for her old friend Victor
Bois. Georges and Jeanne were in the garden. I played
Nadar came to see me this evening to ask me for some
letters to put in a balloon which he will send up the day
after tomorrow. It will carry with it my three addresses:
"To the Germans," "To Frenchmen," "To Parisians."
October 6.--Nadar's balloon, which has been named the
"Barbes," and which is taking my letters, etc., started this
morning, but had to come down again, as there was not
enough wind. It will leave to-morrow. It is said that
Jules Favre and Gambetta will go in it.
Last night General John Meredith Read, United States
Consul-General, called upon me. He had seen the American
General Burnside, who is in the Prussian camp. The
Prussians, it appears, have respected Versailles. They are
afraid to attack Paris. This we are aware of, for we can
see it for ourselves.
October 7.--This morning, while strolling on the Boulevard
de Clichy, I perceived a balloon at the end of a street
leading to Montmartre. I went up to it. A small crowd
bordered a large square space that was walled in by the
perpendicular bluffs of Montmartre. In this space three
balloons were being inflated, a large one, a medium-sized
one, and a small one. The large one was yellow, the medium
one white, and the small one striped yellow and red.
In the crowd it was whispered that Gambetta was going.
Sure enough I saw him in a group near the yellow balloon,
wearing a heavy overcoat and a sealskin cap. He seated
himself upon a paving-stone and put on a pair of high
fur-lined boots. A leather bag was slung over his shoulder.
He took it off, entered the balloon, and a young man, the
aeronaut, tied the bag to the cordage above Gambetta's
It was half past 10. The weather was fine and sunshiny,
with a light southerly breeze. All at once the yellow
balloon rose, with three men in it, one of whom was Gambetta.
Then the white balloon went up with three men,
one of whom waved a tricolour flag. Beneath Gambetta's
balloon hung a long tricolour streamer. "Long live the
Republic!" shouted the crowd.
The two balloons went up for some distance, the white
one going higher than the yellow one, then they began to
descend. Ballast was thrown out, but they continued their
downward flight. They disappeared behind Montmartre
hill. They must have landed on the Saint Denis plain.
They were too heavily weighted, or else the wind was not
* * * * *
The departure took place after all, for the balloons went
We paid a visit to Notre Dame, which has been admirably
We also went to see the Tour Saint Jacques. While our
carriage was standing there one of the delegates of the
other day (from the Eleventh Arrondissement) came up
and told me that the Eleventh Arrondissement had come
round to my views, concluded that I was right in insisting
upon a vote of the whole city upon a single list of
candidates, begged me to accept the nomination upon the
conditions I had imposed, and wanted to know what ought to be
done should the Government refuse to permit an election.
Ought force be resorted to? I replied that a civil war
would help the foreign war that was being waged against
us and deliver Paris to the Prussians.
On the way home I bought some toys for my little ones--a
zouave in a sentry-box for Georges, and for Jeanne a
doll that opens and shuts its eyes.
October 8.--I have received a letter from M. L. Colet,
of Vienna (Austria), by way of Normandy. It is the first
letter that has reached me from the outside since Paris has
There has been no sugar in Paris for six days. The
rationing of meat began to-day. We shall get three quarters
of a pound per person and per day.
Incidents of the postponed Commune. Feverish unrest
in Paris. Nothing to cause uneasiness, however. The
deep-toned Prussian cannon thunder continuously. They
recommend unity among us.
The Minister of Finance, M. Ernest Picard, through his
secretary, asks me to "grant him an audience;" these are
the terms he uses. I answer that I will see him on Monday
morning, October 10.
October 9.--Five delegates from the Ninth Arrondissement
came in the name of the arrondissement to *forbid me
to get myself killed*.
October 10.--M. Ernest Picard came to see me. I asked
him to issue immediately a decree liberating all articles
pawned at the Mont de Piété for less than 15 francs (the
present decree making absurd exceptions, linen, for
instance). I told him that the poor could not wait. He
promised to issue the decree to-morrow.
There is no news of Gambetta. We are beginning to
get uneasy. The wind carried him to the north-east, which
is occupied by the Prussians.
October 11.--Good news of Gambetta. He descended at
Epineuse, near Amiens.
Last night, after the demonstrations in Paris, while passing
a group that had assembled under a street lamp, I heard
these words: "It appears that Victor Hugo and the
others--." I continued on my way, and did not listen to
the rest, as I did not wish to be recognised.
After dinner I read to my friends the verses with which
the French edition of _Les Châtiments_ begins ("When
about to return to France," Brussels, August 31, 1870).
October 12.--It is beginning to get cold. Barbieux, who
commands a battalion, brought us the helmet of a Prussian
soldier who was killed by his men. This helmet greatly
astonished little Jeanne. These angels do not yet know
anything about earth.
The decree I demanded for the indigent was published
this morning in the "Journal Officiel."
M. Pallain, the Minister's secretary, whom I met as I
came out of the Carrousel, told me that the decree would
cost 800,000 francs.
I replied: "Eight hundred thousand francs, all right.
Take from the rich. Give to the poor."
October 13.--I met to-day Théophile Gautier, whom I
I had not seen for many years. I embraced him. He was
rather nervous. I told him to come and dine with me.
October 14.--The Château of Saint Cloud was burned
I went to Claye's to correct last proofs of the French edition
of _Les Chatiments_ which will appear on Tuesday. Dr.
Emile Allix brought me a Prussian cannon-ball which he
had picked up behind a barricade, near Montrouge, where
it had just killed two horses. The cannon-ball weighs 25
pounds. Georges, in playing with it, pinched his fingers
under it, which made him cry a good deal.
To-day is the anniversary of Jena!
October 16.--There is no more butter. There is no more
cheese. Very little milk is left, and eggs are nearly all
The report that my name has been given to the Boulevard
Haussmann is confirmed. I have not been to see it
October 17.--To-morrow a postal balloon named the
"Victor Hugo" is to be sent up in the Place de la Concorde.
I am sending a letter to London by this balloon.
October 18.--I have paid a visit to Les Feuillantines.
The house and garden of my boyhood have disappeared.
A street now passes over the site.
October 19.--Louis Blanc came to dine with me. He
brought a declaration by ex-Representatives for me to sign.
I said that I would not sign it unless it were drawn up in
a different manner.
October 20.--Visit from the Gens de Lettres committee.
To-day the first postage stamps of the Republic of 1870
were put in circulation.
_Les Châtiments_ (French edition) appeared in Paris this
The papers announce that the balloon "Victor Hugo"
descended in Belgium. It is the first postal balloon to cross
October 21.-They say that Alexandre Dumas died on
October 13 at the home of his son at Havre. He was a
large-hearted man of great talent. His death grieves me
Louis Blanc and Brives came to speak to me again about
the Declaration of Representatives. My opinion is that it
would be better to postpone it.
Nothing is more charming than the sounding of the reveille
in Paris. It is dawn. One hears first, nearby, a roll of
drums, followed by the blast of a bugle, exquisite melody,
winged and warlike. Then all is still. In twenty seconds
the drums roll again, then the bugle rings out, but further
off. Then silence once more. An instant later, further
off still, the same song of bugle and drum falls more faintly
but still distinctly upon the ear. Then after a pause the
roll and blast are repeated, very far away. Then they are
heard again, at the extremity of the horizon, but indistinctly
and like an echo. Day breaks and the shout "To arms!"
is heard. The sun rises and Paris awakes.
October 22.--The edition of 5,000 copies of _Les Châtiments_
has been sold in two days. I have authorised the
printing of another 3,000.
Little Jeanne has imagined a way of puffing out her
cheeks and raising her arms in the air that is adorable.
The first 5,000 copies of the Parisian edition of _Les Chatiments_
has brought me in 500 francs, which I am sending
to the "Siècle" as a subscription to the national fund for the
cannon that Paris needs.
Mathe and Gambon, the ex-Representatives, called to
ask me to take part in a meeting of which former
representatives are to form the nucleus. The meeting would be
impossible without me, they said. But I see more
disadvantages than advantages in such a meeting. I thought I
ought to refuse.
We are eating horsemeat in every style. I saw the following
in the window of a cook-shop: "Saucisson chevaleresque."
October 23.--The 17th Battalion asked me to be the
first subscriber of "one sou" to a fund for purchasing a
cannon. They will collect 300,000 sous. This will make
15,000 francs, which will purchase a 24-centimetre gun.
carrying 8,500 metres--equal to the Krupp guns.
Lieutenant Maréchal brought to collect my sou an
Egyptian cup of onyx dating from the Pharaohs, engraved
with the moon and the sun, the Great Bear and the Southern
Cross (?) and having for handles two cynocephalus
demons. The engraving of this cup required the life-work
of a man. I gave my sou. D'Alton-Shée, who was present,
gave his, as did also M. and Mme. Meurice, and the two
servants, Mariette and Clémence. The 17th Battalion
wanted to call the gun the "Victor Hugo." I told them to
call it the "Strasburg." In this way the Prussians will still
receive shots from Strasburg.
We chatted and laughed with the officers of the 17th
Battalion. It was the duty of the two cynocephalus genie
of the cup to bear souls to hell. I remarked: "Very well,
I confide William and Bismarck to them."
Visit from M. Edouard Thierry. He came to request
me to allow "Stella" to be read in aid of the wounded at the
Théâtre Français. I gave him his choice of all the "Châtiments."
That startled him. And I demanded that the reading be for
Visit from M. Charles Floquet. He has a post at the
Hotel de Ville. I commissioned him to tell the Government
to call the Mont Valérien "Mont Strasbourg."
October 24.--Visit from General Le Flo. Various
October 25.--There is to be a public reading of _Les
Châtiments_ for a cannon to be called "Le Châtiment." We
are preparing for it.
Brave Rostan,* whom I treated harshly one day, and who
likes me because I did right, has been arrested for
indiscipline in the National Guard. He has a little motherless
boy six years old who has nobody else to take care of him.
What was to be done, the father being in prison? I told
him to send the youngster to me at the Pavilion de Rohan.
He sent him to-day.
* A workingman, friend of Victor Hugo.
October 26.-At 6.30 o'clock Rostan, released from
prison, came to fetch his little Henri. Great joy of father
October 28.--Edgar Quinet came to see me.
Schoelcher and Commander Farcy, who gave his name
to his gunboat, dined with me. After dinner, at half past
8 I went with Schoelcher to his home at 16, Rue de la
Chaise. We found there Quinet, Ledru-Rollin, Mathé,
Gambon, Lamarque, and Brives. This was my first meeting
with Ledru-Rollin. We engaged in a very courteous
argument over the question of founding a club, he being
for and I against it. We shook hands. I returned home at
October 29.--Visits from the Gens de Lettres committee,
Frédérick Lemaitre, MM. Berton and Lafontaine and
Mlle. Favart for a third cannon to be called the "Victor
Hugo." I oppose the name.
I have authorised the fourth edition of 3,000 copies of
_Les Châtiments_, which will make to date 11,000 copies for
October 30.--I received the letter of the Société des
Gens de Lettres asking me to authorise a public reading
of Les Chatiments, the proceeds of which will give to Paris
another cannon to be called the "Victor Hugo." I gave the
authorisation. In my reply written this morning I demanded
that instead of "Victor Hugo" the gun be called the
"Châteaudun." The reading will take place at the Porte
M. Berton came. I read to him _L'Expiation_, which he
is to read. M. and Mme. Meurice and d'Alton-Shée were
present at the reading.
News has arrived that Metz has capitulated and that
Bazaine's army has surrendered.
Bills announcing the reading of _Les Châtiments_ have
been posted. M. Raphael Felix came to tell me the
time at which the rehearsal is to take place tomorrow. I
hired a seven-seat box for this reading, which I placed at
the disposal of the ladies.
On returning home this evening I met in front of the
Mairie, M. Chaudey, who was at the Lausanne Peace
Conference and who is Mayor of the Sixth Arrondissement.
He was with M. Philibert Audebrand. We talked sorrowfully
about the taking of Metz.
October 31.--Skirmish at the Hotel de Ville. Blanqui,
Flourens and Delescluze want to overthrow the provisional
power, Trochu and Jules Favre. I refuse to associate
myself with them.
An immense crowd. My name is on the lists of members
for the proposed Government. I persist in my refusal.
Flourens and Blanqui held some of the members of the
Government prisoners at the Hotel de Ville all day.
At midnight some National Guards came from the Hotel
de Ville to fetch me "to preside," they said, "over the
new Government." I replied that I was most emphatically
opposed to this attempt to seize the power and refused to
go to the Hotel de Ville.
At 3 o'clock in the morning Flourens and Blanqui quitted
the Hotel de Ville and Trochu entered it.
The Commune of Paris is to be elected.
November 1.--We have postponed for a few days the
reading of _Les Châtiments_, which was to have been given
at the Porte Saint Martin to-day, Tuesday.
Louis Blanc came this morning to consult me as to what
ought to be the conduct of the Commune.
The newspapers unanimously praise the attitude I took
yesterday in rejecting the advances made to me.
November 2.--The Government demands a "yes" or a "no."
Louis Blanc and my sons came to talk to me about it.
The report that Alexandre Dumas is dead is denied.
November 4.--I have been requested to be Mayor of the
Third, also of the Eleventh, Arrondissement. I refused.
I went to the rehearsal of _Les Châtiments_ at the Porte
Saint Martin. Frédérick Lemaitre and Mmes. Laurent,
Lia Felix and Duguéret were present.
November 5.--To-day the public reading of _Les Châtiments_,
the proceeds of which are to purchase a cannon for
the defence of Paris, was given.
The Third, Eleventh and Fifteenth Arrondissements
want me to stand for Mayor. I refuse.
Mérimée has died at Cannes. Dumas is not dead, but
he is paralyzed.
November 7.--The 24th Battalion waited upon me and
wanted me to give them a cannon.
November 8.--Last night, on returning from a visit to
General Le Flo, I for the first time crossed the Pont des
Tuileries, which has been built since my departure from
November 9.--The net receipts from the reading of _Les
Châtiments_ at the Porte Saint Martin for the gun which
I have named the "Châteaudun" amounted to 7,000 francs,
the balance going to pay the attendants, firemen, and
lighting, the only expenses charged.
At the Cail works mitrailleuses of a new model, called
the Gatling model, are being made.
Little Jeanne is beginning to chatter.
A second reading of _Les Châtiments_ for another cannon
will be given at the "Théâtre Français".
November 11.--Mlle. Periga called today to rehearse
_Pauline Roland_, which she will read at the second reading
of _Les Châtiments_, announced for to-morrow at the Porte
Saint Martin. I took a carriage, dropped Mlle. Périga at
her home, and then went to the rehearsal of to-morrow's
reading at the theatre. Frederick Lemaitre, Berton,
Maubart, Taillade, Lacressonnière, Charly, Mmes. Laurent, Lia
Felix, Rousseil, M. Raphael Felix and the committee of
the Société des Gens de Lettres were there.
After the rehearsal the wounded of the Porte Saint Martin
ambulance asked me, through Mme. Laurent, to go and
see them. I said: "With all my heart," and I went.
They are lying in several rooms, chief of which is the
old green-room of the theatre with its big round mirrors,
where in 1831 I read to the actors "Marion de Lorme". M.
Crosnier was then director. (Mme. Dorval and Bocage
were present at that reading.) On entering I said to the
wounded men: "Behold one who envies you. I desire
nothing more on earth but one of your wounds. I salute
you, children of France, favourite sons of the Republic,
elect who suffer for the Fatherland."
They seemed to be greatly moved. I shook hands with
each of them. One held out his mutilated wrist. Another
had lost his nose. One had that very morning undergone
two painful operations. A very young man had been decorated
with the military medal a few hours before. A convalescent
said to me: "I am a Franc-Comtois." "Like
myself," said I. And I embraced him. The nurses, in
white aprons, who are the actresses of the theatre, burst
November 13.--I had M. and Mme. Paul Meurice, Vacquerie
and Louis Blanc to dinner this evening. We dined
at 6 o'clock, as the second reading of _Les Chatiments_ was
fixed to begin at the Porte Saint Martin at 7.30. I offered
a box to Mme. Paul Meurice for the reading.
November 14.--The receipts for _Les Chatiments_ last
night (without counting the collection taken up in the
theatre) amounted to 8,000 francs.
Good news! General d'Aurelle de Paladine has retaken
Orleans and beaten the Prussians. Schoelcher came to
inform me of it.
November 15.--Visit from M. Arsène Houssaye and
Henri Houssaye, his son. He is going to have Stella read
at his house in aid of the wounded.
M. Valois came to tell me that the two readings of _Les
Châtiments_ brought in 14,000 francs. For this sum not
two, but three guns can be purchased. The Société des
Gens de Lettres desires that, the first having been named
by me the "Châteaudun" and the second "Les Châtiments", the
third shall be called the "Victor Hugo." I have consented.
Pierre Veron has sent me Daumier's fine drawing
representing the Empire annihilated by _Les Chatiments_.
November 16.--Baroche, they say, has died at Caen.
M. Edouard Thierry refuses to allow the fifth act of
"Hernani" to be played at the Porte Saint Martin for the
victims of Châteaudun and for the cannon of the 24th
Battalion. A queer obstacle this M. Thierry!
November 17.--Visit from the Gens de Lettres committee.
The committee came to ask me to authorise a reading
of _Les Châtiments_ at the Opera to raise funds for another
I mention here once for all that I authorise whoever
desires to do so, to read or perform whatever he likes that I
have written, if it be for cannon, the wounded, ambulances,
workshops, orphanages, victims of the war, or the poor, and
that I abandon all my royalties on these readings or
I decide that the third reading of _Les Chatiments_ shall
be given at the Opera gratis for the people.
November 19.--Mme. Marie Laurent came to recite to
me _Les Pauvres Gens_, which she will recite at the Porte
Saint Martin to-morrow to raise funds for a cannon.
November 20.--Last evening there was an aurora borealis.
"La Grosse Josephine" is no longer my neighbour. She
has just been transported to Bastion No. 41. It took
twenty-six horses to draw her. I am sorry they have taken
her away. At night I could hear her deep voice, and it
seemed to me that she was speaking to me. I divided my
love between "Grosse Joséphine" and Little Jeanne.
Little Jeanne can now say "papa" and "mamma" very well.
To-day there was a review of the National Guard.
November 21.--Mme. Jules Simon and Mme. Sarah
Bernhardt came to see me.
After dinner many visitors called, and the drawing-room
was crowded. It appears that Veuillot insulted me.
Little Jeanne begins to crawl on her hands and knees
very well indeed.
November 23.--Jules Simon writes me that the Opera
will be given to me for the people (free reading of _Les
Châtiments_) any day I fix upon. I wanted Sunday, but
out of consideration for the concert that the actors and
employés of the Opera give Sunday night for their own
benefit I have selected Monday.
Frédérick Lemaitre called. He kissed my hands and wept.
It has been raining for two or three days. The rain has
soaked the plains, the cannon-wheels would sink into the
ground, and the sortie has therefore had to be deferred.
For two days Paris has been living on salt meat. A rat
costs 8 sous.
November 24.--I authorise the Théâtre Français to play
to-morrow, Friday, the 25th, on behalf of the victims of
the war, the fifth act of "Hernani" by the actors of the
Théâtre Français and the last act of "Lucrece Borgia" by the
actors of the Porte Saint Martin, and in addition the
recitation as an intermede of extracts from _Les Châtiments_,
_Les Contemplations_ and _La Légende des Siècles_.
Mlle. Favart came this morning to rehearse with me
_Booz Endormie_. Then we went together to the Français
for the rehearsal for the performance of to-morrow. She
acted Doña Sol very well indeed. Mme. Laurent (Lucrèce
Borgia) also played well. During the rehearsal M. de
Flavigny dropped in. I said to him: "Good morning, my
dear ex-colleague." He looked at me, then with some
emotion exclaimed: "Hello! is that you?" And he
added: "How well preserved you are!" I replied:
"Banishment preserves one."
I returned the ticket for a box that the Théâtre Français
sent to me for to-morrow's performance, and hired a box,
which I placed at the disposal of Mme. Paul Meurice.
After dinner the new Prefect of Police, M. Cresson, paid
me a visit. M. Cresson was the barrister who twenty years
ago defended the murderers of General Bréa. He spoke
to me about the free reading of _Les Châtiments_ to
be given on Monday the 28th at the Opera. It is feared
that an immense crowd--all the faubourgs--will be attracted.
More than 25,000 men and women. Three thousand will be able
to get in. What is to be done with the rest?
"The Government is uneasy. Many are called but
few will be chosen, and it fears that a crush, fighting and
disorders will result. The Government will refuse me
nothing. It wants to know whether I will accept the
responsibility. It will do whatever I wish done. The
Prefect of Police has been instructed to come to an
understanding with me about it.
I said to M. Cresson: "Let us consult Vacquerie and
Meurice and my two sons." He replied: "Willingly."
The six of us held a council. We decided that three
thousand tickets should be distributed on Sunday, the day
before the lecture, at the mairies of the twenty arrondissements
to the first persons who presented themselves after
noon. Each arrondissement will receive a number of
tickets in proportion to the number of its population. The
next day the 3,000 holders of tickets (to all places) will wait
their turn at the doors of the Opera without causing any
obstruction or trouble. The "Journal Officiel" and special
posters will apprise the public of the measures taken in the
interest of public order.
November 25.--Mlle. Lia Felix came to rehearse _Sacer
Esto_, which she will recite to the people on Monday.
M. Tony Révillon, who is to make a speech, came to see
me with the Gens de Lettres committee.
A deputation of Americans from the United States came
to express their indignation with the Government of the
American Republic and with President Grant for abandoning
France--"To which the American Republic owes so
much!" said I. "Owes everything," declared one of the
A good deal of cannonading has been heard for several
days. To-day it redoubled.
Mme. Meurice wants some fowls and rabbits in order to
provide against the coming famine. She is having a hutch
made for them in my little garden. The carpenter who is
constructing it entered my chamber a little while ago and
said: "I would like to touch your hand." I pressed both
his hands in mine.
November 27.--The Academy has given a sign of life.
I have received official notice that in future it will hold an
extraordinary session every Tuesday.
Pâtés of rat are being made. They are said to be very
An onion costs a sou. A potato costs a sou.
They have given up asking my authorisation to recite
my works which are being recited everywhere without my
permission. They are right. What I write is not my own.
I am a public thing.
November 28.--Noel Parfait came to ask my help for
Châteaudun. Certainly; with all my heart!
_Les Châtiments_ was recited gratis at the Opera. An
immense crowd. A gilt wreath was thrown on the stage.
I gave it to Georges and Jeanne. The collection made in
Prussian helmets by the actresses produced 1,521 francs 35
centimes in coppers.
Emile Allix brought us a leg of antelope from the Jardin
des Plantes. It is excellent.
To-night the sortie is to be made.
November 29.--All night long I heard the cannon.
The fowls were installed in my garden to-day.
The sortie is being delayed. The bridge thrown across
the Marne by Ducros has been carried away, the Prussians
having blown open the locks.
November 30.--All night long the cannon thundered.
The battle continues.
At midnight last night as I was returning home through
the Rue de Richelieu from the Pavilion de Rohan, I saw
just beyond the National Library, the street being deserted
and dark at the time, a window open on the sixth floor of
a very high house and a very bright light, which appeared
to be that of a petroleum lamp, appear and disappear
several times; then the window closed and the street became
dark again. Was it a signal?
The cannon can be heard at three points round Paris,
to the east, west and south. This is because a triple attack
is being made on the ring the Prussians have drawn round
us. The attack is being made at Saint Denis by Laroncière,
at Courbevoie by Vinoy, and on the Marne by Ducros.
Laroncière is said to have swept the peninsula of Gennevilliers
and compelled a Saxon regiment to lay down its
arms, and Vinoy is said to have destroyed the Prussian
works beyond Bougival. As to Ducros, he has crossed the
Marne, taken and retaken Montédy, and almost holds
Villiers-sur-Marne. What one experiences on hearing the
cannon is a great desire to be there.
This evening Pelletan sent his son, Camille Pelletan, to
inform me on behalf of the Government that to-morrow's
operations will be decisive.
December 1.--It appears that Louise Michel has been
arrested. I will do all that is necessary to have her released
immediately. Mme. Meurice is occupying herself about it.
She went out this morning for that purpose.
D'Alton-Shée came to see me.
We ate bear for dinner.
I have written to the Prefect of Police to have Louise
There was no fighting to-day. The positions taken were
December 2.--Louise Michel has been released. She
came to thank me.
Last evening M. Coquelin called to recite several pieces
from _Les Châtiments_.
It is freezing. The basin of the Pigalle fountain is
The cannonade recommenced at daybreak.
11.30 A.M.--The cannonade increases.
Flourens wrote to me yesterday and Rochefort to-day.
They are coming round to me again.
Dorian, Minister of Public Works, and Pelletan came to
dine with me.
Excellent news to-night! The Army of the Loire is at
Montargis. The Army of Paris has driven back the
Prussians from the Avron plateau. The despatches announcing
these successes are read aloud at the doors of the mairies.
Victory! The Second of December has been wiped out!
December 3.--General Renault, who was wounded in the
foot by a splinter from a shell, is dead.
I told Schoelcher that I want to go out with my sons if
the batteries of the National Guard to which they belong
are sent to the front. The batteries drew lots. Four are
to go. One of them is the 10th Battery, of which Victor
is a member. I will go out with that battery. Charles does
not belong to it, which is a good job; he will stay behind,
he has two children. I will order him to stay. Vacquerie
and Meurice are members of the 10th Battery. We shall
be together in the combat. I will have a cape with a hood
made for me. What I fear is the cold at night.
I made some shadows on the wall for Georges and
Jeanne. Jeanne laughed delightedly at the shadow and
the grimaces of the profile; but when she saw that the
shadow was me she cried and screamed. She seemed to
say: "I don't want you to be a phantom!" Poor, sweet
angel! Perhaps she has a presentiment of the coming
Yesterday we ate some stag; the day before we partook
of bear; and the two days previous we fared on antelope.
These were presents from the Jardin des Plantes.
To-night at 11 o'clock, cannonading. Violent and brief.
December 4.--A notice has been posted on my door indicating
the precautions to be taken "in case of bombardment." That
is the title of the notice.
There is a pause in the combat. Our army has recrossed
Little Jeanne crawls very well on her bands and knees
and says "papa" very prettily.
December 5.--I have just seen a magnificent hearse,
draped with black velvet, embroidered with an "H" surrounded
by silver stars, go by to fetch its burden. A Roman
would not disdain to be borne in it.
Gautier came to dine with me. After dinner Banville
and Coppée called.
Bad news. Orleans has been captured from us again.
No matter. Let us persist.
December 7.--I had Gautier, Banville and François
Coppée to dinner. After dinner Asselineau came. I read
_Floréal and L'Egout de Rome_ to them.
December 8.--The "Patrie en Danger" has ceased to appear.
In the absence of readers, says Blanqui.
M. Maurice Lachâtre, publisher, came to make me an
offer for my next book. He has sent me his _Dictionary
and The History of the Revolution_ by Louis Blanc. I shall
present to him Napoleon the Little and _Les Châtiments_.
December 9.--I woke up in the night and wrote some
verses. At the same time I heard the cannon.
M. Bondes came to see me. The correspondent of the
"Times," who is at Versailles, has written him that the guns
for the bombardment of Paris have arrived. They are
Krupp guns. They are awaiting their carriages. They
have been arranged in the Prussian arsenal at Versailles
side by side "like bottles in a cellar," according to this
I copy the following from a newspaper:
M. Victor Hugo had manifested the intention to leave Paris unarmed,
with the artillery battery of the National Guard to which his two sons
The 144th Battalion of the National Guard went in a body to the
poet's residence in the Avenue Frochot. Two delegates waited upon
These honourable citizens went to forbid Victor Hugo to carry out his
plan, which he had announced some time ago in his "Address to the
"Everybody can fight," the deputation told him. "But everybody
cannot write _Les Chatiments_. Stay at home, therefore, and take care
of a life that is so precious to France.
I do not remember the number of the battalion. It was
not the 144th. Here are the terms of the address which
was read to me by the major of the battalion:
The National Guard of Paris forbids Victor Hugo to go to the front,
inasmuch as everybody can go to the front, whereas Victor Hugo alone
can do what Victor Hugo does.
"Forbids" is touching and charming.
December 11.--Rostan came to see me. He has his arm
in a sling. He was wounded at Créteil. It was at night.
A German soldier rushed at him and pierced his arm with
a bayonet. Rostan retaliated with a bayonet thrust in the
German's shoulder. Both fell and rolled into a ditch. Then
they became good friends. Rostan speaks a little broken
"Who are you?"
"I am a Wurtembergian. I am twenty-two years old.
My father is a clockmaker of Leipsic."
They remained in the ditch for three hours, bleeding,
numb with cold, helping each other. Rostan, wounded,
brought the man who wounded him back as a prisoner. He
goes to see him at the hospital. These two men adore each
other. They wanted to kill each other, and now they would
die for each other.
Eliminate kings from the dispute!
Visit from M. Rey. The Ledru-Rollin group is completely
disorganized. No more parties; the Republic. It
I presented some Dutch cheese to Mme. Paul Meurice.
Sleet is falling.
December 12.--I arrived in Brussels nineteen years ago to-day.
December 13.--Since yesterday Paris has been lighted
Heavy cannonade to-night.
December 14.--Thaw. Cannonade.
To-night we glanced over _Goya's Disasters of War_
(brought by Burty, the art critic). It is fine and hideous.
December 15.--Emmanuel Arago, Minister of Justice,
came to see me and informed me that there would be fresh
meat until February 15, but that in future only brown
bread would be made in Paris. There will be enough of
this to last for five months.
Allix brought me a medal struck to commemorate my
return to France. It bears on one side a winged genius
and the words: "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity," and
on the other side, round the rim: "Appeal to Universal
Democracy," and in the centre: "To Victor Hugo, From
His Grateful Fatherland.' September, 1870."
This medal is sold in the streets and costs 5 centimes.
There is a little ring in it by which it can be suspended
to a chain.
December 16.--Pelleport* came to-night. I requested
him to visit Flourens, in Mazas Prison, on my behalf,
and to take him a copy of _Napoleon the Little_.
* One of the editors of the "Rappel."
December 17.--The "Electeur Libre" calls upon Louis
Blanc and me to enter the Government, and affirms that
it is our duty to do so. My duty is dictated to me by my
I saw the gunboat "Estoc" pass under the Pont des Arts,
going up Seine. She is a fine vessel and her big gun has a
terribly grand appearance.
December 18.--I worked a magic lantern for little
Georges and little Jeanne.
My royalty for Mme. Favart's recitation of _Stella_ at a
performance given by the 14th Battalion amounted to 130
francs. My agent took my royalty in spite of my
instructions. I have ordered him to turn the money over
to the sick fund of the battalion.
M. Hetzel writes: "The closing of the printing office is
imminent, as I can get no more coal to keep the presses
I authorise another issue of 3,000 copies of _Les Châtiments_,
which will bring the total for Paris up to 22,000.
December 20.--Captain Breton, of the Garde Mobile,
who has been cashiered on the charge of being a coward,
brought against him by his lieutenant-colonel, demands a
court-martial, but first of all to be sent to the firing line.
His company leaves to-morrow morning. He begs me to
obtain for him from the Minister of War permission to go
and get himself killed. I have written to General Le Flô
about him. It is likely that he will take part in to-morrow's
December 21.--At 3 o'clock this morning I heard the
bugles of the troops marching to battle. When will my
December 22.--Yesterday was a good day. The action
continues. The thunder of cannon can be heard to the east
Little Jeanne begins to talk at length and very expressively.
But it is impossible to understand a word she says.
Leopold has sent me thirteen fresh eggs, which I will
reserve for little Georges and little Jeanne.
Louis Blanc came to dine with me. He came on behalf
of Edmond Adam, Louis Jourdan, Cernuschi and others
to tell me that he and I must go to Trochu and summon
him to save Paris or resign. I refused. I should be posing
as an arbiter of the situation and at the same time hamper
a battle begun and which may be a successful one. Louis
Blanc was of my way of thinking, as were also Meurice,
Vacquerie and my sons, who dined with us.
December 23.--Henri Rochefort came to dine with
me. I had not seen him since August of last year, when
we were in Brussels. Georges did not recognise his
godfather. I was very cordial. I like him very much. He
has great talent and great courage. The dinner was a very
merry one, although we are all threatened with incarceration
in a Prussian fortress if Paris is captured. After
Guernsey, Spandau. So be it.
I bought for 19 francs at the Magasins du Louvre a soldier's
cape with hood, to wear on the ramparts.
My house continues to be crowded with visitors. To-day
a painter named Le Genissel called. He reminded me that
I saved him from the galleys in 1848. He was one of the
insurgents of June.
Heavy cannonade during the night. A battle is in preparation.
December 24.--It is freezing. Ice floes are floating down
Paris only eats brown bread now.
December 25.--Heavy cannonade all night.
An item of news of present-day Paris: A basket of
oysters has just reached the city. It sold for 750 francs.
At a bazar in aid of the poor at which Alice and Mme.
Meurice acted as vendors, a young turkey fetched 250
The Seine is freezing over.
December 26.--Louis Blanc called, then M. Floquet.
They urge me to summon the Government to do something
or resign. Again I refuse.
M. Louis Koch paid 25 francs for a copy of the _Rappel_
at the bazar in aid of the poor. The copy of _Les Châtiments_
was purchased by M. Cernuschi for 300 francs.
December 27.--Violent cannonade this morning.
The firing of this morning was an attack by the Prussians.
A good sign. Waiting annoys them. Us, too. They
threw nineteen shells, which killed nobody, into the Fort
Mme. Ugalde dined with us and sang "Patria." I escorted
Mme. Ugalde to her home in the Rue de Chabanais, then
returned to bed.
The concierge said to me:
"Monsieur, they say that bombs will fall in this neighbourhood
"That is all right," I replied. "I am expecting one."
December 29.--Heavy firing all night. The Prussians
continue their attack.
Théophile Gautier has a horse. This horse was requisitioned.
It was wanted for food. Gautier wrote me begging me save
the animal. I asked the Minister to grant his request.
I saved the horse.
It is unfortunately true that Dumas is dead. This has
been ascertained through the German newspapers. He
died on December 5 at the home of his son at Puys, near
I am being urged more strongly than ever, to enter the
Government. The Minister of Justice, M. Emmanuel
Arago, called and stopped to dinner. We talked. Louis
Blanc dropped in after dinner. I persist in my refusal.
Besides Emmanuel Arago and the friends who usually
dine with me on Thursdays, Rochefort and Blum came. I
invited them to come every Thursday if we have many
more Thursdays to live. At desert I drank Rochefort's
The cannonade is increasing. The plateau of Avron had
to be evacuated.
December 31.--D'Alton-Shée paid a visit to me this
morning. It appears that General Ducros wants to see me.
Within three days the Prussians have sent us 12,000
Yesterday I ate some rat, and then hiccoughed the
~O mesdames les hétaires
Dans vos greniers, je me nourris:
Moi qui mourais de vos sourires,
Je vais vivre de vos souris~.
After next week there will be no more washing done in
Paris, because there is no more coal.
Lieutenant Farcy, commander of the gunboat, dined
It is bitterly cold. For three days I have worn my cloak
and hood whenever I have had to go out.
A doll for little Jeanne. A basketful of toys for Georges.
Shells have begun to demolish the Fort of Rosny. The
first shell has fallen in the city itself. The Prussians
to-day fired 6,000 shells at us.
In the Fort of Rosny a sailor working at the gabions was
carrying a sack of earth. A shell knocked it off his
shoulder. "Much obliged," commented the sailor, "but I
Alexandre Dumas died on December 5. On looking
over my notebook I see that it was on December 5 that a
large hearse with an "H" on it passed before me in the Rue
We have no longer even horse to eat. *Perhaps* it is dog?
*Maybe* it is rat? I am beginning to suffer from pains in
the stomach. We are eating the unknown!
M. Valois, representing the Société des Gens de Lettres,
came to ask me what was to be done with the 3,000
francs remaining from the proceeds of the three readings
of Les Châtiments, the guns having been delivered and
paid for. I told him that I wanted the whole amount
turned over to Mme. Jules Simon for the fund for the
victims of the war.
January 1, 1871.--Louis Blanc has addressed to me
through the newspapers a letter upon the situation.
Stupor and amazement of little Georges and little
Jeanne at their basketful of New Year presents. The toys,
when unpacked from the basket, covered a large table.
The children touched all of them and did not know which
to take. Georges was nearly furious with joy. Charles
remarked: "It is the despair of joy!"
I am hungry. I am cold. So much the better. I suffer
what the people are suffering.
Decidedly horse is not good for me. Yet I ate some. It
gives me the gripes. I avenged myself at dessert with the
~Mon diner m'inquiete et même me harcêle,
J'ai mange du cheval et je songe a la selle~.
The Prussians are bombarding Saint Denis.
January 2.--Daumier and Louis Blanc lunched with us.
Louis Koch gave to his aunt as a New Year gift a couple
of cabbages and a brace of living partridges!
This morning we lunched on wine soup. The elephant
at the Jardin des Plantes has been slaughtered. He wept.
He will be eaten..
The Prussians continue to send us 6,000 bombs a day.
January 3.--The heating of two rooms at the Pavillon
de Rohan now costs 10 francs a day.
The Mountaineers' club again demands that Louis Blanc
and I be added to the Government in order to direct it.
I continue to refuse.
There are at present twelve members of the French
Academy in Paris, among them Ségur, Mignet, Dufaure,
d'Haussonville, Legouvé, Cuvillier-Fleury, Barbier and
Moon. Intense cold. The Prussians bombarded Saint
Denis all night.
From Tuesday to Sunday the Prussians hurled 25,000
projectiles at us. It required 220 railway trucks to
transport them. Each shot costs 60 francs; total, 1,500,000
francs. The damage to the forts is estimated at 1,400
francs. About ten men have been killed. Each of our
dead cost the Prussians 150,000 francs.
January 5.--The bombardment is becoming heavier.
Issy and Vanves are being shelled.
There is no coal. Clothes cannot be washed because
they cannot be dried. My washerwoman sent this message
to me through Mariette:
"If M. Victor Hugo, who is so powerful, would ask the
Government to give me a little coal-dust, I could wash his
Besides my usual Thursday guests I had Louis Blanc,
Rochefort and Paul de Saint Victor to dinner. Mme. Jules
Simon sent me a Gruyère cheese. An extraordinary luxury,
this. We were thirteen at table.
January 6.--At dessert yesterday I offered some bonbons
to the ladies, saying as I did so:
~Grace a Boissier, chêre colombes,
Heureux, a vos pieds nous tombons.
Car on prend les forts par les bombes
Et les faibles par les bonbons~.
The Parisians out of curiosity visit the bombarded districts.
They go to see the shells fall as they would go to
a fireworks display. National Guards have to keep the
people back. The Prussians are firing on the hospitals.
They are bombarding Val-de-Grâce. Their shells set fire
to the wooden booths in the Luxembourg, which were full
of sick and wounded men, who had to be transported,
undressed and wrapped up as well as they could be, to the
Charité Hospital. Barbieux saw them arrive there about
1 o'clock in the morning.
Sixteen streets have already been hit by shells.
January 7.--The Rue des Feuillantines, which runs
through the place where the garden of my boyhood used to
be, is heavily bombarded. I was nearly struck by a shell
My washerwoman having nothing to make a fire with,
and being obliged to refuse work in consequence, addressed
a demand to M. Clémenceau, Mayor of the Ninth
Arrondissement, for some coal, which she said she was prepared
to pay for. I endorsed it thus:
"I am resigned to everything for the defence of Paris,
to die of hunger and cold, and even to forego a change of
shirt. However, I commend my laundress to the Mayor
of the Ninth Arrondissement."
And I signed my name. The Mayor gave her the coal.
January 8.--Camille Pelletan brought us good news
from the Government. Rouen and Dijon retaken, Garibaldi
victorious at Nuits, and Fraidherbe at Bapaume. All
We had brown bread, now we have black bread. Everybody
fares alike. It is well.
The news of yesterday was brought by two pigeons.
A shell killed five children in a school in the Rue de
The performances and readings of _Les Châtiments_ have
had to be stopped, the theatres being without gas or coal,
therefore without light or heat.
Prim is dead. He was shot and killed at Madrid the day
the king after his own heart, Amedeus, Duke of Genoa,
The bombardment was a furious one to-day. A shell
crashed through the chapel of the Virgin at Saint Sulpice,
where my mother's funeral took place and where I was
January 10.--Bombs on the Odéon Theatre.
Chifflard sent me a piece of a shell. This shell, which
fell at Auteuil, is marked with an "H." I will have an
inkstand made out of it.
January 12.--The Pavilion de Rohan demands of me from to-day
on 8 francs a head for dinner, which with
wine, coffee, fire, etc., brings the cost of dinner up to 13
francs for each person.
We had elephant steak for luncheon to-day.
Schoelcher, Rochefort, Blum and all the usual Thursday
guests dined with us. After dinner Louis Blanc and Pelletan
January 13.--An egg costs 2 francs 75 centimes. Elephant
meat costs 40 francs a pound. A sack of onions costs
The Société des Gens de Lettres asked me to attend the
presentation of the cannon to the city at the Hotel de Ville.
I begged to be excused. I will not go.
We spent the day looking for another hotel. Could not
find one suitable. All are closed. Expenses for the week
at the Pavilion de Rohan (including the cost of a broken
window-pane), 701 francs 50 centimes.
Remark by a poor woman anent some newly felled wood:
"This hapless green wood is under fire; it didn't expect
that it would have to face it, and weeps all the time!"
January 15.--A furious bombardment is in progress.
I have written a piece of poetry entitled "Dans le Cirque."
After dinner I read it to my Sunday guests. They want
me to publish it. I will give it to the newspapers.
January 17.--The bombardment has been going on for
three nights and three days without cessation.
Little Jeanne was cross with me because I would not let
her play with the works of my watch.
All the newspapers publish my verses "Dans le Cirque."
They may be useful.
Louis Blanc called this morning. He urged me to join
with Quinet and himself in bringing pressure to bear upon
the Government. I replied: "I see more danger in overturning
the Government than in supporting it."
January 18.--M. Krupp is making cannon for use
specially against balloons.
There is a cock in my little garden. Yesterday Louis
Blanc lunched with us. The cock crowed. Louis Blanc
paused and said:
"What is it?"
"A cock is crowing."
"Well, what of it?"
"Don't you hear what it says?"
"It is calling: 'Victor Hugo!'"
We listened and laughed. Louis Blanc was right It
did sound as if the cock were crowing my name.
I gave some of my bread-crumbs to the fowls. They
would not eat them.
This morning a sortie against Montretout was made.
Montretout was taken. This evening the Prussians
captured it from us again.
January 20.--The attack on Montretout has interrupted
A child of fourteen years was suffocated in a crowd
outside a baker's shop.
January 21.--Louis Blanc came to see me. We held a
council. The situation is becoming extreme and supreme.
The Mairie of Paris asks my advice.
Louis Blanc dined with us. After dinner we held a sort
of council at which Colonel Laussedat was present.
January 22.--The Prussians are bombarding Saint Denis.
Tumultuous demonstrations at the Hotel de Ville.
Trochu is withdrawing. Rostan comes to tell me that the
Breton mobiles are firing on the people. I doubt it. I will
go myself, if necessary.
I have just returned. There was a simultaneous attack
by both sides. To the combatants who consulted me I said:
"I recognise in the hands of Frenchmen only those rifles
which are turned towards the Prussians."
Rostan said to me:
"I have come to place my battalion at your service.
We are five hundred men. Where do you want us to go?"
"Where are you now?" I asked.
"We have been massed towards Saint Denis, which is
being bombarded," he replied. "We are at La Villette."
"Then stay there," said I. "It is there where I should
have sent you. Do not march against the Hotel de Ville,
march against Prussia."
January 23.--Last night there was a conference at my
quarters. In addition to my Sunday guests Rochefort and
his secretary, Mourot, had dined with us. Rey and Gambon
came in the evening. They brought me, the former
with a request that I would subscribe to it, Ledru-Rollin's
poster-programme (group of 200 members), and the latter,
the programme of the Republican Union (50 members). I
declared that I approved of neither the one nor the other.
Chanzy has been beaten. Bourbaki has succeeded. But
he is not marching on Paris. Enigma, of which I fancy I
can half guess the secret.
There appears to be an interruption to the bombardment.
January 24.--Flourens called this morning. He asked
for my advice. I responded: "No violent pressure on the
January 25.--Flourens is reported to have been arrested
as he was leaving the house after his visit to me.
I had a couple of fresh eggs cooked for Georges and
M. Dorian came to the Pavilion de Rohan this morning
to see my sons. He announced that capitulation is
imminent. Frightful news from outside. Chanzy defeated,
Faidherbe defeated, Bourbaki driven back.
January 27.--Schoelcher came to tell me that he has
resigned as colonel of the artillery legion.
Again they came to ask me to head a demonstration
against the Hotel de Ville. All sorts of rumours are in
circulation. To everybody I counsel calmness and unity.
January 28.--Bismarck in the course of the pourparlers
at Versailles said to Jules Favre: "What do you think
of that goose of an Empress proposing peace to me!"
It has become cold again.
Ledru-Rollin (through Brives) says he wants to come to
an understanding with me.
Little Jeanne is unwell. Sweet little thing!
Leopold told me this evening that I was the subject of
a dialogue between Pope Pius IX. and Jules Hugo, my
nephew, brother of Leopold, who died a camerico of the
Pope. The Pope, on seeing Jules, said to him:
"You name is Hugo, is it not?"
"Yes, Holy Father."
"Are you a relative of Victor Hugo?"
"His nephew, Holy Father."
"How old is he?" (It was in 1857.)
"Alas! he is too old to return to the Church!"
Charles tells me that Jules Simon and his two sons passed
the night drawing up lists of possible candidates for the
Cernuschi is having himself naturalized a French citizen!
January 29.--The armistice was signed yesterday. It
was published this morning. The National Assembly will
be elected between February 5 and 18. Will meet on the
12th at Bordeaux.
Little Jeanne is a trifle better. She almost smiled at me.
No more balloons. The post. But unsealed letters. It
snows. It freezes.
January 30.--Little Jeanne is still poorly and does not
Mlle. Périga brought me a fresh egg for Jeanne.
January 31.--Little Jeanne is still ill. She is suffering
from a slight attack of catarrh of the stomach. Doctor
Allix says it will last for another four or five days.
My nephew Leopold came to dine with us. He brought
us some pickled oysters.
February 1.--Little Jeanne is better. She smiled at me.
February 2.--The Paris elections have been postponed
to February 8.
Horsemeat continues to disagree with me. Pains in the
stomach. Yesterday I said to Mme. Ernest Lefèvre, who
was dining beside me:
~De ces bons animaux la viande me fait mal.
J'aime tant les chevaux que je hais le cheval~.
February 4.--The weather is becoming milder.
A crowd of visitors this evening. Proclamation by Gambetta.
February 5.--The list of candidates of the Republican
journals appeared this morning. I am at the head of the
Bancal is dead.
Little Jeanne this evening has recovered from her cold.
I entertained my usual Sunday guests. We had fish,
butter and white bread for dinner.
February 6.--Bourbaki, defeated, has killed himself. A
Ledru-Rollin is drawing back from the Assembly. Louis
Blanc came and read this news to me to-night.
February 7.--We had three or four cans of preserves
which we ate to-day.
February 8.--To-day, elections for the National Assembly.
Paul Meurice and I went to vote together in the Rue
After the capitulation had been signed, Bismarck, on
leaving Jules Favre, entered the room where his two
secretaries were awaiting him and said: "The beast is dead."
I have put my papers in order in anticipation of
Little Jeanne is very merry.
February 11.--The counting of the votes progresses very
Our departure for Bordeaux has been put off to Monday
February 12.--Yesterday, for the first time, I saw my
boulevard. It is a rather large section of the old Boulevard
Haussmann. "Boulevard Victor Hugo" is placarded on the
Boulevard Haussmann at four or five street corners giving
on to this boulevard.
The National Assembly opens to-day at Bordeaux. The
result of the elections in Paris has not yet been determined
While I have not yet been appointed, time presses, and
I expect to leave for Bordeaux to-morrow. There will be
nine of us, five masters and four servants, plus the two
children. Louis Blanc wants to leave with us. We shall
make the journey together.
In my hand-bag I shall take various important manuscripts
and works that I have begun, among others, _Paris
Besieged_ and the poem "Grand Père."
February 13.--Yesterday, before dinner, I read to my
guests, M. and Mme. Paul Meurice, Vacquerie, Lockroy,
M. and Mme. Ernest Lefevre, Louis Koch and Vilain
(Rochefort and Victor did not arrive until the dinner hour),
two pieces of poetry which will form part of Paris Besieged
("To Little Jeanne," and "No, You will not Take
Alsace and Lorraine").
Pelleport brought me our nine passes. Not having yet
been proclaimed a Representative, I wrote on mine: "Victor
Hugo, proprietor," as the Prussians require that the
quality or profession of the holder of the pass be stated.
It was with a heavy heart that I quitted this morning the
Avenue Frochot and the sweet hospitality that Paul
Meurice had extended to me since my arrival in Paris on
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