Skip to main content

Full text of "An iron-bound city : or, five months of peril and privation"

See other formats


(LIMITED.; 

30 TO 34. NEW OXFORD STREET. 



WEST0FnCE.28l,REGENT STREET, 
CITY OFFICE, 2.KINC STREET, CHEAPSIDE 



SUBSCRIPTION. 
One (Viiinea Pop Annum ni\d iipwajxJs. ^ 



vf. '^ 





/ 




'4j 



Intetattg of 5ptttsburg!| 

Darlington Memorial Library 



Sauk 



LEAVES EROM THE LIFE OE A SPECIAL 
COMESPOOENT. 

UY 

JOHN AUGUSTUS OSHEA. 
Two VOLS., WITH A Portrait of the Author, 21s. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

Aberdeen Journal. — " A choice medley of jovial, witty, hair- 
braijied, fascinating anecdotes about tlie great hi^ito^ical and social 
events of the past decade, and the distinguished and notorious men 
Mr. O'Shea has met in that time." 

Aciiihniy^ — " Mr. O'Shea has shown himself a workman needing 
not to be ashamed. The stories of some of the earlier events of 
tlie Franco- Prussian War, and of the imprisonment in besieged 
Paris, are thoroughly well told." 

Atkmuvum. — "Eminently readable. . . . There, is hardly a dull 
page in it. . . . His generosity and good temper are inexhaustible." 

Court Journal. — "The graphic and powe^ul writing is by no 
means the only feature of the work ; for t'lie anaedotes are good, and 
there is a prevailing feeling of the write^ljeing in bright, cheerful 
spirits (which are imparted to his readers), while, above all, there is 
a kindly word for everyone." 

Dailj/ Tele'jniph. — " Personal audaciously, but not ofifensively 
personal, Mr. O'Shea is never tiresome ; nor is there a particle of 
gall in his gossiping recollections." 

Freeman' ■■< Journal. — "Glowing with a rich, broad, and boisterous 
humour, which those who are familiar with Mr. O'Shea's style 
always expect and never fail to find." 

Illustrafeil Sport in;/ and Dramatic News. — "We cordially re- 
commend these lively and entertaining volumes to readers of all 
tastes." 

Morning Advertiser. — " The fund of amusing anecdote and per- 
sonal reminiscences with which this work abounds embraces a crowd 
of individuals and a series of events amply sutiicient to ensure the 
success of any number of ' Leaves ' when discoursed of in the pecu- 
liarly entertaining style of the author." 

New York Catholic World. — " The freshest and plea-santest 
collection of desultory reminiscences. , . . Every page has its 
anecdote, like a eip of champagne." 

New York Star. — " The author's style is most attractive — always 
brilliant and breezy ; in his most solemn inquisitions there is a dash 
of his Irish spirit, and we misjudge much if the book does not turn 
out an excitement of the literary season." 

Punch sa3's : 
" Oh, bright and lively is O'Shea— that is, this John Augustus is — 

His book as bright and lively as the author, who may trust us, is ; 



He discourseth of Napoleon, tobacco, and philology ; 
Of Paris and of pugilists. Lord Wolseley and zoology ; 
Of Gajibetta and of Calcraft. of cookery and quackery ; 
Of SiNNETT and balloonacy, of Sala and of Thackeray ! 
With ' special ' journeys to and fro, direct, delayed, and round- 
about ; 
For here and there and everywhere this Special loves to bound 

about ! 
With most things he is conversant, from monkey unto mineral — 
And talks on warlike matters like a modern Meejor-Gineral !" 
Scotsman. — "It may at once be said these reminiscences of a 
Special Correspondent's career afford extremely easy and amusing 
reading ; that there are not many dull pages in them ; and that 
not unseldom there are descriptive strokes and sketches of men and 
events that are worthy of permanent preservation." 

Society. — " Redolent of stories throughout, told with such a cheery 
spirit, in so genial a manner, that even those they sometimes hit 
hard cannot, when they read, refrain from laughing, for Mr. O'Shea 
is a modern Democritus ; and yet there runs a vein of sadness, as if, 
like Figaro, he made haste to laugh lest he should have to weep." 

Standard. — "The great charm of his pages is the entire absence 
of dulness and the evidence they afford of a delicate sense of humour, 
considerable powers of observation, a store of apposite and racy 
anecdote, and a keen enjoyment of life." 

Universe. — "We specially admire his volumes for three good 
points : 1. They may be left without fear on any table. 2. There 
is a depth of thought under the sunshiny surface. 3. The author 
says right out what he thinks, and does not care a jack straw for the 
critics." 

Western Morning Neics. — " One of the liveliest and best books of 
its kind that I have read. Mr. O'Shea seems, in his day to have 
been everj^where under the sun, and to have seen everything and 
everybody of importance." 

Whitehall Review. — " Delightful reading. ... A most enjoyable 
book. ... It is kinder to readers to leave them to find oiit the 
good things for themselves. They will find material for amuse- 
ment and instruction on every page ; and if the lesson is sometimes 
in its way as melancholy as the moral of Firmin Maillard's ' Les 
Dei'niers Bohemes,' it is conveyed after a fashion that recalls the 
light-hearted gaiety of Paul de Kock's ' Damoselle du Cinquieme ' 
and the varied pathos and humour of Henri Mnrger." 

World. — "Mr. O'Shea is vivacious and amusing. . . . His first 
volume is the most interesting, with his sprightly recollections of 
Bohemian Paris. . . . Mr. O'Shea kept some strange company in 
those days — English, French, Irish, of all nationalities — and has 
some entertaining things to tell about most of them." 



WARD cL- DOWNEY, 12, York Street, Corent Garden, London. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY 



Ifive /IDontbs of ipcril anD Iprivatioiu 



BY 

JOHN AUGUSTUS O'SITEA, 

AUTHOR OF 
LEAVES FROM THE LIFE OF A SPECLA.L CORRESPONDENT," ETC. 



' A great and terrible World-Event, supremely beneficent 
and yet supremely teirible, upon wliich all Europe is waiting 
with abated breath .... will be memorable to all the 
world for another thousand years." 

Thomas Carlyle on the Siege of Paris. 



IX TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. I. 



LONDON : 

WARD AND DO^\^EY, 
12, YOEK STEEET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C 

1886. 

[All RighU Reatrved.] 



^ 



< 



-^ 



o 



6- 






(To tl)c iiBtmorn 

ilF A 

BRAVE SOLDIKK AND STAUNCH FRIEND, 

BRIGHT OF INTELLECT AND BIG OF HEART AS OF KUAME, 

FREDERICK GUSTAVUS BURNABY, 

Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards, 

Cl)i5 JSooh i£i i3cKicatcB 

BY ONE WHO KNEW AND PRIZED HIM, AND WILL EVER MOURN 
HIS UNTIMELY END. 



PREFACE. 



BEFORE THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN. 

The Preftice here differs from that I set before the 
opening volume of the series of Leaves from my 
Life, inasmuch as I sit down to write a portion of it 
■without having begun the work. The last was the 
result of a casual afterthought : this is the inspira- 
tion of malice prepense. 

I know not what the coming book miiy turn out 
to be — so much depends on accident beyond personal 
control ; nor whether its introduction should take 
the form of apology or self-applause. That will be 
for the critics to determine. If I lower in merit, 
the blame is tiieirs. They have spoiled me. Pos- 
sibly some have hinted faults without going 
the length of expressing absolute dislike, have 
given me sly punctures without venturing on a 
cruel stab. But I mind aspersions no more than a 



PREFACE. 



duck does the rain-drops which glide off its un- 
ruffled back. Indeed, I am of those who consider 
Beaumarchais, pitting the gens de lettres against 
the gens de feuille (what an invidious distinction !), 
and scolding the journalist of Bouillon^ a fool for 
his pains. He should have followed my plan, 
which is simple and original. I collect all the 
criticisms, go to the end of the garden, read and 
re-read those which are favourable, and lie back on 
a grassy seat, where I puff tobacco cloudlets, and 
preen myself in a delicious paroxysm of conceit. 
While under the opiate of literary coxcombry, I 
would not exchange places with the Sultan of 
Turkey — no, not even if Canning's knife-grinder, 
who also ground scissors, were thrown in. 

As to the unfavourable criticisms, I make spills 
of them. 

In the chronicles and reflections about to be 
penned, names may occur which were alluded to 
previously. Should the reader wish to make fuller 
acquaintance with the persons thus mentioned, I 
dare say the publishers or the nearest librarian can 
satisfy him. But I mean to make evety instalment 
of this series distinct and complete in itself, so that 
each can be read without the need of reading 
another, while all will keep up a certain thread of 



PREFACE. 



continuity. " How many more are there to be ?" a 
Scotch friend asks. I really cannot say, but I have 
a vague hope I may bring myself level with the 
age some day. I am now, and have been for some 
months, laid up in dry dock, undergoing repairs; 
but by the time I have finished record of what 
has been gone through, I trust I may be able to 
enter on active duty anew, fairly vigorous, wiser 
and steadier than ever, and as artful as an enlarged 
experience of this arttul world can make me. My 
Scotch friend may put me to the question then. 
There is no knowing what I may do. When fresh 
food for memory shall have been gathered, I may 
be tempted to enter on a fresh course of remi- 
niscences. 

AFTER THE BOOK WAS ^YRITTEN. 

Well, the book is finished ; and since it is, I am 
glad, and meeker than when I began. Like Horace, 
I may address it : 

" Vertumnum Janumque, liber, spectare videris ; 
Scilicet ut prostes Sosiorum pumice mundus." 

Frankly, I am not satisfied witb the performance; 
I feel that to me, as to a better writer, might be 
applied the words of Thomas Carlyle : " Maan, 



PREFACE. 



when will ye write a boo-o-k ?" But I have 
laboured at it conscientiously. I have endeavoured 
to set down a plain, straight chronicle of a great 
scene in the world's history, in which it was mine to 
fill a super's humble part upon the stage. The 
Sage of Chelsea could do no more. 

In looking over my diary in beleaguered Paris, 
I have toned down much bitterness of expression, 
left out some extraneous matter, and tried to give 
as accurate a picture of what happened, without 
bias of flattery or fear, as an honest observer could, 
who holds war in abhorrence, but tyranny of all 
kinds in utter scorn. And now, with Horace again, 
I say to the production, ''fiige quo descendere gestis," 
and better luck attend you than has waited upon 
me. 



CONTENTS OF VOL. I. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Paris Threatened— A Military Government of Civilians 
— Looking out for the Four Uhlans— Cold His- 
torical Comfort— Former Sieges — Brialmont on the 
Defences— >'^emper non Paratus — A Scratch Army 
— The Sham Citizen-Soldiery— First Touch of the 
Enemy — Nobles Bleed for the Piepublic— A Solitary 
Capture— A Field-Marshal in Custody— A Captain 
Catechizing his General — Victor Hugo Blows a AVar- 
blast — The Maiden Reconnaissance - - 1-25 



CHAPTER II. 

Paris in the Vice— The Disaster of ChatiUon— A 
French Officer's Account — The Intrepid, Invincible 
Zouaves— Devil Take the Hindmost— Coolness of 
^e^lBretons— Ducrot Conspicuous — Traits of Valour 
— Bewilderment of the Chiefs— A Plucky School- 
master—Much Ado About Nothing— The Investment 
Completed — The Resources of Resistance - 26-40 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER III. 

PAGE 

The Coquetry of Woe — Bland Weather — Imprison- 
ment Grows Monotonous— An Aged Phikisopher— 
A Hero of Sedan— Some Aspects of Paris— Mars vice 
Mammon — Those who Prayed — On the Boulevards 
— The New Police — Blanche Pierson — Trade at a 
Standstill— " The Flying Fish "—A Grotesque Exhi- 
bition — The Worship of the Strasburg Statue— Arrest 
of Madame de Bismarck ! — An Unlucky Macaw — 
The Obnoxious Red Herring - - - 41-58 



CHAPTER IV. 

Personal : The Writers Billet ; his Colleague ; his 
Exchequer ; his Library — Citizen Prassojihagus — 
Sitting in Council on the Government — A Gas- 
tronomical Achievement — The Chief of the Barricades 
— " The Stone, my General !" — The Anaconda Coil — 
The Sailors Amuse Themselves — Odds and Ends — 
Drumming and Drilling — Courbet's Request — 
Figaro's Plan— The Sortie of the 30th of September 
— Honour to the Brave— Some Acts of Courage 59- 



CHAPTER V. 

The Gloomy Boulevard — Beaconsfield on Paris— Por- 
tents in the Sky — Louis Blanc to the English— Bad 
Tidings — The Strasburg Spire— The Balloon Express 
— England on the Eve of Revolution — A Foggy 
Bulletin— Explosion of a Torpedo^Opening of the 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Schools— Precautions at the Writer's Billet— Major 
Flourens Manifests — The Battle of Clamart — Blow- 
up of a Powder-Mill— The "Young Gambetta" 
Takes a Flight— Louis Blanc Says " No !" — National 
Guards : a Contrast— Aeronauts in a Strait — The 
/S7a/u/a?-t/ is Smuggled in - - - 80-100 



CHAPTER VI. 

Court-martialling the Cowards — Patriotic Insanity — 
Rochefort and the Ladies — The Combat of Bagneux 
— How a Titled Hero Fell — The Badeners Surprised 
— Prussians to the Rescue— The Wounded Wiirtem- 
berg Officer — Fraternization on the Field — The 
Unreasonableness of War — A Palace in Flames — 
Dialogue between an Alsatian and a Bavarian — 
Colonel Lloyd-Lindsay, Y.C. — De Dampierre's 
Funeral — The Vanishing House— The Locomotive 
Bush — Trochu's Plan — Liberty of the Press— The 
Standard Denounced — The Writer Remonstrates 
"too cavalierly" — Respublica can Do no Wrong- 
Long Life to the Duke of Strasburg — The Armaments 
— The Provisional Government Shows its Hand 101-131 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Anniversary of Leipsic — A Budget of News— A 
Stroll in the Zoological Gardens— A Downcast Eagle 
—The Gallic Cock- The Last Beef Dinner— Table- 
Talk -A Stop-gap Government — " Son of the Devil " 
—Heroes of the Rank and File— Message from the 



CONTENTS. 



" Young Gambetta " — Eochefort's Astuteness— A 
Byron with a Heart of Stone — " The Star of the 
Brave V — A Glorious Victory — Seventy-five Thousand 
Prussians Captured !— Toy Ambulances — Touting for 
Patients— The Actress and the Old Officer— The 
Sisters of Charity - - - - 132-154 



CHAPTER VIII. 

The Truth about the Glorious Victory— Gilding 'mid 
the Gloom — Long-winded Favre — Prejudice against 
England — An Irish Original— Exodus of Foreigners 
— Blow-up of another Powder-mill — Felix Pyat 
Creates a Sensation — Farce at the British Embassy — 
National Guardsmen Drop Dead — An Idyl of the 
Battlefield — A Roman Matron — Capture of Bourget 
— Innovations in Dietary — A Coloured "Marauder" 
— Cat Soup — Were Bismarck on the Boulevards — 
Loss of Bourget — Surrender of Metz — Black Monday 
— The Writer an American Citizen - - 155-183 



CHAPTER IX. 

The Feast of Refractory Fools — "Pas cV Amnistie !" — 
"Down wdth Trocbu !"— A Lull in tbe Storm — Sober 
Soldiers — A Drunken Patriot — " Down with Thiers !" 
— Three Gunshots — " Sauve qui Pent " — Re-as- 
sembling of the Mob — The Hotel de Ville forced — 
The Irrepressible Street-boy— An Orgie of the Ochlo- 
cracy — "Down with Rochefort!" — Dorian declines 
the Presidency— "Put that Old Gentleman into his 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Shirt-collar " — Shame and no Blush — Major Flourens 
Takes the Table- " Down with the Tricolour !"— The 
Oenerak is Beaten —Parley — The Rescue - 184-208 



CHAPTER X. 

Electoral Vagaries — Rejection of the Armistice— Mobi- 
lization of tbe National Guard — The Hegira of the 
English— A Cleric Scores ofi* the Invader — "The 
Friends of France '' — Paddy McDermott — The Un- 
happy !Mr. Meeks — Companionship of Books — Surly 
Hunger — Under Surveillance— The Writer is made a 
Brigadier — The Virtue of a Silver Stripe and a Red 
Armlet— German Prisoners in Paris — A Lied in the 
Roquette ------ 209-237 

CHAPTER XL 

Growth of Drunkenness — The Theatres — Timothoe 
Triram's Conference— The Clubs — Effect of Door- 
steps on Political Opinion — Hatred of Imperialism 
— Gil-Peres and the Donkeys— On the Ramparts — 
A French Red-Indian — Victory at Last — The Plague 
of Small-pox and Proclamations — Massacre of Mar- 
auders — Making Merry on Herb- Tea— A Distressed 
Cockney ------ 238-257 

CHAPTER XII. 

A Singular Dream — Jullien in Excelsis — Serenading 
the Enemy — Short Commons — The Daughters of the 
Regiment— Blanche d'Antigny — A War- Battalion 



CONTENTS. 



Going to the Front — Frolicsome Foot-Chasseurs — 
An Operatic Star Sets — Death of a Grand Old Man 
— Malingerers — "Blooding" the National Guard — 
The Forest of Bondy— Publications of the " Com- 
mittee of Indelicacy" — The Shortcomings of the 
Empire — An Official Jeremiad— A Mercenary Girl — 
The Man without Ears— Shopkeepers' Kapacity — 
Gaulish Gaiety— The Crisis at Hand - - 258-289 



CHAPTEPt XIII. 

The Hour of Action — Preparatory Operations — 
Trochu's Design— Ducrot's Address — The Seizure of 
Avron — The Feint at Gennevilliers — On the Heights 
of Montmartre — A Gale of Gunpowder — A False 
Alarm — General Thomas Speechifies — A . Pair of 
Captives — More Proclamations — In the Throes of 
Suspense — Exaggerations — Arrival of Wounded — 
Counting Chickens before they are Hatched — The 
Official Bulletins — Sum of the First Day's Operations 
—Military Criticisms - - . - 290-3], 2 



AN IKON-BOUND CITY. 



CHAPTER I. 



Paris Threatened — A ^Military Government of Civilians — 
Looking out for the Four Uhlans— Cold Historical 
Comfort— Former Sieges — Brialmont on the Defences 
— Semper noii Paratus — A Scratch Army — The Sham 
Citizen - Soldiery — First Touch of the Enemy — 
Nobles Bleed for the Republic — A Solitary Capture — A 
Field-Marshal in Custody — A Captain Catechizing his 
General — Victor Hugo Blows a War-blast — The Maiden 
Reconnaissance. 

The third French Republic was in its swaddling- 
clothes. The second Empire was dead — dead beyond 
recall — and its partisans had gone away or were 
hiding their heads. War with Germany was raging, 
and the Germans evidently meant to carry it on 
to the bitter end, no matter under what form of 
administration France chose to be misruled. The 

>^ 1 



.1;V IRON-BOVND CITY. 



jirmy in the field had been beaten ; there was no 
army in the field now, but the remnant of an army 
was locked up in Metz, and the wreck of an army 
was locked up in Strasburg. In Paris, which had 
passed in a few days through the throes of an 
opium-eater's frenzy — incredulous astoundment, 
trembling fearsomeness, delirious joy, chained 
wrath — there was the simulacrum of an army : an 
army of shreds and patcl^es, with no more solid 
groundwork than the fugitive corps which Vinoy 
had brought back from Mezieres, the echoes of the 
thundering victorious German guns at Sedan in its 
ears — that and some thousands of sailors, volun- 
teers, and superannuated fogeys, a levy of raw 
country-boys, and a sham citizen-soldiery. 

The Government, like the army, was one of 
shreds and patches — a Government of chance, pre- 
cipitately and irregularly adopted in the height of 
a crisis, a Government of hazard endorsed hy 
liysteria. There were a dozen members in it, tlie 
majority lawyers or journalists. In this Govern- 
ment of National Defence there was not a single 
military man until Trochu, the Breton non-Bona- 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



partist Governor of Paris, appointed against tlie 
grain by the Bonaparte, consented to join it on 
condition of" being accepted as President.* 

The useless nioutlis had been ordered awaj'. 
Most of the foreigners, the };leasure-seekers, the 
selfish, the luxurious, the timid, the narrow of 
means had left ; but their places were supplied by 
refugees from the outskirting villages, who had 
come to seek food and shelter, and to aid in the 
defence. Some had departed who could and should 
liave remained ; many were admitted who were an 
encumbrance. 

There was no longer room for doubt. The 
stately, beautiful Paris was to undergo the trials 



• The Government consisted of Trochu, President ; Jules' 
Frwre, Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affair^ 
Cremieux, Minister of Justice ; Ganibetta. Minister of the 
Interior ; Ernest Picard, ^[inister of Finance ; Jules Simon, 
Minister uf Public Instruction ; Emmanuel Arago, Gamier- 
Pages, Glais-Bizoin, Eug(5ne Pelletan, and Henri Kochefort, 
with Jules Ferry as Secretary. To these were afterwards 
added Dorian, Minister of Public Works ; Magnin, Minister 
of Agriculture and Commerce ; General Le Fin, Minister of 
War ; Admiral Fourichon, Minister of Marine ; andEtienne 
Arago, Mayor of Paris. 

1—2 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY 



of a siege : to be cut off from communication with 
the outer world, to be delivered over to its own 
resources for subsistence and resistance. It was 
hard to realize that in the year 1870 of the 
Christian era, in a century of steam and electricity 
and bepraised international bazaars, such things 
could be. I, whose office it was to stop in the city 
during that imminent beleaguerment and chronicle 
its incidents, sometimes rubbed my eyes and asked 
myself, was not this an uneasy dream ? Could it 
be possible that a host of German soldiers camped 
on French soil, drank French wine under French 
roofs, and were marching by easy stages, at their 
own good will and pleasure, to the attack of the 
French capital ? 

It was no vision of the night ; it was true — as true 
as the mirage-disappearance of the Empire whicli 
looked so firmly based, so strong, and so splendid. 
The Official Journal of the infant Republic was 
before me, and contained a proclamation from the 
Republican Prefect of Police, de Kt^ratry, a Breton 
Count, beginning with these humiliating words : 
' The enemy being on the point of arriving under 



AN I HON -BOUND CITY. 



the walls of Paris!" Notice was given in this 
document that the gates would be open only from 
six a.ra. to eight p.m. from that day forward, 
Thursday, the loth of September, until further 
orders. 

Practically, that was the inauguration of tlie 
.siege ; although, in the strict military sense, the 
invader did not sit down before us until later. But 
he was at hand, and the lance-pennons of those 
famous four Uhlans might flutter at any moment 
on the sky-line. There was a message that an 
advance-guard of his force had entered Nanteuil- 
which was but thirty miles away to the north-east ; 
and yet another, which was not credited, that ten 
tliousand Prussians were expected to arrive at 
Joinville, a hamlet on the ^larne, at the farthei- 
edge of the Vincennes racecourse, at ten minutes 
to eleven in the forenoon of that memorable 15th 
of September. This startling piece of circum- 
stantial news had some foundation. The bridge 
over the Marne had been blown up as a measure oi 
precaution by the French engineers, some Prussians 
having shown themselves in the neishbourhuod. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



For the reader familiar with London to grasp the 
condition of affairs, he must picture to himself 
an army-corps of, say Dutch, in possession of 
Chelmsford, while a body of their lancers and 
sharpshooters threatened Sydenham Hill. The foe 
was as close to us as that. 

There were other undeniable proofs of his proxi- 
mity. The train which left the Northern Terminus 
on this morning fell into his hands at Senlis ; 
another was fired upon at Chantilly, and the rail- 
way company resolved to undertake no more traffic 
to the latter station, which is on the mail route to 
England. The clerks in the various Government 
offices had flitted to Tours, the provisional capital, 
three days previously, and an order was posted 
that the price of meat should be regulated by tariff, 
to be fixed by the . authorities every eight days. 
These w^ere significant portents. It was no uneasy 
dream, but a grim actuality. Paris was indeed to 
undergo a siege. 

The students of the bygone told us there would 
be nothing new in that. Paris had been besieged 
fifteen times already. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



What if it were to be given up to sack, as by 
the laws of war it could be, if the city proper fired 
on the besiegers ? 

They were pat with their answer. There was 
nothing singular in that either. It might come ta 
pass. " Corinth was pillaged by Mumraius, and 
Rome by Genseric," 

But, surely, one could not conceive such a 
profanation as a remorseless shell defacing that 
exqui>ite front of Notre Dame, a poem of lacework 
])etriHed ? 

" Wherefore not ?" answered these matter-of-fact 
explorers of ancient annals. " The temple of Thebes 
was destroyed by Alexander !" 

Or if one of these hell-bombs of which we had 
been reading — bombs charged with petroleum — 
were to fall on the noble Bibliotheque in the Rue 
llichelieu ? 

Again they were ready with reply. " It was but 
the fortune of war. The library of Alexandria was 
burned by Omar." 

There was more comfort in looking over the tale 
of former sieges. The Xormans were two years 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



before the place in 885 ; the Dauphin had no better 
luck in 1358. In the following year Edward of 
England carried fire and sword to the foot of 
the walls ; but there he stopped, and fell back to 
Ohartres. In 1422 Henry V., of the House of 
Lancaster, entrenched within Paris, repulsed an 
attack of Charles VII. ; and in the years that fol- 
lowed, down to 1636, the city owed its safety no 
less than six times to its defences. 

It is an axiom of war that a besieged stronghold 
must surrender if the besieger has adequate re- 
sources at his command, unless a relieving army 
smashes up the attack. Time is on the side of the 
besieger. He has the cheerful audacity which is 
born of aggression ; he must have a certain en- 
couragement of previous success behind him ; lie 
has no idle maws to fill, or women and children to 
look after; nor is he so liable to sickness, or the 
despondency which comes by brooding over misfor- 
tune. 

I do not think tliose who fortified Paris believed 
that it would ever have to sustain a siege. Its 
enceinte and outlying forts were meant less to repel 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



tlie invader than to cow tlie revolntionLst. Brlnl- 
niont, of" the Belgian Enf^ineers (no mean authority), 
had absulutely written in a technical work, '' Les 
forts dc Paris la mdtcnt d I'ahr'i dun bloi-icn 
Ttyulirr." And yet it was to such an enterprise 
the Germans were committed ; the capital was their 
ohjective point, and those who knew anythinf^ of 
military science felt that the capital must succumb, 
notwithstanding its enormous circuit, unless some 
unlooked-for ally or some miraculous army should 
start up to the aid of France, or unless some untoward 
series of bhmders should be made by the enemy — 
contingencies not within the domain of the likel}'. 
It was a Titanic undertaking — the greatest siege 
tlie world had ever witnessed ; but the Germans 
remembered that while artillery had been pro- 
gressing the Paris fortitications were at a standstill, 
and the Germans had shown themselves equal to 
stupendous eftort. They had this in their favour, 
too, and they knew it (for they were well served 
by their Intelligence Department), that Paris was 
in a wretched state of unpreparedness. At tlie 
period when the disasters to tlie Array of the Rhine 



10 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

(so called) had become known, the enceinte had no 
armament — not even powder-magazines or traverses ; 
the military zone was obstructed with houses, and 
sixty-nine passages of ingress and egress cut the 
belt of ramparts in every direction. The forts had 
neither abris, platforms, magazines, casemates, 
embrasures, nor any of the customary accessory 
defences. There were only three guns on each 
bastion of the forts when war was declared, whereas 
the armament should have been seven ; on the 
ramparts there was not a single piece; and the two 
parks of artillery (about five hundred guns) com- 
prising the reserve of Paris had been sent to Metz 
and Strasburg. There were but 540,000 kilo- 
grammes * of powder in store, and in several of the 
forts the garrison of artillery was represented by a 
solitary gunner ! 

This betokened either an implicit faith in French 

* A kilogramme is 2 •205 lbs. avoirdupois, or practically 
two and one-fifth lbs. Where miUtary terms occur, the 
reader is referred to any simple military handbook. Were 
footnotes to be added explanatory of all, too much attention 
would be drawn from the text. That is the writer's apology 
for recommending the study of a too fascinating subject. 



AN IKOy-nOUSD CITY. 11 

invincibility, or a culpable negligence — perhaps 
both. Wiien it was acknowledrred that a siepje was 
not only possible but ])robable, nay, inevitable, 
superhuman exertions bad to be, and were, made to 
renied}' defects ; and a garrison, summoned from all 
points of the compass, was improvised — a composite, 
most uneven garrison at the best. 

Of infantry of the Line there were but two com- 
))lete regiments — the 3.>th and 42nd, which had 
been withdrawn from Rome — and fifty-one batail- 
lons de marche, made up from depots of the Line, 
of the Guard, and of the Foot-chasseurs. There 
were three battalions of the regiment of Gen- 
darmerie, two of the Republican Guard (better 
known as the Garde de Paris), and two of the 
Firemen. There were six battalions of Marine In- 
fantry and of seamen trained to small arms distri- 
buted in the forts, six of Custom-house officers 
(douaniers), and two of Forest-guards. There were 
at the least twenty battalions, of an average 
strength of a thousand bayonets, of Freeshooters, 
inclusive of the Serrfents de ville (mostly retired 
soldiei-s), which raised the disposable force of foot 



12 ^.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 



to ninety-eight battalions. To have estimated that 
there were fifty thousand solid and efficient dis- 
<;iplined infantry in this aggregation would have 
been going beyond the mark. Twelve or fifteen 
thousand of the number were as good fightiag 
material as could be collected anywhere. 

The proportion of cavalry to support any attempt 
at operations outside the range of the forts was fair, 
to wit, regiments de marche, formed of Dragoons, 
Cuirassiers and Chasseurs, a regiment of Chasseurs re- 
turned from Rome, six squadrons of Gendarmes, three 
of the Mounted Municipals, one of Spahis,and a couple 
of VolunteerScouts.in all some forty strongsquadrons. 

The artillery was in a transition state. It would 
be misleading to enter into any calculation of its 
strength ; but that there were gunners available 
even for field service was palpable. They were 
to be noticed bivouacked in the open spaces, parks, 
and gardens of the fashionable quarter of the town, 
very dirty, with badly groomed horses, principally 
of the complement of the artillery which had 
fallen back with Vinoy's force in the well-advised 
retrograde march from Mezieres. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 13 

It will readily be admitted that tliis hetero- 
geneous force was no match for the confident, 
disciplined, and homogeneous legions of Germany. 
Still it was the nucleus of defence, and contained 
the only semblance of a regular army to the hand 
of the Governor of Paris. Behind it there were 
the National Guards and the suddenly convoked 
Mobiles. Of the former, the less said the better. 
The majority were pasteboard soldiers. Sixty 
battalions nominally existed under the Empire; but 
they were ignorant of the common rudiments of 
drill, and were too well off and too fond of their 
own comforts to affront much hardship. It was a 
case of litdere qui nescit, camj)es tribiLS abstinet 
avmis. Sixty new battalions were added under 
the Republic ; most in those were stout artisans ; 
many were old soldiers or veterans of the revolu- 
tionary barricades. Trochu, to whom the conduct of 
the defence of Paris was entrusted, professed a great 
admiration for these National Guards ; but he could 
not have felt it. He issued an Order of the Day, 
in which he cheered them with the promise that 
the enceinte, defended by three hundred thousand 



14 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

bayonets, was unapproachable. Bayonets! Of an 
armed mob chiefly, he forgot to add. It is the duty 
of a commander sometimes to lie. In that respect 
Trochu did his duty. But his principal dependence 
was on the sailors in the forts and the Mobile 
Guards from outside. These rustics, somewhat like 
English militiamen, but of a better class socially, 
had come with alacrity from the intact provinces — 
from Normandy, Picardy, Brittany, Burgundy, and 
some even from the south. They were robust, 
tractable, healthy bachelors between the ages of 
twenty and twenty-five, were armed with breech- 
loading rifles inferior to the chassepot, were officered 
by gentlemen of local position and members of what 
we would call the old county families, and were 
animated with a sentiment of quiet, honest pa- 
triotism. I should say there were about ninety 
thousand of them. The Mobiles of Paris, some 
five-and-twenty thousand, were a restless, God- 
defying, insubordinate pack of rapscallions — witty, 
vicious, and wiry. Under the lash of an iron 
discipline, they might have made an impetuous 
light infantry. 



^.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 15 



On the morninf^ of the ICth, hostile cavalry were 
descried in the direction of Creteil, a village in the 
south-eastern environs in the elbow of the Seine 
and the Marnc, within range of the fort of 
Charenton. The si^uadron of Volunteer Scouts 
formed at the Elysee was instructed to " feel " 
them. It did literall}'. At five in the evening, 
the squadron was to be seen returning from its 
reconnaissance, making its entry rather pompously 
by the boulevards. The corps was capitally 
mounted, most of its cattle coming from the ex- 
Imperial stud, and prettily uniformed in a sort 
of rifle-dress, witli a hussar pelisse. Its vanguard 
had touch of the ]'russians about six miles off, 
below the vetciinar}- college of Alfort ; there was 
a scurr}' forward, and some lively sword-play. 
The Scouts claimed tl)e honours, but they did nnt 
have it all their own way. The}' lost three horses, 
and three of their number carried the marks of 
sabre-slashes — to wit, MM. de Kerghariou, de 
^larval, and de Be'de. 

Thus the first blood shed for the Republic under 
Paris was nobJe. 



16 Ay IRON-BO LWD CITY. 

M. de Kerghariou, a Count and a Breton, had 
swerved in the Pontifical Zouaves at Montana. His 
colour, if any, was the white of the Bourbon, not 
the red of Democracy. The Scouts assured rae it 
was the " blue hussars of the Royal Guard " they 
had routed. The truth was, the enemy was dis- 
persed by the foot-artillery which was in support. 
One gunner got a bullet in the head from some 
Prussian infantry who had craftily ensconced them- 
selves behind the Lyons railway cutting near the 
scene of the skirmish. This brush would be hardly 
worth mentioning, but for the proof it gave of the 
surprising temerity of the Prussians — certes, their 
cavalry was of the boldest — and of the continued 
carelessness of the French, who allowed a position 
to be occupied under the very muzzles of their 
ordnance. That tactic of the infantry taking ad- 
vantage of the railway had its lesson, too. These 
soldiers might lack the furia Francese ; but they 
were sensible and kept their heads. Clear heads in 
warfare often stave off the necessity of making use 
of nimble legs. Marshal Saxe was wont to say an 
army won its battles by its legs, not its arms ; but 



AX 1 no y- HOUND city. 17 



lie meant by that its capacity for making forced 
nuirclies, not for running away. 

While an irregular cavalry corps was enjoying its 
baptism of fire in one quarter, an officer of the 
regular branch, Captain Buisson, of the 9th Lancers, 
was signalizing himself on the east front, where a 
patrol of the enemy's Uhlans — the veritable Uhlans 
— were caught hovering perilously near to the forts. 
Buisson sallied forth cautiously, and made a dash 
at them ; they turned bridle, but pne of their 
horses lagged, and the French officer caught it u]> 
after a long and a dangerous pursuit, captured the 
Prussian, and led him back, horse, arms, and equip- 
ments, amid the cheers of his men. This was the 
solitary Uhlan made prisoner under Paris. 

Inspired by the exploits of the mounted arm,' 
the freshly fledged warriors of the National Guard 
panted for glory. They were aflame with the 
ardent zeal of the neophytCj and eager to distin- 
guish themselves, and the easiest way to do that 
was to lay hold of some enemy to the common- 
wealth. 

Marshal Vaillant, whose long life had been passed 



18 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

in the service of his country, was among the first 
arrested, and led a prisoner to the quarters of the 
Governor in the Louvre. The poor old man was 
strolling on the ramparts ; he had a pass, but for- 
getting that now was the glorious Republic, 
described himself as " Minister of the House of 
the Emperor." Clearl}^, he was a Prussian. 
"Away with him! away with him!" and the 
mob swelling as it rolled along, like a snowball, 
howled round the cab like wolves in a snow-waste. 
A lapse of memory should not have been felonious 
at his age ; but then an Imperialist who had been 
wuundedunder the firstEmpire should have had more 
good taste than to survive the fall of the second. 

The veteran Marshal was set free by the Governor, 
and wisely left for the country ; but this scandalous 
essay only whetted the appetite of his captors. 
Well can I recollect having been aroused from a 
comfortable doze by the newsboys in the streets 
crying out at the top of their voices, " Arrestation 
dw Marechal Ccmrohert I" 

How Canrobert ? He back ! I left him last in 
Metz ! What had he done ? The arrest of Yaillant 



Ay IRON-BOUND CITY. 19 



could have been understood. He was a fanatical 
Jionapartiste, a fat pluralist, and one of what Hugo 
called the valtdnille. But Canrobert ? On getting 
a paper the rebus was solved. It was General 
Baron Ambert, who had incurred the wrath of the 
])lobs. He commanded a section of the defence, 
and had gone on a tour of inspection of his division 
of National Guards. It appears he had exasperated 
tlio new battalions by complimenting those that had 
existed under the Empire, and allowing "the pure 
of the pure " to pass by unhonoured. Somebody 
told him they were growing jealous, and then he 
mended his hand so far as to damn them with faint 
praise. One of their captains came forward and 
called on him to cry, " Vive la Repuhlique T The 
General properly refused to obey this peremptory 
summons from a subordinate. 

"I'll cr}- *V\rc la France P" said he, " with all 
my heart; but I refuse to raise acclamations to a 
government which has yet to be ratified by the 
country at large." 

He was hauled off a prisoner to the quarters of 
Trochu on the spot. Of a verity, he had been guilty 



20 AN IKON -BOUND CITY. 

of an imprudence, but he did what was manly. It 
will be well to state here what was the sequel of 
this unseemly episode. Baron Ambert was deprived 
of his command ! The Official Journal did not en- 
lighten us as to whether the National Guardsmen, 
who had arrested their own general officer while he 
was in the discharge of his duty, had been eulogized 
in an Order of the Day, and recommended for de- 
corations. That was an oversight. General de 
Montfort, a friend of the dismissed Ambert, resigned 
his command in disgust. Trochu could not have 
approved these indignities and insults to men in 
authority ; but he was weak. What will you ? 
He was a nervous rider trying to master a powerful 
brute, ill-trained, and of capricious temper. 

Each of these earlier days brought its fresh ex- 
citement. On the 17th appeared a fervid appeal 
from Victor Hugo to his countrymen. He was back 
from self-imposed exile, and must put himself in 
evidence. He had called upon the Germans to 
accept peace ; but as the Germans were somehow 
too busy with other matters to hearken to tho 
magnanimous offer of the poet, his soul revolted, and 



A.V IRON-BOUSD CITY. 21 

his indignant voice rang out in favour of war. He 
repeated a litany of all tjie great towns of France, 
and with the pleonastic expansion of his latter style, 
bade them gird up their loins for the combat. In 
this strain he wrote : 

"Lyons, take up thy gun; Bordeaux, lift tliy 
carbine ; Rouen, draw thy sword; Marseilles, chauiit 
thy hymn and come terrible ! Be the invader 
pelted with the bones of our mother !" 

This was the inspired way of counselling French- 
men to stone the Germans, if they could not gel 
carving-knives to stick into them, or even thick 
sticks wherewith to drub them. There is but one 
Cambyses. Alas ! that the sacer vates bigh-piu- 
nacled should sometimes have condescended to play 
to him the part of Vizier. The Teutons have the 
name of being sentimental, but they do not usually 
let poetry disturb their appetites or distract theui 
from their occupation. Poor old Hugo, if thou wert 
to head a deputation of the mightiest bards from 
Homer down, their most impassioned appeals would 
not take a wrinkle out of the forehead of vou 
Moltke! Nay, if the sisters Nine were to call on 



22 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

Bismarck, I do believe that practical gentleman 
would sacrilegiously chuck the awful Melpomene 
under the chin, and ask Terpsichore to put him 
through a few steps of the Bavarian polka. 

More to the purpose on the 17th was an official 
bulletin, dated Ablon, 4.30 p.m. of the previous 
day, stating that the railway had been interrupted 
by the destruction of one of the bridges between 
that point and Athis, and that the enemy had 
forded the Seine near Juvisy. Ablon, Athis, and 
Juvisy were three contiguous stations on the 
Orleans Railway, distant respectively fifteen, seven- 
teen, and twenty kilometres.^ Juvisy, the farthest, 
was about twenty-two minutes off by express train. 
" Fighting is going on at Athos," ran the latest 
despatch. 

On this forenoon took place the first active 
operation of regular troops, if such they could be 
called, where a cumbering structui'e of recruits and 
volunteers, who had never smelt powder, was built 
upon merest scaff'olding of trained men. The 

* Kilometres may be reduced to miles, English, by multi- 
plying by five and dividing by eight. 



AN IROS-BOUND CITY. 



l)iivates did not know each other or their officers, 
most of the regiments being formed of contingents 
from four distinct regiments. Assuredly Trochu 
had a task before him to dishearten Hercules, and 
he had no one with a great name to help him. 
There was not a general in the place whose reputa- 
tion had any weight with the army ; Cambriels and 
Billard, who had escaped from Sedan, were not 
conspicuous ; Ducrot, who had also escaped from 
the capitulation — broken his parole, the Germans 
said — was the most distinguished. 

At eleven o'clock d'Exca's division of Vinoy's 
corps (the l*3th, which had been quartered under the 
walls of the Chateau of Yincennes) left for a recon- 
naissance in a southerly direction. The force con- 
sisted of a battalion of foot-chasseurs, which took 
the advance as usual ; of four regiments of infantry, 
and of an artillery coniprising six mitrailleuses, and 
a small body of the choicest cavalry in the service — 
the Chasseurs d'Afrique. The column crossed the 
Marne at Charenton, and entering on the high road 
to Provins, which runs to the left of the fort, 
marched to Creteil, where it turned to the right 



24 ^^V IRON-BOUNB CITY. 

and continued for a couple of miles till it readied, 
at about half-past two, the foot of a gentle 
eminence crowned with brushwood. The 20th of 
the Line was here thrown out in skirmishing order, 
and had begun its advance, when suddenly the 
heads of four small columns of the enemy were 
detected, and almost at the same moment a line of 
sraoke-pufFs burst from the trees. The leaden 
salute hurtled harmlessly over the French. The 
zip of the musketry had hardly ceased, when the 
sharp slam of field artillery came ringing from 
€over of the brushwood. These guns were well 
served, and obliged the French skirmishers to fall 
back; but the mitrailleuses were ordered up, and 
soon was heard the ominous rattle, not unlike the 
emptying of a cart of stones. One of their dis- 
charges seemed to have taken effiect on a group of 
Prussian staff- officers. The fusillade was kept up 
for half an hour, when the points of myriad 
bayonets were caught glistening in the sun in the 
enemy's rear, and General Vinoy prudently ordered 
the retreat to be sounded. The fact was estab- 
lished that the Germans had got up the valley of 



AlW IRON-BOUND CITY. 



tlie Marne in strengtli, and as tliey were reported 
at the wood ot" Clainart in the south, the impression 
was unavoidable that they were passing across to 
Sceaux and Versailles, in order to surround the tier 
of forts on that side, and join hands with the army 
supposed to be coming down upon us from the 
north. V^erily, the plot was thickening. 



CHAPTER II. 

Paris in the Vice— The Disaster of Chritillon— A French 
Officer's Account — The Intrepid, Invincible Zouaves — 
Devil Take the Hindmost — Coolness of the Bretons — 
Ducrot Conspicuous— Traits of Valour— Bewilderment 
of the Chiefs— A Plucky Schoolmaster— Much Ado 
About Nothing— The Investment Completed — The 
Resources of Piesistance. 

On the 18th it was undeniable that the circle of 
invasion was closing in like a garotte and throttling 
Paris. In the forenoon, all railway communication 
with the provinces had ceased. Tlie line to 
Brittany by Versailles, whose terminus is on the 
Boulevard Mont Parnasse, was the last to remain 
open ; but a message arrived by noon that the 
light horsemen of King William were in the 
.ancient royal seat. Specks of the strange uniforms 
dotted the horizon on almost every side. Those 
were the " lost sentinels " of the enemy. The 
moving patches of black on the plains were his 



AN IRON-BOUyD CITY. 27 

ubiquitous cavalry ; and the woods around must 
have hidden masses of his infantry. The unkind 
woods would not burn down because the young 
trees were too full of saj) ; but why were they not 
cut down ? From Vincennes in the east, we 
learned that there had been an exchange of shots 
for half an hour across the banks of the Marne, 
near Joinville; from Vanves in the south, we heard 
that strong columns had thrown a bridge over the 
Seine at Villeneuve St. Georges, and were steadily 
tramping towards Versailles at the back of the 
thicket of Yerrieres ; from St. Denis in the nortli, 
j)latoon-fire was reported to be active at the Grande 
Garde of the fort of the East ; from the Mayor of 
Poissy came tidings that boded ill on the west. 
Conflans, Andrezy, Carrieres, and Triel were occu- 
]>ied, and there were German cannon on the 
heights of Chanteloup; but the Seine wound like 
a huge serpent between Paris and their mouths, 
and the warden fortress of Mont Valerien raised its 
rugged outlines in challenge. 

On the 19th there was the first contact with the 
enemy in force. It could not be dignified with the 



28 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

name of a pitched battle, nor yet an engagement. 
I suppose it had better be dismissed as an en- 
counter. But it was an encounter of a serious 
nature, and resulted in a bitter reverse for French 
arms, revealing the utter weakness of most of the 
regulars. The French attempted to surprise the 
Germans, and the Germans not only held their own 
in the face of superior numbers, but repulsed 
their assailants, and drove them off the field in 
rout. It was ray firm conviction that if the enemy 
had sufiicient enterprise, and was in available 
strength sufiicient — one division could have done it 
— he might have pressed in by the gates at the 
heels of the runaways, and established himself in a 
portion of the enceinte on that day, and have held 
it until the arrival of reinforcements that would 
liave defied dislodgment. Nor was I alone in this 
opinion. The ramparts were reinforced by reserves 
well supplied with ammunition, it is true ; but the 
reserves were of quality as wretched as the 
fugitives. Between the enceinte and the forts 
there was a dense barrier of houses as yet unde- 
molished, and the artillery of the forts, even if 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 2'J 

those houses had not intervened, had no more than 
ten rounds to each gun. This is historic fact. 
Tliere was a magnificent chance of taking Paris 
by a coup de main. Napoleon the Great might 
have tried it; but there was no Napoleon among 
the Germans, and they let the opportunity which 
the s[)ort of fate had cast in their way slip idly by. 

I was not present at the combat, and am slow to 
write aught that would seem unkindly to those 
within whose lines I was sheltered as benevolent 
neutral. The task of criticism is ungracious when 
one has not shared the danger, so I prefer to give 
the brief unvarnished account of a French officer 
who was present : 

"Two corps d'armde, as you are aware, remained 
with us after the capitulation of Sedan; the 13th, 
commanded by Vinoy, and the 14th by Renault. To 
the former was assigned the defence of the north, to 
thelatter of the south of Paris. On the 13th, 14;th, and 
loth September the divisions of the l-ith corps took 
up their positions from Meudon to Villejuif, General 
Renault establishing his headquarters atMoutrougc, 
on the road to Orleans. On the evening of the 17th 



30 AN JRON-BOUND CITY. 

the headquarters moved more to the right front at 
Chatillon, and the troops were massed in this direc- 
tion; a division (Maud'huj^'s) being at the same 
time detached from Vinoy's corps to occupy the 
extreme left on the heights of Villejuif. The Prus- 
sians were on the plateau of Chatillon, from which 
Ducrot, the supreme commander, took the resolution 
to drive them. Orders were given for the attack 
on the morning of the 19th. The centre was formed 
of the three infantry divisions of Renault's corps ; 
that of Maussion to the left on the height of Bag- 
neux, opposite the wood of Verrieres ; that of 
d'Hugues, with the sixth battalion of the Mobiles of 
the Seine, to its right ; full in the centre on the 
Chatillon road a small brigade of cavalry (the depots 
of the Guard and a regiment of gendarmerie), 
masking the artillery; and to the right of that 
again, Caussade's division, whose extreme right con- 
sisted of a regiment of Zouaves stationed in the 
wood of Clamart. The earthwork redoubt on tlie 
Chatillon plateau was armed with pieces of 12, 
and held by two battalions of infantry of the Line, 
and the battalion of the Mobiles from Ile-et-Vilaine, 



^.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 31 



the wliole under command of Colonel (Jorbin, of tlie 
Engineers. The entire front was covered with 
skirmishers. The encounter had three distinct 
phases, which will help 3'ou to comprehend it at 
once. First, precipitate flight of the Zouaves on 
the right ; second, almost complete inaction of the 
division lent by Vinoy on the left; and third, 
the continued stand of tiie centre, which kept 
head to the Prussians nearly all day. While the 
cartridges were being di.itributed to the Zouaves a 
shell burst in the midst of them, and the entire regi- 
ment took leg-bail. Xot one ivas wounded ! An 
important position was thus sacrificed to the enemy, 
who took it and outflanked Caussade's division, 
which disbanded and fled also. Ti)e cavalry held 
their ground, and at seven the artillery, under 
General Boissonet of that arm, opened a vigorous 
fire, sweeping the front right and left. Twice he 
silenced the enemy. The division of Hugues on 
the left kept up a steady file fire, until the Prussians, 
overlapping it, unmasked a couple of mitrailleuses, 
and the young soldiers began to show symptoms of 
fear. The aged Renault, who had been coolly sitting 



32 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

on his horse at the head of the cavalry, spurred 
forward to rally them. General Ducrot saw it was 
useless, and ordered a retreat. Hugues's division, 
supported by Maussion's, fell back, leaving a bat- 
talion of the 58th in a cemetery with loopholed walls 
to protect their rear. The cavalry and artillery 
j-etired in perfect order, en ecMqiiier. Ducrot threw 
himself into the redoubt, and stubbornly held it 
until the safety of the body of the artillery was 
assured, the fire being so well sustained that the 
enemy was driven to the shelter of the woods. 
When nothing more needed to be done, he spiked 
the eight guns in the earthwork and withdrew. At 
four o'clock the affair was over. We lost much less 
than the Prussians, thanks to our brave and efficient 
artillery." 

Yes, the French had fewer casualties than the 
Germans, and that it is which rendered the disaster 
more sobering. They had to abandon a ridge of 
hills to the south to the enemy, who possessed him- 
self of eight of their guns, and resumed his march to 
Versailles unmolested, occupying a range of heights 
and a strong row of hamlets outside the forts. In 



AN I no N- BOUND CITY. 



conversation with a French journalist, I learnerl 
tliat an inconsiderate volley, fired by a battalion of 
Mobiles in the rear, caused some scratch battalions 
of the Line to imagine that their retreat to the forts 
had been turned, and disorder sprang up in their 
ranks. Ducrot, a man of energy, behaved well ; 
but he could not screw the courage of his immature 
command to the sticking-place. The Bretons held 
their own with obstinacy, but there was no stand- 
ing against the German artillery; and when the 
French evacuated the redoubt, leaving their guns 
behind them, because they had no horses to carry 
them of, the Prussian infantry rushed out of a 
wood, swarmed up to the defensive earthwork, and 
soon found means to do what they required with 
the forsaken cannon. 

On the right, the Prussians hail taken up a 
shrewd position in the grove of Clamart, and sent 
out spirts of vapour, like the escaping steam from a 
teakettle, through the leaves of thick underwood. 
That was the needle-gun. Ever and anon, quicker 
each moment, with a hiss and a boom, burst forth a 
gust of white smoke, like the whiff from the 

3 



34 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

funnel of a locomotive. That was the howitzer. 
There was a tremor of agitation among the intrepid, 
invincible Zouaves — a French equivalent for the cry 
•of "Devil take the hindmost" — and a stampede 
•which ended only at the city walls. 

There were exceptions : the artillery, the gen- 
darmes, and the seasoned Zouaves fell back in 
order. The sailor-gunners in the forts of Vanves 
and Issy, by pounding long shots, succeeded in 
keeping the enemy at a respectful distance. Some 
of the fugitives had the audacity to show them- 
selves in the wine-shops on the Left Bank, where the 
credulous treated them to cannikins of sour claret 
as reward for their stories of how the field had 
been lost by " the traitorism of officers," who — so 
the craven scoundrels averred — had sold them to 
the enemy! It is but just to record that tlie 
flying Zouaves were not the men of the Crimea and 
Palestro, Africa and Mexico, but a parcel of strip- 
lings who had joined the corps for tiie sake of 
the picturesque uniform. But the uniform does 
liot make the soldier, any more than^ the cowl 
does the monk. CLatillon was an evil omen for 



^.V I RON -no USD CITY. 35 

the defence. It must have confiriDed Troehu in 
the opinio^ every officer of judgment held, that the 
demoralized garrison of Paris would i-e([uire much 
improvement before any hardy action on the offen- 
sive could be risked. The situation was desperate, 
but there was no excuse for despair. It is in the 
genius of discipline to make the panic-stricken of 
yesterday conduct themselves with courage to- 
rn ori'ow. 

Tiiere were some redeeming traits of valour in this 
nnhappy combat. Richard de Nugent, a member ol 
the lliberno- Austrian family, and a relative of the 
grim old Marshal who was to be seen at Solferino 
riding on a cream-coloured cob wherever danger 
was thickest, behaved with notable intrepidity. 
Young de Nugent had been an officer in the 
Austrian service, but threw up his commission 
when the war broke out to join the French, and 
have another thrust with his good sword at the 
victoi-s of Sadowa. Fortune does not al\va3's smile 
upon the bold. He had engaged as a trooper in 
the Mounted Chasseurs. He was slain. Sous- 
Intendant Parmentier adventured into the press 



36 AN IRON -BOUND CITY. 

of the melee to carry back the wounded. Gunner 
Jean Ouhlon gave an example which the artillery 
should cherish. He stuck to his piece, with a 
lieutenant of his battery, after the horses had 
been killed and his comrade servants had been 
put liors de combat, and succeeded in keeping up a 
fire on the enemy until a new team arrived, and 
the imperilled cannon was limbered up, and trotted 
off to safety. 

A couple of hundred brave men stopped until 
night had fallen in a work at Meudon, expecting an 
attack of the enemy ; but the enemy made no sign. 
They did not like to quit the post which had been 
confided to them without orders, and telegraphed 
to Paris to know what they were to do. At Paris, 
the chiefs were so confused that the notion got into 
their heads that the redoubt might be in the pos- 
session of the Prussians, and a vague answer was 
returned. Communication of a disconcerting nature 
was carried on for some time, until the wise men 
inside the ramparts, half-overcome by the persist- 
ence of the little garrison, sent this bewildering 
message : " If you are not Prussians, come back." 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



It will hardly be credited — it does sound in- 
credible — that the French, in that humiliating cut 
and run at Chutillon, or rather run without delay- 
ing to cut, cleared out of the unfinished redoubt of 
llautes-Bruyeres, which the enemy had not dared 
to menace. 

This was a position of the first importance, com- 
manding and easy of defence. Not a man was left 
in it. Some of the enemy's cavalry, noticing that it 
was strangely quiet, loitered round in observation 
on the plain, but were sent flying by a few shots 
from a rifle picked up by a brave schoolmaster of 
the neighbourhood, who mounted to the belfry of 
the village of Villejuif, and constituted himself its 
sole warden. Tins dominie had more presence of 
mind than half the Generals in the war, and de- 
served to have his breast covered with a dozen deco- 
rations. He entered Paris, and reported what he saw. 
Maud'huy's division was ordered to reoccupy the 
place, but discovered that some enterprising Prus- 
sians had been before them. However, these were 
not in surticient numbers, and had to retire in on- 
quence of the attentions of the forts. But Maud'huy's 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



troops, who made believe to pursue them, had to be 
content with again garrisoning the line of Ville- 
juif, the Moulin-Saquefc, and Hautes-Bruyeres with 
a loss of two killed and a score wounded. A 
trifling loss ; but when these repeated themselves, 
as they did every day, the tally soon rose to a 
painful height. The Ministry of the Interior — 
though why that Ministry one is puzzled to know 
— issued a war-bulletin on the 22nd, which made 
those accustomed to read between the lines laugh 
sarcasticall3\ It told how Admiral Saisset had sent 
a party from the fort of Noisy to burn a house on 
the borders of the park of Rancy, which the enemy 
had used as an observatory. This party (strength not 
given) had dislodged fifty Uhlans from a garden 
behind, and had no loss save one man slightly 
touched on the arm. At the same hour (hour not 
given) the Commandant-in-Chief of the Seine flo- 
tilla — for we even had a waspish swarm of gunboats 
— had pitched a shell on another house used as an 
observatory at Bas Meudon ; while the sentinels at 
the bridge of Sevres exchanged shots with those of 
the Prussians at Brimborion. We heard nothinq; of 



AN IROS-BOUND CITY. 39 



tlie effects of that shell or those shots, wherefrom it 
was safe to conchide they had none worth mention- 
iiii;. But wliy go to the trouble of chronicling 
small beer ? It was not a hopeful sign to make this 
ado about nothing. 

The investment was now virtually completed ; 
but Paris had within her vast resources to fall 
back upon, in arms and stores and a large adult 
niale j^opulation. The world had no greater 
iurtress. The enceinte consisted of ninety-four 
liastions, with masonry escarps and a wide deep 
ditch. This enceinte was more than seven miles 
long in parts and tive miles broad. Outside there 
were sixteen strong detached forts, forming a 
cordon of thirty-two miles, which meant that the 
invaders should occupy a circumference of some 
forty-four miles so as to keep out of the immediate 
re;ich of the guns. Within the enceinte the com- 
munications were all that could be desired, the 
garrison having every advantage of acting on in- 
terior lines. There was a splendid military road 
all round, a railroad circuit inside that, telegraphic 
wires right and left, and broad intersecting avenues ; 



^xV I Jl OS -BO USD CITY. 



so that it ought to have been easy to concentrate 
masses on axij point, and send them forth at da}-- 
break suddenly between the admirable sortie-gate 
of two forts in overwhelming odds. The case of 
Paris was by no means hopeless, had the proper 
man been in sole authority, and had he the proper 
material to mould into shape. 



CHAPTER III. 

The Coquetry of Woe— Bland Weather— Imprisonment 
Grows Monotonous— An Aged Phikisopher— A Hero of 
Sedan— Some Aspects of Paris— Mars vice Ma'mnion — 
Those who Prayed— On the Boulevards — The New 
Police — Blanche Pierson — Trade at a Standstill — 
"The Flying Fish" — A Grotesciue Exhibition -The 
Worship of the Strasburg Statue — Arrest of Mailaiue 
de Bismarck ! — An Unlucky Macaw — The Obnoxious 
lied Herring. 

That shameful day of Chatillon wrought less u])on 
the populace than one would have feared. Like 
Didymus, the Parisian was reluctant to believe in 
what he did not see and feel. But in the waninir 
of September it graduall}' dawned upon him that 
war — prosaic, pitiless war — at last was at his doors. 
The ambulances received tenants ; the bmnd- 
shouldered fellows who had been parading idly on 
the boulevards, with the Geneva cross exposed 
ostentatiously on their caps and armlets, had an 



42 AN I HO y -BOUND CITY. 

occupation ; the stretchers with their melancholy 
burdens made an appearance on the thoroughfares. 
In the cafe in the Passage Choiseul, where for some 
weeks I dropped in to pen my diary, the gracious 
lady of the counter (who was mistress of the estab- 
lishment) was in mourning, and well it set off her 
figure. Your true Parisienne is coquettish even in 
woe. A week previously she had shown me a 
letter from her brother^ dated from the hospital of 
Amiens. He was a soldier in the 3rd Zouaves, and 
had been wounded at Sedan. 

"It is a mere nothing," he wrote. "A bullet 
entered by the nape of my neck on the left side, 
took away a portion of my jaw-bone, and went 
out at the right of my upper lip. I suppose I 
shall be somewhat disfigured; but that, dear sister, 
is all." 

The man who wrote those brave words was dead 
of lockjaw fifteen hours afterwards. His sister 
sobbed when she heard the news, and disappeared 
fi'om her customary seat. She was back again on 
the following day, and smiled so readily that the 
conclusion was plain that her feelings must have 



AN IKON -BOUND CITY. 



been considerably assuaged by the compliments 
paid her on her dead brother's fortitude. Besides, 
there must have been much consolation for a 
Frenchwoman, affectionate sister though she was, 
in tlie reflection that a neatly fitting black dress, 
with frills of crape, borders of black lace, and jet 
ornaments on the bosom like a string of ebon tears 
solidified, was becoming. 

The weather was wondrous bland about this 
sea-son — weather that would have been most enjoy- 
able in ordinary years ; but existence in " the gu}' 
city " (is not that the consecrated phrase ?) had lost 
its savour. The heavens were blue and clear, the 
river rippled brightly along under soft winds, the 
atmosphere was genial and exhilarating ; still men 
moodily moved hither and thither, as if a pall were 
spread over them. There was a mute terror abroad, 
c'or those who were neither French nor combatants 
the siege waxed monotonous even at this very 
caily stage. The hours, that once flew by all too 
(juickly on swift, rosy-tipped pinions, were leaden- 
footed. Boredom and utter stupidity were dominant. 
There was nothing new to see, next to nobody to 



44 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

visit or to pay you a visit. The papers were dull as 
ditchwater ; they did not contain even bad jokes. 
It was hazardous to enter into gossip; the man 
who expressed a free opinion stood a chance of being 
arrested as a Prussian. If feelings could be gauged, 
there was many a weary heart under a padded 
uniform; the one aspiration of the heroes of the 
yard-stick and copper scales was that the star of 
peace might soon return. I had lived in Paris for 
months without desire to cross the gates ; but, 
somehow or other, the moment it was impossible to 
get out I felt like the starling in " The Sentimental 
Journey." What would I not have given in reason 
for a ramble through the forest of St. Germain, or a 
pull on the river at Asnieres ? The city was large 
enough in all conscience, yet the sense of restraint 
was oppressive. There was one philosopher within 
the ring of imprisonment who took things easily — 
a very old soldier at the Invalides. He was a 
violinist and an angler, and went down daily, when 
he was tired of fiddling, to fish by the viaduct at 
Auteuil, Yet he had his grievance : the cannonade 
hindered the ffudireon from biting. I took him into 



^.V IHON-BOUSD CITY. 



a cabaret once to warm bis heart with a glass. Wo 
met a hussar there who had been at Sedan. This 
hussar would have delighted Carlyle. He was a 
eon firmed hero- worshipper, and MacMahon was his 
hero. 

" Ah, ononsiewr, to have watched the tears come 
into that man's eyes when he saw us running away ! 
Enfiii,'pour moi, MacMahon vaut le bon Dieu !" 

I asked him what he thought of de Wimpffen, 
and he shook his head gravely, and muttered sonic- 
thing about traitor. 

"Baste!" cried the veteran, "you can't expect 
a man to play the ' Carnival of Venice ' on a fiddle 
out of tune." 

That very old soldier was right ; de Wimpffen 
got the lead of the army when it was already beaten, 
and his name goes down to posterity unjustly linked 
with the capitulation of Sedan. 

" The painful warrior, famoustd for fight, 
After a thousand victories once foiled, . 
Is from the book of honour razed quite, 
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled." 

As Paris could not be quitted, one had to bow to 
his kismet, and take his walks within Paris. Let mo 



46 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

describe some of its aspects. I was fond of strolling 
to the Bourse, that building which is Grecian by its 
colonnade, Roman by its arched windows, of the 
Revival by its depressed ceiling, and of the Devil 
by the works and pomps that go on under the 
ceiling. There was neither bull nor bear in the 
menagerie of Mammon ; the men of eager aspect, 
the hard-featured, thick -necked and thick-lipped, 
hook-nosed, steel-eyed speculators, vulgar amongst 
the vulgar, that used to jostle there some weeks 
before and exude an oily sweat and bawl and lie — 
where were they ? The bugle of a ruddy-cheeked 
country-boy, a Mobile Guard, was the answering 
echo. Mars had kicked out Mammon. If Mars had 
never done worse, one could hug him. The cries of 
*' Mexicans," " Italians," " Rente," no longer pierced 
the hot steam hissing from the gamblers' breaths. 
"Squad, attention!" "Shoulder arms!" were the 
orders now in a clear young voice ; for drilling was 
going on all round inside the railings, and within 
the Bourse itself the staff-officers of the 181st bat- 
talion of the National Guard were installed. There 
were a few groups of the greasy ones under tae colon- 



^.V IRON-BOU^'D CITY. 47 



luide still — the force of habit; they moped about 
and babbled of stocks and shares, and spun fairy- 
tales of victory or defeat, and made daring in- 
vestments in the clouds, and v,'orke<l themselves 
into the conviction that they were operating pro- 
fitable, ver}^ profitable transactions. And then they 
skipped over to the cafd opposite, and had an 
absinthe to spur their jaded stomachs. 

From the Buurse to the Church of Our Lady of 
Victories was but a step. That church was the 
popular shrine. A great many people, mostly 
M'omen, who seldom went to a house of worship 
before, now flocked thither, and knelt and prayed 
fervently. It might have been very weak and 
superstitious in supplicating mothers, prostrate 
before an altar, to think that their sons would 
leturn safe from the forts because they had told 
their beads with that intention. But they believeJ, 
and it comforted them. Thus is human nature 
made. Tt would be cruel to destroy the fond hope, 
so with your leave we shall pass, and make no jeers. 
Whoso scorts at prayer is a fool. I do not. Heave n 
forbid it ! In that respect I am as old-fashioned as a 



48 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

Christian of the Catacombs. Of the same way of 
thinking were those Bretons fingering their rosaries 
behind a pillar, and moving their lips so quickly 
that they dazed the eyes to follow them, like a 
guitar-string newly thrummed. They were praying 
against time. It is to be hoped they were not of 
those naughty Bretons I met in a wine- shop 
of the barrier, who drank more than they were 
willing to pay for. But then those bad boys liad 
an excuse : they had been in the onion trade, and 
had made frequent voyages to Glasgow. 

From the church I generally meandered to the 
Grand Boulevard. The saunterer in Paris will 
always meander to this Grand Boulevard. How 
changed it was — unswept, unwater'ed, neglected ! 
The pollen had disappeared from the butterfly's 
wings. A row of caricatures of the Emperor and 
Empress and the supporters of the " Macaire family " 
were hung upon a string on one of the side-walks. 
A single adjective would characterize them in a 
bulk — coarse. There was little originality in them ; 
less wit. A woodcut of the first Napoleon pulling 
the ears of the second, and calling him " un petit 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 49 

polisson," was about the least offensive. Charivari 
had been inspired with but one tolerable cartoon. 
Daumier pictured the ex-Emperor placing a Prus- 
sian spiked helmet on the summit of a pyramid. 
Underneath was written, " The crowning of the 
edifice." Here and there the " guardians of the 
public peace " moved to and fro stolidly in threes. At 
first sight one might have taken them for under- 
takers' assistants out of place. They were got up 
most funereally in pilot coat, with burnous, trousers, 
and cheese-cutter cap, all raven-hued, and just one 
tiny speck of colour in the unhappy tricoloured 
cockade over the peak of their ship-steward's head- 
gear. They paced on their beats like cocks whose 
wings and spurs had been clipped. After inspecting 
them intently for a few minutes a light broke in 
upon me. New " guardian of the public peace " 
was old sergent de ville writ large — clean-shaven, 
his cocked hat and rapier removed. There were 
crowds in the open air as ever ; the thoroughfares 
blossomed with uniforms ; the omnibuses, which 
plied as usual, were crowded with freights of sol- 
diery ; even the few passers-by in paletot generally 

4 



50 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

had a red stripe on their trousers to show or hint 
that they belonged to the National Guard. The 
females reduced their chignons and went about in 
modest, pensive grey or black. One day I met 
Blanche Pierson, the pretty actress of the Gymnase. 
She had laid aside her sheeny satins and full 
flounces, and was hardly to be recognised in the 
little lady tripping by under the tidy robe of the 
grisette of twenty golden years before. The tulips 
had been transformed into violets; they were not 
so bright of colour, but they were sweeter than the 
flowers from the gardens of Monsieur Worth or 
Lucy Hocquet. It was correct to be matronly. The 
war had brought that consolation, at all events. 
Almost as many shops were shut as on a London 
Sunday ; but among the shops which were open 
(over and above those which sold bare necessaries of 
life), and drew customers, were the gunsmiths' and 
the mourning warehouses. The theatres were con- 
verted into hospitals. The pleasure-seeker was 
looked at askance. I encountered a friend who 
complained that he went into a billiard-room and 
was almost rudely put to the door with the rebuke. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 61 

" This is no time for billiard-playing." Hotels, 
restaurants, and boarding-liouses were empty. There 
was no business for masons, carpenters, and the 
like, except on the works for the defence. The 
employes in the tobacco factories were making 
cartridges. As for the liberal arts, they were much 
in the same plight as if Paris were a Gothic 
metropolis for the time being. The picture-galleries 
were all closed, and their windows stuffed with 
sand-bags ; the copyists of the Louvre were like 
frozen-out gardeners — they had no work to do. 
Not even the sound of a military band was heard. 
The inventive faculties of the town were all con- 
centrated on the discovery of the readiest means of 
taking human life, and mutilating God's creatures. 
We had the Satan gun and other diabolic imple- 
ments with diabolic names. In addition to these 
were the inventions for saving life in the form of 
plastrons of leather, and cuirasses of tin or steel, and 
pare-halles (the design of Disderi the photographer) 
of two hundred layers of thin gros de Naples. 

In fine, there were no alternatives for the idle 
man but to join an ambulance or shoulder a 

4—2 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



musket. Even the penny exhibitions of fat girls, 
happy families, giants, dwarfs, and phenomenal 
pigs had disappeared, and the ocly great attraction 
left was the " flying fish," a model of an imprac- 
ticable balloon, which was to be viewed for fifty 
centimes. Had the proprietor but ten thousand 
miserable francs to construct a large working 
specimen of his invention, he made bold to say he 
would undertake to destroy a division of Prussians 
with ease, economy, and despatch. But an unap- 
preciative public would not press forward to give 
him those ten thousand miserable francs. The one 
house of entertainment which flung back its 
portals was the Exposition of Hospital Appliances 
in the Street of the 4th of September, fifty per 
cent, of the proceeds of which was to be handed 
over to the fund for the wounded. (This fifty per 
cent, was very French ; in England they would say 
one-half, but in France one sou is magnified into 
five centimes.) I visited this Exposition, and, were 
it not for the object it subserved, would have felt 
aggrieved. It was got up by a M. Herv^ du Lorin, 
the same gentleman who introduced the brutal 



AN IRON- ROUND CITY. 5a 

pastime of ratting to Parisian sportsmen. The 
genius of the mountebank was visible in the pair 
of toy cannon flanking the turnstile at the door, 
and in the figure in armour behind the entrance — 
figure made burlesque by a carpet-bag in a mailed 
hand. Fancy the "beau Dunois" starting for a 
crusade with one of Mappin's dressing-cases 
strapped on his back ! If this was no time for 
billiard-playing, surely neither was it for parodies 
of this pattern. 

The statue of Strasburg on the Place de la Con- 
corde was constituted into a sort of Mecca of the 
National Guard. Nancy "la coqmette," now nick- 
named "la cocotte" (for she had yielded to four 
Uhlans), was passed by with disdain ; but the 
superb effigy of the Rhine city, by Pradier, was 
worshipped. The citizen-soldiers went there in 
serried columns, their bayonets circled with flowers, 
at all hours of the day, to swear to do as their 
brothers below had done; they deposited wreaths 
of yellow immortelles, bunches of dahlias, and great 
purply geraniums in the marble lap of the Genius 
of the beleaguered city, as on the altar of a 



64 ^^V IRON-BOUND CITY. 

Madonna of heroism. Strong men were to be seen 
wiping away tears as they gazed at the proud, calm 
face of the statue, whose pose of serene defiance 
made one think that the sculptor had the gift of 
prophecy when he took up the chisel. The mural 
crown on the brow was smothered under a floral 
harvest ; tricoloured flags fluttered from the four 
corners ; gifts from every quarter of the town, from 
every class of persons, were suspended round the 
limbs and perfumed the air. Here it was the 
infirmi^res of Paris who paid their homage in gilt 
letters on banner of white satin to " Strasburg the 
immortal." There it was the children of Paris who 
had clubbed their coppers to put up a flag to 
" Strasburg the heroic." " Vlvre lihre ou mourlr " 
was traced in charcoal in front of the pedestal ; the 
four sides were covered with sonnets, stanzas, or 
mottoes — heart-cries of love and admiration. A 
book was open at the foot of the monument to 
receive the signatures of those who desired to 
honour the city and its glorious defender, Uhrich. 
Portraits and biographies of the General were 
hawked about, and divided sale with the burnished 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 55 

medals of the Republic and the national cockades. 
Not even when night fell was the statue forsaken. 
The twinkling red lights from numberless Venetian 
lanterns brought out the massive lineaments and 
their trimming of bouquet and bannerol in warm 
relief; Strasburg was enthroned patroness of the 
new liepublic. 

"Hail, Strasburg the Virgin" shouted a grimy 
worker in iron from the Faubourg St. Antoine, as 
he knelt and waved his Phrygian cap. 

Strasburg the Martyr, rather should it not be ? 
Virgin pierced with the Seven Swords of sorrow, 
but still unconquered, impassive as the marble 
features above, over whose white radiance in the 
moonlight the ex voto lamps threw a flush of re- 
solution. 

The spy-mania was another feature of the 
time. To one writing at this distance of years, 
the violence and universality of this most childish 
and contemptible of all types of madness seem in- 
credible. Distrust, foolish and cowardly, was in 
the air. It was positively dangerous for any flat- 
breasted female of more than the ordinary height, 



56 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

and with the suspicion of down on her upper lip, to 
venture on the streets. She was liable to be seized 
as a Prussian officer in disguise. I saw a poor 
woman dragged to a post of the National Guard 
amid a ravening rabble. 

" Whom have they caught now V I asked. 

" Not sure, monsieur ; but they say it is Madame 
de Bismarck !" 

For a period these spirituel Parisians behaved as 
if they were demented. Clusters would gather on 
the boulevards, and stare at the innocent night- 
lights in a sick-chamber on an attic, on the pre- 
sumption that it was a signal to the enemy. If a 
shooting-star whirled across the sky, it was forth- 
with identified as a warning from foemen without 
to confederates within. As an English friend re- 
marked with acid humour one day : " If this goes on 
much longer, we shall have the necks of canaries 
wrung, under the pretence that the poor little birds 
are Prussian carrier-pigeons painted yellow." 

At length, the Government found it necessary to 
make proclamation that it had set up five sema- 
phores and electric lights on various points named ; 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 67 

and that private individuals must not take it upon 
themselves to enter houses suspected to harbour 
persons communicating with the enemy. The indi- 
cations given by the public on this head, added the 
proclamation, were usually groundless. So were 
they, in truth. In the Avenue des Ternes, for 
example, the garret of a lone old spinster, who 
was picking lint for the wounded, was burst into 
because the flapping of its scarlet and green 
plumage by a pet macaw in the window was 
identified as a code of messages to the Germans ! 
When the sovereign people takes to doing its own 
police, it does it with a zeal — blind sometimes, as 
in this instance ; tyrannic always. The very day 
this proclamation was issued, there was an instruc- 
tive scene in the Eue St. Honore. An indignation 
meeting was improvised outside the shop of a 
grocer, a lieutenant in the National Guard, who 
had charged half a franc for a small red herring. A 
squad of his own company had to interpose to pro- 
tect him from the vengeance of the mob, but as a 
compromise had to consent that his shop should be 
shut up, and that that small red herring should be 



58 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

nailed as corpus delicti on a shutter. A day was 
coming when the grocer who would give a red 
herring for half a franc would be accounted a bene- 
factor to his species. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Personal : The Writers Billet ; his Colleague ; his Ex- 
chequer ; his Library — Citizen Prassophagus — Sitting 
in Council on the Government — A G astronomical 
Achievement — The Chief of the Barricades— " The 
Stone, my General !"— The Anaconda Coil— The Sailors 
Amuse Themselves — Odds and Ends — Drumming and 
Drilling — Courbct's Piequest — Figaro's Plan — The 
Sortie of the 30th of September— Honour to the Brave 
— Some Acts of Courage. 

It is time that I should give the reader some 
insight into how I, personally, was situated, and 
should present to him my comrade who shared with 
me the fatigues and privations of that lugubrious 
winter, T resided in a ground-floor flat in the Rue 
de Clichy, leading up from the church of the 
Trinity to the Boulevard Montmartre. A remark- 
able street, for there Hugo lived, and there had 
been the prison for debt — the Haricot Hotel. In- 
carceration for the crime of owing money having 



60 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

been abolished (to the annoyance of some raffish 
folk who liked to settle their accounts in that way), 
the prison was available as an ambulance. My 
domicile was off a courtyard, narrow and dark. 
There were but four rooms in it, a very exiguous 
kitchen, a very dim bedroom for my housekeeper — 

Madame Vilma von L , an aged Austria^n lady 

in reduced circumstances — a barrack-fitted bedroom 
for myself, and the reception-room. The reception- 
room also served as library, smoking-divan, and 
dining-hall. It was not a princely suite, but it was 
cosy, and I was much more contented there than if 
I were at a hotel ; I was at home, and was my 
own master. As far as money went, I had all that 
I required within reason at my command. When- 
ever I needed it, I had but to call at Blount's bank 
in the Rue de la Paix ; but I did not go there often, 
as I had made up my mind to live as nearly as 
possible like the ordinary run of the working popu- 
lation. Accordingly, I allowanced myself on the 
hand-to-mouth principle. How could I appreciate 
stubbornness unless I joined in sacrifice ? Indeed, I 
never set much store by money, nor do I now; he 



AlV IRON-BOUiSD CITY. 61 

who does, except with the poet Buras's aspiration of 
being independent, has a soul the size of a shrivelled 
pea. The miser has a soul the size of a mustard-seed, 
but a mustard-seed that will not expand. I thank 
the stars of my nativity that the men I have prized 
tliroughout life were not of the class who bent the 
knee to the golden idol. They would not stoop to 
pick up a monster nugget if it would soil their fingers. 
Genius I do respect, virtue, learning, power, ex- 
ceptional skill — supposing it is only in colouring 
photographs : dross, no ! My comrade, Mr. William 
O'Donovan — brother to the O'Donovan of the Daily 
News, slain with Hicks Pasha — was of the same 
school of philosophy; yet we were both cheerful 
fellows, answering to Washington Irving's descrip- 
tion of those free livers on a small scale who are 
j)rodigal within the compass of a guinea. 

O'Donovan's cheerfulness was of the graver, mine 
of the frolic kind. He was fond of German litera- 
ture ; I of Italian. He called popular music syllabub 
silvered by moonlight: I called classic music beer 
brewed in a mist. He wore his hair long ; I mine 
close-cropped. He smoked pipes, or rather one 



62 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

venerable vapour-grimed pipe; I, at that epoch, 
smoked cigars. Every day he came from his roost 
in the district near the Porte St. Denis, and we 
compared notes, made excursions, wrote, or held 
discussions together. The sole art-treasure of my 
household was a pencil-sketch of a fair Hungarian 
lady to which my orisons were given. We had not 
many books, but amongst them were the Bible and 
Shakespeare — a copious library in themselves — a 
pocket Horace, about a score of the cheap little 
publications of the Bibliotheque Nationale (the 
cream of French literature), odd volumes of Goethe 
and Goldoni, half a dozen military treatises, Moore's 
"Life of Sheridan," a ^q^ novels by Hacklander 
and that charming work by Dr. Holmes, '' The 
Professor at the Breakfast Table." O'Donovan 
brought me a chess-board, and endeavoured to 
interest me in the game ; but it was too intricate 
for my brain, and so we turned the chess-board into 
a draught-board, and played an interesting series of 
matches upon it, until one day we broke it up for 
kindling-wood. At the opposite side of the street 
was a wine-shop, kept by a portly Burgundian, who 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 63 

used to narrate great stories of his exploits in 
the Insurrection of '48. He must have exhausted 
his martial ardour at that era, for he did not 
betray any particular impatience to enroll himself 
in the active battalions of the National Guard. 
The Citizen Prassophagus we nicknamed him, he 
was such an eater of garlic. We resorted to his 
place for a gossip, for a cup of black coffee, for a 
litre of wine (nay, I must confess, for a change and 
to feel more like citizen-workmen, we sometimes 
tossed off the potato-peel spirit known as tord- 
hoyau) ; and we rattled the balls merrily over a 
rickety billiard-table with a surface like a map in 
relief. There w\as more noise than science in our 
games. In making a carambole the ball had to go 
buck-jumping over the obstacles on its course. But 
it satisfied us, and there was no dread of cutting 
the cloth. 

I am afraid O'Donovan and I would have been 
marched to Mazas, if not put up against a wall, 
if our opinions, freely expressed in private com- 
mittee as we canvassed the acts of Government, 
were known. Hunger makes one austere. How 



64 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

we rated that weak, whimpering Favre when 
we read of his interview with Bismarck at Fer- 
rieres. The thought of that lank luminarj'' of the 
robe, with tears in his voice, pleading with the 
burly Chancellor was not pleasant. It was too 
unkind to pit him against such an antagonist — 
man with no jaw against man with a heavy jaw, 
drinker of sugared water against quafFer of porter 
mixed with champagne, emotion against energy. 
Why, that cocky dwarf, Thiers, with his squat 
solidity and his inordinate conceit, would have been 
more of a match for the big Prussian. And then 
the too ridiculous pomposity of the empty phrase 
that the German would have " not an inch of our 
territory, not a stone of our fortresses." Favre 
should have been submitted, to a course of shower- 
baths and dosed with steel. They should have sent 
a man of physique, with no sentiment, but plenty of 
red corpuscles in his blood, to beard Bismarck, and, 
if he so chose, to cheek him. Thus mj friend and I 
settled the matter offhand; but the reader must 
recollect that fish, game, poultry, and eggs were 
already very scarce, and it is not easy to be amiable 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 65 

oil low diet. Not that we cared too much for our 
stomachs' comfort. We were satisfied with siege 
fare, so Ion;; as the three essentials — powder, water, 
and bread — were to be had. "We made sundry ex- 
periments in cookery, mostly unsuccessful. The one 
achievement in that line which we accomplished 
was a porridge composed of sago and chocolate. 
It was a mahogany-coloured mess, palatable and 
filling. 

"We laid in a stock of the thinnest paper we 
could procure to write our news-letters upon, and 
O'Donovan, who was remarkably ingenious, con- 
structed a pair of scales b}' the help of a few 
matches, some thread, and two of the tin stoppers 
of soda-water bottles. We made the weights out 
of bits of hard dough, whicli we compared with the 
ordinary weights in the establishment of Citizen 
Prassophagus. 

About this date orders were issued by the police 
to all keepers of cafes and wine-shops to shut up 
their houses at half-past ten o'clock at night. This 
measure, it was understood, was adopted to remove 
temptation out of the way of the Provincial Mobiles 

5 



66 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

who were billeted on the inhabitants. A previous 
order obliged them to be within their lodgings by- 
ten. As a preventive of such disgraceful scenes as 
those that followed the rout of Chatillon, it was 
forbidden to give liquor for payment or otherwise 
to drunken men, armed or unarmed. 

A new oflSce was devised for the popular idol of 
the hour, the pamphleteer of the Lanterne. Henri 
Rochefort was named " Chief of the Barricades," 
and forthwith adopted Gustavo Flourens as his 
lieutenant, with the title of Major. A resolution 
was come to of raising a third line of defence in the 
rear of the enceinte, where the Parisians would 
have an opportunity, if matters were pushed to 
that extremity, of trying their hands at the fighting 
they are famed for. The first barricades were 
thrown up in the streets of St. Denis, and on a 
system admirable for its economy. The citizens in 
power issued orders that every individual, who 
passed, should add one stone to the nearest barri- 
cade. So rigidly was this rule enforced that Carre 
de Bellemare, the Commandant of the Place, was 
stopped by the National Guardsman who was 



A y IROX-IiO UND CITY. G7 

keeping ward ; the sentinel presented arms, gazed 
reproacli fully at his superior officer, and murmured : 

" Tile stone, my General ?" 

"You're right," said the General, as he quietly 
went back to bring his contribution to the cairn. 

We two kept ourselves very much to ourselves. 
A legion of foreigners styling themselves " The 
Friends of France" had been organized, and many 
compatriots had joined its ranks ; but we held 
aloof. We had our own axes to grind ; and more- 
over, a special injunction had been laid upon me 
that I was on no account to swap the pen for the 
rifle. I was to recollect that I was in Paris as his- 
toriographer of combat, not as combatant. If the 
"Friends" were to adopt a uniform suggestive of 
the countries they hailed from, it would have ex- 
hausted all the hues of the rainbow ; they were of 
every nationality — even to Turkey and Wallachia. 
As it was, they were content with an unobtrusive, 
serviceable tunic of drab, and were amongst the 
most tractable and best-disciplined volunteer soldiers 
in the cit}', for most of them had seen service. 
There was one daring young Irish officer named 

0—2 



68 AN IRON-BOVXD CITY. 

Casey. He had two brothers, also under arms, but 
in different corps for a beautiful reason : they had a 
mother, and, being good sons, they did not care to 
have her left alone in her widowhood by the chance 
of all three being wiped out by the explosion of a 
single shell. 

It became plain to us in the last week of Sp:p- 
tember that the coil of the enemy round Paris was 
strong and strict : it was an anaconda coil. There 
■was no getting in or out, except at immense risk 
and by phenomenal luck. Where the Prussian was 
not visible, be made himself felt. When the electric 
light sent a great glare like the flash of a Brobding- 
nag's dark lantern from the forts, gangs of workmen 
were caught piling up breastworks. There could 
be no doubt of it — he was there, and busy ; and the 
watchword was passed, " Prenez garde a vous, sen- 
tinelle !" The needle of the glass still pointed to 
" set fair," which was an advantage for the foe. On 
the morning of the 26th a few shells were pitched 
from Mont Yalerien towards the copse of Croissy, 
right opposite on the other side of the Seine. There 
was a hurried scamper of infantry towards Bougival 



J.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 



in consequence. From the southern line of forts 
reports carae that masses of troops had passed 
during the night behind the phitean of Chjitillon to- 
wards Sceaux and Versailles. The invader was dig- 
ging a trench round the cemetery of Choisy-le-Roi, 
and was fortifying himself at Dugny, over against 
St. Denis ; but he made no offensive movement. 
With a good glass dark blotches could be descried 
on the heights in the outskirts. Those blurs on the 
landscape were his posts and bivouacs. Whenever 
horsemen or a line of provision-waggons blackened 
the roads within range of tlie forts, the sailors, who 
were perpetually hanging about with telescopes, 
walked quietly over to one or other of the heavy 
pieces of marine ordnance, there was a yellowish- 
red flash and a roai*, a cone of smoke, a hissing 
.sound high up, and generally a fo'c'stle cheer as a 
cloud of dust rose in the distance. There might 
have been a few horses disembowelled, a few human 
heads carried off or made mash of, over wd)ere the 
dust rose ; that was why the hilarious tars were 
boisterous. 

An cstoft'ttc crept in from Tours on the morning 



70 AA'^ IRON-BOUND CITY. 

of the 27th, with news that Bismarck's answer to 
Favre had been placarded over France, that the 
provinces were rising, and that troops under 
General de Polhes (yet another Breton) were har- 
assing the enemy's rear. Posters were put up on 
this day notifying tliat courts-martial of three 
officers could be summoned within four-and-twenty 
liours for the trial of robbers, spies, or marauders, 
and that sentences could be executed seance tenante 
by the picket on duty in the hall of meeting. The 
Minister of Agriculture announced that the carcases 
of five hundred oxen and four thousand sheep were 
to be placed daily at the disposal of the inhabitants. 
This measure had been rendered necessary by the 
conduct of the butchers, who began shutting up 
their stalls when they discovered they were not to 
be let charge their own prices. According to the 
new arrangements, butchers whose names were re- 
gistered at the Mairies were to receive every day a 
quantity of dead meat proportioned to their cus- 
tomers, which they were to retail on Government 
account at the regulated tariff, deducting four sous 
on each kilogramme for their expenses. Official 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 71 

decrees also appeared establishing a mid-air mail 
service by balloon, and giving liberty to the public 
to send open messages on cards for half the postage 
of ordinary letters. Shots were dropped now and 
again from the forts to let the Herren know we 
were alive, but they kept as quiet as ferrets. Like 
the ferrets, they were viciously burrowing. A fire 
broke out about noon on this date in the petroleum 
depot at the Buttes-Chaumont, close to a powder- 
magazine ! It was got under by throwing earth 
upon the flames. 

On the 28th I took a long walk through the 
town. The air vibrated with the ruflie of drums. 
Companies of the National Guard (whose drill was 
DOW obligatory, two hours daily) were going through 
the manual and platoon on all the open spaces. 
There were over 300 battalions organized, the 
greater part equipped with the fusil a tabatiere^ 
an easily handled breech-loader of inferior range. If 
an average of 800 be allowed for each battalion — 
the maximum of 1,500 could seldom, if ever, be 
reached— that would give 240,000 as tlie strength 
of tiie force. In fact, it was almost a levee en masse ; 



72 AX IRON-BOUXD CITY. 

the "five trades of Paris" had turned soldiers; 
the paunchy, the purblind and the hunchback 
were under arras ; still there must have been many 
^ood men and true amongst them. But the whole 
organization was cursed by the system of electing 
its officers. Some of the battalions of the richer 
districts had provided themselves with seductive 
young vivandUres, uniformed like the regimental 
daughters of comic opera. While the Nationals 
were progressing, the Mobiles were not inactive. 
They were being licked into shape with praise- 
worthy celerity. Booths were erected for their 
reception on the exterior boulevards, pumps were 
sunk at hand, and water for cooking and washing 
was abundant. But provisions were going up 
ominously. On the 28th of September, butter 
fetched seven francs the pound. 

We were diverted with proclamations throughout 
the whole duration of this weary investment. 
For instance, there was on the hoardings a copy 
(the third printed) of the Bulletin de la Munici- 
j)aliU, a tri-weekly record of the doings at the 
Mairies — notices of the sinking of wells, the forma- 



AX IliOX-BOUND CITY. 73 

tion of civic corps, the hygienic condition of the 
district, and so forth. This copy contained a letter 
from Gustave Courbet, the painter, representing a 
number of his fellow-artists, demanding that the 
Napoleon Column on the Place Vendome should be 
pulled down ! Trul}', a wicked and grotesque 
proposition, not more wicked and grotesque, how- 
ever, than one in Figaro of the following da}', 
seriously suggesting that 50,000 or 60,000 men should 
be flung on Germany to "rob, burn, and sack town 
and countr}' ; blow up bridges, destroy railways, 
and carry ruin and devastation everywhere." A 
theorist wished to pay off the National Debt once 
by bottling Thames water, and selling it at five 
shillings a pint, as a patent medicine. He was as 
practical as Figaro. The barber should stick to 
his lathering-brush. 

On the last day of September, a series of 
simultaneous reconnaissances were organized ; the 
principal, towards the south-west, was more in the 
nature of a sortie, having for design to cut off the 
enemy's line of communication between Choisy-le- 
Roi and Versailles. This was undertaken from 



74 AN IRON-BO UND CIT Y. 

Yillejuif as base, under the personal supervision 
of Trochu. At four in the morning, the troops of 
Vinoy's corps were formed up in line from the 
redoubt of the Moulin Saquet on the left, to that of 
the Hautes-Bruyeres, their extremities rather 
stronger than the centre, Chevilly, a village right 
in front, making the apex of a triangle of which the 
redoubts would be the points at the base, was the ob- 
jective. There the Prussians had strongly entrenched 
themselves ; they had pierced loopholes in the 
houses, thrown up barricades, and sheltered their 
flanks by a ditch and breastwork, on their right to 
the farm of Saussaye, on the road to Fontainebleau, 
and on their left towards the hamlet of I'Hay. 
Shortly after dawn, a cannonade was opened from 
the adjoining forts and the two redoubts on this 
position, the French right and left descending at 
the same time by converging columns. The centre 
had been ordered to stand fast, so as to be avail- 
able as a reserve. The distance between the two 
fronts was about a mile, but the enemy's skirmishers 
were out almost to the confines of Villejuif, hid in 
the vineyards and in every tuft of bushes. As the 



AX IROX-BOUXD CITY. 75 

French pushed on, they withdrew, until the former 
got within a couple of hundred yards of their line 
of works, when the fusillade on both sides was 
something appalling. It kept rattling like a con- 
tinuous drum-beat. For a moment the French 
were unsteady, but a bugler blew the charge, and 
the young soldiers who were wavering plucked up 
courage and went on again. The advance was 
made in extended order, the men firing from the 
knee. At last, thoy made a rush for the first line of 
trench, and carried it at I'Ha}', Ciievilly, and Thiais, 
after a fierce wrestle at the bayonet's point ; but 
the Prussians had only fallen back to a second and 
stronger line, from which they poured a murderous 
tire ou their assailants. The struggle at this stage 
was desperate, the smoke from the infantry oscil- 
lating backwards and forwards, as success inclined 
to one side or the other. So close were the com- 
batants that the artillery dare not juin in, lest it 
might mow down friend as well as foe. The 
French left absolutely got forward to Choisy-le- 
Roi by Thiais, but had to fall back, considering the 
enemy's strength. Brigadier-General Guilhem was 



76 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

sliofc, leading into action the 35th and 42nd, who 
behaved gallantly. The head of Blaise's column (a 
brigade of Maud'huy's division), which penetrated 
Thiais, was on the point of taking a battery. Some 
accounts pretend it did take it, but was unable to 
carry it off for want of horses. Reinforcements 
having streamed up on the enemy's side, the 
" retire " had to be sounded, and that disagreeable 
movement was effected in an orderly manner before 
mid-day, thanks to the cover of the forts of 
Montrouge, Bicetre, Ivry, and Charenton, which 
thundered in chorus. This was a very spirited 
action while it lasted. The French loss was about 
one thousand. There was no gain, except in the 
training to their work which these brushes gave to 
raw soldiers. General d'Exea made a demonstra- 
tion on the extreme left towards Creteil with a 
brigade, but had to discreetly acknowledge that he 
had more than his match in front of him. The 
German was too strong and too wary. Ducrot 
went out westwards, as far as he dared, towards 
Bougival, but could not entice the wily foeman into 
showing himself. 



AN IROX-BOUND CITY. 77 



There was a brief armistice on the Choisy-le-Roi 
front to bury the dead. The Prussians gave up the 
corpse of General Guilhem, rendering it on its 
passage every homage which chivahy could dictate. 
The " barbarians " .saluted the body as it was 
borne by, as if the hero were their own. The}' had 
with a generous sympathy covered it with flowers. 
A few hours previously they had put ten bullets 
into it. "War is something of a paradox. 

The 30th was rich in feats of dogged resolution. 
Corporal Ardit, of the 42ncl, must have had the 
instinct of discipline strongly developed in him. 
He had both wrists sliot tlirough at Chevilly, when 
he coolly fell out of the ranks, saluted, and asked 
permission of his captain to fall to the rear. 
Private Admard, of the same regiment, was 
hit twice. He got one of his comrades to give 
his wounds a rude dressing, and tlien quietly re- 
sumed tiring at the Germans. Corporal Graciot, 
of the 110th of the Line,* took up his stricken 



* The former rc<jiments de inarche were now numbered 
and spoken of as if they were ordinary Line reginient^i. 



V8 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

lieutenant to carry him to a place of safety; at the 
same moment the faithful fellow was wounded in 
the right hand, and the officer killed in his arms; 
he let the corpse fall, clutched a chassepot, turned 
round with bent brows to the enemy, advanced, 
and continued to load and fire upon them till he 
dropped from exhaustion. Drummer G^rodias, of 
the 112th, was worthy to rank beside Barras, the 
famous tambour under the first Republic, who beat 
the charge after both his legs had been swept off 
by a round shot. While Gerodias was plying the 
sticks on the parchment at Chevilly a splinter of 
shell smashed through the drumhead. He looked 
at the instrument, half-amused, half-amazed, tlien 
snatching a gun from the hands of a dead comrade 
beside him rushed to the front and showed that he 
could fight himself as well as encourage others to 
fight. One was sorry to hear he was wounded, but 
he did not retire from the field till the close of the 
action. Sergeant- Major Guerroy, of the 35th, 
valiantly rallied his company thrice at the storm- 
ing of Chevilly, the officers without exception 
having been killed or wounded. So that those 



AN m ON-BOUND CITY. 79 



who imagine that in the colossal struggle the 
French all hiy down to be walked over, do an in- 
justice to a most gallant nation. Defeat had its 
heroes as well as victory. 



CHAPTER V. 

The Gloomy Boulevard— Beaconsfield on Paris— Portents 
in the Sky— Louis Blanc to the English— Bad Tidings 
— The Strasburg Spire— The Balloon Express— England 
on the Eve of Revolution— A Foggy Bulletin— Explosion 
of a Torpedo— Opening of the Schools— Precautions at 
the Writer's Billet— Major Flourens Manifests— The 
Battle of Clamart— Blow-up of a Powder-Mill— The 
" Young Gambetta " Takes a Flight — Louis Blanc Says 
" No !" — National Guards : a Contrast— Aeronauts in 
a Strait— The Standar-d is Smuggled in. 

Dull October stole upon us insensibly. "We had 
days that were chill and wet and foggy, and now 
and again bleak breezes blew off the withering 
leaves. It was saddening to take an evening walk 
on the line of the Grand Boulevard. Those who 
knew the brilliant and crowded thoroughfare of 
yore would hardly recognise it in the badly lit cold- 
looking avenue, melancholy by its border of ash- 
tinted trees, silent but for the news-boys calling 



A A" IRON-BOUND CITY. 81 

out the late editions of their papers, the broad 
i-oaJ\vay deserted but for the rare ouinibuses, the 
broad pavements traversed by grave men in half- 
military dress, and the once riotous cales half de- 
nuded of customers. No more gay toilettes, no 
more bustling groups outside the farades of the 
open theatres dazzling with light, no more jesting 
revellers taking Sardanapalian views of life from 
the terrace of Tortoni's, no more rolling equipages 
and be furred lackeys. The bloom had been brushed 
off the Via Liietosa by the coarse hand of invasion. 
The money-changers had taken tiie bullion out of 
their windows; the jewellers had suspended busi- 
ness; every second shop was dark, as if the shadow 
of coming bankruptcy had fallen upon it. Here 
and there the gliding figure of a female, with the 
blight of respectable penury betraying itself in 
every crease of her well-worn gown, might have 
been detected pausing at the side of some Italian 
warehouseman's store, as if to " cloy the hungry 
edge of appetite by bare imagination of a feast." 
This was war: with such sights as these where a 
short season before the Hours capered to the pipe of 

G 



A.¥ IRON-BOUND CITY. 



Pan, and Comus grinned, and ruddy Bacchus reeled 
— pshaw ! I mean where Therese sang, and Offen- 
bach played, and everybo.ly laughed, and there 
were suppers that recalled the Regency, and delirious 
dancing such as Mabille only could have presented, 
and much luxury that was languishing, and much 
that was robust, when the only chimes one heard 
were the tinkling of bells for more champagne — one 
began to think that the Prussian bulletins which 
called this war a judgment had some pretence of 
reason in them. Not that Paris was worse than 
any great Teutonic city. If it put the paint on 
its cheeks in public, they did in private. Berlin 
had quite as strong a family-likeness to Gomorrah 
as more sharp-sighted observers than I affected to 
discover in the French metropolis. This may be 
good-natured prejudice; but if I am wrong, I am 
wrong in decent company. With the author of 
"Coningsby" it is to be hoped one may see in fair 
Paris not a City of the Plain, but the " airy and 
bright-minded supreme capital of Manners." That 
souvenir of Gomorrah came into my mind as I 
paced the boulevard one night, and saw a lurid 



Ay IROX-BOUXD CITY. 83 

glare like the reflection from a thousand blazing 
foundries roofing the town with red canopy. There 
was a very pious ac(|uaintance of mine who had 
grown very nervous from much poring over Revehi- 
tion. He had quitted Paris before the investment, 
telling me in awe-stricken tone that he knew l)y 
some cunning totting-up of occult ciphers that the 
city was " doomed." Was this a foretokening ? 
The portentous sheet moved and glimmered over- 
head as if shaken, and the streets soon tilled with 
■curious watchers. Was it another petroleum fire ? 
No; the Pompiers had not stirred from their posts. 
Tliere that tremulous etching of flame-streaks hung 
up mysteriously still. 

" It is an Aurora Borealis," suggested one scien- 
tific onlooker. 

A woman crossing herself exclaimed, "No, it is 
a supernatural omen; I saw the same during the 
Italian war!" 

The old wives' belief timidly inclined that it was 
a. Belshazzar's warning traced in fire. Later on, I 
learned that the strange sign in the heavens was no 
more unaccountable than a new mode of signalling 

G— 2 



84 AA' IROX-BOCSD CITY. 

with electric lights from Mont Valerien. Those 
who had half hoped that Paris would share the 
fate of Gomorrah were disappointed. What if 
Capua, by the touch of peril, were to be transformed 
into Lacedtemon ! 

On the 1st was published a long letter of Louis- 
Blanc to the English people. It was eloquent, but 
developed nothing striking. He pretended that 
France was opposed to this war. I think that 
Paris, at least, was in favour of it, and I am sure 
that many who abused the Emperor and his policy 
would have licked the dust off his boots, and would 
have hailed him Cresar, had he come back con- 
queror. 

The 2nd was the third Sunday since the invest- 
ment, a fine day, but one of evil news, which the 
populace, acted on by the weather probably, took 
with even resignation. The Government placarded 
that Strasburg and Toul had capitulated. That 
meant much. It meant that 80,000 additional 
troops would be at the disposal of the enemy 
for service against Paris within eight days. Dis- 
quieting whispers went round. It was rumoured 



AX moy -BOUND CITY, 85 

with bated breath that the Count tie ChambonJ liad 
been proclaimed King of France at Tours, and that 
the army of the Loire — the army which was to 
rescue Paris — was a myth. And what was Paris 
doing to rescue itself? Not much, apparently. The 
sailors on the forts dropped an occasional projectile 
over the ground where the Germans were suspected 
to be erecting their batteries, to "keep their hands 
in," The arrival of General Burnside, U.S.A. — the 
same who was beaten by Lee, and lost 12,000 men 
at Fredericksburg, in the American Civil War, but 
retrieved his laurels the year following b}' repulsing 
Longstreet at Knoxville — was announced. What 
could it signif}' ? 

On the 3rd, O'Donovan and I were busy finishing 
our correspondence in preparation for a balloon 
wliich was advertised to leave on the morrow. 
Hard work is a mighty solace. In the heat of 
occupation we did not care to remember that f^it 
geese were sellinjr at thirty shillinirs, that etrirs and 
fish were scarce and l»ad, that there was little milk 
and less butter. What did we reck? Bread and 
wine were not lackinir, and there was a noble re- 



AK IRON-BOUXD CITY. 



serve of horseflesh within tlie walls. We were 
more exercised by thoughts as to what condition 
the spire of the Strnsburg Cathedral had been left 
in. It was one of the highest and most elegant 
in Europe. It would be too bad if the index that 
pointed the way to Heaven should have been de- 
stroyed by the shells of that monarch who rendered 
such pious thanksgiving to the dwellers in Heaven 
for every victory — victory which meant hecatomb* 
ot" slaughter. O'Donovan, who was steeped to the 
lips in historical lore, told me how the spire had 
escaped destruction during the great Revolution. 
A ferocious Jacobin named Teterel demanded that 
it should be taken down, because its great height 
was an outrage on the principle of equality. One 
of his associates, who had sufficient admiration for 
art not to appreciate this piece of Vandalism, but 
who dared not openly protest against it, made the 
witty proposition that the red cap should be placed 
on the top of it, so that the " immortal symbol of 
liberty should be seen from afar," His amendment 
was carried, and the steeple was saved. 

We had to take time by the forelock, for the 



AN JROX-BOUXD CITY. 87 

balloons were kittle cattle. We had to send as 
early as we could, and as much as we could, in as 
small compass as possible, which was easy for 
O'Donovan, for he was as accomplished a micro- 
caligrapher as Peter Bales or Matthew Buckinger. 
But sometimes, as now, we had hurried with our 
toil for nothing. 

That balloon did not leave on the 4th. We could 
see it still at the roadstead on the lieights of ^lont- 
martre. The aeronauts were whistling for a wind. 
It was called the " Armand Barbes," and belonged 
to a joint-stock company. T made an effort to get 
a corner in it for a courier to take out some de- 
spatches, and found tliere were but two seats vacant. 
I could have had my choice of those as a favour for 
the trifle of five thousand fiancs, that is to say, two 
hundred pounds sterling. If the ballo(jn were per- 
forated by a Prussian missile, or if the courier 
broke his neck in the descent, or if my despatches 
were thrown out to lighten it, I would have to put 
up with the loss. There was no insurance against 
})erils of the air ; and the rule was .strictly " no 
monev returned." On no account would the com- 



88 Ay IROX-BOUXD CITY. 

pany take correspondence unless through the 
Government, and I had nigh worn out my trouser 
going on my knees to tlie Barnacles of the Repu- 
blican Circumlocution Office in the vain search for 
favours. So I resolved to trust to luck and the 
ordinary letter-boxes. We were now over fifteen 
days locked up in an iron chest, and only three 
balloons had left. Calculating by averages, close on 
three million letters had been posted in the interval, 
which would be equivalent in weight to some three 
thousand kilogrammes. And how many kilogrammes 
of correspondence did these three balloons take 
out ? Just one hundred. Naturally, the large 
pro})ortion, pei'haps all, were State papers. We 
could send no news away ; we could get no news 
in. We were asking ourselves what the rest of 
France was doing ; had the mission of Thiers 
(who was touting for allien) failed ; had the Re- 
public been proclaimed in Spain ? At this time we 
lieard with amazement, until the source of the in- 
formation was known to be Figaro, that a revolu- 
tion was on the point of breaking out in England. 
Military reports appeared every day now, signed 



^.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 89 

by General Schtnitz, Chief of the Staff, who would 
appear to have been installed as Sub-editor of war 
bulletins, with unrestrained power to manipulate 
copy. The candour of these bulletins may be esti- 
mated from the specimen on this 4th of October. 
It reported that a small reconnaissance had been 
made in the fog of the morning from the fort of 
Nogent towards Neuilly-sur-Marne, b}' three com- 
panies of Mobiles of the Drome and half a troop of 
Spahis, The Prussian outposts drew" back to a 
wood where some 500 of their comrades were 
iimbushed, and the Arab horsemen — can such folly 
be credited ? — charged to its verge and fired point- 
blank on its defenders. Twenty Prussians toppled 
over, of course, and the Spahis lost — two horses 
killed and one wounded ! The fog would hardly 
account for this result, after a "fusillade trls 
nourrie" by the men with the needle-guns at a 
*'2'>etite distavce." The genius that inspires epi- 
taphs must preside over official bulletins. 

General Appert sent in a message that a torpedo 
had exploded accidentally at the gate of Sablonville, 
beyond the Arch of Triumph, wounding three 



90 AF IROX-BOUA'D CITY. 

workmen, a Free-shooter, and a woman. The 
accident was due to a supposed break in the iso- 
lating envelope. Experiments were being made 
with a torpedo uncharged, 150 yards from tiie point 
where this was buried, and it is conjectured the 
electricity by which these infernal machines are set 
off was communicated by some deviation of cur- 
rent. 

The schools and lycees were opened to-day as 
usual by a wise order from M. Simon, and a com- 
mission was also formed under his direction, at the 
Hotel de Ville, to inquire into the question of pri- 
mary education. He addressed a letter to his 
colleague, the Mayor, alluding to the "solid, virile, 
and austere instruction " the Republic should give, 
to the necessity of " bodily exei'cise so strangely 
neglected up to the present," and to the utility of the 
parish making sacrifices to give boys of conspicuous 
talents, the sons of poor parents, access to the 
higher branches of stud3\ He wound up by insist- 
ing that France could only be saved, and the 
Republic established, by raising the moral and 
intellectual standard of the countiy, so as to get rid 



AJV IRON-BOUND CITY. 91 



of the two great scourges of humanity — monopoly 
and war. These beatitied scntiiiieiits were i)enned 
amid tlie tuck of drums, and echoed hy the 
rumbling of cannon. 

On the 5th of October, when I approached my 
window to take note of the weather, I saw a heap 
of sand in the middle of the courtyard and four 
barrels of water, with sacking neatly superposed, 
l)lanted round it in square. This, with the placing 
of mattresses between tlie window-panes and tiie 
blinds, had been prescribed as precaution against 
l)ercussion and live shells. At noon of this day 
five battalions of the National Guard, consti- 
tuting a legion, under the command of Gustavo 
Flourens, presented themselves armed, led by a 
band of music, at the Hotel de Ville, to demand 
that the citizen-soldiers should be furnished with 
chassepots,* and permitted immediately to make 
sorties in force ; that Government commissioners 
should be sent at once to the departments to rouse 

* They were armed at the time with the tabatiere, a rifle 
which bore much the same relation to the chassepot that the 
Snider does to the Martini-Henri. 



92 J.Y IROX-BOUXD CITY. 

tliem to action ; that the municipal elections for 
Paris should be forthwith held ; and that the popu- 
lation should be rationed in proportion to the 
provisions in store. Ganibetta answered that the 
latter subjects were "under consideration." In 
response to the first demand, General Trocliu made 
the only reply a soldier could — " that purposeless 
sorties by large masses of undisciplined men, un- 
supported by artiller}'- perfectly organized, were 
hazardous." 

There were no tidings from the provinces yet, 
but some of the fly-sheets of the New York pattern 
had insinuated that the Goveinment was in pos- 
session of tidings, but cushioned them ; that M. 
Cremieux had sent a gloom}'- report from Tours ; 
and that a portion of the Army of the Loire had 
been defeated. The Official Journal apologized for 
publishing no ill news on the ground that it had 
none to publish. ■■ 

There had been heavy booming of long-range 
guns for hours on this day along the line south- 
west from Montrouge to Mont Vale'rien, but not 
until the Gth did we learn the full significance of 



AN IliOX-liOUXD CITY. 93 



the hurly-burly. Here, rerhatlm et literatim, is 
the first paragraph of the military report by Sub- 
editor Schmitz : — " A recoiuiaissancc made by four 
companies of the oth Battalion of the Mobiles of 
the Seine in the village of Clamart, towards one 
o'clock in the afternoon, turned out very fortunate 
(a tre-'<-Jienreus('mri)t rews'i'). We had no wounded, 
and our soldiers brought back two guns, a sabre, 
and a cross-belt." 

Who could weep over the capitulation of Stras- 
burg after that ? France had her revenge. She 
had taken two guns, a sabre, and— please to re- 
member — the cross-belt. O, General Boum ! 

The pride over this glorious victory was damped 
by an accident in the Rue Gavel, on the Left Bank, 
where a powder-mill blew up, killing thirteen per- 
sons. The dangerous fulminate known as poudre 
blanche, composed of two parts of chlorate of potash 
and one of powdered sugar, was in process of 
manufacture there. Could other result have been 
expected ? Chlorate of potash had long been dis- 
carded in England, on account of the risks in 
triturating it. 



D4 AN IRON-BO UND CI T Y. 

At long last, on the 7th of October, the balloons 
were able to leave. About half-past eleven in 
the forenoon, after Nadar had made a couple of ex- 
perimental ascents in a captive balloon, he declared 
that there was a favourable current high up, and 
that voyagers might trust themselves to it. The 
Minister of the Interior, who had been chatting 
with Louis Blanc on the Place St. Pierre (the 
balloon-stead, if I may coin a word), bade him good- 
bye, and stepped into the basket, a carpet-bag in 
one hand. M. Spuller, his secretary, followed, and 
then an aeronaut. Tiie " young Garabetta," as it 
was the fashion to call him (he was thirty-five — 
what would Frenchmen have called Pitt ?), looked 
excessively pale ; M. Spuller made little paralytic 
motions from excitement; the captain of the air- 
ship took matters coolly. He was in his element, 
or about soon to be. 

" Lachez tout!" he cried ; and as the ropes were 
released, the "ArmandBarbes" rose to the region of 
the favourable current, and then, catching the wind 
on its beam, moved to the north. For a moment 
it ducked behind the heights of St. Denis, was lost 



jy IKOX-BOUXn CITY. 95 

to view, and a throb of pain shot through the im- 
raense crowd that was hjoking skywards. The 
point where the balloon had disappeared was 
directly over the Prussian lines. But it quickly 
reappeared, sailing mnj est! call}' on its course. A 
second balloon, chartered by Americans bound for 
England to speculate in firearms on the French 
account, rose, became a distant soap-bubble, and 
vanished. Louis Blanc had been commissioned to 
go to England likewise, but the little gentleman 
declined. He did not like the mode of travelling. 
He had made a trial ascent. 

" How did you feel when you were above ?" asked 
a friend. 

" Excessively anxious to get down again," was the 
reply. 

A column under General Martenot advanced to 
Malmaison by Nanterre and Rucil on the morning 
of the 8th, which was cold and rainy, with a capri- 
cious, marrow-searching breeze. When it got to 
the wall of the park surrounding the favourite 
chateau of Josephine, the pioneers effected a breach, 
and the troops streamed in expecting to fall on the 



96 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

Prussians, but no Prussians were there. An entry 
at another point was made, with a like result. 
Both parties joined and pressed towards Bougival^ 
but saw nothing except a few horsemen. While 
this fruitless operation was going on towards the 
left, a company of volunteers of the National Guard 
crossed the plain of Gennevilliers higher up, and 
liad a smart exchange of rifle-fire with the German 
outposts on the other baniv of the Seine, between 
Ai'genteuil and Bezons. This was the baptism of 
blood for the National Guard, and well they bore it. 
Two of them were killed, and eleven wounded. 

But there were other National Guards, those of 
tlie turbulent faubourgs, amongst whom agitators 
had been fomenting bad feeling. They clamoured for 
immediate municipal elections. While some of their 
comrades were lying stark at Gennevilliers, and 
others were being carried to hospital, these fanatics 
marched to the Hotel de Ville. They reached it at 
two o'clock in the afternoon. Luckilj-, there were 
only some three hundred of them. They raised the 
cry of '' Live the Commune !" But a battalion of 
order-loving citizen-soldiers was drawn up, and 



^.V IROX-BOL'ND CITY. 97 



barred the entrance to tlic Town House. Some 
Mobiles and Douaniers were stationed in tlie inner 
cuurtyard in suj)port. General Trocliu rode up, 
looked at the nianifestants, and rode off again. 
General Taniisier, Commander of the National 
Guard, came out of the Hotel de Ville. The echo 
of a big gun from the forts was heard. 

" Do you hear the cannon V said the old General. 
" Pretty moment you choose to sow discord !" 

The e'meute was conquered. " Down with the 
Commune !" cried a National Guardsman. Batta- 
lions of the citizen-soldiers marched up in quick 
succession, until 10,000 men were massed on the 
square. The members of the Provisional Govern- 
ment emerged, and passed them in review; Jules 
Favre made a short speech ; a violent shower came 
down, and the "patriots" sheepishly dribbled off. 
They were balked by a downpour, but there was 
boding of mischief in their scowls and lengthened 
under-jaws. 

The weather that dispersed the proletarians, and 
sent the Germans from their saps to their burrows, 
was not so auspicious to France in anotht-r respect. 

7 



98 A^' IROX-BOUXD CITY. 

An injudicious attempt was made to launcli a 
balloon from La Villette. At three o'clock it went 
up, carrying three passengers, one of whom, an 
army contractor, was entrusted with Government 
despatches for Tours. It mounted slowly, and held 
a northerly course, but abruptly collapsed and de- 
scended at the other side of St. Denis, in a swamp 
between the French and Prussian lines. Fire was 
opened on the unfortunate trio, wlio had to scramble 
vip to their necks in water and simulate death. In 
this strait they had to remain for three long hours, 
until darkness set in, when one of them swam to 
the French side. He was arrested on landing, but 
was recognised, when help was sent to his half- 
perishing associates. The despatches were saved. 

General Burnside had entered Paris for the 
second time on the 6th of October, it leaked out on 
the 10th, and had left as he came. We were lost in 
surmise as to the object of his visit. Some assumed 
that he had a semi-official mission from Bismarck 
to Jules Favre ; others, that he had merely come 
to shake hands with his friend Mr. Washburne, and 
take a sherry-cobbler at the Grand Hotel. Possibly, 



.•1 X IROX-nO UXD CITY. 99 

through his kind raedium, a couple of copies of the 
Standard had got past the lines, and the Patrie 
published from one of them details of a conversa- 
tion in which Count Bismarck intimated that the 
Oermans intended to take the city by famine. On 
the other hand, the Slecle averred that General 
Burnside had frequently stated that the arm on 
which the invader relied was not the Krupp guns, 
but internal dissensions. Neither prospect was 
agreeable. There was no hope from the German ; 
he was not magnanimous in his triumph — he was 
the leech who would not quit the skin nisi plena 
criLoris. For the three weeks that he had been in 
front of us, he had confined himself to simple 
investment. He had succeeded in cutting off all 
communications, and driving us back on our own 
resources, but he had attempted no aggression. He 
had applied himself to establishing works to pro- 
tect himself, leaving those of attack in the second 
plan; but after he had seen that balloon, with 
Gambetta, leave, and had aciiuired knowledge that 
France was ])reparing a levy en rnafixc, his tactics 
changed. His sappers were to be seen delving 



100 AN IROK-BOVXD CITY. 

away by daylight in the zone of the forts of 
Montrouge and Bicetre to the south, and a shell 
exploded in the middle of fort Ivry, being the 
first projectile to attain the outer belt of defences. 
The force of National Guards under arms by this 
date was enormous, too bulky in my opinion — little 
short of 000,000. They were well armed ; 95,000 
had the tabatiere breechloader, 120,000 the per- 
cussion rifle, 55,000 had smooth-bores, and 10,000 
were supplied with carbines and guns of different 
models. Those who were not armed were organized 
as auxiliar}^ sappers. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Court-martialling the Cowards— Patriotic Insanity— Roche- 
fort and the Ladies— The Combat of Bagneux— How a 
Titled Hero Fell— The Badeners Surprised— Prussians 
to the Rescue— The Wounded Wiirtemberg Officer — 
Fraternization on the Field— The Unreasonableness of 
War— xV Palace in Flames— Dialogue between an 
Alsatian and a Bavarian— Colonel Lloyd-Lindsay, V.C 
-De Dampierre's Funeral— The Vanishing House — 
The Locomotive Bush— Trochu's Plan— Liberty of the 
Press— The Standard Denounced— The Writer Remon- 
strates " too cavalierly " — Respublica can Do no Wrong 
— Long Life to the Duke of Strasburg- The Armaments 
— The Provisional Government Shows its Hand. 

A BATCH of the runagates at Cliatillon were 
brouglit before a court-martial on tlio 11th of 
October, and seven were condemned to death. 
Every dastard in the lot had liis excuse cut and 
dry. One went to the roar with a wounded com- 
rade, and did not know his way back to his regi- 
ment ; another was drinkincj with a civilian, and 



102 AA" IROX-BOUXD CITY. 

rushed to the front when he heard fighting was 
going on, but b}' some mistake took the road to Paris. 
If credit were to be given to the misunderstood 
knaves who were arrested fleeing without arms to 
the city, they were searching for an opportunity to 
distinguish themselves. They had left Bull Run 
solely to take Canada. Touching Bull Run, not 
one of them had the excuse of the English soldier 
who turned tail at that famous panic. 

" What ! you in the pack of cowards ?" cried a 
Queen's Messenger. " Surely it was not for that 
you got the Crimean and Mutiny medals !" 

" No, sir," said the rascal; "but I'm a sergeant- 
major in this service, and you don't know how hard 
it is to die on three dollars a day !" 

One of the men condemned, an artillery driver, 
pleaded that his horse had been wounded, and he 
had trotted it back to town to have the bullet 
extracted. This fellow, it transpired, had cut the 
traces of his team, and galloped off the field while 
his battery was actually engaged. He was seized 
on the boulevards, where he was relating to a circle 
of simple auditors that 500,000 Prussians had 



A X I RON- BO UND CIT Y. 103 



surprised them, and were already in possession of 
the forts. These forts kept working in all condi- 
tions of weather. What an incessant booming they 
made ! As each shot which described a dazzling 
orbit in mid-air cost the State from thirty 
shillings to six pounds sterling in English money, 
it will be admitted that war is among the luxuries 
which are expensive. 

There were occasional developments of patriotic 
insanity to vary the tedium of existence. One Felix 
Belly posted on the walls a call to the women of 
Paris to form a battalion of Amazons of the Seine. 
They were to be clothed in a sort of Bloomer 
costume, blue and orange ; and were to ask the 
Government to provide them with carbines, and a 
franc and a half a day, like the National Guards. 
In emulation with him came a M. Jules AUix, who 
proposed that the citizenesses should be armed 
with a brand-new invention, a thimble with a 
bodkin containing prussic acid at the tip, which 
could be acted on by a spring and driven into the 
hand of the first blonde German who dared to look 
softly into their democratic eyes. The citizenesses 



104 AN IKOJS'-BOUND CITY. 

themselves had a better insph-ation. A deputation 
of them went to the Hotel de Ville to demand that 
they should be accepted as hospital nurses, and that 
the big, strong, lazy fellows who were hulking 
about the ambulances should be picked off to the 
ramparts and made to tight. Some of these zealous 
volunteer Sisters of Charity had lungs and biceps. 
Few patients under their care would dare to object 
to their daily regimen. The gallant Rochefort, a 
great pet with the ladies of the lower classes since 
he Billingsgated the Empress, received the deputa- 
tion, and, of course, promised them that their just 
demands would be "taken into consideration." That 
answer does for every deputation. Fortunately 
for Rochefort, the citizenesses did not ask to kiss 
him. In 1848 it was thus the brawny dames de la 
Halle, fishwives et hoc genus, desired to salute 
Lamartine. " My friends," said the poor poet, " it is 
women only who kiss ; but you are men by your 
patriotism. Like men I shall treat you — lue shall 
shake hands !" 

On the loth the comparative inaction of the 
previous twelve days was broken. The rumour had 



AX I liOX-JiO VXD CITY. 1 05 

begun to spread that the enemy had drawn off' the 
mass of his forces to meet the army of succour ex- 
pected from the Loire ; but an offensive recont^ai.s- 
sance pushed forward over tlie ground wiiich was the 
scene of the French repulse on the 19th ult. proved 
that, if such were indeed the case, he had not neg- 
lected to leave a strong rearguard behind him. In 
the morning Blanchard's division of the l.'Jth 
Corps, under cover of the line of forts to the 
south, from Issy to Cachan, was divided into three 
columns, to which were assigned the duty of re- 
taking the j)lateau of Chatillon. The reader will 
remember that there was a redoubt on this plateau 
which had to be evacuated, and eight pieces left 
behind. Those pieces were spiked before they were 
abandoned, but the Prussians were not able to 
arm the redoubt, for the good reason that it lay 
under the fire of three forts. Still, as the position 
afforded a capital look-out point, it was considered 
important to occupy it temporarily, if only to restore 
the confidence whicii had been shaken by its loss. 
The column on the right of the attack consisted of 
the loth Regiment de Marche, and had orders to go 



106 AF IRON-BOUXD CITY. 

forward in the direction of Clainart ; that of the 
centre, under command of General Susbielle, was to 
advance to the assault of Chatillon ; while the left, 
which was to take Bagneux, comprised battalions of 
the Mobiles fi-om the Cote d'Or and the Aube under 
orders of Colonel de Grandcey. The battalion from 
the latter department had never been under fire; but 
that from the Cote d'Or had been already in action, 
and had behaved very welh The advance was made 
simultaneously under cover of a heavy and well- 
directed cannonade from Issy, Montrouge, and 
Yanves. The village of Bagneux, on the French 
left, w^as the principal point of attack at the open- 
ing of the little engagement. At about eight o'clock 
a line of skirmishers went cautiously towards it, the 
percussion shells from Montrouge crashing through 
the roofs of the houses on the outskirts of the 
hamlet next them, and dislodging the enemy, so 
that on the whole the task of the Mobiles was com- 
paratively easy. As the Germans fell back, the 
column started from the route d'Orleans, taking the 
slope of the hill towards the village at the double. 
A lively fusillade was opened on it, which was 



AK inON-BOUND CITY. 107 

vigorously replied to by the Mobiles, who pressed 
to the front gaUantly, their officers leading. After 
an interchange of coiuplinients of this kind for nigh 
half an hour the enemy was noticed to slacken in 
his tire ; the Mobiles rushed on the village with the 
bayonet, and after a brief resistance on tiie part of 
such of its defendeis as were not able to join in the 
retreat, which iiad apparently been ordered, Bag- 
neux was in the occupation of the French. Tiie 
Count de Dampierre, couiniandant of the battalion 
of the Aube, was sliot iu the temple as he jumped 
on the tirst barricade at the end of the village street, 
and fell as he was waving his sword to encourage 
his men to the assault. The brave gentleman 
breathed iiis last in the ambulance of Arceuil at 
five in the afternoon. He had fought like a hero ; 
he died like a Christian. 

A number of prisoners were taken at this point ; 
they were mostly very young, beardless boys of 
eighteen, and wore the uniform of the Baden con- 
tingent, long blue greatcoats and flat caps with 
the arms of the Grand Duke on the front. The 
enemy had fallen back to the village of Chatillon, 



108 AX IROX-BOUND CITY. 

on which the strength of the French attack was 
now concentrated. The fort of Vanves poured a 
terrible liail of shell on the heights, and the infantry 
of the Line moved on steadily under its protection. 
The borders of the village were reached, and the 
French inf^mtry went ahead with a cheer, bayonets 
at the charge, as soon as the barricade at the 
extremity of a street came in view. This was 
carried with a rush, and a second behind it, almost 
without loss. The Germans evidently had a whole- 
some respect for cold steel, nevertheless it would be 
unfair to say they ran. As they withdrew (thnt is 
the proper expression), they kept up a steady tire 
from every wall, hedge, and bush — every cover, 
in fact, behind which a man could hide himself 
while he discharged his piece. The column of 
attack, still pushing on, got to the highway that 
leads from Chatillon to Clamart. Pressed on every 
side, the Germans had to hasten their retreat; forty 
prisoners surrendered to the French, and the 
colours of the 14th Regiment de ^larche were 
planted on the redoubt, which had been lost nigh a 
month before. Sallying from Chatillon, the French 



AX niox-nouxD city. io» 



deployed in the fields, nnd moved towards a point 
aliout haif-wfiy on the road to Claniart, known as 
the quarries of Calvent. There they sought shelter 
under a row of vines, and commenced a rattling 
discharge of musketry on the Germans, who were 
])osted behind a breastwork on the ridge of an 
eminence. But the alarm had been given in the 
enemy's camp, and reinforcements were rapidly 
coming to his aid. Batteries of artillery were seen 
raising clouds of dust as they galloped up from 
the country towards Sceaux and Versailles; and 
columns of infantry, the p'lclcdhauhe of Prussia and 
not the Baden caps on their heads, made their 
appearance on the heights around. The French 
field artillery was cantered up to the support of 
the infantry ; but a beautifully directed sliell from 
one of the Prussian batteries fell into one of the 
ammunition-waggons, blew it up, and when the 
smoke cleared away three of the horses were dead, 
the fourth with his jaw-bone carried otf w-as kick- 
ing in agony against the traces, and the drivers 
were lying maimed on the ground. A second shell 
fell on a gun immediately behind, set on tire the 



1 1 AN IRON-BO UND CI T Y. 

gun-carriage, and decapitated a bombardier who was 
riding beside. His head was carried off as clean as 
if the operation had been performed by the knife 
of the guillotine, and his fingers, stiff in death, still 
clutched the bridle as his horse leared in fright. 
Montrouge came to the rescue, and the Prussian 
gunners who had carried such destruction into the 
ranks of their French brothers-in-arms were treated 
to a volley of big guns, a complete broadside, by 
the sailors in the fort, which positively swept three 
of their cannon with horses and servants off the 
face of the soil. But the Prussian infantry advanced 
firmly, their numbers every moment increasing; the 
redoubt and village of Chatillon, dominated by the 
heights in the rear where the Prussian artillery 
was established, became untenable, and the order 
was given to the troops executing the reconnais- 
sance to fall back. The retreat, which was orderly, 
was effected under cover of the forts, which did 
considerable damage to the enemy. At half-past 
four the combat was over. The French loss was 
about 200 killed and 350 wounded ; the loss of the 
enemy must have been somewhat heavier. He left 



A X I liOX-liO CXD CITY. 1 1 1 

300 corpses in Bagneux and over fifty prisoners. 
Claniart \va^> defentleJ by the Bavarians. The 
Monlin-a-Pierre, between it ami the fort of Issy, 
was taken by the French with slight loss, and was 
held. The conduct of the troops engaged on botii 
sides was excellent ; but the results of the recon- 
naissance, beyond the renewed proof it gave of the 
solidity the young French troops were acquiring, 
were insigni6cant, and the situation remained pre- 
cisely as it had been before. 

Some touching incidents were related. On the 
road near Bagneux a WUrtemberg officer was 
stretched, writhing in tortures from a horrid 
wound in the left breast. When the attendants of 
one of the ambulances approached to lift hira on 
to a cacolet, he raised an unearthly shriek. A 
French officer passed at the moment, and the 
sufferer prayed him to intercede with them to let 
hira die where he was. 

" Courage, my friend," said the Frenchman. "I 
was wounded in the same place myself, and I'm as 
well as ever now ;" and he tenderly took him up in 
his arms and helped him on to the mule. 



112 AN lEOX-BOUKD CITY. 

In another place a Mobile happened on a Prus- 
sian, who was bathing his blood-stained hand in a 
well. The Mobile advanced on him with his 
bayonet, until he perceived tiiat he was wounded. 
The Prussian, who was on his knees, thought he 
was about to be killed, and joined his palms in an 
imploring attitude: but the honest Mobile had not 
the least intention to injure him. He took him by 
the arm to conduct him to an ambulance. They 
fell into chat (the Prussian spoke a little French), 
and talking like old friends, they entered the lines 
together. The Prussian complained that he had no 
news from his family. "Just my case," said the 
Frenchman, who, in his expansion, had so far for- 
gotten himself as to invite his prisoner to dinner! 
This anecdote is pretty strong evidence in itself how 
illogical is war. Here were two boys, made to be 
comrades if they only knew each other, and they 
had been engaged on that soft autumn morning in a 
desperate attempt to shorten each other's lives. Men 
have felt for centuries that war is a stupid brutality, 
and yet they make war still, and will continue to 
do so till the crack of doom. Can anv scene be 



A.Y IROX-BOUND CITY. 113 

pictured more inexpressibly mournful, for instance, 
than the death of that noble gentleman, Ticot de 
Dampierre ? He was in the flower of life, barely 
thirty-three years of age, rich and respected, full of 
lustj' health, an ardent sportsman, and the centre of 
a joyous circle, whether in the Jockey Club of the 
city or down midst the preserves of his hospitable 
hunting-seat at Bligny. He lost his life under a 
form of government his very title precluded the 
idea of his favouring ; but still always for France, 
for the fatherland. So far his end was worthy of 
his race ; but it is shocking that such men should 
die before they are called away in the imperious 
course of nature. They are born to do good. They 
are brave, honourable, generous, and warm-hearted. 
Could they not serve better ends than to be cut 
down in their career while urging on their followers 
to the butchery of their fellow-men in the name of 
an abstraction ? True, in this instance, the abstrac- 
tion was called patriotism. The thought that his 
blood flowed for France was the great consolation 
to the many friends De Dampierre left to deplore 
him. His last moments were affecting to tears. 

8 



114 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

His wife, the daughter of a wealthy American 
named Corbin, had died three years previously. 

" What happiness !" he sighed. " I shall soon see 
the dear angel that is gone before me;" and the 
brave fellow's head dropped back heavily on the bed. 

A private of the 35th, named Gletty, gave a 
singular proof of the almost miraculous success 
which hardihood can sometimes compel to its side. 
He rushed forward and so frightened three Germans 
who had him covered with their rifles, that he 
made them lay down their arms and constitute 
themselves prisoners of war. That was the story, 
and Gletty was cited in orders. Incredible it 
seemed to me. These Germans must have been 
lily-livered soldiers, or it is possible they had tired 
of campaigning, and were on the look-out for some 
kind person to adopt them. The Mobiles of the 
Cote d'Or stood the test well. Captain Cracercy, of 
the 3rd Battalion, was the first to enter Bagneux, 
and took nine prisoners to his ovi^n share. Private 
Terreaux, of the same battalion, disarmed a colour- 
sergeant, captured him, and seized as trophy on the 
guidon he carried. 



AX IliOX-BOUXD CITY. 115 

On the evening of the 13th, the news circulated 
that the chateau of St. Cloud was in flames. If the 
Prussians had set it on fire, they would have been 
denounced as Vandals. It was kindled by a shell 
from Mont Val^rien, All lovers of art rejoiced 
that the picture by Murillo, and the statues of 
Sappho by Pradier, and of Night by Collet, with 
numerous masterpieces in tapestry and porcelain, 
had been brought in from the palace before the 
siege. There was no " Bewailing the deserted pride 
And wreck of sweet St. Cloud." I overheard a 
workman gloating over the blaze. " Thus let all 
these dens of royalty disappear in smoke," said 
this leveller, " and the people plant cabbages on 
their ruins." The leveller may have been a 
vegetarian, or perhaps he was only a market- 
gardener. 

The 14th was the anniversary of Jena, and the 
French — who loill remember that battle, and will not 
remember Rosbach — declared they had celebrated 
the victory the da}- before by anticipation. Those 
who behaved most creditably in that victory, Yinoy 
stated, were a battalion of former sergenis de ville. 

8—2 



116 AN IRON BOUND CITY. 

The policemen were old campaigners; but it was 
droll, nevertheless, that the "guardians of the 
public peace " should signalize themselves by their 
skill in making war. 

An armistice of six hours was asked by the 
enemy to bury his dead, and willingly accorded. 
The combatants entered freely into conversation on 
the field where they had been pulling triggers at 
each other a few hours before. An Alsatian related 
me a dialogue he had had with a Bavarian sergeant, 
who struck me as being a thoughtful and not 
unphilosophical representative man. 

" Would you not prefer to be drinking a mug of 
beer in the Hof brauhaus at Munich 1" asked the 
Frenchman . 

"Would a fish prefer to be in the water?"' said 
the Bavarian. 

" Then why are you here ?" pursued the French- 
man. 

" For the same reason that you are — duty," 
answered the Bavarian. 

" But why do you stop ? Surely you have got 
all that was wanted ?" 



AX IliOXBOUND CITY. 



" Taken, not got, if you please," said the Davnriaii. 
" But we have lost something — blood and money ; 
and we must get compensation for both, with 
interest." 

The Frenchman changed the subject, and asked 
his new companion what he thought of the previous 
day's combat. 

"T think," said the Bavarian, "it was a bad 
combat for you. You destroyed some villages, but 
they were your own ; j'ou sent a shower of shells 
on us, but 3'ou forgot we had umbrellas to keep 
them off. Don't waste your ammunition, friend ; 
you may want it yet." 

On the 1.5th Sub-editor Schmitz's military report 
was almost a blank ; but he managed to humour us 
with a story of a night surprise by some scouts of 
the National Guard, who killed a score of Prussians 
at Rueil. More cheerful and trustworthy was the 
intimation that Colonel Lloyd-Lindsay — he who had 
won the Victoria Cross by his valour at the Alma 
and Inkermann — had arrived from England with a 
donation to the International Society for Succour to 
the Wounded. He was thanked for the gift by the 



118 AN IRON-BO UKD CITY. 

Government, and quietly departed by Sevres under 
a flag of truce, after having been arrested by some 
too-zealous civilians in uniform, who doth fear in 
every stranger Bismarck's bosom-confidant. 

The remains of the Count de Dampierre were 
brought from Arcueil to the Madeleine about noon 
on Sunday, the 16th, for temporary interment. 
The day was brown and damp, yet the boulevards 
in the neighbourhood were alive with spectators. 
The ceremony in the church was simple and severe, 
but the mourning was as sincere as it was universal. 
There was that in the aristocrat's death that 
appealed to every heart, even the most republican. 
The flag of his battalion, draped with crape, was 
carried in front of the hearse, and on the coffin 
were laid his kepi and a garland of white roses. 

Monotony grew daily more irksome, yet little 
was done. " We " made small reconnaissances per- 
petually ; " we " attempted surprises occasionally, 
and got entangled in a gin; the forts kept up a 
di'opping bass concert outside, and there offensive 
action ended. " We " drilled, mounted guard, 
formed a queue by the butchers' stalls to catch 



A K IRON-BO UKD CIT Y. 119 

our daily meat, cursed Bismarck, and railed at 
Prussian perfidy inside, and there our defensive 
action ended. 

Ah ! that Prussian perfidy was a fertile text. 
What did tiiose crafty wretches do with a large 
liouse they had turned into an outpost, and which 
was a lovely target for our sailors, on account of its 
white walls? The innocent reader would never 
guess. On the gunner who had taken that white 
house under his special care going to his piece one 
fine morning to have his favourite shot as an 
appetizer before breakfast, no house was there ! 
Judge of the commotion. A very powerful glass 
was brought to bear on the spot at last, and a 
murky blot was made out with difticulty where the 
house had been. The Prussians had meanly painted 
it black during the night. 

However, the cunning was not all on their side. 
There was a dry little soldier of the French Line 
who had in him a deal of the devilry ascribed by 
Fenimore Cooper to the Red Indians. He was 
reported to have crossed and recrossed the Prussian 
lines at Choisy-le-Roi, disguised as a bush. When 



120 AX IROJSf-BOUND CITY. 

a Prussian patrol came in view the bush was 
stationar}', and the strangers to the landscape made 
no remark ; when it passed, the bush was loco- 
motive, and moved slowly on like a monster 
snail. 

These and like stories distracted us, but Paris 
■was eating its way into its provisions all the same. 
Beefsteaks were getting fine by degrees and un- 
beautifully less. There was a call that Trochu 
should do something. The General, who was a 
proser, and would not lightly forfeit a chance of 
seeing himself in print, wrote a long letter in 
answer to these complaints. The substance of his 
letter was this : "I have my own plan, and will not 
be driven by public impatience to disclose it pre- 
maturely. Wait and be trustful. I had gloomy 
previsions when all were buoyant ; now I have full 
confidence." As certificate that he had gloomy 
previsions, he stated that lie had deposited his will 
with a notary three months before, and that in that 
instrument he had affirmed his presentiment of the 
disasters which had come to pass. 

It was notified about this date that hataillons de 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 121 



tnarche of four companies of 150 men each were to 
be selected from volunteers from tlie National 
Guard, and to receive pay and rations like regular 
soldiers. It was not contemplated to enroll more 
than oO,000. This pointed to a novelty in siege- 
liistor}' — the formation of an army of relief, so to 
speak, from within. 

The sly introduction of some London papers into 
Paris has been already mentioned. La V6rit6, a 
journal started after the investment, got hold of 
one, and published an extra edition on the loth 
of October, in whicli it accused the Provisional 
Government of withholding information. Tliis was 
the charge : 

*" Is it true that an English journal, the Standard, 
dated the 5th October, has been forwarded to ]\I. 
Jules Favre, and that the contents of this journal, 
known to the world entire, have been hidden from 
Paris ?" 

The answer of the Provisional Government was 
to commit the chief editor of La Vdrite to prison, 
that being how the liberty of the press was under- 
stood by a Cabinet containing five journalists^ 



122 AN IROF-BOUND CITY. 

namely, MM. Pelletan, Simon, Ferry, Picard, and 
Rochefort, 

I must here ask the reader to be patient while I 
tell him a story concerning myself", from which he 
can draw his own moral. By the merest accident 
I took up the Oficial Journal of the 16th, and in 
the non-official portion my eyes lit on a reply to 
the question in the VdriU. Here it is in its naked 
truthfulness and unadorned amiability : 

" The journal La VSriU accuses the Government 
of having concealed news which had reached it in 
a number of the Standard. It is perfectly correct 
that the Government was aware that this journal, 
NOTORIOUSLY HOSTILE TO Feance (notoirement 
hostile), contained sensational news which appeared 
to it to be mere invention {ahsolument controuv^es). 
Not being able to verify (contruler) this news, and 
considering it highly suspicious (eini7ieinment sus- 
2)ecte) the Government was obliged to wait for further 
information which might arrive from one moment 
to another." 

In the name of common sense, thought I, if the 
Government could not tell whether the news was 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 123 

true or false, why did it not refrain from stigma- 
tizing it as "highly suspicious" and "mere in- 
vention"? The injustice of this phraseology was 
only to be paralleled by the ignorance of the ex- 
pression, " notoriously hostile to France." I wrote 
the following letter, and took it myself to the 
bureau on the Quai Voltaire at six p.m. : 

" Mr. Editor — I find in tlie Jourval Officiel of 
this morning a phrase which characterizes the 
Standard as a paper notoriously hostile to France. 
As sole accredited correspondent of the Standard 
in Paris at the moment, I oppose the most positive 
denial to this assumption. I do not know what 
the copy of the Standard which has arrived may 
contain, but I am sure no expression in it can bear 
the interpretation put upon it by the organ of 
the Goverimient of Defence. As to the attitude 
taken by it in the struggle going on, the author of 
the unfounded allegation I have quoted should 
know that the Standard in England passes, rightly 
or wrongly, as very sympathetic to France. For 
the matter of that, one has only to look at the 



124 AN IROX-BOUXD CITY. 

correspondence from Bourges, extracted from its 
pages in tlie same copy of the Officiel, to be 
convinced of the absurdity of the accusation. I 
have neither the right nor the intention to mix 
myself up in family quarrels ; but I cannot assent 
silently to a charge which is refuted in every publica- 
tion of the Standard since the outbreak of the war. 
" I have the lionour, etc., etc." 

I sent up my card, and was at once received by 
a gentleman to whom I presented the letter, pray- 
ing him to insert a rectification of an error which 
was calculated to be very unpleasant in its effects 
for a representative of the Standard, known as 
such, and residing in Paris during the siege. This 
gentleman read the letter, and promised that it 
should be submitted to the Government, without 
whose authority nothing could be inserted in the 
Journal OJficiel. At the same time he took the 
liberty of informing me that the terms of the 
protest were " too cavalier." 

It was true. When writing it I had forgotten 
that that delicate pensman, M. Henri Rochefort, 
was a member of the Government. 



AN IRON-nOUND CITY. 125 

** Absitrdite,'* he remarked; "why, that is the 
same as to say to a man in Enghmd, * You are a 
foolish fellow \' " 

" Precisely," I answered ; " and don't you think 
the Government was foolish to publish such a 
note 1" 

Ultimately we agreed not to dispute about the 
form of the letter ; and I said I should be content if 
its substance were given. An appointment was 
made for a second meeting at ten, when I should 
get my answer. I came, and after waiting a few 
minutes, I was told, very courteously be it ad- 
mitted, that my letter had been submitted to the 
Council at the Hotel de Ville, with my request for 
its insertion, and the answer had been in the ne- 
gative. 

As I left, in a mood of amused indignation, this 
Provisional Government shaped itself to me as some- 
what feeble. It could afford to make a mistake, but 
not to repair it. Evidently the Republic, like the 
king of the legal fiction, could do no wrong. But 
the refusal to insert my letter was grossly unfair to 
me, and might have been fatal. There were 



126 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



numberless patriots in the quarter wliere I dwelt, 
who would experience an extreme gratification in 
rending from limb to limb the agent of a journal 
"notoriously hostile to France." What was he but 
a Prussian in disguise — nay, worse, a mean hypo- 
critical spy ? And I recollected with a shudder 
how I had heard one citizen say, that he would 
sooner dine off an under-done cut of a Prussian spy 
than stalled ox cooked by a cordon bleu, and 
washed down with Sillery. Luckily, I did not 
minister to that citizen's appetite. The Temps made 
the correction that the Provisional Government had 
not the frankness to authorize, and rebuked the 
" facheuse ignorance " of the Official Journal. 

On the 18th of October, as a variety, I went down 
to the Place de la Concorde, which I had not visited 
since the capitulation of Strasburg. The statue of 
the city was still the shrine of patriotic pilgrimage, 
and an armed National Guardsman paced to and 
fro in front of it. A model in plaster, representing 
General Uhrich defending the stronghold, typified 
by a mother and her children, was the most con- 
spicuous among recent votive offerings. The group 



A X 1 RON-BO VXD CITY. 127 

was spirited, but too palpabl}' copied from that on 
the Phice do Clichy, commeuiorating the defence of 
Paris by Marshal Moncey. A branch of real palm, 
tied round with black gauze, was laid at the base 
of the model, which was the gift of a company of 
the National Guard, counting the sculptor in its 
ranks. Scraps of poetry, acrostics, pledges of love 
and tributes of admiration, were still pasted on the 
four sides of the monument. One closed with the 
whimsical association of the cries, " Vive la Re'pii- 
blique !" and " Vive Uhrich, Due de Strasbourg !" 
. The Offieial Journal of this date gave a precis of 
what had been done for the armament of Paris. As 
soon as the approach of the Prussians was appre- 
hended, orders had been given for the erection of 
four permanent forts in masonry at Gennevilliers, 
Montretout, Hautes-Bruyeres, and Chatillon. Too 
late. Instead of masonry, earthwork was to be 
used ; instead of forts, redoubts were to be con- 
structed. Too late again. Only two of these, at 
Hautes-Bruyt^res and Moulin Saquet, were ready 
on the 18th of September, but these were in a 
complete state of defence. (Nothing was said of 



128 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

Hautes-Brayeres having been unarmed, or of the 
redoubt at Chatillon having been abandoned to the 
enemy.) The wants in the forts detailed in 
Chapter I, had been all supplied, with commendable 
expedition in the six garrisoned by the sailors. 
The city gates had been closed, drawbridges made, 
and the four canals barred ; stockades had been 
placed in the Seine, the military zone cleared, the 
woods of Vincennes and Boulogne partially razed, 
and the exterior of the forts had been furnished 
with palisades on a development of line of 61,000 
metres. Batteries had been thrown up at St. Ouen, 
Montmartre, and the Buttes Chaumont. The ramp- 
arts had been put in effective condition ; seventy 
vaulted bomb-proofs for powder had been built in 
their rear, and 2,000,000 sacks of clay laid on the 
])arapets. The feeble angle of the enceinte at Point 
du Jour (jutting between the Seine at Grenelle and 
the Bois de Boulogne) had been protected by works 
in advance of the village of Billancourt, and by two 
interior entrenchments. The quarries that surround 
Paris had been looked after, and — here the military 
student will pause in surprise — the sewers of Bou- 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 129 

logne, Billancourt, Neuilly, Clichy, and others had 
been converted into chambers of mines. Recollect- 
ing that the efficacy of mines lies chiefly in their 
sites being concealed, and that this report was sure 
to be known to the enemy soon, perhaps within a 
few hours, the surprise will be understood. To be 
forewarned was to be forearmed. From Issy in the 
south-west to Vitry, and from St. Denis in the 
north-east to the Canal d'Ourcq the villages had 
been occupied, houses loopholed, and streets barri- 
caded ; a continuous trench (which extended in chain 
to St. Denis) connected the redoubts of Gravelle and 
La Faisanderie, and another between the Seine 
and Marne, by Maisons Alfort, was being worked 
at. Thus mucli for the engineering department. 

In the artillery there had been equal activity. 
The ordnance service had been wofully disorganized. 
Retired officers were recalled, and the depot bat- 
teries got together ; the gunners of the Marines 
arrived, auxiliary companies were formed of old 
soldiers, and the sailors mustered 7,000 strong, so 
that the artillerists at this moment reached the 
respectable figure of 13,000. I confess that this 

9 



130 Ay IRON-BO UXD CITY. 

read to me as an over-statement. There were 
3,000,000 kilogrammes of powder in store, and 2,1-iO 
guns in position, each of which was in condition to 
fire from 400 to oOO shots. Two millions of infantry 
cartridges were turned out each week. Most of the 
forts and redoubts and all the salient points of 
the enceinte were fully armed with ships' guns of 
long range ; the consequence of which was that the 
area of investment had been considerably enlarged. 
The close of the report stated that the waters of the 
Canal d'Ourcq had been turned into the ditch of 
the fortifications, that a military railway of nearly 
forty kilometres had been constructed ; that bridges 
of boats and incombustible weirs had been pro- 
vided for the river ; and that redoubts were being 
made on the plain of Gennevilliers, and at Charle- 
bourg, Asnieres, and the bridge of Clichy. In addi- 
tion, a second enceinte, with the circular railroad 
as its base, was progressing, and a third, " which 
will render the interior of the town impregnable," 
was in an advanced state. The catacombs were 
rendered impervious to Prussian treachery ; the 
water-supply was guaranteed ; the forts were hedged 



: X J liox-no uxd city. 1 3 1 



with torpedoes exploding ;it foot- pressure ; fifteen 
workshops for the reinurs of arms were open; 80(J 
percussion rifles were daily transformed mio fiiaih 
it tahatierc ; and the problem of manufacturing the 
chassepot in Paris had been solved. Lastly, 102 
mitrailleuses of various models would be ready by 
the '27th, on whicli date the delivery of 115, on the 
Catling and Christophe^s sj'stems, would be begun ; 
v)0 mortars had been sent in ; the founders were 
busy over sundry monster pieces of marine ord- 
nance, munitions were more plentiful than at Sebas- 
topol ; and the first instalment of oOO breechloading 
cannon of seven centimetres and S,000 metres range 
would be forthcominir in a week. 



♦ V 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Anniversary of Leipsic — A Budget of News— A Stroll 
in the Zoological Gardens — A Downcast Eagle — The 
Gallic Cock- The Last Beef Dinner— Table-Talk -A 
Stop-gap Government — " Son of the Devil "—Heroes 
of the Ptauk and File— Message from the " Young 
Gambetta" — Eochefort's Astuteness— A Byron with a 
Heart of Stone — " The Star of the Brave /" — A Glorious 
Victory — Seventy-five Thousand Prussians Captured ! 
— Toy Ambulances — Touting for Patients — The Actress 
and the Old Officer — The Sisters of Charity. 

On the anniversary of the battle of Leipsic, October 
19th, a sort of Waterloo Day at Berlin, where 
it is, or used to be, celebrated by bell-ringing, gun- 
firing, military parading, and festive promenading 
under the lindens, I lay abed late, regretting I 
could not take a run to Versailles to see how the 
fete was kept there. The pessimists were expecting 
a bombardment on this anniversary, but the pessi- 
mists should have no heed paid to them anywhere. 



AS I no X- BOUND CITY. 1C3 

They are sometimes liars or fools, always bDvos. 
Paris might not have to suffer bombardment at all. 
At least so opined Count de Flavigny, president of 
the branch of the Geneva Society at the Palais 
de rindustrie, who had visited the Prussian head- 
<iuarters to hand over half of the subscriptions 
Colonel Lloyd-Lindsay had brought with him from 
England. «and was reported to have breakfasted witli 
the Crown Prince, who assured him there was no 
intention to rain iron on " the incomparable city " 
(the textual expression of his Royal Highness). The 
Crown Prince is a benign gentleman ; but he is not 
everybody. Behind him is a malign trio, whose 
counsels go for something — Bismarck, self-willed, 
resolute, one to put down his foot on opposition and 
keep it there, the Soul of tlie Invasion; von Moltko, 
modestly taciturn, but undeviating of purpose, with 
no more bowels of compassion than a machine, the 
Brain of the Invasion ; and the Red Prince, ^Lailcd 
Hand of the Invasion, a gruff, imperious, rough- 
riding soldier. Still the}' may not wish to bombard 
Paris ; they may merely have the merciful design 
of starvini? it out. 



i:U AK IROX-BOUXD CITY. 

As I pondered on the food question, O'Donovan 
entered and took his seat by the table de iitiit, his 
sempiternal bhick pipe in his mouth. 

To my usual question, "Quid novi?" he an- 
swered : 

" Not much ; but, such as it is, important. In 
the first place, there is a large placard — white, 
therefore official — on the walls, descriptive of the 
siege of Vienna ; and the people gather round it, 
and get warlike as they read. It is headed, 
* Patriotic Publications,' and is the first of a 
series." 

"That looks like the suggestion of the Press 
Militant." Well, I reflected, it is one way of 
stimulating the defenders to martial frenzy, more 
civilized than Kemble's plan of shaking a ladder to 
put himself in a passion when he played Othello, 
less fatiguing than the war-dance of those savages 
Captain Cook met in the wanderings that led him 
to piecemeal burial. " What more V 

" Mottu, Mayor of the 11th Arrondissement, has 
been dismissed, and Arthur de Fonvielle appointed 
in his stead." 



J.V inOX- BOUND CITY. 135 

Bravo ! This was pleasing. Mottu was a blatant 
admirer of liberty of conscience, a frectbinker in 
the broadest sense. In the sublimated grandeur of 
liis intellect be bad taken down the Crucifixes in 
the ambulances under bis control. As most of tbo 
beroes of the rank and file treatetl in these ambu- 
lances were simple-minded Cliristians, they did not 
appreciate Mottu's enlightenment. It must be a 
great triumph to him to be dismissed. He can fold 
his toga round bim, and pride himself in the 
thought that be falls a martyr to the cause of 
liberty of conscience. 

" There is a despatch from the young Gambetta," 
resumed O'Donovan, " bidding his colleagues be 
tenacious." 

This despatch, whicb would till one-third of a 
column of the Times, was brougbt in, inserted in 
a quill tied to a tail-featber of a carrier-i)igeon. It 
was reproduced in reduced form by photography on 
a small square of paper, and had to be deciphered 
by the aid of a very powerful mignifying-glass. 

" I have something more tiiat will interest you. 
They say — I cannot understand bow the news has 



136 A^^' IBON-BOUND CITY. 

filtered in — that Alexander Dumas is dead. It is 
announced in this paper." 

Cruel irony of fate ! There were two lines notifying 
theflight of the great romancer from the paths of men, 
less ado about him than about the scarcity of carrots 
in the market. Public calamity develops a certain 
egotism. Who could have foreseen a few weeks 
before that the death of the author of " The Three 
Musketeers " would be dismissed with this cold 
brevity ? 

"Get up," said O'Donovan, "and let us take a 
walk to the Jardin des Plantes, and investigate 
what prospects it affords in the alimentary way." 

I rose, dressed, and we crossed the Seine, and 
religiously inspected the free zoological collection at 
Bercy. The elephants were getting weak on their 
feet, the lions were on short commons, the hippo- 
potamus looked morose, and the black bear kept 
clambering his pole and dropping down again as if 
he had discovered perpetual motion. He begged as 
supplicatingly as lady's lap-dog, but very few 
crumbs of comfort were dropped into his pit. The 
thoughtless monkeys and patient camels were the 



^.V IROS- BOUND CITY. 137 

only inmates of the garden who seemed to accept 
this siege in the proper spirit. An affecting sight 
was the famous eagle from whose wing the quill 
had been plucked that signed the Peace of Villa- 
franca. He was as dolesome as if he were conscious 
that the dynasty which had adopted him for 
heraldic emblem had taken its flight from the 
Tuileries. He was no longer the king-bird that 
soared and stared sunwards, but a wretched, de- 
jected prisoner, with blinking eyes and draggled 
plumage ; an eagle rdinolU, such a one as might 
have furnished a quill to sign the capitulation of 
Sedan. 

" Pardon me, monsieur," said one of the keepers, 
an acquaintance, who had watched me contemplating 
the drooping eagle, " I don't like to see you there so 
long. Come with me and Til show 3'ou something 
more cheerful." 

He took me into his lodge, and there, strutting 
on the floor, was a plump bantam, with glossy 
feathers and bright scarlet comb rising stiffly on his 
well-poised head. The cock crowed lustily as we 
entered. 



138 AF IROK-BOUND CITY. 

" Birds, like clogs, have their day/' said the 
keeper. " It is his turn now. May he trumpet 
victory !" 

I shook ni}' head, and said I hoped so ; but in 
any case I hoped the siege would not last much 
longer, for the premonition of sixteen francs the 
pound for butter, seven sous each for eggs, and 
three sous for a bar of charcoal six inches long and 
no thicker than a sausage, was not agreeable. 

^' Sac-a-'pa'pier r cried the keeper, "it is too 
soon to throw up the cards; when we defended 
Mayence under the first Republic, the General gave 
liis staff a dish of cat garnished with mice as a treat." 

That food question would not be denied. It was 
becoming serious. We assisted in the evening at the 
solemn ceremony of the last English dinner to be 
had, until the raising of the siege, at Austin's 
restaurant, opposite the arrival gate of the St. 
Lazare terminus. The landlord told me he would 
have nothing but ham henceforth, as notice had 
been given him at the butcher's that he could get 
no fresh meat, other than the rations he was entitled 
to for himself, his family, and servants. An^^one 



A X IRON- no UND CITY. 1 35> 

who has mastered the difference between roast beef 
and ros})if will recognise what this implied. 
Personally, it did not tlistress me, lor I am neither 
gourmand nor gourmet; but for those to whom the 
dinner-bell is " tocsin of the soul " it was calamitous. 
Pitiable it was for the Christian gentleman, and 
eke the Hebrew, who went to Brebant's to be in- 
formed that there was neither suup nor vegetables; 
that the only entree was a sardine, and the unique 
//or.s- (Vceuvre pickled onions — to be offered 
Hobson's choice of swine's flesh for 2)iece de resist- 
ance, and recommended a prime Manilla cheroot for 
dessert. There was a solatium : wines and tobacco 
were inexhaustible. 

The dinner was very jolly, and discourse ran 
briskly on current topics. 

" Guess," said an artist from Boston, U.S., " we 
shall soon have to eat bread like the ingenuous 
Dauphine, rather than starve." 

"The Government," remarked the landlonl, 
" has ordered a return of the forage in the city, I 
presume with a view to rationing horses like 
liuman beinrrs." 



HO AS IROX-BOUXD CITY. 

" The authenticity of these returns will be rather 
doubtful," observed a cjmic ; " there will be more 
horses on the ranks in proportion than bundles of 
hay in the rack, or feeds of corn in the manger." 

" That means much poleaxe/' added the Yankee ; 
''many a good steed will M\ like :Macbeth, with 
harness on his back. We are in for dearth." 

" I was looking over a ' History of France ' this 
morning," said O'Donovan, " and came across a 
passage to the effect that in the reign of 
Charles VII. there was a famine so dire that the 
wolves prowled about the foi'saken streets and 
carried off many children." 

"They are more likely to be eaten themselves 
now, than to get the chance of eating others,'' 
remarked the cynic. 

"So Mottu has been thrown overboard?" I 
ventured. 

There was a chorus of " Serve him right." 

"Yes," joined in a half-English trader of the 
quarter, "Jules Simon, Gamier- Pages, and Picard, 
the moderates of the Undecemvirate that misrules 
us, advised his dismissal ; but Marshal Kochefort, of 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 141 

the Barricades, and Mayor Arago wanted to keep 
liim in." 

" The advanced party is getting weaker every 
day," said the Bostonian ; " Blanqui has been 
rejected as commandant of a battalion of the 
Nationals, by 700 to 'MM) -^ and Brunnereau — he who 
plays Nisus to Felix ryat'sEuryalus— has been sent 
to civic obscurity to keep him in countenance." 

"Curse the Provisional Government!" growled 
the cynic; " why does it keep Portalis of the V&rlt6 
under lock and ke}', and allow the rebelly Flourens 
to go at large ? Portalis, forsooth, contravened 
the law against posting placards, said placards 
giving tidings calculated to compromise the safety of 
the defence. Balderdash ! The placards were 
simply the contents-bills of the day's issue of his 
paper. Instead of resorting to legal quibbles, why 
hadn't they the manliness to attack him openly 
for forestalling their information ? Confound your 
liberty-loving Republicans, say I, for a set of 
prating imbeciles ! Trochu, the Orleanist, is worse. 
He has not the pluck to shoot Flourens by drum- 
head court-martial — a fellow guilty of armed incite- 



1^2 J.y IRON-BOUND CITY. 

inent to sedition in a town in actual state of war. 
•Government indeed ! a Government of Gutter-snipe, 
led by Crack-brain 1" 

" Hush !" warned the landlord ; " there may be 
mouchards about still." 

But we all felt that the cj'nic was not far wrong. 
It was a stop-gap Government and no more. The 
conversation then turned on the " disastrous 
chances" which had befallen in the field, and the 
mode in which the fight was being carried on in 
the circumvallating barrier of fire. The noise of 
cannonading was almost incessant ; familiarity with 
it had bred, not contempt, but a sort of indiffer- 
ence ; and, to be candid, there were few events that 
would interest the English reader sixteen years 
afterwards. 

It takes a vast volume of sound and a ponderous 
weight of metal to kill one mortal, sometimes. 
Personal adventure it is which has the charm for 
Paterfamilias, who likes to read of bloodshed over 
his tea and muffins. There were a few anecdotes 
interchanged across the table which were worth 
repetition. A mad officer of Freeshooters had gone 



AX IRON-BOUND CITY. 143 

out ill front of his company a few days before, and 
coolly cracked and drank a bottle of champagne in 
front of some Bavarians, who gave him a volley for 
every glass. Not a single bullet struck him. 
Somebody's children have somebody's luck ; and 
this wild youth, it appeared, was one of the family. 
" Son of the devil " was the nickname he went by. 

" Pshaw!" commented the cj'nic, ^' connu ! The 
Corsican at the siege of Gaeta of history, Athos at 
the Bastion Saint Gervais of fiction." 

Similar doubt could not be thrown on the other 
anecdote, that of Leonce Sellier, Mobile of Paris, 
who had been sent from the fort of Issy to the etat- 
major only tlie day before to be extolled on his 
behaviour, and had been mentioned in the Order of 
the Day — the proper honour for the soldier, as 
General Trochu thought, and as the Duke of Ragusa 
had tho»>ght before him. The gallant Leonce killed 
two of the enemy on Sunda}', and carried back their 
arms as spolia opiTnia ; but, not content with that, 
he adventured forth on Monday and brought in a 
Bavarian sentry as trophy. A corporal of Zouaves 
— not one of the runaways of Chatillon — also figured 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



in the Order of the Day. An army messenger, 
crossing the Seine in a boat, was fired upon by the 
enemy's pickets and his boat sunk by one of the 
islets that stud the river. As he could not swim, 
there he had to stop for eight-and-forty hours, until 
the Zouave stripped, plunged into the stream, and 
carried him to safety under a rattle of small-arms 
from the enraged vedettes on the opposite bank. 
The corporal, with his protege, escaped with a whole 
skin. When Ducrot heard of his devotedness, he 
sent for him and said : " Sergeant, I am very proud 
of your conduct. Be sure we shall not lose sight of 
you!" 

The pigeon-post from Tours on the 20th brought 
word of the departure of the " young Gambetta '^ 
for Besanc^on, hinted at demoralization in the invad- 
ing army, and encouraged Paris to hold out, and 
the country would be saved. This did not impress 
Paris as satisfactory. What, asking it to guarantee 
the security of those from whom it was hoping for 
relief! 

The judicial acts of the Provisional Government 
at this epoch must not be lost sight of; they were 



jy IROX-BOUND CITY. 145 



instructive. Gustave Flourens was not to be prose- 
cuted. His Excellency Count Rochefort de Luray 
liad prevailed on the Major to permit the Cabinet 
to sneak out of its difficulty by consenting to this 
sacrifice. And yet a trial in Paris besieged would 
have made him so illustrious. Truly, a tremendous 
sacrifice ! The pamphleteer was a useful piece of 
furniture in the Cabinet after all — a sort of buflft^r 
between tlie radical Republicanism of Belleville 
and the bourgeois Republicanism of the Hotel de 
Ville. 

To the former, angry, he winks and says : 
" Patience, citizens ; our turn will come." 

To the latter, unquiet, he lisps : " Confidence, 
messieurs ; possession is nine points of the law.'' 

Profound statesman, the Count ! 

Much on the same accommodating system, one 
Sapia, commandant of National Guards at Mont- 
rouge, who had assembled his men with cartridges 
in their pouches, and told them the Commune was 
to be proclaimed, and if Trochu did not accept it, 
he should be pitched out of window, was acquitted 
by court-martial. If Trochu were Field-Marslial tiie 

10 



146 AN IROK-BOUND CITY. 

Duke of Wellington, Sapia would have stood blind- 
folded before a shooting-party. A queer genius at 
his sanest this commandant of the National Guard 
— a Red Republican who wrote on note-paper em- 
bossed with a coronet to which he had no right. 
He had himself photographed once in the attitude 
of blowing out his supposititious brains; he wrote a 
poem to his sister, in which he described himself as 
"a Byron, whose heart was stone, in whose strong 
human breast was heard no tone." He had enjoyed 
the hospitality of the Charenton madhouse. Are not 
the lunatic and the poet of imagination compact ? 
The doctors said Sapia was labouring under a 
" diffuse maniacal delirium, attended with ideas of 
grandeur and suicide." And this zany had been 
elected an officer, a leader of armed men ! 

Everybody in Paris did not approve the weakness 
masquerading as lenity, that let mad dogs loose to 
bite other dogs. Ah, this poor Government had its 
envenomed enemies ! One of them went so far as to 
hatch and cast fluttering the vile fledgling rumour 
that the Legion of Honour was to be abolished, as 
to confer decorations on citizens for havinir done 



^.V I no X- BOUND CITY. 147 

their duty was subversive of the principle of 
equality. Dire was the alarm, for if any instinct 
is more deop-seated than another in the French 
organism that imagines itself Republican, it is the 
worship of the cocked-hat. "What, defend Paris, 
and not have the guerdon of running a strip 
of scarlet ribbon in a button-hole afterwards ! 
Preposterous. If the folly had ever been enter- 
tained, it had to be abandoned. The army, even 
under this regime, which inveighed as strongly 
against Prussian Corporalism as French C?esarisra, 
could as ill do without its Cross of the Legion as 
without the beards on the chins of its pioneers, the 
theatrical bearskins of its six-foot drum-majors, or 
the epicene garment — compromise between petti- 
coat and trousers — of its female sutlers. The 
Official Journal allayed the rising apprehension by 
nominating several chevaliers in the Order. Pity 
the Provisionals had not the sense to go farther and 
make the decoration valuable, really a " star of the 
bi'ave," which it will never be whilst it is accorded 
indiscriminately to political partisans, backstairs 
minions, conscienceless scribes, notorious duellists, 

10—2 



1 48 AN IRON-BO UND CIT Y. 

successful perfumers and tuft-hunters of every 
degree. As the Bath, it should have its Civil 
Division, which might be given to novelists like 
Balzac, painters like Vernet, composers like Auber 
— aye, even to the inventor of the improved 
machine for cutting turnips ; but there, I think, 
the line might judiciously be drawn. 

On the 21st we were on the alert. Convoys of 
artillery left in the morning by the Porte Maillot 
on the road to Courbevoie; and later in the day 
Generals Trochu and Ducrot galloped by the 
Avenue de Neuilly in the same direction. A long 
line of ambulance waggons followed them ; the 
gates were suddenly closed, and at about two 
o'clock a terrific caimonade commenced in the 
spread of country from St. Cloud to St. Denis. 

As the dixy wore on, the most extraordinary 
broods of imagination hovered throughout Paris. 
They were all favourable to France. Some con- 
genital idiots swore that 75,000 Prussians had 
been captured ; the more moderate set down the 
prisoners at 5,000, with four guns ; but all agreed 
that a glorious victory had been won. The report 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 149 

was that the enemy had thrown a bridge across the 
Seine atBezons, and passed over to the Peninsula of 
Gennevilliers, when the Freeshooters, say some, the 
Farcy gunboat (a devil's craft of shallow draught, 
carrying a fourteen-ton gun), say ot])ers, destroyed 
the bridge, thus isolating them from their main body. 
Of course, caught in this mantrap, they had to 
surrender, which they did with a bad grace. 

Tens of thousands of people in Paris believed this 
cock-and-bull story. A few did not. Looking 
over my diary, I find the following entry made on 
the self-same evening : " I do not credit a word of 
all this. The firing is heaitcoup de bruit, jpeu de 
fruit— 'much bruit, little fruit.' At all events, 
Paris goes to bed happy." 

When the official account came to be published, 
I was nearer the truth than the enthusiasts. Ducrot 
had made a sortie towards Rueil, Malmaison, 
Jonchfere, and the Chateau of Buzanval. After an 
artillery fire of three-quarters of an hour, the 
troops advanced with vigour, driving the enemy's 
skirmishers before them to the protection of the 
breastwork on the heights of Jonchere. where the 



150 AX IRON-BOUND CITY. 

detachment in occupation was so harassed by the 
French gunners that it had to be renewed five 
times. No details were given in this first bulletin. 
Simultaneously with Ducrot's movement, Vinoy 
made a demonstration in the south, to divert the 
attention of the enemy, and de Bellemare moved 
out of St. Denis to cover the right at Gennevilliers. 
And the seventy-five thousand prisoners and the 
four pieces of ordnance ? Not a syllable of them. 

Public Rumour, what a lying jade thou art ! 

The losses on the French side were made little of, 
but one deplorable circumstance came to my know- 
ledge — some of the wounded had to remain on the 
field the whole night without succour. 

The conviction had been growing upon me that 
there was mismanagement in the French arrange- 
ments for the aid of the victims of war. Here 
was the proof. There must have been waste of 
money as unquestionably there was amateur 
tomfoolery in this Geneva society. There was a 
murmur that the brawny infirmarians were not 
invariably ready when they were wanted, and 
that gossiping coteries and petty jealousies were 



A y IKOX-BO UND CITY. 151 

not unknown among the fine ladies who had 
turned hospital nurses because it was fashionable. 
It was hinted that sundry ambulances had been 
thinking more of how they could cut out one 
another, than how they could most readily minister 
to helpless fellows l3'ing on the ground ; that some 
of the wounded had been killed with unskilful 
kindness in private hospitals; and that others had 
been jolted about from one house with Red Cross 
ensign to another, only to be admitted at the tcntli. 
Of one verity I was positive: there were too many 
toy ambulances in Paris, and too few serious ones, 
attended by persons who were earnest enough to 
try to know their business, industrious enough to 
do it, and modest enough to take duty as its own 
reward, and not intrigue for mention of their 
names in print. Some people, to my knowledge — 
certain hotel-keepers amongst the number — hoisted 
the sheltering white flag with selfish motives. 
They had a suspicion that those barbarians, the 
Prussians, might penetrate one day or other within 
the fortifications, and as the Prussians were notori- 
ously addicted to pillage, violation, and massacre. 



152 AN IROX-BOUXD CITY. 

and in some instances to cannibalism, they imagined 
that setting up a half-dozen vacant beds in one of 
their half-hundred unoccupied rooms, so as to qualify 
for the privilege of exhibiting the sign " Ambu- 
lance," which neutralized the property under- 
neath, would not be unprofitable. If a tenant for 
the ward were wanted, the}' had a troop of young 
ladies ready to usejevery stratagem to secure him. 

"Doctor, do send us a wounded man, like a dear!" 
was not an unusual petition. 

The doctor could not always oblige, and the 
gentle creatures had often to put up with a private 
of the Mobiles suffering from swollen feet, when 
they had been hoping for a cavalry colonel, pale 
and interesting, seamed with a scar from a Uhlan's 
lance. How pleased they would have been to have 
brought their crochet-work to his couch ; to have 
strewn fresh flowers beside his arrowroot ; to have 
held essence of frangipanni to his proud nostrils 
during that cruel dressing of his beautiful wound; 
to have pushed back the raven locks from his 
heroic brow ; and to have read him softly to 
slumber, while an odour of poetry impregnated the 



AK IRON-BOUND CITY. Ib'i^ 

atmosphere of the darkened chamber, and the 
patient grew to Bayard, and the volunteer nurse 
to the fair damozel that tended him at Pavia. 

Delightful but illusive! That was the sick-room 
of imagination ; the sick-room of reality was 
nauseous with foul smells and ugly sights, and 
the romantic young ladies soon shrank from 
poultices and plasters. Of their class were those 
who drove about Paris elegantly dressed in sombre 
raiment, picking lint at their carriage-windows so 
as to be in evidence. But there were exceptions, 
noble and manifold exceptions ; and foremost amongst 
these were the Sisters of Charity, and many of the 
higher order of actresses, such as Marie Favart, 
Clementine Jouassin, and Madeleine Brohan. The 
latter acquired such an influence over a veteran 
officer of the Line, a weather-beaten war-dog, who 
was under her care in the ambulance of the Theatre 
Franrais, that he would allow nobody else to apply 
his bandages. As soon as he was able to rejoin his 
regiment, he called for "Madeleine," thanked her 
for her kindness, and left her a coloured meer- 
schaum as a keepsake. The instinct was right, if 



154 Ay IRON-BOUND CITY. 

the gift was inappropriate. It was what he prized 
most in the world. 

The Sisters of Charity ask no panegyric, nor 
would they value it. They look for requital in 
higher regions than those of boudoir, club, or book. 
Even if the atheist's conception were true, and 
there were no higher regions beyond this weary orb, 
they were more than repaid in the priceless serenity 
of conscience. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

The Truth about the Glorious Victory— Gilding 'mid the 
Gloom— Long-winded Fiavre — Prejudice against Eng- 
land— An Irish Original — Exodus of Foreigners — Blow- 
up of another Powder-mill — Felix Pyat Creates a Sensa- 
tion—Farce at the British Embassy — National Guards- 
men Drop Dead— An Idyl of the Battlefield— A Eoman 
Matron — Capture of Bourget — Innovations in Dietary 
—A Coloured " Marauder "—Cat Soup— Were Bismarck 
on the Boulevards— Loss of Bourget— Surrender of Metz 
— Black Monday — The Writer an American Citizen. 

General Ducrot's report on the affiiir of Friday 
appeared on the following Sunday, the 23rd October. 
The great success dwindled down to sometliing 
remarkably like defeat. The reconnaissance had this 
result : 2 pieces of cannon lost, 2 officers and 32 
men killed, 15 officers and 230 men wounded, and 
11 officers and 153 men missing, which may be 
translated, tiiken prisoners. 

He expressed himself satisfied ! 



156 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

In this wise he wrote : " The object was attained. 
We took the first positions of the enemy, and com- 
pelled him to bring into line considerable forces, 
which, having been exposed during all the action 
to the formidable fire of our artillerj^, must have 
sustained serious losses." 

The General omitted to add that the positions 
had to be deserted, and that the Prussians could 
easily have afforded the sacrifice of a couple of 
hundred or a couple of thousand men, so that they 
secured the tenure of their works. But it might 
not have been safe to make this disclosure to a 
beleaguered garrison. The one redeeming feature 
of the reconnaissance was that the troops had got 
over the proclivity to scare that disbanded them at 
Chatillon. 

The French had in battle-array 9,950 men and 
74 guns. The two of the latter which were lost 
were taken by surprise. A fusillade suddenly burst 
on the battery from a shrubbery near the Porte 
Longboyau, between Buzanval and Malmaison, and 
killed 10 gunners, 15 horses, and the captain of the 
company of infantry in support. 



AN 1 RON-BO UND CI TV. 1 57 

When Trochu found occasion to issue an Order of 
the Day complimenting the troops on such an event, 
it irresistibly occurred to one that he was easily 
pleased. To have 440 men removed from the ranks 
of combatants in order to get temporary hold of 
ground that could be searched by the guns of 
Mont Valerien, and to pick up information which 
could and ought to have been given by a few intel- 
ligent spies, was paying too dearly for one's whistle. 
The only plausible excuse which could be tendered 
for such an adventure was the General's anxiety to 
test the mettle of his soldiers, and also to ascertain 
which of them had such aptitudes as would mark 
them out for command when the time came for a 
sortie on a large scale. 

Some of those engaged had displayed a praise- 
worthy courage and abnegation. Captain de Mont- 
brison, an orderly officer to Ducrot, rode constantly 
at the head of the columns of attack, and had him- 
self hoisted on the park-wall of the Chateau of 
Malmaison, amid a pattering of lead, to observe the 
enemy. Sous-intendant Parmentier (any relative 
I wonder, to the Parmentier who introduced the 



158 AN IRON-BOUKD CITY. 

potato into France ?), who had distinguished him- 
self by his attention to the wounded at Chatillon^ 
again went under fire to the succour of his fallen 
countrymen, and was so zealously occupied with 
his errand of mercy that he was unconscious of the 
approach of the enemy until he was tight in their 
power. The Rev. M. Tailhan, who had volunteered 
to act as chaplain to the 7th Battalion of the 
Mobiles of the Seine, was wounded in the head 
while discharging the duties of his sacred office 
with " admirable devotedness," as cited in orders. 

Brave old Jacquot, commandant of a battalion 
of Zouaves, did much to restore the compromised 
reputation of his once illustrious corps. In the van 
of the sixth company of his battalion, he turned 
one of the Prussian batteries, penetrated into the 
park by a breach in the wall, and carried the men 
with him in a rush, positively galvanizing them 
into valour by the example of his splendid audacity. 
On he went, bareheaded, with his k4pi on the 
point of his sword, and they could not but follow. 
"When he was compelled by pressure of numbers to 
retrograde from a position he had pushed to, he 



AN IKOX-BOUND CITY. 15» 

effected a stubborn, inch-by-incb retreat, was 
\vounJecI, and, the fickle goddess again turning 
tiaitor, was made a captive. 

Still, all said and done, that 21st of October im- 
pressed one as the worst day in the fasti of the 
siege so far. 

While we were revolving over the probable re- 
sults of this unavailing sortie, a despatch by pigeon 
])0st arrived, announcing that " we have brought 
back all disposable forces from Algeria." Alas ! 
that should have been done six weeks previously. 
Also that " Marseilles is restored to order." That 
was the first intimation Paris had received that 
Marseilles had been out of order. When I diffi- 
dently hinted at the confabulation of the British 
jiress, before the investment, that pigeons might be 
employed as letter-carriers, I little imagined that 
the airy messengers would become such useful 
servitors of the commonwealth. He would be a 
glutton indeed who would not cheerfully sign him- 
self impraivsv^ with Dr. Johnson before meditating 
a feast on pigeon-pie. 

The Official Joarnal on this Sunday contained 



160 a:n' iroj-boufd city. 

a letter from Jules Favre to the Mayor of Paris on 
the mobilization of the National Guard for action. 
This, like every contribution of the eloquent lawyer 
to siege literature, was insuflferably long-winded. 
Surely Hercules was not more out of place spinning 
wool at the feet of Omphale than this amiable 
orator pretending to roar in the lion's skin ! In 
two columns he stated what might have been given 
in one sentence — namely, that there were 344,000 
armed National Guards and 3G battalions of sappers 
(artificers) ; that about 100,000 would be needed 
for coming operations ; that they would be fur- 
nished with all the available chassepots ; that their 
duties (which would terminate with the siege) were 
to share in the defence of the zone between the 
ramparts and the forts and of the strategic points 
destined to support the movement to break the 
blockade. There was no lack of volunteers for this 
service, and foremost amongst them were the hot- 
headed battalions of Belleville. It may be that 
they were out of employment, and that those who 
chose to demand it were entitled to thirty sous a 
day. 



AN IROX-BOUND CITY. 161 

On the !25tb, a charitable dramatic and elocu- 
tionary performance was given at the Theatre 
Fran(jais, "for this occasion only." The house was 
crammed. This was the only attempt at public 
entertainment since the investment, save a concert 
on one Sunday by Pasdeloup. On the 2Gth, a 
friend dropped in, partly to escape a shower, partly 
to console me, as I was abed ill, with the news 
that the personnel of the British Embassy was 
jmcking up for departure. This, he added, might 
be a sign that that bugbear bombardment was 
near. Britishers were not in good odour just then. 
Charlvdrl had a cut representing the king of the 
forest licking the boots of the King of Prussia, and 
underneath it the inscription, " The German Crockett 
and the British Lion." My Job's comforter reli- 
giously informed me of the death of an Irishman 
named Delany, of the Legion of Friends of France. 
He, with five comrades, had volunteered on a re- 
connoitring party. Two of the half-dozen were 
killed. Tlie sharpshooters of the enemy, seeing the 
group conspicuous by its difference of uniform, had 
given it particular attention, naturally concluding 

11 



162 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

that the strange dress indicated superior rank. 
Poor Delany was an original. Rallied by a com- 
panion on his folly in taking part in a quarrel not 
his own, he excused himself on the plea that the 
ruins of the monastery in which Dagobert II., sou 
of Sigebert III. of the Merovingian dynasty, had 
been educated, were on his father's property in the 
Queen's County. The logic was Irish ; his end was 
Irish too. He was struck as he was taking a last 
shot from the knee at a Bavarian jdger, after the 
" retreat " of the company had been sounded thrice. 
My caller, who belonged to the " Friends of France," 
retailed to me much gossip of his corps. The Legion 
had charge of a bastion near the gate of St. Ouen. 
There were several Englishmen and more than 
several Pats in the ranks. One of the latter, named 
George Gallaher, had the happy thought to start a 
canteen, with a green flag begemmed with a gilt 
harp fluttering over the ever-open door. The spe- 
culation failed, not because George had not got into 
business in an excellent hard-drinking neighbour- 
hood ; but, it appeared, the landlord had been too 
generous in the extension of the principle of credit 



AX IROX-BOUND CITY. 163 

to his own countrymen. One fine day George found 
his stock exhausted; but that was not the worst of 
it — the till was exhausted too ! 

" How's this, George ? Canteen closed !" said the 
commander of the corps. " I thought this was a 
promising stand." 

" Faix ! it was," answered George ruefully ; " too 
promising entirely. It's that same that killed it," 

On the 27th we had three sensations — the de- 
parture of the foreigners, the blow-up of a powder- 
mill, and the launching of a startling rumour by 
M. Felix Pyat. They had better be dismissed seH- 
at'ini. 

Firstly, the exodus of the foreigners who thought 
(and sensibly) forty days' experience quite enough 
of the emotions of life in a besieged city. The 
Americans some fifty, the Russians some twent}', 
and the English some hundred and fifty, left in the 
cold grey of the morning, getting to the gate of 
Charenton as the drawbridge was lowered. The 
head waiter at the English restaurant in the Rue 
d'Amsterdam gave a characteristic description of 
their appearance. 

11—2 



A]\^ IROX-BOUXD CITY. 



" The Rooslmns were all swells ; the Yankees 
turned out spiff, some on 'em a-horseback and some 
on 'em a-driving four-in-hands. My eye, didn't 
they guess and calculate as 'ow they were a-goin' to 
have a good time as they went along ! Our people 
were the poorest in the lot — a great many on 'em^ 
with their little bundles on their backs, looked as if 
tliey meant to tramp it." 

The Russians and the Americans were allowed to 
go ; but the English were told their passes had not 
arrived, and they should have to wait for another 
day. They turned back, wearied and disappointed; 
and many of the Americans must have wondered 
where the days when Civis Britannicus sum was 
a spell had taken themselves off. John Bull was 
not profoundly respected. At the moment England 
was hated by Frenchmen of all conditions whom 
one met. Apparently, it was despised by one Ger- 
man, Otto Count Bismarck von Schonhausen. 

The accident in the powder-mill (the third of the 
kind in a month) arose from the combustion of 
pyroxide in the drying-room of the establishment. 
A captain of Engineers peimitted.. an unfortunate 



jy IROX-BOUXD CITY. lc.-> 

plmnbor to do some soldering on the roof. Four 
])ersons were wounded, two of them mortally. The 
captain of Engineers was not of th.eir number — of 
course not. It would have been as unreasonable to 
have had him blown up with the rest as to have a 
railway director crushed in a collision. 

Lastly, but not leastly, came the rumour of Pyat, 
which fell upon Paris like a thunderbolt from a 
quiet sky. Framed theatrically in a mourning 
border in his paper, Le Combat, was the statement 
that Marshal Bazaine had sent a colonel to the 
Prussian camp to treat of the surrender of Metz, 
and of peace, in the name of the Emperor Napo- 
leon TIL ; and that the Provisional Government 
knew this, and had traitorously held back the 
knowledge. 

Terrible was the commotion when those tidings 
spread : there were impromptu public meetings 
at the corner of every street ; loud were the dis- 
cussions, and fierce the threats that the Faubourgs 
would rise and wrest authority from the provisional 
miscreants who were selling the holiest of causes. 
While the Reds were talking angrily, some National 



166 AN IROF-BOUND CITY. 

Guardsmen rushed to the Hotel de Yille to demand 
explanations, and others to the office of Le Covibat 
to treat Pyat to the fate of Ravaillac. But a political 
brother had warned him, and he had prudently got 
out of the way. 

The Provisional Government denied " the in- 
famous calumny " with a loft}^ indignation : the 
latest message from Metz was dated August 27th. 
As for the author of " the infamous calumny/' they 
scorned to arrest him. They would leave him to 
public reprobation. This was the ratiocination of 
the Undecemvirs. Portalis spoke the truth, and 
was sent to gaol ; Pyat told a lie, according to their 
own showing, and was let go scot-free ! It was 
evident Paris was in no mood to hear bad news; 
and under those circumstances, did news of the fall 
of Metz arrive, the Governor would imperil the 
defence were he to publish it. 

The 28th was the sixty-fourth anniversary of 
the triumphal entry of Napoleon I. into Berlin. 
History does not always repeat itself. 

Through pure curiosity, I called at the British 
Embassy, to ascertain what was to be done with 



A K IRON-BO UND CIT Y. 167 

the would-be British emigrants whose exodus had 
been stopped. Their names were under the super- 
vision of Count Bismarck. 

In other words, Bussians, Americans, even 
citizens of the Republic of Hayti, had been allowed 
to depart ; but the children of the Empire which 
rules the waves must meekly await the whim of 
the awful Chancellor of blood and iron. 

" Put down 3'our name on that list," said an 
employed of the Embassy to me, " and you may get 
away in the second batch ; that is, always provided 
a second batch be let go." 

I had no more intention of leaving Paris than I 
had of voyaging to the moon ; but I did not like to 
disoblige that amiable official, and added my auto- 
graph to his collection. Besides, I was anxious to 
pick up all the information I could. 

The fate of France now hinged on the news of 
Bazaine. Metz was the key of the situation. I may 
be pardoned if I copy a passage from my diary of 
this date : 

" If Metz falls, or has fallen, Paris must capi- 
tulate to famine, for the natural presumption is 



168 Ay lEOX-BOUFD CITY. 

that the army before Metz will push on by forced 
marches here to strengthen the band of investment 
that hems us in." 

The weather was in keeping with our moral 

condition — gloomy and chilly. It almost depressed 

the human barometer to suicidal point. If more 

shops were closed than usual, more graves were 

opened. On the evening of the 27th, a National 

Guardsman dropped dead in the Rue de Clichy, on his 

return from a round of thirtj^-six hours' duty. The 

man was an honest Paterfamilias, accustomed to his 

glass of bitter-curagoa before dinner, his regular 

meal of well-cooked victuals, his cup of coffee with 

i\\Q petit verve in it, and his game of dominoes to 

help digestion. Think of this staid, steady-going 

individual, living amid all the cosy comforts of 

domestic life, forced to do duty as amateur soldier, 

to plod through the mire to the city walls, to pace 

to and fro behind a breastwork, under the piercing 

cold before sunrise, or in the long hours of a rainy 

night, a harsh wind beating remorselessly on his 

cheeks. Then, when released from his spell on 

sentry, he often had no place to stretch his limbs upon 



AX Ili02i'-B0UND CITY. 169 



but a wad of filthy straw in a stable open to every 
breeze that blew, or in a bare booth with crevices 
between every plank. It was no wonder that the 
sick-list was long, and that seeds of a liberal crop 
of pulmonary disease were set. Nor was the 
misery confined to one side. Germany had its 
Iliad of suff"ering to pass through also. On the 
persons of some of the wounded prisoners who were 
brought in, and who afterwards succumbed, were 
discovered messages from home that would draw 
tears to the eyes of the least sensitive. Joseph 
Wachinger, a Bavarian who got his death-wound 
at Bagneux, and expired in the hospital of the 
Palais dc I'lndustrie, was an example. In his pocket 
was a letter from his sweetheart, dated Oberdingen, 
August 2nd, which was full of the tenderest, 
chastest, most heart-moving passion. The simple 
words of this peasant girl were more pathetic in 
their artlessness than anything I ever read from the 
pen of master-author. Art paled its inefl^ectual 
fire beside the untutored perfectness of nature. 

" I hope and sigh for a happy and a gay return, 



170 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

Joseph, thou, my betrothed, the one whom I have 
learned to love, the only one I can ever love. 

" Thy Anna." 

Thus, in every syllable, was breathed an ardent 
affection. The poor soldier's last act in life was to 
kiss the well-thumbed letter, moistened with his 
tears. Ah, what weary waiting there must have 
been for that " happy and gay return " below in 
Oberdingen ! God pity that little fluttering heart 
of Anna when the news was broken to her that the 
one " whom she had learned to love " was no more — 
had died in pain amongst strangers, was buried by 
strange hands in the distant city, in a grave over 
which she would never have the palliation to 
kneel or plant a forget-me-not ! Doubtless He, who 
tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, gave the 
German mddchen strength to bear her cross, as did 
that noble mother of the Faubourg St. Germain, to 
whom message was brought as she was descending 
to dinner that her son, an officer of Zouaves, had 
been slain in the attack on Malmaison. The stately 
lady sank motionless as if dead. The butler 



AX IliON-BOUND CITY. 171 

wrung his hands at sight of this fresh misfortune, 
and hardly knowing how to console his mistress, 
cried : 

" Madame, madanie, if he were a coward, we 
could have liini here still !" 

The colour came back to the lady's cheeks, her 
eyes lit with a proud light, and she rose, offering 
her arm to one of her guests, and ordering the 
butler in a clear, loud voice to dress the table with 
flowers till the end of the war. It was a reminis- 
cence of Rome in its palmy days — the legend of 
Cornelia reproduced in the life. 

On the 28th of October, General de Bellemare 
surprised the enemy at Bourget on the north front, 
three and a half miles from St. Denis, before day- 
break. To the Freeshooters of the Press were con- 
ceded the honours of the combat. The Prussians 
fell back, but thirty pieces of their artillery were 
brought down from Gonesse later, and ineffectually 
attempted to dislodge the French. Drancy, to the 
right of Bourget, also fell into the occupation of a 
portion of the garrison of St. Denis ; and orders were 
given to place both villages in a state of defence. 



AF IR0N-B0U2iD CITY. 



This slice of glory was certainly not bought for 
nothing. There must have been casualties; but 
de Bellemare omitted to notice them. 

It was topic for conjecture how many German 
maidens were left to weep the absence of lovers 
who would never return; how many French 
mothers to wear mourning in dress and heart for 
soldier-sons. Well, war means sacrifice ; there is 
the solace of the soldier's apothegm to fall back 
upon — " Omelets cannot be made without breaking 
eggs." 

Strange to relate, in the penultimate days of this 
drear October, Paris was positively getting reconciled 
to its imprisonment and its privations, intellectual 
and material. The daily ration of fresh meat to which 
we were reduced was about one-tenth of a pound 
English ; but there were few complaints. Horse 
was becoming as familiar in our mouths as house- 
hold words. I had eaten it twice, and considered 
that I had accomplished a feat. Once I could not 
distinguish it from roast goose ; the second time I 
was unlucky, and happened on a piece string}^ as 
hornbeam. By a decree of the Minister of Agri- 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 173 

culture on this date the price of the novel edible 
was regulated at eigliteen sous the pound for the 
finer morsels, and five sous for the coarser for the 
week following. Not more than 1,801) animals were 
to be shiughtered in seven days. The wild beasts 
in the Jardiii des Plantes were nurtured on stray 
dogs. The town was full of these canine outcasts ; 
they were to be seen wandering in every street, 
fretting their noses against the legs of the passer-b}', 
and looking pleadingly up in his face. But there 
was no compassion for man's best friend. Into the 
pound, and from that to the pot he went, if an 
owner did not start up quickly to claim him. A 
butcher's store for the sale of dead asses was opened 
in the Rue de I'Ancienne Comcdie, and tlie lassies 
of the Latin Quarter could regale themselves on 
the quadrupeds that carried them last year at 
Robinson — a sort of Hampstead Heath of the 
environs, much affected by the student-population. 
A luxury was succulent buffalo-flesh, which was on 
sale at this period in a few favoured stalls which 
enjoyed a rich dlenUle. Paris came by the flesh 
beloved of the hunters of the Great Divide by 



174 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

sacrificing the herds in the two Zoological collec- 
tions. Eggs were no longer quoted in the Halles ; 
fresh butter was still to be had, but with diffi- 
€ulty, at twenty francs the pound English ; carp, 
from the lake in the Bois de Boulogne, fetched from 
fifteen to twenty francs ; Westphalian hams were 
procurable at fourteen francs per lb. ; milk was sold 
in solidified cakes to happy millionnaires ; but vege- 
tables were rather more plentiful than they had 
Taeen, companies of " marauders " having been 
organized among the indigent of the city, who went 
out under the protection of the Mobiles to gather 
the green stuff still to be grubbed up in the military 
zone. They were paid a franc a day by the Govern- 
ment for their risky labour. Half-a-dozen were shot 
down by advanced sentries before they got wary. 
I met a band of these " marauders " returning from 
a foray on the Vincennes side one night. Among 
the foremost in this forlorn hope of poverty was a 
coloured man staggering under a bag-net of cauli- 
flowers. I thought I had seen him before, and true 
enough, in scrutinizing him sharply, I identified 
him as a native of Martinique, a draper's assistant. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 175 

who had sold me a pair of gloves two months before 
in a fashionable warehouse of the Rue de la Paix. 
Then he was neat as Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse in the 
famous establishment in Oxford Street ; now, what 
a wreck ! " Poor devil " spoke from every seam in 
his coat ; he had run completely to seed. 

Another anecdote, which the squeamish may pass 
over, will prove the culinary shifts that were resorted 
to now that we were within a measurable distance 
of the pinch of hunger. 

On the Avenue de la Grande Armee I saw a 
soldier skinning a cat, preparatory to making 
giblet soup. I heard he had hanged pussy, and 
told a comrade who had remonstrated with him for 
not bleeding her, that he knew nothing whatever 
about it : that cats, like hares, should not be bled. 
It was not his first essay in this branch of the 
gastronomic art ; he had been a cordon bleu in the 
Crimea, and I presume he was right. One must 
not be too particular in a siege. A craving stomach 
is inexorable. 

Changes in diet were not the only changes to be 
chronicled. The new Opera House was turned into 



176 AN lEON-BOUND CITY. 

an army store ; the dancing-gardens of Mabille 
served as barracks for volunteer rifles; a National 
Committee of something or other (those wind-bag 
politicians all gave themselves grand names) held 
forth at the Valentino ; the concert-hall of th& 
Folies-Bergere was fitted up as an ambulance. Yet 
the town was not positively sad on occasion. A 
ray of sunshine brought out those volatile Parisians 
like so many summer flies. When we had a bright 
day, the boulevards were crowded, and the great 
promenade, the finest in the world — leaving the 
Broadways, the Corsos, the Unter-den-Lindens, 
the Regent, and even the Sackville streets in the 
background — actually wore a cheerful look. Count 
Bismarck, had he strolled along it, would have 
been surprised — perhaps shocked. He might have 
tolerated the painted legend " Liberty, Equality, 
Fraternity" outside the churches; but he would 
have made a wry face at certain caricatures of 
himself and his royal master. Those sentinelled 
booths in front of the Madeleine, where a National 
Guardsman sat behind a table covered with red 
cloth, and received offerings (bracelets, breast-pins. 



A A' IROX-BOUND CITY. 



and gold rings amongst the number) to pay for the 
casting of cannon, might have altered his ideas 
of Parisian pertinacity. Tlie announcement of a 
lecture, instituting a parallel between himself and 
Tartuffe at the Porte St. Martin, would hardly 
have gratified him. One of the loveliest of those 
autumnal days was Sunday, the 30th of October, 
and the elated promenaders were watching, with 
an almost childish pleasure, the bars of sunshine 
shinting from a sky streaked blue and milky- white. 
They forgot war for an interval, and talked gaily of 
Rochefort's declaration : that he, in person, would go 
out at the head of the next perilous sortie, and his 
cb.allenge to the " poltroon," Felix Pyat, to accom- 
pany him. 

During this span of old-time carelessness, 
desperate fighting was going on a few miles from 
these blithe boulevards, and Frenchmen in their 
youth and in their prime were gasping their last ! 
I heard the tale of defeat that night, but it was 
only next morning Paris learned that Bourget 
had refallen into the hands of the Prussians. 
This was the sum of the ofiicial report of the 

12 



178 ^iV IRON-BOUND CITY. 

catastrophe, for such it was. Masses of Prussian 
infantry, over 15,000 strong, with a powerful 
artillery in support, presented themselves before 
Bourget earl}^ in the morning, while other columns 
coming from Dugny and Blanc-Mesnil (to its left 
and right respectively) turned it and cut off and 
captured a number of men posted to the north of 
the village. The evacuation of Drancy was ordered, 
added the bulletin, which dismissed the event as of 
slight importance, " Bourget not forming part of 
our general system of defence." 

Excellent, most excellent, were it not for the 
report signed de Bellemare, recounting the taking 
of Bourget, and indulging in cock-crow over the 
victory ! Therein he boasted that the possession of 
the village " enlarged the circle of our occupation 
outside the forts, gave confidence to our soldiers, 
and augmented our resources in vegetables.^' He 
admitted, too, that Colonel Lavoignet had received 
orders to " establish himself solidly," and in a later 
despatch declared that the results of a com- 
bat on Saturday evening were " important." This 
combat was hand-to-hand between some men 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 179 

of the Prussian regiment of Queen's Grenadiers, 
who had jumped over the walls of an orchard 
where they were posted and fell upon a company 
of Mobiles. Frankness in the Provisional Govern- 
ment would be safer and more politic than this too 
tliin gloss of falsehood. The re-forfeiture of Bourget 
was due to gross incapacity. 

The position was surprised, and the unfortunate 
half-battalion of Freeshooters that tried to hold it 
was butchered. Out of 380 men, there remained but 
150. An entire company of the Mobile Guard was 
gobbled up before it could burn a cartridge. The 
couple of pieces of ordnance of small calibre that 
defended the position where a colonel had received 
orders to "establish himself solidly," fired just 
four shots each ! The panic at Chatillon could be 
explained ; the attack on Malmaison, though re- 
pulsed, had some compensations ; but this was an 
inexcusable mishap, and brought the continued 
impotence and imprudence of French commarnl into 
deplorable prominence. There was one eiiisode 
which shines out like a splash of gilding on a 
sombre page — the death of Eugene Baroche. He 

12—2 



180 AN IRON-BOUND CITY, 

was son to a former Bonapartist Minister, a crime 
which did not escape the denunciation of the 
gentlemanly editors of the Rai^-pel. They pointed 
him out to the indignation of his men, and 
demanded that he, " one of the clique," should not 
be entrusted with the leadership of Eepublicans. 
Some of his friends urged him to reply to his un- 
becoming assailants. " No," he said, " I shall 
answer them before the enemy !" The high- 
minded young soldier was shot dead in full 
front while leading his battalion of Paris Mobiles to 
the attack* 

A messenger from the British Embassy called on 
me this morning, requesting me to present myself 
there before two in the afternoon. On my way to 
the deserted diplomatic palace, I saw a bill-sticker 
pasting up two white placards ; one telling of the 

* From news which subseciuently came in from the 
provinces, it appeared that his father died on the very same 
day. There was but an interval of three hours between 
their respective deaths. A vista crowded with weird imagin- 
ings this coincidence opens up, if one could dare to take a 
glimpse behind the veil of futurity. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY, 181 



returu of M. Thiers, and the proposal of an armis- 
tice by four great Powers, the other of the 
Surrender of Metz. 

Groups collected opposite these placards, and 
looked at each other blankly as they read them. 
The news of the fall of the Lorraine fortress, coming 
so quickly on that of the bloody mischance of 
Bourget, was too much ; Paris reeled under the shock, 
and the Black Monday was within an ace of becoming 
blacker still by a wild upheaval of the populace, 
stunned with the stroke of misfortune. They were 
dazed and crazy with the heavy succession of 
sledge-hammer blows that had descended upon 
them, and their action was most unwise, and some- 
thing mean and cowardly ; but allowance should 
be made for them. It was a clear case of ira furor 
brevls est. They were mad. I continued on my 
way to the Embassy, wondering what would next 
turn up in the chapter of accidents. On entering, I 
was told that I had been sent for to sign a paper, 
undertaking not to carry out any letters or news- 
papers — nothing but personal luggage — under pain 
of the rigours of military law. I did not want to 



182 AN IRON-BO UND GIT Y. 

go out, as I have said ; but I did not hesitate to 
affix my signature in order to acquaint myself with 
the details of the process. 

" Now, put your name to this," said the employe. 

I signed unhesitatingly again, and glanced over 
the document, which was in French. 

This document, formally submitted to me at the 
Embassy of her Britannic Majesty, described the 
subscriber as a " Citizen of tlie United States." I 
was not aware of the fact that I enjoyed that 
privilege ; but it did not seem to avail much. As I 
left I was informed that I should possibly hear 
more of the permission to leave in course of time, 
that is to say, as soon as it would suit his high 
mightiness Count Bismarck. A nice problem for 
the casuists to decide, I reflected as I sauntered off, 
would be whether the good faith of a man who, by 
particular request, signed himself what he was not, 
would be valid guarantee in the small matter of 
not smuggling letters or newspapers. I gave up 
its solution as I might a knotty double acrostic, and 
began wondering what one Henry Temple, Viscount 
Palmerston, would have said to these queer pro- 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 183 

ceedings were he alive ; but the tokens around soon 
recalled me from reverie to reality. There was 
riot in the atmosphere : Paris was in labour — and 
brouiiht forth a monster. 



CHAPTER IX. 

The Feast of Refractory Fools—" Pas d'Amnistie /" — " Down 
with Trochu !"— A Lull in the Storm — Sober Soldiers — 
A Drunken Patriot—" Down with Thiers !" — Three 
Gunshots— " AS'a?«'e qui P«<^ "— Ee-assembling of the 
Mob — The Hotel de Ville forced— The Irrepressible 
Street-boy — An Orgie of the Ochlocracy — " Down with 
Rochefort!" — Dorian declines the Presidency— "Put 
that Old Gentleman into his Shirt-collar "—Shame 
and no Blush— Major Flourens takes the Table — 
" Down with the Tricolour !" — The Generale is Beaten 
— Parley — The Rescue. 

Some instinct told me there would be mischief 
before nightfall, and I directed my steps towards 
the Hotel de Ville. There was one chance that all 
would pass over quietly, the day was rainy ; but 
the devil had got the ear of " evil-hearted Paris," 
and there ivas mischief. Before nightfall there were 
two Governments in the city, or rather there was 
no Government; the entire adult male population 



A iV IRON-BO UND CITY. 1 85 

was uruler arms ; carnage in the streets was possible 
at any moment ; and it was only late the following 
morning peaceful men learned to their relief that a 
temporary arrangement had been come to between 
the Provisional rulers and their would-be sup- 
planters. 

There was an inieute, and as I saw and assisted 
(in the innocuous sense) at its beginning, and 
afterwards collected my notes, and collated them 
with those of others, I may fairly claim to give 
an accurate and tolerably ample narrative of as 
grotesque a revolution as revolutionary Paris ever 
witnessed. As every journ^e deserves its title, 
this might have aptly been called " The Feast of 
Refractory Fools." 

Never do I regret so that I am not a poet — that is, 
such a one as the authors of " Rejected Addresses " 
or " The Ingoldsby Legends," or better still, such 
as Mr. Archdeacon Parnel, who sang the " Battle of 
the Frogs and Mice ;" for they only could rise to 
the height of the argument the monster prison, 
which had been the petted capital of luxury, pre- 
sented on the olst of October, 1870. They only 



186 AN I RON-BO UXD CITY. 

could celebrate the arms and the man of that 
Punch-and-Judy epic. 

The revolution rose, culminated, and collapsed, 
all " in one revolving sun," within a circumscribed 
space, less than the area of Trafalgar Square. Its 
framework was the reverse of inspiriting. Above 
there was a watery sky, beneath a spacious surface 
of puddle ; around, except where the cold river 
swirled in its stony bed, were high dismal walls 
soaking with wet. 

The Hotel de Ville, when Prefect Haussmann 
was there, and the many windows Hashed on the 
night, and there was revelry in the municipal halls, 
was not the melancholy Hotel de Ville of tliis year 
of disgrace for France. It was now a bilious, 
solemn monument. When I reached the Place 
which the bare-headed Louis Quatorze on horse- 
back contemplates (conjure up that idea, a bas- 
relief of the Grand Monarque, he, ruler by Right 
Divine, under an inscription, "Liberty, Equality, 
Fraternity"), the only manifestation was that of a 
forest of umbrellas. Jupiter Pluvius was drench- 
ing the Republicans whom his Olympian friend, 



AN IRON-BOUXD CITY. 187 

Louis, looked down upon with contempt. Anon the 
shower, which had been too violent to last, ceased, 
and the umbrellas were folded. The throngs on the 
Place grew denser, and the rub-a-dub of a drum — 
now become odious from its frequency — was heard. 
It heralded a company of the National Guard un- 
armed, coming to make one of those wanton demon- 
strations that wilful Paris delights in like school- 
boy. I moved out from the caf^ on the rue de Rivoli 
where I had screened myself from the rain, and 
imprudently adventured into the thick of the 
crowd. Such a crowd ! It was close, big, heated 
now — heated morally and literally — and there were 
many women, brown-faced, bare-armed viragoes 
with muscles in their arms, and masculine tongue, 
and fierce diabolic expression. Most of the men 
were in uniform, or had some prompting of uniform, 
if only a cap with a red band ; and all were excited 
beyond the bounds of the small rea.soa they ordi- 
narily possessed. Such faces ! Faces flushed, glow- 
ing, burning with infuriate passion. Every unit in 
the mass was speaking simultaneously, for this was 
the self-styled " people of Paris," the restless uncon- 



188 AN T RON-BOUND CITY. 

trollable plebs that sends a periodical shock through 
Europe, when it rises and lashes itself to rage ; and 
your Parisian proletaire is a born orator, and is en- 
amoured of the music of his own voice. Methought 
there were proletaires, carpers, and demagogues 
there of all centuries, and of every land. Thersites 
and Ciceroacchio were to be seen, Jack Cade and 
Simon the Cobbler ; that atomy, pale and angular, 
perorating on his toe-tips, was Alton Locke, the 
Chartist tailor, and the swarthy blackguard he was 
buttonholing was a Levantine rough ; while those 
famous cads, Magog Wrath and Bully Bluck, hung 
on the fringe of the group, and a Plug-Ugly from 
New York apostrophized a truculent loafer from the 
lower town of Brussels. As the hurricane of hysteric 
gab heightened, the pavement in front of the 
Parisian Mansion House, which was held by a scant 
line of Breton Mobiles in grey capote, was gradually 
encroached upon, and those who kept their heads 
cool guessed what was coming. By-and-by there 
would be a push-back of the throng, and then a 
shout of " Up with the barricades !" or a torrent 
rush into the buildinfr. The Provisional Govern- 



A.Y IRON-BOUND CITY. 181) 

merit was sitting within, and a mob in the Hotel do 
Ville might forebode anarchy, mayhap murder to- 
day, and the drawbridges let down to the Prussians 
to-morrow. I tried to catch the drift of the 
speeches that were being blurted out on every side. 
It was hard to detect any coherence in them, but 
their drift was plain. Hate, blind hate and wrath 
against somebody — not anybody in particular. As 
the unresisting Provisional Government represented 
power for the nonce, it served the purpose, and the 
people of Paris thumped it as a prize-tighter in 
training for more serious work might thump a sack. 
The blunder at Bourget was the theme of discourse 
at one of the most reasonable of these flagstone 
parliaments. 

" Three thousand men against five-and-twenty 
thousand," cried one citizen. " That's the story 
since the start. 'Tis the same under the Republic 
as under the Empire. Our leaders are imbeciles." 
'•' We are sold to the enemy !" shouted a second, 
" Down with Trochu !'* yelled a third, 
" Ha !" hissed a fourth ; " this, then, is his famous 
plan that he'll tell to nobod}- — to starve us out, and 



190 AN IKON-BOUND CITY. 

open the gates to the Prussians to bring in the 
monarchy on their bayonets." 

" He's an Orleanist," was raised in a chorus, " and 
we are his dupes." 

I edged towards another knot of what Brougham 
happily nicknamed the " Great Unwashed." Here 
the text was the mission of Thiers. A burly 
fellow was giving hoarse vent to his ardent desire 
to have the historian in his clutch, and he'd tear 
him asunder — ysh ! that he would, for a little 
good-for-nothing, who had been travelling like a 
mendicant friar to all the courts of Europe, cadging 
crumbs from their tables. 

" Pas d'amnistie !" screamed an Amazon, her 
frame swaying with terrible excitement. 

She had confounded amnesty with armistice — 
the armistice which Thiers was supposed to have 
been entrusted with the task of bringing about. 
So did most of her congeners. They did not know 
what one signified or the other. I felt inclined to 
tell this Amazon it was not manners to refuse a gift 
before it was offered, but I looked at her biceps and 
changed my mind. 



AS inOX-BOUXD CITY. 191 

"P«s d'amn{f<tie ! des arincs, des armes!" shouted 
a tipsy National Guardsman, as I neared a third 
group, whic'li was debating the propriety of naming 
a deputation to ask Trochu what excuse Bazaine 
had to give for his capitulation ! Wiiy didn't he 
cut his way through the Prussians ? This was 
but a repetition of the shame of Sedan ! And so 
on through a series of the like unreasoning 
ejaculations. 

Childish and ludicrous the chatter and antics 
would have been, were they not shot with the 
Wood-vein of desperation. To one who was a true 
French patriot, this spectacle of Bedlam let loose 
with contingents from Pandemonium must have 
been agony supreme. 

The rain began pattering anew, and I hurried to 
an open porch, where three soldiers of the 42nd 
had taken refuge. One of them was very white ; his 
head was tied round with a bandage. I asked him 
had he been wounded, and with difficulty the poor 
youth explained that he had got a bullet above the 
left jaw at Chevilly, which had passed out at the 
other side of his face after having torn away a 



192 AA-- IROK-BOUND CITY. 

portion of his teeth and gums. A second had his 
right arm in a sling ; the sleeve of his great-coat 
was ripped by a piece of lead which had abraded 
the forearm to the elbow, and paralysed the nerves. 
The wound was not serious, he said, but it stung 
him ; and a contraction of his features at the 
moment lent conviction to his words. The third, 
who was the weakest, blushed that he had no 
wound to show; he had to be carried back from the 
outposts because he was not strong enough to bear 
the bad food, the cold, the want of rest, and the 
discomforts of the bivouac. 

" Let us make a sortie en masse" hiccuped a 
citizen in uniform, staggering out of a wine-shop 
as the shower cleared off. " Down with Trochu ! 
Live the Commune !" 

The three feeble soldiers smiled, bowed to me, 
and returned silently to their ambulance. They 
had no right to call out for the deposition of 
Trochu ; they had only done their duty and 
suffered for the country ; they were not patented 
patriots. 

The rabble which had souMit shelter from the 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 193 



rain poured back and gatliered round the few un- 
tlinching demagogues who had stood their ground, 
reckless of moisture, and the great quadrangle 
was shortly black with seething, surging humanity, 
that must have looked to the watcher from an attic 
like the colony of insects revealed under a stone 
upturned. Louder rose the tumult, and angrier the 
voices, until a universal howl of " Live the Com- 
mune !" was raised as the bugles and drums of a 
column of National Guards — this time armed, to 
the very vivandiere, who swung a carbine — broke 
in on the tempest of throats with a diversity of 
sound. 

It was now about half- past one o'clock. 

This battalion was welcomed with cheers, and 
the men held the butts of their rifles upwards in 
token of amity to their "friends and brothers." 
Something grave was going on in the Hotel de 
Ville. A man of gigantic height, who could see 
over those surrounding him, informed his neighbours 
that the Mayor of Paris had attempted a harangue 
from a chair, and was refused a bearing. Several 
others followed with no better success. A fellow 

13 



194 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

in a blouse hoisted himself on the railings in 
front of the building, and held forth a paper on 
which these phrases were written : " No armistice. 
Live the Republic ! Resistance to the death !" A 
bellow of satisfaction greeted them, and cries of 
"Down with Thiers!" were renewed, with cries 
superadded of " Down with the renegade !" Those 
foremost in the turbulent assembly at this point 
managed to penetrate into the courtyard. General 
Trochu and Jules Simon endeavoured to calm them, 
made asseverations of their devotedness to the 
interests of the defence, and appealed for union. 
They were not hearkened to, and at length they 
withdrew. 

This was about half-past two o'clock. 

Suddenly a report rang out ; it struck me as the 
discharge of a blank cartridge in the air ; another 
and another followed, and quick as thought the 
mob, which had been clamouring for a sortie en 
masse, turned and fled in the wildest confusion. 
It was a complete sauve qui i^eut. Heads were 
ducked as if to evade the expected volley ; and 
here and there an unlucky citizen fell sprawling at 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 195 

full length in the mud, and was trampled upon or 
tripped over by companions behind. I was swept 
along with the tide, and only owed my escape to the 
nimbleness of my feet. There were moans and 
shrieks. Many unfortunates stumbled or were 
borne down and trodden to jelly. There is nothing 
so selfish or savage as panic. As well might one 
have tried to stem a herd of charging buffaloes as 
that scared scurrying multitude. Incontinently I 
was carried forward at racing speed, and was unable 
to disengage myself from the rush until I reached 
the adjacent quay. As I rested panting against the 
])arapet that borders the Seine, I could see runa- 
ways already at the other side of the Pont St. 
Michel, and hear the echoing yell, " To arms, to 
arms !" The shutters of the shops on the line of 
quays were run up forthwith; the alarm was 
general, and the roll of drums could be caught in 
the distance. There is a current of animal elec- 
tricity in a crowd that affects those in contact with 
it, and it took me all my power of self-command to 
refrain from joining in this insane yell, " To arms.*' 
When I recovered breath and composure, and asked 

13-2 



196 AN 1 RON-BO UNO GIT Y. 

myself " Wherefore to arms ?" I laughed bitterly. 
Some of those panic-stricken patriots, I afterwards 
learned, had never stopped till they reached the 
Place St. Sulpice, a mile off; there they spread the 
lie that Trochu had attempted a coup d'etat, and 
that the Bretons were slaughtering the sovereign 
people of Paris, 

Who fired those shots ? Were they fired from 
the mob, or from the Hotel de Ville ? It was never 
ascertained. One version had it that they were 
fired by the Mobiles on the patriots; another, that 
they were fired by a patriot towards a window 
where members of the Government had shown 
themselves. The latter was the more likely. One 
thing was positive — they were fired with intent : an 
accident might have explained a single shot, not 
three. 

The same impulse of electricity that brought the 
mob to the space before the Hotel de Ville, that 
stirred it to turmoil, and that sent it scampering 
away wholesale, brought it back again by degrees. 
Yielding to the force of association, I, too, found 
myself in the quadrangle as the reassembled crowd 



AN IliOX-BOUND CITY. 197 

pressed against the main entrance. Imperious 
knocks were hailed on the large doorway which 
was closed. It was a critical moment. The sus- 
pense was thrilling. Again rat-tat-too was ham- 
mered on the hard wood. The portals flew back. 
And a line of flame with a crest of smoke burst 
forth with a crash ? Nothing of the kind. The 
crowd entered precipitately, meeting no resistance 
whatever. The Mobiles were moved tranquilly to 
one side and left the passage free. The pair of 
winding staircases were covered by the roaring tide 
springing up like a resilient cataract, if such there 
could be, and presently a dirty-faced urchin was t:> 
be seen leaning saucily out of one of the central 
■windows of the municipal palace, a cigarette 
between his lips. Boute-en-train was triumphant; 
beneath him Paris "heaved her noisy seas." The 
seat of Government was in the hands of the 
sovereign people. I followed the crowd, was 
carried with the living wave rather, and was landed 
in a spacious room on the first-floor packed with 
brawlers. The noise was deafening. It was 
impossible to divine what was being done ; the sole 



198 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

fact clear to my benevolent neutral comprehension 
was that the upholstery was sorely victimized. 
Every now and again some honourable gentleman 
left the impress of his hob-nails on the crimson 
velvet cushion of a chair, or broke through one of 
its offensive gilt arms, in emphasis of some figure of 
speech. It was an orgie of the ochlocracy. I was 
subsequently assured, and I believe it, that half-a- 
dozen governments were holding synchronous 
sittings in different rooms, sometimes two of them 
in the same room, and were launching decrees in an 
excruciating parody of official jargon, but with a 
most admirable uniformity of adherence to the 
phonetic system of orthography. I read some of 
those decrees and had some lists of those govern- 
ments ; but as the former were never enforced, 
and the latter were not even ephemeral, I consign 
them to forgetfulness. But the Provisional Govern- 
ment, where was it ? We were in the Throne 
Room ; and a cry of " Rochefort, Rochefort !" was 
raised, but no hats were lifted. Amid shouts of 
"Live Rochefort!" and "Down with Rochefort!" 
pretty evenly divided, he, who had been the storm- 



^l^V IROX-BOUND CITY. 199 

petrel of Imperialism, was moved to the table. 
The Count was on his legs. How pale he was, and 
tremulous, and oh ! how ugly. I agree with 
Madame de Sdvignd, that we men have the 
privilege of being ugly; but Henri, Count Bocbe- 
fort de Luc^ay, surely abused the privilege. Hush ! 
He speaks in that lisping irresolute voice of his : 

"Citizens, the Government of Defence, now 
assembled, is deliberating on the question of the 

nomination of " 

" No deliberations !" " Down with Rochefort !" 
" Go to Chaillot, [as a Cockney would say Putney] 
Sir Count !" Such were the calls from these mad 
wags. 

Unhappy Tribune, ungrateful people ! It was 
cruel to be scourged witii his own rod, vulgar 
sarcasm, by the spoiled child to humour whom he 
had so often turned his back on delicacy. He 
essayed to make himself heard, but was driven from 
the table with the swashing blow, the pitiless 
facer, that he was an aristocrat. 

To Rochefort succeeded an orator who proposed 
that M. Dorian should be President of a new 



200 AN 1 RON-BO OND CITY. 

Government. This proposition was accepted, 
though there were Irreconcilables who objected that 
no President was wanted. Sundry of the lists of 
the new Governments were flung from the open 
windows to the hungry outsiders. In the Salon of 
the Government, to the right of this room, the 
Cabinet was seated all this time in the midst of a 
perspiring mob of patriots. When the rabble from 
the Throne Eoom invaded this chamber, and 
declared that M. Dorian had been named President, 
M. Dorian, a plain man, got on the table and 
declined the honour. He knew nothing of the art 
of governing; he was a cannon-founder, and he 
begged of them to leave him to his cannon. Dis- 
creet M. Dorian ! Three of the sovereign people 
mounted the table which began to be shaky, among 
others the patriot, Vermorel. He was hooted down 
to the tune of " Be off", police-spy ! We know you !" 
From the caldron of hubbub, the venerable figure 
of Garnier-Pages arose like the Neptune of the 
storm in the Tyrrhene Sea, with his grey hair 
brushed back and streaming over his shoulders, 
and his neck imprisoned in the high Vatermorder 



AiY IRON-BOUND CITY. 201 

shirt-collar which was the fashion in the reign of 
Cliarles X. He began : 

"I have witnessed three glorious revolutions '* 

" Shut up !" was the cry from every side, while 
the shrill voice of a boy perched on a candelabrum 
— the same young scamp who had been puffing the 
cigarette at the window a while before — was heard 
requesting that that nice old gentleman should be 
put back into his shirt-collar. The venerable 
witness of three glorious revolutions absolutely 
swooned under his reception. 

Jules Ferry got up and tried to appease the 
auditory ; but even his imposing presence failed to 
exercise any influence on the unappreciative rabble. 
The aged General Tamisier, commander of the 
National Guard, was helped to the table, but re- 
coiled under the rebuff levelled at him by some 
patriot in whom the bump of veneration was not 
developed. The attitude of Trochu and Favre was 
noble ; both were calm. A sardonic smile played 
round the soldier's mouth ; the advocate's face was 
darkened with a veil of sorrowfulness. The 
Roman senators were not subjected to fouler 



202 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

indignity by Brennus and his victorious Gauls, nor 
were the Roman senators more dignified. One 
rufiian actually flourished his clenched hand close 
to the Governor ; another spat on Jules Favre, who 
quietly wiped the saliva away and told his insulter 
he never surrendered to violence. This, honest 
men will think, was the most beautiful page in the 
lives of those two men, prouder than any triumph 
of the field or forum. 

Had a certain undersized Corsican artillery officer 
been in the position of the Breton, what might not 
have occurred ? We ai^e justified in the belief that 
it would have been another 13th Vend^miaire : tho 
gutters would have run red with blood. Perhaps 
it would have been better so. A few rounds of 
canister in October, 1870, might have averted the 
massacres of May, 1871. 

There was an abrupt change in the drama. A 
new element of sensation was thrown in, as if we 
had not already had a surfeit. There was a note of 
preparation at the door, as when three chords are 
struck by the orchestra in the playhouse ; and 
bounded on the scene, like the leading lady in a 



J y IROX-BO UND CITY. 2u3 

corj»^ de ballet, the renowned and redoubtable 
Gustave Flourens. The Feast of Fools had found 
its Lord of Misrule! The Major looked killing. 
He was got up in the costume of a cavalry officer, 
with patent-leather boots, such as Franconi wore, 
on his thin legs, and a scimitar dangling by his side. 
What a buccaneering apparition, to be sure I 
Jewish visage with eyes like blazing coals, and a 
bronze-hued beard flaming raeteorically at either 
side. He jumped on that unfortunate table and 
addressed the crowd in his quick decided tones, 
telling them that a Committee of Public Safety (his 
own name first on the list) had been formed by five 
thousand citizens in the Place below, that the 
elections for the Commune should be held under 
their direction within twenty-four hours, and that 
Commissioners should be sent to the forts to provide 
against treason. Five thousand citizens. Humph ! 
And they were to impose their will on all France, 
And this was done under the invocation of liberty. 

"0 liberty, liberty, how many crimes are com- 
mitted in thy name !" 

Major Flourens gesticulated like a Jumping-Jack 



204 AN IRON-BO UND 01 T Y. 

on a string, and gyrated like an acrobat on a spin- 
ning globe; but even he was treated to an odd 
pleasantry. The revolutionists of 1870 were not in 
the mood serious. Finally, he notified to the 
members of the Provisional Government that he 
was prepared to receive their resignations ! 

" Never !" said Jules Ferry ; " we will only render 
up our powers to the people regularly consulted 
by us." 

" To the entire people of Paris," added Jules 
Favre, " and not to a riotous faction." 

At this instant the folds of a flag of the National 
Guard were seen over the heads of the assembly. 

" Down with the tricolour !" was cried. " Give us 
the red flag of Socialism ?' 

Flourens was not Lamartine. His response was : 
" Keep this flag till further orders." 

The tempest was rapidly swelling to a tornado. 
" Resignation or arrest " were the only words that 
could be distinguished over the dissonant whirl- 
wind. Flourens, who played Spirit of the Storm, 
soothed the disturbers by pledging himself to the 
safe custodianship of the recalcitrant Government, 



AiX IRON-BOUND CITY. 205 

and invited his friends to evacuate the room, so 
that terms might be settled more familiarly. In 
the antechamber were the battalions of Belleville 
and a body of carbineers of the true red Republican 
stamp, commanded by the Italian conspirator and 
ex-penal convict, Tibaldi. Nobody was let out with- 
out a permit from the ancient proscript, Blanqui, 
who had installed himself king of the castle ; but 
that was easily got in the flurry of his novel accession 
to power. 

While this atrocious burlesque was being enacted 
at the Hotel de Ville, one member of the Govern- 
ment, who had the good luck to slip out unobserved 
at the beginning of the commotion, M. Ernest Picard, 
was not idle. He sent word of what had happened 
to the Admirals on the ramparts and the friends of 
order generally, and organized the rescue of his 
colleagues. The g6n4rale was beaten, and battalions 
of the loyal National Guard, hastily rallying, were 
posted in all the public offices. Blanqui sent round 
his emissaries, but Picard had been before him. 
They were almost invariably arrested where 
they came to arrest. The lOGth battalion of the 



206 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

National Guard, intercepted on its return from duty, 
succeeded in working its way into the Hdtel de 
Ville ; and about eight o'clock General Trochu, 
Mayor Arago, and Jules Ferry were spirited out 
under its wing, caps of the National Guard having 
been placed on their heads, and a friendly group 
having environed them. 

The policy of General Trochu, after all the vexa- 
tions and worse to which he had been compelled to 
submit, did him credit. Instead of shooting down 
these fanatics, as now he could have done, the 
regular troops being at his beck, he resolved to tire 
them out ; he did not requisition the army, but 
brought a host of upwards of 50,000 citizen-soldiers 
in front of the Hotel de Ville, and overawed the 
malcontents, who were revelling in their brief vision 
of authority. Shortly after midnight Jules Ferry, 
in the van of some resolute battalions, summoned 
the insurgents to give in, but was answered with 
two shots. Happily no one was hit ; the desire to 
avoid bloodshed was paramount, and Citizen Deles- 
cluze almost immediately appeared on behalf of the 
rabble in possession, to parley for a capitulation. 



^l.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 207 

The terras Ferry oftered were, that they should be 
allowed to come out to the cry of " Live the 
Republic !" but with General Tamisier at their 
head. Two hours passed, and Citizen Delescluze 
did not reappear; when Ferry, losing patience, 
forced his way into the building. Before he had 
entered, however, the Breton Mobiles had started 
up as if by magic in the midst of the astonished 
Bellevillites, emerging by the underground passage 
from the Napoleon Barracks, and the revolution, 
late so audacious, was disarmed. 

By three o'clock, the last of those who had sat in 
raock-state for a few hours were mercifully let 
slink to their kennels like whipped hounds ; the 
Provisional Government was released in its entirety, 
and General Trochu passed a moonlight review of 
the friends of order on the Place de PHotel de Ville, 
and was able to congratulate them that there was no 
Fee-faw-fum dish at the Feast of Refractory Fools. 

Good, but the defence was compromised never- 
theless. The bourgeoisie, unless its temper changed 
by whim unforeseen, would accept any not too exact- 
ing conditions with the enemy, before it would 



208 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

incur the risk of another day like this, loomed over 
by the ominous shadow of the Red Spectre. 

It is to be feared that the apologists of those who 
sought to upset the Provisional Government could 
not even urge on behalf of their clients that they 
were actuated by the perverted avarice of praise. 
It is error to believe that the demand of the Com- 
mune was one for parochial self-government. As 
accepted in Belleville it meant the revolutionary 
Commune of Paris of 1793, which attributed to 
itself plenary powers to govern France, which de- 
creed victory and invented the guillotine — in other 
words, the Terror. Take Great Britain as an 
illustration. A Commune, such as Belleville asked, 
would be the fleet controlled, the army generalled, 
and the finances administered by the vestry of 
Marylebone. 

The scorpion girdled by fire seeks to poison itself 
by the sting of its own tail. That is exactly the 
experiment Paris had been trying on this day of 
degradation. 



CHAPTER X. 

Electoral Vagaries— Rejection of the Armistice— Mobiliza- 
tion of the National Guard— The Hegira of the English 
— A Cleric Scores off the Invader — " The Friends of 
France'' — Paddy McDermott — The Unhappy Mr. 
Meeks — Companionship of Books — Surly Hunger — 
Under Surveillance— The Writer is made a Brigadier — 
The Virtue of a Silver Stripe and a Red Armlet — 
German Prisoners in Paris — A Lied in the Roquette. 

HOLLANTIDE morn many a Parisian must have 
parted his eyelids in the frame of Murger, inclined 
to ask : " Under what form of Government are we 
living to-day ?" As I had not retired to rest until 
5 a.m., I did not wake till the afternoon, thereby 
netting the advantage of sleeping off one meal. I 
lost nothing by my truant vagraticy in the realms 
of Somnus. There had been no figliting : there 
seemed to liave been a temporary truce by tacit 
consent. A proclamation from the Mairie had been 

14 



210 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

put up, convoking elections for a Municipalit}" 
within twenty-four hours, only to be recalled by a 
later notice from the Government, adjourning the 
event on account of the " moral and material im- 
possibility of holding them so soon." 

The temperature suddenly lowered on the 2nd, 
the " Day of the Dead," which was unpleasant, 
considering the high price of charcoal. Less atten- 
tion than usual was paid to the mournful anniver- 
sary. The truth is, we had been having a plethora 
of days of the dead. The Official Journal came 
out with a decree stripping of their commissions 
Flourens and seven other battalion-commandants of 
the National Guard, and warning the train-bands that 
they would be disembodied and disarmed if they 
assembled in future without necessity and regular 
summons, and that those who called them together 
illegally would be tried by court-martial. Finall}'-, 
at long last, the Government submitted itself to 
the test of election, and Rochefort sent in his resig- 
nation. All things considered, it was not an utterly 
joyless day of the dead. 

The voting passed off on the 3rd with undis- 



A.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 211 

turbed tranquillity in the midst of bitingly cold 
■weather. The question submitted to the electors 
was — Did they retain confidence in the Government 
of National Defence ? To speak truly, the less 
frantic of the faction who had acted so unwisely on 
Monday began to realize the danger of changing 
horses while crossing a ford. The verdict of the 
ballot-box was so sure to be in ftivour of the pro- 
visional power, that it must be looked upon as an 
encouragement rather than an approval of its 
conduct. 

Several battalions of the National Guard were 
drawn up in front of the Hotel de Ville as early as 
seven in the evening; and a large crowd, momen- 
tarily increasing, assembled in expectation of hear- 
ing a public announcement of the result of the 
day's voting, so far as known. A scaffolding had 
been erected in front, and about ten o'clock twelve 
Mobiles and twelve National Guards emerged 
bearing torches, and flanked this scaflblding, upon 
which M. Etienne Arago mounted with a paper in 
his hand. This, under the austere Republic, 
savoured slightly of the theatrical. M. Etienne 



212 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

Arago would apparently play the part of Pepin 
I'Heristal, if be dared, and be Mayor of the Palace 
as well as Mayor of the city. He made a speech, 
which I suppress ; but its essential point was that 
the " Ayes " had it. Here is the first list : 

Aye 275,244 

No 19,383 



Majority for order 2o5,861 

The garrison and the refugees from the suburbs 
took part in the voting as well as the Parisians. 
A cry of " Vive la Republique ! " rent the night-air 
when the news was proclaimed, and the battalions, 
with one accord, moved off to the Louvre to offer 
the Government their felicitations. 

Trochu came out and spoke. His address was an 
improvement on his usual style of sermonizing : it 
was pithy and soldierly, as if it were made by 
Lazare Hoche, whose sword was the longest and 
whose word the briefest of any man in the armies 
of the Republic. 

His last sentence was : " The Republic alone can 



Ay IRON-BOUND CITY. 213 

save us, citizens ; if we imperil its existence, our 
own is imperilled with it." 

Jules Favre opened his mouth after Trochu, 
and asseverated that the Government would rest 
faithful to its engagement not to surrender 
"an inch of our territory." And the corollary 
about a stone of our fortresses ? Not a word of 
that. 

General Tamisier sent in his resignation to-day 
as Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard, and 
was replaced by Clement Thomas, a veteran sub- 
officer of cavalry and former representative of the 
people, who had been made a General without the 
usual apprenticeship of grades. 

On Gunpowder Day, the elections of mayors for 
the twenty arrondissements were proceeded with 
in a sedate orderly manner. Only thirteen of the 
score secured the legal majority, and amongst these 
were three of the sympathizers with the flash-in- 
the-pan revolt of the 31st ult., to wit : Bonvalct, 
Mottu, and Clemenceau. Nigh a score of the 
malcontent faction, the nucleus of the Commune, 
were clapped into gaol, and among these were 



214 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

Pyat, Mottu the Materialist and Mayor, Milli^re, 
Vermorelj and Ranvier. When the second scrutiny 
in the undecided municipal contests took place, 
Ranvier, the incarcerated, was elected Mayor of the 
20th Arrondissement. 

On the 6th, the Government of necessity re- 
ceived the sanction of legality. At eleven the votes 
were publicly declared to be (less those of the 
garrison and a few of the suburban communes), 
Ayes, 821,373 ; Noes, 53,585 ; so that order was 
triumphant by a majority of over a quarter of a 
million of voices. This was a sop to the Govern- 
ment for the disappointment in some of the municipal 
elections ; and also for that greater disappointment, 
the rejection of the armistice by the adamantine 
Bismarck. He would not hear of Paris being re- 
victualled, or of Alsace and Lorraine joining in the 
election of a National Assembly. He was not 
clement, but he felt warranted in the hardness of 
his conditions ; and, from the Prussian standpoint, he 
was patriotic to insist upon them. On this date, 
too, was published a decree dividing the forces of the 
defence into three armies. The First, composed of the 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 215 

sedentary National Guard, was to look after in- 
ternal order and to man the enceinte, which was 
split up into ten scdeara ; the Second, under 
Ducrot, consisting of the Line, the Ee'giments de 
Marche, and the Mobiles, was for lield service out- 
side ; and the Third, made up of the sailors, 
marines, doiianiers, and the like, with more 
Mobiles and R($giments de Marche and the active 
National Guard, was to garrison the forts. These 
war contingents of the train-bands were organized 
in battalions of four companies uf 100 or 125 each, 
according to the strength of the sedentary corps 
from which they came, and were filled up — first 
from volunteers ; next, from bachelors, or widowers 
without children, between twenty-five and thirty- 
five years of age ; the same between thirty-five and 
forty-five ; and lastly, from the married men under 
thirty-five, and thence up to forty-five at need. 
They were armed with the chassepot, which was to 
be yielded by their comrades of the non-active roll. 
This set us thinking that stern work waa nigh. 

The Hegira of the English took place on the 8th 
of November. I did not assist at the event, as I 



216 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

was in bed at the time with a combined attack of 
rheumatism and low fever diversified by heart 
spasms and neuralgia in the gums. I had every 
opportunity of cultivating Mark-Tapleyism. I 
amused myself reading the account of Orlando 
Furioso's departure from Paris when it was be- 
sieged by the famous son of the King of Troy, and 
of his pilgrimage 

" in ver I'areua bianca, 
Onde Inghilterra si nomo Albione," 

in the pages of Ariosto, instead of imitating it in 
the flesh. O'Donovan entered and told me the 
"Britishers had gone." He half- wished he had 
gone with them ; the Prussian Ramadan was 
getting just a little too long and too trjdng. To 
my query why he had not accompanied them, he 
answered : 

" For the same reason a cripple does not dance 
the bolero — couldn't. Had neither coin nor safe- 
conduct. Besides, I wish to see this out to the 
bitter end." 

All the English did not leave ; some clung to 
Paris still, even in the extreme hour when her 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 217 

motto was not Fluduat nee mergihcr, but Nix 
mamgiare. They were not among those who should 
have remained, those who filled their coffers and 
drained the goblet of pleasure here when this was 
Sybaris. Those creatures had "skedaddled" at the 
first blast of alarm. Frenchmen should not forget 
the little phalanx that stood in the day of distress 
by their side. Since Homer enumerated the ships 
in the Achaian fleet, O'Donovan suggested that I 
should classify them for the benefit of an admiring 
posterity. Much trouble in that task was obviated, 
for they were classified already. First, there was 
the Irish College in the Rue des Irlandais, close by 
the Pantheon. There were some fifty fresh-faced 
lads from the Emerald Isle in this establishment, 
which is a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical seminary, 
superintended by Vincentian friars. The priests 
turned the institution into an ambulance, and an 
airy, admirably managed one it was, where wounded 
soldiers were nursed into the happy error that a 
bullet in the knee was a benediction. Trochu 
visited it, and expressed himself highly pleased. It 
was in the Irish College I heard an anecdote which 



218 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

is worth repeating, although it may not be authentic. 
In the advance to Paris, after Sedan, a Prussian 
officer met a young man in a field, whom he took 
by his garment to be a Catholic clergyman. Eccle- 
siastics on the Continent, as all may not be aware, 
have a distinctive dress. That in France is a black 
cassock^ and a round-topped broad-leaved beaver hat 

"Ha!" said the Prussian pandour, laying his hand 
on the hilt of his sword at the sight of the young 
Frenchman, " IVe been wishing this long time to 
kill a Catholic priest, and now that I've got the 
chance " 

" Pardon, monsieur, you're out of luck this once," 
smilingly interrupted the studeijt (for such he was) ; 
" I am only a sub-deacon !" 

The worthy Hibernians have a cosy country- 
house at Arceuil, but that was not an agreeable 
residence at the moment, as French and German 
shells held frequent rendezvous in the garden, and 
sometimes knocked against each other or playfully 
bowled over huge green urns of cactus as if 
they were nine-pins. There is an English street, as 
well as an Irish, on the Left Bank, not far from 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 219 



the Morgue ; but there was not a single breath of 
Britishism about it — not even a solitary pane of 
glass with the notice on it, in gilt script, " One 
speaks Englisch " {sic). After the Irish College, the 
next largest body of English-speaking folk was on 
the bastion by the Gate of St. Ouen, which was 
guarded by the " Friends of France." There were 
some thirty Britishers in the first company of this 
corps ; the members of which, off duty, might often 
be seen promenading on the Boulevard des Italiens, 
their converted Eufields slung martially over tlieir 
right shoulders. A young Englishman named Drake 
was among the first of them to lose the number of 
his mess. He was wounded, and, in the ambulance 
where he had been sent for recovery, caught small- 
pox and died. The greatest character of the Legion 
— always after the Belgian journalist with the Irish 
name, that atrocious punster, Flor O'Squarr — was 
Paddy McDermott. Paddy was a good-natured 
Republican of the Belleville brand ; he admired 
" Rushforth/' as he called him, but he had one great 
antipathy — Victor Hugo. 

" How do you explain that, Paddy ?" 1 asked once. 



220 AN 1 RON-BOUND CITY. 

" The ould fool," was the answer ; " what does he 
mane be makin' the headsman at the Tower of 
London, in Marie Tudor, a man ov me name ?" 

Paddy's definition of " Liberty, equality, and fra- 
ternity " must be recorded. " Liberty," he said, was 
the privilege of taking a drink when you liked, and 
knocking down the ruffian that demanded paj'-ment; 
" equalit^^ " he interpreted as one man being as 
good as another, and " a dale betther ;" while " fra- 
ternity " he simplified thus — " Wliat is 3^ours is mine, 
what is mine is my own." The Provisional Govern- 
ment, he presumed, was ironically so denominated 
because of the scarcity of provisions. Three of the 
Legion, amongst them Chalmers, an Englishman, had 
been already mentioned in orders for their gallantry 
at Bourget, where they covered the retreat from a 
tallow factory. Some of the English banking-houses, 
notably Blount's, in the Rue de la Paix, still kept 
open their doors^ choosing the brave part of staying to 
share the privations of the city where their immediate 
sphere of business lay. In the few Protestant houses of 
worship open, the minister was pretty nearly reduced 
to the condition of Dean Swift when he addressed 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 221 

his congregation as " Dearly beloved Roger." The 
English Passionist church, in what had been the 
Avenue of Queen Hortense, had been converted 
into an ambulance. Most of the nurserymaids, 
tailors, and couriers had fled long since. A few 
of the " Oxford graduates," who teach English in 
twenty-four lessons (London accent guaranteed), 
still hung on, with an odd member of the corpora • 
tion of coachees, who might have been observed 
exercising the 'osses on the " Chawmps-Eliza," and 
a few of the unemployed printers of GalignanVs 
Messenger. Sundry artists haunted the modern 
metropolis of art, amongst them Nicholas Walsh * 
There was a detachment of those Mother Carey's 
chickens, the Special Correspondents ; but that 
should not count. They are everywhere, like base 
coin and bad luck. There were some Englishmen 
amongst us whose absence would have been pre- 
ferred. One of these, the brave Sir Swelling 
Beardley, who wore several orders on his breast, 
was enjoying the hospitality of the State at Mazas. 

Mentioned in my former book. 



222 AF IRON-BOUND CITY. 

There must have been others in this deserted 
English colony, but they did not come within my 
ken, I was strolling on the Quay of Bercy one day, 
when my attention was arrested by the strains of 
the " Slave Ship," sung in a style to recall Henry 
Russell. I turned into the open door from which 
the sounds came. I had found another Englishman, 
John Meeks, of the London Eire Brigade. 

"Me and my mate, Bob Page," he said, "came 
across with seven of Merryweather's steam fire- 
engines the day before Paris was invested. We were 
precious near being chawed up, I can tell ye, sir." 

Eor all his loud singing, John Meeks was un- 
happy. His lament was that there were not 
enough fires at Paris. I counselled him to patience, 
as he might shortly be left without that grievance. 
Like most men of the London Brigade, he had 
served in the Royal Navy, and was anxious to get 
a berth on one of the Seine gunboats. 

" I am sure," he said, " I would win the Legion of 
Honour if we were struck once by a cannon ball, 'cos 
why, you see, sir, I'd run my head through the 
hole and shout ' Vive la France !' A shot ain't 
never likely to come twict in the same spot." 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 223 

John had a well-founded contempt for the 
Parisian fire-organization. The English steam 
engines which had been left in charge of French- 
men were in such a condition — pipes filthy, brasses 
corroded, hose inextricably twisted— that they were 
unfit for work. As fact, I believe they were used 
less for their legitimate purpose than for pumping 
up drinking water from the Seine. The departure 
of the English did not affect me or my friend 
O'Donovan much. In fact, we were, so to speak, 
Parisians, and would be sneered at under the rose 
as " peculiar " by the majority of those who re- 
mained. We did not admire the game of cribbage, 
and we did not affect stable-talk ; and these were 
the principal distractions of one large cla.ss of the 
British residuum. If we were as ready to fore- 
gather with the humblest of God's beings as any- 
body, it was with a self-respecting humbleness, for 
we were both touchy on some social points, and 
would resent any attempt at undue familiarity or 
offensive patronage if we did not laugh it down. 
We believed — and still believe — in no donship but 
that of intellect and worth. It is still to me an 



224 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

extreme satisfaction to snub any upstart booby who 
affects airs of importance or condescension because 
he has money in the funds, or has been elevated by 
a capricious whirl of the wheel of fortune into a 
position of authority which turns his weak head, 
or because he imagines he is very wise, or very 
learned, or very religious, and carries a latchkey to 
a heaven of his own in his fob. No individual of 
genuine properties, to him of person or inheritance, 
can be such a booby. We avoided the gentlemen 
of my own calling of intent : we had no favours to 
grant, and we would ask none, and so we were 
thrown very much on our own resources. The 
paucity of books was what we chiefly deplored. 
Most of the men we cared for had left; we had a 
rare visit from Nicholas Walsh, the painter ; but he 
was all in all in his art, and had no books to lend 
us, so that we had to read and re-read and annotate 
our own small stock. Unhappy the being, most 
lorn of all luckless hermits, who cannot find 
company in the printed lore of the great ones of 
the past. His, indeed, is unblest and most fruitless 
of solitudes. We both loved books as Euskin loves 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 225 

them, and envied none in that beleaguered city 
their society ; for when we willed we could invite 
guests superior to theirs — guests who never refused 
the invitation, who never bored us, whom we could 
dismiss when we chose, and pique them not; and 
they roused us with their eloquence, warmed us 
with their enthusiasm, gave us joy with their wit, 
and content and dignity with their honeyed 
wisdom — in sum, made us feel better and purer and 
happier, and more like to the gods. Is not the 
good book the true philosopher's stone, the writer 
thereof the legitimate alchemist who spreads light 
even into the crevices of the Noah's Ark we have 
shipped in on this mundane voyage ? What 
magician's wand can perform such feats ; what 
Thessalian philter can work such wonders ? Im- 
mersed in a ballad by Davis on the walls of a fire- 
giit Italian city, I have been unconscious that 
bombs were falling around; carried away by a 
novel of Thackeray, I have forgotten the qualms of 
sea-sickness and the bowlings of an Atlantic gale. 
The man who loves books is a millionnaire ; he 
can snap his fingers at poverty and smile at the 

1.5 



226 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

restraints of chains and bars. But he must have 
wherewithal to eat occasionally ; nature demands 
that. And so when O'Donovan and I had done 
our work, and read all available books, and run the 
tank of conversation dry, we were fain to go upon 
the food-prowl. Not always with success. 

At times the siege was getting as tame as an 
average Parliamentary debate, and I felt like a 
worn-out victim to party-loyalty who dare not quit 
the bench until the division. O'Donovan took 
matters altogether too seriously. I proposed to 
him once that we should call my domicile a 
" wigwam," our gossip " powwows," my housekeeper 
*' squaw," the concierge's offspring "papooses," and 
conduct ourselves generally as if we were noble 
savages. 

"You are getting too ridiculous," grunted 
O'Donovan. " As soon as I finish this calumet, I 
mean to strike a trail for the nearest cat's-meat 
shop." 

He would not enter into the spirit of any of my 
artifices for cheating monotony. He shrugged his 
shoulders when I tried to coax a tune out of a 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 227 

child's mouth-organ ; he derided my very skilful 
imitations of the denizens of the farmyard. 
Hunger makes some people surly. I was driven 
in self-defence to write letters to myself, and drop 
them surreptitiously into post-offices in distant 
quarters of the town, and go through the comedy 
of surprise at receiving them next morning, until 
an event occurred which helped to stir the pool of 
our stagnant half-starved existence or rather vege- 
tation. 

I was suspected to be the most barefaced, desperate 
and artful of Prussian spies ! 

A woman — bless her innocence ! — was at the 
bottom of it all. The woman was my old Austrian 
housekeeper. An individual with more ettusive 
patriotism than balanced judgment, and more 
leisure than he knew how to dispose of, had set 
himself the task of watching me. He was certain 
I was a Prussian : he had overheard me talking 
Prussian with Madame Wilma. I had a spectacled 
visitor who wore long hair and smoked. He must 
be a Prussian too. Were not all Prussians spec- 
tacled, and did they not all wear long hair and 

15—2 



228 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

smoke ? Besides, what could we mean by consult- 
ing maps spread with effrontery on the table before 
us, unless we were staff-officers ? and were not those 
letters, which we laboured over, undeniable reports for 
transmission to Versailles ? This amateur detective 
absolutely " denounced " my concierge at the Mairie 
as harbouring and giving comfort to the enemy ; I 
am bound to add that the people at the Mairie 
disregarded the denunciation. But he had enlisted 
a willing corps of idle housewives under his banner, 
and they devoted themselves in rotation to observing 
my movements. I was under surveillance. The 
situation — to use a word in vogue at the time — 
began to be highly uncomfortable. M^^ concierge 
met me in the hall one day, quite accidentally (he 
had been waiting the moment of my going out 
patiently for hours, I was confident), and asked me, 
in the most ingenuous way, would I not like to 
have a chassepot ? 

" What to do with it ?" I as ingenuously inquired. 

He stared at me in surprise, and answered : 

" Why, of course, to shoot the invaders." 

His surprise was not diminished when I gave 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



him a short lesson on international law, telling him 
that if I, a neutral, killed a Prussian, I woulJ he 
guilty of murder; and that if I were even caught 
with arms in my hands by the enemy, I would 
enjoy the treat of being put against the nearest 
wall and perforated with bullets, according to the 
usages of civilized warfare — a treat I did not in 
the least ambition. As for invaders, I was a man 
of peace, and would let the world alone if the world 
let me alone; the only invaders I might be tempted 
to notice were those rascals of Paris, of whom 
General Trochu had spoken ; and if they took it 
into their heads to intrude on my privacy, I was 
prepared to shoot them as long and as fast as 
bullets would last and revolver would carry. 

From that interview I was a marked man. My 
incomings and outgoings were jealously scruti- 
nized. If Inspector Pollaky wex'e there, he might 
have picked up some valuable hints on the polite 
art of Private Inquiry. I irritated the Paul Pry 
brood by my temerity. The bold course is alwa^'S 
the best with these folk. I always talked Prussian 
with Madame Wilma now ; I showed the concierge 



230 A iV^ IRON-BO UND CIT Y. 

who was a National Guard and slept in his striped 
trousers, how they handled rifles in some services ; 
and I refused to contribute towards a patriotic fund 
for cannon, but gave double the amount asked for 
aid to the sick and distressed. But this surveil- 
lance was a nuisance. At last Providence helped 
me to turn the tables on my persecutor. 

The bell was rung one morning by a stranger : 

"Monsieur is a foreigner?" he courteously asked, 
as he uncovered and entered. 

"A British subject at your service; pray take a 
chair." 

My visitor immediately began speaking English, 
and turned out to be a very agreeable gentleman 
and a confrere to boot, no less than M. Francis Wey, 
author of " Les Anglais chez Eux," and formerly 
President of the Society " des Gens de Lettres." 
He explained that he had come to recruit for a 
corps which was strictly non-combatant, and in a 
fine access of strictly non-martial enthusiasm I 
joined its ranks. It was composed of inhabitants 
of the quarter who were legally exempt from 
service in the National Guard — that is to say, those 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 231 

under twenty and over fifty years of age, the halt, 
the hunchback, the plithisicky, and all resident 
foreigners, "What were its duties ? To watch over 
order in the interior while the citizen-soldiers were 
on the ramparts, to superintend the distribution 
of rations at the butchers', to help to put down 
tires in case of bombardment; in fact, added M. 
Way, " we are a sort of cross between your special 
constable and our pompiers." Knowing that a 
mighty ruler who had moved off in a sedan-chair 
had been once a special constable, and having a 
lively recollection of a lyric about the pompiers of 
Nanterre, I felt proud of ray functions. I went 
next morning to the headquarters of Section B, of 
the Corps Civique de Security, of the Quartier St. 
Georges of the 9th Arrondissement. The head- 
quarters was at 6 in the Rue Pigalle, and was a big 
guardroom-looking place with a roaring fire. 

My comrades were filtering in slowly, and looked 
for the most part as if they were survivors of the 
retreat from Moscow, whose recent campaigns had 
been confined to the warm seat in the sunshine or 
the warm corner by the stove. They mumbled 



232 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

guttural good-mornings and exchanged cough- 
lozenges prior to the main business, which consisted 
in a sleek, well-fed, middle-aged, municipal per- 
sonage making prolix speeches, tinctured with the 
irrepressible essence of routine. At length they 
were detailed for duty and tottered off. I, being 
new to the calls of the service, was left as barrack- 
guard with a grey-haired gentleman with the red 
ribbon of the Legion of Honour in his button-hole, 
and a blinking gentleman in a skull-cap who might 
have been my great-grandfather. We sat by the fire. 
"This is a rum go," said the decorated man in 
English. " What the deuce did you stop in Paris 

for r 

I was startled, as well I might have been, but 
concealed it, and quickly said I would tell him if 
he would kindly inform me why he had remained. 

" Necessity has no law," he answered ; " my house- 
hold gods are here. I'm an artist and an Imperi- 
alist. Damn their Republic ! Princess Mathilda 
was my best patron. I must stay where my liveli- 
hood is; although a British subject, I would be a 
greater foreigner in London to-day than here." 



^.v iHoy-BOuyD city. 233 

We became friendly, and had a long chat 
about art, which was interrupted by the blinking 
nonagerian, who had just woken from a nap and 
handed me his snutl-box, muttering in a voice re- 
markably distinct lor his age: 

" Heh, heh ! if little Thiers were in Paris, he 
would be one of ours, heh, heh !" 

I was settling down for a gossip with this 
animated fossil, exj)ecting that I might be able to 
enrich my note-book with some memoranda as to 
the personal habits of the executioner of Louis 
Seize and the complexion of Robespierre, when 
M. Wey came in, shook hands with me cordially, 
and informed me that I had been made a Brigadier 
as a compliment to my nationality. A Briga<lier, 
I believe, is a sort of corporal-major. I was pained 
to hear I could not wear a sword — the Corps 
Civique was unarmed. What! no weapons — a 
warrior of comic opera. He thought I might 
venture on a cap with a silver band, which grati- 
fied me much. I had woven a plot by that fire. 
At leaving after my round of service, I was pre- 
sented with a red woollen armlet with a municipal 



234 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



stamp upon it, which I was to assume on duty. I 
bought a silver-banded cap, and the devil inciting, 
I called on my persecutor — the officious sillikins 
who had denounced me — asked him for his papers, 
as I had grave suspicions that he was a Berliner 
from his general intelligence, and his manner of 
speaking the French language. 

" But I speak French as a native," he said. 

"Precisely so, monsieur — you speak it too well; it 
is notorious that spies are chosen for that very reason. 
Come with me to the Mairie. Do you oppose my 
authority ?" 

"This is an outrage — this is too strong. Where 
is your authority ?" 

I put on my red armlet with a conquering air, 
and sardonically bowed. 

" Now if you are a good citizen, you will accom- 
pan}^ me — unless, indeed, you have some reputable 
friend in the neighbourhood who will go bail for 
your loyalty ?" 

The friend was found, we adjourned to the wine- 
shop of Citizen Prassophagus, had reciprocal expla- 
nations, compliments and congratulations, and I left 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 235 

my persecutor blushing at the tribute to his intelli- 
Sjence in taking him for a secret acjent of Bismarck, 
and was rid of any more annoyance on the score of 
being a Prussian spy — at least in my own district. 
There is much virtue in a silver band and a red 
armlet. 

Although French arms were uniformly unlucky 
throughout the campaign, the fortune of war had 
been unfaithful to the enemy in individual cases. 
There were German prisoners in Paris, not many 
certainly — less privates than there were surrendered 
French generals in Germany. These children of the 
Fatherland were caged in the Roquette, that low, 
square, repulsive block of brown builiing, in front 
of whicii Troppmann and so many other miscreants 
had been guillotined. The ordinary military prison 
is in the Rue de Cherche-Midi ; but the candidates 
for admission there being in excess of what it 
could accommodate, the Roquette was set apart 
as an auxiliary establishment. Its inmates were 
divideil into two classes — the French, consisting of 
deserters and marauders; and the Germans, all 
prisoners of war. The former were naturally 



236 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

treated with much more severity, being kept in 
solitary confinement and very poorly fed. The 
Germans (of whom there were seventy-seven) had a 
day-room where they assembled to chat, read, play 
cards, and amuse themselves as they pleased. They 
were deprived of nothing but liberty. Their diet 
was quite as good as that of the majority of the 
defenders of the city, and they seemed astonished 
and grateful at the excellent treatment they re- 
ceived. Many of them had imagined they would 
have been shot when captured. They were mostly 
very young, and all could read and write. More 
than half were in the light blue uniform of Bavaria, 
After them Badeners were most numerous ; there 
were also some Poles from Posen ; but Prussians 
proper were scarce. There was a solitary Uhlan, he 
who had been caught on the 16th of September. A 
visit was paid to these captives under guidance of 
one of the chaplains, a venerable white-haired man 
with benevolence in his mild eyes. He brought a 
holy zeal to his labour, and as he spoke German, he 
was peculiarly fitted for his present mission. One 
very handsome stripling was singing a hymn as 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 237 

the visitors entered, and liis comrades joined in 
with a surprising precision of harmony. At the 
request of the chaphiin, who was a great favourite, 
they burst into a clieerful, sonorous liexl, a 
marching chorus. It may be doing them an in- 
justice, but one coukl not help thinking that the 
greater part of these martyrs to circumstance were 
ratlier better pleased, on the whole, to be under lock 
and key than to be holding hazardous vigils on a 
bleak forepost. He who had led the hymn had a 
flute, and old numbers of the Gartenlaube were 
scattered about the large room, with some copies of 
the romances of Auerbach and others provided by 
the broad-minded chaplain. The sole complaint 
was the impossibility of getting news from home, 
although the Government had genei'ously allowed 
them to avail themselves of the balloon-post. 



CHAPTER XI. 

Growth of Drunkenness — The Theatres— Timoth^e Trimm's 
Conference —The Clubs — Effect of Door-steps on 
Political Opinion — Hatred of Imperialism — Gil-Peres 
and the Donkeys — On the Ramparts— A French Pied- 
Indiaii — Victory at Last — The Plague of Small-pox 
and Proclamations — Massacre of Marauders — Making 
Merry on Herb-Tea— A Distressed Cockney. 

The greyness of existence under the skies of 
November was daily becoming duller. Amusement 
was a necessity. People craved something to divert 
them, to lighten the stress of an excitement which 
was getting wearisome; for even excitement can 
stale from repetition, and calls for variety. Hard 
work is one of the best remedies for lassitude, if not 
the only true specij&c ; but hard work was im- 
possible. There was no hope of reward to sweeten 
toil ; there was an enforced suspension of business, 
and it is not given to every temperament to solace 
itself in reading, or in meditation, or in innocent 



^.V I HON -BOUND CITY. 239 

pleasures. If this were an English cum in unit}', we 
should have had cricket or football niatjhes, or 
perhaps a race-meeting. At Paris, where the 
athletic forms of out-of-door recreation, except 
♦lancing, are not popular, the National Guards 
resorted to such laz}^ pastimes as pitch-aud-toss and 
bowls. They took to drinking, too; the "hour of 
absinthe" was never more religiously observed, 
although the main object ought to have been to 
appease, not to increase, appetite ; and the in- 
dulgence in cheap coarse wine and fiery brandy 
was greater than the oldest inhabitant could re- 
member. It was no uncommon scandal for men to 
appear tipsy under arms, and to march to duty on 
a crooked line. Inebriety, which is not a French 
vice, was rapidly attaining that pre-eminence. I 
am afraid some drank to inflame their natural 
ferocity. They felt the force of the old song, of 
which they may have never heard : 

" Your figbting-mau, Croat or Cossack, 
If valour hf happens to lack, 

His courage to jog 

Finds a rummer of grog 
The best friend he has to his back." 



240 AmY iron-bound city. 

At least one blowsy, muscular poltroon, whom I 
met on the Boulevard Montmartre, did. He was a 
Freeshooter, and had a masonic emblem pinned ou 
his breast. When I remarked that that was neither 
decoration nor military medal, he huskily answered 
with a leer and an oath that it was better — many 
of the Prussians were Freemasons, and when they 
recognised the brotherly symbol they would not 
kill him. He had evidently made up his mind to 
be taken prisoner ; but unless he treated himself 
to a long sleep and copious lavements, it was to be 
feared he would not reach the front in time to be 
captured soon enough. His breath, as he staggered 
off, smelt like a sewer into which a keg of con- 
fiscated spirits had been emptied. But few of the 
Parisians were to be classed with that degraded 
K)t. There were excuses for them. They were ill 
nurtured, they were unoccupied, they were thrown 
into each other's company for lung hours of indo- 
lence, and in their social expansiveness they pledged 
each other and the mother-country in the vile 
potations which were the only stimulants they 
could procure economically and abundantly; and 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 241 

vile potations on a vacuous stomach soon work 
villainous results. Drunkenness, as a habit, is only 
too easily acquired. I never heard the statistics 
of the growth of the habit in beleaguered Paris 
from a liigh-priest of temperance, nor do I wish to; 
statistics are not to be relied on : we all know the 
story of the colonel of a regiment in India who was 
asked to furnish some information as to the tee- 
totalers in his corps, and answered that fifty per 
cent, of them had been invalided home, and fifty 
per cent, had died. The fact was, there were but 
two in the ranks, and one had collapsed from snake- 
bite after the other had been sent to England suffer- 
ing from water on the brain. The Parisians of the 
siege did get inordinately fond of strong liquor. 
Their plea was that they had no relaxation ; the 
theatres should never have been shut. At last, 
thanks principally to the persuasion of M. Fran- 
cisque Sarcey, the dramatic critic, means were 
found to open the doors of some of the houses. He 
reasoned on the same base as those authorities of 
Saragossa who produced the " Numantia " of Cer- 
vantes during the siege by the French, in order to 

IG 



242 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

animate and sustain the garrison. The experi- 
ment was tried furtively at first and at intervals 
— always under the pretext of charity or patriotism. 
But, by degrees, it came to be admitted that it was 
an error to subject a city to the famine of distrac- 
tions in addition to that of food. The Ambigu- 
Comique was the first theatre which had the 
honesty to throw back its portals for the advertised 
object of amusing the public and paying its ser- 
vants. Others permitted their scene-shifters, stage- 
carpenters, " supers," and the like, to draw on the 
Government for their thirty sous a day as needy 
citizen-soldiers. Some of them could not be re- 
opened for the reason that they had been converted 
into hospitals ; others for the less creditable reason 
that their favourite actors, leading men with more 
voice than heart, and die-away darlings with more 
beauty than brains, had packed up their dressing- 
cases and prudently flitted at the warning signal of 
danger. These persons had joined the contemptible 
host of francs-Jileurs, who had emigrated to the 
security of London, Madrid, and Brussels. 

Conferences were occasionally given on the boards 



A lY IRON-BO OND GIT Y. 243 

of some of the abandoned playhouses. How can I 
describe what is a lecture, and yet not a lecture ? 
A conference, unless he who delivers it is a master 
of the art of elocution, and his subject is fascinating 
of itself, is one of the most ingenious inventions of 
refined cruelty. It is a cross between a droning ser- 
mon and a schoolboy recitation — a species of mental 
thumb-screw. I went to hear " Timothee Trimm" — 
that is to say, Leon Lespes, the barber with a 
smattering of education, who wrote a column of 
coloured platitudes in the Petit Journal every day 
— I went to hear him once, never again. A model 
oracle of the bourgeoisie with the true bourgeois 
mind was this pursy full-bodied creature in 
grandiose attire, all shirt-front and watch-chain, 
who puffed like a broken- winded seal through 
a series of sentences of turgid commonplace. What 
the conference was about I cannot recall — that was 
his fault; but I distinctly recollect that before he had 
half finished it I felt inclined to throw things at 
his head. 

The clubs were far more interesting tlian the 
conferences. There was generally a furious 

16—2 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



earnestness in the oratory and sometimes genuine 
fun, conscious and unconscious ; the former supplied 
by the humorists who dropped in to kill time, 
the latter by the eccentrics. Curiosity impelled 
me one night to attend a meeting of the radical 
revolutionary party in a concert-hall called the 
" Bataclan." Beside me was a little man who 
was very anxious to get a look at the platform 
where the speakers were, but was prevented by a 
fellow in front of him who kept his hat on his 
head. 

"Take off your hat," cried the little man at last ; 
" I can't see anything." 

" All right," replied the other ; " but if I take it 
off you^ll see less; my hairs are tliirteen inches long, 
and always stand on end. I keep my hat on ex- 
pressly to flatten them down !" 

At the same meeting it was that I overheard 
a cynic, with a glass foppishly screwed in one eye 
(why do not purblind males, like females, wear 
double-glasses or spectacles?), utter a profoundly 
philosophic truism. 

" Where is Montaland ? I don^t see Montaland," 



A^ IRON-BOUND CITY. 245 

said his neighbour. This seemed to be some 
missing friend of the cause. 

" My dear," said the man with the eyeglass, 
" Montahind has just rented a house and is becoming 
beastly conservative ! When a man has a door- 
step lie can call his own, he often changes opinions," 
and he sententiously wagged his head. 

"He may become conservative, but he can never 
become an aristocrat," muttered the other bitterly. 
'■ He will make a good bourgeois. A soldier is 
better than a dog; but a dog is better than a 
bourgeois."* 

The philosophic truism in the foregoing dialogue 
— lest an^'one should accuse me of approving the 
insult to the dog — lay in the enunciation of the 
effect of door-steps on political opinions. 

The sole sentiment at these meetings in which 
there was unanimit}^ was detestation for the 
Empire. There was none with the hardihood to 
offer the smallest apology for the fallen dynasty. 

^ Perhaps I had better give my conception of a bourgeois. 
I translate the word " huckster,' and I hold the article itself, 
which usually has a huckstering soul, in extreme antipathy. 



246 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

That which to some, if not many, of those parasites 
of prosperity had been " luscious as locusts," was 
now " bitter as coloquintida." The word " Empire " 
unloosed a hyena chorus of howls, and set teeth 
gnashing. An anecdote which was current, and 
was relished, will show the revulsion of feeling 
towards the man who had been all-powerful and 
acclaimed a few months before. Much indignation 
had been excited amongst the populace by the re- 
velations of how the public money had been squan- 
dered under the Imperial rule, as contained in the 
papers found at the Tuileries. A workman presented 
himself at the Mairie in the Rue Drouot, one day. 

" You are changing the names of the streets ?" he 
said. 

He was answered in the affirmative. 

" Very well, I want you to call mine the street 
of Napoleon III." 

The officials stared at him in surprise, thinking 
he was a lunatic or an Imperialist. 

" Perhaps I ought to add," he continued with a 
grin, " that I live in Cutpurse Row !" 

If the antipathy to Imperialism was strong then, 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 247 

how much stronger was it not when the bombs 
shrieked through the thoroughfares? The cry of 
melancholy irony was raised, that the aptest motto 
for the crowning of the Napoleonic edifice would 
be : Finem coronal ohits ! 

There must have been jollity in some of the 
lodgments of the National Guards by the ramparts. 
Oertes, there was gambling, and drinking, and 
singing, and declamation. Hyacinthe was in one 
of these battalions, Hyacinthe of the Palais Eoyal, 
a low-comedy actor with facial recommendations 
which made him as popular as Wright of the 
Adelphi had been to Londoners of the previous 
generation. He had a Slawkenbergian nose. 
That nose often furnished a dinner to the witlings 
of the minor journals. When Hyacinthe snored, 
his comrades affected to think it was the arch- 
angel's trumpet which had sounded ; when he 
sneezed, that a bomb had detonated in their midst. 
Gil Peres was also in the train-bands. They told 
a story of his having been on sentry outside a post 
one night, with orders to let none pass who could 
not give the countersign. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



On a sudden, the sleepers were roused by a 
strident challenge in the actor's voice : 

"You don't know the word. Shan't pass then. 
'Tis no use looking at me with your great idiotic 
eyes. Stand back_, or I'll fire !" 

His friends rushed out to the assistance of the 
sentinel. The practical joker had been apostrophiz- 
\\Xg a pair of wandering donkeys. This was before 
donkeys had become quadrupeds of price. 

But this rampart- service was losing its attractive- 
ness as the weather grew inclement. Eighteen 
thousand men were taken from their homes every 
day to guard a line of inaccessible fortifications. 
A sixth of their number would have been ample for 
the formality. The}' never saw an armed German. 
The only troops within view, and the front was 
miles off", were French. Except those actually on 
sentry or picket-duty, they had no resource but that 
which Satan provides for the idle ; and yet they 
could have been practised route-marching or put 
through a course of musketry instruction. 

In this first moiety of November there was little 
going on at the outposts. General Schmitz had to 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 249 

content liimself with such details as the surprise of 
six Prussians at St. Cloud by Captain de Ndverlee's 
Scouts, and the legendary doings of one Sergeant 
Ignatius Hoft', of the 107th of the Line. HofF was 
a hero of the stamp of those who figure in Feni- 
more Cooper's tales of forest warfare. He must 
have been born with the gilts of a trapper. The 
story of his exploits called up boyish recollections 
of the arts employed by Hawkeye, Deerslayer, 
Leatherstocking, and others of that ilk. He was 
always on the war-path, untiring as a sleuth-hound, 
patient as a cat watching a mouse, deadly in his 
spring as a panther. He shadowed a Prussi.m as 
surely as a Sioux would an enemy of his tribe, 
and he could follow him up to the death with 
the same savage pertinacity. Hoft" had been known 
to dig a hole silently during the darkness, and 
ensconcing himself there like a fox in his covert, to 
wait the livelong day till he got an opportunity at 
nightfall to creep out stealthily behind a sentry, 
flash a knife into his ribs, and while a horrid gurgle 
in the throat proclaimed another dead man, get 
back on all-fours to his comrades, chuckling and 



250 A iV^ IRON-BO UND CIT Y. 

elated. I only wonder he did not scalp those he 
killed. Lest it might be thought I am exaggerating, 
here is the literal translation of an official reference 
to Hoff and his exploits : — " Killed on the 29th 
of September, three of the enemy's sentinels ; on 
the 1st of October, a Prussian officer ; on the 5th, in 
ambuscade with 15 men, routed a body of infantry 
and cavalry ; on the 13th, killed two of the enemy's 
horsemen. Finally, in various individual combats* 
he has killed 27 Prussians." 

On the 14th, the Governor produced a proclama- 
tion from the inexhaustible stock up his sleeve, 
which patted the National Guard on the back and 
praised them for their " incomparable zeal " which 
would soon enable them to enter into line, and 
ended by enforcing the necessity of giving the 
country a ''great example." This meant fighting, 
if anything ; but most of these petted men-at-arms 
had weak stomach for fight. They secretly hoped 
for an armistice which might be harbinger of peace, 
and whispers of such an arrangement being on the 
carpet were prevalent. But some of them talked 
loftily. I met a podgy restaurant-keeper who 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 251 

bullied his waiters, and, I am very much afraid, 
would often have liked to beat liis amiable wife, and 
he boasted that he was perfect in the handling of 
his tabatiere rifle, and only wished he could have a 
crack at the sacr-r-r-d Prussians. A frown from 
one of Budritzki's grenadiers would frighten the 
five senses out of the apoplectic snarling cur. 

But the whisper of armistice ceased in the even- 
ing, when a bulletin was issued that the French* 
under General d'Aurelles de Paladines, had driven 
the Germans out of Orleans, The army of relief 
was advancing; exultation was ecstatic. Figaro 
saw the finger of God in the locality of this first 
victory. Had not a saviour come to France already 
out of Orleans ? D'Aurelles de Paladiues was a 
modern Jeanne d'Arc. 

In the middle of November small-pox was rife. In 
one week there were five hundred deaths from that 
fell disease, mostly among the inhabitants of the 
villages, who had come in to avoid danger which 
might end in death. On the 17th Trochu sent out 
one of those wearisome proclamations, which lent 
a new pang to the miseries of the siege. His " ex- 



252 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

uberant verbosity " — to borrow a phrase applied to 
another, who at least had the excuse that he was 
not a professional soldier — was sickening. Paris 
had done marvels, like de Failly's chassepots at 
Mentana. He doubted, indeed, whether any great 
city had ever opposed to apparently irreparable 
disasters more vigorous efforts of moral and 
material resistance. Well, what city had such 
resources ? Finally, if they succumbed they would 
bequeath to Prussia a heritage of maledictions and 
hatreds under which she would succumb in her 
turn. What academically balanced tomfoolery this 
round man in a square hole flung off his quill ! He 
should have been a prize essayist. The enemy 
thundered at the gates, and he sat him to his desk 
and composed rhetorical periods ! 

While the General was revelling in printer's ink 
a large body of scarecrow marauders, a host in 
themselves, left by the gate of Pan tin to gather 
what vegetables they could on the plain towards 
Bobigny. They were suddenly fired upon by a 
patrol of Badeners from the edge of a shrubbery, 
and thirty of the unfortunates, some of them 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 263 

women, fell under the volley. Their companions 
rushed back to the fortifications, bringing with 
them the stuff for which they had risked their 
lives. Nogent pitched a few shells towards those 
merciless Badeners. On the 18th the foragers 
were out again, garnering what harvest they could 
until the drawbridges were raised at five. When 
a head of cabbage was bought for a franc and a 
half, the temptation to poor devildom to trj' and 
bring back a barrowful was irresistible. Provisions 
were diminishing, and there were 10,202 soldiers 
and Mobiles in hospital from wounds and sickness. 
And the aged females and infants ? They needed 
nourishment. True, there were 6,000 milch 
cows still in the city, but they were not to be 
slaughtered until the last extremity. We were 
feeling the pressure of the screw already, and I 
cannot give more correct idea of how it affected us 
than by copying unaltered the entry in my diary 
for this 18th November : 

" The existing daily ration of fresh meat for the 
troops outside is one-fifth of a pound Englisii, but 
they get a pint of wine and plenty of good bread. 



254 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

In the 9th Arrondissement, where I reside, the 
daily allowance of fresh meat for adults is less than 
one-tenth of a pound English, and in a few days 
salt rations will be delivered at every alternate 
distribution. The grocers, Italian warehousemen, 
and hucksters generally, have set exorbitant prices 
on the articles they sell since the scarcity set in. 
There have been some symptoms of rioting at their 
doors, and unless they change their policy before 
the scarcity becomes dearth, I would not give much 
for their personal safety. There is suffering bravely 
borne, though nothing to entitle us to brag about it 
yet. The first to complain are those who have the 
least right — the tribe of servants. 

" I visited an acquaintance a few nights ago. 
Around a stove with a fire in it that looked very 
like one of those matches called vesuvians when it 
is on the point of going out, he sat with two friends, 
a shivering but happy trio — three gentlemen of 
family, whose resources are exhausted in consequence 
of all communication with their friends having 
been cut off" since the investment. Those three 
men were drinking a tisane, making themselves 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 255 

merry on herb-tea ! They hospitably invited roe 

to join in, which I did with a heart and a half, and 

I assure you I have seldom enjoyed more agreeable 

moments. 

' We spent them not in toys, in lusts, or wine,' 

for very excellent and cogent reasons, 

' But search of deep philosophy, 
Wit, eloquence, and poetry,' 

arts which I cannot pretend to much skill in, but 
which I love nevertheless. We had a tune on the 
cithara, which my acquaintance touches to per- 
fection ; and when the vital spark quitted that 
funny little fire we danced a four-handed reel to 
make ourselves warm. It was 'awfully jolly;' 
but on the whole, I am weak enough to own, I 
would have preferred to have tripped it on a 
polished floor I know in Vienna, or to have nestled 
by a certain coal fire in Gravesend. Before leaving 
the improvised ball-room we swore eternal friend- 
ship over a parting bowl of camomile, and I left the 
company happy in the prospect that they are going 
to do some real fighting shortly. They belong to 
the National Guard — the war battalions, for they 



256 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

have all volunteered — and receive their thirty sous 
a day. That is how they live. Now, I submit 
that those three gentlemen are philosophers, are 
patriots in the true sense of the word. And yet 
not one of them is a Red Republican, ever made a 
speech in the Folies-Bergere, or signed an article 
in the Rappel. Of another stamp is that London 
machinist who came over of his own free will, 
before the siege, on a well-paid engagement. He 
has plenty of money, but he is the most miserable 
being out of Cockaigne. 

" ' Ah, sir,' he said to me in a melancholy tone in 
a restaurant where I chanced to meet him, ' it is very 
hard lines to be obliged to put up with milkless 
tea and dry bread when one's a-been accustomed to 
welks or 'creases, or summut of a relish to breakfast!' 

" Certainly when a man has been reared in the 
midst of these luxuries, the state of siege must be 
a hardship. Want of food is not the only privation 
that threatens us. Gas-light begins to fail ; the 
Caf^ Riche was lit with petroleum from seven 
o'clock last night, and in a few nights more the 
mains will be turned off generally, and Paris will 



AiV IRON-BOUND CITY. 



present the aspect of London in tlie times when the 
curfew bell was rung, and the streets were crossed 
at long intervals by ropes with swinging lamps of 
oil. But the great trial is the absence of news 
from those abroad. Not a line from the family except 
for the small number who have got messages by 
pigeons. For weeks we were dependent for all we 
knew of the rest of creation on stray pages of the 
KolniscJie Ze'dicmj, found wrapped round sausages 
in the pockets of dead Rhinelanders, or odd copies 
of the Franco-Prussian journal of Versailles, 
brought in by some enterprising marauder. Occa- 
sionally a London paper was smuggled. When 
passages from these chance chronicles were re- 
tailed by the Paris editors there was a perfect rush 
upon the stalls. Villemessant, of the Figaro, ' the 
greatest newspaper speculator in Europe,' would 
give a thousand francs for a copy of the Standard, 
and complains that the privileged mortals who 
have been able to get a loan of an occasional 
English paper have been too sparing in their 
extracts from its pages. They have doled out the 
news horaoeopathically to starved Paris." 

17 



CHAPTER XII. 

A Singular Dream — JuUien in Excelsis — Serenading the 
Enemy — Short Commons — The Daughters of the 
Regiment — Blanche d'Antigny — A War Battalion 
Going to the Front— Frolicsome Foot-Chasseurs — An 
Operatic Star Sets— Death of a Grand Old Man — 
Malingerers — "Blooding" the National Guard— The 
Forest of Bondy — Publications of the " Committee of 
Indelicacy "—The Shortcomings of the Empire— An 
Official Jeremiad — A Mercenary Girl — The Man with- 
out Ears— Shopkeepers' Eapacity— Gaulish Gaiety— 
The Crisis at Hand. 

On the night of the 20th November, I had the 
folly to yield to an invitation from Nick Walsh to 
accompany him to our old boarding-house on the 
slope of the Mountain of Ste. Genevieve between the 
Panthdon and the Zoological Garden. The house 
was surmounted by a shaky belvedere, commanding 
such a view of Paris as Quasimodo must have had 
from the turrets of Notre Dame. It was an ugly 
niffht. The rain and the wind were hard at it, 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 259 

fighting each other as if the respective divinities 
which presided over these elements had matched 
them, and liad a considerable bet on the result. I 
was easily prevailed upon to accept a shake-down 
from my friend. At going to bed, I think the rain 
had the better of it ; great water-spouts splashed 
from the skies as if the breeze had lent them a back, 
and they had taken advantage of it to hurry down, 
much as the poets pretend the angels slide from 
above on the arch of a rainbow when they have a 
niglit's furlough on earth. By-and-by iEolus waxed 
audacious, and sent his forces upwards and about 
and to and fro ; advanced them in close column and 
extended line, en echelon and in swarms, with now 
and then a furious charge, until the rain almost 
gave in, hesitated, and sputtered hither and thither 
in feeble discouraged sprays. The wind was vic- 
torious, and iEolus planted his banners in a sort of 
debauch of zigzag eddy. I had scarcely settled 
myself to sleep, when another of my classical 
acquaintances, Oneiros, the dream-god, stepped in to 
challenge the sway of Jupiter Pluvius and the son 
of Hippotas. I was in Liverpool, in St. George's 

17—2 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



Hall, at one of Jullien's monster-concerts. The 
conductor was in front of me in his irrepressible 
white waistcoat ; a multitudinous orchestra, atten- 
tive to his movements, was ranged behind. Such 
an array of drummers ! The three front rows were 
occupied exclusively by the small drums, next 
came the tenor drums, then the big drums, and 
lastly there was a colossal cylinder suspended from 
the roof at the back, beside which a huge gold- 
beater's arm holding a Nasmyth hammer was immi- 
nently stretched. I was at a loss to make out what 
that might be, till a gentleman, with a magenta nose 
and a smell of juniper-berries on his breath, leant over 
confidentially and told me that that was the drum- 
major — he knew; he had been in the profession. At 
the moment, Jullien struck an attitude; there was 
a hush of expectancy, and as the leader lifted his 
baton there was a shiver of baguettes over the small 
<irums, and as the baton fell, a shrill roulade reverbe- 
rated like to a billion of hard pease in the agonies of 
St. Vitus's dance on a platform of empty cigar-boxes. 
Another motion of the staff: there was a rousing 
ran-tan-plan of the tenor drums — one to make the 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 261 

joy of all the nurseries in Christendom. Yet another 
jerk of the baton, and dominating the sound came 
the deep re-echoing rumble of the big drums. 
Jullien sprang up and down like a Jullien on wires, 
his right hand twitched as if the wand he grasped 
were a galvanic apparatus ; it was clear that the 
meridian moment was nigh. The baton almost 
bounded out of his fingers in a final spasm, and the 
Nasmyth hammer crashed on the cylinder. 

" Sir, that is not music ; it is a thunder-baby 
springing from the bosom of an earthquake," said 
the man with the magenta nose ; and I tumbled out 
of bed, thoroughly awakened by the shock. 

The report of one of the heavy guns at Ivry, 
blown on a favouring gust towards the town, was 
what I had taken for the phenomenal drum of 
Jullien's concert. 

Walsh was on the landing — he, too, had been 
roused. 

" Great heavens !" he cried. " Did you hear that ? 
I thought the house was coming down." 

We both ran up to the shaky belvedere, but we 
could see nothing for the pitch-darkness except 



262 AN IRON-BOUNI) CITY. 

a rapid succession of remote red flashes; and at 
lengthened spans the far-away gleam of the electric 
light from the forts, as if a giant lamp had been 
opened by some spectral guardian of the night. 
What could this vehement firing in such weather 
bode ? Had the enemy attempted an assault, or 
was the cannonade intended to cover the great 
sortie ? It may readily be divined with what 
anxiety we awaited the military report, which 
was usually posted outside the Mayoralty of the 
9th Arrondissement every evening. This was its 
purport : 

" During last night there was a livel}'' fusillade in 
front of our lines to the south ; it was supported by 
the guns of the forts. There was nothing particular 
worth noticing," 

In other words, the artillerists were firing for the 
love of noise, or mayhap they were pounding into 
pulp some of those pasteboard batteries which, it 
was whispered, the Prussians had set up for their 
amusement. 

As one could not be in two places at once, unless 
he were an Uhlan, these military reports, curt and 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 263 

behindhand as they were, were often the first inti- 
mation we received of what was going on, and 
generally the least unreliable. A phrase, " happy 
combats," sometimes occurred in them which raised 
my gorge. I may be wrong, but I pronounce this 
a gross contradiction of terms. The Government 
having asked information about that unfortunate 
massacre of the licensed plunderers on the Plain of 
Bondy, learned that the behaviour of these poor 
wretches was attended with serious perils for the 
defence. On the morning of the 19th, while they 
■were out, several Prussian soldiers, disguised as 
workmen, and having their rifles hid under their 
blouses, insinuated themselves along the banks of 
the Canal de I'Ourcq till they came to the outer line 
of French entrenchments, when they tired at almost 
point-blank range on an advanced sentinel of the 
1st Regiment of Eclaireurs. This was Red Indian 
warfare. 

The food question was getting imperative. On 
the 21st, the last distribution of fresh meat to 
civilians was made. A small modicum was to be 
delivered daily for the ailing on presentation of a 



264 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

medical certificate. Beef-steaks — not horse-steaks 
— I learned, were to be had up to a few days pre- 
viously in some of the restaurants at fanc}'- prices. 
This abuse was accounted for simply. When requi- 
sition was made of the horned cattle, numbers of 
oxen were driven outside the fortifications, where 
no restrictions existed, to re-enter as dead meat. 

Calling in to a neiglibourly vintner's in the 
evening, the landlady intoned me a monody. She 
was a born Parisian — twenty-five years married 
and in business — and now^ for the first time in her 
life, she had to sit down to soup and a saucer of 
jam for dinner. I had rather a sympathy for this 
good woman, as I was on my way back from two 
eating-houses where I had been in the habit of 
taking my meals alternately. Both were shut, 
and on the doors were notices that the establish- 
ments were closed till the morrow for want 
of meat. Here was a fix for a hungry man. 
When I returned home, the first words that caught 
my eye in an old London newspaper were the head- 
ing of an advertisement : " Where shall I dine 
to-day ?" Aye, that was the question. But there 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 265 

is always a Providence for those who help them- 
selves. I recollected there was rice and sugar on 
the premises, and in a few minutes my aged house- 
keeper had a smoking pillau on the table that 
would fatten a Circassian beauty for the Turkish 
market. As I lolled in self-satisfied repletion after 
the feast, I read the Official Journal, which had 
got hold of its colleague of Versailles, and copied it 
in full, giving, among other tid-bits, Bismarck's 
circular relatincr the failure of the negotiations for 
an armistice, and laying the blame on the Pro- 
visional Government. On the next day Jules 
Favre's rejoinder to this circular, an affectation of 
firmness thinly disguising the vein of discourage- 
ment, was published. 

At noon, seven war-battalions of the National 
Guard were reviewed opposite the New Opera. 
They were spruce, though a soaking rain was pour- 
ing, and marched past tolerably well. They were 
mostly officered by ex-army sergeants, and showed 
it by their attention to distance and dressing. These 
train-bands made a good impression ; there was no 
bubbling enthusiasm amongst them, but there was 



266 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

the groundwork of discipline. Unfortunately, but 
I suppose this is inseparable from all French organi- 
zations, there were too many poseurs in their ranks. 
And why tolerate that absurdity of half-a-dozen 
vivandieres in front of each battalion, tricked out in 
theatrical Bloomer costume, with dandy hats with 
feathers; their jackets bedizened with facings, 
froggings, and cuffs of red; their petticoats piped 
with red, and puffed out; little liqueur-kegs, painted 
in the three colours, slung on their hips ; and real 
daggers by their sides ? At such an hour for the 
destinies of the country, this ludicrous travesty was 
painful. Admitting that the canteen is of first 
necessity to a corps on active service (I deny it 
mj'self), it should be tended by men, not by women 
who abdicate whatever is graceful in their sex, for 
that the practical vivandiere does to all intents and 
purposes. It must be borne in mind that there are 
two classes of vivandieres : the hard-featured^ ava- 
ricious, hoarse sutler of the Moll Flanders type — 
she has some raison d'etre ; and the rosy-cheeked 
(breathe not the suspicion of paint!), tastefully 
got-up damsel with embroidered pelisse and Tyro- 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 267 

lean beaver, who is quite too ornamental to be 
useful, and bears the same relation to the genuine 
article that Gabrielle de la Ferine, the bouquet- 
seller to the Jockey Club, would to a flower-girl 
in Covent Garden Market. The sight of these 
vivandit'res was irritating. They should lay up 
their uniform in lavender till carnival; or, if they 
must follow the drum, they should wait for the 
restoration of peace. 

They told a story of Blanche d'Antigny, tlie 
buxom burlesque actress, having offered herself as 
cantiniere to the 50th Battalion of Mobiles; but as 
it is an indispensable condition in France that the 
ladies serving in this capacity should wear a 
wedding-ring, she had to be refused. A venerable 
sergeant volunteered to espouse her on the spot, but 
she declined to subject him to such a sacrifice, and 
elected to become a nurse. 

The rules in the National Guard can hardly 
have been so stringent. Some of these charming 
vixens may not have been married, some may have 
been much married, and others may have had their 
husbands in the regiment. Would they go out to 



268 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

the forts with them ? I trow not. Heroines are 
alwaj^s spinsters — Joan d'Arc and the Maid of 
Saragossa to wit — although Flora MacDonald bore 
herself heroically when she was Mrs. Somebody ; 
but there is no romance in a married lady hieing to 
the wars from her work-table and cooking-stove. 
Dear me, how ungallant rough fare, and not 
enough of it, makes even a devoted worshipper of 
the sex like myself ! But if I love woman, I hate 
sham. 

I made these war-battalions an object of study. 
The men in them were very willing, but too fond of 
accepting stirrup-cups from their " sedentary " com- 
rades in the wine-shops near the muster-ground. 
When the signal for advance is heard, however, the 
active National Guard at once wipes his mouth 
with the sleeve of his watchcoat, kisses his friend 
on the cheek, and rushes to join the ranks; the 
drums burst into a rousing roll, and the colonel 
from his horse waves his sword to his captains, 
who break into a simultaneous cry of " Mar-r-chc .'" 
Let us stand on the side-path, and take note of 
the regiment as it passes, premising that the 



JiV IRON-BOUND CITY. 269 

various reoiments are differently uniformed (if the 
word " uniform " can be used in this connection), 
and that in several instances the battalions of the 
same regiment are differently uniformed. Some 
wear capotes of almshouse grey, others of black ; 
and some are clad in brown, or ditlerent hues of 
green or blue; but all are warmly covered, and 
have hoods to protect their ears from the night air. 
Here comes a speciall}' well-found cohort. At its 
head, some thirty yards in advance, is the picket 
that serves as vanguard. Next in order, hatchets 
on shoulders, and tools strapped to their knapsacks, 
march the pioneers, who have dispensed with their 
beards of wondrous length and their white leather 
aprons. At a little distance behind the pioneers, 
strides, staff in hand, the drum-major, his towering 
bearskin conspicuous by its absence. It is replaced 
by a workmanlike k4pi ; all the gilding in scarf 
and fringe, tassels of bullion and other schoolboy 
vanities that might serve as target for the enemy, 
have been similarly dispensed with. The drum corps, 
composed of army-pensioners, follows with the fan- 
fare of buglers in its wake. There is this difierence 



270 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

between them and those of a British regiment — 
there are no boys in their ranks. But neither drums 
deafen us with their ruffling nor bugles pierce our 
tympanum with their shrilly notes ; for this corps 
is happy in the possession of a brass band^ which 
makes it a point to accompany it to the fortifications. 
The musicians are blowing away with might and 
main at the inspiring strains of a national pot- 
pourri composed, as well as one can distinguish^ of 
the " Chant du Depart " and the " BataiUon de 
Quatre-vingt-treize," with a few bars from the 
" Marseillaise " thrown in by way of make-weight. 
Patriotically they puff their cheeks; but the music is 
— well, we shall not be censorious, but give them 
credit for the best intentions. Immediately behind 
the band trip along, with that mincing gait distinc- 
tive of the female animal disguised in small clothes, 
the cantinieres. The bystanders carry their fingers 
to their lips and give them an approving smack as 
they pass, but they thrill with delight as they notice 
the tiny Eoman dagger which hangs at some she- 
warrior's side. Some of these doughty damsels go 
in for sterner weapons. I have seen the ivory heads 



A If IHON-BO UNO CITY. 27 1 

of revolvers, such as Mdlle. Aym^e fired off in 
Offenbach's " Carahiniers," peeping over a glazed 
belt, and gazed with fear (for her personal safety) on 
one hard-browed Megtera with a genuine cliassepot 
carried at tl)e advance. There is a swarthy female 
of a certain age, lines of care congealed on her 
yellow forehead, who is wonderful in a Quarter- 
master's cocked hat and a semicircular Turkish 
sword. But she has the right to sport them, fur 
she is the M<^re Crimde, is decorated with the 
medals of Sebastopol and Italy, and they tell us 
is as kind in the kernel as slie is rough in 
the rind. A long space behind the cantinieres is 
reserved for the friends of the regiment, who see it 
out to the city gates as an escort of lionour. Then 
ride tlie colonel and his orderly-officer, flanked by 
a squad of picked men ; and behind them a useful 
and ominous staff of officers, the " coffin-maker's 
mess," the surgeons — none of them a whit like jolly 
Maurice Quill, cheerful at the prospect of occupa- 
tion. Watch ! Here are the rank and file marching 
along with broad front in open column of sections, 
their captains leading a few paces in advance of the 



272 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

centre files. Steadily enough they press on with pass- 
able dressing and a well-preserved cadence step, and 
soldierly they begin to look. There is a wife walk- 
ing by her husband's side, and bearing his rifle; a 
little daughter trots by the father, who is going out 
to possible slaughter ; here a boy is happy and 
pleased to help his big brother with the knapsack, 
and no trifle it is, with its bordering of tent-pegs 
and cannikins, its round cake prudently lashed on 
the back and its roll of blankets, canvas and 
canteens in a pile on the top. The younger men, 
some mere boys, sing and get up a factitious joy, 
and the covering-sergeants wave their embroidered 
guidons; but there are wet eyes of women around, 
and a current of melancholy under this surface of 
exhilaration, for the home, be it ever so poor, has 
been left behind. Still, on they march with a 
rollicking mien; and now lumber into view the 
convoy of ambulances with their grim suggestive- 
ness, and the baggage-waggons, beside which many 
men limp sooner than quit their comrades at the 
hour of danger. 

After the review, I passed on to the Place Vendome, 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 273 

where two new battalions of Foot-Chasseurs were 
drawn up. Brisk little fellows, what a weight they 
can carr}'' ! They stepped out smartly to the 
sprightly fanfare of their bugles. As they started 
off at that amazing quickstep of theirs — too quick, 
I hold, to be advisable over long distances — a heavy 
shower fell ; but they sang and shouted and laughed 
as the jester of one of the leading companies stuck 
an umbrella, with as many holes in it as a sieve, 
over his knapsack, and another boyishly jangled a 
town-crier's bell he had got hold of — it would be 
ungenerous to inquire how or where. The French 
officers winked at these pranks. The martinet will 
be horrified, but the French officers were right. 
The temperament of their men is not English, and 
the " merry heart goes all the day, your sad tires 
in a mile-a." A wir}^ weazened, elderly non- 
commissioned officer, with a breast of medals and a 
patch of sticking-plaster on his cheek, swore his 
thousand thunders and other mighty oaths at them 
for ne'er-do-weels; but the more he wrathfully 
raged the more they joyfully rioted. 

A decree appeared about this date summoning 

18 



274 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

all persons with stores of potatoes in their possession 
to declare what quantities they had over and above 
the requirements of their families, and to be pre- 
pared to hold them at the disposal of the Govern- 
ment under pain of their confiscation. Also there 
came notifications that the gas would be shut off 
on the 80th inst,, and that balloons could no longer 
venture to ascend except under screen of the night. 
The 23rd was wet and depressing. Never was 
there more suiting season for a pilgrimage feet- 
foremost to a graveyard. And the pilgrimages 
there were so frequent that they ceased to excite 
remark, save when some notable additions were 
made to our rich necrology. Two of these were 
announced. The Bozacchi — a pouting, pretty, sylph- 
like creature, a rosebud of eighteen, the promise and 
pet of the operatic world, who had made a brilliant 
first appearance but six months before in " Coppdlia " 
— felt indisposed on Sunday, the 20th, and took to 
her bed. Yesterday, at her door, there was a melan- 
choly guard of honour from the undertaker's, the 
pair of traditional standard-bearers of mourning, 
the Go2 and Masofr of the black Guildhall. She 



AX IRON-BOUND CITY. 275 

had capitulated in a few hours from an attack of 
virulent smallpox ; and she was the bread-winner of 
her family — left five brothers and sisters behind to 

" grieve for her the doubly dead, 
In that she died so young." 

In France there is an insidious disease, fluxion 
ile poitrine, cousin-germane to inflammation of the 
lungs, and that, with the terrible smallpox, was the 
reigning malady. Its last victim was a former 
Phil-Hellenist, M. Piscatory, who caught it one of 
those bitter nights on the ramparts. He "was 
seventy-one years of age, and went off the tree of 
life at a breath, like a ripe fruit hanging by a 
■worn stem. Piscatory fought for a free Greece 
under Marco Bozzaris, was a peer of France in 184G, 
and Ambassador to Spain towards the close of the 
reign of Louis-Philippe. 

While grand old heroes like this, with snow on 
their heads and the lava-fire of patriotism in their 
bosoms, were ready with such example, what was 
to be thought of the snivelliug hounds who cowered 
in their rooms, with their shins to the fire, in the 
hope of evading the law which included them in 

18—2 



276 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

he mobilized National Guard ? In one street alone, 
the Eue de Vert-bois, no fewer than eighty-four of 
these sneaks were dugout who had never mounted a 
guard or even attended a drill. And soldiers 
and gentlemen affronted danger to preserve the 
cravens in the enjoyment of a whole skin. What 
an ecstasy of malice there was in seeing an awkward 
squad of those malingerers going through their 
facings ! 

Some of the Freeshooters were not over- 
scrupulous in the acquisition of booty ; but as an 
illustration of honesty, the act of a party of the 
2nd company of Parisian Carbineers deserves to 
be chronicled. They had discovered 3,200 francs 
in gold in the cellar of a deserted house, at Courbe- 
voie, and gave it up to their commandant. 

On the 24)th the Governor issued, too tardily, a 
warning to the newspapers not to publish infor- 
mation of the movements of troops, or the measures 
taken for defence, under pain of prosecution before 
the military tribunals. There was a pigeon-message 
from Gambetta at Tours, dated the IGth, reporting 
perfect order in the interior, 200,000 men in line on 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



the Loire, and the formation of an army of 100,000 
to take the field on the 1st of December, with an 
extra force of 200,000 in second line. Europe was 
sympathetic, and astonished at recent successes ; 
every bod}' believed the diplomatic situation had im- 
proved for France, and, with rare exceptions, there 
was no talk of elections or armistice. France, then, 
was satisfied with the fragment of a government at 
Tours, of which the advocate with the ore rotunda 
was speaking-trumpet. Credat JiuUeus Apella. 
This pigeon must have lingered by the chimney- 
pots on the journeyj for another, which started on 
the 23rd, from Orleans, flew in on the same day 
with eleven hundred messages for private individuals. 
But tJie news was the debut of the war-battalions of 
the National Guard represented by the 72ud (Com- 
mandant de Brancion), recruited round Paris and 
Auteuil, and composed principally of Benedicks. At 
two o'clock it was sent off with the 4th battalion 
of the Eclaireurs of the Seine to occupy the village 
of Bondy, outside the forts to the north-east. The 
movement was under command of M. Massiou, a 
naval officer. The 72nd behaved in a way worthy 



278 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

of " the Macraes " — the regiment of the like number 
in another service — carried a barricade, and, skir- 
mishing from tree to tree, forced the enemy back by 
the road to Metz and the Canal de I'Ourcq. Four 
were "wounded, first among them M. Massiou, who 
demeaned himself like a sailor. The Eclaireurs, 
who held the trenches from Bondy to a cemetery 
on the right, had no losses. Deduction : they were 
not seriously engaged. Some shells were pitched 
from the Fort of Noisy, and must have wrought 
havoc, as an ambulance flag was hoisted on a house 
at the edge of the forest. This forest, by the way, 
is the celebrated one where the dog of Montargis 
witnessed the murder of his master, Aubry de 
Montdidier, by the Chevalier Macaire, The knowing 
quadruped returned to Paris, bided his time 
denounced the assassin, and vanquished him in 
ordeal of combat before Charles V. and his court, 
A pretty story, and almost as truthful as the legend 
of William Tell. But a souvenir less remote and 
more authentic attaches to the place. There the 
capitulation of Paris was signed in 1814, 

At four o'clock the 72nd retired from Bondy, 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 27t) 

the whole movement thus resolving itself into a 
reduced imitation of that immortalized by Tarlton : 

" The King of France, with forty thousand men, 
Went up a hill, aud so came down agen." 

This position had been already in possession of 
the French and was evacuated. Why it should 
have been retaken and evacuated a second time, 
except for the sake of " blooding " the National 
Guards, was a mystification. It seems to be 
beyond question that they did behave well, but the 
Prussians were too strong to permit them to remain 
there in safety. 

Two balloons left on this day, notwithstanding 
the notice that they could only Hy by night, one 
governmental and the other private. The latter, 
captained by Wilfrid de Fonvielle, carried five 
passengers. 

A series of publications, brought out by a Com- 
mittee of Indelicacies, were amusing the lovers of 
gossip for weeks. These, the " Secret Documents 
of the Second Empire," have been passed by in this 
record with contempt, for the reason that the}' were 
puerile, indiscreet, and unseasonable ; but the in- 



AX IROX-BOUND CITY. 



stalment which appeared on the 25th November 
had contents of some real historical value, which it 
will be profitable to make known. A list of tele- 
grams from the generals of the Army of the Rhine 
(so called) to the War Ministry were given, from 
which it transpired that on the 20th of July there 
was neither sugar, salt, coffee, brandy, nor rice at 
Metz_, the chief war depot of France ; tliat on the 
24tli the corps at Thionville had no ambulances, 
and that not a single staff-map of the frontier could 
be found at St. Avoid. On the 4th of August 
Marshal Canrobert wrote from the camp at Chalons 
that there was but one veterinary surgeon to the 
twenty batteries of the 6th corps ; and so late as the 
7th the Place of Verdun was without the comple- 
ment of wine, brandy, sugar, coffee, bacon, and fresh 
meat required for its siege stock. On the 10th of 
August a major-general at Metz wrote : — " We have 
no official detail of the affairs of the 6th yet." 
Those affairs (Forbach and Woerth) passed within a 
day's ride. General Michel arrived at Belfort to take 
command of a brigade, and wired to Paris, " Where 
are my regiments ?" The Admiral of the Fleet at 



AN I RON- BO USD CITY. 281 

Brest complained that he was going on his cruise 
witliout charts of the Baltic and the North Sea. 
An artilltM-y general at Douai reported that there 
was a fine store of horse-collars there, one-third of 
which were too narrow to go on any animal's neck. 
The plague of lied Tape was on the Administration. 
What streams of Red Blood had been wasted in the 
vain endeavour to wipe out its accursed stains ! If 
the Committee had confined itself to these disclo- 
sures, it would have done wholesome work, and 
none could reasonably object to it; but, instead, it 
applied itself with underbred zeal to the dirty job 
of raking up forgotten scandals. For it the seal of 
domestic privacy had no sacredness. These most 
unchivalric of Paul Pry inquisitors printed the 
playful message of a fond mother to her son, and 
the affectionate letter of a son to his mother, in the 
hope of covering their authors with ridicule. 

A tedious jeremiad a))pcared in the Oficial 
Joui'nal to-day anent the arbitrary Prussians who 
had arrested M. de Raynal at Versailles, and sent 
him to Germany to be tried by court-martial on a 
charge of keeping up "a correspondence with the 



282 ^.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 

enemy." There was a protest, too, against Count 
Bismarck, who had threatened to mete out the same 
measure to the balloon crews which had come under 
his omnipotent thumb. The organ of the Provisional 
Government positively cited in support of its views 
a leading article from the issue, of the 10th inst., of 
that Standard it had so recently denounced as 
" notoriously hostile to France "! The awful Chan- 
cellor was no fool ; he durst not carry out his 
threats ; he was but discharging empty thunder- 
bolts. If there was intention to shoot M, de Raynal, 
there were firing-parties at Versailles. As to the 
aeronauts, the petulant jabber about them should 
have been consolatory ; it proved they were an an- 
noyance to those who wished ill to France. 

The last ration of salt meat for a time was dis- 
tributed this day, the 25th November ; horse was to 
be served out for a fortnight, when it was to be 
pleasantly varied by a new allotment of badly 
corned beef. As for the juicy and tender sirloins, 
the Maintenon cutlets, the delicate Chateaubriands, 
the plump roast lamb, the succulent legs of mutton 
— they had gone into the ewigkeit. On the 26th of 



AN IROy-BOUND CITY. 283 

November there were indications that the hour for 
action was about to strike. A notice was posted that 
from the following morning the barriers were to be 
closed to all except soldiers and those escorting 
soldiers' tools or impedimenta, provision and am- 
bulance waggons, and workmen actually engaged 
in the operations of defence. Of course, this restric- 
tion may have been adopted to save marauders, to 
bar the way to amateur military critics, or to block 
the channel by which Count Bismarck got informa- 
tion of what was passing. That the order was 
warranted, an incident will prove. A robust young 
girl, wounded on the plain of St. Denis, was 
brought into the Dubois Hospital. Amputation 
was deemed unavoidable. 

"My child," said the surgeon, "you see what 
the hankering after a few francs has brought upon 
you." 

" A few francs !" cried the patient, " I'd freely 
part with another limb on the same terms !" 

Pressed to explain, the girl admitted that she 
had been in the habit of taking copies of the 
SUcle and the France to the German outposts, for 



284 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

which she got three bright napoleons each journey. 
But there was other evidence that something stirring 
was at hand. Certain Swiss who had applied for 
passes were told by Jules Favre that no foreigners 
could leave for the moment. Besides, there were 
movements of troops towards the north and south ; 
long lines of Mobiles, with fourgons, were proceed- 
ing outside the ramparts ; the new artillery had 
been delivered from the foundries ; and the marching 
companies of the National Guard were ready to 
enter into line. The great sortie could not be 
kept back long ; but whither was it to be essayed ? 
and if successful, could an erupting army stand on 
its own bottom ? Amongst the far-seeing all faith 
in relief from outside had been lost. The provinces 
had the wrong guides in MM. Gambetta, Cr^mieux' 
and Glais-Bizoin, a flatulent agitator and a pair of 
crotchety dotards. Men to organize victory, not 
to " decree " it, were the men demanded. 

With all the self-denial that Paris exhibited 
under its trials — trials that might well have bowed 
down the spirit of a less proud city — it must be 
confessed that there were many within its walls 



AN IROS-BOUND CITY. 285 

who were thriving on the misfortunes of their neigh- 
bours. In periods of public calamity there is 
invariably a class that profits by the general ruin. 
When typhus is prevalent, coffin-makers are con- 
tent; the veterinary surgeons had a good time of it 
during the rinderpest ; the smart men who fur- 
nished the army with paper-soled shoes were happy 
while the American Civil War lasted ; and there 
were speculators who drew gold-fish into their nets 
by this siege. The equanimity with which the 
pigeon-fanciers, hippophagists, and aiironauts re- 
conciled themselves to the surrounding sorrows 
could be understood. One could even condone that 
ingenious rascal with a bandaged head who paraded 
a pair of human ears in a jar of spirits of wine on 
the boulevards, and brought down a flush of 
coppers by making believe they were his own, 
sliced off by the barbarous Prussians, until a wide- 
awake bystander tore ofi' his soiled swathings and 
exposed the fraud. But the rapacity of the dealers 
in comestibles, who held back their viands until 
prices rose to an exorbitant rate, and then put them 
in their windows, was unpardonable. It was in- 



286 AN IKON-BOUND CITY. 

controvertible that there was as much gold in Paris 
now as on the 19th of September; but it had 
changed owners. Most of it had gone into the tills 
of the provision-merchants. There was no com- 
merce except over the counter; the coffee-houses 
were comparatively empty ; the traders in articles 
de Paris were subsisting on their own fat ; pro- 
fessional men— save doctors and journalists — and 
most of the artisans were idle ; tailors and drapers 
were doing less than in ordinary seasons : the 
wealthy settlers had fled, and many residents, 
instead of buying coats and uniforms, made coat 
serve for uniform, and uniform for coat ; but those 
who trafficked in provender were masters of the 
situation, and made the most of it. All articles of 
food not regulated by Government tariff were by 
this up to extraordinary figures. A round of 
cheese was as precious as a pearl ; a goose fetched 
sixty-five francs, and a rabbit twenty-five. Eighteen- 
pence the pound English was demanded forconfitures, 
the first cost of which did not exceed a penny, as 
they were manufactured of paste, coloured and 
sweetened. Chemistry was called in to the aid of 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 2S; 



chicanery. Doctored pumpkins were sold as apri- 
cot-marmalade ; sugar of carrot, cunningly per- 
fumed witli hydrocarbonates, as quince or pine- 
apple jelly. These impostures did not affect the 
needy ; they were satisfied so long as they could 
obtain bread and corned horse. The Government 
did what it could to repress abuse and stave off 
want. Soup-kitchens were established in the twenty 
arrondissements. In one alone — and that not the 
worst off" — the ninth, thirteen thousand tickets for 
rations were distributed gratis dail}'. Potatoes were 
stored in the Central Market; and as there was but 
one bureau for their allotment there was a tremend- 
ous rush there, and many women who had waited for 
liours had to go away empty-handed before their 
turn arrived. To have any certainty of a basketful 
one had to be on the spot by three in the morning. 
There were but 5,937 cows in the place now, and of 
these 1,720 had been seized and paid for at the 
fixed price of butchers' meat, their owners not 
having fodder for them, or having made apprisal of 
them too late. In 350 cases the owners had tried 
to conceal that they had cows. 



288 AN IROX-BOUND CITY. 

Some of the war-battalions of the National Guard 
having taken their colours to the outposts, contrary 
to usage, General Clement Thomas gave orders that 
these glorious emblems should be left in charge of 
their sedentary comrades. The Bellevillites did not 
like this; they were eager to carry into fight the 
banner expressly designed for them, and presented 
as a peace-offering at the tail of a laudatory address 
by M. Jules Ferry, These doughty revolutionists 
had Phrygian caps on their guidons, and were clad 
in serviceable grey tunics. They professed them- 
selves anxious to enjoy that " most beautiful and 
enviable lot " {vide Andre Chenier's song), death for 
their country. If they should die, the country 
would not be inconsolable at the loss. 

On Sunday, the 27th, the movements of troops on 
a grand scale continued — this time from east to 
west, and vice versa ; the first distribution of salt 
cod was made, and this inscrutable populace looked 
cheerful, for the weather was dry if cold, and there 
was animation abroad. The old Gaulish gaiety 
was not utterly extinct. I bought a little sheet, 
the Trac (the " Funk "), which informed its readers 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 289 

that it would be served to them in the cellars in the 
event of bombardment. The only jarring note was 
sounded in the Official by M. Jules Ferry, who re- 
primanded sundry jobmasters and cabmen for 
having fed their horses on bread. On this day also, 
passes beyond the fortifications were suspended, 
permission to correspondents to accompany the staft" 
was rigorously refused, and the newspapers were 
prohibited under pain of stoppage to publish any 
except the official accounts of the operations outside. 
The crisis had come ; and these measures were im- 
perative to safeguard the secret of the real point of 
attack on the besiegers, and to preserve the popula- 
tion of the city from dangerous alarms or exaggera- 
tions of success quite as dangerous. 



19 



CHAPTER XIII. 

The Hour of Action — Preparatory Operations — Trochu's 
Design— Ducrot's Address— The Seizure of Avron— The 
Feint at Gennevilliers— On the Heights of Montmartre 
— A Gale of Gunpowder — A False Alarm— General 
Thomas Speechifies— A Pair of Captives — More Pro- 
clamations — In the Throes of Suspense — Exaggerations 
— Arrival of Wounded— Counting Chickens before they 
are Hatch t^d — The Official Bulletins — Sum of the First 
Day's Opciations — Military Criticisms. 

The hour to which Paris looked forward with such 
impatience had, indeed, struck. The Great Sortie 
was attempted. How tremendous a struggle it was 
will best be appreciated if one recollects that on the 
French side more men by thousands were engaged 
than the strength of the combined forces that fought 
out Waterloo. Add to this, that one army was sup- 
ported by permanent fortifications, cannon-carrying 
and armour-clad railway waggons, and floating 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 291 



batteries; the other by formidable entrenchments 
on a rising ground ; and that both were strong in 
artillery and rifles of the newest pattern, and were 
fed with reinforcements by rail. While one of the 
most terrible battles of modern times was raging ; 
while the destinies of two races were at stake 
under the walls of Paris, the city was orderly, calm, 
full of courage and of hope. One might traverse 
whole quarters of it for hours and never dream that 
the fierce game of war was being played so neai-. 
The omnibuses plied, shops were open, children 
gambolled in the squares — indeed, were it not for 
the continuous roll of ordnance like distant thunder, 
the groupings in subdued conversation on the 
boulevards, and here and there the passage of a 
waggon with the red cross, there were none but 
peaceful indications, and Paris was as quiet and 
self-contained as some drowsy provincial town. 

A council of war, it transpired, had been held on 
Saturday, the 2Gth, at which General Trochu 
informed the commanders of army-corps and other 
superior officers that his one idea since the invest- 
ment had been, after having solidly provided for 

10—2 



292 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

the defence, to assume the offensive.* He had 
done all that was humanly in his power to secure 
the place against capture by storm, or even by 
regular siege ; now it could only surrender to 
famine, and as provisions were diminishing, and the 
tidings from the army of the Loire were favourable, 
he thought the time had come for a portion of the 
garrison to cut its way out, and effect a junction 
with d'Aurelles de Paladines. To Ducrot and the 
second army that duty was assigned. 

On Sunday and Monday the necessary concentration 
of troops outside the ramparts was made, under 
screen of skirmishes of outposts in various directions. 
Rear Admiral de la Ronciere got control of the St. 
Denis garrison, which was formed into a separate 
command. Ducrot moved his headquarters to Vin- 
cennes, and issued the following electrifying address 
to his troops : 

" Soldiers of the Second Army of Paris, — The 



* This narrative of the great sortie is based on official 
accounts, personal observation, and information derived 
from the wounded and others who took part in the different 
combats. It is as full and free from prejudice as may be. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 293 



moment has come to burst through the ring of iron 
that binds us round too long, and threatens to 
choke us in slow agony ! Upon you the honour of 
attempting this glorious enterprise has devolved. 
1 am satistied you will show yourselves equal 
to it. 

" No doubt difficulties will meet us at the 
outset ; we shall have serious obstacles to surmount, 
but we must look them in the face with calmness 
and resolution, without making too much of them 
or giving way to weakness. 

" Here is the plain truth. At our very first steps, 
touching our advanced posts, we shall come upon 
implacable enemies, flushed with pride and confi- 
dence by too many successes. A powerful effort 
■will have to be made there, but it is not bej'ond 
your strength ; the ground has been prepared for 
action. Thanks to the foresight of our commander- 
in-chief, four hundred pieces of cannon, two-thirds 
of them of the heaviest calibre, have been got ready ; 
no material impediment can possibly stand before 
them ; and there will be more than one hundred 
and tifiy thousand of you to rush forward by the 



294 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

opening they will make, all well armed and equipped, 
supplied with plenty of provisions, and all, I firmly 
trust, burning with an irresistible ardour. 

" If we vanquish in the outset of the struggle our 
success is certain, for the enemy has sent the bulk 
of his best troops towards the Loire, and the heroic 
and fortunate efforts of our brothers keep them 
there. 

" Courage, then, and confidence ! Remember that 
in this supreme trial we fight for honour and liberty, 
for the safety of our beloved and unhappy father- 
land ; and if this is not motive enough to set 3'our 
hearts on fire, think on your devastated fields, on your 
ruined families, on your weeping sisters, wives, and 
mothers ! 

"May the thought fill you with the same thirst 
for vengeance, the same deep rage, that animates 
me, and inspire you with a contempt for danger, 

" Personally, my mind is made up. I swear before 
you and the entire nation that I will not re-enter 
Paris except dead or victorious ! You may see me 
fall, but you will never see me retreat. Should I 
fall, do not hesitate, but avenge me ! 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 295 



" Forward, then, forward ! and God be our pro- 
tector !" 

An effective force, coiriprising eighteen battalions 
of the Garde Mobile, was marched on Courbevoie in 
readiness to meet any attack from the side of Ver- 
sailles or Saint Germain, while the real advance 
was being made at the opposite point of the compass. 
It was well known in the city late on Monday that 
the long-desired active movements were to be in- 
augurated on the following morning ; the cannonade 
iVom the forts had been furious and incessant the 
previous night; a long train of steel-bright new guns 
had passed towards the east in the forenoon ; the 
vessels of the Seine flotilla had quietly steamed out 
to their positions up and down stream ; a requisition 
on the river steamers for the conveyance of troops 
and wounded had been issued ; the staff' of the 
ambulances were told to prepare their dressings 
and stretchers, and orders were given to keep the 
furnaces alight in the locomotives on the Orleans 
Railway, which had been mounted with guns 
shielded with iron mantlets on the American 
system. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 



On Monday evening, while the city was yet in 
the throes of expectation, the preliminary operations 
had begun. Towards the east the plateau of Avron 
was quietly taken possession of by Admiral Saisset's 
sailors, supported by d'Hugues' division, and a 
numerous long-range artillery was installed there 
so as to threaten the roads followed by the German 
convoys at Gagny, Chelles, and Gournay. Towards 
the west, in the peninsula of Gennevilliers, where 
the Seine first doubles on itself to the left of St. 
Denis, the French were equally busy. At six fire 
was opened across the river from several batteries of 
mortars and rifled guns, and a rocket train, which 
had been brought up close to Argenteuil and Bezons. 
The enemy appears to have been taken aback by 
this sudden attack after dark. The French gunners 
succeeded in causing sundry conflagrations in his 
midst, some of which flamed up with fierce intensity 
and continued to burn long into the night. Under 
shelter of the artillery the troops occupied the isle 
of Mai'ante, and the Port-aux-Anglais (not to be 
confounded with the Port a I'Anglais, between the 
forts of Ivry and Charenton), where they strongly 



AN IRON BOUND CITY. 297 

entrenched themselves. This feint, which was 
meant to give the enemy occupation, must have 
deceived him as to the intentions of the garrison, 
as it had been preceded by a reconnaissance in the 
earlier part of the day on Buzenval and the hills of 
Boispr^au, more to the south, almost in a right line 
between Mont Valerien and the Seine. With an in- 
stinct of what was coming, I had ensconced myself in 
a lodging with a balcony that served as observatory 
on the Butte Montmartre, not far from the site of the 
marine battery, beside the windmill familiar to the 
Sunday pleasure-seekers of Paris as the Moulin de la 
Galette. The view of the entire country round from 
this perch was capital, and had already been taken 
advantage of by the Government, which had 
established a signal-post on the crown of the height, 
directed by a party of naval officers, and a sort of 
look-out box in charge of the artillery. I got into 
my nest with a good glass at about eleven p.m. I 
had not long to wait. Almost on the stroke of 
midnight there was a boom to the south, repeated, 
quick as echo, from the right and left. The 
cannonade had commenced from the forts of Issy, 



AN IRON-BOUXD CITY. 



Vanves, and Montroucje, and shooting tongues of 
tlame could be marked in the distance, a vivid red in 
the moonliglit. The reports came back with painful 
clearness, in the stillness of the night, over the 
immense human hive that lay silent underneath. 
In about a quarter of an hour Bicetre, more to the 
left as one looked towards the line of fire on the 
horizon, joined in the sinister concert ; and there 
were flashes, followed by reverberations, as lightning 
is by thunder, from three several spots beyond. 
Those were the batteries in the redoubts of the 
Moulin Saquet, Villejuif, and the Hautes-Bruy feres, 
that were stirring into life. At one o'clock Ivry and 
Charenton swelled the roar, and detonations like 
quarry-blasts seemed to rise from the river-bed, 
probably from the floating-batteries and gunboats, 
which had dropped down to the confluence of the 
Seine and the Marne. A rattle of ordnance could 
be heard from the guns of the western attack, but 
on the rest of the cordon of forts the cannon were 
mute. At two o'clock there was a lull, but coming 
on to three the gale of gunpowder bellowed anew, 
while bugle-notes and the bicker of drums rose. 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 29£) 

distinct by contrast of sound, from the streets 
of the city. It was impossible to think of sleep, 
even if one were ever so willing, in the midst of 
this infernal din, which persisted for six mortal 
hours longer, while the chill breath of the dawn made 
itself felt as the sky in the east was streaked with 
an undecided orange, and the grey morning mist 
cleared away. 

Between five and six o'clock, when the enemy 
appeared to reply, as many as four shots could be 
counted in a second ; but towards eight the energy 
relaxed, the firing from the forts ceased, and the field- 
artillery — for such there must certainly have been 
engaged — moved out of hearing. At eight, when 
I descended from the Butte, an occasional rumble, 
this time from Aubervilliers and the Nord, 
was all that could be caught by the ear. I turned 
in for a wash and a cup of coffee, and, about eleven, 
hurried to the Place Vendome to inquire was 
there any message from without, and what was the 
meaning of the unusual bucjle-blasts and drum- 
beating which had been heard during the night. A 
large body of the National Guard were under arms 



300 AM IRON-BOUND CITY. 

in front of their staff-quarters on the square. They 
had been roused from their beds in consequence of 
an alarm that the turbulent classes of Belleville 
meditated a rising. The rapi^el had been beaten in 
that quarter at an unwonted hour ; but it turned 
out, on inquiry, that this was done, not as a 
revolutionary summons, but in obedience to the 
order of the commandant of the secteur of defence, 
who had failed to give previous advice to head- 
quarters. General Thomas had passed in review the 
battalions of the National Guard which had gathered 
to the muster, and had read them the address of 
Ducrot to his army, which provoked a wild en- 
thusiasm. 

" If our brave brothers succumb," said General 
Thomas, " on us be the duty to avenge them !" and 
the answer was a cheer of assent from the citizen- 
soldiers. 

After this demonstration the greater part of them 
were marched home; those battalions that still 
remained and paced quickly to and fro by their piled 
arms to warm themselves, were kept for possible 
emergencies. None of them knew a word of what 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 301 

was going on beyond the ramparts. At the other 
side of the tall Napoleon column, cast fioin the 
metal of the German trophies of 1805, there was 
a knot of idlers round an open one-horse waggon 
in front of the headquarters of the Military Divi- 
sion. Two prisoners had been brought in, and the 
crowd was waiting to see what they looked like. 
The driver of the waggon told me there had been 
infantry-fighting towards Choisy, and as soon as 
I had satisfied my curiosity, like the rest, by a 
glance at the prisoners, a pair of well-conditioned, 
well-whiskered fellows in rifle-green uniform and 
flat caps with red bands — happy enough they looked 
at their respite from glorj' — I moved off to the 
Palais Royal to take the omnibus towards the 
Avenue d'ltalie. On the way I noticed Ducrot's 
proclamation posted up beside one from the Govern- 
ment (to which General Trochu's name was not 
signed), appealing to the people to be firm in the 
crucial hour, to repress all agitations, and to support 
the troops by steadiness and union. Trochu's name 
was not at the bottom of this document, for the 
good reason that he had left the night previous to 



302 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

superintend operations in person. The Governor 
of Paris had been merged in the military man, but 
even the General could not get over his mania for 
proclamation- writing. Here is his manifesto, which 
was posted beside the others, and was the shortest 
yet seen from his pen : 

" Citizens of Paris, Soldiers of the National Guard 
and of the Army, — The policy of invasion and con- 
quest means to complete its work. It introduces in 
France, and pretends to establish in Europe, the 
right of brute force. Europe may submit to this 
outrage in silence, but France is resolved to combat 
it, and our brothers summon us forth to the supreme 
struggle. 

" After so much blood has been shed, blood is 
about to be spilled again. Let the responsibility of 
it fall upon those whose hateful ambition tramples 
under foot the laws of modern civilization and 
justice. Let us put our confidence in God, and 
march forward for Fatherland." 

When I got to the Avenue, it was black with 
anxious groups, journalists and painters — Weiss 



.^.v inox-BorxD city. ?m 

and Gustave Dor^ among others — beside judges 
and grocers, all drawn there from the same motives 
as myself, and excited gossip passed from moutii 
to mouth ; but from the exaggerations that were 
current, it was evident nothing definite was known. 

" AVe have taken nine thousand prisoners," said 
one. 

" The Prussians had to spike eighty of their own 
guns they were obliged to abandon," chimed in 
another. "A soldier told it me." 

These soldiers, poor pale fellows, began to be 
carried in, with crimson-streaked bandages on 
heads, legs, and arms, but they knew less than we. 
They had been ordered to advance, had advanced, 
and had suddenly felt a stunning sensation, and 
saw blood trickling down on their sleeves or 
trousers. Most of them were slightly wounded, 
and bore themselves bravely. I saw three boys 
pass smiling, all of whom, singularly enough, had 
been hit in the riglit wrists; but others had been 
more severely injured, and it was painful to witness 
the contortions of their features as they were jolted 
over the pavements. There was a long line of 



AN IROK-BOUXD CITY 



ambulance- waggons in the streets; vehicles of 
every description, from furniture-vans and railway- 
omnibuses to tilted carts, had been pressed into 
the service. The wounded were carried in the 
lirst instance to a hospital at 143 in the Avenue 
d'ltalie, and subsequently transported to the interior 
of the town. The 55th active battalion of the 
National Guard pass with drums and bugles, but 
they can give no tidings. They had been camped 
on the plain of Vitry, from which they had heard 
the cannonade and fusillade to the front, but had 
not fired a shot. At five o'clock, the 169th and 
249th battalions of the National Guard re-entered ; 
they had not been required to go into action, which 
was accepted as an auspicious sign. But the anxiety 
to know the truth was immense, and there was a 
general reflux towards the H6tel-de-Ville, the 
Ministries, Mairies, and newspaper-oflices, and 
wherever information was likely to be had. The 
belief was general that Choisy-le-Roi had been 
taken, owing to a printed card, sent out from a 
pseudo-telegraph agency at 47, Eue Condorcet, an- 
nouncing that the position had been carried before 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 3()5 

eleven, and that a regiment of Uhlans had been 
captured. With the buo3%incy of the French 
character, triumphant vistas already opened \\\). I 
heard one sanguine old man say he did not think 
they should go to Berlin ; for his part, he would be 
satisfied with the taking of Mayence ! By-and-by 
the truth began to leak out, but it would not be 
believed. The Patrie hinted that the great opera- 
tion had to be stopped by the break of a bridge of 
boats over the Marne (as if any great operation 
were ever trusted to one bridge) ; the LiherU went 
farther, and circumstantially stated that the sortie 
had failed, and would have to be postponed. This 
was SO; but the Libcrfe took too sombre a view of 
it, and it was hardly astonishing that some ardent 
patriots burned the Liberie on the streets, and 
spoke of going to the office to smash the presses. 
At about nine o'clock an official report, full uf 
delicate fibbery, was placarded to reassure the 
public. This stated that General Vinoy, supported 
by a powerful artillery, had made a movement 
against THay and the cattle-station of Choisy. 
The National and Mobile Guard had been engaged, 

20 



306 AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 

as well as the troops, and the affair had been 
lively. "The object the Governor had in view had 
been attained." A despatch, dated two o'clock p.m., 
added that he solidly occupied the position he 
had proposed, and that the operation followed its 
course. This was false, but it was necessary. The 
unvarnished truth was that the movement had 
been compromised by causes which Trochu had 
not anticipated. 

In order to cover the passage of the Marne, 
attacks were ordered to be made on two points 
dominating Choisy, so as to retain the enemy's 
reserves at Rungis, Fresnes, and Villeneuve-Saint- 
Georges. Both were to be directed by General 
Vinoy, commander of the Third Army ; and to Rear- 
Admiral Pothuau, in command of the Seventh 
Division^ was confided the execution of that on the 
Gare-aux-Boeufs beyond Vitry, while the second, on 
the village of I'Hay, in advance of Villejuif, was 
assigned to a portion of General de Maud'huy's 
Division. Before daybreak the Admiral set his 
troops in motion — two battalions of Marines and 
the 106th and 116th war-battalions of the National 



/l.V J RON-BOUND CITY. 307 



Guard. The Marines went forward as if on a 
boarding-party ; they had with them boarding- 
liatchets, daggers, and pistols for close quarters, as 
well as their ritles, which few soldiers know how 
to use better, for all of them are trained marksmen. 
This attack was a perfect success. The Prussians 
were surprised, and fell back, leaving some prisoners 
behind, amongst tliem an officer. The position was 
held by the French from seven to ten, and they 
were proceeding to throw up breastworks, when 
the order arrived to effect a retrograde movement. 
Colonel Valentin, with de Maud'huy's First Brigade, 
consisting of the lO'Jth and llUth of the Line and 
two battalions of Breton Mobiles, led the attack 
on I'Hay almost simultaneously. The troops went 
forward pluckily, and met slight resistance at first; 
the centre and right penetrated into the village 
after some hand-to-hand fighting at a barricade ; 
but on the left the Prussians made a desperate 
defence. The 110th, which was in the first line 
here, with the 4th battalion ofFinisterre in support, 
suffered considerably. The Lieutenant-Colonel of 
the 110th was badly wounded, a battalion leader 

20—2 



308 ^.V IRON-BOUND CITY. 

was shot dead, and the commandant of the 
Mobiles of Finisterre was struck down while cheer- 
ing on his men. Still there was every chance of 
the ground being carried when the order to retire 
arrived, and the French had to fall back while the 
Prussian reserves from Chevilly came on to what 
they expected would be an easy pursuit. But their 
impetuosity was soon checked ; a murderous can- 
nonade was opened from the redoubt of Hautes- 
Bruyeres and some field-artillery near, and suc- 
ceeded in inflicting heavy losses on the columns 
that were pushing on to I'Hay. At the same 
moment a hundred throats of bronze and steel 
brailed from the gun-boats on the Seine below Port 
ii I'Anglais, from the heavy jiieces on the cuirassed 
trains on the Orleans Railway, from the batteries 
round Vitry, from the Moulin-Saquet, and from the 
fort of Charenton. Within the space covered by 
those concentred discharges, it was as if there was a 
rain of metallic sleet ; the retreat was secure, and 
the enemy must have had a long list of casualties. 
The French lost five hundred. The villages of 
Arceuil and Cachan were blocked up with stretchers 



AN IRON-BOUND CITY. 309 



at one period of the day. In spite of these dearly- 
bought successes, which would probably have led 
to the taking of Choisy if prosecuted, the Great 
Sortie had to be deferred for one of the most 
vexatious causes in the world. The fastenings of 
the bridge of boats which had been thrown over 
the Marne, near Joinville-le-Pont, could not stand 
against the force of the current of the river, which 
had suddenly risen. It was a pity, after so much 
blood had been sacrificed, and when everything 
looked in promising trim ; the crossing had to be 
adjourned, but only till the following day. The 
accident was galling, and threatened to put the 
entire machinery of action out of gear. The enemy 
would have notice to prepare his defences, and the 
enemy was not likely to make light of the warning. 
The lives of V^inoy's brave soldiers were thrown 
avviiy for nothing ; provisions were less by a day's 
consumption ; the advantage of combined attack on 
several points was neutralized ; the high spirit, 
springing from early success, was lowered ; and all 
because of a piece of neglect that would be accounted 
disgraceful in a sergeant of Chatham sappers. Wo 



310 AN IROX-BOUND CITY. 

were bound to have another lamentable illustration, 
on a grand scale, of the proverb, " For want of a 
nail the shoe was lost ; for want of a shoe the horse 
was lost." There was no fatality here — such an 
excuse of superstition does not hold good in war; 
it was plainest and most culpable want of foresight. 
And to render this failure of the pontoons more 
vexatious, there w^as the reflection that there had 
been an excellent bridge over the Marne at Join- 
ville until the Engineers demolished it, in a panic of 
precautionary measures, in the early days of the 
investment. That bridge was protected by the 
guns of the Faisanderie redoubt, and could have 
been made unassailable by a simple tete de pont. 
At this juncture it would have been worth its 
weight in gold. 

There were experts who had no faitli in the 
attempt to pierce the German lines and effect a 
junction with a problematical Army of the Loire, 
because of the obstacles in the way of provisioning 
the troops. The country between them and their 
compatriots must be ravaged by this time. Better, 
they reasoned, to seize on Choisy-le-Roi or Ville- 



A y IROX-BO UND CIT Y. 3 1 1 

neuve-Saint-Georges, and establish works there 
which would molest and perhaps break up the 
enemy's communications with Versailles. By pivot- 
ing from these works and keeping up constant 
intercourse with Paris, something practical might 
be achieved, and serious annoyance might be caused 
to the Germans. A troiu'e towards the east with 
an unwieldy and unwarlike host was — I am only 
([uoting the opinions of others, and those experiencd 
campaigners — impracticable and well-nigh hopeless. 
]5ut Trochu had his plan ; Trochu was a Breton, 
and Bretons are obstinate as mules. 

It is said Yinoy was in favour of a brusque 
change of front and a bold effort to make a ga() 
towards Versailles. That, if it could be done, 
would be the wise tactic, and might be successful — 
if von Moltke were caught napping. But it 
would require a decisive general, forces with more 
discipline and activity than those we had, and a re- 
solute energy which was not present. Besides, there 
was an impression abroad that von Moltke was as 
sleepless as a weasel. Whatever Vinoy may have 
thought, and however he may have chafed, the 



312 ■ AN IROF-BOUND CITY. 

Breton showed neither design of abandoning his 
original intention nor desire to profit by the facilities 
afforded by his manifold opportunities of working 
on interior lines. 

It was foolish speculating when fight was at 
hand; the already jeopardized sortie was to be 
pushed to an extremity, and if it were fortunate — 
who knows ? — we might be able to say, "A single 
field hath turned the chance of war." This is pre- 
mature.; the season does not lend itself to the 
merry sound of music and dance " through the corn- 
fields, green and sunny vines ;" our punctilious 
chieftain is not the roystering Henry of Navarre. 
On the whole, we had better wait to see what to- 
morrow may bring, and husband our gritty bread. 



END OF VOL. I. 



BILLING £ EONS, PRINTERS, GUILDFORD. 



-^■^: 






•'fe'^vH 



- ^' :^"