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Chapter 47

CONCESSION


And this is the ballot,--let us repeat it--insist on it--never be tired of uttering it; "I cry the same things a hundred times," says Isaiah, "so that they may be heard once;" this is the ballot, this is the plebiscite, this is the vote, this is the sovereign decree of "Universal Suffrage," beneath whose shadow take shelter--of which they make a patent of authority, a diploma of government--those men who now hold France, who command, who dominate, who administer, who judge, who reign: their arms in gold up to the elbows, their legs in blood up to the knees!

And now, to have done with it, let us make a concession to M. Bonaparte. No more quibbling. His ballot of the 20th of December was free; it was intelligent; all the newspapers printed whatever they pleased; he who says the contrary is a slanderer; electoral meetings were held; the walls were hidden beneath placards; the promenaders in Paris swept with their feet, on the boulevards and on the streets, a snow of ballots, white, blue, yellow, red; everybody spoke who chose, wrote who chose; the figures were accurate; it was not Baroche who counted, it was Barême; Louis Blanc, Guinard, Félix Pyat, Raspail, Caussidière, Thorné, Ledru-Rollin, Etienne Arago, Albert, Barbès, Blanqui, and Gent, were the inspectors; it was they themselves who announced the seven million five hundred thousand votes. Be it so. We concede all that. What then? What conclusion does the coup d'état thence derive?

What conclusion? It rubs its hands, it asks nothing further; that is quite sufficient; it concludes that all is right, all complete, all finished, that nothing more is to be said, that it is "absolved."

Stop, there!

The free vote, the actual figures--these are only the physical side of the question; the moral side remains to be considered. Ah! there is a moral side, then? Undoubtedly, prince, and that is precisely the true side, the important side of this question of the 2nd of December. Let us look into it.


Victor Hugo