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ham used to meet him at the Café de la where every man was bound to appear Régence, whither he went every day to in uniform, and each of the ladies wore indulge in his favorite game of chess. a ball-dress of the period—“as much a Sometimes Bingham had the honor of costume as any ever worn at masquerbeing his antagonist. "He was unlike ade or fancy ball.” Tables were groan. most of his countrymen. He had no ing under pâtés de foie gras and truffles French exuberance, and always main- en serviette, and there was an incestained a dignity of manner, which was sant flow of Sillery of the choicest vintan effectual bar to familiarity. How ages. “But to me the most interesting ever, he was exceedingly amiable, and sight,” writes the courtly correspondoften furnished me with information ent, "was to see the emperor moviug on historical and other topics, for he round the circle and talking to his was well-read, a good classical scholar, guests, just as monsieur un tel ought to and a special admirer of Horace." do, and does when he understands the
Meantime it had become the policy of graceful duties of hospitality.” Shortly the Empire to outbid the Liberal agita- afterwards Baron Haussmann was en. tors and demagogues in the contest for tertaining three thousand persons at the popularity. It had the power of the Hôtel de Ville. The correspondent purse. Its assailants could promise but “looked on with supreme pleasure at a it could perform. Like its prototypes of luxury which, while reminding one of imperial Rome, it was generous of the decadence of Rome, now indicates panem et circenses. The overcrowded only the wealth of France.” population of Paris was kept in toler- Doubtless both the Préfet of the able good humor by abundant work and Seine and his master masked anxious excellent wages. The demolitions and hearts with smiling countenances, for reconstructions that were supposed to they knew that the guests were dancing make future émeutes impossible grati- on a smouldering volcano. In four fied the popular vanity, though they years the emperor was a dethroned erraised the price of lodgings and re- ile, and before that Baron Haussmann moved the workmen far from their had been undeservedly and ungratework. It is an amiable feature of the fully disgraced; for after nobly carryFrench democracy that, so long as their ing out the conceptions he had been own circumstances are easy, they enjoy authorized to realize he withdrew into vicariously the extravagant gaieties of private life, a comparatively poor man. the rulers. The train of carriages driv- Yet in the summer of 1866 the tottering ing to the balls and receptions, with the emperor had received a striking testidecorated uniforms of the men and the mony to his ascendancy in European toilets and diamonds of the ladies, give politics, when Francis Joseph resigned them the cheap pleasures of free public Venetia into his hands, inviting his spectacles. It is only when famine mediation for the restoration of peace. stricken as in the first Revolution, or In Paris he had always a useful ally in when irritated by such humiliating de- the clever Princess Mathilde, whom he feats as those inflicted by the Germans, not only pensioned, but had befriended that the many-headed monster revolts, by securing her handsome matrimonial and raises the cry of "The Aristocrats to settlements. Yet the salons of the the lantern!" These public entertain princess's hotel were ever open to brilments were on the most sumptuous liant mockers and frondeurs; and it was scale, and invitations rere issued with significant of the times that a piece of democratic indiscrimination. Felix wit was invariably welcome, even if it Whitehurst, whose métier it was to re- told severely
against the régime. As to port the doings of the best society for that Captain Bingham has a characterthe bourgeois readers of the Daily Tele- istic story in which the joke was carried graph, gives a vivid and picturesque too far to be altogether agreeable to the account of them. He paints the scene society. It had come to the princess's towards midnight in the Tuileries, ears that M. Billault had a stingingly
satirical song in his possession. The of the democracy. He elected for the minister admitted that he had the lesser of two dangers with his eyes manuscript in his pocket; the hostess open. Frenchmen in general, and the constrained him to read it aloud; the Parisians in particular, were madly set guests were sworn to secrecy, and the upon a triumphant march to Berlin. servants sent away. Very clever and The papers discovered in the Tuileries stinging it was,-so much so that “the after the flight of the empress prove first couplets were received with pro that her husband did not stake his found silence, followed by murmurs of crown without very sufficient warning. stupefaction, stifled laughter, and cries The military attaché at Berlin, as we all of indignation.” Several of the party know, was outspoken enough. And so were severely lashed, and the point was far back as December, 1866, Ducret, who that the emperor was made to plead commanded in Strasburg, had written guilty to innumerable follies and mis- to Trochu: “While we are pompously takes, to which the obsequious Billault deliberating on what must be done to responded with the invariable refrain, have an army, Prussia simply proposes “Majesté,
raison.” The to invade our territory. She will be in sworn secrecy was disregarded and be- a position to bring into the field six huntrayed. Next morning Billault received dred thousand men and twelve hundred a note from his master, inviting him to guns before we have dreamed of organbreakfast, and commanding him to izing half that force. There is not a bring the verses. His Majesty read German who does not believe in an them, shrugged his shoulders, and be- approaching war.” That confidential haved very well. He asked if the letter must have been intercepted, and minister knew the author. Billault copied in the Cabinet Noir. And similar answered in the affirmative, adding warnings were multiplied to the court, that he was an upright man and faith- through the whole threatening course ful to the government. “So much the of the stormy negotiations on the cesbetter," said his Majesty. "You can tell sion of Luxemburg and the Hohenhim that I don't want to know his name, zollein condidature. Thiers, as Captain but that I should like to see his next Bingham points out, must be debited production before it is read to the with his full share of the blame. The princess."
historian of the Consulate and Empire Before 1870 the volcano was giving ought to have studied and weighed comsinister signs of speedy eruption. The parative military forces and their shooting of Victor Noir provoked a great respective potentialities for attack and public scandal, and the scenes at the defence. Yet for four years before the funeral
ominous of serious outbreak of war he had never ceased trouble. The story of the events that to inflame popular passions by bewailpreceded the outbreak of hostilities has ing in the Chamber the decline of been often told. The emperor feared French preponderance. He was yet to and resented the unexpected aggran- demonstrate his incapacity as a pracdizement of Prussia, and Bismarck was tical strategist when he hurriedly eager to bring matters to an arbitra- abandoned to the Commune the Paris ment. He judged the situation and all he had himself fortified. the conditions scundly, and knew well After the display of squibs and what he was about. The emperor, as Roman candles at Saarbrück, when the the writer happens to know, was en- young prince received his baptism of tirely misled by his envoys to the fire, reverse rapidly succeeded reverse. southern German States as to the state But the mob had been so excited by wild of feeling there. Had he been content canards of signal victories that it was or able to wait, he would unquestion- dangerous to make even an approximaably have found allies in Austria and tion to the truth. We believe the perItaly. But there can be no doubt that sonal courage of Count de Palikao was events were precipitated by sheer terror beyond question. Yet, "to gain a few
hours, with the news of a crushing de
common and capital charge. feat in his pocket, he said in the Cham- Out of doors the light began to fail, as ber, 'If I could only tell you all I know, gas and paraffin were necessarily Paris would illuminate this evening.' economized. The Boulevards of an On the other hand, when the news came evening were dismal as Père La Chaise; of the culminating catastrophe of the trees in the Bois were being felled Sedan, the empress bore up heroically for fuel; and the Champs Elysées be under the shock, showing as much to resemble the Chicago cattle-yards. moral resolution as personal courage. Altogether life was desperately dull, Had she
rational chances of and, what was more, it began to be effective support, undoubtedly she desperately dear. On November 18th, would have made a stand for the throne, we are told, a plump sewer-rat was although that has never been a national selling for three francs, a turkey fetched tradition. Captain Bingham remarks a couple of guineas, and a pound of elsewhere on the ease with which butter commanded £2 16s. A month French governments have been dis later an egg was priced at 142 francs, posed of since Louis XVI. refused to and a rabbit had risen from fourteen to fight. The vox populi has always thirty francs. On December 9 Captain spoken with irresistible might, espe- Bingham's cook, after standing in the cially when shouting from behind the long queue for a couple of hours, came barricades.
home with rations for three days, conThe provisional military régime had sisting of a herring apiece. We had an abdicated, and now the eloquence of the opportunity of seeing Captain BingPalais had its opportunity. The new ham's butcher-bills, and they included self-elected government was a govern- camel, camelopard, elephant, and rhiment of babblers and lawyers, though, noceros. It need not be said that it was indeed, the warlike Trochu out-talked not every one who could afford to pay them all. If brave words could have fancy prices for strange meats from the retrieved national misfortunes, they Jardins des Plantes et d'Acclimation; were the men to charge themselves with and it will always be a mystery how the destinies of prostrate France. We less fortunate individuals contrived to can conceive the grim satisfaction with subsist upon public or private charity; which Bismarck, Moltke, and Von Roon also how the fashionable restaurants read their patriotic proclamations to the for long continued to give their cusbeleaguered citizens. The inflated bom- tomers a creditable dinner for the reabast culminated in Jules Favre's Boba- sonable charge of one louis. Still there dil-like ultimatum, “Not a stone of our was a limit even among imprisoned fortresses-not an inch of our soil.” capitalists to fancy prices, and no purCaptain Bingham had remained at his chaser could be found for the hippo. post
haphazard correspondent potamus at £3,200. Three weeks afterthrough both the sieges, and in both the wards the city surrendered, and, so far lot of the besieged resident was any- as we know, the behemoth survived. thing but an enviable one. When the
The costs of the war would have Germans had closed in, suspicions were been even more onerous had the Gereverywhere rife; the cry of treachery mans realized the resources of France. was on the lips of each grimy patriot, The famous economist, Leroy Beaulieu, and a foreign accent was a damnatory understood them better. He wrote, pièce de conviction. Trochu himself when the war ransom had been fixed, was arrested for a spy, though the “We know what sacrifices are imposed general-in-chief succeeded in establish- upon us by this increase of £400,000,000 ing his identity. If a house happened to our public debt and the development to look out towards the detached forts of our military expenditure. But our of the enceinte, it was dangerous to neighbors are ignorant of all the relight a lamp without closing the shut- sources which French thought and ters, for flashing of signals to the enemy French work can furnish." A few
years afterwards Bismarck became strance. Then respectable citizens alive to his mistake, and would have were startled by the depressing news retrieved it by a second summary in that they had been deserted by Admiral vasion, had it not been for the interposi- Saisset, the trusty commander of the tion of the czar. In these anxious days National Guard, who had followed the writer had a letter from a man- Thiers to Versailles. The law-abiding not Captain Bingham-who had access men of property had fondly believed to sources of information the most that he, at least, would have stuck to intimes. Like Bingham, he occupied an his post. The admiral afterwards exapartment looking out on the Arc de plained to Bingham that he had acted Triomphe. And he wrote, “I never sorely contre cœur. But Thiers' orders dress of a morning without seeing the were peremptory, and he was bound to triumphant Prussians again passing obey. under the Arch."
One of the first striking incidents of The Commune was a legacy of the the second siege was the demonstration humiliating war, and, as we said, of the of the Rue de la Paix, which ended in extravagant expenditure of the Empire. a slaughter of unarmed men. We alParis was discontented, impoverished, ways doubted whether the Communists and overcrowded with workmen out of were greatly to blame, and Captain employment, from whom the insurrec- Bingham's testimony goes far to extionary Directory recruited its de- culpate them. A more insane project fenders. The bourgeois Thiers, soldier- than for a procession of unarmed like only in theory, was not the man citizens to force a line of military posts for the critical situation. Had Mac- could hardly have been conceived. But Mahon been then in charge, events the friends of order were not content might have been very different. Thiers' with simple persuasion: "the language best excuse was that he could not trust used was of an excitable, if not a violent the soldiers.. Had they looked up to a character.” The National Guard gave marshal whose courage they respected, them fair warning, and only fired when and been under the wholesome terrors their line was being broken. Bingham of military law, there would have been says that the casualties would have little fear of their fraternizing with the been far more numerous had not the discontented. The regular uniform has Federalists passed the night in the a supreme contempt for shop-keepers wine-shops. Moreover, it is more than of the National Guard and pekins in probable that many fired in the air, blouses. As it was, Thiers, though he otherwise the volleys at point blank had such dashing soldiers as De Gallifet must have been much more deadly. at his back, showed a pitiable example And the report we had from Laurence of impotence and vacillation. There Oliphant corresponds with tl at of Capwas no reason why he should not have tain Bingham. Oliphant was an eyeat once drawn the teeth of the factions witness, and helped afterwards to drag by quietly removing the guns parked some of the wounded into the offices on the heights of Montmartre. The of Messrs. Blount the bankers. He had writer saw them a few days before the been warned, by the by, that he might impending outbreak practically expect a sign that he had been sinning guarded Indeed the
had against the light in declining to quit actually been secured, but unfortu- Paris at the orders of his prophet. He natel the teams to them away took that bloody drama of the Rue de had been forgotten. That might have la Paix as the predicted sign, and been the error of an incapable sub- straightway sent in his demission as ordinate. But Thiers evacuated Paris Times correspondent. so promptly that in his panic he would The gentlemen of the pavement had actually have abandoned Valérien, and been succeeded by the gentlemen of the that key of the attack was only saved gutter, and these last were by no means by a timely reminder and remon- pleasant masters. A strange mixture
they were; for with Blanqui, who had been war minister for nearly a month, grown grey in conspiracies, and with asserted that during that period “the the Raoul Rigaults and the Felix Pyats, Communists only lost one hundred and were such honest fanatics as Dele- seventy-one men, and that only six scluze, such chivalrous though mis- thousand men, not including two thoutaken soldiers as Rossel. The world of sand artillerymen, were engaged in the Paris was more topsy-turvy than ever. defence." As Bingham, who accepts With men like Rossel and the fighting the statement, comments, “It was this Pole Dombrowski at their disposal, the insignificant number of combatants, Communists chose for their general-in- who spent more time in the wine-shops chief Bergeret the ex-waiter. He could than on the ramparts, which resisted not ride; he did not care to walk so far; for two long months an army of one so when he delivered his famous attack hundred thousand men, forty-seven on Versailles, he accompanied the col- field-batteries, and a formidable siegeumn in a carriage and pair, till the fire artillery." It might have been supfrom Valérien disturbed his equanimity. posed that the patriotic besiegers, at It was then that Paris was encouraged some personal risk, would have been by the memorable despatch announcing eager to spare the capital the calamities that Bergeret lui-même was directing of a prolonged bombardment. But for operations. There were exceptions, weeks they were content to lay at longand Raoul Rigault was one; but Bing- bowls with the cannon of the forts and ham does justice to the general incor- enceinte. Their firing was so methodruptibility of the feather-brained an- ical that the regular intervals could be archists. So far as honesty went, they confidently reckoned with. At times made a happy choice of their finance they made it hot enough at the exposed minister. “Jourde's wife washed the crossings, and Captain Bingham gives family linen as of yore (not that the a grimly ludicrous account of a troop minister seemed to use much), and he of bonnes waiting a chance to rush took his hurried meals at a low eating across to the bakery over the way. At house. And, poor fellow, he looked last the Versailles troops slipped into sadly in want of good feeding.” Indeed the city in place of storming it; and we it is a singular fact that with Paris know how terrible and indiscriminating abandoned to the dregs of the populace, were the reprisals. No one can ever tell the deserted mansions of the rich were how many innocent victims were murnot given over to sack and pillage. dered at Satory or dropped to these There was the Bank of France, with nocturnal volleys of platoon firing, untold gold in the cellars. The gov- which disturbed the slumbers of the
remained courageously at his residents near the Parc de Monceaux post, and treated coolly and successfully ani the Gardens of the Luxemburg. with the commissioners of the Com- "What struck me as deplorable in those
He ransomed the vast treasures days,” says Captain Bingham, “was in his custody for less than a million the conduct of the population, which, sterling. And Bingham vouches for a after having shown the most abject fact which would otherwise seem in- submission to the Commune, now credible. “While the marquis was clamored for blood. No sooner was an doling out his millions of francs to the arrest made than the cry, A mort! à Commune, he was sending regularly, mort! was raised.” once a week, silver and gold wherewith On the close of that bloody tragedy to pay the Versailles troops, who cost which restored Paris and France to the about £120,000 a day.” Almost as rule of the constitutional democracy we mysterious is the protracted defence, may let the curtain fall. Since then and it suggests that the dash had been every political notoriety and many an taken out of the regular officers and obscure individual have had their privates, demoralized by a succession of chance. Captain Bingham remarks crushing disasters. Cluseret, who had that under the Third Republic there