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REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

1870-I912 

HER PRESIDENTS, STATESMEN, POLICY 
VICISSITUDES AND SOCIAL LIFE 



BY 

LE PETIT HOMME ROUGE 

(ERNEST ALFRED VIZETELLY) 

AUTHOR OF 'THE COURT OF THE TU1LERIES, 1852-1870/ ETC. 



1 La Republique, c'est la forme de 
gouvernement qui nous divise le moins.' 
— Thiers. 



WITH NINE PORTRAITS 






LONDON 

HOLDEN & HARDINGHAM 

ADELPHI 

MCMXII 



TO 

MY DEAR DAUGHTER 
MARIE ERNESTINE VIZETELLY 

I DEDICATE THIS RECORD 
OF HER MOTHER^ LAND AND PEOPLE 



PREFACE 

This work is an attempt to tell the story of the present French 
Republic from its foundation onward, and, in particular, to 
recount the careers of its most eminent public men. For well 
nigh fifty years I have been much attached to France and her 
people. I was taken to France in my boyhood, I found there 
my home and my alma mater, I loved and married there, and it 
was there*too that I formed some of the firmest friendships of 
my life. But remembering that it is incumbent on any writer 
who attempts to recount some period of a nation's life, to tell 
the whole truth, as far as he can ascertain it, and that no useful 
purpose is ever served by shirking unpleasant facts, I have 
not penned in the following pages any panegyric of France 
and the French. I have certainly tried to show the nation 
rising from the depths of disaster, gathering fresh strength, 
and again taking the position due to it by right of its 
genius. I have also tried to show the Republican idea — 
limited, at first, to a portion of the population, — spreading 
gradually through the country, and developing into something 
far beyond what several of the most prominent founders of the 
regime would have thought either likely or advisable. Again, 
I have striven to depict that regime resisting every assault, 
triumphing over every enemy, and demonstrating, by its 
stability, the existence of far greater stability of character 
among the nation than the latter had been credited with for 
many years. 

But if I have spoken of progress made, of great achieve- 
ments accomplished, I have not hesitated to chronicle faults 
wherever I have found them. I have felt constrained to write 
with some severity of certain trends of policy, ambitions, 
occurrences, and other matters ; and I have not overlooked the 
occasional foolish impulses of the masses, for the most part 



viii REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

happily checked before too much harm was done, and entitled, 
after all, to the leniency which should be extended to the 
errors of those who are deceived by self-seeking leaders. In 
sketching my principal characters I have endeavoured to set 
forth all the good points they displayed, yet allowing their 
warts to be seen, if warts they had. My one desire has been 
to make my portraits as true to life as possible. Moreover, 
there are pages in which I have sought to justify and rehabili- 
tate certain prominent men, judged with undue harshness, in 
my opinion, by the majority of their compatriots ; and it may 
so prove that, being able to look at certain things more 
dispassionately, more impartially, than would be possible for 
most Frenchmen, I have now and again got nearer to the truth 
than they could get. In any case, whatever may be the imper- 
fections of this book, it has been written in good faith, with a 
sincere desire to place before its readers an accurate account of 
the period of French history which I have dealt with. 

I must add, however, that the work has long been in pre- 
paration, and that for a considerable period a variety of 
circumstances delayed its publication ; in such wise that it has 
become necessary for me to draft several errata and addenda 
which will be found at the end of the volume. Moreover, as 
some of my readers may be acquainted with my history of the 
Anarchists, I would point out that the account of the French 
branch of the sect which will be found in my present pages, 
embodies, in a slightly abridged form, much the same informa- 
tion as that given by me in the work in which I dealt with the 
Anarchists generally. It was, however, incumbent on me to 
include this matter, for no history of the Third Republic could 
be deemed complete if it omitted an account of the French 
Anarchist Tenor and the assassination of President Carnot. 

K. A. V. 
PAmra, L912. 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. PAGE 

I. INTRODUCTION ........ 1 

II. THIERS THE GERMANS IN PARIS THE COMMUNE . . 30 

III. THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY THIERS, FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE 

REPUBLIC THE PRETENDERS ...... 70 

IV. THE ELYSEE PALACE PARISIAN LIFE FALL OF THIERS 

MACMAHON, PRESIDENT. . . , . . .108 

V. UNDER MACMAHON THE ROYALIST FUSION THE WHITE 

FLAG THE THRONE LOST BAZAINE AND HIS TRIAL . 136 

VI. THE SEPTENNATE PARIS SALONS AND CLUBS THE REPUBLI- 
CAN CONSTITUTION AND ELECTIONS THE GREAT CHURCH 

CRUSADE . . . . . . . . .170 

VII. THE SIXTEENTH OF MAY GAMBETTA AND THIERS THE 

GREAT EXHIBITION MACMAHON's DEFEAT AND FALL . 200 

VIII. GREVY'S PRESIDENCY AND GAMBETTA'S PREDOMINANCE 

STATE, CHURCH, AND EDUCATION EGYPT AND TUNIS . 227 

IX. "THE GREAT ministry" gambetta's LAST YEARS AND 

DEATH ......... 247 

X. JULES FERRY AND THE FRENCH COLONIAL EMPIRE THE 

EXPULSION OF THE PRINCES BOULANGER AND GERMANY 

THE WILSON SCANDAL AND GREVY's FALL . . . 277 

ix 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

CHAP. PAGE 

xi. t arnot's presidency — boulanger's apogee and AFTER- 
WARDS 307 

XII. THE GREAT PANAMA SCANDAL 343 

XIII. THE ANARCHIST TERROR THE ASSASSINATION OF CARNOT . 372 

\I\ THE PRESIDENCIES OF JEAN CASIMIR - PERIER AND FFXIX 

FAURE ......... 404 

I HE PRESIDENCY OF £mIL£ LOUBET THE RUSSIAN ALLIANCE 

AND THE ENTENTE CORDIALE ..... 449 

XVI. THE PRESIDENCY OF ARMAND FALLIERES CONCLUSION 466 

ADDENDA AND ERRATA ....... 489 

INDEX .......... 493 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



I. ADOLPHE THIERS . 
II. LEON GAMBETTA IN 1870 
III. MARSHAL MACMAHON 
IV. JULES GREVY 
V. SADI CARNOT 
VI. JEAN CASIMIR-PERIER 
VII. FELIX FAURE 
VIII. EMILE LOUBET 
IX. ARMAND FALLIERES 



. Frontispiece 

To face page 32 

128 



312 



424 
448 
466 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



CHAPTER I 



INTRODUCTION 

The Revolution of 1870 : An Episode — Leon Gambetta — General Trochu — 
Jules Favre — Other Members of the Government of National Defence — 
Some of its Errors — The Germans and the Continuance of the War — The 
Fighting in the Provinces — Disadvantages and Hardships of the French 
— The Army of the Loire — The great Battle of Le Mans — The Arctic 
Retreat — A Recollection of Lord Kitchener — The Siege and Capitulation 
of Paris — France and her Armies at the Armistice — Gambetta's Efforts 
—The Necessity of Peace — Fall of Gambetta — The Elections — Thiers 
Chief of the Executive Power. 

It was the afternoon of Sunday, September 4, 1870 — the third 
day after the disaster of Sedan. The Second Empire had 
fallen, Napoleon III. was a prisoner of war, the Empress 
Eugenie a fugitive. While thousands of Parisians were still 
streaming towards the H6tel-de-Ville, there to acclaim the 
Government of the new Republic, a little cortege passed along 
the Avenue Marigny in the direction of the Place Beauvau, 
adjacent to the Ely see Palace. At the head of it came a dozen 
red-shirted Francs-tireurs de la Presse, whose bugler sounded 
the familiar strains of " La Casquette du Pere Bugeaud," while 
their young officer flourished his sword as if to warn all 
inquisitive folk from venturing too near. This officer, it 
happened, was a certain Henri Chabrillat, who, prior to the 
war, had already acquired some reputation as a journalist. In 
later years he leased a Paris theatre, the Ambigu, where he 
staged Emile Zola's Nana, confiding the title-role of the play 
to the fair and fickle Leontine Massin, with whom he became 

l B 



2 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

infatuated. When she had ruined and deserted him he put 
a pistol to his head. 

Behind Chabrillat and his men as they marched along the 
Avenue Marigny came one of those old-fashioned four-wheel 
cabs, drawn by two little Breton nags, which were familiar 
enough to the Parisians of that period. In addition to the 
driver, seven persons had found accommodation in or on the 
vehicle. There were four passengers inside, a fifth sat beside 
the cabman, while on the roof were two others, each tightly 
grasping the rails which usually served to prevent luggage from 
falling to the ground. One of these two passengers, a thick- 
set man of five-and- thirty, with light hair and a red scrubby 
beard, answered to the name of Eugene Spuller. Born in 
Burgundy, but of Teutonic — some have said Bavarian, and 
others Badener — origin, he was known more or less in French 
art and newspaper circles by some bludgeon-like criticisms both 
of Meissonier's battle-pictures and of the foreign policy of the 
Empire. With his friends, however, he was fonder of talking 
of Schopenhauer, Schlegel, and Fichte, on whose works, which 
he knew by heart, he mused, when alone, for hours at a stretch, 
a pipe in his mouth the while, and a glass mug of beer before 
him. But he was destined to play a very considerable part in 
French politics, long as a kind of Eminence grise, and ultimately 
as one of the Republic's Ministers for Foreign Affairs. 

Behind the cab, laden as we have described, came a small 
troop of enthusiastic citizens exchanging cries of "Vive la 
Uepublique ! " with the onlookers whom they passed ; and while 
the bugle sounded yet another fanfare the procession crossed 
the Place Beauvau and halted outside the lofty wrought-iron 
gates of the Ministry of the Interior. Some of the cab's 
passengers then alighted, the first to do so being a man of 
two-and-thirty, of average height and of a robust but still 
fairly slim figure. He had somewhat long and wavy black 
hair and a full, glossy, black beard. His nose was aquiline, 
almost of the Semitic type ; his under-lip full and sensual ; one 
eye attracted you by its ardour and mobility, whereas the 
other, being false, stared with a vitreous blindness. Garmented 
in one of those black frock-coat suits then favoured by all 
French professional men, with his shirt-front badly rumpled, 
his narrow black neck-tie all awry, and his seedy-looking silk 
hat set on the back of his head, thus allowing one to note both 



l£on GAMBETTA 3 

the height and the breadth of his brow, this individual stepped 
towards a chubby provincial infantryman standing as sentry at 
the Ministry gates, and exclaimed imperatively : "Au nom de 
la Republique, faites ouvrir cette grille ! " 

The injunction was heard by the concierge, who had already 
come forth from his lodge and who hastened to open the gates ; 
which done, he stood aside, bowing humbly, his velvet-tasselled 
smoking-cap dangling from his hand, while, at Chabrillafs 
command, the sentry presented arms, and the cab, preceded by 
the passengers who had alighted, rolled into the gravelled 
courtyard. Another shout of " Vive la Republique ! " then went 
up from the onlookers, who seemed very desirous of following, 
but the same individual who had ordered the gates to be 
opened, now caused them to be shut, and turning to the little 
crowd he addressed it hastily, to this effect: "Citizens, be 
calm, I conjure you. I am here in the name of the Republic. 
There is much to be done. We have thrown off the despotism 
of twenty years, but we must not forget that France is invaded. 
Great duties, great responsibilities, great dangers confront us, 
and must be grappled with at once. If we do so unflinchingly 
victory will assuredly be ours, for it is only the Empire which 
is dead — not France, she is but wounded, and her very wounds 
will inflame her with renewed courage. But, now, retire in 
confidence to your homes. Await the call of the Republic, it 
will come swiftly, and I know that you will all respond to it. 
I promise you that the whole nation shall be armed. What- 
ever effort may be needed we shall make it, so courage and 
confidence, trust in us as we shall trust in you ! " 1 

Then again came a shout of " Long live the Republic ! " 
mingled this time with cries of " Death to the Prussians ! *■ and 
" Long live Gambetta ! " But Gambetta — the reader will have 
already divined, we think, that it was he who had spoken — 
tarried at the gate no longer. Followed by his friends, he 
hurried away across the courtyard, and took possession of the 
deserted Ministry of the Interior. 

He had come thither in hot haste from the H6tel-de-Ville, 
which with his parliamentary colleagues Cremieux and Keratry 
he had been the first to reach after the tumultuous proclama- 

1 From our somewhat imperfect notes made at the time. We were then 
living in the Rue de Miromesnil close by, and were returning from the invasion 
of the Palais Bourbon, etc., when we witnessed the incident we have narrated. 



4 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

tion of the Republic on the steps of the Palais Bourbon. At 
the H6tel-de-Ville he had proclaimed the new regime afresh, 
and had participated in the summary selection of the so-called 
Government of National Defence — a name which was suggested 
by Henri Rochefort, who had just been released from the 
prison of Ste. Pelagic The actual members of the Government 
were Emmanuel Arago, Adolphe Cremieux, Jules Favre, Jules 
on Gambetta, Louis Garnier-Pages, Alexandre Glais- 
Bizoin, Eugene Pelletan, Ernest Picard, Henri Rochefort, and 
Jules Simon — that is, all the deputies of Paris excepting Thiers, 
who refused office. They eventually accepted General Trochu, 
the military governor of the capital, as their President, and 
apportioned, as we shall see, various ministries and other offices 
among certain of their friends. 

But Gambetta did not remain at the H6tel-de-Ville while 
all such matters of detail were being settled. Before the actual 
constitution of the Board of Government, as one may call it, 
he had appointed, without consulting his colleagues, Emmanuel 
Arago's brother £tienne, Mayor of Paris ; but for the rest he 
quitted the H6tel-de-Ville as soon as an opportunity presented 
itself, and, accompanied by his henchmen, proceeded by devious 
ways — owing to the great crowds in the streets — to the 
Ministry of the Interior, of which he was eager to obtain 
possession. He knew indeed that this particular department 
( oveted by his colleague, Ernest Picard, and he feared lest 
the discussions at the H6tel-de-Ville should result in the latter 
securing it. With all despatch, then, he seized it himself, 
organised his cabinet, and in other ways exercised authority, 
while his colleagues of the new Government were still discussing 
the distribution of various administrative offices. At that 
moment Gambetta was certainly not the man whom the 
majority of them would have chosen for the Home Department, 
but they soon had to bow to the fait accompli. Very opportunely 
had the young orator remembered the Latin tag about Fortune 
favouring the audacious. 

It is not unworthy of note that in that hour of Revolution 
Gambetta in no wise aspired to the control of military affairs. 
He was a civilian, an advocate, and had never even been called 
upon to serve in the ranks of the army. Thus he knew little 
or nothing of military matters, the direction of which he was 
content to leave to others, his own ambition being to secure 



l£on GAMBETTA 5 

the most important civilian post of the new regime. Before 
long, however, circumstances, far more than actual desire, placed 
the supreme control of military as well as civil affairs through- 
out the uninvaded provinces of France in his hands. From the 
time when he left beleaguered Paris he had to defend as well 
as govern the country, becoming virtually its Dictator. 

Although Gambetta thus rose to be the most important, 
he was not at the outset the best known member of the 
Government of National Defence ; for he was comparatively a 
new-comer in the political world. In the days of Louis Philippe 
his father had migrated from Genoa to Cahors, an interesting 
little town of southern France, the birthplace of Clement 
Marot, and once the capital of the quaint region of Quercy. 
At Cahors, on the Place de la Cathedrale, Gambetta's father 
established a so-called Bazar G£nois, where olive -oil, wine, 
sugar and sundry other groceries, together with metal and 
glass ware and crockery, were sold. It was, however, in the 
Rue du Lycee that the future statesman was born on April 2, 
1838. One day, some nine or ten years later, while the boy 
stood watching a cutler who was piercing rivet holes in some 
knife-handles, a drill, bounding from the appliance used in the 
work, struck his left eye, the sight of which he lost. As 
regards his education he first attended, it seems, the school of 
the Christian Brothers, going later to the college of Cahors, 
where he was known to his school - fellows by the nickname of 
Molasses junior (Melasse jeune). But at last his thrifty father, 
having saved sufficient money, sent him to Paris to study for 
the profession of the law. Alphonse Daudet first met him 
about that time, at the bohemian Hotel du Senat in the 
Quartier Latin, and subsequently traced a repulsive, malicious, 
and doubtless exaggerated portrait of him, some portion of 
which we here venture to exhume : 

How unbearable those young Gascons were ! What a fuss 
they made over nothing, how silly, how full of bounce, how 
turbulent they were. I particularly remember one of them, the 
noisiest one, the greatest gesticulator of the whole band. I can 
still see him entering the dining-room, his back bent, his shoulders 
swaying, his face aflame, and one-eyed also. As soon as he 
appeared all the other equine heads around the table were raised, 
and he was greeted with loud neighs of: "Ah! ah! ah! here's 
Gambetta ! " . . . He sat down noisily, spread himself over the 
table, or threw himself back in his chair, perorated, struck the 



6 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

table with his fists, laughed loudly enough to break the windows, 
pulled all the table-cloth towards himself, sent his spittle flying 
about the place, got drunk without drinking, snatched the dishes 
awav from you, took the words out of your mouth, and after talk- 
ing "the whole time, went off without having said anything. He 
was Gaudissart and Gazonal combined, that is to say the most 
rustic and loudest mouthed bore that can be imagined. 1 

For a time Gambetta certainly vegetated. But in the first- 
floor room of the famous Cafe Procope, of which he became a 
frequenter, he made the acquaintance of all the aspiring young 
men then dwelling in the Quartier Latin, all the embryonic 
revolutionists in politics, literature, and art. And though after 
becoming an advocate he remained for a time comparatively 
briefless, he began to exercise no little influence at the Confer- 
ence Mole, the famous debating society of young Parisian 
barristers. At last his hour came ; he defended the revolu- 
tionary journalist Delescluze, when the latter was prosecuted 
by the Imperial Government for promoting a subscription for 
the erection of a monument to Baud in, the Republican deputy 
shot down at Louis Napoleon's Coup d'Etat ; and by the speech 
which the young man made on that occasion (November 14, 
1868) — a speech indicting the Second Empire and its origin 
in the most uncompromising fashion — he leapt into sudden 
notoriety. Becoming in the following year a deputy, he pitted 
himself against Emile Ollivier and other partisans of the 
" Liberal " Empire. He defended Rochefort in the Legislative 
Body, denounced the last Imperial Plebiscitum, demanded — in 
vain as it happened — the production of diplomatic documents 
when hostilities were pending against Prussia, and repeatedly 
intervened in discussions on military and other important 
measures after the earlier reverses of the war. He asked, for 
nee, that the National Guard should be armed, that Paris 
should be placed in a proper state of defence, and that the 
Emperor should lay down the chief command. At that diffi- 
cult period, indeed, Gambetta displayed great vigour in the 
discharge of his parliamentary duties, and each day saw his 
influence increase among the enemies of the Empire. Finally, 
when the Palais Bourbon was invaded on September 4, he 
played the supreme part in the proceedings, though not a 

1 For the rest we must refer the reader to Alphonse Daudet's Lettres k 
un Absent— first impression only ; the sketch being omitted from all subse- 
quent editions. 



GENERAL TROCHU 7 

completely successful one, for he wished to compel the Legis- 
lative Body to vote in due form the dethronement of the 
Emperor and his dynasty — a course which seemed advisable in 
view of future possibilities, but which could not be followed 
owing to the impatience of the multitude. To that impatience 
Gambetta ultimately yielded like his colleagues of the Opposi- 
tion, and the Revolution was forthwith consummated. 

If, however, the strenuous part played by Gambetta for 
some time past had made him, like Henri Rochefort, one of 
the idols of the Parisian masses, he did not inspire anything 
like the same confidence among more thoughtful Frenchmen, 
who regarded him not only as a very advanced Republican but 
as a somewhat dangerous one also. Again, General Trochu, 
who became President of the new Government, was more 
esteemed in certain military circles than actually famous or 
popular among Frenchmen generally. Born in 1815 on Belle- 
Ile, off the coast of Brittany, he had been in Louis Philippe's 
time the favourite aide-de-camp of Marshal Bugeaud. Under 
the Empire he had largely organised the Crimean Expedition, 
and had served as aide-de-camp to St. Arnaud. Familiar with 
the many defects of the Imperial military system, he had de- 
nounced them in a work entitled VArmee francaise en 1867 9 
which, while it gave much offence in French official regions, 
attracted the attention of military circles all the world over, in 
such wise that no fewer than eighteen large editions of it were 
issued in the course of a year or two. Suspected of " Orleanism " 
and disliked as a reformer, Trochu had failed to secure any 
important command at the outset of the Franco-German War, 
and it was mainly the pressure of the parliamentary Opposition 
and the popular Parisian newspapers which procured him the 
post of Governor of the capital after the earlier French reverses. 
Even then he was distrusted by the Empress and her entourage 
as well as by the Minister of War, General Cousin-Montauban, 
Count de Palikao. 1 

At the Revolution Trochu was virtually powerless by 
reason, largely, of Palikao's action in depriving him of effective 
command ; still, according to his own account, he wished to 
save the Legislative Body from invasion, and was on his way 
to the Palais Bourbon when he encountered Jules Favre, who 

1 Other particulars concerning Trochu will be found in our Court of the 
Tuileries, 1852-1870. London : Chatto and Windus, 1907. 



8 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

told him that all was over and begged him to repair to the 
H6tel-de-Ville. Trochu at first refused to do so, and returned 
to his quarters at the Louvre, whither presently came a 
deputation consisting of Glais-Bizoin, a member of the new 
Government, Steenackers, soon to be director of the telegraph 
services, and Daniel Wilson, an Opposition member of the 
Legislative Body and subsequently son-in-law of Jules Grevy, 
President of the Republic. These ambassadors renewed the 
request that Trochu would go to the H6tel-de-Ville and 
support the new administration. Before replying, the general, 
like many Frenchmen at critical moments of their lives — we in 
no wise blame them — consulted his wife ; and she assenting, 
he went to the H6tel-de-Ville. Favre thereupon begged him 
to assume the direction of military affairs and rally the troops, 
who, officers and men alike, had dispersed through Paris. 
Trochu's reply was to inquire if the new Government intended 
to respect religion, property, and family ties, a question 
answered affirmatively by the eight members present. There- 
upon the general declared that he also needed the "moral 
adhesion " of the War Minister, whose subordinate he deemed 
himself as long as the Minister remained at the War Office. 

He therefore called on Palikao, who advised him to assume 
the proffered direction of military matters, as otherwise, with 
the prevailing confusion, "all might be lost.'" Trochu then 
returned to the H6tel-de-Ville, and, premising that, in the 
existing situation, military considerations were paramount and 
that it was necessary he should be unhampered in his actions 
by any division of authority, he claimed, as the price of his 
adhesion, the Presidency of the new Government, which had 
been previously assigned to Jules Favre. To that course the 
others assented, even as Trochu, on his side, assented to the 
inclusion of Rochefort (whom he now first saw) among the 
members of the administration. 

The new President, then five-and-fifty years old, was a little 
man, short and slight, with a waspish waist. Completely bald, 
he had a curiously-rounded cranium, strong jaws, and a very 
prominent chin. On the whole, his face was perhaps more 
expressive of stubbornness than of energy. A fervent Catholic, 
possessed of many private virtues, an excellent son, husband, 
and brother, his competence for the position he assumed resided 
chiefly in his powers of organisation. As a divisional general 



GENERAL TROCHU 9 

he had given a good account of himself at Solferino in 1859, 
but that had been his only notable command in the field. 
Though he possessed real ability as an organiser he had a 
curious defect, such as seldom appears in a man of that stamp. 
He was verbose, he not only spoke and " proclaimed " far too 
often, but on every occasion he used three times as many words 
as Napoleon I., for instance, would have done. Verbosity was 
indeed the sin of many members of the Government of National 
Defence, of many of its officials, and many of its most famous 
adherents, such as Hugo, Quinet, and Louis Blanc. Glancing 
in these later times at all the literature of that period, pro- 
clamations, circulars, addresses, speeches and so forth, one is 
struck by their redundancy, their interminable length. Colonel 
Lecomte, an able Swiss officer, has pungently remarked : 
" Composed so largely of eloquent advocates and clever 
litterateurs, and presided over by a general who was even more 
of a litterateur and an advocate than all his colleagues put 
together, the National Defence Government was better suited 
to adorn the French Academy than to fill, as it said, the 
breach. 11 

One of its number, Jules Favre — its Vice-President when 
Trochu took the higher post — was indeed an Academician. 
Later, his colleague Jules Simon became one ; so did Eugene 
Pelletan, and so too did Charles de Freycinet, Gambetta's 
coadjutor in the provinces. Moreover, Favre, Cremieux, 
Gambetta, Picard, Ferry, Arago, and Glais-Bizoin were all 
advocates; Pelletan and Jules Simon were literary men, 
Rochefort was a journalist. Some, however, had occupied 
political offices under the Second Republic — that of 1848. 
Among these were, first, Garnier-Pages, who had then for a 
short time controlled the national finances, and contributed by 
his obnoxious measures to bring the Republican regime into 
odium ; and, secondly, Jules Favre, who had served for a brief 
season as Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He now 
became Minister for that Department, though he was in no 
wise the man to contend at all successfully with one so astute 
as Count Bismarck. 

Born at Lyons in 1809, renowned for his oratory which was 
more mellifluous than stirring, chief spokesman of the Re- 
publican parliamentary Opposition to the Second Empire, 
batonnier of the Bar of Paris, leading counsel for the defence 






10 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

in the Orsini conspiracy and other famous political cases of the 
period, Favre was probably the best known and most respected 
of the members of the new Government. A man of rugged 
exterior, heavy and fairly tall, with a mass of more or less 
tangled wa\y hair, a lofty brow, kindly eyes, and a large 
mouth with a thick pendent under-lip, he wore no moustache 
— advocates, indeed, were then debarred from wearing any — but 
he had a full and somewhat unkempt beard. A Protestant in 
religion, though he pleaded for Mile, de la Merliere in the 
famous affair of the " miracles " of La Salette, Favre enjoyed a 
great reputation for integrity, even austerity, but unfortunately 
there was a skeleton in his cupboard, as was shown subsequent 
to the war. 

While he was still quite a young man he had fallen in love 
with a Mme. Vernier, who had been known in her maiden days 
as Mile. Jeanne Charmont. She had contracted a very 
unhappy marriage with a certain Louis ;Adolphe Vernier, who 
dabbled in shady financial affairs ; and finding her life with 
him intolerable, and reciprocating the passion which Favre had 
conceived for her, she at last quitted her husband and lived 
with her lover as his wife. There was then no divorce law in 
France, and consequently no means of regularising the position. 
For the rest, everybody believed the young couple to be duly 
married. Favre, at the time, was virtually unknown, but even 
when he had made his way in the world people still imagined 
that the charming and good-hearted woman who shared his life 
was legally entitled to the position she occupied. Children 
were born of the connection, and Favre, although a barrister, 
well acquainted with the law and the penalties it specified, 
registered those children as his legitimate offspring. By doing 
so he rendered himself liable to fine and imprisonment, but he 
was carried away by his desire to hide the truth from his 
children in order that they might not at some future time 
blush for their origin and reproach their parents. That he 
committed an offence against the law is certain, but from the 
standpoint of equity he wronged no one. 

However, that was not everything. Vernier, the husband, 
raised no public scandal at the time of the elopement, being 
content to let his wife go. But some suspicious financial 
transactions having compelled him to quit Paris, he took up 
his residence in Algeria, and subsisted there by levying black- 



JULES FAVRE 11 

mail on Favre, who, to avoid exposure, paid him a regular 
allowance. For many years this highly successful man, head 
of his profession, leader of his party, member of the French 
Academy, encompassed by all the home affections which 
usually conduce to happiness of life, lived in daily dread of 
seeing himself denounced by Vernier, if he should fail to com- 
ply with the latter's demands for money. Had the divulgation 
of the truth preceded the downfall of the Empire, Favre would 
certainly have been prosecuted, for the opportunity of ruining 
such a redoubtable adversary would have been one which the 
supporters of the Imperial institutions would have eagerly 
seized. But the facts did not become known until the time 
when Favre and Thiers, each striving to do his best for France, 
were anxiously negotiating with Bismarck the peace following 
the Franco-German War. 

That was considered a proper moment to stab the un- 
fortunate Minister for Foreign Affairs in the back, to com- 
promise and discredit him in full view of the enemy. A 
Frenchman was guilty of that grossly unpatriotic action, a 
Frenchman, however, who was also a Socialist, a lean, spectacled, 
ranting individual named Milliere, whom extremist Parisians 
had lately elected as a deputy. This man contributed the 
whole story of Favre and the Verniers to a newspaper called 
Le Vengeur, which was conducted by the most cowardly of all 
the revolutionaries of that period, Felix Pyat, a plotter who 
always egged on others, but who invariably contrived to save 
his own particular hide. At first nobody believed the story, 
but after it had been repeated and enlarged upon in various 
directions, 1 the National Assembly called upon Favre to 
vindicate his reputation. The unhappy man could only hang 
his head, and confess — weeping bitterly the while — that he 
had, indeed, made false declarations respecting his children's 
legitimacy. The Assembly listened to him in deep silence — 
too shocked, it seemed, for words. He was no favourite with 
the majority, he had simply retained office because apart from 
Thiers himself it was difficult to find anybody willing to accept 
the humiliating duty of treating with Germany and setting 
his name to the instrument which would finally sever Alsace 
and Lorraine from France. Favre was never prosecuted for 

1 The truth had previously become known to just a few of Favre's 
intimates, but they had kept it secret. 



12 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

his infringement of the registration law, but the exposure, 
falling on a man whose reputation as a politician and 
diplomatist was already tottering, proved terrible, and after 
the conclusion of peace and the fall of the Commune he 
resigned office. As for Mil Here, he was shot by some of the 
Versailles troops on the steps of the Pantheon during the 
Bloody Week. 

Four members of the National Defence Government, 
Emmanuel Arago, Gamier- Pages, Pelletan, and Glais-Bizoin, 
abstained from taking charge of any particular Ministerial 
department. The first, a tall, long-jawed, clean-shaven, and 
extremely loud-voiced man of fifty-eight, was a son of the great 
Arago, and became chairman of a committee appointed to 
report on judicial reorganisation. To the career of the second, 
an amiable, tall, slim septuagenarian, with rugged features 
and long white hair curling over his shoulders, we have 
previously referred. The third, Pelletan, then fifty-seven 
years old, had written books on the rights of man, family life, 
and royal philosophers, besides some trenchant philippics 
directed against the alleged demoralising influence of the 
Empire. Further, he had directed a Republican organ called 
La Tribune in conjunction with Glais-Bizoin, another septua- 
genarian of the band, who had sat as an ardent democrat in 
the various French legislatures ever since 1830 and had made 
a distinct reputation, not by any speeches of his own but by 
the caustic, galling, and irrelevant manner in which he per- 
petually interrupted the speeches of others. Glais-Bizoin was 
short and lean, with a glistening cranium, hollow cheeks, a 
scrubby beard which he dyed, and a nose like a hawk's beak. 1 
He became one of the Defence delegates in the provinces, 
where he often inspected camps of instruction and reviewed 
new levies, to whom he would say with as much majesty as he 
could assume : " Soldats, je suis content de vous ! n 

That phrase was, of course, borrowed from Napoleon, even 
as Jules Favre, consciously or unconsciously, derived the words, 
" Not a stone of our fortresses, not an inch of our territory,"" 
from the ancient oath of the Knights Templars, as Gambetta 
derived his boast about a compact with victory or death from 

1 The above description of Glais-Bizoin has been borrowed from our 
book, Emile Zola, Novelist and Reformer, in which a few further particulars 
concerning him are given. Zola became for a time his secretary. 



MEN OF THE NATIONAL DEFENCE 13 

Corneille, and as Rochefort, moreover, derived the regime's 
very name — Government of National Defence — from Michelet's 
History of France, in which it is assigned to the Armagnac 
party of the fifteenth century. 

But let us say something of the other new rulers of France. 
Jules Simon, 1 who was well known by his writings on natural 
religion, liberty of conscience, duty, education, juvenile and 
female labour, and whose high-perched flat on the Place de la 
Madeleine had been the favourite rendezvous of the Opposition 
deputies of the Empire's Legislative Body, became Minister 
of Public Instruction. Simon was then fifty-six years old, 
stout, with curly hair and whiskers, and a Semitic cast of 
countenance. His colleague Cremieux was really a Jew. He 
had been Minister of Justice in 1848, and again took that post 
in spite of his four -and -seventy years. Moreover, he was 
actually the man first chosen to govern provincial France on 
behalf of the Government generally, his colleagues wishing to 
remain in Paris, whither the Germans were marching. Ernest 
Picard, a jovial-looking and extremely corpulent advocate, 
just under fifty years of age, became Minister of Finance ; 
while Jules Ferry, another advocate and forty-seven years old, 
took the post of Secretary -General, which he afterwards 
relinquished for that of Mayor of Paris — an office that made 
him largely responsible for the rations measured out to the 
Parisians in the latter days of the German Siege. We shall 
have to speak more particularly of Ferry in other sections of 
this book. Finally, among the members proper of the Govern- 
ment, there was Henri Rochefort, the famous pamphleteer 
imprisoned by the Empire for his attacks upon it, and now 
raised to office. But thirty-nine years old, slim and straight 
as a dart, with a wonderful toupet of very dark curly hair, a 
lofty brow, deep-set flashing eyes, high and prominent cheek- 
bones, a curiously misshapen nose, a small moustache and 
goatee, he was the most popular member of the National 
Defence among the extremists of the capital. He became 
President of the Committee of Barricades. Of him as of Ferry 
we shall have to speak again. 

Let us now pass from the twelve actual members of the 

1 His real patronymic was Suisse, but his Christian names having served 
as his norm de plume when he produced his first books, he remained known 
by them, and virtually discarded his surname. 



14 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Government of the Defence to the more important men, 
whose co-operation they secured. First there was General Le 
Flo, an old Republican soldier, who had been cashiered by 
Napoleon III. for resisting the Coup d'&at in 1851. He became 
Minister of War under Trochu. Vice-Admiral Fourichon, an 
officer of considerable merit but a sexagenarian, was appointed 
Minister of Marine, and afterwards accompanied Cremieux into 
the provinces; while Magnin, a provincial iron-master and 
landed proprietor, obtained the portfolio of Agriculture and 
Commerce, in which respect, like Ferry, he had to deal with the 
provisioning of the Parisians. Count Emile de Keratry, a 
Breton who had seen service in Mexico, became the first Prefect 
of Police, being succeeded for a short time by Edmond Adam, 
the urbane and liberal-minded husband of a lady who subse- 
quently exercised much influence in the parliamentary world of 
the Republic. An energetic lawyer named Cresson took Adam's 
place after an insurrection which, breaking out in besieged Paris 
on October 31 when the surrender of Metz became known, would 
have overthrown the Government had it not been for the 
vigour of Jules Ferry and Ernest Picard. 

Last but not least in the long list of the Defence Ad- 
ministration came Frederic Dorian, Minister of Public Works, 
a handsome, frank, pleasing man, in his fifty-sixth year, who, of 
all the Government's coadjutors, was the most practical, active, 
and competent. A native of Montbeliard, a great iron-master 
and manufacturer in the St. Etienne district, he had also been a 
deputy since 1869, but had never been looked upon as one of 
Radical views. He was the only man of the ruling band who 
emerged from the trials of the Siege of Paris with an enhanced 
reputation. He largely provided for the defence of the city, 
he cast cannon and mitrailleuses, perfected ramparts, constructed 
redoubts, built armoured locomotives, trained engineers, and 
generally acquitted himself of his office in a way which left no 
cause for reproach. At the insurrection of October 31, such 
was his popularity that he might have become Dictator, but he 
was too loyal a man to seize such an opportunity. Great as 
was his usefulness in Paris, it might have proved greater still in 
the provinces, had he been sent out as one of Gambetta's 
assistants. He died prematurely, amid universal regret, 
in 1873. 

The Government of National Defence was completely 






MEN OF THE NATIONAL DEFENCE 15 

installed by September 6. On the 19th the investment of 
Paris by the Germans was completed. Jules Favre, who had 
passed through their lines, was at that moment conferring with 
Bismarck respecting both an armistice for the election of a 
National Assembly, and the ultimate conditions of peace. 
Those fixed by the German statesman were the cession to 
Germany of the two Alsatian departments of the Lower and 
Upper Rhine and a part of the Moselle department inclusive of 
Metz, Chateau Salins, and Soissons. Even the conditions for 
an armistice were onerous and humiliating, and Favre returned 
to Paris after a fruitless journey. 

One great mistake of the National Defence Government was 
that it remained in the capital. Instead of sending delegates 
into the provinces — as it did on September 12 and 15 — it 
should have left delegates in Paris and have transported itself 
to some other city, there to organise both the capital's relief 
and the defence of the country generally. Moreover, the 
provincial delegates were at first Cremieux (74 years old), Glais- 
Bizoin (70 years old), and Fourichon (66 years old), who, as 
General Trochu afterwards admitted, had been chosen on 
account of their great age ! To them, fortunately for France, 
Gambetta (then 32 years old) was ultimately adjoined. He had 
proposed at the very outset that at least the Ministers of the 
Interior, Finance, War and Foreign Affairs should quit the 
capital even if others remained there ; and a month after he 
and his secretary Spuller quitted Paris by balloon (October 7) 
he urgently renewed that request. But he did so in vain. 

It was also a great mistake to accumulate and lock up such 
large military forces in the capital. The city did not need nearly 
half a million defenders. When the German Siege began there 
were in Paris about 90,000 regulars (including all categories), 
a naval contingent of 13,500 men, and 110,000 provincial 
Mobile Guards — that is a force of 213,000 men in addition to 
all the National Guards — whereas 100,000, over and beyond the 
National Guards (280,000 in number), would certainly have 
sufficed for all defensive purposes, with due allowance also for 
the suppression of any riots which malcontents might provoke 
in the city. As General Chanzy said in his evidence at the 
Inquiry held after the war: "The Government made a 
tremendous mistake (une faute inornw) in keeping in Paris 
everything that might have been so useful in the provinces. 



16 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

The necessary forces had to be left there, of course, but not 
over 400,000 men." 

At the same inquiry Trochu admitted that the Government 
had erred in refusing to quit Paris — as it might have done, 
leaving him behind. Jules Favre was unanimously begged to 
go to Tours, but refused, and not till then was Gambetta 
sent out. The latter, at the same inquiry, spoke as follows : 
"Only one thing was thought of — the defence of Paris, and 
that idea became so exclusive that no heed was given to any- 
thing else. It occurred to me that the rest of the country 
was being somewhat overlooked. But it was thought that 
Paris would suffice not only to deliver herself, 1 but even to 
drive the enemy out of the country. ... I think that among 
the mistakes which may have been made that was the 
capital one."" 

On Cremieux, Glais-Bizoin, and Fourichon assuming the 
direction of affairs in the provinces they found very few forces 
at their disposal and did little to increase them. But when 
Gambetta had joined them at Tours, where they were 
established, armies sprang up as if by magic. Trochu and 
Favre, shut up in Paris, were, as the former relates, astonished 
at the rapidity with which the provincial armies were got 
together. They had formed a poor opinion of provincial 
resources generally. On the German side Moltke had imagined 
that the war would end with the advance on Paris. Until 
then there had been only a few slight mistakes in his arrange- 
ments ; but when the provinces rose, at the inspiration of the 
Delegate-Government of Defence, he found himself at a loss. 
The truth, long hidden from the world by the German General 
Staff, was at last established peremptorily by Hoenig, Goltz, 
Blumenthal, and others. King, afterwards Emperor, William 
and Bismarck held views very different from Moltke's ; under- 
standing better than he did the character of the French nation, 
they foresaw the further campaigning in the provinces. Again, 
while Moltke was fully acquainted with the country between 
the Rhine and Paris he had much less knowledge of other 
regions of France, and of the possibilities of effective warfare on 

1 Yet history shows that it is well-nigh impossible for an invested army 
to raise a siege without the co-operation of relief forces. Trochu himself 
admits it in his Memoirs, and his M plan," at first, was purely and simply 
one for the defence of Paris. 






THE WAR AFTER SEDAN 17 

the part of the French. At the outset, after Sedan and the 
investment of Paris, the great strategist made several mistakes 
which might have proved disastrous had the French been 
stronger ; and, curious to relate, it was chiefly King William 
who set Moltke right, at times even overruling his decisions. 
Sufficient evidence has been produced of recent years to establish 
that statement as historical fact, and to show that the present 
Kaiser's " illustrious grandfather " was a far more capable 
soldier than the admirers of Moltke — and of Moltke only — 
were in former times willing to acknowledge. 

It is not our purpose here to relate in detail either the 
many episodes of the siege of Paris or of the war in the 
provinces. The recital of either would require a bulky volume. 
With respect to the war in the provinces, it is to be regretted 
that no complete independent work on the subject exists in 
our language. The able record produced by Colonel Lonsdale- 
Hale 1 extends, unfortunately, no further than the second 
occupation of Orleans in December 1870, and gives no account 
of either the operations in the North or in the East of France. 
Had a complete book on the subject been available among our 
officers some time before the Boer war, it would have imparted 
to them a far greater amount of useful knowledge than could 
ever be acquired from the deluge of works on the campaign 
which ended at Sedan. We have invasion scares in this 
country, and those who would form an idea of the possibilities 
of defence possessed by a nation having only a small force of 
regulars at its disposal, must refer to what was done in France 
in the latter part of 1870. 

Early in the war the French Francs-tireurs, often somewhat 
theatrically costumed, were laughed at by foreigners ; but 
there is plenty of evidence to show that as time went on they 
worried the Germans exceedingly, the latter even being 
unnerved, when in small detachments, by their fear of those 
guerillas. Again, the heroic resistance offered in October, 
first by the villages of Varize and Civry, and immediately after- 
wards by the little town of Chateaudun in Eure-et-Loir, on 
which last occasion Francs-tireurs and inhabitants, 1200 in 
number, fought valiantly against 6000 infantry, a regiment of 
cavalry and four batteries of artillery under General von 

1 The People's War in France, by Colonel Lonsdale-Hale. London : 
H. Rees, 1904. 

C 



18 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Wittich, fairly staggered the Germans. The reprisals were 
terrible: the seventy-four houses of Varize, the fifty-three 
houses of Civry, and two hundred and thirty-five at Chateaudun 
were committed to the flames, while a number of non-combatant 
inhabitants, including women, were massacred. It was hoped 
that this terrible lesson would suffice, but for some time the 
Germans feared lest the example set by Chateaudun, Civry, and 
Varize might be repeated. Had the temper of the people been 
everywhere the same it is certain that the progress of the 
invasion must have been retarded. 

While France made great efforts during the latter part of 
1870, she was, as in the earlier stages of the war, very 
unfortunate. Only two of her generals — Chanzy and Faidherbe 
— were at all of the first class. The winter, too, was one of 
the most cruel of the century, and its effects were felt more by 
the raw French levies than by the more seasoned Germans. 
Again, the French supplies, derived so largely from abroad, 
were often terribly defective, the rifles and carbines useless, 
the boots soled with some abominable composition whose 
durability was of the briefest, and the cartridges a mockery 
and a sham. The United States and Great Britain may 
divide that disgrace between them. Many a time did we 
handle Springfields and other firearms which were absolutely 
unserviceable, but with which, none the less, unlucky Mobilises 
were sent into action. Many a time, too, did we find men 
wearing English-made boots, only the " uppers " of which 
remained ! 

One particular hardship endured by the French troops was 
that of having to camp at night in the open. General d'Aurelle 
de Paladines, when commanding the Loire army, made that a 
strict rule, holding that the men might become demoralised 
and desert if they were billeted on the villagers. It is certain 
that the older peasantry in Touraine were against the pro- 
longation of the war. Faidherbe had a similar experience in 
northern France, and issued a similar regulation. Only in the 
large towns were the soldiers billeted on the inhabitants. 
Elsewhere they slept in tents — if they had any — or absolutely 
unsheltered, and this amid the slush of autumn and the snow 
of winter, and although villages were generally close at hand. 
Further, owing to the enemy's proximity — particularly during 
the long retreat of General Chanzy with the second army of 






THE LOIRE ARMY 19 

the Loire — an order went forth that no camp-fires should be 
lighted. The effect of all this both on the physique and on 
the morale of the men was very marked. Next day they fell 
back, and the Germans advanced to their positions ; but they 
did not quarter their men in the fields, they occupied every 
village and hamlet, appropriated every available house, cottage, 
barn and shed, so as to be as comfortable as possible. Further, 
the French commissariat was often deplorable, and the 
peasantry, in their folly, secreted food and fodder which they 
might easily have sold to their fellow-countrymen (who would 
have been grateful for it), but which was extorted from them, 
under menace of death and without payment, by the invader 
on the morrow. 1 

Metz, where Marshal Bazaine had long been shut up with 
the flower of the former army of France, capitulated on October 
27, and a terrible blow was thereby inflicted on the country, 
for the German Headquarters Staff" was then able to transfer 
the troops which had hitherto blockaded Metz to other regions 
and prosecute the war there more actively. The force on 
which the Government at Tours set most of its hopes was the 
Army of the Loire, which under D'Aurelle de Paladines gained 
an incomplete victory over the Bavarians under Von der Tann 
at Coulmiers on November 9. The enemy then had to evacuate 
Orleans ; but a series of French defeats, due largely to the 
enemy's superior strength — the engagements of Beaune-la- 
Rolande (November 28) and Loigny (December 2), followed by 
the two days' battle of Orleans (December 3 and 4) — brought 
about the reoccupation of that city by the Germans under 
Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia and the Grand Duke of 
Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Further, the French forces were now 
dislocated, some being on one, and some on the other side of 
the Loire, and (D'Aurelle being removed from his command) 
they were divided into two distinct armies, one of two corps 
under General Bourbaki and one of three corps under General 
Chanzy. The former force was styled officially the First and 
the latter the Second Army of the Loire. As it happened, 
the operations of the First Army were gradually transferred 
to the more central and then to the eastern part of France, 

1 The above is written from personal knowledge. We quitted Paris with 
American " papers " during November, passed through the German Lines 
and joined the Loire army. 



20 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

for which reason the name of " Army of the East " ended by 
prevailing. 

Chanzy, with the three corps oVarmee he had rallied, 
executed a masterly retreat towards the forest of Marchenoir, 
and gave the Germans no little trouble. Indeed, even Moltke 
subsequently declared that he was, without doubt, the best 
French commander with whom the invading armies came in 
contact. For three days (December 8 to 10) he contested the 
German advance at Villorceau, but being compelled to resume 
his retreat, he fell back to the line of the Loir near Vendome. 
The Delegates of the Defence were now obliged to quit Tours, 
and installed themselves at Bordeaux. On December 15, 
after engagements at Moree, Freteval and other localities near 
Vendome, Chanzy had to retreat again, and this time he with- 
drew the bulk of his forces to positions in front of Le Mans, 
the old capital of Maine. The German advance had not gone 
on without resistance ; it had often been well disputed, the 
French striving to put the enemy to trouble and inconvenience 
even if they could not prevent his ultimate success. At Le 
Mans, and in its vicinity, had been gathered all the supplies for 
the relief of besieged Paris : a vast amount of railway stock — 
some scores of locomotives and thousands of vans and trucks 
laden with provisions, stores of every kind ; and it was certain 
that a great effort would be made at this point to stem the 
tide of the invasion. That effort was made, but it failed like 
others. 

After some preliminary fighting came a battle of three days' 
duration (January 10 to 12, 1871) amid snow and ice in the 
difficult country before Le Mans. There were about 170,000 
combatants. Though the French forces were no longer such 
as they had been — having been sorely tried by prolonged 
retreats — they held their ground well, and the fighting, despite 
adverse climatic conditions, was marked on most points by 
gallantry and endurance. Occasional weakness was counter- 
balanced by the energy of certain commanders, such as Post- 
Captain Gougeard of the French navy, who, serving as a 
brigadier, had two horses killed under him and his cap carried 
away by a projectile in a charge which enabled him to regain a 
position momentarily seized by the Germans. Unfortunately, 
on the evening of January 11, a Prussian battalion succeeded in 
*' rushing " a position called La Tuilerie, held by some raw, 



THE BATTLE OF LE MANS 21 

badly-armed, hungry, and exhausted Breton Mobilises, who 
ought never to have been posted at such an important point. 
They fled and, every effort to retake La Tuilerie failing, it 
became necessary to fall back behind Le Mans lest the French 
forces should be cut in halves. Panic spread, moreover, and 
the night was marked by disgraceful scenes. We can still 
picture the wretched soldiers fleeing through the town, throw- 
ing away their weapons, and struck by their indignant officers. 
In the battle of Le Mans and the terrible retreat which again 
followed, the Germans took over 20,000 prisoners, with a vast 
amount of materiel de guerre and other supplies. 

It was a wonderful and an awful business. A Siberian 
temperature with incessant snowstorms ; occasional sharp rear- 
guard actions with a German flying column ; then men desert- 
ing on all sides ; the railway lines blocked for miles by trains 
crammed with supplies for Paris ; the roads, going towards 
Laval and Mayenne, similarly blocked by all the impedi- 
menta of the army ; the horses dying by the wayside, the 
famished soldiers cutting steaks from the flanks of the dead 
beasts and devouring them raw; many in boots, whose com- 
position soles had disappeared as we have mentioned, others in 
sabots, others with mere rags around their feet, and yet others 
absolutely barefooted, who trudged along woefully till they fell 
despairing and exhausted on the snow to perish there. Now 
and again some poor fellow was hoisted on to some baggage 
waggon, but ambulances, remedies, cordials, there were none. 
In presence of those scenes we were able to form some idea of 
what the Retreat from Moscow must have been. 

Chanzy had first wished to fall back on Alencon, but 
Gambetta, rightly we think, chose the line of the Mayenne, 
and headquarters were therefore next established at Laval, 
garrisoned at that moment by a few battalions of Breton 
Mobilises, in one of which, belonging to the C6tes-du-Nord 
(we forget its number), a young Englishman was then serving 
as a private. His name was Horatio Herbert Kitchener. Soon 
afterwards, when the staff arrangements had been fully settled 
at Laval, he was employed in connection with the captive- 
balloon service under Gaston Tissandier, and made a few 
ascents to assist in topographical observations. He thereby 
contracted a severe chill and had to be removed to the local 
hospital, whither his stepmother, then resident at Dinan, came 



22 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

to nurse him. We fancy that he cannot have forgotten his 
experiences in those days of rout and disaster. 

At Laval Chanzy began to reorganise his army, but the 
end of the war was now at hand. Bourbaki 1 s Army of the 
East, after a slight success at Villersexel, was badly worsted 
on the Lisaine (January 15 to 17) and condemned to a retreat 
which (through some misunderstanding in the ensuing armistice 
negotiations) eventually threw it into Switzerland. Faidherbe, 
whose forces were small, had previously fought two indecisive 
battles at Bapaume and St. Quentin in the North, some 
advantages resting with him and some with the Germans. 
However, the fighting, generally, in that region, was hardly 
of a nature to exercise much influence on the fate of France. 
That was virtually settled by the fall of Paris, which capitulated 
on January 28. Thousands of weary people in the provinces 
had been waiting for that capitulation, feeling that it would be 
the harbinger of peace. 

Trochu's first plan as regards the capital had been, as 
previously stated, a purely defensive one. But early in the 
siege General Ducrot, his subordinate, conceived the idea of 
breaking out of the city by way of the valley of the Seine. 
Trochu was won over to that idea, and great preparations were 
made for carrying it into effect. But the Delegates at Tours 
did not attempt relief by way of Normandy ; and after the 
battle of Coulmiers the Paris authorities found it necessary 
to abandon the Seine-valley plan, and try a sortie to the 
east of the city. All sorts of preparations had to be made 
afresh, but Ducrot finally led the Army of Paris across the 
Marne, and the battle of Champigny ensued (November 30 and 
December 2), with the result that the French had to withdraw 
after some very strenuous fighting on both sides. About that 
time it was expected that Bourbaki would advance to the relief 
of the capital with the First Army of the Loire, proceeding by 
way of the forest of Fontainebleau, but that course proved 
impracticable, and Paris was reduced to her own resources. 
On December 21 an attempt was made on the German positions 
at Le Bourget, north of the city, but was repulsed. Then, on 
January 19, a kind of forlorn-hope effort was made at Buzenval 
on the west, but resulted in serious losses among the Parisian 
National Guards who, having long clamoured to be led against 
the enemy, figured largely in this sortie — the last one of the 






THE SIEGE OF PARIS 23 

siege. Two days later General Trochu resigned the office of 
Commander-in-Chief, though not that of President of the 
Government. The former post was taken by General Vinoy, 
to whom fell the duty of carrying out the capitulation as 
negotiated by Favre and Bismarck on January 28. 

The sufferings of the Parisians had been severe during the 
long blockade. At first 500 oxen and 4000 sheep had been 
slaughtered daily for their consumption. 1 At the end of 
September meat was rationed, the daily allowance for each 
individual being about three ounces. Horseflesh was then 
largely patronised, and somewhat later, when the ration of beef 
or mutton fell to 1^ oz. per diem, it became more in request 
than ever, in such wise that on November 13 only some 
70,000 horses were left, 30,000 of them being required for 
military purposes, so that only 40,000 might be utilised as 
food. Animals from the Jardin des Plantes and the Jardin 
d'Acclimatation were then slaughtered, and dogs, cats, guinea 
pigs, and rats were added to the Parisian's fare. Horseflesh 
was in due course strictly rationed, but the Government 
abstained as long as possible from the rationing of bread. On 
December 8, however, it was found that the Government stores 
both of grain and flour represented only about 24,000 tons, 
and on January 18 bread (now made of just a little wheaten 
flour with an admixture of bran, rice, barley, oats, vermicelli, 
and starch) was rationed at the rate of ten ounces a day, 
children under five years of age receiving only half that quantity. 
The meat allowance was then actually under one ounce per 
diem, so that, on an average, the Parisian obtained only about 
one quarter of the quantity of food which he usually consumed. 
Great was the distress, nobly did an Englishman, Mr. — after- 
wards Sir — Richard Wallace, seek to relieve it. 

The bombardment — chiefly on the southern side of the 
Seine — had some moral effect, but the material damage it 
caused was comparatively small. It killed about 100 and 

1 Prior to the siege the average daily consumption had been 935 oxen, 
4680 sheep, 570 pigs, and 600 calves, to which should be added 46,000 head 
of poultry, game, etc., 50 tons of fish, and 670,000 eggs. At the moment of 
the investment on September 19, the live stock, collected together (largely 
in the Bois de Boulogne), amounted to 175,000 sheep, 30,000 oxen, 8800 pigs, 
and 6000 milch cows. In addition to considerable quantities of grain (wheat 
and rye) the stock of flour in the hands of the Government or the trade was 
estimated at about 44,000 tons. 



24 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

wounded about 200 people. Far more serious was the health 
bill of the city. Among the non-combatant population there 
were in November 7444 deaths against 3863 in November the 
previous year. In December there were 10,665 deaths against 
4214 in December 1869. The proportion rose in the last 
week of the year to 85 per thousand, whereas 21 per thousand 
was then the rate in London. In January, between sixty and 
seventy people died from small-pox every day, and the ravages 
of bronchitis and pneumonia were always increasing. At last, 
between January 14 and January 20, the mortality from 
natural causes rose to no less than 4465, whilst only enough 
bread for a few more days was left. Thus capitulation became 
a necessity. 

It ensued, accompanied by an armistice. Paris paid a war 
levy of i?8,000,000 ; the forts round the city were occupied by 
the Germans; the garrison — Line, Mobiles, and Naval con- 
tingent — altogether about 180,000 men, became prisoners of 
war ; an armament of 1500 fortress guns and 400 field-pieces 
went to the enemy as well as large stores of ammunition. A 
division of 12,000 men was left to the French Government for 
service inside the city, and the National Guards were allowed 
to retain their arms. That was done at the request of Jules 
Favre, who dreaded the result of any attempt to disarm the 
citizen-soldiery. The consequences were terrible — they were 
the insurrection of March 18, 1871, the Commune, and the 
Bloody Week of May. 

At the time of the capitulation not only was Paris ex- 
hausted but France, generally, was weary of the struggle. It 
is true that the South — Gascony, the Pyrenean country, the 
Lyonnais and the stretch of Rhone departments towards Mar- 
seilles, had been only indirectly affected by it. The number of 
southern battalions of Mobilises that went into action during 
the war was small ; yet such fruits as the war left behind 
it were mainly gathered by Southerners who had not partici- 
pated in it or known anything of its hardships and horrors. 
However, the South had given one great man to France, Leon 
Gambetta, a circumstance which, when the first reaction had 
passed away, lent it prestige. Only a few years elapsed, and 
the cry, " Le Midi monte ! " resounded through France. 

In this rapid survey of the time we have perhaps done scant 
justice to Gambetta and his helpers. He had a very able 



THE FALL OF PARIS 25 

coadjutor in Charles de Freycinet and another in Count de 
Chaudordy, but little real good was done by Clement Laurier, 
the negotiator of the onerous Morgan Loan, and many costly, 
almost disreputable army contracts. At times Gambetta 
made mistakes in the direction of military operations, and was 
unlucky in his selections from a limited number of generals. 
Further, he sometimes chose sites, as at Conlie, on the confines 
of Brittany, which were scarcely fit to be camps of instruction 
for the levies which rose at his bidding. But the man was a 
patriot, he did his best, his utmost best. With the example of 
the First Republic's achievements before him, he never despaired 
of his country. From the material point of view it might un- 
doubtedly have been more advantageous had peace been signed 
after Sedan ; but France would then have remained under a 
stigma of disgrace, never to be wiped away. And Gambetta 
and those who helped him at least saved their country's 
honour. They also began their task with several chances in 
their favour. That France was not exhausted by Sedan was 
shown by her subsequent efforts, the materiel de giierre she pro- 
vided and the number of men she raised. A really great 
general, had such arisen, might have done much with the 
means produced. We know, by all the revelations of late 
years, how perturbed the Germans were, at first, by the con- 
tinuance of the war ; we know the mistakes they made, the 
opportunities they gave. Again, by prolonging the war after 
Sedan there was a chance of securing foreign intervention in 
favour of France — an intervention which, unhappily for 
Europe during all these subsequent years, never came in 
any decisive form. Still, for a time it seemed possible ; 1 and 
as long as there remains any good ground for hoping that one 
may save one's country, duty requires that one should continue 
fighting. 

But after the reverses of Bourbaki on the Lisaine, after the 
lack of any decisive success on Faidherbe's part in his cramped 
position in the North, and on Garibaldi's with his heterogeneous 
little force on the confines of Burgundy, particularly also after 
the final retreat — almost rout — of the Second Loire Army 
under Chanzy, coupled, too, with the capitulation of Paris, there 
was, we feel, even though the South of France remained almost 
untried, but a very faint chance indeed of retrieving the position. 
1 We refer to Thiers 's efforts in that respect on p. 38 post. 



26 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

It is true that on February 8, 1871, when Chanzy with his 
customary energy had largely reorganised his army he had under 
his orders 4952 officers and 227,361 men with 26,797 horses, 
and 74 batteries of artillery, representing 430 guns. Moreover, 
there were the armies of the North under Faidherbe and 
of Le Havre under Loysel, the troops holding the lines of 
Carentan and stationed at the camp of Cherbourg, two detached 
carps cCarmie (the 24th and 26th) under Pourcet and Billot 
(who had escaped internment with Bourbaki in Switzerland), 
the Garibaldian army of the Vosges, the corps of Lyons, 
Nevers, and Bourg, and some remnants of Bourbaki's Army of 
the East. Including Chanzy's command, those various forces 
represented 534,000 men. Further, at the regimental depots in 
different regions there were 53,000 men ready for service but 
unarmed, and 62,000 undrilled men. The Gendarmerie could 
supply another 10,000, and the staff and administrative services 
an equal number. There were also 18,000 Mobile guards 
who had never been in action, in various territorial divisions ; 
and 52,000 Mobilises were stationed at different camps of 
instruction, and 54,000 more were due there. Additional levies 
were officially estimated to yield more than another hundred 
thousand men. Thus with the forces in the field and those 
ready for service, France could dispose of over 600,000 men, 
and provide about 260,000 more. 

On the other hand, according to Major Blume, the Germans 
disposed of over 700,000 men in the field (including 570,000 
infantry, 63,500 cavalry, and about 40,000 artillery), and there 
were 250,000 more men in Germany quite ready for service. 
Some of the German columns were, materially, in a very bad 
condition, as we had opportunities to observe during the 
armistice ; but on one side there was what may be called a 
virtually ever-victorious host and, on the other, forces which 
had retreated almost incessantly after repeated defeats. Among 
the latter, demoralisation existed on all sides. It was often 
difficult to keep the men with the colours. At Chateauroux 
several battalions " demonstrated " in favour of peace; at 
Issoudun the men requisitioned a railway train to take them 
home ; in the Nievre a complete column of 400 deserted, men 
and officers alike ; in the Indre a force of 2300 lost 400 men 
by desertion in three days. Those instances might easily be 
multiplied. Further, the men were often wretchedly shod, 



THE POSITION AT THE ARMISTICE X7 

deplorably clad, and at times imperfectly or badly equipped 
and armed. Moreover, the nation was tired of the struggle. 
It had lost for the time all grit and strength of character. 
Feverish hopes, raised again and again, had ever been followed 
by despair, consternation, and increasing distrust. The country 
generally had lost confidence in its rulers and generals, and 
was, largely for that reason, incapable of making the supreme 
effort which would have been required had the war continued. 
Thus peace was imperative. 

Gambetta and a few generals, such as Chanzy, wished to 
prolong the struggle, but they had to bow to the decisions 
of the Paris Government. Then it was that Gambetta, who 
hitherto had placed the interests of France before everything 
else, with comparatively little regard for party considerations, 
bethought him of the danger to which the Republican cause 
was exposed by the disastrous termination of the war. He 
knew, by the reports of his subordinates, the prefects, that 
reaction was rampant on many sides, and he resolved to do at 
least his utmost to prevent any restoration of the Empire. His 
fears in that respect were groundless, as events showed, the 
tendency of the reaction being towards the re-establishment of 
one or other of the former monarchies, under the House of 
Bourbon or that of Orleans. 

Already, at the close of December, Gambetta and his 
colleagues had dissolved the General Councils of France, 1 for 
which step there was some justification, as they held their 
mandate from the Empire, and could survive no more than had 
the latter's defunct Senate and Legislative Body. But, in view 
of the approaching elections for a National Assembly which 
was to consider the question of peace — as arranged between the 
Paris Government and the Germans — the young Dictator took 
a course contrary to equity and freedom. He decreed that 
whosoever had served the Empire as a minister, senator, or 
councillor of state, or had ever been an official Government 
candidate at elections in the Empire's time, should be in- 
eligible at the approaching polls. It was a decree worthy of 
Robespierre. Bismarck protested against it on the ground 
that the armistice convention stipulated that the elections 
should take place in all freedom ; there was even a threat of 
curtailing the armistice, leaving Paris, which was hungering for 
1 Equivalent to our County Councils. 



28 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

more provisions, to starve, and resuming hostilities; and, as 
Gambetta refused to give way, the Paris Government despatched 
Jules Simon to Bordeaux with full powers to remove and arrest 
him if he did not yield. He thereupon threw up his posts. 

The elections ensued, resulting in the return of a large 
reactionary Royalist majority. Nearly all of the forty-three 
deputies chosen by Paris, however, were Republicans, Louis 
Blanc coming at the head of the poll, followed immediately by 
Victor Hugo. Garibaldi was third, Edgar Quinet fourth, and 
Gambetta fifth on the list of elected candidates. Among the 
others were several Red Republicans and Socialists, such as 
Rochefort, Delescluze, Felix Pyat, Gambon, Malon, Cournet, 
Razoua, and Milliere, who were destined to play more or less 
conspicuous parts in the approaching convulsion of the Com- 
mune. Only five acknowledged Bonapartists were returned 
in all the departments, inclusive of Corsica; though many 
Orleanists who had sat in the Legislative Body in Imperial 
times, including two ex-Ministers of the Emperor, Count Daru 
and M. Buffet, 1 were elected. Gambetta was returned in nine 
departments including that of the Bas Rhin (Strasburg) for 
which he resolved to sit. Jules Favre was chosen in five, so 
was Dufaure, an old " parliamentary hand " of whom we shall 
speak again. Garibaldi secured election in four localities, as 
did Changarnier, sometime Minister of War under the Second 
Republic. 

But the man who polled by far the most votes in all France, 
who was elected indeed in no fewer than twenty-six depart- 
ments (inclusive of the Seine, that is Paris), was an ex-Prime 
Minister of Louis Philippe, a writer who had devoted several 
years of his life to extolling the genius and glory of Napoleon I., 
yet who had been one of the victims of the Bonapartist Coup 
d'Etat of 1851 and had sat in the Legislative Body of the 
Second Empire as an adversary of Napoleon III. and his policy. 
A little man he was, almost a dwarf, with a shrewd round face, 
clean-shaven save for some short white whiskers growing no 
lower than the ears. He had somewhat pendent cheeks and a 
broad and lofty forehead, surmounted by a plentiful crop of 
white hair, worn in a way which suggested Perrault's hero, 

1 They had served for just a short time in Emile Ollivier's administration, 
taking office not to serve the Empire but to undermine it. See our Court of 
the TmUrm, p. 3s«>. 



ADOLPHE THIERS 29 

" Riquet with the Tuft." An expression of irony flitted across 
the lines about the little man's mouth, and, under his drawn 
brows, his dark eyes sparkled from behind their gold-rimmed 
glasses with humorous maliciousness. His compact and well- 
proportioned little body — 

" il semblait que sa mere 
L'avait fait tout petit pour le faire avec soin " — 

was usually wrapped in a closely-buttoned snuff-coloured frock- 
coat, one immortalised by a clever portrait, the work of 
Nellie Jacquemart. Just a soup^on of white waistcoat could be 
discerned above the lapels of the coat ; the trousers were usually 
dark grey, while the silk hat bespoke a respectable antiquity. 
As for the little man's hands and feet they were as small as those 
of a young girl. Such was the outward appearance of Adolphe 
Thiers, who being appointed on February 18, 1871, Chief of the 
Executive Power by the National Assembly sitting at Bordeaux, 
concluded, with the co-operation of Jules Favre, the peace 
negotiations with Germany, hastened by a series of skilful 
financial measures the liberation of the territory of France 
occupied by the invading armies, and became the real founder 
of the Third French Republic. 



CHAPTER II 

THIERS — THE GERMANS IN PARIS — THE COMMUNE 

Parentage, Birth, and Studies of Thiers— Talleyrand's Opinion of him— His 
Premierships — His Attitude under the Second Republic and the Second 
Empire— His Diplomatic Missions in 1870— Survey of his Career and 
Character— His First Ministry in 1871— Agitation in Paris— Tippling 
Habits of the National Guard— Seizure of the City's Armament — Entry 
of the Germans— Renewed Unrest in Paris— Causes of the Commune — 
The Guns at Montmartre — Murder of Generals Thomas and Lecomte — 
Retreat of the Authorities to Versailles— Early Stages of the Insur- 
rection — Defence of Thiers's Policy — The Insurrection a Crime — The 
Men of the Commune — Chief Incidents of its Reign — The Bloody Week 
— The Advance of the Troops— The Conflagrations, Massacres, and 
Reprisals — The Courts-Martial — Statistics of Sentences. 

The Thiers family was long established at Marseilles, where 
the great grandfather of the first President of the Third 
Republic became a wealthy merchant, largely concerned in 
the colonial trade of France. He made some unfortunate 
speculations, however, and was of prodigal tastes, so that at 
his death the family fortune was not particularly large. 
Nevertheless, his son, Charles Louis, was a man of position, 
an advocate at the bar of the Parliament of Aix, and Keeper 
of the Archives of Marseilles. In 1752 he married Marguerite 
Bronde, the daughter of a Marseilles merchant, by whom he 
had two daughters, Virginie and Victoire, and a son, Pierre 
Louis Marie Thiers. Virginie married an advocate named 
Gratton, of Aix ; Victoire became the wife of an Englishman, 
Horace Pretty, who had established himself at Mentone, where 
he owned an estate ; while Pierre Louis espoused, in the first 
instance, a Mile. Marie Claudine Fougasse, by whom he had 
no issue. 

He acted under his father as sub -archivist of Marseilles, 
but he was a young man of prodigal, eccentric, and roving 

30 






ADOLPHE THIERS 31 

inclinations, quite destitute also of principle in his relations 
with women. During the last year of his wife's life he seduced 
a young lady of good family, Mile. Marie Magdelaine Amic, 
who on "the 26th Germinal, Year Five of the Republic " 
(April 15, 1797), that is five weeks after the death of Mme. 
Thiers nee Fougasse, gave birth at No. 15 Rue des Petits Peres 
to a son — the future statesman. The diary of the medical man 
who attended her, M. Rostan, is still in existence, and contains 
some curious entries. The infant, though small, was very 
vigorous, the period of gestation having been nearly a month 
longer than usual ; but on the other hand the accouchement 
was difficult, the young mother being in the greatest distress 
as " her husband " had disappeared, and " she knew not what 
had become of him." Her widowed mother, however, was by 
her side. 

The child was registered as being Mile. Amic's offspring 
" by the Citizen Pierre Louis Marie Thiers, at present absent," 
and received the Christian names of Marie Joseph Louis 
Adolphe. The Catholic religion not being openly re-estab- 
lished at Marseilles at that date, the rites of baptism were 
performed surreptitiously in a cellar. Shortly afterwards, 
Pierre Louis Thiers reappeared on the scene, and pressure 
being put upon him, he married Mile. Amic, 1 and in the Act 
of Marriage expressly legitimated his son, as the law allowed 
him to do. Then, however, he again disappeared, vanished 
into the Ewigkeit, for over thirty years. 

Adolphe Thiers was therefore reared by his mother and her 
relatives. Marie Amic was the daughter of a Marseilles 
merchant, who having been appointed by Louis XV. repre- 
sentative of the city's commerce at Constantinople, there 
married a young Greek, Mile. Santi Lomalka, whose sister 
became the wife of M. Louis de Chenier, French Consul- 
General in the Turkish capital. Marie Joseph and Andre de 
Chenier, the poets, and their sister Helene (who married Count 
de La Tour de St. Igest) were the offspring of that last union, 
and therefore first cousins to the Mile. Amic who became the 
mother of Thiers. It will have been noticed that among the 
latter's Christian names were those of Marie Joseph : that was 
because Marie Joseph de Chenier was his godfather. 

1 Registers of Marseilles : 24th Floreal, Year Five of the Republic One 
and Indivisible (May 1797). 



32 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

The Amic family had been ruined by the Revolution, but a 
brother of Thiers's mother who settled at Mauritius accumulated 
considerable means there. In his sister's difficult circumstances 
he for some years made her an annual allowance of 2000 francs. 
He also took no little interest in her son and his studies, the 
results of which were reported to him. In one of his letters 
still extant he refers to the lad as "a precocious genius." 
Later, when Thiers had achieved a position and had let some 
time elapse without communicating with him, M. Amic wrote 
excusing that forgetfulness, for the young fellow, said he, was 
now at the summit, and how could a man perched atop of the 
Peak of Teneriffe discern one standing at the bottom ? 

Thiers's mother, a little woman scarcely taller than he was, 
and speaking with a marked Provencal accent, lived to witness 
his success in life ; but he appears to have kept her somewhat 
at a distance, possibly from a fear that the story of his birth 
might leak out and expose him to even more virulent attacks 
than those to which he was usually subjected by his political 
adversaries. She resided, then, by herself in a small apartment 
at no very great distance from his residence, where she was 
seldom seen. Her son's friend, Mignet, the historian, seems, 
however, to have watched over her ; and she received a small 
allowance, ^10 a month when her son was in office as a 
Minister, and £8 when he was out of office. This might seem 
niggardly, but ministerial salaries were small, 1 and Thiers, who 
had to keep up a position, possessed no private means prior to 
the success of his historical writings. 

When he became Under-Secretary for Finances under Louis 
Philippe, his father unexpectedly reappeared. Thiers senior 
had been leading a roving life. At one time he had been 
interested in the commissariat of the French army in Italy, at 
others he had been trying his fortunes in one and another 
Mediterranean port. He was a great boaster, claimed to have 
sailed round the world, and related stories of adventure such 
as Baron Munchausen might have devised. Reaching Paris 
in November 1830 he put up at the Plat d'Etain in the Rue 
St. Martin, and went to seek his son. The latter was horrified 

1 £800 a year for Ministers and £480 for Under-Secretaries of State. 
£200 a year was regarded as a fair bourgeois income in Louis Philippe's time. 
Vide Balzac and Paul de Kock, the latter a real authority on some features 
of bourgeois life despite his grossness. 




Leon Gambetta 



ADOLPHE THIERS 33 

by this apparition. Nevertheless Thiers senior demanded 
employment and money, and his son at least had to help him 
financially, as it was only by such means that he could get rid 
of him. But the most extraordinary part of the affair was 
that Thiers senior had contracted either bigamous marriages or 
else passing liaisons (we incline to the former view) during his 
long absence, and had no fewer than seven children, in addition 
to his son the Under-Secretary of State. Six of those children, 
three sons and three daughters, who were his offspring by an 
Italian woman of Bologna, always claimed that Thiers senior 
had married their mother there. Thiers junior was compelled 
to assist some of them. It was through him that the eldest 
son, Germain, was appointed Justice of the Peace at Pondichery, 
where he died, and the second son, Charles, Secretary to the 
French Consulate at Ancona. The third one, Louiset, became 
a courier to English " milords " travelling on the Continent, 
and only troubled his eminent half-brother occasionally, that 
is, when being out of work he needed a little money. It is less 
clear whether Thiers assisted his half-sisters by the lady of 
Bologna. One of them, who married a man named Ripert, he 
seems to have neglected, for after the Revolution of 1848 she 
placed outside a table d'hote establishment, which she kept in 
the Rue Basse du Rempart near the Madeleine, a huge sign- 
board bearing the inscription : " Marie Ripert, sister of M. 
Thiers, the former Minister. " However, the police compelled 
her to remove it — possibly at Thiers's instigation. 

In addition to that family, Thiers senior had a daughter by 
a Mile. Eleonore Euphrasie Chevalier, a cousin of the statesman 
Dupont de FEure. This daughter, who stoutly claimed that 
she was legitimate (Thiers pere having married her mother with 
all due formality, she said), became the wife of a man named 
Brunet, and persecuted Thiers for assistance. He procured her 
a bureau de tabac at Carpentras — that often being a fair source 
of income owing to the Government monopoly of the tobacco 
trade — while her husband was appointed head jailer at the 
prison of Riom. It is possible that Thiers senior resided with 
his daughter, Mme. Brunet ; for after his interviews with his son 
in Paris he retired to Carpentras, where he died. 

Bearing the above facts in mind the reader will realise under 
what difficulties Adolphe Thiers made his way in the world. 
Of course he was in no wise responsible for his father's mis- 

D 



34 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



conduct, which was a heavy weight to bear, and there was little 
compensation in the fact that his relatives on the maternal 
side were most worthy people. We honour the man who in 
spite of such disadvantages, which would have severely checked 
if not entirely quelled many another spirit, rises by his personal 
talents, integrity, and strength of character, to the highest 
position which his country can bestow. 1 

Let us now go back a little. We have mentioned that 
Thiers's mother was in poor circumstances. Fortunately, when 
the boy was nine years old, he secured, by the help of Count 
Thibaudeau, then Prefect of Marseilles, one of the " purses " 
which Napoleon allotted to children of poor parents to enable 
them to receive a good education. Thus young Thiers became 
a pupil at the college of Marseilles, where he carried off numerous 
prizes. In later years he frankly admitted that feelings of 
gratitude towards the great Emperor for placing the means of 
education within the reach of lads circumstanced like himself, 
had largely prompted him to write the History of the Consulate 
and the Empire. 

Napoleon had fallen when Thiers repaired to Aix in 
Provence to study law at its university. 2 It was then that he 
first met Mignet, with whom he formed a close and life-long 
friendship. Those were the reactionary days of the Restoration, 
and Thiers, who had liberal ideas, was regarded in official 
quarters as a dangerous young Jacobin. For this reason when 
he competed for a prize which the Aix Academy offered for the 
best essay in praise of Vauvenargues, the Academicians, nearly 
all of whom were fervent Royalists, refused to award it to him, 
although his essay was by far the best of those submitted. The 
next in merit could not possibly be placed first, and in this 
dilemma the Academy adjourned the competition until the 
ensuing year. Thiers thereupon resorted to an ingenious 
stratagem. He had a fresh essay, paraphrasing the first one, 
drafted, and sent it to a friend in Paris, whence it was despatched 
to the Aix Academy. That august body, imagining that it 

1 There seems to be little doubt of the authenticity of the above account of 
the families of Thiers p&re, as the whole matter was carefully investigated 
several years ago by Dr. Bonnet de Malherbe, a connection of Thiers on 
the maternal side. 

2 The picturesque house in the Impasse Sylvacanne at Aix where he then 
resided, became for a while in later years the abode of young fimile Zola and 
his parents. See our Emile Zola, Novelist and Reformer. 



ADOLPHE THIERS 35 

was the work of some Parisian litterateur who had condescended 
to enter the competition, immediately awarded it the prize, and 
was greatly annoyed when, on opening the sealed envelope 
containing the competitor's name, it discovered that Thiers was 
again the winner. The quiet artfulness evinced on this occa- 
sion proved a distinguishing trait of Thiers's character. 

He was little more than twenty -four years old when he 
quitted Aix for Paris, where he speedily made his way by taking 
to journalism instead of to the Bar. He also formed many 
useful friendships among the more liberal-minded men of the 
time. Lomenie says that he immediately attracted notice by 
his southern vivacity, his ready conversational powers, his big 
spectacles, his little figure, his unconventional manners, the 
perpetual springiness of his gait, and the peculiar swaying of his 
shoulders ; those physical characteristics stamping him at once 
as an etre apart. 1 Talleyrand, who was then in Opposition and 
frequented Liberal drawing-rooms, met young Thiers at the 
house of Jacques Laffitte, the famous banker who owed his 
success in life to his care in picking up a pin on quitting the 
house of Perregaux, the financier, who had just refused him a 
situation, but who, on noticing his action from a window, called 
him back, gave him a clerkship, and ultimately made him his 
partner and successor. Towards the close of the Restoration 
Laffitte was one of the chief leaders of public opinion in Paris, 
and Talleyrand, who, as we have said, first met Thiers in his 
drawing-room, prophesied that the young man would " go far. 11 
Subsequently, when Thiers was already a Minister, one of 
Talleyrand's acquaintances in speaking of him remarked : " Le 
voila parvenu. 1 ' But the witty old diplomatist retorted : " II 
n'est pas parvenu, il est arrive. 11 

We have in other writings questioned the authenticity of 
several bons mots ascribed to Talleyrand, but there seems to be 
no reason why this one, which can be traced back to publications 
of Louis Philippe's time, should not be accepted. We take it 
to have been the origin of a French expression which has come 
much to the front in our days, and has even been imported into 
our own journalism. Thiers, however, though he succeeded 
early in life, was no mere arriviste in the common sense of that 
term. His life was one of genuine hard work, in the sphere of 

1 In September 1833 Greville met Thiers at dinner at Talleyrand's and 
found him " mean and vulgar-looking with a squeaking voice." 



36 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

politics as in that of letters. Founder, in conjunction with 
Mignet and Armand Carrel, of that famous journal Le National, 
in which he launched the smart aphorism : " The King reigns 
but does not govern," 1 he was one of the chief authors of the 
Revolution of 1830, which overthrew Charles X. and installed 
Louis Philippe in his place. He was appointed a Councillor 
of State, Under-Secretary of Finances, and, on the death of 
Casimir Perier, Minister of the Interior. In that capacity he 
had to thwart the attempts of the Duchess de Berri to restore 
the old Bourbon monarchy. Later, he became in turn Minister 
of Public Works, and Prime Minister with Foreign Affairs as 
his particular department. His career at this period was marked 
by a good deal of inconsistency. At one moment he brought 
liberal measures forward, at another he was against all innova- 
tions, at another he almost pooh-poohed the introduction of 
railways into France, at yet another he carried laws against the 
Republican party and the French press generally, which were 
even more drastic than those famous Ordonnances of Charles X., 
which, in 1830, he had personally resisted. 

For some years of Louis Philippe's reign the political 
history of France was that of the ambition of two men, Thiers 
and Guizot, the chief of the doctrinaire party, whose contest 
for supremacy preceded that which we witnessed in England 
between Disraeli and Gladstone. Thiers fell in August 1836, 
and forthwith betook himself to Italy; he was then already 
preparing his History of the Consulate and the Empire. A 
little later, in order to overthrow Count Mole, he allied him- 
self with Guizot ; Mole fell, but Marshal Soult succeeded him, 
and it was only in 1840 that Thiers again became Prime 
Minister. He soon embroiled himself with Great Britain over 
the question of Egypt and Mehemet Ali, and it was the 
threatening outlook in foreign affairs at that time which 
inspired him with the idea of surrounding Paris with a girdle 
of fortifications and a number of detached forts. The scheme 
was adopted, but the bellicose attitude of Thiers had produced 
a bad effect, and he again had to resign office, whereupon 
Guizot succeeded him. At last came 1847, the fatal year of 
scandal, agitation, and uproar in France. Thiers was all 
activity at that time, attacking the Guizot Administration 
with the greatest violence, but never imagining that by over- 
throwing it he would overthrow the monarchy also. When 



ADOLPHE THIERS 37 

the Revolution came in February 1848, he wished to save the 
institutions of the country, but he was too late and the 
Republic followed. For a while he remained in semi-seclusion, 
continuing his History of the Empire and writing a book on 
Property, which is still an able answer to many Socialist 
theories. 

Thiers had been in power at the time of Louis Napoleon's 
attempt at Boulogne, and was largely responsible for 
the Prince's imprisonment at Ham. Nevertheless, on Louis 
Napoleon coming forward as a candidate for the Presidency of 
the Republic, he voted for him; and when a parliamentary 
colleague, Bixio, reproached him for giving such a vote, saying 
that the Prince's election would be a disgrace for France, 
Thiers challenged him, and they fought a duel forthwith, that 
is actually in the Palais Bourbon. For some time Thiers 
continued to support the Prince-President, but after paying a 
visit to Louis Philippe, then in exile at Claremont, his political 
views became modified ; he already saw a Bonapartist Coup 
d'Etat looming in the distance, and joined the more liberal 
sections of the Assembly in trying to prevent it. When it 
came, he was arrested like so many others and taken to the 
prison of Mazas. But he was afterwards allowed to quit 
France, whither he was able to return in August 1852. 

He virtually confined himself to literary work from that 
time until he was elected as one of the deputies for Paris in 
May 1863. Then, for seven years, he played, at intervals, an 
important part in the Legislative Body of the Second Empire ; 
he spoke on finance, on the measure of liberty necessary for 
the nation, on the question of Rome and the Papacy, on the 
disastrous Mexican business, and on the war of 1866 between 
Prussia and Austria, which, as he rightly foresaw, was pregnant 
with the greatest consequences for Europe. After Austria had 
been crushed at Koniggratz he again warned the Imperial 
Government respecting the dangers ahead, pointing out the 
isolation of France and advising it to draw as closely as possible 
to Great Britain — "for never, I declare," said he, "have I 
thought the English alliance more necessary to France than it 
is now." 1 On one occasion in 1869 he attacked the financial 
policy of the city of Paris ; on another he demanded complete 
independence for the Legislature. In the following year, 
1 Speech delivered in March 1867. 



38 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

though he was now seventy-three years old, he seemed to regain 
all the ardour of youth, plunging into every discussion of 
importance which arose, and advocating, notably, the reorganisa- 
tion and reinforcement of the army. The other Opposition 
deputies were amazed by this last suggestion, and Jules Favre 
twitted Thiers for having gone over to the Empire. In reply- 
ing, Thiers remarked : " Why did Sadowa offer the world such 
an unexpected spectacle ? Because they were ready at Berlin 
whereas they were not ready at Vienna. It is thus that 
states perish ! " 

Soon afterwards came the Prince of Hohenzollern , s candi- 
dature to the crown of Spain. War was already virtually 
decided upon when Thiers entered a solemn protest against 
the Government's policy, brushing aside the observations of 
Schneider, the President of the Legislative Body, who urged 
that there should be unanimity in the Chamber on a question 
affecting the nation's honour. Said Thiers, in the speech he 
made amid incessant interruptions : " There is no call on any- 
body here to assume more responsibility than he chooses to 
assume. As for myself I think of the memory I shall leave 
behind me, and I decline all responsibility whatever." The 
war followed, bringing disaster and revolution with it. On the 
evening of September 4, Thiers presided over a meeting of 
deputies held with the object of promoting some agreement 
between them and the Government of National Defence. But 
Jules Favre and his colleagues rejected the idea and the 
deputies dispersed. Thiers repeatedly declined to enter the 
new Administration, but when it appealed to him to sound the 
European Powers and induce them, if possible, to intervene, he 
agreed to accept that particular mission in spite of his age and 
his ill-health at the time. He went in turn to London, Rome, 
Vienna, and St. Petersburg, pleading his country's cause; he 
interviewed both King William and Bismarck at Versailles, 
and for a moment there was at least some prospect of an 
armistice for the election of a National Assembly to decide 
what course France should adopt. But the Parisian rising of 
October 31, when most of the members of the National Defence 
Government became for some hours prisoners at the H6tel-de- 
Ville, virtually prevented the cessation of hostilities, and the 
war continued, as we know. During its last stages Thiers 
never ceased advising peace; he freely prophesied that the 






ADOLPHE THIERS 39 

longer hostilities lasted the greater would be the sacrifices 
demanded of France at the finish. His uppermost thought 
was his country's interest, even as Gambetta's was his country's 
honour. 

It was generally acknowledged that he had done his best in 
the negotiations he conducted in those critical times, and his 
numerous successes at the elections in February 1871 clearly 
indicated- that -he was the man in whom France as a whole, 
placed most of her confidence. At the same time he certainly 
had his faults. Succeeding early in life, he had frequently 
subordinated principles and the general interests to his personal 
ambition. He served Louis Philippe first as Minister of the 
Interior for two years, then twice as Prime Minister, but his 
tenure of office in the latter capacity lasted, on the first 
occasion, for only six, and on the second for only seven months. 
He could not lead or control a majority, he could not curry 
favour with it, persuade it, grant it graceful concessions in 
return for its constancy. Although ingenious, even artful at 
times, he was too autocratic, too firm a believer in his own 
views, and others had to follow him blindly or not at all. 
That he in no small degree contributed to the overthrow of 
the Orleans Monarchy is certain, and that alone indicates to 
what lengths he went at times in furtherance of his personal 
ambition. Under the Second Republic his conduct in relation 
to the Prince who became Napoleon III. was at times equivocal, 
and it is possible, as some have said, that he hoped for a while 
to become the latter's chief Minister and Mentor, and turned 
against him when he found that hope unrealised. At the same 
time, he often displayed great shrewdness. His refusal to 
become a member of the National Defence Government was 
a case in point. He judged the position far less hopefully 
than did, for instance, Gambetta, and he had no desire to link 
his name with efforts which he considered must prove unavail- 
ing. He prepared to hold himself in reserve, foreseeing that 
at the end of the war France would need the help of men 
compromised neither in the errors of the Empire nor in the 
failure of the military efforts of the National Defence. In this 
again he was wise, even if personal ambition influenced his 
views. When the end came everybody turned to him as to 
a man who had retained his authority, his prestige, unimpaired 
amid the downfall of others. 



40 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Although personal considerations influenced Thiers more or 
less until his last hour, it is unquestionable that he rendered 
great services to France after his elevation to power in 1871. 
While Jules Favre remained Minister of Foreign Affairs and 
Pouyer-Quertier became Minister of Finances, 1 it was pre- 
eminently Thiers who conducted the peace negotiations with 
Germany. And he was not altogether unsuccessful in the 
struggle. He tried to dissuade the enemy from exacting a 
triumphal entry into Paris, but when he was told that this could 
only be dispensed with if the fortress of Belfort, in addition 
to the territories previously specified, were ceded to Germany, 
he did not hesitate — he preferred to put up with a passing 
humiliation and save Belfort for France. 

For a while the National Assembly remained at Bordeaux. 
Paris was now being reprovisioned, the English gifts — the fruit 
of a highly successful Lord Mayor's fund — forming an important 
contribution in that respect. But the city continued restless ; 
the working classes, almost entirely incorporated in the National 
Guard, were swayed by revolutionary leaders, and frequent 
demonstrations took place. There were even deplorable 
excesses, as when, in the presence of some thousands of applaud- 
ing people on and near the Place de la Bastille, an unfortunate 
detective named Vicensini was flung into the Seine from a 
barge, and pelted with stones to prevent him from regaining 
land. We saw him sink twice, then rise again to the surface 
dead, and drift towards the He St. Louis. A Central Com- 
mittee of the National Guard, composed mainly of the Com- 
manders of the more revolutionary battalions, directed most of 
the demonstrations of the time. The resumption of ordinary 
life was, it must be admitted, impossible. No work was 
procurable, employers declaring that they had little if any 
money, and no means of obtaining credit in the existing 
financial state of the country. Besides, although provisions 
continued to arrive, there was only the scantiest supply of fuel, 
and in most factories it would have been impossible to set the 
machinery in motion. Thus it was that the workmen still 
served as National Guards, with virtually no military duties to 

1 The other members of the first Ministry he constituted were : Justice, 
Dufaure ; Public Instruction, Jules Simon ; Public Works, Larcy ; Agri- 
culture and Commerce, Lambrecht ; War, Le F16 ; Marine, Admiral 
Pothuau ; and Interior, Ernest Picard, who at last secured the post in which 
Gambetta had forestalled him at the Revolution of September 4. 






PARIS AFTER THE SIEGE 41 

perform, but in receipt of the same pay (one franc and a half 
per diem l ) as during the German Siege. 

The morale of the men had been badly affected by that 
siege. If food had then been scarce, wine and spirits had 
remained plentiful — indeed when Paris capitulated, there was 
still sufficient alcoholic liquor to suffice for another twelve 
months ; and this although the consumption during the siege 
had been many times larger than in ordinary times. The cause 
was obvious : receiving a deficiency of food and exposed to 
the hardships of a terrible winter, the men had sought suste- 
nance in drink. The Parisian ouvrier, previously far more 
abstemious than the British workman, had become a tippler, 
and unfortunately the vice of over-indulgence, acquired in 
those dreadful siege days, has never since been eradicated, but 
has been transmitted from father to son and grandson also. 
Before long the National Assembly, in the hope of coping 
with the evil, passed the first law on drunkenness known to 
modern France. For centuries before that time no such law 
had been needed. We know, too, what efforts have vainly been 
made of late years by successive French Ministries, by the 
municipalities of the country, and by innumerable temperance 
societies, to bring back the old order of things. The particular 
misfortune has been that the consumption of wine has decreased 
(in proportion to the population) and that the consumption of 
ardent spirits and potent liqueurs has long been in the ascendant. 
While the French workman was content with his petit bleu no 
great harm was done, even if he did occasionally celebrate 
" St. Monday," but when he, and not only he but his wife and 
his daughter also, took to drinking that pernicious beverage 
absinthe, neat, 2 the consequences were naturally disastrous. 

But the tippling habits contracted by the Parisian National 
Guards during the German Siege had an immediate result of 
political importance. The men's minds were more or less 
inflamed, and they listened the more readily to the exhorta- 
tions and suggestions of Revolutionary leaders, Jacobins and 

1 There were small extra allowances for men with wives and families. 

2 We are not exaggerating. In 1902 we compared notes with some 
distinguished members of the French Anthropological Society, and found 
that their observations coincided with our own. Not only did we observe in 
Paris the practice mentioned above, but we noticed it in several other cities 
—notably at Reims among the girls employed in the cloth factories, and 
again at Lyons among the silk workers of both sexes. 



42 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Socialists of various schools. Moreover, the capitulation of 
Paris had angered many men, and the disastrous terms of 
peace (the annexation of Alsace Lorraine, the payment of an 
indemnity of .£200,000,000, and the occupation of French 
territory till the terms were executed) angered them still more. 
Thousands of folk in Paris absolutely believed that the country 
had been betrayed. In these circumstances, although the 
capitulation specified that the city's armament was to be de- 
livered to the Germans, the Extremists, who declared that the 
convention did not and should not apply to any guns cast 
during the siege with the proceeds of public subscriptions, 
found numerous adherents. Thus a Red Republican battalion 
seized several such cannon on the Place Wagram, while other 
detachments laid hands on a number of guns removed from the 
fortifications at Montmartre and Belleville. Altogether about 
one hundred siege and field guns, a dozen mitrailleuses, and 
half a dozen howitzers were captured, and by the orders of the 
National Guard's Central Committee were zealously watched — 
both on the Place Royale and the Place St. Pierre at Mont- 
martre — by trusty battalions appointed to prevent the 
Government from regaining this ordnance and handing it over 
to the Germans. 

Day by day the city became more restless. An attempt on 
the H6tel-de-Ville was foiled, but when the news came that 
the Germans would march into Paris and occupy the Champs 
Elysees quarter, on March 1, the position became threatening. 
The Red Republican leaders knew, however, that there was no 
possibility of resisting the Germans, and, besides, they preferred 
to reserve their powder and shot for their " reactionary " fellow- 
countrymen, as their newspapers did not hesitate to declare in 
threatening language. 

The 1st of March dawned grey and cheerless, but early in 
the forenoon the sun shone out, much to the disgust of the 
Parisians, who would have welcomed with delight a fall of sleet, 
snow, or rain, indeed anything which might have spoilt the 
German entry as a spectacular display. At first, however, 
there was nothing theatrical in the proceedings, and little even 
to suggest a triumphal march. About 8 o'clock the German 
advanced guard entered the city from Neuilly, and a detach- 
ment of half a dozen Hussars rode up the Avenue de la Grande 
Armee to the Arc de Triomphe, where a few score of onlookers 



THE GERMANS IN PARIS 43 

were assembled. Around the arch was a heavy iron chain 
supported at intervals by strong stone pillars, but as this 
chain was no real obstacle for mounted men, the Hussars jumped 
it, and then cantered down the Champs Elysees to the Palais 
de Tlndustrie. 1 Following them came other small detach- 
ments, and about nine o'clock a strong column of horse, foot, 
and artillery appeared, headed by a general officer and his 
staff. These men also wished to pass under the Arc de 
Triomphe, and the spectators — who on their approach raised 
shouts of " On ne passe pas ! " — were motioned aside by a staff- 
officer who galloped forward to clear the way. The onlookers 
thereupon fell back, but the officer on perceiving the iron chain 
decided to rein in his charger. The French people present 
regarded this as a great triumph, and immediately raised cries 
of " Vive la Republique ! " whilst the German officers, with an 
air of perfect indifference, marched their men first round the 
arch and then, without sound of even drum or bugle, down 
the Champs Elysees, to the Palais de Tlndustrie, in which it 
had been arranged that 10,000 troops should be quartered. 
There were very few people about at this time, and not a cry 
was uttered, nothing was heard but the regular cadence of men 
and horses marching past the deserted -looking houses and 
closed cafes. 

It had been generally anticipated that the Emperor William 
would accompany his troops into Paris, and such had really 
been his intention — indeed he had invited all the reigning 
Sovereigns of Germany to take part in the pageant, — but when 
his advisers became acquainted with the effervescence in the 
city, and realised that the occupation might possibly result in 
some affray with the foolhardy National Guards, they insisted 
on an alteration of plans, and the Kaiser contented himself 
with reviewing his soldiers on the race -course at Longchamp. 
Directly this review was over, shortly after noon, the 6th and 
11th Prussian Army Corps and the 1st Bavarian Army Corps 
marched from the Bois de Boulogne along the various arteries, 
leading to the Arc de Triomphe. The long lines of spiked 
helmets, bayonets, and sabres glittered in the sunbeams, which 
shone brilliantly on those German legions, as with their bands 
playing and their colours waving they thus effected their 

1 Now destroyed. It had served for the International Exhibition of 
1855, and for successive " Salons " and horse and cattle shows. 



44 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

triumphal entry. The last to arrive were the Bavarians, who 
made a brave show in their light blue tunics and crested 
helmets, though now and again a grotesque element entered 
into the display. For instance, at one moment there appeared 
a ramshackle-looking carriage containing a gouty old general, 
whose soldier-servants, seated on the box, were complacently 
smoking their long pipes with porcelain bowls. Again, a little 
basket -chaise, drawn by a pony, and occupied by a richly- 
bedizened German princeling, came between a squadron of 
heavy horse and some batteries of artillery. The incongruous 
apparition was greeted with quite a jeer by the French on- 
lookers, who solaced themselves with respect to the formidable 
appearance of the German soldiery by remarking, " Tout cela 
manque de chic."" 

Unacquainted with the arrangements which had been 
officially arrived at, most of the Germans anticipated that they 
would enjoy a very pleasant time in that wonderful city of 
Paris of which they had heard so much ; but they soon dis- 
covered that their occupation was limited to a comparatively 
small district, where the Champs Elysees and the Place de la 
Concorde were the only points of interest, and where every 
shop and every cafe — excepting one — remained strictly closed. 
Many officers had expected that they would enjoy the free 
run of the Boulevards, and even General von Blumenthal, the 
commander of the occupied district, seemed extremely surprised 
when on reaching the Place de la Concorde with his staff he 
found he had reached the Ultima Thule of his domain. Here 
the Rue Royale and the Rue de Rivoli, like the quay alongside 
the Seine and the Concorde bridge across it, were shut oft' by 
stout barricades, which left only small apertures to enable 
civilians to pass to and fro — the French sentries, either Lines- 
men or National Guards on whom the authorities could rely, 
guarding those narrow portals with all vigilance. A force of 
mounted Gendarmerie was also stationed close at hand. 

Few shops were open in Paris that day, even in the districts 
far removed from the so-called German zone. The Boulevard 
cafes and restaurants remained closed, the Bourse was shut, no 
theatrical performances were given, and the only newspaper 
that appeared was the Journal Officiel. The Parisians who 
ventured into the Champs Elysees belonged mostly to the 
lower orders, and included a considerable number of youthful 



THE GERMANS IN PARIS 45 

hooligans, who soon devised a means of demonstrating their 
patriotism under the very eyes of the German soldiers. 
Numerous Boulevard women, whose calling at that time was 
anything but lucrative, boldly accosted the German officers 
who were lounging in front of the Palais de Hndustrie, and 
found them quite ready to enter into conversation. While 
these females promenaded within the German lines they were 
all smiles and laughter, but the young roughs were watching 
them, and directly one or another left her new acquaintances 
she was chivied along the Champs Elysees, captured, and 
hustled into one or another of the shrubberies near the 
open-air concert halls. There she was flung on the ground, 
her clothes were half- torn from her back, and she received a 
sound spanking as punishment for the overtures she had shame- 
lessly made to the Germans. We saw quite half a dozen 
women captured in that manner, and their screams while they 
were being whipped could have been heard half a mile away. 
Yet on no occasion did the Germans interfere. They either 
looked on with indifference, or grinned as though they con- 
sidered those incidents to be extremely amusing. 1 An elderly, 
ladylike person in deep mourning, who addressed a few words 
to a German officer, was chivied in the manner already de- 
scribed, and would undoubtedly have been whipped had not 
two or three gentlemen, favourably impressed by her appear- 
ance, intercepted her pursuers and parleyed with them, thus 
enabling her to escape. On being questioned by one of her 
protectors, she told him that she had merely inquired of the 
German officer how she might best communicate with her 
soldier son, a prisoner of war taken in a recent battle. Some 
other French people, whose intercourse with the enemy was 
equally innocent, were less fortunate than this lady, and met 
with no little ill-usage. Archibald Forbes, the distinguished 
war correspondent, was grossly assaulted for acknowledging a 
salutation addressed to him by the Crown Prince of Saxony, to 
whose army he had been attached during the latter part of the 
Siege of Paris. 

During the afternoon the Champs Elysees were transformed 

1 During a part of the day we were in the company of Archibald Forbes, 
at another in that of Mr. (now Sir) William Ingram, and Mr. Landells of 
the Illustrated London News. Forbes and Landells are dead, but Sir 
William Ingram must remember the extraordinary scenes to which we have 
referred. 



46 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

into a great camp. Commissariat waggons, country carts of 
all kinds, detachments of horse and foot, encumbered the road- 
ways ; officers and men paraded the side walks, or looked down 
from the balconies and windows of the houses where they had 
been thickly billeted. When evening arrived camp-fires were 
lighted, and the night was largely spent in the singing of 
martial songs. 

On the following morning the sun again shone out 
brilliantly, as if to mock the distress of the Parisians, who in 
the more democratic quarters hung black flags from their 
windows. Meantime, fresh bodies of the German troops 
poured into the city, and one column on reaching the Arc de 
Triomphe promptly severed the chain which girdled it, in such 
wise that from that moment regiment after regiment marched 
in triumph through the arch. Numerous detachments, carry- 
ing only their sidearms, were allowed to visit the Tuileries and 
the Louvre, which they reached from the Place de la Concorde 
by way of the Tuileries garden. They were perceived, how- 
ever, by the crowd in the Rue de Rivoli, whose demeanour 
became so threatening that the French authorities soon decided 
to allow no more Germans beyond the Place de la Concorde. 
Nearly all of those who had been admitted to the Tuileries, 
returned with sprigs of laurel on their helmets, much to the 
indignation of the French, who protested that if any more of 
the enemy were allowed to enter the gardens, the latter would 
be virtually destroyed. 

However, the excitement subsided as rapidly as it had 
arisen, and, curiously enough, during the afternoon, a large 
number of well-dressed Parisians appeared in the Champs 
Elysees, attracted possibly by the fine weather, the many bands 
of music, and the general display made by the army of occupa- 
tion. About half-past three, we remember, the Crown Prince 
of Prussia — later Emperor Frederick — looking very hale and fit, 
drove down the Champs Elysees in an open carriage drawn by 
black horses, but he preserved incognito, as it were, and by his 
express desire no military honours were paid to him. That 
morning Paris had learnt that the preliminaries of peace had 
been ratified by the Assembly at Bordeaux, after an impressive 
scene when the defunct Second Empire had been declared re- 
sponsible for the "invasion, ruin, and dismemberment of 
France." During the day, moreover, it was ascertained that 






THE GERMANS IN PARIS 47 

the immediate evacuation of Paris by the Germans had been 
agreed upon ; and possibly the prospect of the enemy's speedy 
departure, as well as feelings of curiosity, prompted the change 
which was observable in the demeanour of many Parisians. 

At sunset the bivouac fires were again lighted, and the 
military bands continued playing inspiriting airs until long 
after the moon had risen. The Parisians gathered round them, 
seemingly careless, or perhaps unconscious of humiliation. A 
little later, columns of troops, with bands playing and the men 
singing in chorus, marched up the Champs Iillysees on their 
way back to Versailles. As they passed along, the many 
soldiers still billeted in the houses appeared on the balconies 
with lighted candles, which were so numerous as to suggest a 
general illumination. Meantime, near the Place de la Concorde, 
Uhlans stood singing part-songs under the trees to which their 
horses were tethered, while on the square itself a German 
infantryman addressed an audience of at least five hundred 
French folk, in their own tongue, on the blessings of peace and 
the horrors of war ! 

The evacuation of the city was resumed in the morning, 
when, in order to prevent disturbances, no civilians were allowed 
to enter the Champs Elysees. In the afternoon, however, when 
the last German column had departed, a gang of roughs 
wrecked the Cafe Dupont at the corner of the Rond-Point and 
the Rue Montaigne — that being the only establishment of the 
kind that had opened its doors to the enemy. Every window of 
the cafe was broken, all the velvet-cushioned seats were ripped 
open, the chairs reduced to firewood, and the marble tables, 
like the stock of glass and crockery, smashed to atoms. 

When the Germans had evacuated Paris, still retaining 
possession, however, of the surrounding forts, the Government 
were confronted by the task of quelling the revolutionary 
agitation. So bold was the Central Committee of the National 
Guard, that even while the Germans were in the Champs 
Elysees it despatched a strong band of adherents to attack the 
Gobelins tapestry manufactory, recently used as a military 
store place, and whence chassepots and ammunition were 
purloined. Other bands, moreover, appropriated a score and 
a half of howitzers, which they added to the formidable stock 
of artillery already held by the Red Republicans. 

The Government replied to those proceedings by appointing 



48 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

General cTAurelle de Paladines to the command of the National 
Guard, imagining that he would be able to restore discipline. 
But the Revolutionary leaders gave out that this appointment 
was only a preliminary to disbandment, although the Govern- 
ment really had no intention of taking such a course, being 
well aware that most of the men would be destitute if they 
were deprived of their daily pay. Many Guards, however, 
relying on what they read in the Extremist press, undoubtedly 
imagined that they were in imminent peril of losing their 
thirty sous per diem. There were still no signs of the city's 
workshops opening again, and many men, moreover, after 
playing at soldiers for six months or so, demoralised, as 
they were, too, by hardship and tippling, had little inclination 
to return to their ordinary avocations. Another important 
matter was the rent question — arrears of rent having been 
allowed to accumulate ever since the German investment in the 
previous year ; and it was generally assumed that this would 
be eventually settled in favour of the Parisian landlords, as the 
Government and the Assembly belonged to the bourgeoisie. 

The demoralisation of most of the Guards, the thirty sous 
question, the rent question, and the drink question all led up to 
the Commune. Had there even been no such causes at work a 
rising would have occurred, for the Red Republican leaders had 
resolved on making a bid for power, though had that been the 
only disturbing factor we think that the rising would never 
have proved so serious as it did, for the insurrectionary forces 
would then have been limited to the professional agitators, the 
more rabid citizens of Belleville, Menilmontant, Montmartre 
and similar districts, and about a thousand foreign adventurers 
then scattered through the city l — in all perhaps some 20,000 
or 30,000 men, whereas under the circumstances in which the 
Commune originated, it actually disposed of 150,000 men, more 
than half the entire National Guard, whose total strength was 
280,000. 

General d'Aurelle's appointment had no good result. Many 

1 Taine speaks in his "Correspondence," which we have read since 
writing the above, of thousands of Englishmen being among the Com- 
munards. The assertion is grotesque. The foreigners were not more 
numerous than we have stated above. As for Englishmen there were not 
more than fifty all told among the insurgents. Nearly every reference to 
the Commune in Taine's letters shows that he was as "gullible "as were 
most people in those days. 






THE COMMUNE 49 

battalions set his orders at defiance, and instead of the captured 
cannon being surrendered, the Reds stoutly held to them, and 
even added to their number, until there were 250 siege and field 
guns, with seventy mitrailleuses, and as many mortars or 
howitzers, in their hands. Rifles and muskets were also added 
to the store, and early in March the Central Committee 
disposed of more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition. It had 
secured as yet, however, only a few caissons of shells and round 
shot, so that the bulk of its artillery could not be immediately 
utilised. 

The Government felt that the provincial Mobile Guards at 
their disposal in Paris had been contaminated by their long 
service there, and that instead of rendering help in any struggle 
they might become a source of danger. Some 40,000 were 
therefore disbanded and sent home, while Regulars from the 
provinces were despatched to Paris as fast as possible. But 
those Regulars were young men incorporated either just before 
or during the war, and they soon began to fraternise with the 
National Guards. The Government was really in need of 
veteran troops, men of the old Line Regiments and the ex- 
Imperial Guard, but these were still prisoners of war in 
Germany, and it seemed unlikely that they would be sent home 
until peace should be finally signed at Frankfort. Day by day 
the position grew more critical. The demonstrations on the 
Place de la Bastille became extremely threatening. Serious 
affrays constantly arose between the Reds and those who did 
not share their views, notably the seamen of the Naval Brigade, 
who openly showed their contempt for the landlubbers. 

At last, when General Vinoy — TrocmTs successor — who was 
still suffered to govern Paris, had collected some 60,000 of the 
aforesaid unreliable Regulars, and General Valentin, presumed 
to be a man of mettle, had been appointed Prefect of Police, 
an attempt was made to assert the Government's authority. 
Several rabid newspapers were suspended, and some thirty guns 
collected on the Place des Vosges were seized by the troops ; 
the Reds being also called upon to surrender all the ordnance 
parked on the heights of Montmartre. As they refused to do 
so, Vinoy, in the small hours of March 18, despatched to the 
Place St. Pierre at Montmartre a column commanded by 
Generals Lecomte and Paturel. For a moment it seemed as 
if the Government would succeed in its determination to seize 



50 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

the guns by force. On reaching Montmartre the troops 
occupied the entrenchments there after a slight resistance, in 
which a few Guards were wounded. Several were then made 
prisoners, together with some suspicious individuals whose 
papers indicated that they were members or delegates of 
revolutionary committees. Finally, all the guns on the Place 
St. Pierre, 171 in number, were taken by the troops. But it 
soon became apparent that somebody had blundered, for the 
horses which were to have removed the ordnance did not arrive. 
The insurrectionary leaders profited by the delay to have the 
rappel beaten, and this brought thousands of their adherents to 
the square. It was only with the utmost difficulty that the 
artillerymen in charge of some of the expected horses at length 
forced their way to the spot, and once there it became equally 
difficult for them to depart. When General Paturel ordered 
his infantry to drive back the Guards the command was dis- 
regarded ; instead of fixing bayonets the men raised the 
butt-ends of their rifles in the air, and in a few minutes the 
fraternisation of the Linesmen and the citizen -soldiery was 
complete. The general, with the assistance of some mounted 
Chasseurs and artillerymen, then attempted to carry off the 
few guns to which it had been possible to harness horses. He 
retreated slowly by way of the precipitous Rue Lepic, followed 
by a large number of National Guards, who called upon the 
Chasseurs and artillerymen to fraternise, and bombarded the 
general, first with epithets and then with a street hawker's 
stock of potatoes, carrots, turnips and other vegetables, which 
filled a hand-cart standing near the footway. To escape those 
missiles the general put his horse to a trot, but it fell, throwing 
him amid the cheers of the National Guards. The latter now 
surrounded the troops, and prevailed on them to abandon the 
guns, while Paturel with his staff managed to escape. 

Far less fortunate was General Lecomte who commanded 
some of the troops. He also had managed to secure a few of 
the guns, but on the Place Pigalle, where a great crowd was 
assembled, his party was surrounded by National Guards, and 
a brief melee ensued, during which a few men on either side 
were wounded. Almost immediately afterwards, however, 
shouts for fraternisation arose, the troops joined the populace, 
and Lecomte and some of his officers were dragged from their 
horses and made prisoners. They were hurried to the dancing- 









THE COMMUNE 51 

hall of the Chateau Rouge, where Lecomte was required to 
sign an undertaking that he would not raise his sword against 
the Parisians. He complied, and also sent orders to those 
troops who still remained at their posts to return to their 
quarters. Having thus satisfied the demands of his captors he 
had every reason to believe that his life would be spared, but 
several men who had figured in the affray on the Place Pigalle 
angrily declared that he had then ordered his soldiers to shoot 
the women and children in the crowd. That lie virtually 
sealed his fate. With half a dozen other officers who had been 
arrested he was taken to a house in the Rue des Rosiers, where 
the so-called Central Committee of the National Guard usually 
met. Some of those who were then present there proposed 
that a court-martial should be assembled, and the suggestion 
was under discussion when a band of Reds arrived with another 
prisoner of importance, an old, white-bearded man. 

This was General Clement Thomas, who had commanded 
the National Guard during some part of the German Siege, 
and made himself very unpopular among the Reds by dis- 
banding some free corps for cowardice in the field. Shortly 
after the Revolution of 1830, Thomas, then young and wealthy, 
joined the regular army as a volunteer, but his participation in 
the popular rising of April 1834 resulted in a sentence to 
several years 1 imprisonment. After the Revolution of 1848, 
however, he became both a deputy and for the first time 
commander-in-chief of the National Guard. Three years later, 
Louis Napoleon's Coup d'Etat made him an outlaw, and it was 
only on the downfall of the Second Empire that he returned to 
Paris to serve the new Republic. 

When he was arrested by the Reds on March 18 he was 
walking in civilian attire, along the Boulevard Ornano, watching 
the fraternisation of the soldiers and the guards. Some of the 
latter recognised him, and seizing him on the pretext that he 
had come to spy out the land and take plans of barricades 
and batteries, marched him off to the Rue des Rosiers. This 
was a little pebbly lane, running behind the mills of Montmartre 
and lined with low houses and their gardens. No. 6, tenanted 
by the Central Committee, stood back from the road, behind 
a high stone wall. After opening a large iron gate you found 
yourself in a paved courtyard, at the rear of which stood the 
house, a small, commonplace, two-storeyed building, belonging 



52 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

to the heirs of Scribe the playwright, who there lived and wrote 
several of his vaudevilles and comedies before acquiring fame 
and fortune. A side passage led from the yard to the garden, 
which had formerly been subdivided by some green trellis-work 
into three or four distinct patches, one apiece, no doubt, 
for each tenant of the house. But on March 18, 1871, the 
enclosures were broken down and lay about in fragments, while 
little remained of the flower-beds, repeatedly and roughly 
trampled under foot. Here and there were a few gooseberry 
and currant bushes, with a score of lime trees, on glancing 
between which you saw the plain lying north of Paris, with its 
deserted factories, from none of whose many tall chimneys did 
smoke ascend. At one end of the garden was a high dark wall, 
to which a dying peach tree was trained. It was against this 
wall that Clement Thomas and Lecomte were shot. 

On the former officer reaching the house he was thrust into 
a ground-floor room, where the other prisoners were assembled 
with the members of the Central Committee. While the latter 
discussed the question of a court-martial the military rabble 
outside clamoured more and more impatiently, and before long 
a large number of National Guards, Linesmen, and Francs- 
tireurs burst into the room both by the doorway and the 
window, and seized first Thomas and then Lecomte, despite all 
the efforts which the Committee-men, together with the other 
prisoners, made to defend them. Both generals were dragged 
along a passage leading to the garden, Lecomte struggling the 
while and attempting to escape, and even at one moment 
beseeching his murderers to let him live for the sake of his 
six young children. Meantime, however, Thomas had been 
led outside and thrust against the garden-wall. He faced his 
murderers proudly, holding his hat in his hand, and died as it 
were by degrees, for so faulty was the marksmanship that he 
did not fall until the sixteenth or seventeenth shot. Then 
Lecomte was dragged out of the passage and shot in the back 
before he could even take his stand against the wall. 

In the confusion of the moment some of the other prisoners 
escaped, and the members of the Central Committee were after- 
wards able to assert their authority and release the remaining 
captives. The bodies of Thomas and Lecomte remained for 
some hours lying in the garden, and were afterwards deposited 
on the floor of an empty room with a barred window, which 






THE COMMUNE 53 

faced the passage leading from the garden to the yard. A 
sheet was thrown over the bodies, but the faces of the murdered 
men remained uncovered, and during the three days they were 
left lying there hundreds of people— including scores of women 
and children — came to gaze through the open window at those 
victims of so-called "popular justice,"" — whose murderers, by 
the way, were so little averse to this exhibition that at night 
they placed a candle in the room in order that the corpses 
might still be seen. 1 Eventually, Georges Clemenceau, then 
Mayor of Montmartre, and Edouard Lockroy — a connection of 
Victor Hugo's and a deputy of Paris — came to claim the remains, 
and bury them in a little disused cemetery on the Butte Mont- 
martre. By a vote of the National Assembly Lecomte's children 
were adopted by the nation. 

Victorious at Montmartre, the Revolutionaries descended 
into central Paris, throwing up barricades on various points, 
taking possession of several district town-halls, post-offices, and 
other public buildings, including both the Ministry of Justice 
and the National Guard headquarters in the Place Vendome. 
The Government had assembled at the Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs, and remained there for several hours receiving frequent 
reports respecting the progress of the insurgents. General 
Vinoy held that if any more of his troops came in contact with 
the National Guards they would follow the example of their 
comrades, and therefore decided to withdraw his men from all 
exposed positions and collect them at the Ecole Militaire. In 
the evening the Government resolved to retire to Versailles, 
where it had been arranged the National Assembly should 
meet a couple of days later ; and thither Vinoy followed with 
40,000 troops. An hour or two afterwards when General 
Chanzy unsuspectingly arrived in the capital, he was arrested 
by the insurgents and carried off to the Chateau Rouge. 

The Revolutionary party was now in possession of the whole 
city with the exception of the Luxembourg Palace, where some 
troops had been " forgotten " by Vinoy, and of two or three 
district mairies which were held by so-called reactionary 
battalions of the National Guard. These obeyed the orders 
of the district mayors, who devoted much time and energy to 

1 We made a sketch of them at the time ; and a wood engraving, after the 
sketch, figures in vol. ii. of Paris in Peril, edited by Henry Vizetelly. 
London, 1882. 



54 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

fruitless attempts at pacification. The Reds, besides seizing 
chassepots at the Prince Eugene barracks and distributing them 
among unarmed partisans, plundered the municipal treasury 
at the H6tel-de-Ville, seized the funds at most district town- 
halls, and placed guards at the Bank of France, whose governor 
at once destroyed his entire stock of bank-notes as a pre- 
cautionary measure. The insurgent leaders did not as yet 
dare to requisition money from the Bank, and as they found 
little at the Ministry of Finances they were soon in difficulties. 
In the first moment of enthusiasm they had promised to allow 
each National Guard six francs per day, with which decision 
the men were delighted. But, as it happened, they received 
only one franc in cash, the remainder of their allowance being 
paid in bans, which it was almost impossible to negotiate. 

People of moderate views anxiously wondered what the 
Germans would do in presence of this formidable rising. As 
it happened, they were retiring from the environs of Paris when 
the insurrection broke out. Directly they heard of it they 
stopped their movement of retreat and massed a large force at 
St. Denis. The part they played during the ensuing contest 
was very equivocal. Though they called upon the French 
Government to put down the insurrection, and even released 
prisoners of war in order that the Versailles authorities might 
have sufficient forces at their disposal, there was no little 
underhand intercourse between them and the Parisian rebels. 
Cluseret, who became the Commune's Delegate at War, carried 
on secret negotiations with them ; so, it is said, did Rossel his 
successor ; while Paschal Grousset, who took over the department 
of Foreign Affairs, was, down to the very Bloody Week, in 
constant communication with Von Fabrice, who commanded at 
St. Denis. 

Many Frenchmen, and particularly Parisians of the middle 
class, were indignant with Thiers for abandoning Paris to the 
insurgents at the first outbreak ; but we have always held that 
although that course led to great trouble and a second siege, it 
was the best, if not the only one, which could have been 
adopted in the circumstances. After the first regiments had 
fraternised with the National Guards, little, if any, reliance 
could be placed in the other military forces at the Government's 
disposal. In such moments desertion becomes contagious. 
Thiers had witnessed three Revolutions, those of 1830, 1848, 



THE COMMUNE 55 

and 1870, and knew how vain had been the efforts of the 
Bourbon and Orleans Monarchies to save themselves by a 
struggle in Paris. On each occasion the city had prevailed and 
the authorities had been swept away. In his opinion, therefore, 
the best plan was to withdraw and organise, outside the city, 
a proper resistance to the insurrectionary movement. Paris in 
its Revolutions had generally carried the whole country with 
it, because the authorities, panic-stricken at losing the capital, 
had fled without attempting any appeal to the rest of France. 
Such an appeal might well have proved useless in July 1830, 
February 1848, and September 1870, but in March 1871 
circumstances were different. France had only just elected a 
sovereign Legislature whose composition clearly indicated her 
desire for the restoration of peace and law and order generally. 
We know that outbreaks occurred in some inflammable southern 
cities, Lyons, Marseilles, Toulouse, St. Etienne and Narbonne ; 
but an overwhelming majority of Frenchmen were opposed to 
the Commune of Paris. If the Government had remained in 
the capital they would have risked immediate overthrow and 
assassination. Representatives of their country, entrusted with 
its interests, they had no more right to expose themselves to 
such a risk than the commander-in-chief of an army has a right 
to expose himself unduly in battle. It was their duty to 
organise the country against the rebellious city and subdue it, 
as they did, though we do not say that grievous faults were 
not committed during the period which followed March 18. 

Various writers have tried to excuse the insurrection of the 
Commune, some have even claimed that it virtually established 
the present Republic. We hold, however, that while there 
were many excuses for the rank and file (as we previously indi- 
cated), the insurrection was, on the part of those who fomented 
it, one of the greatest crimes that history has been called upon 
to record. But, it is said at times, had it not been for the 
Commune there would have been a Royalist Restoration; 
the Commune frightened the reactionaries, and they dared not 
carry out their intentions. That is not correct. When the 
Communist outbreak occurred the National Assembly had been 
scarcely six weeks in existence. Thiers had assumed power by 
virtue of a compact concluded at Bordeaux, which provided 
that he should do nothing against the various parties of the 
Assembly or their aspirations, and that they should do nothing 



56 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

against him. Of the various Pretenders to the throne only 
Napoleon III. had spoken out at all frankly ; the letters and 
manifestoes of the Count de Chambord, the last of the Bourbon 
line, were as yet more expressive of sorrow for the country's 
misfortunes than of personal ambition. Besides, there was 
still at that moment a deep chasm between him and his cousins 
of Orleans ; Legitimists and Orleanists were by no means ready 
to unite in order to overthrow the Republic; and if, subse- 
quently, they did unite, it was precisely the rising of the Com- 
mune which inspired them to do so. That rising was, then, 
first a crime against France, inasmuch as it took place in presence 
of the Germans who, had they not preferred to let the French 
"stew in their own juice," might have intervened with terrible 
results ; and, secondly, it was a crime against the Republic, for 
it filled all sober-minded citizens in France with horror and 
alarm, disposing them more and more to seek the help of some 
providential saviour. It gave the Pretenders and their adherents 
courage, it led to the fusion of Legitimists and Orleanists, to 
the overthrow of Thiers, to manifold attempts at a Monarchical 
Restoration, and to all the unrest which for a few years retarded 
the recovery of France from her severe trials. The days of 
June 1848 virtually killed the Second Republic, the Commune 
nearly killed the Third. 

We have only space here for a general survey of that terrible 
insurrection which prevailed in Paris from March 18 till May 
28, 1871, though we may mention, that, apart from occasional 
day-trips to St. Denis and Versailles, facilitated by passports 
and laissez-passers from both sides, we were in the city during 
the entire period. Efforts were made at conciliation, but they 
implied the surrender of France to her capital. Such surrenders 
had occurred in the past, but Thiers would be no party to any 
such termination of the affair. Besides, the only chance of any 
lasting! quietude and prosperity in France lay in reducing the 
Revolutionaries. Their leaders formed a strange band, their 
policy was foolish, violent, incoherent; directly they found 
that the rest of France would not give way to them, they 
resorted to measures which were the negation of all liberty and 
order. They speedily broke up into opposing groups, Jacobins 
and Socialists ; and each group sought to devour the other. It 
was a repetition of what had been witnessed during the great 
Revolution, when the Girondists were devoured by the Dan ton- 



THE COMMUNE 57 

ists and the Dantonists by the Robespierrists — if we may be 
allowed the last term. Each group treated its opponents as 
suspects and traitors, delegates at war and generals were changed 
again and again, you were here to-day and gone to-morrow — 
thrust into prison, for alleged treachery to the cause. 

It was, of course, the Central Committee of the National 
Guard which at first seized and held Paris. The actual Council 
of the Commune was not elected until March 27. It then became 
patent that a great majority of the Parisians did not approve 
of any such unconstitutional election, for whereas 375,000 
electors had voted at a plebiscitum taken by the National 
Defence Government during the siege, only 180,000 participated 
in the election for the Commune. The latter represented, 
indeed, only a minority of the population, a minority, however, 
which by its military strength, its threats, and its violence, so 
terrorised the majority that thousands fled from the city. In 
three arrondissements of Paris Conservative candidates were 
successful, in two others candidates favouring compromise were 
returned ; but the other fifteen constituencies elected the candi- 
dates of the Central Committee. In presence of the majority's 
speedy usurpation of an authority far exceeding the powers 
which any municipality could possibly claim, and its outrageous, 
often insensate, measures, the moderate men speedily withdrew 
from the Commune, leaving the Extremists to themselves. 

They were a motley crew. Among them were several men 
of some talent but little principle ; old men embittered against 
society in general, young ones eager for power and position, 
and unscrupulous as to the means by which they might succeed. 
Luckily the betrayer of Barbes, the aged agitator Blanqui, 
who, under successive governments, had spent years of his life 
in prison, had been arrested ; and the Commune's doyen was 
a certain Beslay — an honest man in a crowd of scamps, who 
had been a deputy in Louis Philippe's time. Beside him 
there was the lunatic Allix, the inventor of "sympathetic 
snails " as a means of telegraphic communication ; and there 
was a whole tribe of authors and journalists, good, indifferent, 
and bad. Among these figured the portly Felix Pyat, a life- 
long conspirator, who was also the author of Le Chiffbnnier, 
Les Deux Serruriers, and Diogene, three dramatised social 
pamphlets. There was also the little, withered, one-eyed Jules 
Andrieu, who had compiled IS Amour en Chansons; there was 



58 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Vesinier, sometime secretary to Eugene Sue, and author of Le 
Mariage d*uiie Espagnole, a grotesque libel on the Empress 
Eugenie; there was J. B. Clement, a versifier who penned a 
few pretty romances both before and after the period of the 
Commune, notably one called Le Temps des Cerises which was 
long very popular. Then also there was Jules Valles, the 
author of Les Refractaires, Les Irreguliers, Les Saltimbanqnes? 
a writer with a style, gloomy, bitter, but thoroughly distinctive, 
a man, too, with the rasping laugh and the bilious eyes of one 
whose childhood has been unhappy, and who bears a grudge 
against all mankind, because he has been obliged to wear 
ridiculous garments made out of his father's old clothes. 
Again, there was Vermorel, tall, thin, and spectacled, with the 
face of a pious seminarist, yet who had made his literary debut 
with a book on the harlots of the Jardin Mabille, illustrated 
with naughty portraits of them photographed by Pierre 
Petit. 

Further, among the journalist members of the Commune, 
there was Paschal Grousset, a young curled dandy with a 
facile pen, who had done second-rate chromques and third-rate 
serials for Ix Figaro, and a mass of semi-scientific piffle for 
U£tendard. He was careful of his moustache, irreproachable 
in his linen and his gloves, fond, like Valles, of good living, 
and extremely partial to beauty. He became the Commune's 
Delegate for Foreign Affairs, addressed impudent and ridiculous 
circulars to the Powers, and corresponded more or less openly 
with the Germans. When the fall of the Commune came, he 
hied him to the abode of his mistress, sacrificed his moustache, 
attired himself in one of the woman's frocks, and was in the 
very act of adapting one of her false chignons to his own head 
when the police burst in and arrested him. In later times he 
reverted to literature, producing notably (under a pseudonym) 
several books on school and college life in different countries. 
In spite of a certain threatening address to the great cities of 
France, in which he prophesied, correctly enough, that, if the 
Commune should not succeed, Paris would become " a vast 
cemetery," Grousset was one of the least ferocious of the band, 
as was also his friend Arthur Arnould, the author of some 
fairly droll Contes humoristiques, and later (under the name 

1 And, subsequently, of Jacqws Vinglras, virtually an autobiography, 
and several other works, often of considerable merit. 






MEN OF THE COMMUNE 59 

of Matthey) of numerous melodramatic feuilletons, such as 
Le Due de Kandos. 

But there was also the hideous and foul-minded Vermesch, 
who wrote Le Pere Duchesne, and the good-looking, courteous, 
and suave Cournet, who had contributed to literary journals, 
and, finding but a scanty livelihood in that work, had become 
for a while master of the ceremonies at the Casino of Arcachon, 
where he welcomed the ladies of Bordeaux with his most 
agreeable smile, introduced them to partners on ball-nights, 
and generally acted the part which the renowned Angelo Cyrus 
Bantam played at Bath. Yet this same Cournet became 
successor to the odious Raoul Rigault at the Prefecture of 
Police, and carried out some of the Commune's most arbitrary 
decrees. Rigault, whom we have just mentioned, was also 
connected with journalism; he had written for Rocheforfs 
paper La Marseillaise. Short and spectacled, with a lofty 
forehead, long tangled hair and beard, he was a chilly mortal, 
and we remember that when, prior to the war, he frequented 
the cafes of the Quartier Latin, where he indulged in much 
extravagance of language, he usually wore — even as it is said 
the fifth Duke of Portland did — three coats, one over the 
other. Rigault's coats, however, were frayed, greasy, and of 
nondescript hues. He quitted the post of Police Delegate to 
the Commune to become its Public Prosecutor, and to him and 
to the horrible Ferre — another long-haired, full-bearded, and 
short-sighted Communard, who preferred, however, a pince-nez 
to spectacles — the unhappy hostages seized by the insurgents 
primarily owed their fate. Ferre, moreover, became one of the 
incendiaries of the Commune : his famous order, Faites jlamber 
finances ("Fire the Ministry of Finances "), has become 
historical. 1 Another implacable fanatic of the time was the 
gaudy Billioray, who had achieved notoriety by ranting at 
the clubs. 

But, reverting to those members of the Commune who were 
authors or journalists, particular mention must be made of 
Delescluze, the last of the Robespierres. The son of a sergeant 

1 The order has been occasionally imputed to Jules Valles, but that is an 
error. The facts are set out in the indictment of Ferre before the Third 
Court Martial of Versailles, August 1871 ; and he was convicted of having 
issued it, as well as of having brought about the assassination of many of 
the hostages. There was no doubt whatever of his guilt. He displayed the 
utmost cynicism at his trial, and was deservedly shot at Satory. 



60 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

in the armies of the first Republic, chiefly self-educated and 
distinctly clever, he had been a Government Commissary in 
1848, when he wished to carry revolution into Belgium and 
annex that country to France. As a member of secret societies 
and an editor of revolutionary journals, he had repeatedly 
come into conflict with the Second Empire, which deported him 
first to Algeria and later to Devil's Island (so long the prison 
of Captain Dreyfus), whence he was at last transferred to the 
mainland of Cayenne. Returning to France after the amnesty 
of 1859, Delescluze again waged war on the Empire, initiating 
in his newspaper, Le Reveil, a subscription for a monument to 
deputy Baudin, who was killed at the Coup d'Etat of 1851. 
Being prosecuted on that account, he was defended by 
Gambetta, but was again sentenced to imprisonment. Like 
Pyat and Blanqui, Delescluze was one of the malcontent 
revolutionary leaders who fomented hostility to the National 
Defence Government during the Siege of Paris, and he was 
again one of the foremost to bring about the rising of the 
Commune. 

In 1871 he was already in his sixty -second year. Of the 
medium height, thin, angular, with a cold metallic stare, like a 
man haunted by a fixed idea, he had a resolute walk, always 
going straight to his destination without glancing either to 
right or left. His hair and beard, once red, were then of a 
dingy white ; a number of little sanguineous spots speckled his 
yellowish, hard, unflinching, and deeply wrinkled face, which 
never smiled. Perhaps he would have been an inquisitor had 
he lived in the Middle Ages. Born, however, not long after 
the great Revolution, he had chosen Robespierre and St. Just 
as his masters, and used with a kind of mystical fervour the 
language employed by the Incorruptible Dictator of 1793. 
But though he confined himself within the narrow limits of 
the Jacobin faith, he was a true journalist, and probably the 
most remarkable of all the men who ruled Paris in the spring 
of 1871. His manners were fastidious like those of his patron 
Robespierre. Like the latter, too, he was careful in his attire. 
He invariably wore a silk hat, a frock coat, and patent-leather 
boots — being the only member of the Commune who assumed 
those habiliments common to the hated bourgeoisie. Im- 
placable, never forgiving, never forgetting, he was also cour- 
ageous. When the end came, and the Commune was expiring 



MEN OF THE COMMUNE 61 

in the bullet-swept streets of Paris, and no hope of saving it 
remained, he quitted the town-hall of the XI th Arrondissement, 
where he had installed himself as War Delegate, and went 
straight to a barricade thrown up on the Boulevard Voltaire 
near the present Place de la Re'publique. He wore his usual 
garments, but a red sash was wound about his waist, and he 
carried his favourite gold-headed cane. On his way he met 
some of his confederates, Lissagaray, Jourde, 1 Jaclard, Lisbonne, 
who was badly wounded, and Vermorel, who was shot dead 
before his eyes. On reaching the barricade we have mentioned, 
Delescluze climbed it amid the hail of bullets raining from the 
troops in the distance, and prepared for death. It came 
swiftly : in another moment he fell to the ground lifeless, shot 
in the head and the chest. 

Among other prominent leaders of the Commune were Assi, 
Amoureux, and Varlin, members of the famous International 
Association. The first named had risen to notoriety by foment- 
ing strikes at the well-known Creusot iron-works, where he was 
employed as an engineer. He was well-nigh illiterate. He 
admitted that he had read little beyond one book, Edgar Quinefs 
Revolutions cTItalie, which had impressed him by its picture of 
the old Italian Communes which sprang up and grew strong 
while the Roman Empire was dying. And Assi's fevered mind 
was capable of but one idea, that of reviving, as it were, the 
Middle Ages, and establishing independent Communal govern- 
ments on all sides, in order to free France for ever from Caesarism 
and monarchy. In the motley assembly at the H6tel-de-Ville, 
it was strange to find a great painter like Courbet, but he also 
was a member of the Commune, one who was chiefly responsible 
for the overthrow of the Vendome column. Henri Rochefort, 
then a very prominent figure, was, in some matters, on the side 
of the Commune, and, in others, against it. He at least 
suggested the confiscation of Thiers's property and the demolition 
of his house. He also favoured the steps taken against the 
clergy, but he subsequently embroiled himself with some of the 
Communard leaders, and took to flight— merely to fall, however, 

1 Jourde, who became the Commune's financial delegate and who helped 
to carry out its orders for requisitioning money of the Bank of France, the 
Rothschilds, several insurance companies and other institutions, was person- 
ally an honest man, who accounted for every sou that came into his possession. 
But one could not say the same of some of his colleagues, who stole whatever 
they could lay their hands upon and lived riotous lives. 



62 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

from the frying-pan into the fire, for he was arrested by the 
Gendarmerie at Meaux and conveyed to Versailles, there to be 
tried and sentenced to transportation. 

Let us now turn for a moment to the Commune's military 
men. It had several successive Delegates at War and numerous 
generals in its employ. There was Cluseret, who had seen 
service in the United States during the War of Secession, a vain 
and cantankerous individual, who regarded every fellow officer 
as either a fool or a traitor. He was deposed, however, on 
the suspicion that he was a traitor himself. There was also 
Duval, a young brassfounder, who imagined himself to be a 
heaven-born general, but who was captured in the environs of 
Paris, and shot by the Versailles troops. Again, there was 
Bergeret, who led the National Guards in a " torrential sortie," 
by which he hoped to seize Versailles, but which ended in disaster 
and disgrace. Further, there was La Cecilia, a man of much 
greater merit, who had served under Garibaldi in Sicily, and 
commanded some of the Francs-tireurs who fought so bravely at 
Chateaudun in October 1870. 1 He escaped at the close of the 
Commune, and, repairing to London, earned his living there as 
a professor of languages. 

He, of course, was an Italian, and several of his compatriots 
served the Commune. There were also numerous Polish generals. 
Dombrowski, Wrobleski, Laudowski, and Okolowitz. The last 
named was a dastardly coward. When he was in command at 
the village of Asnieres on the banks of the Seine, west of Paris, 
he became so terrified by the advance of the Government forces, 
that he fled across the river, and immediately afterwards cut the 
bridge of boats by which he had effected his passage, leaving 
the bulk of his men behind him. To save themselves from 
GallifFet's light cavalry, who suddenly charged into the village, 
the unlucky National Guards tried to cross the Seine by way of 
the railway bridge, which had been dismantled, in such wise that 
only its iron skeleton remained. They often had to jump from 
one girder to another, and scores of them fell into the river 
and were drowned ; while many others were picked off by the 
Versaillese mounted gendarmes who were provided with carbines. 
Meantime, the batteries of the Paris fortifications fired vigorously 
in the hope of covering the retreat, but well-nigh every shell fell 
hissing into the Seine, stirring the water into commotion, and 

1 See ante, p. 17. La Cecilia was a great linguist and Orientalist. 



MEN OF THE COMMUNE 63 

helping to seal the fates of the hapless men who had fallen from 
the bridge. 1 

Yaroslav Dombrowski, Okolowitz's colleague, was a more 
capable man. A native of Volhynia, he had studied at the 
military academy of St. Petersburg, and become a captain in the 
Russian army. But he took part in the Polish rising of 1862 
and was sent to Siberia, whence he contrived to escape three 
years afterwards. He made his way to Paris, and in 1870 offered 
his services both to the Empire and the National Defence. The 
latter wished to employ him in the provinces, but the investment 
of Paris supervening, he was unable to quit the city. At the 
advent of the Commune he promptly joined it. He was then 
about eight-and-thirty, very short, thin, and fair-haired. He 
was killed fighting during the Bloody Week. 

Another Communist general, a Frenchman however, and one 
who survived the insurrection, was Eudes, who figured chiefly as 
commander at the Palace of the Legion of Honour, where he 
was wont to lie in bed and indulge in revolver practice, the three 
mirrors in the room which he occupied serving as his targets. 
His wife, meantime, amused herself by giving balls, that is, 
when she was not engaged in purloining the Palace linen and 
ornaments. 

A revolutionary celebrity of those times, who fell early in 
the struggle, was Gustave Flourens. He came from the south 
of France, the excitable Midi, but his father achieved fame as a 
professor of physiology, and was elected both a member of the 
French Academy and Secretary to the Academy of Sciences. 
Gustave also graduated in literature and science, and in 1863, 
when illness prevented his father from performing his duties, he 
took his place. A little later he travelled in England and 
Belgium, and, on a rebellion breaking out in Crete, joined the 
insurgents and shared their fortunes for a year. He was after- 
wards sent as their representative to Athens, but his presence 
not being acceptable to the Greek authorities, he was despatched 
to France. After a second visit to Athens, and a second expul- 
sion, he betook himself to Naples. But some violent newspaper 
articles made Naples also too hot for him, and the officials 
sent him out of the country. He next appeared in Paris in 1868, 
when Napoleon III. had just restored the right of public meeting. 

1 We personally witnessed the whole of that affair from the convenient 
shelter of a ditch alongside the river tow-path. 



64 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Flourens flung himself into the anti-governmental campaign 
which followed that concession, and before long found himself 
arrested and imprisoned. On his release, he challenged the 
notorious Bonapartist champion, Paul de Cassagnac, and in the 
course of a ferocious fight with swords Flourens was seriously 
wounded. After his recovery he participated in the agitation 
which marked the last days of the Empire ; but to avoid being 
arrested once more, he had to quit the country and repair to 
London. The overthrow of the Empire led to his immediate 
return to France ; he raised a Free Corps in Paris, and became 
the leading spirit in most of the disturbances which arose during 
the siege. Imprisoned for his attempt to overthrow the Govern- 
ment of National Defence on October 31, he was afterwards 
released by some rioters, and, when the Commune was estab- 
lished, he became one of its leading defenders. Early in April 
however, he was surprised by some gendarmes in a house near 
Le Vesinet — west of Paris — and was shot dead by them while 
attempting to escape. 

A man of great culture and high abilities, tall, bald, with 
a flowing beard, an aquiline nose and flashing eyes, impulsive 
by reason of his southern origin, Flourens thirsted for adventure, 
and gave way to a kind of unreasoning, fiery, fanatical patriotism, 
which was carried, at times, to the point of insanity. There 
was no small amount of such insanity, a contagious aberration, 
among the men of the Commune. Many of them would have 
been at a loss to explain clearly what they were fighting for. 
They acted under the influence of hallucination, something 
akin to religious mania, which swept them off their feet. And 
on the other side, among the citizens who did not take part in 
the insurrection, you observed something like stupor, paralysis, 
and utter inability to resist the Terrorists, a benumbing, as it 
were, of both mental and physical vigour. 

We will conclude this survey of the Men of the Commune 
by saying something respecting Rossel, who succeeded Cluseret 
as Delegate at War. Born in 1844, he was the son of a Major 
in the Line, who had married (it is said) a Miss Campbell, the 
daughter of an officer of our Indian Army. Not unnaturally, 
the young fellow took to the military profession, and when the 
Franco-German War broke out, he was serving as a Captain 
of Engineers. He was taken prisoner at Metz by the Germans, 
but escaped, and was promoted to a colonelcy by the National 



MEN OF THE COMMUNE 65 

Defence. His patriotism was of the same fiery kind as that of 
Flourens. Moreover, he deeply felt the humiliation of Sedan, 
the capitulations of Metz and Paris, and the terrible terms of 
peace imposed by Germany on France. Disgusted with every- 
thing in the military spheres of the time, he sent in his papers 
on the very morrow of the Insurrection of March 18, hastened 
to Paris, and joined the Commune, becoming President of its 
Permanent Court Martial and aide-de-camp to Cluseret, whom, 
as already mentioned, he succeeded — only to fall out, however, 
with the other Communist leaders, much as his predecessor had 
done. In disgust with them he threw up his office, whereupon 
they wrathfully ordered his arrest. Unluckily for him, although 
he escaped from confinement, he remained in Paris, where, at 
the fall of the regime^ he was recognised by some former 
military subordinates in spite of a disguise he had assumed. 
His removal to Versailles followed as a matter of course. He 
was tried there and sentenced to death. 

In spite of the sympathy which was expressed for him on 
various sides, we feel that it was impossible for the authorities 
to spare him. He had thrown up his rank in the regular army 
expressly to join the insurrection, and he had played a most 
important part in the military operations against the Govern- 
ment of his country. He was responsible for the loss of many 
lives. And thus, though he had been an able officer during 
the Franco-German War, and was but eight-and-twenty years 
of age, his case was one which called for exemplary punishment. 
Rossel was not of prepossessing appearance. He had a low, 
frowning forehead, crowned with thick, bushy hair, brown, with 
gleams of auburn. When he arrived in Paris to join the 
Commune, his long, narrow face was clean-shaven, later he 
displayed a small, ill-growing moustache and a sparse beard — 
both of them red. His mouth was very hard ; his eyes, a light 
blue, were usually hidden by coloured glasses. He had written, 
at one moment, some crisp, forcible, well -arranged military 
articles for Le Temps; but his speech was not pleasing, he 
spoke too rapidly, the words gushing from his mouth in a most 
disorderly fashion. Cluseret asserts in his work The Military 
Side of the Commune that Rossel was very ambitious, and 
aspired to play the part of a Bonaparte. Further, Cluseret 
accuses him of underhand intrigues with the Germans, and 
adds: "It was invariably through him that I communicated 

F 



66 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

with them." Again, according to the same authority, it was 
Rossel who negotiated with the Germans the supply of a large 
number of horses for the Commune at a cost of <£! 6,000, which 
arrangement was not carried into effect, however, as the animals 
were found to be in poor condition, and by no means worth 
the price. But, in any case, whether those tales be true or not 
— Cluseret's assertions must often be taken with some salt — 
we feel that RossePs position as an ex-army officer, who had 
gone over to the rebels, precluded the Government from 
exercising any clemency. 

Of the many incidents which marked the Commune's reign 
in Paris, we can only enumerate some of the more important. 
At an early date, a pacific, unarmed demonstration in the Rue 
de la Paix was greeted with the fire of the National Guards 
assembled on the Place Vendome, and several people were killed 
or wounded. Later the column on that same square was 
thrown down in hatred of Caesarism and the Bonapartes. 
Barricades sprang up at an early stage in many streets. 
Churches were turned into public clubs, where demagogues 
perorated from the pulpits. All independent newspapers were 
suppressed. Thiers's house was demolished and his portable 
property confiscated. Many other private residences were 
broken into, searched and sometimes pillaged. Then the Arch- 
bishop of Paris, several priests, a number of Dominican monks, 
a judge (President Bonjean), a banker (M. Jecker), various 
functionaries and journalists, and some fifty gendarmes, were 
seized and imprisoned as hostages. The Communists, after 
being beaten back and almost cut to pieces in an attempted 
march on Versailles, ended by losing their advanced post at 
Asnieres across the Seine, and the Government army, strongly 
reinforced by troops released from captivity in Germany, pressed 
onward, assailing Neuilly just outside the city. Mont Valerien 
and Montretout were held by the Versailles authorities, and 
their batteries bombarded both the western quarter of Paris 
and the fort of Issy, which the Communists occupied. They 
ended by abandoning it, whereupon the Versaillese, after mount- 
ing fresh guns, availed themselves of the position to bombard 
the city ramparts on that side. Finally, they secured possession 
of the Bois de Boulogne, and advancing towards the St. Cloud 
gate of Paris, prepared to assault it. But on the evening of 
Sunday, May 21, they found that position abandoned, whereupon 






THE BLOODY WEEK 67 

a few companies entered Paris, followed by a division which 
by seven o'clock had already pushed on as far as the Trocadero. 
By three o'clock on the following morning (Monday, May 22) 
the bulk of the Government forces had entered the city by one 
or another gate, that of Sevres, south of the Seine, being carried 
by General de Cissey. And now the Bloody Week began. 

On many points the Communists resisted staunchly, and 
the troops advanced with great caution by order of their 
officers, who feared lest some of them might fraternise with 
the National Guards, as had happened on March 18. More- 
over, they deemed it more prudent to suspend the advance 
every night. When darkness fell on the Monday, the Versaillese 
held the western part of Paris limited by the Asnieres gate on 
the north-east, and the Vanves gate on the south. The district 
included the St. Lazare railway terminus, the Elysee, and the 
Palais Bourbon. On Tuesday the troops seized Montmartre 
on the north and the Observatory district on the south, and 
advanced from both those points towards the central part of 
Paris. That same day the first conflagrations were kindled by 
the Communards, and at night the sky was lurid with the 
reflection from all the burning piles, the many private houses, 
the Tuileries, the Louvre Library, the Palais Royal, the Palace 
of the Legion of Honour, the Court of Accounts, the Orsay 
Barracks, and the Ministry of Finances. On the north the 
Versaillese had now extended their advance to the Goods 
Depot of the Northern Railway Line, and on the south to 
the Arcueil Gate ; while on the following night (that of 
Wednesday) their lines ran right across the city from the 
Northern Terminus to the Park of Montsouris. More than 
half of Paris was now in their hands. On Thursday, both the 
H6tel-de-Ville and the Palace of Justice x were burning, as 
well as the Lyric Theatre, the Porte St. Martin Theatre, various 
district town-halls, and many more private houses. Meantime, 
barricade after barricade was being carried by outflanking 
movements, and the remaining members of the Commune were 
compelled to retreat to the municipal offices on the Boulevard 
Voltaire. Then from Montmartre the troops bombarded the 
Communists gathered at Belleville and in the Pere Lachaise 
Cemetery, while the insurgents, on their side, employed their 
remaining guns to fire upon Paris indiscriminately. Shells fell 
1 We pumped and carried water there. Only a portion of it was destroyed. 



68 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

on the Place Vendome, in the Rue de Richelieu, and even as far 
west as the Rue de Miromesnil — carrying away, as we have good 
occasion to remember, a part of the fifth floor balcony of the 
house where we were residing. 

On Friday, the Grenier d'Abondance, a vast storeplace for 
oil and cereals, was fired, as were also the magazines of La 
Villette, in spite of the continued progress of the army in every 
direction. On Saturday, the troops seized Belleville and the 
Buttes Chaumont, and only the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which 
had been turned into an entrenched camp, then remained to the 
Communists. Meantime, dreadful deeds had been perpetrated, 
as was now first ascertained. On Wednesday, Archbishop 
Darboy of Paris, Abbe Deguerry of the Madeleine, President 
Bonjean, M. Jecker, and several others had been shot by the 
insurrectionists in the courtyard of the prison of La Roquette ; on 
Thursday, a number of Dominican monks had been assassinated ; 
while on Friday, several priests and forty-seven gendarmes, also 
held as hostages, were put to death in the Rue Haxo. The 
reprisals were terrible. When the troops reached La Roquette 
(where they arrived in time to save 168 hostages), 227 insurgents, 
captured at various points, were shot down in a heap ; and when 
Pere Lachaise was carried, 148 others were placed against a 
wall and likewise despatched ; while both on Saturday and 
Sunday (May 28) at the Lobau Barracks in central Paris, and 
in the Luxembourg Gardens on the south, there were numerous 
other summary executions. 

Most of the insurgents who perished were killed in the 
fighting, but those captured at the barricades were also often 
shot on the spot, and a certain number of women, charged with 
incendiarism, met with similar fates. We believe, however, that 
the tales of women going about with cans of petroleum to set 
fire to the city were vastly exaggerated. There may have been 
a few crazy creatures who did so, but in the great majority 
of instances the charges were false. On the other hand, the 
Communist historians have, as a rule, grossly overestimated the 
deaths on their side. From first to last, that is from March 18 
to May 28, about 12,000 insurgents perished. 

From the time of the insurrection until July 15, 1872, the 
number of people arrested on more or less serious charges 
connected with it was no less than 32,905. Of these, however, 
21,610 were, after investigation, released without being brought 



FATE OF THE COMMUNISTS 69 

to trial. Further, 2103 were acquitted by the courts-martial 
before which they were arraigned; while the number of those 
found guilty and sentenced was 9192. * Those figures are not 
complete, as, subsequent even to the date given above, there 
were further arrests resulting from denunciations or from 
evidence supplied in the course of the earlier cases. It would 
appear that from first to last about 12,000 prisoners were 
convicted. On the other hand, the Commission des Graces 
instituted by the National Assembly granted reductions of 
sentences — and, in some instances, pardons — in about one out 
of every three cases brought before it. With respect to capital 
sentences, its clemency went farther. Of sixty-two persons 
condemned to death by court-martial between May 1871 and 
July 15, 1872, forty-two had their lives spared, their sentences 
being commuted to transportation. They were sent, as a rule, 
to New Caledonia. The sufferings of many of them, both in 
the prisons of Versailles and on the voyage, were very great, 
very little provision, indeed often little humanity, being 
displayed by their custodians. Among those carried to New 
Caledonia was an unfortunate, hysterical, crazy school-teacher 
named Louise Michel, who had upheld the cause of the 
Commune at the Paris clubs and other meeting-places, and was 
usually called the Red Virgin. A dttraqute, as the French say, 
more to be pitied than blamed, even in her violent moments, 
she became at other times a dreamer in some far-away Utopia, 
a believer in universal love, fraternity, and peace. And, woman- 
like, when the time of punishment and suffering arrived, she 
tried by little services to assuage the captivity of those around 
her. Another notable prisoner sent to Noumea was Henri 
Rochefort, who in 1874 contrived, with Olivier Pain, Paschal 
Grousset, Jourde, and two others, to escape from captivity — 
reaching Australia, and thence America and Europe. This was 
facilitated by Edmond Adam, 2 who was able to send Rochefort 
.£1000, i?400 of the amount being paid to the captain of an 
English merchantman, who landed the fugitives at Sydney. In 
1879 came an Amnesty which enabled many of the former 
insurrectionists to return to France. 

1 Official Report to the National Assembly, published in August 1872. 
2 See page 14 ante. 



CHAPTER III 

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY — THEIRS, FIRST PRESIDENT 
OF THE REPUBLIC — THE PRETENDERS 

The Assembly and the Government at Versailles— Bismarck's Residence 
there— The Chancellor, Thiers, and Satan— The Deputies and their 
President, Grevy — Thiers as a Parliamentary Orator — He declares for 
a Republic— Financial Burdens of France— The Rivet Constitution— 
Thiers, his Paris House and his Collections— Financial Changes— France 
and Protection— Thiers and the Assembly— The Great Loans— Expulsion 
of Prince Napoleon— The Pretenders— The Count de Chambord— The 
Count de Paris and his Relatives— The Duke de Chartres— The Duke 
d'Aumale— The Prince de Join ville— The Duke de Nemours— The Bona- 
partists— The Last Days and Death of Napoleon III. 

When, during the early days of the National Assembly's 
sojourn at Bordeaux, the restless condition of Paris gave cause 
for serious anxiety, it was resolved that the Legislature, which 
could not long continue in the south of France, should trans- 
port itself, not to the capital, as that might be dangerous, but 
to some town in its vicinity, so that the Government officials 
might go easily to and fro as occasion required. Some deputies, 
who deemed that course unduly audacious, would have ventured 
no nearer to Paris than Tours, Orleans, or Blois ; but Versailles 
and Fontainebleau numbered most partisans, Thiers favouring 
the latter locality, perhaps because he remembered the march 
of the Parisians on Versailles at the time of Louis XVI. How- 
ever, Versailles was chosen by a majority of three to one, and 
the play-house of its palace became the scene of the Assembly's 
deliberations. Thiers lodged himself at the Prefecture, and 
offices were found for the various departments of State at the 
Palace or in other buildings of the town. Those offices were 
originally intended to be merely branch ones, but, in conse- 
quence of the Commune, they became, for a considerable time, 

70 



BISMARCK AT VERSAILLES 71 

the only offices which the departments possessed. Versailles — 
left for so many long years in semi-somnolence, only waking 
up on occasional Sundays in the summer, when the play of its 
fountains attracted Parisians and tourists to the gardens laid 
out for Louis XIV. — had witnessed a wonderful revival of life 
ever since September 1870, when it became the headquarters of 
the German Army. King William then arrived there, and it 
was in the famous Hall of Mirrors at the Palace that he was 
subsequently proclaimed German Emperor. Moltke was there 
as well, and so was Bismarck. 

From October 5, 1870, until March 6, 1871, the great 
Chancellor resided at a house in the Rue de Provence, which 
was the property of a French general officer, M. de Jesse. A 
large first-floor room was used by him both as his study and as 
his bed-chamber. It was in this apartment that he received 
Thiers, when the latter, fresh from his foreign mission, came to 
negotiate an armistice during the Siege of Paris ; it was there 
that he drew up the proclamation announcing to the world the 
incorporation of the German Empire, there that the capitula- 
tion of Paris was signed, and there that the peace preliminaries 
were negotiated with Thiers and Jules Favre. A little later, 
shortly before the Chancellor's departure from Versailles, Mme. 
de Jesse came to inquire on what day she would be able to 
resume possession of the house. Said Bismarck, in his most 
courteous manner : " I shall leave on the 6th, madame, and as 
you are here, I should greatly like to accompany you over the 
house, in order that you may see that I have respected your 
property." Excepting that the floors were somewhat grimy — a 
detail, as the French would say — Mme. de Jesse did not notice 
much amiss until she entered the principal drawing-room. 
Once there, she looked in vain for a valuable old clock, sur- 
mounted by a curious figure of Satan, which had formerly 
stood on the mantel-shelf. " Mon Dieu ! " she exclaimed, 
" and my clock ! " But Bismarck reassured her. " It has not 
been lost or stolen, madame ; it is in my room. Come and see. 
I removed it there because I admired it so much. Thiers did 
not like it. No, he didn't ; though he is supposed to appreciate 
good bronzes. When he was here, he kept on glancing at the 
time-piece and muttering : * Le diable, le maudit diable ! ' It 
seemed positively to horrify him — nevertheless we signed the 
preliminaries of peace in front of it." 



72 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

" I could hardly refrain, " Mme. de Jesse used to say, when 
she told the story, " I could hardly refrain from retorting : 
' Yes, I understand : it was the Devil's Peace. , " 

Bismarck admired the clock so much that he greatly wished 
to purchase it, but Mme. de Jesse declined every offer. At the 
moment of the Chancellor's departure the pendulum was 
removed, and to this day the clock marks the hour when he 
left the house where the triumph of Germany was consum- 
mated. 1 

As soon as Versailles was rid of the Germans, it became 
crowded with Frenchmen. Ministers and other functionaries, 
generals and their troops, journalists galore, flocked into the 
town, as well as all the members of the National Assembly, 
who were in many instances accompanied by their wives and 
families. Thus Versailles still remained all bustle and con- 
fusion, and the famous Hotel des Reservoirs was as crowded as 
it had ever been while it accommodated the German prince- 
lings and grandees who attended the spiritualistic seances 
which our old acquaintance Sludge, otherwise David Dunglas 
Home, gave in the rooms of his friend and patron Lord Adare, 
now the Earl of Dunraven. The new Assembly, however, 
although it ended by often working itself into a more or less 
excited state, was not remarkable for liveliness. An over- 
whelming majority of its members were men of mature years — 
many indeed were fast descending the vale of life. Robust 
young Radical Republicans viewed them with contempt: "Sont- 
ils vieux, sont-ils chauves, sont-ils laids, sont-ils betes?" ("Aren't 
they old, aren't they bald, aren't they ugly, aren't they stupid?") 
was a familiar saying at the time. And, certainly, the number 
of bald craniums and pallid, wrinkled faces which one observed 
at the sittings, particularly on the President's right, 2 was 
remarkable. 

1 He gave the gardener a gratuity of fifty francs, to which he added 
another forty, to compensate Mme. de Jesse, said he, for the loss of some 
guinea-fowls belonging to her, which he had eaten. " I feared she would 
not like it," he added, ** but then I am so fond of guinea-fowl, and, besides, 
this money will please her." 

1 We may take this opportunity to explain the terms Right, Left, etc., 
so often employed in connection with continental parliamentary debates. 
It is the constant usage for Conservative members to occupy the benches on 
the President's right, and for Liberals to occupy those on his left. Accord- 
ing to the state of parties there may be numerous subdivisions of the Right 
and Left. For instance, the most Conservative members will sit on the 



THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 73 

The President, elected at Bordeaux by 519 votes against 
17, was Jules Grevy x — subsequently Chief of the State. Born 
in 1807, and a native of a village in the Jura mountains, he 
became a barrister, defended many Republican prisoners in 
Louis Philippe's time, sat in the Constituent Assembly of the 
Second Republic, was chosen as bdtonnier of the order of 
advocates in Paris during the Second Empire, and was elected 
to the latter^ Legislative Body in 1868. Although known to 
be a Republican, Grevy was highly esteemed for his integrity, 
even by the Monarchists of 1871, whence came his almost 
unanimous election to the presidency of the Assembly. Dis- 
carding the practice of wearing evening dress which was 
followed by Morny and Schneider in the Legislature of the 
Empire, Grevy exercised his presidential functions in a frock 
coat and virtually sans ceremonie, though he invariably pre- 
served a sufficiently grave expression of countenance. He 
displayed great impartiality as president, which was a task of 
some difficulty, as most of the members held views alien to his 
own. At the same time, whenever there was any disturbance 
or unseemly behaviour, he showed himself remarkably firm. 
He did not have occasion to deliver many speeches to the 
Assembly, but he excelled in the orations which he pronounced 
whenever a member died, being never so happy as when — if he 
could not expatiate on the political record of the departed — he 
could at least extol his personal character. 

We shall have occasion to speak of the oratorical abilities 
of some of the speakers. Here we will only say a few 
words respecting those of Thiers. In 1871 his voice was no 
longer what it had been. At the outset of a speech it often 
seemed quite distressingly thin and weak — like the voice 
indeed of a man heavily weighted with years. But presently 
it became so clear and vigorous as to be heard distinctly in 

extreme right, the ordinary Conservatives on the right proper, while (the 
seats generally being arranged in semi-circular fashion) the Liberal-Conserva- 
tives will occupy the more central places, whence the expression " right- 
centre." On the other hand, Socialists and such like will sit on the extreme 
left, Radicals and Liberals on the left proper, while moderate or conservative 
Liberals occupy the left centre positions. As we may have to use the terms 
" Right," " Left," etc., rather frequently, we have thought it as well to give 
this explanation. 

1 His real Christian names, it has been said, were Francois Judith Paul ; 
but he detested the name of Judith, and, assuming that of Jules in its place, 
became generally known by it. 



74 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

the remotest " tribune r>1 of the house. The tone was con- 
versational, the matter was skilfully divided into sections, at 
the end of each of which came a brief resume, or, perhaps, just 
one skilful transitional phrase, covering all that had gone 
before, and linking it to the next section of the discourse. 
There was great sobriety of gesture, there was no pomposity 
whatever; Thiers did not " speechify," he talked to you; 
lucidity was the chief feature of his style, but now and again 
some arrow barbed with irony would dart from his bow, and 
his eyes sparkled behind his glasses if he were pleased with a 
hit he made. 

From the outset, in spite of his almost unanimous election, 
he had considerable difficulties with the majority of the 
Assembly ; he wished it to do his bidding, and the Assembly, 
to employ a vulgarism, often kicked. Already in May 1871, 
a week or so after the final treaty of peace had been signed 
at Frankfort, and before the Commune had fallen, some of 
the Monarchists began to think of displacing him ; and 
Marshal MacMahon, General Changarnier, and even Grevy 
were sounded, with respect to their acceptance of the chief 
executive post. MacMahon and Grevy immediately repudiated 
the proposals, while Changarnier, a vain, slim, corseted, 
and antiquated beau — who feared to leap lest he should fall — 
prudently adjourned his reply. Aware of the plotting against 
him, Thiers was compelled to lean more on the Republican 
Centre and the Republican Left, than he had hitherto done. 
A reception he held at the time was numerously attended by 
moderate Republicans, whom he thanked for the support they 
gave him. He added, in the course of conversation, in that 
frank way which he could assume so well : " As you are aware, 
I have declared myself in favour of the maintenance of the 
Republic ; and if I, an old Monarchist, have done so, you may 
be sure that it has not been without deep reflection. You 
may be at ease. I have no idea of betraying the Republic. 
As long as I am at the head of affairs it will be in no danger. 
Some of the gentlemen of the Right have shown personal 
hostility towards me ; I regret it, but why has it happened ? 
It is because I will not lend myself to certain combinations. 
Duke Decazes, as is well known, wished me to send him as 

1 The former M boxes," etc., of the Versailles play-house, utilised for the 
accommodation of diplomatists, journalists, and the general public. 



THIERS AND THE ASSEMBLY 75 

Ambassador to Russia, but I did not consider it a suitable 
appointment for him. Then another gentleman asked me to 
restore the system of official candidatures at the elections for 
the present vacancies in the Assembly. He wished this to be 
done in the interest of one of his relatives, but I declined to 
take any such course. That is why he and others attack me. 
I don't do what they ask, not because they ask impossibilities, 
but because they ask things which might lead to trouble, and 
which I disapprove. All my thoughts are bent on the 
restoration of order, for that is essential to us all — order, 
moreover, with the Republic, which, in the state of parties, 
is equally essential. I am convinced that justice will be done 
me later on. I am an honest man, and at my age, the 
only desire I can have, is to be favourably remembered 
when I am gone." Those words made a deep impression 
on the persons present, but they indisposed the Monarchists 
extremely. 

For a time the fall of the Commune and the steps taken by 
Thiers and his colleagues to provide for the burdens cast on 
France by the war and the insurrection, strengthened his 
position with the Assembly. Early in 1871 the financial 
situation was very bad. Quite ^450,000,000 sterling had to 
be found. There were ^200,000,000 (with interest in addition) 
to be paid as war indemnity to Germany, further large sums 
were required for the expenses of the German army of 
occupation, grants of considerable magnitude had to be made 
to relieve the distress in departments which had been invaded, 
it was necessary also to repair the disasters of the Commune, 
and large amounts were owing on account of the military 
expenses of France during the war. Under these circumstances 
Thiers and his Finance Minister, Pouyer-Quertier, launched 
a first loan of ^100,000,000 sterling to provide for more 
pressing requirements. It met with wonderful success, and the 
Germans received a first payment of ^40,000,000. About the 
same time financial bills were presented to the Assembly with 
the object of restoring budgetary equilibrium, and an annual 
sinking fund of ^8,000,000 was established, so as to ensure 
the total extinction of the indebtedness incurred by the war 
in a maximum period of forty years. As a matter of fact, 
that indebtedness was discharged many years sooner. 

While all those financial measures were in progress, the 



76 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Monarchists of the Assembly could not get rid of Thiers 
without placing themselves in serious difficulties. They were 
conscious of the position, and when in August (1871) it was 
proposed to transform Thiers's title of Chief of the Executive 
Power into that of President of the Republic — an alteration, 
which, although the Republic was not officially proclaimed, 
implied that it existed — the Assembly adopted the measure 
after carefully inserting therein that it was a sovereign 
Assembly with power to decide the form of government. 
As this signified that it might turn the Republic into a 
Monarchy if it chose, the Royalists were satisfied with the 
arrangement, while the Republicans on their side were not 
displeased to find the Republic implicitly recognised as the 
de facto Government. As for any attempts to overthrow it 
thereafter, they would know how to resist them. The 
ingenious compromise which was arrived at, took the name of 
the deputy who had first proposed it, becoming known as the 
"Rivet Constitution"; while the regime it established was 
generally styled the " Loyal Trial " of the Republic. 

One matter connected with Thiers's relations with the 
Assembly about this period has not yet been mentioned. He 
was voted a very considerable sum of money to indemnify him 
for the destruction of his Paris residence by the Commune, 
and the loss of the many art treasures, valuable books, papers, 
and articles of furniture which the house had contained. 
Most of the property having been conveyed by the Communists 
to the Tuileries shortly before that palace was set on fire, 
perished there in the flames. There were good grounds for 
awarding a State indemnity to Thiers, though, as other private 
persons, who met with heavy losses during the Commune, 
received little or nothing, considerable complaint was heard 
about it. Thiers's Paris house, which was rebuilt at the 
expense of the nation, stood, we may mention, on the little 
Place St. Georges, a small circular square halfway up the Rue 
Notre Dame de Lorette. He had resided there for many 
years, and in his spacious cabinet de travail he had collected 
a large number of bronzes, mostly of the period of the Italian 
Renascence, of which the Louvre then possessed only few 
examples. At the time when they were seized by the 
Commune, Courbet the painter estimated those bronzes to be 
worth i?60,000; but artists often overestimate the value of 



THIERS AND HIS COLLECTIONS 77 

artistic works which they appreciate, and Thiers, at any 
rate, had not expended on his collection more than a quarter 
of the amount suggested by Courbet. Foremost, perhaps, in 
the collection, came a beautiful " Marine Venus," a Florentine 
bronze of the sixteenth century, in the form of a bas relief 
representing the goddess, delicate and slender, resting on a 
goat-headed monster, and attended by winged loves, one of 
them brandishing a torch and the other adjusting an arrow 
to his bow. Again, there was a bronze model of that " Virgin 
and Child " which Michael Angelo began in marble and left 
unfinished. Very fine also was a " Horseman on a Galloping 
Steed" — attributed to Leonardo da Vinci — and remarkably 
expressive was the statuette of " An Antique Jester," dancing 
with the heavy step of a country clown, his arms wrapped the 
while in his mantle. There were also some remarkable bronze 
mule heads of Roman origin ; besides a number of reduced 
modern copies (executed at Thiers's expense) of several 
celebrated statues of the Italian Renascence, such, for instance, 
as Andrea del Verrocchio's " Colleone." 

From the walls of the study hung numerous copies in water- 
colours of famous frescoes and oil paintings by great Italian 
artists; while in one and another room of the house were 
assembled cabinets, bronzes, ivories, engraved rock crystals and 
jades, from Japan and China, together with a variety of 
specimens of old Persian art. At the time of the Commune, 
Thiers no longer possessed the great collection of engravings 
which he had formed to assist him in his historical studies, 
portraits, costumes, views, and representations of events during 
the great Revolution and the First Empire. Nevertheless, the 
loss inflicted on him by the Commune's rascality was severe, 
and he felt the blow keenly, for it was one which no pecuniary 
indemnity could repair. 

In finance and commerce Thiers favoured Protectionism, 
though he was not such a thorough Protectionist as his colleague 
the Rouen cotton - spinner, Pouyer - Quertier. The state of 
the French Exchequer in 1871, and the necessity of procuring 
money to augment the resources of the State, compelled some 
readjustment of the country's financial system. Besides, a very 
important question had to be considered. In the final treaty 
of peace signed with Germany at Frankfort, Bismarck had 
inserted a provision that France should accord to the new 



78 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Empire "most favoured nation treatment.'" France was con- 
sequently threatened with an inundation of merchandise from 
across the Rhine. Now, although peace was signed, the French 
hatred of Germany remained intense. As you walked along 
the Paris boulevards when quietude was restored after the 
Commune's overthrow, you might frequently perceive notices 
to the effect that no German goods were sold at one or another 
establishment, that no German's portrait would be taken at 
some particular photographer's, or that no German waiter, or 
shopman, or clerk, or porter, or boot-blacker, need apply to 
such and such a firm for employment. 

Under such circumstances it might be inferred that little 
danger could result even if the German manufacturers should 
inundate France with their goods, as French people — all brimful 
of patriotism — would certainly refuse to buy them. That 
difficulty, however, might be overcome by offering such goods 
as products from other countries — even as the first Germans, 
who settled in France after the war, carefully described them- 
selves as Austrians, Switzers, or even Alsatians, in order to 
escape the odium which, among the French, attached to the 
sons of the Fatherland. Besides, the national hatred for the 
Germans would necessarily abate in time, and goods from across 
the Rhine would find ready markets by reason, notably, of the 
cheap rates at which it would be possible to offer them, now 
that Germany was to obtain " most favoured nation treatment." 
That meant, of course, that she would pay the lowest tariff on 
any particular class of merchandise which was specified in the 
many treaties of commerce which the Government of the 
Second Empire had contracted with other powers. But that 
would prove quite disastrous. It was hard enough to have to 
surrender Alsace and Lorraine to Germany, to pay her a huge 
war indemnity, and to provide for the keep of her army of 
occupation, which was to remain on French territory until 
the conditions of the peace had been executed. But to suffer, 
in addition to all we have mentioned, that she should inundate 
France with merchandise and cripple the national industries, 
would be excessive, absolutely intolerable. Nevertheless, that 
was the prospect, unless Germany could be circumvented, unless 
the French tariffs could be so increased as to prevent her from 
exploiting France commercially. They could not be increased, 
however, as long as existing treaties of commerce remained in 



FRANCE AND PROTECTIONISM 79 

force. Therefore the denunciation of those treaties became a 
necessity. 

We often hear of the power of the dead hand. No more 
remarkable example of it can be found than in the Protectionist 
system prevailing to-day in the continental countries of Europe. 
That system, and all the tariff wars which have broken out in 
our time, may be traced back to the commercial clause of 
the treaty of Frankfort which Bismarck imposed upon France. 
The mighty Chancellor died in 1898, but his dead hand 
still rules the commerce of the European continent. Previous 
to the Franco-German War, the tendency of Europe towards 
Free Trade had become most marked ; and commercial treaties 
on equitable lines linked one and another nation together, 
favouring their commerce. But all that was changed by the 
Frankfort treaty, by its commercial clause, and by the huge 
war indemnity demanded of France. 

With the determination to prevent German enterprise from 
crippling French industry and trade, was coupled the necessity 
in which France found herself to raise money for the expenses 
of the war. Many existing home taxes were increased, several 
new ones were devised — on railway tickets, on lucifer matches, 
on clubs, on billiard tables, on tobacco, on carriages, carriage- 
horses, and what not besides. But the most important of the 
Government's proposals was the taxation of raw materials. 
There were heated debates in the Assembly on the proposal, 
which was regarded as most reactionary. It was, indeed, the 
negation of the commercial policy pursued by France for eleven 
years past. At last, on January 19, 1872, a vote of the 
Assembly shelved, if it did not absolutely reject, the proposal. 

Thiers became highly indignant. He declared that unless 
his proposals were adopted there could be no budgetary 
equilibrium, and that he could not and would not retain 
power unless the necessary financial resources were placed at his 
disposal. On the morrow, therefore, he addressed the following 
letter to Grevy : — 

Monsieur le President — I beg you to transmit to the National 
Assembly iny resignation of the office of President of the Republic. 
I need not add that, until I am replaced, I will watch over all the 
affairs of the State with my customary zeal. The Assembly, how- 
ever, will understand, I hope, that the vacancy should be as brief 
as possible. The Ministers have also sent me their resignations, 
which I have been obliged to accept. Like myself, they will 



80 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

continue to attend to the despatch of business with the greatest 
application, until their successors are appointed. Receive, Monsieur 
le President, the assurance of my high consideration, 

A. Thiers. 

This was a direct challenge to the Assembly, which became 
quite alarmed. It had no candidate ready to take Thiers's 
place, and, besides, in the existing financial situation a change 
of Government was most unadvisable. Accordingly, by an 
almost unanimous vote, the Assembly passed a resolution, setting 
forth that it had merely " reserved " an economic question, and 
that its vote implied neither hostility nor distrust, nor refusal 
to co-operate with the Government. Appealing, then, to the 
patriotism of the President of the Republic, it declared that it 
did not accept his resignation. This resolution was carried to 
Thiers by a solemn deputation of the Assembly, headed by 
Vice-President Benoist d'Azy, and although the little man at 
first complained that his health was dreadfully bad, that he 
was terribly exhausted by hard work, and feared that he 
could not possibly perform anything like as much as the 
Assembly had a right to expect of him, he ended by saying 
that, well, after all, he would not refuse the Assembly's request 
and would therefore withdraw his resignation. 

He was inwardly delighted with the success of his manoeuvre. 
He had brought the Assembly virtually to its knees. Un- 
fortunately, however, from that moment Thiers inclined too 
much to the view that he was an absolutely necessary man — an 
opinion in which he was confirmed when, less than six months 
afterwards, he virtually repeated his " resignation " experiment, 
with much the same success as before. It was a device which 
amrdoiicrs assert originated with the first Leopold of Belgium. 
Whenever his subjects gave that monarch trouble, by creating 
an uproar or refusing to do as he thought fit, he packed his 
portmanteau, sent for a cab, and said to the crowd assembled 
outside the Palace : " Now, unless you behave yourselves 
properly, I am off! " Thereupon, as Leopold was, all considered, 
a popular as well as an able ruler, and the " brave Belgians " 
were well aware that " the more things change, the more they 
remain exactly the same," an understanding was arrived at 
between them and their King. He unpacked his portmanteau, 
and they paid the cabman for the time he had lost. We in no- 
wise vouch for the truth of that little tale, but it illustrates 



^FRANCE AND PROTECTIONISM 81 

the tactics which Thiers pursued with the National Assembly. 
Unluckily, he repeated them too often, and a day came when 
the Assembly took him at his word. He was then chagrined 
and surprised, the more so as his successor, MacMahon, had on 
several occasions refused to accept his post. 

However, we must not anticipate. The question of de- 
nouncing the commercial treaties led to controversy, but as 
the position of France rendered denunciation imperative, the 
Government obtained the necessary authorisation from the 
Assembly. The most important negotiations were those con- 
ducted with Great Britain respecting a modus vivendi pending 
the expiration of the treaties, in all of which there was a clause 
providing that, if France should decide to tax her own raw 
materials, she would be entitled to levy compensatory duties on 
all similar materials coming from abroad, and on those articles 
into whose manufacture they largely entered. Nevertheless, 
an agreement had to be reached on several points. For instance, 
the very term "raw materials " (matieres premieres) had to be 
interpreted to the satisfaction of both sides, the exact materials 
which would be liable to duty had to be specified in like 
manner, and the amount of the duty in some respects had also 
to be agreed upon. Thiers afterwards admitted that, if the 
British Government had not given way on several points, he 
would have been unable to bring negotiations with the other 
Powers to a successful issue. In England there was no slight 
outcry, manufacturers, shippers, and others roundly complaining 
of weakness on the part of Gladstone's Administration. That 
charge was not quite justified, for there was an acute crisis at 
one stage of the negotiations, which seemed likely to collapse, 
but the spirit of compromise prevailed at last. 

It is certain that the British Government, by eventually 
making concessions, rendered France a great service, one which 
helped her powerfully to repair the state of her finances. If, 
on the other hand, some British interests suffered, it must be 
remembered that, had the Government insisted on every right 
it might claim under the Cobden Treaty, the final outcome 
would have been an acute commercial war with France, damaging 
to British trade in many respects. On November IS, 1872, 
Thiers was able to announce the conclusion of a treaty, by 
which compensatory duties, as previously mentioned, would be 
levied on goods from Great Britain after the first day of the 



82 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

ensuing month of December. It had also been agreed that the 
treaty of 1860 should expire on March 1, 1873, after which 
date Great Britain would simply receive " most favoured nation 
treatment.'" As it happened, however, that France was bound 
to Austria by a commercial treaty expiring only at the end of 
1876, the full application of the Protectionist regime, in- 
augurated by Thiers, was postponed until that period. 

Let us now go back a little. We have mentioned the first 
loan contracted by France for the purpose of defraying part 
of her war expenses. Its success, although remarkable, was 
eclipsed by that of a second loan contracted in July 1872, when 
the French Government applied for no less than .£140,000,000. 
The whole world was amazed by the response to that applica- 
tion, for as much as i?l ,800,000,000 was offered — the loan being 
covered thirteen times over ! As Thiers remarked, this was 
tantamount to an offer of all the disposable capital which the 
world possessed. It was striking testimony of the universal 
faith in the recuperative powers which France was already 
displaying, and it imparted renewed courage to those who had 
undertaken the task of setting her house in order. 

There remained one great obstacle to the national quietude : 
the strife of parties. The Monarchists of the Assembly were 
still hostile to Thiers. In spite of his many services they 
grudged him the preponderant role which he played in State 
affairs, they talked of his " dictatorship,"*' they dreaded his 
interference in debate, wished to exile him from the Assembly, 
and limit his intervention to " messages " which were to be 
read at the tribune by a Minister or the Assembly's President. 
In principle they were doubtless right, but the chief motive of 
their campaign against Thiers was his steady evolution towards 
Republicanism. There was certainly personal ambition in 
Thiers's policy, but there was also common sense. He realised 
that the Republican party was the most numerous of any, and 
that attempts at a Restoration might well lead to civil war. 
Besides, the elevation of any one Pretender to the throne would 
have excited the hostility of others, whose adherents would have 
joined the Republicans in opposing the new rule. As Thiers 
remarked, the Republican form of government was that which 
divided France the least. 1 In several speeches and messages 
he urged the Assembly to establish the Republic as a definite 

1 M La Republique, c'est le gouvernement qui nous divise le raoins." 



THE PRETENDERS 83 

regime ; but although the Royalists gave way to him in some 
degree, they encompassed every concession with reserves, 
perpetually haunted as they were by their craving to place 
France once more in a monarch's hands. 

Thiers's position was rendered the more difficult at times by 
the claims of the advanced Republicans. Gambetta was again 
taking an active part in politics, and in the autumn of 1872 
he delivered at Grenoble a slashing speech in which he openly 
attacked the Assembly, denying notably the constituent powers 
which it claimed. About the same time, Prince Napoleon 
Jerome, cousin of Napoleon III., returned to France for the 
purpose, it was asserted, of rallying the partisans of the 
Empire. Thiers immediately had him arrested and expelled 
from the country, to the great satisfaction of the Orleanists, 
whose own Princes, by the way, continued to reside in Paris 
or at Versailles, where they conspired in all freedom for the 
restoration of their House. With respect to Gambetta, Thiers 
was content to refer to the Grenoble speech as a " regrettable 
incident,'"' and to preach the doctrine of a conservative Republic, 
w which must be that of the whole nation, and not of any one 
party." The time had come, said he, in a message to the 
Assembly, to transform what was still a provisional into a 
definitive Government. On being taken to task by one of the 
Assembly's Committees, he added frankly: "I am convinced 
that a monarchy is impossible, as there are three dynasties for 
one throne. If anybody thinks a monarchy possible, let him 
say so. If there is a majority in that sense in the Assembly, 
let it try the experiment, and I will withdraw." On a second 
occasion he said : " I have little desire to retain power if I am 
to exercise it under the conditions you wish to impose on me. 
If you are minded to be ungrateful, well, be ungrateful. I have 
the country on my side, and it will speedily choose between the 
Assembly and myself. Oh ! I threaten nobody. I respect the 
law. Yes, it is I who respect it. If you wish to make a new 
revolution I won't be responsible." Such was the little man's 
plucky outspokenness. 

A crisis ensued, but the Monarchists were not yet ready for 
a Coup d'etat, and on November 29, 1872, a compromise was 
effected by the appointment of a committee of thirty deputies, 
to determine and regulate the respective provinces of the public 
authorities and the conditions of ministerial responsibility. 



84 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



The labours of the Committee of Thirty were of great duration. 
They led not exactly to a truce, for the Assembly never wearied 
of heckling Thiers and his colleagues, but to an adjournment of 
the vital issue. 

As Thiers had said, there were then three dynasties hungering 
for one and the same throne. The representatives of only one 
of them — the Orleanist dynasty — had returned to France. The 
sole representative of the senior Bourbon branch, the Count de 
Chambord, King Henry V. of France by divine right, had 
preferred to remain in exile. 1 The Bonapartists, on their 
side, were compelled to exile, as Prince Napoleon had dis- 
covered on being summarily turned out of France. His 
cousin, the whilom Emperor Napoleon III., was spending his 
last days at Camden Place, Chislehurst; his wife, the ex-Empress 
Eugenie being with him, while their son, the young Imperial 
Prince, was a student at the Woolwich Military Academy. 
However, both the Bonapartists and the Orleanists were very 
active, large sums being spent in propaganda on either side. 
The Legitimist supporters of the Count de Chambord were 
less profuse, probably because they had, on the whole, less 
means ; but on their side was found the bulk of the Catholic 
clergy, who, besides dedicating France to the Sacred Heart of 
Jesus, had vowed to restore her to her ancient line of kings. 
They disposed of considerable influence at that period. Free 
thought had not then effected in France the strides which it has 
made in more recent years. The education of the young was 
largely in clerical hands, and the feminine mind, particularly, 
was swayed by the teachings of the priesthood. 

But the candidate of the old nobility and the Church, in 
addition to other disadvantages, was a man difficult to deal 
with, proud, stubborn, a fervent believer in his hereditary right 
and its essential holiness, and consequently averse from con- 
cessions which his more discerning partisans deemed necessary 
to win the support of the nation. He was the grandson of that 
Charles X. who began life as the roue Count d'Artois, fled from 
France at the Revolution, succeeded his brother Louis XVIII. 
in 1824, lost his throne by his foolish despotism in 1830, and 
died six years later in exile at Goritz in Carniola. Charles 

1 Early in July 1871 he certainly visited the chateau of Chambord in 
Touraine, but speedily quitted France, stating in a manifesto that he did not 
wish his presence to supply a pretext for perturbation. 



THE COUNT DE CHAMBORD 85 

had two sons, first, Louis Antoine, the Dauphin or Duke 
d'Angouleme, as he was more generally called, who had no issue 
by his marriage with the Princess Marie Therese, daughter of 
Louis XVI. ; and, secondly, Charles Ferdinand, Duke de Berri, 
a dissolute young prince, who, subsequent to contracting a 
private marriage with an English girl, publicly espoused Maria 
Caroline, daughter of Francis I. of Naples. In 1819 a daughter, 
Louise Marie, subsequently Duchess of Parma, was born to 
them ; but early in the following year the Duke was assassinated 
outside the Opera Comique by a fanatical old soldier of the first 
Napoleon's, named Louvel, who declared at his trial that he 
had committed the crime expressly to annihilate the race of the 
Bourbons, to whom he attributed all the sufferings of the 
nation. 

It seemed, for a moment, as if LouvePs design had succeeded, 
for Charles X. was then sixty- two years old and a widower, and 
the Duke d'Angouleme, after long years of matrimony, still 
remained without offspring. But it was soon announced that 
the widowed Duchess de Berri was enceinte, at which tidings the 
hopes of the French Legitimists revived. On September 20, 1820, 
at the Palace of the Tuileries, she gave birth to a son, Henri 
Charles Ferdinand Marie Dieudonne d'Artois, who was created 
Duke de Bordeaux and Count de Chambord. Great were the 
rejoicings among the Royalists. The poets burst into song: 
Satan had inspired LouvePs crime, but Providence had been 
watching over France. The Lord had provided, and the birth 
of "the child of the miracle"" ensured the succession to the 
throne. Ten years later, however, young Henri, " the gift of 
God," shared the exile of his family ; for it was in vain that, on 
the abdication of Charles X., the Duke d'Angouleme renounced 
his rights, and that Chateaubriand appealed to the Chamber of 
Peers in the boy's favour. Louis Philippe, Duke d'Orleans, was 
speedily called to the throne, and the senior branch of the 
Bourbons reigned no more. 

Although the Duchess de Berri, mother of the Duke de 
Bordeaux (or, as it is preferable to call him, Count de Chambord, 
that being the name by which he was known during the greater 
part of his life), could not claim to be a beauty, her features 
being irregular, she was a woman of considerable charm of 
person, with a romantic temperament and an energetic disposi- 
tion. In 1832 she attempted to stir up La Vendee and Brittany 



86 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

in favour of her son, but was compelled to go into hiding, 
whereupon it so happened that Thiers, then Minister of the 
Interior, received an anonymous letter, whose writer (a scoundrel 
named Deutz) offered to reveal the Duchess's place of conceal- 
ment in return for a sum of money. He fixed an appointment 
in the Allee des Veuves, in the Champs l£lysees, for the purpose 
of arranging the affair, and Thiers, having availed himself of 
the offer, the Duchess was seized at Nantes, and lodged in the 
fortress of Blaye near Bordeaux, in the custody of the future 
Marshal St. Arnaud. 

This coup de main frustrated the insurrection, but Louis 
Philippe's Government desired to obtain a still more decisive 
result, one which would destroy the Duchess's prestige as a 
royal mother fighting for her son, degrade her almost in the 
eyes of many of her partisans, and discourage the Legitimists 
generally for at least a considerable period. It was suspected, 
if not actually known, that she had contracted a secret marriage 
since the Duke de Berri's death, and a time came when, in her 
captivity at Blaye, she could no longer conceal the fact that 
she was enceinte. Later she gave birth to a female child, and 
to save her reputation was obliged to confess that she had 
secretly espoused an Italian, Count Hector Lucchesi Palli, of 
the house of the Princes of Campo Franco. Forthwith she 
was released and allowed to proceed to Sicily ; the Govern- 
ment feared her no longer, her prestige was indeed gone. 

She had little to do with the rearing and education of her 
son, the Count de Chambord ; and in regard to his chance of 
ascending the French throne that was perhaps unfortunate, for 
the Duchess, whatever her failings, was more open-minded, 
more liberal, less bigoted than most Bourbons of the time. It 
was, however, the sanctimonious Charles X. who directed the 
upbringing of his grandson. The Duchess de Gontaut-Biron, 
General the Marquis d'Hautpoul, and others took charge of the 
lad, who during his early years in France and his youth in 
exile was trained in a narrow piety and a devout belief in the 
divine right of kings. When his grandfather died at Goritz in 
1836, his uncle, the Duke d'Angouleme, immediately proclaimed 
him as " Henry the Fifth, King of France and Navarre,"" and 
from that hour he deemed himself the elect of God. 

There was little of the Bourbon in the Count de Chambord's 
appearance. His eyes were blue, with the glint of steel, his 






THE COUNT DE CHAMBORD 87 

hair was fair, his mouth very small, and his nose delicately 
aquiline. The brow was lofty, the expression of the face 
both strong and kindly. His best known portrait shows him 
with a full beard, but, during the greater part of his life, he 
wore only a fair moustache and a " royal," that is, a little tuft 
of beard falling over the chin from the under-lip, and shorter 
than the pointed " imperial.'" His feet were small, his hands 
short and plump. Of average height and very broad-chested, 
he inclined in his prime to stoutness, but he was neither 
grotesquely obese like the eighteenth, nor corpulent like the 
sixteenth, Louis. He had all the natural taste of the Bourbons 
for hunting and shooting — a taste which was fostered by the 
necessity of finding occupation for his life of exile. An accident 
which he met with in 1841 — a fall from his horse on the Kirch- 
berg estate — did not interfere with his taste for sport though 
it lamed him for life, in such wise that he seemed to drag one 
leg when he walked. 

Five years after that mishap, the Count married at Bruck 
in Styria the Archduchess Maria Theresa Beatrice d'Este, 
eldest daughter of Duke Francis IV. of Modena, whose bigotry 
and despotic views were notorious, and who was only kept on 
his throne by the power of Austrian bayonets. Trained in 
her father's narrow principles, the Countess de Chambord was 
not the woman to impart any liberalism, or even any healthy 
energetic ambition, to her husband. In the latter part of her life 
she became a valetudinarian, and this compelled the Count to 
quit his favourite seat of Froschdorf (usually called Frohsdorf by 
the French), near the Leytha mountains, which separate Austrian 
from Hungarian territory, and reside at the Villa Bachmann, a 
small, inelegant, and inconvenient abode about half a mile from 
Goritz. 1 The mild and humid climate of that region, not far 
distant from Trieste and the Adriatic, suited the Countess's 
health, but it was not adapted to the Count's. That, however, 
like a devoted husband, he concealed from his wife, though he 
often remarked to his more intimate friends, " There is not suffi- 
cient air for me here ; I often feel as if I should stifle." A few 
devoted partisans of his cause shared his exile, some continuously, 
like the Count de Blacas, a son or nephew of the Duke of that 
name who had served the Restoration as Minister of State; 

1 The locality is also called Gorz and Gorizia, Goritz being a kind of com- 
promise between those appellations. 



88 REPUBLICAN FRANCE ^ 

others, at certain periods, like General de Charette, sometime 
commander of the Papal Zouaves. 

On various occasions after reaching manhood, the Count de 
Chambord addressed manifestoes to the French nation. He 
denounced his usurping cousins of Orleans, whom he somewhat 
smartly described as the " legitimate Kings of the Revolution " ; 
he also denounced the Bonapartes, whom he styled " Corsican 
adventurers without honour or principles " ; he also spoke out 
at times respecting " the odious treatment " of Pope Pius IX. 
by the Italian revolutionaries ; and he condoled with fugitive 
sovereigns like Francis II. of Naples, and Robert, the boy Duke 
of Parma. As a rule, his language was extremely dignified, 
and his manifestoes and letters — which there are good grounds 
for believing were invariably composed by himself — indicated 
the possession of no little literary ability. Naturally enough, 
he could not remain indifferent to the sufferings experienced by 
France in the war of 1870-71. At the time when exaggerated 
reports of the effects of the German bombardment of Paris were 
current, he issued a stirring factum, lamenting that he could 
not offer up his life to save France from further disaster, and 
calling on all the kings and nations of the earth to witness his 
solemn protest against the most bloody and deplorable war 
that had ever been. " Who but I," he continued, " can speak 
to the world for the city of Clovis, Clotilda, and St. Genevieve, 
for the city of Charlemagne, St. Louis, Philip- Augustus, and 
Henry IV., for the city of science, art, and civilisation ? . . . 
Since I can do nothing more, my voice at least shall rise from 
the depths of exile to protest against the ruin of my country. 
It shall cry aloud both to earth and to heaven, assured of 
receiving the sympathy of man, and awaiting all from the 
justice of God." 

Later, the newspapers published a touching letter which 
the Count addressed to Mme. de Bouille, whose three sons had 
fallen while fighting for France at the disastrous engagement 
of Loigny (December 2, 1870). Subsequently, the outbreak of 
the Commune elicited further declarations from the Count, the 
most important of which, couched in the form of a letter to a 
friend, contained the following passages : — 

You live, you say, among men of all parties, who are anxious to 
know what is my desire and my hope. . . . Say that I entreat 
them, in the name of the dearest and most sacred interests, in the 



THE COUNT DE CHAMBORD 89 

name of all mankind which beholds our misfortunes, to forget dis- 
sensions, prejudices, and enmities. Caution them against the 
calumnies which are spread abroad for the purpose of creating a 
belief that, discouraged by the immensity of our woes, and despair- 
ing of the future of my country, I have renounced the happiness of 
working to save it. It will be saved whenever it ceases to confound 
license with liberty, when it ceases to seek security under haphazard 
governments, which, after a few years of fancied safety, leave it in 
deplorable difficulties. . . . Let us confess that the desertion of 
principle has been the real cause of our disasters. A Christian 
nation cannot with impunity tear all the venerable pages from its 
history, sever the chain of its traditions, inscribe negation of the 
rights of God at the head of its Constitution, and banish every 
religious idea from its laws. . . . Under such conditions disorder 
must prevail, there will be oscillations between anarchy and 
Caesarism, two equally disgraceful forms of government, equally 
characteristic of the decay of heathen nations, and destined to 
become the lot of all communities that are forgetful of their duty. 
. . . Hence it is, my dear friend, that, notwithstanding some 
remaining prejudices, the good sense of France longs for the 
re-establishment of the Monarchy. ... It perceives that order is 
requisite to ensure justice and honesty, and that apart from the 
hereditary Monarchy it has nothing to hope for. . . . Oppose most 
earnestly the errors and prejudices which creep too readily into the 
noblest hearts. It is said that I desire absolute power. Would to 
God that such power had never been so readily accorded to those 
(the Bonapartes) who in troublous times came forward as saviours ! 
Had it been otherwise, we should not now be lamenting the coun- 
try's misfortunes. You are aware that what I desire is to labour 
for the regeneration of the country, to give scope to all its legitimate 
aspirations, to preside at the head of the whole House of France 
over its destinies, and to submit in all confidence the acts of the 
Government to the careful control of freely-elected representatives. 
It is asserted that hereditary Monarchy is incompatible with the 
equality of all before the law. But I do not ignore the lessons of 
experience and the conditions of a nation's life. How could I 
advocate privileges for others — I, who only ask to be allowed to 
devote every moment of my life to the security and happiness of 
France, and to share her distress before sharing her honour ? It 
is asserted that the independence of the Papacy is dear to me, and 
that I am determined to obtain efficacious guarantees for it. That 
is true. The liberty of the Church is the first condition of spiritual 
peace and order in the State. To protect the Holy See was ever 
our country's honourable duty, and the most certain cause of her 
greatness among the nations. Only in the periods of her greatest 
misfortunes has France abandoned that glorious protectorate. Rest 
assured that if I am called by the nation, it will be not only because 
I represent right, but because I am order and reform — because I am 
the essential basis of the authority requisite to restore what has 
perished, and to govern justly and lawfully so as to remedy the 



90 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



evils of the past and pave the way for the future. ... I hold in 
my hand the ancient sword of France, and in my breast is the heart 
of a king and a father recognising no party. I am of none, nor do 
I desire to return and reign by means of party. I have no injury to 
avenge, no enemy to exile, no fortune to retrieve, except that of 
France. It is in my power to select, in whatever quarter they be, 
men anxious to associate themselves with that great undertaking. 
I shall only bring back religion, concord, and peace. I desire to 
exercise no dictatorship save that of clemency, for in my hands, 
and in my hands alone, clemency will still be justice. Thus it is, 
my dear friend, that I despair not of my country, nor shrink from 
the magnitude of the task. It is for France to speak and for God 
to choose the hour. 1 Henri. 

May 8, 1871. 

That was eloquent language — precise, however, on only two 
points, and vague, far too vague for our practical modern times, 
on others. The two points in question were, first, " the indepen- 
dence of the Papacy . . . the protectorate of France over the 
Holy See," and, secondly, the invitation which, in the phrase 
expressive of a desire to preside " at the head of the whole 
House of France " over the country's destinies, was extended to 
the Orleans Princes to renounce their pretensions and submit 
to their cousin's divine right. The candid statement respect- 
ing the duty of France to the Holy See was perhaps necessi- 
tated by the support which the French clergy were already 
giving to the Legitimist cause, but, in regard to the nation 
generally, it was a blunder. The Republicans made no little 
capital out of it. What, was France, on scarcely emerging from 
her disasters, to restore the monarchy just for the pleasure 
of going to war with Italy, in order to revive the temporal 
power of Pius IX. ? Would that not also imply another war 
with Germany, for would not Germany certainly be on Italy's 
side ? The idea of such a policy was insensate. Many folk, 
even, who were religiously minded, shrank from it, realising 
that the restoration of the hereditary monarchy, under such 
circumstances, would be a national calamity. Many Imperial- 
ists even regretted that Napoleon III. had propped up the 
Papacy, and thereby alienated Italian public opinion. The 
perilous nature of the question became manifest a year or two 
later, when, on the Kulturkampf arising between Germany and 
Rome, even the reactionary Administration of the Duke de 

' " La parole est a la France et l'heure a Dieu." 



THE ORLEANS PRINCES 91 

Broglie was reluctantly compelled to admonish the French 
episcopacy and suspend clerical newspapers, in obedience to the 
injunctions which Prince Bismarck privately addressed to Duke 
Decazes. 

On the question of Rome the bulk of the country was 
quite unwilling to follow the Pretender, who, by revealing his 
aspirations in that respect, dealt his cause its first serious blow. 
Further, for a time the Orleans Princes evinced little desire 
to make their peace with the Count de Chambord, on which 
account they and their partisans were attacked with great 
violence by the Legitimist and Clerical journals, La Gazette de 
France, U Union, VUnivers, Le Monde, and others, one of 
them describing the Orleanist party as " a mere residue of old 
prefects, old employees, old peers, a threadbare aristocracy, 
whose names were no longer of any use even on the pro- 
spectuses of fraudulent public companies." 

The Orleanist chief was the Count de Paris, a Prince whose 
destiny resembled that of the Count de Chambord in various 
respects. Each was the son of a man who had met a violent 
death — the Count de Chambord's father being assassinated, 
while the Count de Paris' perished in a carriage accident at 
Neuilly. As for the Princes themselves, both were born at the 
Tuileries, both were driven into exile in their childhood, both 
died without having reigned. Before dealing in some detail 
with the Count de Paris and his immediate relatives, the 
position will be made clearer by mentioning that Louis 
Philippe d'Orleans, King of the French, had, by his marriage 
with Marie Amelie, daughter of Ferdinard IV. of Naples, five 
sons and three daughters, whose names here follow in the order 
of their birth : Ferdinand, Duke d'Orleans ; * Louise, who by 
her marriage with Leopold I. became Queen of the Belgians, 2 
and mother of the present King Leopold II. ; Marie, who 
became by marriage Duchess of Wurtemberg; 3 Louis, Duke 
de Nemours; 4 Marie-Clementine, Duchess de Beaujolais, and 

1 Born in 1810, died in 1842 at Neuilly. We refer to his marriage and 
children in our narrative. 

2 Born in 1812, died in 1850. Was extremely popular in Belgium. 

3 Born in 1813, died in 1839. Distinguished herself in art, notably by 
her statue of Joan of Arc, now at the Louvre. 

4 Born in 1814, died in 1896. He married Victoria, Princess of Saxe- 
Coburg-Gotha, by whom he had two sons : (1) Gaston, Count d'Eu, who 
married Princess Isabella of Brazil, and has three sons now in the Austrian 



92 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

by marriage Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha ; J Francois, Prince 
de Joinville ; 2 Henri, Duke d'Aumale ; 3 and Antoine, Duke 
de Montpensier. 4 

Ferdinand, Duke d'Orleans, the eldest of those children, and 
heir to the throne, became a young man of ability, but of 
expensive tastes and amorous disposition. His " intrigues " with 
women were numerous. He was the lover of the beautiful 
Countess Le Hon, until displaced in her good graces by M. de 
Morny (half-brother of Napoleon III.), with whom, on that 
account, he fought a duel. In 1837, being then twenty-seven 
years of age, Ferdinand married Princess Helen of Mecklenburg- 
Schwerin, by whom he had two sons, Louis Philippe Albert, 
Count de Paris, born August 24, 1838, and Robert Philippe Louis, 
Duke de Chartres, born November 9, 1840. Two years later 
Ferdinand was killed by jumping out of his carriage, the horses of 
which had run away ; and when the Revolution, which overthrew 
the Orleans dynasty, broke out, the Count de Paris, in whose 
favour King Louis Philippe abdicated, was only in his tenth 
year. Nevertheless, an effort was made to induce the deputies 
to recognise the boy as sovereign — General, later Marshal, 
Magnan attempting to carry him and his mother to the 
Chamber — but the plan failed, and the monarchy fell. It might 
possibly have survived had the advice of Thiers been adopted, 

array ; and (2) Ferdinand, Duke d'Alencon, who married Sophia of Bavaria, 
sister of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. The Duchess Sophia perished 
in the terrible Fete de Charite* fire in Paris in 1897, leaving her husband with 
three children : (a) Emmanuel, Duke de Vendome, now serving in the 
Austrian army, and married to Henrietta of Belgium, daughter of the late 
Count of Flanders and sister of Albert, King of the Belgians ; (6) Louise, 
married to Prince Alphonse of Bavaria ; and (c) Blanche, still unmarried. 
The Duke d'Alencon died in 1910. 

1 Born in 1817, died in 1906. By her marriage with Prince Augustus of 
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha she had a son, Ferdinand, King of Bulgaria. 

2 Born in 1818, died in 1900. He married Princess Francisca of Brazil 
(sister of the Emperor Dom Pedro II.), by whom he had (1) a daughter, 
Francoise, still living, and married to Robert, Duke de Chartres, younger 
son of Ferdinand, Duke d'Orleans, and brother of the Count de Paris ; (2) 
a son, Pierre Philippe, Duke de Penthievre, born in 1845, still living, and 
unmarried. 

■ Born in 1822, died in 1897. We deal with his career and refer to his 
marriage and children (who predeceased him) in our narrative. 

4 Born in 1824, died in 1890. Married in 1846 Luisa, Infanta of Spain 
(sister of Queen Isabella II.), by whom he had, first, a daughter, Isabel, who 
married the Count de Paris (see our narrative), and afterwards a son, Antonio, 
who married the Infanta Eulalia of Spain, by whom he had two sons. 






THE ORLEANS PRINCES 93 

for he, in lieu of abdication, wished the King to quit Paris under 
escort at the first moment of danger, and return thither at 
the head of 50,000 men, whom Marshal Bugeaud would have 
commanded. However, as Thiers subsequently related, his advice 
was scorned, and he was only able to apply his plan for quelling 
a Parisian revolution twenty-three years afterwards, that is at 
the time of the Commune. 

The royal family went into exile. The King, then already 
seventy-five years old, had not long to live. Still he settled 
down for a time at Orleans House, Twickenham, which he 
quitted for the estate of Claremont, near Esher, placed at his 
disposal by Queen Victoria. It was there that he died in 1850. 
Orleans House had then passed to his son, the Duke d'Aumale, 
whose brother, the Prince de Joinville, occupied the neighbour- 
ing property of Mount Lebanon, while York House, also at 
Twickenham, became the residence of the young Count de 
Paris. The last named, before coming to England, had spent 
some time in Germany with his mother, and he subsequently 
travelled in the East. At the outbreak of the American Civil 
War he sailed for the United States, and was attached for a 
while to General McClellan's staff. The ultimate outcome of 
his experiences at that time was a six-volume history of the 
American War, published between 1874 and 1883. On May 
30, 1864, the Count married (at Kingston-on-Thames) his cousin, 
Isabel, daughter of the Duke de Montpensier, by whom he had 
two sons and four daughters, the elder of the sons being the 
present Duke d'Orleans — now " Head of the House of France " — 
who was born at Twickenham on February 6, 1869, and married, 
in 1896, Maria Dorothea Amelia, Archduchess of Austria, who 
is two years his junior. There has been no offspring of the 
marriage, and in the event of the demise of the present Duke 
d'Orleans without posterity, his brother Ferdinand, Duke de 
Montpensier, born at the Chateau d'Eu on September 9, 1884, 
would become head of the House and " King of France." 1 

1 The daughters of the Count de Paris are : First, Marie Amelie, born 
at Twickenham in 1865, and formerly Queen-Consort of Portugal. She 
married King Carlos in May 1886 when he was Crown Prince. Secondly 
Helene Louise, born at Twickenham in 1871, and married, in 1895, to 
Emmanuel of Savoy, Duke of Aosta. Thirdly, Marie Isabelle, born at 
Eu in 1878, and married in 1899 to the Duke de Guise, son of her father's 
brother, the Duke de Chartres. Fourthly, Louise, born at Cannes in 1882, 
and married in November 1907 to Prince Charles de Bourbon, who, though 



94 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

The Count de Paris was a man of considerable ability and 
culture. Besides the historical work we have mentioned, he 
wrote, in 1869, a volume on the English Trades Unions, which 
showed that he had a good knowledge of social economy. He 
possessed, however, little or none of the energy requisite on the 
part of a pretender. The coups de tete in which he indulged 
now and again in the course of his career, were such as are not 
infrequently observed in men of weak character. They usually 
had disastrous effects for the Count or his relatives. For the 
rest, his general appearance was pleasing. He was unaffected 
in his manners, and affable, despite some hesitancy of speech. 
Deeply attached to his beautiful consort, who survives him, he 
knew, in default of the splendour of a regal career, all the joys 
of a happy family life. In public affairs, although he was the 
head of his House, he was long overshadowed by his uncles, the 
Duke d'Aumale, the Prince de Joinville, and even the Duke de 
Nemours. He did not usually initiate or guide the policy of his 
party. Save for the occasional coups de tete to which we have 
referred, he allowed himself to be led. Had he ascended the 
throne he might have been a true constitutional sovereign, 
one willing to follow the famous dictum laid down by Thiers 
in Restoration days: "Le Roi regne, mais ne gouverne 
pas." 

The Count de Paris' younger brother, Robert Philippe 
Louis, Duke de Chartres, evinced in his earlier years a great 
deal more vigour and decision of character, though, by reason 
of his junior position, there was but little opportunity for him 
to display it in public affairs. He married his cousin, Francoise, 
daughter of the Prince de Joinville, by whom he had four 
children : Marie Amelie, later Princess Waldemar of Denmark; 1 
Henri, who became a young man of somewhat violent and erratic 
character, yet displayed real ability as a writer and an explorer; 2 

grandson of " King Bomba " (Ferdinand II.) of the Two Sicilies, has become a 
naturalised Spaniard and an officer in the Spanish army. This wedding, 
which took place at Wood Norton in Worcestershire, was the occasion of no 
little display, which in various respects verged on the ridiculous. 

1 Born at Ham, Surrey, in 1865, she was married to Prince Waldemar of 
Denmark, brother of our Queen Alexandra, in 1885. They have a son, Prince 
Erik. 

2 Prince Henri d'Orleans was born at Ham in 1867 and died at Saigon in 
1901. Though an Englishman by birth he was a thorough Anglophobist. 
In 1897 he fought a notorious duel with the Count of Turin. During the 
Dreyfus affair he sided prominently with the Anti-Semites. 






THE ORLEANS PRINCES 95 

Marguerite, now Duchess de Magenta ; 1 and Jean, now Duke 
de Guise. 2 In his youth the Duke de Chartres studied at the 
Military School of Turin, but he first saw active service with 
the Federals during the American Civil War. When hostilities 
broke out between France and Germany he was thirty years of 
age. At the fall of the Empire he repaired to France, and, 
under the name of Robert le Fort, obtained employment, with 
the provisional rank of captain, on the staff of the 19th Corps 
d'Armee, a part of Chanzy's forces. After the repeal of the 
Laws of Exile in 1871, he secured a definite position in the 
French army, and was promoted seven years later to a colonelcy. 
But in 1883, both he and the Duke d'Aumale were removed 
from active service by the Government of the Republic. It 
was a severe blow for them, for they were extremely attached 
to their profession, and the Duke de Chartres, for his part, was 
still barely in the prime of life. 

The Duke d'Aumale was undoubtedly the ablest of the 
Orleans Princes of those days. Entering the army in 1837, 
when he had only just completed his fifteenth year, he served 
like his brothers, Orleans and Nemours, under Bugeaud in 
Algeria, where, from the outset, he displayed diligence, activity, 
and enterprise. But he had not yet sown his wild oats, and 
when, after promotion to a colonelcy, he returned to Paris, he 
entangled himself, although not yet one-and-twenty, first with 
a notoriety of the Opera house, Heloise Florentin, and im- 
mediately afterwards with an actress of the Varietes, Alice Ozy, 
in whose good graces he succeeded Bazancourt, the novelist, 
much as his own father succeeded Pharamond on the throne. 
This demoiselle a la mode often drove over to the suburb of 
Courbevoie, where the Duke commanded the 17th Light 
Infantry, and whenever she was present to witness any parade 
of the regiment, the amorous young Colonel would order the 
band to play the Algerian air : " O Kadoudja, ma maitresse." 
Matters becoming serious, it was decided to send him back to 
Algeria, where he speedily forgot the fair Alice 3 and repeatedly 

1 Born at Ham in 1869, she became, in 1896, the wife of Patrice de 
MacMahon, Duke de Magenta, eldest son of the famous Marshal President 
of that name. 

2 Born in Paris in 18T4, he married, in 1899, his cousin Isabelle, daughter 
of the Count de Paris. They have two daughters, Isabelle, born in 1900, and 
Francoise, born in 1902. 

• She played in Le Chevalier du Guet, Let Enragts, and other popular 



96 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

distinguished himself in the field. His capture of Abd-el- 
Kader's sniala in 1843 — which, as will be remembered, was 
commemorated by Horace Vernet in a famous painting — has 
occasionally been derided by radical critics, but it was a notable 
exploit, for, apart from the large number of women, girls, and 
lads in the Arab camp, there were (as the Emir himself 
subsequently admitted to General Daumas) 5000 armed men, 
whereas the Duke d'Aumale made the attack with only 500. 

The Duke was made a brigadier (marechal-de-camp) for 
that feat, and appointed to the command of the province of 
Constantine. After leading an expedition to Biskra, he returned 
to France for a while, a marriage having been arranged for him 
with the Princess Maria Caroline, daughter of the Prince of 
Salerno, one of the Neapolitan Bourbons. The Duke, it so 
happened, was a very wealthy young man, having inherited a 
fortune of i?800,000 and vast estates (including Chantilly) from 
his grand uncle and godfather, Louis Henri, last Duke de 
Bourbon and Prince de Conde, who, one night in August 1830, 
was found dead, hanging by the neck from the fastenings of a 
window of his Chateau of St. Leu. Several pocket handkerchiefs 
tied together, had served, in lieu of a rope, for the perpetration 
of that deed. Was it a case of suicide or one of crime ? The 
law-courts affirmed that it was suicide, but crime was suspected 
by the public generally. The genuineness of the Duke's will 
was also disputed, and although the document was upheld by 
the tribunals, there were certainly some suspicious circumstances 
connected with it. Writers of repute have often contended that 
it was a forgery, devised by the Duke's mistress, Sophie Dawes, 
Countess de Feucheres, who, it is asserted, contrived it in order 
to secure a goodly share of the vast wealth belonging to her aged 
lover. 1 To her also the Duke's death has been attributed. 

With respect to the will, she was too artful, it is said, to 
concoct one leaving her the bulk of the ducal property, for she 

plays of the time. Among her many lovers were Alex. Dumas the elder, 
and Francois Victor Hugo, then no older than the Duke d'Aumale. When 
her liaison with the latter ceased, Alice Ozy consoled herself with the second 
Perregaux, the son of the financier, who had been at one time the employer, 
and later the partner, of Jacques Laffitte. Protected in turn by Perregaux 
and other men of wealth, Alice amassed a fortune, bought herself a chateau, 
and survived until an advanced age as a Lady Bountiful and a pattern of 
repentance and piety. 

1 He was seventy-four years old. 



THE ORLEANS PRINCES 97 

foresaw that such a will would be immediately upset, whereas, 
if she contented herself with an adequate slice of the estates, 
and attributed the remainder to a Prince of the blood royal, a 
member of that new Orleans dynasty which had just ascended 
the throne, there was every prospect that the document would 
be upheld. The Duke de Bourbon had no direct heir, his only 
son was that Duke d'Enghien who was so foully put to death 
under the First Empire. What could be more natural, then, 
than that he should bequeath the bulk of his wealth to his young 
godson, the then boyish Duke d'Aumale ? Against that proposi- 
tion, however, must be set the fact that, although the Duke de 
Bourbon had served as sponsor to the Duke d'Aumale at his 
birth in January 1822 (Louis XVIII. being King), he was an 
uncompromising Legitimist, and viewed with the utmost horror 
and detestation the Revolution, which, a month before his death, 
had dispossessed King Charles X., and given the throne of 
France to Louis Philippe d'Orleans and the next highest rank 
in the land to the latter's sons. Such being the position, would 
he not have revoked any bequests to the Duke d'Aumale, even 
if he had previously intended to favour him ? Given the Duke 
de Bourbon's stern, rigid nature, it seemed inconceivable that 
he should devise the bulk of his wealth to the son of a monarch 
whom he shunned and called an usurper. 

Such are some of the points urged against the authenticity 
of the will. But, as we have said, the document was upheld, 
and the Duke d'Aumale, then eight years old, became the 
wealthiest member of his family. At the same time, Mme. de 
Feucheres benefited by it to no small extent — if she were guilty 
she had taken very good care of herself — for the will bequeathed 
to her first a sum of i?80,000, next the chateaux and parks of 
St. Leu and Boissy, the estate of Mortefontaine, the forest of 
Montmorency, and a variety of other property. She hastened 
to sell St. Leu, the scene of her protector's tragic end, and the 
chateau was. demolished and the estate broken up. Meantime, 
however, the Legitimists (not the Orleanists) had raised a sub- 
scription for a monument in memory of the Duke de Bourbon, 
and it was erected on the very site of the chateau where he met 
his death. At the end of an avenue of cypresses you see a column 
guarded by two angels and surmounted by a cross, which occupies, 
in mid-air, the exact spot where the old Prince was found hang- 
ing. His remains are interred beneath the pile. 

H 



98 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Such was the origin of the Duke cTAumale's great wealth, 
which was augmented by his marriage with the Princess Maria 
Caroline, for, through her, he came into possession of large 
estates in Calabria and Sicily, notably at Cosenza and Zucco — 
at which last-named locality, situate near Trapani, he had exten- 
sive vineyards, yielding some dry but full-flavoured wines, both 
red and white (the latter a kind of superior Marsala), for which, 
in the course of years, he found some market in Paris, the bottle 
labels bearing both the Duke's name and his arms. 1 

In 1845, after the birth of a son — Louis Philippe, created 
Prince de Conde 2 — the Duke d'Aumale returned to Algeria, and 
in September 1847, he succeeded Bugeaud as Governor of the 
colony. Three months later his rule was marked by a notable 
event. That redoubtable Arab leader, Abd-el-Kader, having 
surrendered to Lamoriciere, was brought to him to make his 
submission. But two months afterwards the Revolution in 
Paris swept the Orleans Monarchy away. The Duke d'Aumale, 
whose brother, the Prince de Joinville, was with him at the time, 
had supreme command of 80,000 French troops, among whom, 
it is certain, he was personally very popular. For that reason 
it has often been contended that, had he chosen, he might have 
carried those men to France, and have restored his father's rule. 
Whether that were possible or not, he abstained from attempt- 
ing it. He bade the army farewell in a brief proclamation, in 
which he said : " Submissive to the national will, I am leaving 
you ; but from the depths of exile my every wish will be for the 
prosperity and glory of France, which I should have liked to 
have served longer. w Then he relinquished his authority to 
General Cavaignac (who soon became chief of the Executive 
Power in France) and embarked with the Prince and Princess 
de Joinville for Gibraltar, whence he proceeded to England. 

For a few years he travelled, then settled down at Twicken- 
ham, where, in 1854, his second son, Francois Louis, Duke de 
Guise, was born. His years of exile during the Second Empire 
were spent chiefly in literary work, often of high merit. 3 He 

1 The white variety was by far the better wine, and secured, we remember, 
one of the highest awards for vintages of its class at the Vienna Exhibition of 
1873. 

2 He died of typhoid fever at Sydney, New South Wales, in 1866. 

3 His chief writings were his excellent Histoire des Princes de Condi, 1869- 
1895 ; his Institutions Militaires de la France, 1868 ; his Zouaves et CJw 
a-pied, 1855 ; and his Septi&m* Campagne de Ctsar en Gaule. 






THE ORLEANS PRINCES 99 

was a brilliant polemist, and the Lettre sur Vhistoire de France, 
which he wrote in 1861, in reply to provocation offered by Prince 
Napoleon Jerome, was a masterly exposure of the Imperial 
regime. Its publisher was sentenced by the judges of the 
Empire to a year's imprisonment and the payment of ^200 fine. 
A little later, on the Duke being attacked by Prince Napoleon 
in the Senate, he sent him a challenge, but the mock soldier, 
whom the Parisians had christened " Plon-Plon," was afraid of 
a real soldier's steel. 

At the fall of the Empire, the Duke offered his sword to the 
National Defence, first to Trochu, and later to the Delegates 
at Tours. Both declined his services, which was perhaps re- 
grettable, for France disposed of few generals of value. How- 
ever, the raison d'etat prevailed. At the first elections of 1871, 
the Duke was elected to the National Assembly by the depart- 
ment of the Oise (Chantilly — 52,222 votes), but he only took his 
seat after the repeal of the Exile Laws in June that year. In 
December a great honour was conferred on him : he became a 
member of the French Academy, 1 and in the ensuing month of 
March, he was reinstated in the army with the rank of General 
of Division. Great was his delight, but at that same moment a 
heavy blow fell upon him. He had lost his elder son in 1866, 
his wife in 1869, and now the young Duke de Guise — a bright 
youth of eighteen years — was snatched away by death. " God 
has extinguished the last light of my home," the Duke wrote to 
a friend shortly afterwards. He was then only fifty years of 
age, and might have remarried, but he never did so. In later 
years his name was associated with that of a very charming 
and well-remembered actress of the Comedie Francaise. We 
shall refer to that liaison when speaking of the Duke and 
General Boulanger. 

Let us now pass to the Duke's brother, the Prince de Joinville, 
who also returned to France in 1871, and was elected a member 
of the National Assembly. A sailor prince, with a good know- 
ledge of his profession under the old conditions, and evincing at 
various times considerable gallantry in action, he had been 
popular in France during his father's reign, less, however, on 
account of the above reasons, than on account of his voyage to 
St. Helena to bring the remains of the first Napoleon to France 

1 At his formal reception in 1873, it was his old tutor Cuvillier-Fleury who 
addressed him on behalf of the Academy. 



100 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

and of his bold opposition to the obnoxious policy of the Guizot 
Administration, which wrecked the Monarchy. 1 In 1870 he 
offered his services to the National Defence, repaired to France 
under the name of " Colonel Lutteroth, r ' applied personally to 
Cremieux, Glais-Bizoin, and Fourichon at Tours, and afterwards 
appealed to Generals d'Aurelle and Martin des Pallieres ; but 
the only result was his subsequent arrest by Ranc (acting under 
Gambetta's orders), and an injunction to quit France. Before 
that happened, however, the Prince was for a few days with the 
rear-guard of the Loire Army in its retreat on Orleans, 2 when 
he not only saved some wounded men, but (although attired as 
a civilian) joined, on December 4, a naval contingent which was 
in charge of a battery established on Mount Bedhet, in advance 
of the city. The commander of this battery wished to order 
him away, but when he had mentioned that he was an old naval 
officer, he was allowed to stay and assist in directing the 
men and working the guns. The men, at first, were rather 
amused by the presence of this " civilian," and when the German 
fire directed on the battery became more severe, and shells began 
to explode all around it, they asked him if he did not feel 
afraid. " What do you say ? " the Prince inquired, raising his 
hand to his ear, whereupon a gunner shouted the question afresh. 
" Afraid ? " was the Prince's retort, " well, no. You see, I am 
nearly stone deaf (which was true), and as I don't hear it, it 
doesn't frighten me. 11 The fire of the battery was kept up until 
nine at night, in order to allow various small detachments of the 
French to cross the Loire, and one of the last shells which took 
its flight through the darkness towards the German positions 
came from a gun which the Prince himself pointed. He retired 
with the men into Orleans, where he somewhat imprudently 
lingered until the Germans had entered. Had they taken him, 
they might, perchance, have sent him to Wilhelmshohe to keep 
Napoleon III. company, but he eventually sought the Bishop — 
the famous Dupanloup— and with his assistance was able to 
escape from the city. 

1 He had literary talent like most of his family, and published a two-volume 
work, Questions de marine et r4cits de guerre, as well as some recollections, 
Visux Souvenirs, 1894. 

2 Abbe* Cochard's Lts Prussians a Orleans, 1871 ; letter from the Prince to 
the author. Also P. Lehautcourt's Campagne de la Loire, Vol. I. : Coulmiers 
et Orleans, Paris, 1893, and Le Prince de Joinville pendant la campagne de 
France, Orleans, 1873. 



THE ORLEANS PRINCES 101 

Very bald, and wearing a full grey beard, the Prince de 
Joinville looked, in 1871, a good deal older than he really was. 
The expression of his face suggested bonhomie, there was no 
affectation about him. Like his brothers, D'Aumale and 
Nemours, he was of the average height, but with more laisser- 
aller in his bearing. On the other hand, the best physical 
characteristics of a general officer appeared in D'Aumale's still 
fairly slim but muscular figure, his well-set shoulders, erect 
carriage, quick, agile step, and energetic, if somewhat thoughtful, 
face. He was, too, an accomplished horseman and a good shot, 
an extremely active man, a genuine hard worker ; and if, as a 
general, he preserved a demeanour which commanded respect, 
he evinced in private life frank and urbane manners. 

His brother, the Duke de Nemours, was of a different type. 
He also had been trained to the profession of arms, but the 
great event in his career had been the futile attempt to make 
him King of the Belgians, in preference to Leopold of Saxe- 
Coburg (1831). He was pretentious both in his manners and 
his physique. If D'Aumale looked fit and trim like an officer 
groomed well but rapidly by a deft brosseur, Nemours had the 
elaborate appearance of a coxcomb, who has spent hours before 
his looking-glass, in the hands of his valet de chambre. His 
great object in life was to cultivate a resemblance to Henri of 
Navarre, none of whose qualities he in any way possessed. But 
his hair was cut, his moustache turned up, his beard trimmed 
with the most sedulous care, in order that the beholder might 
imagine he was confronted by some reincarnation of " Le Roi 
galant " — though, indeed, the latter never took anything like the 
same care of his personal appearance. Thus Nemours was like 
a caricature of the great king, or, better still, he suggested one 
of those " official " portraits which embellish nature. Neverthe- 
less, he was extremely vain of the resemblance which he thus 
cultivated — far vainer, indeed, than Prince Napoleon ever was of 
his natural likeness to the great Emperor. For the rest, the 
opinions of Nemours were reactionary. To say that he was the 
least popular of Louis Philippe's sons would be but half the 
truth. He was really most unpopular. 1 As, however, his 

1 When in 1871, photographs of the Orleans Princes made their appearance 
in the shop windows (from which Napoleon III. and his family were for some 
time excluded), you usually perceived the Count de Paris flanked by his uncles 
D'Aumale and Joinville. But no portrait of Nemours was exhibited, because, 
as a shopkeeper once remarked to us, " nobody would ever think of buying it. " 



102 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

talents tended to intrigue, he exerted himself in parliamentary 
and social circles, after his return to France, to further the 
cause of a monarchical restoration. He was the least fortunately- 
circumstanced of the Princes, and on that account, he appears 
to have taken a prominent part in the negotiations for the 
restoration of the Orleans property confiscated by Napoleon III., 
and the payment of a national indemnity for such of the property 
as could not be recovered. 

As a matter of principle it was right and fit that restitution 
should be made. But the question was raised in an impolitic 
manner, at a moment when the resources of France were being 
strained to the utmost to provide for the German indemnity 
and other war expenses. Patriotism required that the Princes 
should wait until a more convenient season, they were by no 
means penniless, and a little consideration for the country's 
terrible circumstances would have tended to their popularity. 
They were in a hurry, however. On one hand, they were some- 
what surprised at finding themselves in France again — it seemed 
"too good to last," and they were minded, therefore, to seize 
their opportunity with all despatch. On the other hand, funds 
were required for political propaganda. Those considerations 
prevailed, and the result was a stupendous blunder, of which 
the Republicans eagerly availed themselves. Thiers lent himself 
to the affair, indeed, took it under his wing — whether out of 
friendship for the Princes, or to curry favour with the Orleanist 
majority of the Assembly, is uncertain ; but in any case no 
greater disservice was ever rendered to the Orleanist cause. 
The Assembly ratified the demand, and, in December 1872, the 
Princes secured nearly a couple of millions sterling. They 
showed no gratitude to Thiers for his assumption of responsi- 
bility. Both the Duke d'Aumale and the Duke de Nemours 
contributed to the little man's overthrow, working, for once, in 
concert, though, later, when the Fusion of Orleanists and 
Legitimists was negotiated, D'Aumale hung back, unwilling to 
make his submission to the Count de Chambord, whereas Nemours 
was prepared to accept even the White Flag. 

Such then were the Princes of the dynasty whose chances of 
reascending the French throne seemed, after the Franco-German 
War, to be more considerable than those of either the Legitimists 
or the Bonapartists. Yet the last named were very active. 
Already, in August 1871, at the time of the whilom Fete 



THE EX-EMPEROR 103 

Napoleon, the agents of the exiled Emperor distributed money 
among the Paris hospitals and charities. Ajaccio in Corsica — 
tlie birthplace of the Bonapartes — actually celebrated the fete 
in accordance with previous usage, the Municipal Council voting 
money for the poor, and the clergy celebrating a special mass at 
the cathedral. Yet less than a twelvemonth had elapsed since 
Sedan ! The chief imperialist agent in France was now Rouher, 
the once powerful "Vice-Emperor,'" who certainly displayed 
great energy and devotion. In 1872, the Imperial family again 
had numerous newspapers in its pay — some completely, others 
to more or less extent. In Paris were found VOrdre, Le Pays, 
UEsperance du Peuple and Le Gaidois, as well as Le Con- 
stitutionnel. In the provinces there were Le Courrier du Havre, 
Le Journal de Bordeaux, Le Nivernais, U Lndependant de VAube, 
VAdour, Le Courrier de Bayonne, UAmi de VOrdre of Caen, Le 
Patriote of Perpignan, and many others. Again, there were all 
sorts of pamphlets and almanacks, which hawkers circulated 
among the peasantry to remind them of the " good times " they 
had enjoyed under the sway of the sovereign who, from what he 
did to promote their welfare, had often been called the " Emperor 
of the Peasants.'' 1 

All that propaganda which became even more extensive a 
few years later, when the young Imperial Prince attained his 
majority, cost money ; but the question where the money came 
from has never been properly elucidated. The accounts of the 
Imperial Civil List, in the liquidation of which Rouher exerted 
himself on behalf of the exiled family, were extremely involved, 
and little or nothing was obtained from that source during the 
ex-Emperor's lifetime, though the Empress Eugenie's personal 
claims to considerable property were established, in part then, 
and in part subsequently. It would really seem, therefore, that, 
in spite of frequent denials from the time of Sedan onward, 
Napoleon III. (as asserted in documents issued by the National 
Defence Government) had really provided himself with a nest 
egg before his downfall. The story ran that he had lodged 
large sums in Great Britain and Holland. Certain it is that, 
from the quelling of the Commune in 1871, until the Emperor's 
death in January 1873, some millions of francs were spent 
on propaganda for his cause. Subsequently, in the Imperial 
Prince's time, there were well organised Bonapartist Committees 
and subscription funds, representing considerable amounts of 



104 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

money ; but the earlier agitation was financed almost entirely 
by Napoleon III. himself. 

At the moment when France and the world were gasping 
with horror at the excesses of the Commune, the ex-Emperor 
seems to have been convinced that he would be restored to the 
throne, and all his efforts were directed towards hastening thtt 
event. But the complaint from which he suffered, 1 and tie 
organic lesions it had produced, were making steady progress. 
He had taken little physical exercise whilst he was a prisoner 
of war at Wilhelmshohe, and thus his sojourn there had proved 
restful and beneficial ; but after his arrival in England, or 
directing his thoughts to the prospect of his restoration, he 
began to exert himself in various ways. The story runs that 
his plan was not to make any descent on France from England. 
When the time was near for his partisans to proclaim him, he 
meant to cross over to the Continent, and visit, among other 
spots, the estate of Arenenberg, above Lake Constance, his home 
in early days. Then, all being ready, he intended to cross 
Switzerland and enter France. But there was one important 
matter: it was necessary that he should be able to ride. He 
deemed it requisite, imperative, that he should present himself 
to the nation on horseback. 

When he arrived in England, he had not been in the saddle 
since the fatal day of Sedan. It was largely because he had 
abstained from horse-riding that his symptoms had become less 
acute, less painful. Perhaps, however, he did not attribute the 
apparent improvement of his health to that cause. In any 
case, as his hopes of restoration revived, he again put his powers 
of horsemanship to the test. He began by riding now and then 
in secluded lanes around Chislehurst. At first, no ill-effect was 
observed, but when he proceeded to indulge more freely in the 
exercise, all the old trouble returned, with, indeed, more intensity 
than ever. Baron Corvisart, who had attended him during the 
war, and his old friend, Dr. Conneau, were with him, and in July, 
1872, they induced him to consult Sir Henry Thompson and 
Sir William Gull, who, agreeing with their French colleagues 
that the case must be one of vesical calculus, wished the 
Emperor to submit to complete examination. He refused to 
do so, even as he had refused to act on the advice of Baron 

1 For a full account of the earlier stages of the Emperor's illness see our 
Court of the Tuileries, 1859-1870. 



THE EX-EMPEROR 105 

Larrey in 1865, or of the medical men consulted in 1870 prior 
to the war. But the severity of his symptoms increased. He 
had naturally relinquished horse-riding, and he now also found 
it necessary to give up carriage exercise — in fact, the moment 
came when he could no longer walk. On October 31 he was 
seen at Chislehurst by Sir James Paget and Sir William Gull. 
The former — like Thompson — advised an early examination, in 
order that the question of the presence of a calculus might be 
finally determined. Yet, once again, the Emperor refused 
compliance. For several weeks afterwards, however, he was 
confined to his room, suffering severely, and at last, towards 
the end of December, Sir Henry Thompson was again consulted, 
whereupon, he, Sir W. Gull, and the French doctors declared 
unanimously that immediate examination was imperative. It 
was decided also that as the local sensibility had become extreme, 
the patient must be placed under chloroform, and steps were 
therefore taken to secure the services of Mr. Clover, then the 
most experienced administrator of anaesthetics in England. 
The examination took place on January 2 (1873), and speedily 
revealed the presence of a large calculus — subsequently found 
to be about 3 inches in length and 2§ inches in breadth, with 
a weight of fully 1^ ounces. 

On the same day, in the afternoon, the Emperor having at 
last placed himself unreservedly in the hands of the doctors, to 
whom his only request was that they would proceed with all 
despatch, the operation of lithotrity was performed by Sir 
Henry Thompson in the presence of Sir W. Gull, Baron 
Corvisart, M. Conneau, Mr. Foster, and Mr. Clover. The stone 
was freely crushed and considerable debris were removed. But 
the pain and irritation increased during the next few days, and 
a second operation became necessary. The Emperor supported 
it fairly well, and though, on the night of January 7, his 
condition was scarcely favourable, he was found on the ensuing 
night to be materially better. He slept soundly, and at 9.45 
on the morning of January 9, his condition seemed so satis- 
factory — the pulse then being 84, strong and regular, and the 
local symptoms showing decided improvement — that it was 
resolved to perform what would have been the third and final 
operation that same day. Mr. Clover felt that there would be 
no risk in placing the Emperor under chloroform at once. 
However, a postponement until noon was agreed upon. But 



106 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

when, towards half- past ten o'clock, Sir Henry Thompson 
returned to the patient's room, to ascertain how he might be 
progressing, he was startled to find that a great change had 
supervened. Sir Henry at once summoned his colleagues, who 
all recognised that the Emperor was sinking fast. Restoratives 
were administered in vain. The Emperor's last effort was to 
exchange a kiss with the Empress, who had been kneeling by 
the bedside, and almost immediately afterwards, at a quarter to 
eleven o'clock, he expired. 1 We have written so much about 
him in an earlier work, to which this present volume is, in a 
way, a sequel, that neither appreciation of the qualities which 
he undoubtedly possessed, nor criticism of his private lapses or 
his mistakes as a ruler, seems to be necessary here. 

The news of the death caused a profound sensation in France, 
but, while the Orleanists were frankly jubilant, most of the 
Republicans pretended to regard the event as of no importance. 
Edmond About — now a Republican — wrote in Le XlXicme 
Steele: "The Empire was dead, the Emperor has just died." 
Another journal remarked : "The Empire is now, indeed, peace 
— the peace of the grave." The Bonapartist organs became 
quite infuriated by some of the hostile comments, and heaped 
vituperation on their adversaries, calling them " miserable 
cowards," "ungrateful rabble," "carrion crows," "red-necked 

1 The Imperial Prince was at Woolwich at the time, and, although promptly 
summoned, it was impossible for him to reach Chislehurst before his father's 
death. A post mortem examination of the remains, conducted by Dr. Burdon 
Sanderson, showed that the kidneys were involved in the inflammatory effects 
resulting from the vesical calculus, to a degree which had not been previously 
suspected, and which, if suspected, could not have been ascertained. There 
was excessive dilatation of the ureter and the pelvis, tending on the left to 
atrophy of the glandular substance of the organ besides sub-acute inflammation 
of the uriniferous tubes. It was found that about half the calculus had been 
removed. There was no disease of the heart, nor of any other organ, except- 
ing the kidneys. The brain and its membranes were in a natural state. 
There were very few clots in the blood. No trace of obstruction by coagula 
was found in the heart, the pulmonary artery or the venous system. Death 
took place by failure of the circulation, attributable to the general constitutional 
state of the patient. The disease of the kidneys, of which that state was the 
expression, was of such a nature, and so advanced, that it would in any case 
have shortly determined a fatal result. The calculus, it was held, had been 
in the vesica several years. The report to the above effect was signed by 
Burdon Sanderson, Conneau, Corvisart, Thompson, Clover, and Foster ; but 
Sir W. Gull dissented from it on a few points, notably as regards the age of 
the calculus. Now, however, that the history of the Emperor's case is much 
better known than it was at the time of his death, it is certain that Gull was 
in error. 



THE EX-EMPEROR 107 

vultures, 11 and " wretches, who for eighteen years had servilely 
bared their necks beneath the Emperor's heel. 11 Some 
Imperialists, while personally regretting the Emperor, felt that 
his death might really prove helpful to their cause. There had 
already been dissensions in the party, one section holding that 
there was a greater chance of restoring the Empire with the 
Imperial Prince, than with Napoleon III., on the throne. At 
present only the Prince remained, and his record being a clean 
one — for no responsibility for the past, either for the Coup 
d'Etat or for Sedan, attached to him — it seemed to some 
that the outlook was really brighter than it had been before. 
Against that view, had to be set the fact that the Prince was 
not yet seventeen years of age, and that the Empress Eugenie 
who, in the event of an early restoration, would become Regent, 
lacked popularity on account of her extreme clerical views. 
Thus some held that the Bonapartist party might well split into 
two sections, one under the Empress and the Imperial Prince, 
the other under the free-thinking Prince Napoleon Jerome. 

That view — which subsequent events did not quite justify, 
for Prince Napoleon's following never became large, and besides, 
he transformed himself for a while into a professed Republican 
— appealed to Thiers, who regarded the Emperor's death as a 
most favourable event for the Republic. "It finally released 
the nation, 11 said he, "from the imaginary loyalty to which 
Napoleon III. had fancied himself entitled by the last Plebiscitum 
in his favour. It severed, moreover, the army's connection with 
the Empire, relieving those officers who had risen to high rank 
in imperial times of any sense of duty to their whilom sovereign. 11 
In that connection it may be mentioned that all officers on 
active service were prohibited from attending the obsequies at 
Chislehurst. 

On the whole, the opinion that the Imperial cause might 
have a better chance now that it would be championed by a 
young Prince with a perfectly clean slate, seems to have been 
the most sensible. After the Imperial Prince had attained his 
majority, considerable efforts were made on his behalf, and at 
one moment the party of the " Appeal to the People, 11 as the 
Bonapartists called themselves, seemed to be gaining real 
strength. But collapse came after 1879, when the young Prince 
was killed in South Africa. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE ELYS^E PALACE — PARISIAN LIFE — FALL OF 
THIERS — MACMAHON, PRESIDENT 

Thiers's Daily Life— The Story of the Elysee- First Receptions there—" The 
Judgment of Paris" — A Thrifty Housewife — The Dosne Family— 
" Madame la Baronne"— Barth&emy St. Hilaire — Parisian Gaieties — " La 
Fille de Mme. Angot" and other Pieces — Scandals of the Time — The 
Tragedy of the Rue des Ecoles— The Unwritten Law and Alex. Dumas 
fils— Divorce in France— The Assembly and Thiers— Resignation of 
Grevy — Prince Napoleon's Petition— The Barodet Election— The Duke 
de Broglie and Thiers— Thiers resigns— MacMahon elected— His Hesita- 
tion and Acceptance— His Origin, Character, and Career— The Battle of 
Worth— The Marshal at Sedan— Madame de MacMahon— The Republic 
Threatened. 

Already, in January 1872, as the government was carried 
on under all sorts of difficulties at Versailles, Thiers desired the 
National Assembly to remove to Paris. When, however, some 
Republican deputies submitted the question to the house, it was 
decided, from fear of the Parisians, that Versailles should still 
remain the official capital. At the same time, a good many 
deputies — whose numbers increased as time elapsed — resided in 
Paris, travelling every day to Versailles and back by " parlia- 
mentary trains."" Moreover, as Paris remained on her best 
behaviour — she was, indeed, more intent on amusing herself than 
on conspiring against the Assembly, however obnoxious that 
body might be — the President of the Republic was indirectly 
authorised to hold receptions in the metropolis, on condition 
that he should not sleep there, the result being that, on the 
occasions in question, the little man had to travel back to 
Versailles at what was a very late hour for a man of his years. 

As a rule, he rose at five o'clock in the summer, and at six 
in the winter. At eight o'clock came an interlude, he shaved, 
and sat down to a light meal, some eggs or a little cold meat, 

108 



THE ^LYS^E PALACE 109 

followed by stewed fruit. Then work was resumed until noon, 
when there came dejeuner en famille. Thiers was very fond of 
Provencal dishes, particularly of fish in the Marseillese style, 
but far above bouillabaisse and quiches cPanchois he set brandade de 
morue (cod dressed in a particular way and grilled), of which he 
could never partake sufficiently. There is a story that, for some 
reason or other, it was forbidden him by the doctors during his 
last days, and that his friend, Mignet, taking compassion on him, 
used to bring him, in secret, parcels of delectable cold cod-steaks. 
After dejeuner, Thiers would lie down on his little hard camp- 
bedstead, and indulge in a siesta, which was naturally brief when- 
ever he had to attend the Assembly. Very often, however, after 
quitting the deputies, he would indulge in a nap before dinner, 
or allow himself some forty winks after the repast. His wife 
and his sister-in-law, Mile. Dosne, watched over him with the 
greatest care ; and even on official occasions when, after exerting 
himself during the day, he forgot the time, or felt disposed to 
prolong his evening, one or the other of those ladies would 
remind him that it was fit he should wish the company good- 
night. He usually did so with a very good grace, and was 
triumphantly led off to bed. 

He was not, however, the most matutinal man in France, for 
his alternate enemy and friend, Dufaure, who served under him 
as Minister of Justice, went to bed early in the evening and 
rose shortly after midnight. Some folk were not aware of that 
habit, and we remember that during MacMahon's presidency, 
when some entertainments lasted far into the night, the sight 
of Dufaure, then nearly eighty years old, walking gaily through 
the salons about three o'clock in the morning, created no little 
astonishment among the uninitiated. " Do you not feel tired 
— at your age ? " somebody inquired of him on one such occasion. 
" Tired ? " replied Dufaure with a chuckle, " oh, no, I have only 
just got up." 

Thiers's Parisian receptions were held at the Elysee Palace, 
which, in MacMahon's time became (as had been the case 
between 1848 and 1851) the residence of the President of the 
Republic, and has remained so ever since. The history of the 
palace is somewhat interesting. Pretty, but rather meretricious, 
retaining in parts the architectural stamp of the Regency, it 
was built in 1718 for Henri Louis de la Tour d'Auvergne, Count 
d'j^vreux, colonel-general of the French cavalry, and was there- 



110 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

fore originally known as the Hotel d'Evreux. The Count, for 
the sake of a dowry of some millions of livres, had " misallied " 
himself by marrying the daughter of an upstart financier named 
Crozat, when she was only twelve years old. This juvenile bride 
was currently known in society by the nickname of " the little 
bar of gold " (" le petit lingot d'or "). She became very pretty, 
but the marriage was never consummated. Indeed, it resulted in 
a separation, followed, after the Countess's death, by a judicial 
decree declaring the union null and void, and then by endless 
lawsuits respecting the Crozat property. 

The child-Countess's dowry had largely provided for the 
building of the Hotel d'Evreux, which, on the death of her 
nominal husband, was bought by the royal favourite, Mme. de 
Pompadour, for about eight hundred thousand livres. The house 
already had some fine grounds, but they were not found sufficiently 
extensive by la Marquise, who, regardless of remonstrances, seized 
and annexed a large slice of the Champs Elysees. She objected, 
moreover, to the groves of that popular promenade, which, said 
she, interfered with her view of the Seine and the Invalides, and 
a large number of fine trees were therefore felled. She gave 
several costly fetes at the Hotel d'Evreux, as is mentioned by 
the anecdotwrs of the time. That was the period of Watteau, 
when shepherds and shepherdesses were all the fashion, and on 
one occasion the Marchioness introduced into an entertainment 
a flock of real sheep, all carefully washed and combed, with 
pink and apple-green ribbons about their necks, and satin-clad 
shepherds with gilded crooks in attendance on them. When the 
doors of the gallery where the flock had been gathered were 
flung open, the royal favourite's guests went into transports of 
delight. But all at once the ram of the flock, on perceiving 
his reflection in a large mirror, imagined that he was confronted 
by an impertinent rival, amorous of his ewes, and without a 
moment's hesitation he charged the offending image, smashed 
the mirror with his gilded horns, and then ran amuck among 
the furniture and the guests. The ladies tried to flee, but 
many of them slipped on the polished parquetry floor and 
sprawled there with their little red-heeled shoes in the air, while 
the gentlemen roared till their sides split, at the unforeseen and 
indecorous spectacle. 

Madame de Pompadour bequeathed the Hotel d'Evreux to 
Louis XV., and, until the completion of the monumental 



THE ^LYS^E PALACE 111 

depository on the present Place de la Concorde, it became a 
storeplace for all the superfluous royal furniture. In 1 774, it 
was sold to the famous court banker Beaujon — he who gave his 
name to a whole district of Paris — and eight years later it was 
acquired by Louis XVI., who, in 1790, passed it on to the 
Duchess de Bourbon. 1 That lady rearranged the grounds in the 
Chantilly style, and by reason of the proximity of the Champs 
Elysees christened the property " Elysee-Bourbon," otherwise 
** the Bourbon Paradise." 

But the terrible days of the Revolution were impending, and 
the Duchess did not care to remain in Paris. So she let the 
property to a speculator named Hovyn, who turned the grounds 
into a combination of Vauxhall and Ranelagh. As such they 
remained for several years, for, on being put up to auction as 
" national property," they were purchased by Hovyn's daughter 
for a bagatelle. The mansion served for a short time to house 
the National Printing Works, and was afterwards partitioned 
into cheap lodgings for true patriots, who became entitled to 
free admission to the grounds. They could lunch, dine, and sup 
under the elms and beeches there, disport themselves on an 
artificial lake, attend concerts, balls, and theatrical performances, 
and even risk their luck at a gaming-table installed in a pavilion, 
while out of doors coloured lights glowed along the paths lead- 
ing to the bowers of love, and lively music called one to the 
dance. 

In 1805 Mile. Hovyn sold the Elysee to Murat, on whose 
accession to the Neapolitan throne it became the property of 
Napoleon. It was there that the great Captain planned the 
campaign which ended at Waterloo, and there, too, he after- 
wards signed his abdication. Alexander of Russia, Francis I. of 
Austria, and the Duke of Wellington sojourned there in turn, 
but, in 1816, Louis XVIII. bestowed the palace on his nephew, 
the Duke de Berri. It was there that the Duke and Duchess 
formed their fine gallery of paintings (particularly rich in 
examples of the Dutch and Flemish schools) which were after- 
wards sold to Prince Anatole Demidoff, and became the nucleus 
of his renowned collection. At the Revolution of 1830, the 
Elysee was declared Crown property, and eighteen years later 

1 The wife of the Duke mentioned on p. 96. She reclaimed it at the 
Restoration in 1815, but a compromise was arrived at, and the Hotel de 
Monaco was allotted to her instead. 



112 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

it was assigned to Louis Napoleon, President of the Republic, 
who there planned his Coup d'Etat. After he had transferred 
his quarters to the Tuileries, the Elysee served to accommodate 
several of the Sovereigns who visited Paris during the Second 
Empire. At the time of the German Siege, the ill-fated 
Clement Thomas, 1 Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard, 
made the Elysee his headquarters. 

Although, as already mentioned, it was originally built in 
the days of the Regent d'Orleans, it was repeatedly enlarged 
and modified. Both Beaujon and the Duchess de Bourbon did 
much in that respect towards the close of the eighteenth century, 
and so did Napoleon III. at the outset of his reign. On the left, 
the palace at one time adjoined the Sebastiani mansion, which, 
in 1847, became notorious as the scene of the murder of the 
Duchess de Praslin by her unfaithful husband. Under Napoleon 
III. that " house of crime " was demolished, and the Rue de 
see, running from the Champs Elysees to the Faubourg St. 
Honore, was laid out, so as to detach the palace from all other 
buildings. On its right-hand side, too, that of the Avenue 
Marigny, its dependencies were rebuilt in a more regular style, 
while in front were erected the low, terrace-roofed buildings and 
the columned entree dlioimeur facing the Faubourg St. Honore. 
That alone greatly altered the outer appearance of the palace, 
and its internal arrangements have undergone many modifications 
during the present regime. 

Thiers's earliest receptions at the ere distinguished 

by one democratic feature. No invitations were issued, anybody 
who was anybody was welcome ; indeed, we believe that some 
trades-people of the neighbourhood slipped in, with the view of 
feasting their eyes on the celebrities of the time. It was some- 
thing like the White House custom — with a difference : there 
was no attempt to dislocate the little man's wrist by repeatedly 
shaking hands with him, though he offered his hand readily 
enough to anybody he kn> 

Under the conditions we hAve mentioned, we attended several 
of Thiers's receptions, simply walking over to the palace, as we 
lived well within a stone's throw of it. A few policemen were 
stationed near the gateway leading into the courtyard, a couple 
of infantrymen stood atop of the steps of the main building, 
and in the lofty vestibule you found seven or eight servants in 
1 See ants, p. 51. 



THE ELYSEE PALACE 113 

plain black liveries, including a couple of ushers who wore silk 
?:-■:.*.::■.;? .::: :. : -"7-:. :r ?:>.-er ::..::.- \- - 1: :;;-::• r.-::V>. • :.t 
of the men relieved you of your hat and overcoat, while another 
entered your name in a register placed on a green baize table. 
Then, passing through portals hung with Flanders tapestrv, vou 
crossed an empty white-walled and red-carpeted room assigned 
to the presidential aides-de-camp, who were never there, and 
entered the so-called Landscape Saloon, where, as in both of the 
Tapestry Drawing-rooms — Beauvais and Gobelins — the company 
was assembled. Thiers, in evening dress, but with his coat closely 
buttoned, and a diamond star of the Legion of Honour on his 
breast, seemed to be here, there, and everywhere at the same time, 
for he flitted from one room to another and back again with a 
juvenile agility which confused you and made vou wonder at 
times whether, indeed, he had not several u doubles ■ — such as 
the old time Kings occasionally provided when thev went into 
battle. The President by no means neglected his lady guests. 
At one moment you saw him speaking deferentially to Countess 
Arnim, wife of the German Ambassador ; at another he would 
be smiling with Princess Lise Troubetskoi ; at another positively 
flirting with the charming wife of the Danish Minister; and 
between whiles he lent ear to some rapid confidential com- 
munication from Leon Renault, the singularly handsome but 
very unreliable Prefect of Police of those days, or exchanged 
impressions with Goulard, his Minister of the Interior. 

The ladies, or at least the most highly placed of them, 
preferred to congregate in the Gobelins drawing-room, where 
there were several splendid Louis Quinze sofas, on which they 
seated themselves, spreading out their fascinating toilettes — 
"cooked salmon "" was a favourite hue of those days — and forming 
a circle, as it were, around the Orleans Princes, Paris, Nemours, 
and Joinville. The Countess de Paris, then in all the pride of her 
beauty, was to be seen seated beside Mile. Dosne, sister to Mme. 
Thiers, on whose other hand you might perceive that shrewd, 
quick-witted, fine-featured lady, the Princess Clementine, mother 
of the present ruler of Bulgaria. Mme. Thiers, wearing a little 
black lace cap, and usually gowned in black also, though she 
made concessions to the fashions of the time with respect to the 
cut and trimming of her dresses, followed her husband's example 
in going hither and thither, speaking to her guests the while 
with a kind of anxious solicitude One, however, who seldom, 



114 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

if ever, stirred from the ladies' circle, was the violet -robed 
Papal Nuncio — Mgr. Chigi, we think. 

The room was large and very lofty, lighted by a great 
chandelier, and several candelabra, the latter standing on the 
white marble mantelpiece, the wall in front of which was 
panelled, so to say, by a huge mirror. But at the farther end 
there was a semicircular pilastered "bay," in which was hung 
a magnificent Gobelins tapestry, representing the Judgment 
of Paris. 

One evening, when the sofas below this tapestry were un- 
occupied, we drew near to examine it more closely, and an old 
gentleman with short white whiskers remarked to us that it 
was very fine work indeed. " Certainly,' 1 we answered, " and the 
subject seems very appropriate to the present time." " Indeed ! 
Why so ? " was the inquiry. " Well,"" we ventured to reply, 
" Monsieur le President de la Republique has stated that there 
are three candidates for one throne, and here are three ladies 
who are candidates for one apple." Our htterlocutcur, as the 
French say, smiled. "Well, we all know who obtained the 
apple," he resumed, " but who will be given the throne ? " " I 
don't know — only Monsieur Thiers can tell us." " No, no, the 
President has nothing to do with it. It is not for him to 
bestow the apple — or the crown. That is the Assembly's affair. 
When you devise an allegory it should coincide exactly with 
the facts you wish it to illustrate. Paris is the Assembly. 
Juno is the Legitimist party ; of that there can be no doubt. 
Venus — ah, diablel who is Venus?" That was a difficult 
question, but we attempted a jocular reply : " Remembering 
the Empress Eugenie, Venus might be the Empire, but, then, 

the Countess de Paris is seated yonder, and " " And," was 

our acquaintance's retort, " les abscntes out toujours tort. You 
are right. But, in any case, I doubt if the apple will go to 
Venus this time, it may well be secured by Minerva, for la plus 
sage has now a much better chance than even la plus belle? 
" But who then is Minerva ? " we inquired. " You ask me too 
much. That is a question which troubles many people, but 
which only time can answer. When the identity of Minerva is 
disclosed the future of France will be settled." 

At this point the conversation was interrupted, for another 
gentleman approached, saying : "Ah, my dear Monsieur Mignet, 
how are you ? " We then realised that we had been conversing 



THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS 115 

with the eminent historian, Thiers's life-long friend. Pleased 
with his little jest, he repeated it to the newcomer, and before 
long the remark went round : " Monsieur Mignet has just 
expressed his views of the situation. He says that the Judgment 
of Paris will be given this time in favour of Minerva. In your 
opinion whom does Minerva represent ?" He did not forget 
the incident, for when we had the good fortune to be properly 
introduced to him on another occasion, he exclaimed, with that 
shrewd half-smile of his, " We have met before, is it not so ? 
Tell me, have you succeeded in identifying Minerva ? No ? 
Well, it is too soon for you to complain. I have been seeking 
her myself for nearly seventy years, but I have not found her yet.' 1 
One afternoon, during the winter of 1872, we had occasion 
to call at the Elysee in the company of a French artist. We 
had attended a reception there the previous evening, and on 
entering by the porte (Thonneur a suspicion which had occurred 
to us more than once previously was suddenly confirmed, for 
three or four of the servants whom we had seen in the vestibule 
the night before, were lounging near the gate, clad in the 
seedy frock-coats and carrying the stout walking-sticks which 
were invariably associated at that time with the police-spy 
calling. It was obvious enough that they were indeed " plain- 
clothes officers,' 11 and were requisitioned on free reception nights 
to check the entries in the registers, and turn undesirable 
visitors away. Our business that afternoon lay with the 
Commissary of the Palace, 1 who received us, we remember, in 
a room where several tables were littered with silver plate, 
centre and side pieces, epergnes, spoons, and forks, which had 
been used at a dinner preceding the reception on the previous 
night. During our conversation, a servant came to inform the 
Commissary that Mme. Thiers desired to speak to him, where- 
upon he hurried away, leaving us in the company of the State 
valuables and sundry boxes of cigars, to the latter of which — 
not the former — he courteously invited us to help ourselves in 

1 It may be explained that the writer long assisted his father, at that 
period Paris representative of the Illustrated London News, and that on the 
occasion in question it was proposed to make a sketch of the Gobelins 
drawing-room to serve as the background of an illustration depicting Thiers 
and the Orleans Princes on a reception night. Such a drawing could not 
be made while a reception was in progress. It was then only possible to jot 
down surreptitiously a few thumbnail sketches of the ladies' toilettes, 
coiffures, and so forth. We find that the illustration we have referred to 
appeared in the Illustrated London News for December 7, 1872. 



116 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

his absence. When he returned, he lighted a cigar himself, 
and informed us that Mine. Thiers and her sister Mile. Dosne 
invariably returned to Paris on the morrow of a reception, in 
order to lunch off the remains of the dinner or supper of 
the previous night. "The journey costs them nothing," the 
Commissary continued, " for they travel at the expense of the 
State, and when they have lunched they carry all the food 
which still remains uneaten to Versailles. Oh, that is quite 
correct — judge for yourselves." 

On looking into the courtyard from the window, we saw 
several of the palace servants loading Mme. Thiers's brougham 
with baskets and parcels. 

"Ah!" said the Commissary with a sigh, "there go all the 
pates, the cold fowls, the pastry, the fruit, and everything else 
that was not consumed last night." 

" Mme. Thiers is evidently a thrifty woman," we remarked. 

"Well, yes" (with a shrug of the shoulders). "But, ah, 
what a change ! I was employed for nearly twenty years in the 
State palaces under the Empire, but I never saw the Empress 
carrying broken victuals about with her. How the Republicans 
would have jeered at her if she had ! " 

Again did the Commissary sigh, as if, indeed, he were being 
personally robbed of all the good things which were about to 
leave for Versailles. His feelings could be understood, but his 
remarks were not justified. Mme. Thiers simply discharged 
the obvious duty of a good housewife. Her husband received 
but a tithe of the Civil List lavished upon the Empire. 

It is now quite time for us to say something more about 
the President's wife. Mile. Elise Dosne married Thiers a few 
years after the establishment of the Orleans Monarchy. She 
was then about seventeen years of age. Her father, protected 
by the Duchess d'Angouleme, had become a stockbroker after 
marrying Mile. Sophie Matheron, the daughter of a wholesale 
silk and trimmings merchant of the Faubourg Montmartre in 
Paris. Another Mile. Matheron had married a young banker 
named Lognon, a name to which she so strongly objected that, 
by official permission, it was changed to the high-sounding ap- 
pellation of Charlemagne. 1 Mme. Dosne, the stockbroker's wife, 

1 The General Charlemagne, who was largely associated with Thiers in 
his last years, was the offspring of the above union, and Mme. Thiers's 
nephew. 



MADAME THIERS 117 

was a masterful woman, domineering, shrewd, and ambitious. 
Scandal -mongers used to say that Thiers's marriage with her 
daughter was in some respects an anticipation of the Goncourts' 
story, Renee Mauperin, alleging that he had become the favoured 
lover of Mme. Dosne in order to win the hand of the youthful 
Elise. However, not a shred of real evidence in support of 
that assertion has ever been adduced. Thiers doubtless in- 
gratiated himself with Mme. Dosne in the hope of winning her 
daughter, but that kind of thing is done every day. Nor is it 
at all uncommon for a son-in-law to assist his wife's parents, 
though it is not given to everybody to raise them to great 
wealth as Thiers raised the Dosnes. As Under-Secretary of 
State for Finances he was able to appoint his father-in-law 
Receiver- General for the Treasury, first in Finistere, and later 
in the department of Le Nord, the last being an extremely 
lucrative position, by the help of which Dosne became a share- 
holder in the famous Anzin mines, and a governor of the Bank 
of France. 

Some of the malicious tittle-tattle of the time was due to 
the fact that Mme. Dosne presided for a while over Thiers's 
drawing-room. But that was the outcome of her self-assertive- 
ness which Thiers did not check, because he knew her ability 
and found her useful in many ways. His young wife had not 
the experience necessary to rule a political salon. Moreover a 
certain timidity was combined with her slight physique. At 
the same time, in her earlier years, as well as in her last days, 
she was always extremely ladylike, and it could not be said 
that she was out of place in any salmi. 1 But she lacked her 
mother's pushfulness, and if she took any position in the society 
of Louis Philippe's reign that was due almost entirely to Mme. 
Dosne's endeavours. There is a story that when, after certain 
bickerings, a reconciliation was patched up between Thiers and 
some of his colleagues, Mme. Dosne insisted that the arrange- 
ment should embody a clause giving Mme. Thiers the entree to 
the famous Broglie salon. 

Marshal Soult, it is said, was fond of calling Mme. Thiers 
" the Baroness," but that was because he considered that every- 
body of any note ought to have a title. While he was Prime 

1 She possessed considerable culture and artistic taste. It was she who 
personally collected the valuable china and faience adorning some of the 
rooms of the house on the Place St. Georges. 



118 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Minister he never met Thiers at the council without inquiring 
after "Madame la Baronne" — a proceeding which greatly 
irritated his colleague, who one day retorted : " Why do you 
always say Madame la Baronne, why don't you say Madame 
Thiers ? We are not barons, though you may be a duke ! " 
" Tant pis, tant pis" replied Soult. " Why tant pis ? " ex- 
claimed Thiers. " We might have been dukes, Guizot and I, 
had we chosen ; only we didn't choose." That upset his Grace 
of Dalmatia to such a degree that he beat a hasty retreat. 
Thiers's disregard for titles was genuine enough. " A bourgeois 
I was born," he said one day, " a bourgeois I shall live, and a 
bourgeois I shall die." 

Thiers's position with respect to his own relatives has been 
previously explained. Of those on his mother's side, the only 
one who occasionally visited him after his great success in 
life was M. Gabriel de Chenier. Count de la Tour d'Igest, 
who married Helene de Chenier, broke off all relations after 
the Duchess de Berri affair. On the other hand, the little 
man had many devoted friends, Mignet, Re'musat, Goulard, 
and particularly Barthelemy St. Hilaire. Most accounts of the 
last named tell you that he lost his parents at an early age and 
was brought up by an aunt. But he was of illegitimate birth, 
and there is reason to believe that his so-called aunt, Mile, de 
St. Hilaire, was really his mother. A most capable and 
scholarly man, famous for his translations of Aristotle (five- 
and-thirty volumes) and his writings on Buddhism, Mahomet, 
and the School of Alexandria, he owed much to the early help 
of Victor Cousin, which he requited with over thirty years of 
unflagging devotion. Cousin, however, being determined to 
get even with him, bequeathed him a fortune, besides making 
him his literary executor. St. Hilaire afterwards devoted him- 
self to Thiers, and, on the latter's elevation to power in 1871, 
became Secretary-General of the Presidency, in which office he 
disposed of great authority and influence. We shall meet him 
again in another section of this book. 

Great as was the strife of parties throughout Thiers's 
Presidency, it had little effect on the life of Paris. After the 
quelling of the Commune there came, indeed, a kind of carnival, 
a hankering for amusement and jollity, such as under the 
Directory followed the excesses of the Terror. The ruins left 
by the conflagrations of the Bloody Week were either unheeded 



PARISIAN GAIETIES 119 

by the passing throng, or else regarded as unfortunate re- 
minders of things which were best forgotten. By the time 
1872 arrived Paris was firmly determined to enjoy herself, and 
Dounteous entertainment was provided by those who undertook 
to minister to her pleasures. Music and dancing halls were 
crowded, and there came a wonderful revival in things theatrical. 
Already in 1871 Dumas jils had produced his Visite de Noces 
and Princesse Georges, and Meilhac and Halevy their farcical 
masterpiece Tricoche et Cacolet ; but 1872 brought La Fille de 
Mme. Angot and Le Roi Carotte, both of which carried Paris 
by storm. The first named was essentially a piece for the 
times, as it dealt with a situation akin to that in which one 
was living, though, indeed, the admirable music by Charles 
Lecocq would certainly have assured its success under any 
conditions. There was trouble with the Censorship before this 
sprightly opera comique was produced. Only after profound 
consideration did " Anastasie," as the Censorship is nicknamed, 
authorise the Conspirators' song, and the chorus running : — 

Ce n'etait pas la peine, assurement, 
De changer de gouvernement. 

One duet, though it will be found in the published partition, 
was absolutely prohibited on the stage. It ran in part as 
follows : — 

Pitou. La Republique a maint defaut — 
Mile. Lange. Elle vous deplait, mais, peut-etre, 
Comme vous me jugiez tantot, 
La jugez-vous sans la connaitre. 
Supposez qu'elle ait mon air doux, 
Mon bon coeur, ma voix sympathique — 
Pitou. Ah ! vous avez une maniere a vous 
De faire aimer la Republique ! l 

Those lines were deemed distinctly "dangerous," and 
although Thiers was President and favoured the Republic, the 
Censorship, having the fear of the National Assembly before 
its eyes, would not allow them to be sung in public. 

There was also some " political intention " in Le Roi Carotte, 
in the production of which Victorien Sardou allied himself with 

1 Pitou. "The Republic has many defects." Mile. Lange. "She does 
not please you, but, perhaps, even as you judged me just now, you judge 
her also without knowing her. Supposing she had my gentle mien, my 
good heart, and sympathetic voice — " Pitou. " Ah ! you have a way of 
your own to make one love the Republic." 



120 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Offenbach. Devout Royalists were seriously disturbed at the 
thought of anybody presuming to bestow the name of " King 
Carrot " on a representative of the real authority. But most 
people merely laughed at this gay extravaganza which achieved 
scarcely less success than Lecocq's more polished work. During 
the next few years Offenbach gave us La Jolie Parfumeuse and 
Les Cent Vierges (1873-4), and Lecocq produced Girofte-Girofla 
(1874) and La Petite Mariee (1875). Those were the days too 
when Mme. Judic fascinated everybody in La Timbale d? Argent 
(1874), when Mme. Theo, who could not sing but who always 
looked most pretty and enticing, rose by sheer charm to 
celebrity, and when that far more able vocalist, the statuesque 
Mme. Peschard, commanded a salary of i?3500 a year, even at 
as small a house as the Bouffes, which could only seat some six 
hundred spectators. 

We had a surfeit of gay and tuneful music at that period. 
Able comedies followed, while Labiche, Meilhac, Halevy, Blum, 
and others were always ready with new vaudevilles, which set 
one laughing to one's heart's content. Moreover, Paris was 
again regaled with all sorts of scandals and curious lawsuits. 
General Trochu prosecuted Le Figaro for libel ; ex-Queen 
Isabella of Spain, who pretended that she was above the juris- 
diction of the French laws, was condemned to pay some i?6000 
to M. Mellerio, the jeweller — the price of a wedding gift she 
had made to her daughter, the Princess de Girgenti ; while the 
Princess de Beauffremont, nee de Chimay, demanded a judicial 
separation from her husband — a long and very involved affair, 
full of scandalous revelations about the Prince, and resulting 
ultimately in the Princess's flight from France with her children, 
and her marriage with another Prince, George Bibesco. There 
were also many cases in which adventurers figured — a crop of 
either spurious or impecunious nobles, who, descending on 
Paris, had swindled people on all sides. However, the chief 
scandal of the period was the so-called u Tragedy of the Rue 
des lilcoles." 

On Sunday April 21, 1872, a young man of good family, 
named Arthur Le Roy Dubourg, dark, thick-set, and fairly 
handsome, with heavy moustaches, entered No. 14 in the Rue 
des Ecoles, and on gaining admittance to an apartment in 
which he knew his wife to be secreted with a lover, rushed upon 
her and stabbed her with a sword-stick, inflicting on her, in 




THE UNWRITTEN LAW 121 

fact, no fewer than fifteen ghastly wounds. His fury had been 
increased by the circumstance that the lover had escaped in his 
shirt through the window and thence over an adjoining roof. 
Rushing downstairs, Dubourg apprised the house-porter of his 
deed, and then, jumping into a cab, drove away to surrender 
himself to the police. Before he was transferred to the Pre- 
fecture, however, he complained of feeling extremely hungry, 
and on repairing to a restaurant with the officer to whose 
charge he had been committed, he indulged in a meal of five 
courses, washed down with burgundy, and followed by a hearty 
smoke. 

His victim was removed to the Hopital de la Pitie, where 
she died soon afterwards. Nevertheless, Dubourg was released 
on bail, while the lover, a young man of slender means called 
the Count de Precorbin, and employed at the Prefecture of the 
Seine, was arrested and kept for some time in strict confine- 
ment. In June, Dubourg stood his trial at the Paris Assizes, 
and the story of his marriage was then fully unfolded to the 
public. It had been one of those " family arrangements " so 
often devised among the French, and stupidly commended by 
many English writers, despite the fact that since divorce has 
been re-established in France, there has been a far greater 
annual number of divorces there than in any other European 
country. The bride's family was of Scotch origin, and named 
M'Leod. The Dubourgs had been introduced to it by a 
matchmaking friend, the Countess de Toussaint. Only a 
fortnight elapsed between the presentation of Arthur Dubourg 
to Denise M'Leod, who was then nineteen years old, and the 
marriage which had been " arranged " by their relatives. She 
at the time was already in love with young M. de Precorbin, 
and, as was to be expected, the union turned out disastrously. 
The young wife immediately conceived the greatest antipathy 
for her husband, and before long they ceased to see each other 
excepting at meals. Indeed, only six months had elapsed when 
Mme. Dubourg begged her husband to assent to a judicial 
separation, confessing, in support of her request, that she had 
wronged him. But he refused, took her to Switzerland, and, 
with the assent of her parents, consigned her to a lunatic 
asylum. It was there, apparently, that she gave birth to a 
child, of which there is reason to believe the husband was 
really the father. 



122 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Dubourg served as a Captain of Mobiles during the Franco- 
German War, and, at the close of that period, after an ex- 
change of affectionate letters (the wife may have simulated 
affection in order to procure her release), they again resided 
together in Paris. But Dubourg soon became suspicious, and 
taking his wife to lodge at the house of one of his former 
mistresses, he employed that woman to worm out of her the 
secret of her attachment for young Precorbin. That done he 
sent his wife to stay by herself at a third-class maison meubUe, 
and employed some private detectives to track her to a rendez- 
vous with her lover. The sequel has been told. 

Dubourg's trial was a highly sensational affair. The court 
was crowded with fashionably -dressed women, aristocratic 
ladies as well as harlots, and the proceedings became the more 
dramatic by reason of the prisoner's frequent outbursts of grief. 
Indeed, towards the close, while the judge was summing up, 
Dubourg suddenly drank off some ether, which had been handed 
to him to inhale, and fell fainting on the floor. It became 
necessary to remove him from the court, and the verdict was 
given in his absence. He was found guilty, but extenuating 
circumstances were admitted in his favour, and he therefore 
escaped with a sentence of five years' 1 solitary confinement. 

The press had already discussed the affair at great length, 
but Alexandre Dumas fits now rushed into the fray with a 
pamphlet entitled V Homme -Femme, in which he expounded 
his views on the social position of woman, and held that a man 
whose wife became unfaithful had clearly a right to kill her. 
Ten large editions of that pamphlet were exhausted in a fort- 
night. Then Simile de Girardin answered Dumas in a brochure, 
which he sarcastically called V Homme suzerain, la femme 
vassale. Others took up the question. "Kill her," and 
"Don't kill her," became the stock phrases of the time, and 
vaudevillistes turned the controversy to account in song and 
jest. At last, Girardin produced an involved play called Les 
Trois Amants, which was doubtless levelled against wife- 
murder, though it seemed more like a denunciation of duelling ; 
and Dumas followed suit with his well-known Femme de 
Claude. Nor did the matter rest there, for Girardin gave yet 
another play on the subject, Une Heure oVoubli, apparently 
a new version of Beaumarchais 1 La Mere coupable, like 
which it terminated in mutual forgiveness. As for Dumas, 



THE UNWRITTEN LAW US 

he, as we all know, long harped on the subject and its various 
issues in his plays, his prefaces, and his pamphlets. 

It may be said that the question of the so-called " unwritten 
law," of which we hear so much every now and then, originated, 
so far as present day generations are concerned, in the long 
controversy following the Dubourg affair. Before that time it 
had been held in France that if a husband suddenly, un- 
expectedly, surprised his wife in flagrante delicto his action was 
excusable if, in his fury, he wreaked summary vengeance on her 
or her paramour. But it had never been contended that a 
man was justified in premeditating such a deed, in deliberately 
facilitating the offence of which he complained, for the express 
purpose of taking the vengeance he desired. Yet that is 
exactly what Dubourg did. It is true that the jury held him 
to be guilty, even though it admitted extenuating circum- 
stances in his favour ; but unfortunately the ensuing controversy 
led, for several years, and in all parts of France, to the repeated 
acquittal of both men and women who took the law into their 
own hands whenever they had reason to complain of a wife 
or a mistress, a husband or a lover. Revolvers, swords, daggers, 
.crowbars, vitriol, were repeatedly employed with impunity, a 
tender-hearted jury promptly acquitting the offender amid the 
applause of a " sympathetic audience." It must be admitted 
that until 1884 there was no divorce law, and that judicial 
separation was inadequate relief in cases of marital infidelity, 
cruelty, and so forth. Yet never was a divorce law more 
required than in France, by reason of the very circumstances 
under which so many French marriages are contracted. The 
existence of such a law nowadays x has not altogether stamped 
out the practice of personal vengeance in cases of adultery, or 
prevented the acquittal of the perpetrators of such so-called 

1 The results of the French Divorce Law may be judged by the following 
figures. In 1884 the following divorces were granted:— For adultery, 
husbands' petitions, 245; wives' petition, 97. For cruelty, neglect, in- 
compatibility of temper, etc., 1477. By reason of sentences for felony, 60. 
Total for 1884, 1879. In 1904 (twenty years afterwards) the figures were as 
follows :— For adultery, husbands' petitions, 2304 ; wives' petitions, 1507. 
For cruelty, neglect, incompatibility of temper, etc., 10,597. By reason of 
sentences for felony, 284. Total for 1904, 14,692. There are also some 
thousands of judicial separations annually, largely among religious people 
who do not apply for divorce, as it is condemned by the Church. During the 
last few years certain dramatists and novelists have promoted some reaction 
against divorce, on purely moral grounds, in certain sections of society. 



124 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

crimes passionnels, but it is noteworthy that in most of these 
cases which now come into court the question is one of lover 
and mistress, there being far fewer instances of personal 
vengeance for infidelity among married people. 

During the winter of 1872, the relations of Thiers and 
the National Assembly gradually became more critical. The 
negotiations between the President and the Committee of 
Thirty, respecting the drafting of a Constitution, were often 
most difficult. When Thiers wished some particular question, 
such as the formation of an Upper or Second Chamber, to be 
finally solved, the Committee held that it was more urgent to 
regulate the conditions of ministerial responsibility, its object, 
of course, being to diminish the power of Thiers, prevent him 
from participating in the Assembly's debates, and shut him up 
in the Palais de la Presidence, or, as he remarked one day in 
the tribune, the Palais de la Penitence — an intentional lapsus 
linguae which was greeted with no little laughter. Again, the 
majority of the Assembly was always finding fault with the 
radicalism of Thiers's Ministry, though he made repeated 
changes in it with the hope of pacifying the malcontents. 
Jules Simon was the only man of the Fourth of September now 
left in the Administration, which was joined, late in 1872, by 
Leon Say, to whom Thiers's old friend, Goulard, surrendered the 
Ministry of Finances, passing himself to the Home Department. 
Say was distinctly a " moderate " man, Goulard was almost a 
Royalist, and there was certainly no " Radicalism " about their 
colleagues, Lambrecht, Remusat, Victor Lefranc, Berenger, and 
Fortou. The last named, indeed, proved, before very long, as 
reactionary a Minister as could be found in France. 

At last, early in 1873, an entente was arrived at between 
Thiers and the Committee of Thirty, and on March 4 the 
former expounded to the Assembly his views; on the proposed 
Constitution. It was a very conservative address, marked, too, 
by a distinct attack on the Radicals (on Gambetta particularly), 
and the majority seemed well satisfied with it. Indeed, on 
March 17, when the Government announced that, thanks to 
its various financial measures, it had been able to conclude 
a convention with Germany by which the last German detach- 
ments would finally evacuate French territory on the 5th day 
of September, the Assembly declared by a formal vote that 
Thiers had " deserved well of his country.'' 1 



THIERS AND THE ASSEMBLY 125 

But trouble was brewing. The Bonapartists were active. 
Prince Napoleon Jerome had petitioned the Assembly for the 
right to return to France. " We are proscribed," said he, in a 
manifesto, " because we are feared. 1 "' There was truth in that 
assertion; but, from the standpoint of principle, Thiers's 
treatment of the Prince could not be defended. The Orleans 
family was allowed all liberty to reside in France and conspire 
there, so why should not the Bonapartists enjoy the same 
privilege? However, another important incident supervened. 
On March 24, there was a debate respecting the appointment 
of the municipalities for the chief cities of France, which, on 
account of their Radical proclivities, were to be deprived of 
their elected representatives. The immediate question was one 
of Lyons and the excesses which had certainly occurred there 
during the Communist rising in 1871. A Republican deputy, 
M. Le Royer (subsequently President of the Senate), declared 
the report of a committee, which had examined the above 
matters, to be mere "baggage," whereupon the Marquis de 
Gramont retorted that Le Royer was "impertinent." A 
"row" immediately began. Grevy, the President of the 
Assembly, intervened, but neither side would give way, and the 
majority openly upheld the cause of M. de Gramont. Grevy, 
usually so calm and judicial in the chair, considered himself 
slighted, lost his temper, put on his hat and walked out of the 
house, exclaiming, " If I do not satisfy you as President, say 
so ! " Soon afterwards he sent in his resignation. The Assembly 
re-elected him by a majority of 118 votes, but, remembering the 
virtual unanimity with which he had been chosen at Bordeaux, 
he was not satisfied with that figure, and persisted in resigning. 
Two candidates for the office then came forward — Buffet, one 
of the Orleanist leaders, who had served the Empire with 
l^mile Ollivier, and Martel, a very Conservative Republican. 
Thiers patronised the latter, but the Radicals refused to vote 
for him, as they considered that he had not shown sufficient 
clemency to the Paris Communists while he was President of 
the Committee of Pardons. Buffet was therefore chosen by a 
majority of 19 votes, and being far less exacting than Grevy, 
gleefully took his seat. This was a real defeat for Thiers; 
in fact, it was the beginning of the end. 

Eight by-elections were due during the ensuing Easter 
recess. There was, notably, a vacancy at Paris and another 



126 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

at Lyons. At the suggestion of Thiers M. de Remusat, the 
Foreign Minister, who held no seat in the Assembly, became 
a candidate in the capital. He was a distinguished man, 
perhaps rather too much of a dilettante, too disdainful and 
sarcastic, also, to succeed in active political life ; but he had 
co-operated with Thiers in the Liberation of the Territory, and 
it was imagined that Paris would elect him. He was opposed, 
however, by a Radical named Barodet, originally a schoolmaster, 
and recently Mayor of Lyons, a post he had lost by the new 
law on the municipalities of the great cities. Further, the 
Monarchists patronised a third candidate, Colonel Stoffel, who 
had been military attache at Berlin in imperial times. Never- 
theless, Barodet triumphed with 180,000 votes, to the great 
consternation both of Thiers and the majority of the Assembly. 
This was the answer of Paris to the reactionary measure which 
had deprived the great centres of French life and thought of 
the municipal franchise. Moreover, the Radicals were generally 
victorious in the provinces, notably at Marseilles and Lyons, 
in which last city M. Ranc was returned. 

The Monarchists attacked the Government furiously. Jules 
Simon had to go, Goulard also. Even Fortou and Berenger 
were not spared. 1 Now, it was Thiers's intention that im- 
mediately after the recess the Assembly should proceed with 
the constitutional measures which had been agreed upon 
between himself and the Committee of Thirty, and a slight 
portion of which were in fact already voted. But the Royalists, 
who felt that their hour had arrived, resolved to anticipate him, 
compel him to do their bidding or resign. When, therefore, 
on May 19, M. Auguste Casimir-Perier, who had succeeded 
Goulard at the Home Office, brought forward a bill providing 
for the election of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, the 
Orleanist leader, the Duke de Broglie, retorted by asking leave 
to interpellate the Government respecting its policy. The 
debate on the interpellation was fixed for May 23, when Broglie 
roundly accused the Administration of weakness, and demanded 
a firm rule, such as would reassure the country. Dufaure replied, 
and Thiers, in accordance with the new regulations of the 
partly -voted Constitution, sent a message requesting the 
Assembly^ permission to address it. It met again at half-past 

1 Jules Simon was replaced at the Ministry of Education by M. 
Waddington. 






FALL OF THIERS 127 

nine the next morning, when Thiers spoke for two hours, 
adhering to his formula of a Conservative Republic, and declaring 
that a dictatorship was the only alternative. Further, he 
vigorously attacked the Duke de Broglie, who had called him 
a protege of the Radicals, saying that Broglie was the protege 
of a party whose patronage would have been scorned by his 
(the Duke's) father — that is, the party of the Empire. It 
happened, indeed, that Broglie undoubtedly owed his seat in 
the Assembly to Bonapartist votes. Finally, Thiers openly 
declared that he should regard the vote which would ensue as 
the formal condemnation or approval of his political career. 

In the afternoon various resolutions were submitted to the 
house. The order of the day, pure and simple, was rejected 
by 362 to 348 votes ; and the resolution which triumphed was 
one submitted by a rabid Legitimist and Clerical advocate, 
named Edmond Ernoul. It set forth that the Assembly 
demanded a resolutely Conservative policy in order to reassure 
the country, and regretted that the recent changes in the 
Ministry had not given satisfaction to Conservative interests. 
This was carried by 360 to 344 votes. Next, despite the angry 
protests of the Republican members, it was decided to hold an 
evening sitting, in order that the Government might acquaint 
the Assembly with its intentions, respecting which there was 
little, if any, doubt. The leaders of the movement against 
Thiers were anxious, however, to hurry things forward, fearing 
that, if time for reflection were granted, they might lose some 
adherents and fail in their designs. At eight o'clock came 
Thiers's formal resignation, followed by the announcement that 
the Ministry also withdrew. In vain did the Republicans 
endeavour to prevent the inevitable, by submitting a motion 
that the President's resignation should not be accepted. The 
attempt was defeated by 363 to 348 votes. Then came the 
crowning incident. General Changarnier proposed that Marshal 
MacMahon should be elected to the Presidency of the Republic. 
At that moment 721 of the 750 members of the Assembly were 
present, but the Republicans unanimously decided that they 
would not take part in the vote, and some others followed their 
example, with the result that only 392 members participated in 
the election — the figures being : For Marshal MacMahon, 390; 
against him, 2. 

From the very outset the Monarchists had been determined 



128 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

to bring about the resignation of Thiers, and it was so con- 
fidently felt that such would be the result of the battle 
that already on May 22, the very day before the Duke de 
Broglie's interpellation, the Presidency of the Republic was 
offered to the Duke d'Aumale. The latter expressed his 
willingness to accept it, but when the Orleanists approached 
the Legitimists and the Bonapartists, whose co-operation was 
required to ensure success, they encountered peremptory refusals, 
and the battle went forward without any agreement as to who 
should be set in Thiers's place. MacMahon was certainly 
thought of, but he had refused the Presidency when he had 
been sounded on previous occasions, and it was possible that he 
would adhere to that refusal. The accounts of what actually 
happened under those circumstances are conflicting; but it 
would seem that the Marshal certainly knew something of what 
was brewing, though he was not formally approached prior to 
his election. 

It was felt, indeed, on the side of the majority, that he 
might again refuse any offers, but that if he were confronted 
by a fait accompli in the shape of his election, he might 
well accept it. That, at any rate, was the view of General 
Changarnier who submitted the Marshal's name to the house. 
Changarnier, as a soldier, was well aware that though a military 
man may occasionally hesitate when he is sounded about an 
appointment, he takes it without demur, as a matter of duty, 
when it is purely and simply signified to him. The majority 
relied, then, largely on MacMahon's sense of discipline. Nothing 
could be so simple : — The Assembly was sovereign, it appointed 
him President, it was his duty, as a soldier, to take the post. 
We do not say, however, that influences were not at work to 
incline him to the desired course. 

When a deputation of the Assembly went to the Marshal's 
residence to inform him of his election he was absent, being, in 
fact, with Thiers. He already knew of the vote and his first 
impulse was to decline the proposed honour, as he had pledged 
himself, he said, never to take Thiers's place. Thiers retorted, 
however, that he had never accepted any such pledge, and 
finally MacMahon, following the messenger who had been sent 
for him, returned to his residence and received the deputation. 
Again he showed some hesitation, but after listening to Buffet 
and others he ended by accepting the proffered office. 




Marshal MacMahon 



MARSHAL MACMAHON 129 

He was a distinctly honest and sincere man, but he was not, 
he could not be, a Republican. His origin, career, marriage, 
connections, and friendships all militated against it. Neverthe- 
less, though he believed in and upheld the principle of authority, 
he did so only within certain limits, and was not afraid to 
express dissent when authority threatened to become tyranny. 
For instance, when, after the famous Orsini conspiracy in 
1858, the Government of the Second Empire submitted a 
so-called Law of Public Safety to the Legislature, General 
MacMahon, as he was then, voted against it, regarding its 
provisions as unconstitutional, and deeming it wrong that 
France should be odiously punished for the crime of a few 
Italians. He was the only member of the Imperial Senate who 
had the courage to express that view. 

Born on June 13, 1808, at Sully Saint Leger, in Saone-et- 
Loire, Burgundy, Marie Edme Patrice Maurice de MacMahon, 
belonged to a family which claimed descent from Mahon, a 
brother of Brian Boru, King of Ireland, slain at Clontarf in 
1014. According to some accounts the family property was 
confiscated by Cromwell, according to others by William III. 
In any case, in the eighteenth century we find a certain John 
Baptist MacMahon, born at Limerick in 1715, settling in 
Burgundy after studying medicine at Reims and taking his 
degree as a doctor there in 1739. He practised at Autun, 
where one of his principal patients was a wealthy old nobleman, 
Jean Baptiste de Morey, Governor of Vezelay, married to a 
young and charming wife, Charlotte de (or le) Belin, daughter 
and heiress of the last Marquis d'Eguilly. M. de Morey died 
in 1748, and two years later his widow married John Baptist 
MacMahon, who thereupon obtained letters of naturalisation 
and nobility from the French Crown. 1 In 1761, Mme. de 
MacMahon having inherited a fortune, deemed to be the 
largest in Burgundy, from an uncle, Claude Lazare de Morey, 
transferred it in its entirety to her husband, the deed being 
drawn by Maitre Changarnier, notary at Autun, and grand- 
father of the general of that name. John Baptist MacMahon 
long sat in the States of Burgundy, and died at Paris in 1775, 
his widow surviving until 1787. The fortune was divided 
among the surviving children of the union, two daughters and 

1 The family arms are three leoparded lions, gules, armed and langued 
azure, on a field or ; with the motto Sic nos sic sacra tuemur. 

K 



130 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

two sons. One of the former became Marchioness cTUrr, the 
other Marchioness de Rengrave. The eldest son, Charles 
Laure, Marquis de MacMahon, distinguished himself under 
Lafayette in the American War of Independence, became a 
Chevalier of the order of St. Louis, and a Peer of France in 
1827. Three years later he died unmarried. His younger 
brother, Maurice Francois, Count de MacMahon and Baron 
de Sully, rose to be Lieutenant-Colonel of Lauzun's famous 
Hussars of the Guard. In 1791, he was somewhat seriously 
wounded in the Nancy riots, and, being taken a prisoner by the 
populace, narrowly escaped lynching. He afterwards emigrated, 
served for a while under Conde and later with the Anglo- 
Dutch forces, returning to France in 1803, when, sharing his 
brother's residence at Sully, he occupied himself with the 
management of their estates. He obtained, at the Restoration, 
the rank of Lieutenant-General and of Grand Cross or Cordon 
Rouge of the order of St. Louis, but during the Hundred Days 
he was arrested and cast into prison as a Bourbonist. He 
married Mile. Pelagie de Riquet de Caraman, a great grand- 
daughter of Riquet, the famous engineer of the Canal du Midi, 
and this lady presented him with no fewer than seventeen 
children. Nine of them, four sons and five daughters, survived 
their childhood. The sons were Charles, Marquis de MacMahon, 
born in 1791 ; x Joseph, Count de MacMahon, born in 1805 ; 2 
the future Duke de Magenta, Marshal of France and President 
of the Republic, born (as we stated on the previous page) in 
1808 ; and Eugene, Count de MacMahon, born in 1810. 3 The 
daughters were as follows : Adele, who married the Marquis de 
Nieul ; Fanny, who married the Count de Si lie ; Cecile, who 
married the Marquis de Roquefeuille ; Natalie, who married 

1 He died in 1845, leaving by his marriage with Marie, daughter of the 
Marquis de Rosambo, a son and two daughters. One of the latter married 
Count d'Oilliamson, the other Count Eugene de Lur-Saluces. The son, 
Charles Henri Paul, Marquis de MacMahon, born in 1828, was killed while 
riding in a steeplechase in September, 1863. By his marriage with Henriette 
Radegonde de Perusse des Cars, daughter of the Duke des Cars, he left a 
son, Charles Marie, Marquis de MacMahon, who married Marthe Marie, 
daughter of the Marquis de Vogue of the Institute and sister of the Count 
de Vogiie\ aide-de-camp to Marshal MacMahon, killed at Worth. Charles 
Marie, Marquis de MacMahon, died in 1894. 

2 He married Eudoxie, daughter of Count de Montaigu, and died in 1865, 
leaving no posterity. 

3 He married Mile. Natalie de Champeaux and died without posterity in 
1866. 



MARSHAL MACMAHON 131 

the Baron de Consegues ; and Elisa, who became a nun of the 
Sacre Cceur at Autun. 1 

Mme. de MacMahon, the mother of the nine children we 
have just enumerated, died in 1819. Her son, the future 
Marshal and President, was then only eleven years old. He 
had hitherto been taught by a tutor at Sully, but he was now 
sent to the Petit Seminaire at Autun, next to a school at 
Versailles, and ultimately to the Lycee Louis-le-Grand in Paris. 
He made such rapid progress with his studies that at seventeen 
years of age he obtained admission to the Military School of 
St. Cyr, which he quitted two years later, ranking as the 
thirteenth among 250 students. Appointed a Sub-Lieutenant, 
he entered the Staff College, which he left at the expiration of 
three years with the rank of Lieutenant. He was the fourth 
of the twenty students so promoted. He obtained his first 
cavalry instruction with the 4th Hussars, in which his elder 
brother, Joseph, was a Captain. As aide-de-camp to General 
Achard he was at the siege of Antwerp in 1832, and after- 
wards served for several years in Algeria, becoming in turn a 
Major of light infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Foreign 
Legion, and Colonel of a Line regiment, until he was promoted 
in 1848 to the rank of General of Brigade. He figured in 
most of the fighting in Algeria during his long sojourn there, 
and often distinguished himself in action, notably at the 
assault of Constantine. 

On March 14, 1854, he married Mile. Elisabeth Charlotte 
Sophie de la Croix de Castries, daughter of the Count, later 
Duke, de Castries, 2 and was still in France when in 1855 
Canrobert returned from the Crimea, leaving his command 
there to Pelissier. Another divisional general being needed by 
the French forces, MacMahon was chosen, but his departure 
was delayed for a little while, it appears, owing to his wife's 
condition at the time, Napoleon III. remarking to him : " Don't 
hurry. Wait till we have a little MacMahon. 11 The little 
MacMahon duly appeared 3 and the proud father, repairing 

1 Only one of the above-named sisters of Marshal MacMahon left issue, 
that is Mme. de Roquefeuille, who had a large family. 

2 Like her husband she had Irish blood in her veins, her grandmother, on 
her father's side, having been a Miss Elizabeth Coghlan. 

3 Maurice Armand Patrice de MacMahon, now Duke de Magenta, born 
in 1855, formerly an officer in the Chasseurs-a-pied. He has two brothers, 
Eugene, born in 1857, Marie Emmanuel, born in 1859, and a sister, Marie, 
born in 1863, and married since 1887 to Count Henri d'Alwin de Pieones. 



132 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

to the Crimea, was entrusted with the task of carrying the 
Malakoff works at the final assault of Sebastopol (September 8, 
1855). We all know that he accomplished it right brilliantly. 
France rewarded him with the Grand Cross of the Legion of 
Honour; England's Sovereign created him a Knight Grand 
Cross of the Order of the Bath. 

He was chosen for high command at the time of the Italian 
War of 1859, when his share in the victory of Magenta procured 
him the title of Duke and the baton of Marshal of France. 
Two years later he represented Napoleon III. at the coronation 
of William of Prussia, afterwards first German Emperor, whose 
prisoner he was destined to become ; and in 1864 he returned to 
Algeria, this time as the successor of Pelissier in the governor- 
ship of the colony. No little unrest had been stirred up there 
by his predecessor's misrule ; but under MacMahon quietude 
generally prevailed, and if insurrectionary tendencies occasionally 
appeared they were swiftly and efficiently checked. 

At the outbreak of the Franco-German War, the Marshal 
was one of the few men to whom Napoleon III. confided his plan 
of campaign. Becoming Commander of the 1st Army Corps 
he endeavoured to prevent the dissemination of the French 
forces, as is shown by several of his telegrams to the Imperial 
headquarters at Metz. Other despatches sent to General Ducrot 
prove that he was opposed to the occupation of Wissemburg, 
where the first French defeat occurred (August 4, 1870). The 
plans which MacMahon formed for the engagement known in 
France as Reichshoffen and elsewhere as Worth, were in some 
respects well conceived, though they cannot be entirely placed 
to his credit, for the views of General Frossard who, acting for 
the French War Office, had some years previously planned an 
engagement on this same point, were partially adopted. For the 
rest, MacMahon's scheme recalled that which had served him 
at Magenta in 1859. The positions occupied by the French 
were of a nature to give them a distinct advantage over an 
enemy of equal strength, and to place them on terms of equality 
with somewhat more numerous antagonists. But there were 
fatal miscalculations. A request of MacMahon's that General 
de Failly's Army Corps should be placed under his orders had 
been granted, but delay and misunderstanding in his communica- 
tions with Failly ensued. Moreover, the Marshal anticipated 
that the battle would be fought on August 7, whereas the 



MARSHAL MACMAHON 133 

German advance proved more rapid, in such wise that, less by 
actual design on the part of the Crown Prince of Prussia and 
Blumenthal, his chief of Staff, than by a series of fortuitous 
circumstances, the two armies came face to face on August 6. 
The French, altogether outnumbered by their foes, were severely 
defeated, and their retreat at last became a rout. For long 
hours, however, they resisted with desperate gallantry, and if 
their losses amounted to 6000 killed and wounded, and 9000 
men made prisoners, the enemy purchased his victory dearly, 
his roll of killed and wounded giving a total of 489 officers and 
10,153 men. The great misfortune of the French was that, 
although the battle began at daybreak on August 6 and was 
not over until five o'clock in the afternoon, and although during 
all that time it was possible to communicate with General de 
Failly by telegraph, no attempt was made to do so. Failly had 
orders to join MacMahon, but his chief arrangements had been 
made for the 7th, and it was only by a chance telegram sent by a 
railway station-master that he eventually heard of the battle and 
the defeat. If, on the morning of the 6th he had been urged 
to accelerate his movements, his Army Corps might have reached 
the scene of action during the afternoon, too late, no doubt, to 
avert defeat, but in time, at all events, to protect MacMahon's 
retreat, and possibly even to prevent it. Thus, although French 
critics have generally striven to cast most of the responsibility 
for the disaster of Worth on General de Failly (an unpopular 
man) we have always felt that if he deserved blame for the 
slowness of his movements, MacMahon on his side deserved 
blame for not attempting to accelerate them when he found 
himself confronted by such overwhelming odds. 

The Marshal rallied his forces at Chalons. At a Conference 
held there with the Emperor, Prince Napoleon, General Trochu, 
and M. Rouher, he distinctly favoured the proposed retreat on 
Paris ; but the raison d'etat prevailed, and he was compelled to 
make that attempt to relieve Bazaine, then shut up under Metz, 
which led the army to Sedan, where it was overwhelmed. It is 
difficult to say what plans, if any, had been formed by the 
Marshal for that battle. He seems to have thought — as he had 
done at Worth — that the bulk of the German forces was still 
some distance away, and that the French would obtain a day's 
rest. But the rapidity of the German movements prevented all 
respite. MacMahon was at least spared the humiliation of 



134 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

signing the surrender by which everything ended. About six 
o'clock on the morning of September 1, while on his way to 
inspect the arrangements made by General Ducrot in the 
neighbourhood of Balan and La Moncelle, he halted his horse 
on a hillock at a distance of little more than three hundred yards 
from the enemy's position, which he was examining through his 
field-glasses, when a German shell exploded near him. Accord- 
ing to a very circumstantial account, the crupper of his horse 
was carried away by a splinter of the projectile while he 
himself was badly wounded in the hip and fell fainting to the 
ground. Nevertheless, he had no sooner recovered consciousness 
than he wished to mount the horse of an orderly and tried to do 
so. But the pain of his wound was too great, and after he had 
been carried to a place of some safety, a stretcher was procured 
and he was removed to Sedan. The command of the army was 
assumed first by Ducrot and then by Wimpffen, the last of whom 
had to sign the capitulation. The Marshal's convalescence was 
spent at the chateau of Pourru-aux-Bois near Sedan, and he 
afterwards went to Wiesbaden as a prisoner of war, returning 
to France in March 1871 to take the command of the army of 
Versailles against the Commune. 

He cannot be accounted a great general. Despite his victory 
at Magenta he was more fitted for subordinate than supreme 
command. It is doubtful whether he possessed sufficient 
capacity to handle a really large force. On the other hand he 
was extremely brave, careless of danger, unmoved in the most 
trying situations. When Colson, his chief of Staff, and Vogue', 
his aide-de-camp and relative, were struck down before his eyes 
at Worth, he remained impassive, merely remarking : " There 
are two fine deaths." Very good-natured and frank, he talked 
freely with his friends, expressing himself in fluent, picturesque, 
if occasionally ungrammatical language. But in the presence 
of strangers he often became almost tongue-tied, or spoke in the 
most awkward manner possible. Fairly tall and slim, he had 
a thoroughly military bearing and a prepossessing appearance 
generally. In his younger days he had been considered quite 
handsome. At the time when he became President of the 
Republic he was sixty-five years old, with dark, quick eyes, a 
very ruddy face, and scanty snow-white hair, a few wavy locks of 
which strayed over his cranium. His moustache and the tuft 
on his chin were as white as his hair, and the contrast between 



MARSHAL MACMAHON 135 

that whiteness and the ruddiness of his cheeks rendered his 
appearance very striking. 

His wife, the Duchess de Magenta, was at that time an 
energetic and clever woman of middle age, with dark hair, 
aright eyes, and a very full figure. Of the Castries family to 
vhich she belonged, and particularly of her accomplished and 
beautiful sister, the Countess de Beaumont, we shall have 
occasion to speak hereafter. The particulars we have already 
jiven will have sufficed to show that the MacMahons were 
aristocrats, and that Republicanism was foreign to them. Thus 
the Marshal's election was viewed with anxiety by all the 
Republican elements in France. He was not young enough, he 
had not sufficient ambitious audacity, to play the part of a 
Bonaparte; but might he not become a Monk, might he not 
attempt to impose a King on France or restore the Empire ? 
It seemed certain that perilous days were in store for the 
country. 

"I fall with my flag in my hand," said Thiers after 
MacMahon's election. "I have surrendered my place to men 
who intend to embark on all sorts of adventures. The situation 
is serious. I shall, however, resume my seat as a member of the 
Assembly. I shall not forget the mandate I hold from the 
country. 11 Gambetta, for his part, impressed upon his followers 
the advisability of remaining strictly within the law whatever 
it might be ; for he well realised that the semi-Orleanist, semi- 
Legitimist Administration which now took office, would be only 
too glad of the slightest opportunity to prosecute, imprison, and 
thus rid themselves of all Republicans who might be likely to 
resist the attempts to restore monarchical rule. 



CHAPTER V 

UNDER MACMAHON — THE ROYALIST FUSION — THI 

WHITE FLAG THE THRONE LOST — BAZAINl 

AND HIS TRIAL 

The Duke de Broglie and his Colleagues— Beute— Ernoul— Nobbling the 
Press— Freethinkers and their Funerals— Ranc's Flight from France— 
The Shah in Paris— Thiers in Retirement— The Fusion of Orleanists and 
Legitimists— The White Flag and the Tricolour— The Count de Paris 
visits the Count de Chambord— The Committee of Nine— General 
Changarnier— Chesnelong's Mission— The White Flag again— Mac- 
Mahon's Position— The Septennate— The Count de Chambord at Ver- 
sailles— MacMahon's Refusal to see him— The Liberation of the Terri- 
tory—The Case of Marshal Bazaine— Baraguey d'Hilliers and the Court 
of Inquiry— The Trial at Trianon— Bazaine's Appearance— His Conduct 
at Metz— Boyer, his " Ame Damnee "—Incidents of the Trial— Gambetta 
as a Witness— Lachaud, Bazaine's Counsel— The Sentence and its 
Commutation —The Marshal's Imprisonment and Escape— His last 
Years. 

The Duke de Broglie had led the debate which had resulted 
in Thiers's overthrow, and it was to him that MacMahon, after 
vainly appealing to M. Auguste Casimir-Perier, entrusted the 
formation of his first Ministry. The Duke had then nearly 
completed his fifty-second year. In 1871 Thiers had appointed 
him French Ambassador in London, but he had thrown up the 
post to return and direct the Orleanist campaign at Versailles. 
The Duke's family was of Italian origin, Broglio being the 
original spelling of the name, which was altered to Broglie in 
France where, however, it is pronounced as bro-i-e 9 that is by 
people in society. The more famous of the earlier Broglies 
were military men, three of them being Marshals of France ; 
but Leonce Victor, born in 1785, became an official of the first 
Napoleon's Council of State, and after figuring as a Peer of 
France during the Restoration x rose to a high position as a 

1 In that capacity he was one of those who tried Marshal Ney, for whose 
conduct he found excuses, much to the horror and amazement of his 

136 



THE BROGLIE MINISTRY 137 

statesman under Louis Philippe. In 1814 he married Albertine, 
daughter of the famous Mme. de Stael, whose father, it will be 
remembered, was Necker, the plebeian minister of Louis XVI. 
Partly on that account, and partly because the young lady was 
a Protestant, the Broglie family, quite disregarding the fact 
that her father, Baron de Stael-Holstein, was of good nobility, 
deemed the marriage to be a terrible mesalliance, with the 
result that a bitter feud raged in its midst for several years. 
That it does not willingly allow its members to marry as they 
please, has been shown of recent times by certain scandals. 

Young Duke Leonce Victor de Broglie defied his family, 
however, and married Mile, de Stael ; and among the offspring 
of the marriage was MacMahon's first Prime Minister. Charles 
Victor Albert, Duke de Broglie and Prince of the Holy Roman 
Empire, was born in June, 1821. At the age of four-and- 
twenty, he married Mile. Pauline de Galard de Brassac de 
Beam, who died in 1862, leaving several children, the present 
Duke de Broglie, his brothers and sisters. Under his father's 
auspices, Duke Albert entered the diplomatic service of Louis 
Philippe, acting as secretary to the embassies at Madrid and 
Rome. The fall of the Monarchy threw him into private life, 
but under the Second Empire he became one of the recognised 
Orleanist leaders, supporting Catholic interests and so-called 
Constitutional Liberalism in various journals and reviews, and 
attracting to his father's mansion in the Rue de Grenelle St. 
Germain, most of the men of position who sighed for the fall 
of Napoleon III. and the accession of the Count de Paris. He 
became a member of the French Academy at the age of one- 
and-forty, when he had only written some essays on religious 
and historical questions, and two volumes of a more important 
work on the Church and the Roman Empire in the fourth 
century. Those productions scarcely justified the honour 
accorded to him, but his election was engineered by his father, 
who also was an Academician, in conjunction with other 
Orleanist Immortals. 1 It should be added that in later years 
M. de Broglie proved himself a writer of considerable ability. 
Some of his works, based largely on family papers, are valuable 
contributions to French and German history. In the National 

colleagues. But although he voted for the Marshal's acquittal, Broglie be- 
came in time a strong and virulent anti-Bonapartist. 
1 Duke Leonce Victor survived until 1870. 



138 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Assembly he displayed a ready gift of language, but his 
delivery was defective owing to a constant zezaiement, which 
transformed such words as jujube, pigeon, and cJwval, into 
zuzube, pizon, and zeval, and which some folk attributed to 
his far away Italian ancestry. 

In forming MacMahon's first Administration the Duke 
took, besides the Vice-Presidency of the Council, the post of 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, for which he was only fitted by the 
secretaryships of his youth, and his brief and not particularly 
successful stay at Albert Gate. 1 There is a story that when 
he submitted the list of his colleagues to the Marshal, the 
latter, who found everything novel in the post now conferred 
on him, remarked that the names were exclusively those of 
deputies belonging to the Right (the Monarchial parties), and 
that it might be as well to include one or two gentlemen of the 
Left Centre, that is the moderate Republican group. "Oh, 
no," the Duke de Broglie replied, " that is not the custom 
under parliamentary government. All the Ministers have to 
be selected from the majority." "Indeed," said MacMahon 
thoughtfully, " then if the majority becomes Republican I shall 
have to take all the Ministers from the Left." The Duke's 
only rejoinder was a pout. The idea of such an eventuality 
ensuing was singularly displeasing to him in that hour of his 
triumph. 

Among the colleagues he selected were General du Barail 
(Minister of War), Magne (Finances), Beule (Interior), and 
Ernoul (Justice). 2 Francois du Barail was an officer of 
Algerian training, who had served under Bazaine in Mexico 
and at Metz (a point to be remembered) and had more recently 
commanded the cavalry of the Army of Versailles, securing the 
rank of Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour for his services 
against the Commune. Pierre Magne was a Bonapartist, and 
the most empirical of the financiers of the Second Empire, 
which he had long served in the office to which he was now 
called. Charles Ernest Beule, perpetual secretary to the 
Academy of Fine Arts, had been connected with the French 

1 He subsequently took over the Home Office, and relinquished the de- 
partment of Foreign Affairs to the Duke Decazes, of whom we shall speak 
hereafter. 

■ Other posts were held as follows : Deseilligny, Public Works ; Batbie, 
Education ; La Bouillerie, Commerce and Industry ; and Dompierre 
d'Hornoy, Marine. 



THE BROGLIE MINISTRY 139 

School at Athens, where, as on the site of Carthage, he had 
made some interesting archaeological discoveries. He had 
written upon those subjects, and also, more extensively, on 
Roman history, sketching notably some portraits of Augustus, 
Germanicus, Titus, and Tiberius, the last of whom he had com- 
pared with Napoleon III. It was therefore rather surprising 
to find him in the same Ministry as Magne, the ex-worshipper 
of the Empress Eugenie. Yet that was as nothing compared 
with his assumption of the most difficult post in the new Ad- 
ministration — that of Minister of the Interior, for which he 
was utterly unfitted. He rued it bitterly. A year later, after 
a brief spell of office, during which he trampled on whatever 
Liberalism he had professed in his writings, and became hateful 
and contemptible upon all sides, he put an end to his spoilt 
and embittered life by suicide. He was then only forty-eight 
years old. 

Broglie's Minister of Justice, Edmond Ernoul, was, it will 
be remembered, the actual author of the resolution by which 
Thiers had been overthrown. A typical mushroom celebrity 
of those times, he had sprung up at Loudon and taken to the 
profession of the law at Poitiers, under the protection of 
Bishop Pie of that city. A bigoted Ultramontane Catholic, a 
fervent upholder of Pius IX. 's "Syllabus," he became also one 
of the leading promoters of the so-called fusion between the 
Legitimists and Orleanists, in which connection he repeatedly 
visited the Count de Chambord and stimulated clerical in- 
fluence. For a few years Ernoul was always in evidence at 
Versailles. There were few men more prominent than he. 
But, at the dissolution of the Assembly, he dropped out of 
public life. We believe that he returned to Poitiers, and eked 
out a living there by pleading for priests and nuns when they 
were involved in unpleasant law-suits respecting legacies. By 
the public at large, however, he was remembered merely as a 
man who had come nobody knew whence, and had gone nobody 
knew whither. 

In the Message to the Assembly which Broglie drafted for 
MacMahon directly the latter assumed office, it was stated that 
the Government would be resolutely Conservative, making 
social conservation the particular basis of its home policy. Its 
officials would strictly enforce the laws, into which the spirit of 
Conservatism Mould be duly introduced. The Marshal regarded 



140 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



the post in which the Assembly had placed him as that of a 
sentinel appointed to watch over its sovereign power. It was not 
long before the country learnt what Broglie meant by resolute 
Conservatism. First thirty or forty Republican Prefects were 
dismissed and replaced by Royalists. Then, early in June 
1873, Gambetta had occasion to interpellate Beule respecting 
his suppression of a Radical newspaper, and his issue of a certain 
circular to the Prefects and Sub-Prefects who were to bribe, 
cajole, or threaten the press in order to create a favourable 
current of opinion — favourable, that is, to the restoration of a 
Monarchy. The circular being a highly confidential document, 
Beule was amazed that it should have come into Gambetta's 
possession. He floundered sadly in trying to give it a meaning 
different from the correct one, and passed a tres mauvtus quart 
cTheure in spite of all the support accorded him by the majority 
of the Assembly. The attempts to nobble the press were 
not only confined to French journalists. Numerous foreign 
correspondents were approached, it being thought advisable 
to influence public opinion abroad in favour of the new 
French Government. In that connection, a high official of the 
Ministry of the Interior, whose manners and language were 
extremely courteous and plausible, was so kind as to offer us 
the cross of the Legion of Honour, which we very respectfully 
declined. 

But another example of resolute Conservatism was soon 
forthcoming. The Prefect of Lyons decreed that funerals in 
which no religious rites were to be observed would not be 
allowed, in future, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. The 
Prefect's superior, Beule — long a professed pagan — was taken 
severely to task about this impudent decree, by a Republican 
deputy, M. Le Royer, who prefaced his remarks on the subject 
by a declaration which startled and somewhat shamed the 
intolerant majority of the Assembly. He was, said he, a 
Protestant, a direct descendant of one of those Huguenot 
families which had been driven from France by the dragoons 
of his most Christian Majesty, Louis XIV., and it was as such 
that he protested, with all the energy of his soul, against any 
interference with liberty of conscience. Beule wriggled, and 
tried to excuse the Prefect's order by asserting that a formidable 
Lyonnese society of freethinkers was bent on utilising non- 
religious funerals as pretexts for revolutionary disturbances. 



THE BROGUE MINISTRY 141 

The plea was nonsensical, and before long the obnoxious decree 
had to be withdrawn. 

Another serious affair of the time was the prosecution of 
M. Ranc, a somewhat over-zealous Radical journalist, who, after 
being mixed up in various conspiracies in Imperial times and 
transported to Lambessa, whence he managed to escape, had 
become Gambetta's chef de surete in 1870, and later a member 
of the National Assembly, in which capacity he voted against 
the peace with Germany, and then resigned. Shortly afterwards 
he was elected a member of the Commune and vainly preached 
a policy of conciliation with the Versailles Government. 
Directly the Commune resorted to violent courses, such as 
decreeing the arrest of the Archbishop and other hostages, 
Ranc quitted it, and retired for a while into private life. But 
he was elected deputy for Lyons at the same time as Barodet 
defeated Remusat in Paris, and this election, although it was 
duly validated, drew upon him the hatred of the majority of 
the Assembly. The Orleanists were particularly irate, for had 
not Ranc, as Gambetta's chief of police, dared to lay sacrilegious 
hands on the Prince de Joinville during the war, and ordered 
him to leave France ! Besides, he had been a member of the 
Commune, and that, even in 1873, was still a suitable pretext 
for prosecution. The Republicans of the Assembly opposed the 
proceeding in vain, and Ranc, being warned in time, quitted 
the country. 

It has been said that he did so disguised as a priest, but his 
own account was different. He resolved to make his way to 
Belgium by a circuitous route. On referring to a railway time- 
table he found on the line from Mezieres to Longuyon a station 
named Volosne-Torg which he knew fringed the Belgian frontier. 
Moreover, against the station's name in the time-table was 
the mention halte, signifying that the train he proposed to 
take would stop there, but that tickets were not issued for 
that particular locality. It followed that there would be no 
gendarmes waiting about the station to pounce upon suspicious 
characters. Ranc therefore took a ticket for Longuyon, but 
directly the train stopped at Volosne he sprang out — " on the 
wrong side " as the saying goes — crossed the metals, and made 
his way to a little bridge spanning the rivulet which serves as 
the frontier. The station-master, perceiving him and fancying 
that he was some belated traveller blundering in his hurry, 



142 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



cried, " Not that way ! " but Ranc hastened on, opened a little 
wicket gate at the head of the bridge, crossed over and set foot 
on Belgian soil. In time, like many other exiles, he returned 
to France, and for many years played a notable part in French 
politics and journalism. He passed away early in the autumn 
of 1908. 

In July, 1873, the arrival in Paris of Nassr-Eddin, Shah 
of Persia, momentarily diverted attention from politics. The 
Parisians were delighted with the visit. There were reviews, 
fetes, fireworks, displays of various kinds. It seemed almost 
like a return to old times. Everybody went to see the Shah, 
and he was taken to see everything — the Arc de Triomphe, 
the Obelisk, the tomb of Napoleon, the Central Markets, the 
sewers, and the corps de ballet. And all the folk who were in 
power or in the ascendant, were presented to him. Yet he was 
never satisfied. There was one thing wanting to complete his 
happiness. When he was taken to the Louvre to view the 
Venus of Milo by torchlight, he just glanced at it, and then 
exclaimed: "Yes, very fine big woman, very, but — show me 
Monsieur Thiers.'" When Buffet, President of the Assembly, 
was presented, it was the same thing : " Yes, a fine man, very, 
but, but — show me Monsieur Thiers/ That persistency worried 
the officials of the new regime, who invented all sorts of excuses 
— " Monsieur Thiers was not in Paris, ,1 " Monsieur Thiers was 
indisposed,"" and so forth — a device which recoiled, however, on 
themselves, for his Asiatic majesty never afterwards wearied of 
inquiring: "And Monsieur Thiers, will he soon be back?" 
" What day, tell me ! " or " Monsieur Thiers, is he well again ? 
when will he be well ? " And so on ad libitum. Not being 
disposed to invite Thiers to meet the Shah, the officials as a 
last resort took the potentate to see the polar bear at the 
Jardin des Plantes. We cannot say, however, whether that 
appeased him. 

Thiers, it may be mentioned, was then living almost in 
seclusion in a flat at the corner of the Boulevard Malesherbes, 
near the church of St. Augustin. 1 But, as the summer sun 
streamed into his room, he soon found the heat there unbear- 
able, and, moreover, the clatter of the thoroughfares which 
met at this point, was not to his liking. His new house on 

1 If we remember rightly this flat belonged to General Charlemagne, 
Mme. Thiers's nephew. 



THE ROYALIST FUSION 143 

the Place St. Georges — replacing the former one demolished 
by the Commune — was not yet ready for occupation, and for 
some time the veteran statesman vainly sought a suitable abode. 
At last he secured the so-called Hotel Bagration, No. 45 in 
the Faubourg St. Honore ; and in that stately mansion — built 
by the mad, prodigal Marquis de Brunoy, 1 and inhabited under 
the First Empire by Marshal Marmont, and under Louis 
Philippe by the Russian Princess whose name it took — he 
gathered around him all the moderate Republican leaders in 
view of the great political battle which everybody knew to be 
impending. 

The Monarchists were now particularly active. Shahs might 
come and Shahs might go, there was no cessation of Royalist 
plotting. If Thiers had been overthrown and MacMahon set 
in his place, it was solely in the hope that the latter would 
serve the Restoration projects of the majority. Did he not 
belong to an old Royalist family ? Had not the MacMahons 
sprung from a race of ancient kings and allied themselves with 
the Caramans, the Des Cars, the Eguillys, the Rengraves, the 
Piennes, the Vogues, the Rosambos, the Lur-Saluces, the 
Montaigus, and the Castries ? Did not Mme. de MacMahon 
belong to the last-named ancient house, and count among her 
ancestresses ladies of such famous families as the De Thous, the 
Harlays, Seguiers, Aguesseaus, Lamoignons, Sullys, Villeroys, 
Estrees, Broglies, Crussols, La Fayettes and Pontarmes, besides 
being allied to the royal lines of Belgium, Italy, Saxony, and 
Sweden ? She, a masterful woman, with great influence over 
her husband, would assuredly remember her origin and prevail 
on the Marshal to remember his own. When all was ready he 
would not hesitate, he would acknowledge, welcome, and install 
the King of France and Navarre on the throne of his great 

1 He was the only son of the famous eighteenth century financier, Paris 
de Montmartel, who left him a fortune of more than a million sterling. At 
an early age Brunoy gave signs of insanity ; he stabbed his tutor at table in 
the presence of twenty guests ; married a daughter of the ducal house of 
Des Cars, and quitted her for ever immediately after the ceremony ; brought 
his father and mother in sorrow to the grave, then buried them with extra- 
ordinary pomp. He also decorated the church of Brunoy like a boudoir, and 
being affected by a kind of religious mania organised wonderful religious 
processions, in which appeared hundreds of priests and monks in gold 
chasubles. Some incidents of his career suggest that of Gilles de Rais. 
When he had spent the greater part of his fortune, he was placed under 
interdict. 



144 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

ancestors. Such was the dream in which fervent partisans of 
"Le Roy "indulged. 

Already, in July 1871, at the time of the brief visit paid by 
the Count de Chambord to the famous chateau in Touraine 
whence he derived his title, 1 there had been an attempt to 
bring about a meeting between him and the Count de Paris, 
and thereby reconcile the houses of Bourbon and Orleans. 
The negotiations were conducted on the one side by the Prince 
de Joinville, under the name of Count de Lutteroth, 2 and on 
the other by a nobleman rejoicing in the name of Viscount de 
Maquille, who was at the head of certain Royalist Associations 
in central France. It was proposed that the Count de Paris 
should repair to Touraine, but the Count de Chambord desiring, 
said he, that there should be no misunderstanding respecting 
the meaning of the visit, requested that it might be adjourned 
until he had formally signified his views on the Restoration of 
the Monarchy. This he did in a manifesto dated July 5, in 
which, while announcing his immediate departure from France, 
as he did not wish his presence there to cause any perturbation, 
he declared that if he ascended the throne it would be with 
the White Flag of his ancestors. 

That question had been previously discussed by the repre- 
sentatives of the Royalist parties, among whom it provoked no 
little friction, for the Orleanists adhered to the Tricolour, 
feeling, as was, indeed, the case, that the country would never 
accept the ancient standard associated with centuries of bon 
plaisir and despotism. The renunciation of the Tricolour 
would have appeared to the masses not only as a renunciation 
of all the glories of a flag which had waved victorious through 
Europe, but also as a renunciation of every political and social 
conquest of the great Revolution, a humbling of the National 
Rights before the Divine Right of the King. Even if the 
Orleanists were Royalists, they themselves could not easily 
renounce the Tricolour, a flag associated with their Princes 
and Constitutional rule. They recalled the famous song in 
its honour, and particularly the line : " D'Orleans, toi qui Tas 
porte " : while to the nation at large it had yet a deeper signifi- 
cance, for it was Freedom's emblem : — 

1 It was purchased by public subscription and presented to him during 
his childhood. By his desire it was utilised for ambulance purposes during 
the Franco-German War, when the Count also sent a donation of £400 to 
the Society for the Relief of the Wounded. a See ante, p. 100. 



THE ROYALIST FUSION 145 

A rainbow of the loveliest hue, 

Of three bright colours, each divine, 

And fit for that celestial sign ; 

For Freedom's hand had blended them, 

Like tints in an immortal gem. 

One tint was of the sunbeam's dyes ; 

One, the blue depth of Seraph's eyes ; 
One, the pure Spirit's veil of white 

Had robed in radiance of its light ; 
The three, so mingled, did beseem 

The texture of a heavenly dream. 1 

Of course, the extreme section of the small Legitimist party 
— which counted its most zealous adherents in Brittany and 
Vendee, where the Church had contrived to foster belief in 
Divine Right even among the peasants — held that Monseigneur 
le Comte de Chambord was quite right in refusing to accept 
the flag of the Revolution, and the tourist who strayed that 
summer through the Vendean Bocage, might still occasionally 
hear some descendant of Larochejaquelain's followers, singing 
the old song of the lost cause : — 

M'sieur d'Charette a dit a ceux d'Anc'nis : 

Mes amis, 
Le Roi va nous ramener les fleurs de lys, 
Le Roi va nous ramener les fleurs de lys ! 
Prends ton fusil, Gregoire, 
Prends ta gourde pour boire, 
Ton chapelet d'ivoire. 
Ces messieurs sont partis 
Pour aller au pays. 
M'sieur d'Charette a dit a ceux d'Anc'nis : 

Frappez fort, frappez fort ! 
Le drapeau blanc garde contre la mort, 
Le drapeau blanc garde contre la mort ! 

All that, however, was merely a lingering memory, a mere 
nothing in comparison with the sentiments which prevailed in 
nearly every other part of France. The Legitimists, pure and 
simple, mustered, it should be remembered, but ninety-six 
representatives in an assembly of nearly seven hundred and 
fifty members. Without the support of the Orleanists they 
were therefore powerless. 

Quitting France, the Count de Chambord repaired to 
Switzerland, leaving most Royalists in a state of consternation 
on the subject of the flag. The Count de Paris did not follow 

1 Byron. 

L 



146 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

up the proposals that he should visit his cousin, and it seemed 
for a while as if a fusion between Legitimists and Orleanists 
was impossible. At last some of the leading men of the two 
parties came together again, and a tentative programme 
for the Restoration of the Monarchy eventually received the 
adhesion of some 280 members of the Assembly. In February 
1872 the Count de Chambord went to Antwerp, whither a 
number of deputations also repaired. No understanding was 
arrived at, however, and the demonstrations for and against 
the Count — that is with French Legitimists on one side, and 
Belgian Liberals on the other — led to so much trouble that at 
the end of the month he had to quit the country. Exactly a 
year later, when he was once more in Switzerland, Bishop 
Dupanloup of Orleans approached him, and tried to effect an 
understanding between the rival sections of the Monarchist 
party. Nothing particular resulted ; still similar attempts 
were made down to the time of Thiers's overthrow. 

That was the signal for more decisive action ; and after the 
Duke de Nemours, the most Legitimist of the Orleans Princes, 
had privately paid his respects to the Count de Chambord, the 
Count de Paris was prevailed upon to visit his cousin with the 
object of effecting a reconciliation. This was regarded as the 
first necessary step, after which other matters, such as the flag 
and the constitution, might be adjusted. The Count de Paris 
repaired, then, to Vienna, and by previous arrangement with 
his aunt, Princess Clementine, put up on August S at the 
Coburg Palace in the Seilerstatte, whence he addressed a com- 
munication to the Count de Chambord's gentilhomme de service 
— then Count Henry de Vanssay — at Froschdorf. The Count 
de Chambord replied that he would be happy to receive his 
cousin, provided that the latter came not only to pay his 
respects to the head of the House of Bourbon, but "also to 
recognise the principle of which he, the Count de Chambord, 
was the representative, and to resume his place in the family.'" 
That answer was conveyed to the Count de Paris by the 
Marquis Scipion de Dreux-Breze, son of Louis XVI/s famous 
master of ceremonies (Henri Evrard de Dreux-Breze) to whom 
Mirabeau addressed his historical rebuke. 1 

1 Apropos of that famous episode it is generally forgotten that Dreux- 
Brez£ was a mere "youngster" at the time — just in his 27th year. He 
survived till the close of the Restoration. 



THE ROYALIST FUSION 147 

Marquis Scipion was one of the " King's " chief representa- 
tives in France, but had repaired to Froschdorf to be with him 
at this juncture. The Count de Paris demurred to the ex- 
pression "resume his place in the family " and therefore 
adjourned his answer until the following day, when he informed 
Dreux-Breze of his willingness to make a declaration to the 
effect that " he had come to recognise the principle of which 
Monsieur le Comte de Chambord was the representative, and 
to assure him that he would find no competitor among the 
members of his family." The hair-splitting was delightful, but, 
as La Fontaine might have remarked, " Ce sont la jeux de 
princes. r ' 

The alteration being approved, it was arranged that on 
being ushered into the presence of the Count de Chambord at 
Froschdorf on the morrow, August 5, his cousin should repeat 
the formula we have given above. He did so in a clear voice, 
and in the presence of Dreux-Breze, Count de Monti de Reze, 
and Count Adheaume de Chevigne. The " King " then offered 
his hand, and led the Count de Paris into another room, where 
they remained alone for half an hour. Next the Count de 
Paris was presented to the Countess de Chambord and the 
Count de Bardi, one of the Italian Bourbons and a nephew of 
the Pretender. A little later came lunch, to which the whole 
company sat down in the highest spirits ; and on the following 
afternoon the Count de Chambord paid his cousin a return visit 
at the Coburg Palace. The reconciliation of Bourbon and 
Orleans appeared to be complete. 

The French Royalists and Clericals, the latter particularly, 
were wild with delight directly the good news reached France. 
Processions and pilgrimages were organised to stimulate popular 
fervour for the Royal cause. It was amid cries of "Vive 
Henri V. ! " that the faithful betook themselves to Paray-le- 
Monial to offer up their prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus 
at the shrine of the blessed Marie Alacoque, the nun of the 
Order of the Visitation in whose hysteria that extraordinary 
and repulsive devotion, that culte cTabattoir, originated. 1 

The position still remained very difficult, however. Many 
1 It was the National Assembly of 1871 that authorised the erection of 
the Church of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre, and declared it a work of 
public utility. It was intended to mark the repentance of France for her 
sins, and her resolve to dedicate herself to the Divinity henceforward. 
Times have changed. 



148 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

matters of detail — such as the nature of the Constitution by 
which the King would govern the country, and that annoying 
and ever-recurring question of the flag — remained to be 
settled. Moreover, although there was an undoubted Con- 
servative majority in the Assembly, a purely Royalist one 
scarcely existed. For instance, the declared Legitimists and 
Orleanists were little more than 360 in number. The Bona- 
partists would certainly not help them to bring back the King ; 
and it was only by winning over a certain number of the Left 
Centre section, whose Republicanism was at times little more 
than nominal, that a Restoration could be legally effected. 1 
A Coup d'Etat might be possible, but that would not accord 
with the Royalist plans, for the Monarchist deputies did not 
desire to see the Assembly swept away. Too many of them 
might then subside into nothingness, and they wished to retain 
their seats and power, and organise the new Monarchy in con- 
junction with the King. To effect that purpose it was wise, 
then, to make arrangements which might win over a certain 
number of waverers — arrangements which would impart some 
appearance of Liberalism to the desired rtgbnt'. 

There was a permanent Committee of the Assembly, estab- 
lished, in a spirit of distrust, in Thiers's time, for the purpose 
of watching the action of the Executive, and protecting the 
Assembly's rights and interests during its vacations. This 
Permanent Committee was composed chiefly of Royalists who 
made it their business to favour the cause of the Restoration, 
for which purpose they selected from their number a Committee 
of Nine, composed as follows : Extreme Right (i.e. strict 
Legitimists) MM. de Tarteron and Combier ; Moderate Right 
(Royalists generally) the Baron de Larcy and M. Baragnon ; 
Right Centre (Liberal Royalists, chiefly Orleanists) the Duke 
d'Audiffret-Pasquier and M. Callet; and the so-called Chan- 
garnier Group (composed of Royalists of various shades with 
distinctive views on various questions) General Changarnier, 
Count Daru, and M. Chesnelong. Such were the men who 
undertook to bring back the King. 

The member whom they chose to preside over their delibera- 
tions was Changarnier, at whose residence they usually met. 
It was he, it will be remembered, who had proposed MacMahon 

1 The Left Centre included 109 members. There were also 143 Re- 
publicans (Left), 77 Radicals (Extreme Left), and about 40 Bonapartists. 



THE ROYALIST FUSION 149 

for the Presidency of the Republic, 1 but that, of course, had 
been done to further the cause of the Restoration, to which the 
General now applied himself. Born towards the close of the 
eighteenth century, Nicolas Changarnier was at this time nearly 
eighty years of age, but nobody would have imagined it. 
Short and slight of build, he wore on his head a beautiful curly 
flaxen wig, and about his body a pair of stays which gave him 
a wasp-like waist. He startled people by his juvenile neckties, 
his fashionable light brown coats, and his pearl grey trousers, 
which were strapped to his boots. As a military man he had 
made a reputation in Algeria, notably by his retreat with a 
small force from Constantine after a vain attempt to take that 
town in 1836. As a politician he had come to the front during 
the Second Republic, when, however, he was thoroughly fooled 
by Louis Napoleon, who had him arrested at the Coup d'lStat. 
In 1870, however, Changarnier made his submission to the 
Emperor, went with him to the Saarbruck affair, when the 
Imperial Prince received the " baptism of fire, ,, and though not 
exercising any actual command, remained with Bazaine during 
the siege of Metz — in which connection we shall have to speak 
of him again. His personal appearance bespoke his character, 
he was insufferably vain and pretentious, profoundly convinced 
that he was the greatest military and political authority in the 
world, a conviction which imparted haughtiness and pomposity 
to all his utterances. 2 Contradiction irritated him to a supreme 
degree, and to see him raging and fuming was a sight for the 
gods. Curiously enough, although the Parliamentarians of 
the Second Republic had bitterly rued their trust in him, 
he acquired no little authority among the majority of the 
Assembly of 1871. This was due, no doubt, to the exceeding 
pushfulness which he exhibited until his very last days, and to 
the circumstance that generals were rare among the Royalist 
deputies ; the only others, indeed, whom we recall, being the 
Duke d"Aumale and a certain General du Temple, who was, 
however, far more interested in the welfare of the Pope than 
in that of France. 

A certain member of the Committee of Nine, a M. Chesne- 

1 Curiously enough, MacMahon, while a captain, was for a short time 
aide-de-camp to Changarnier in Algeria. 

2 There is a story to the effect that, on calling on Thiers one day, he sent 
in a visiting-card on which, after his name " Le General Changarnier," he 
had pencilled the words : M who is not yet a Marshal of France." 



150 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

long, a man of unctuous manners, who had made a large fortune 
as a dealer in pigs, and hoped to die a Duke, persuaded his 
colleagues that he was the best person whom they could choose 
to negotiate with the Count de Chambord, and obtain Liberal 
concessions from him. The moment was favourable, for the 
Count had just issued another manifesto, protesting this time 
against the rumours that he wished to revive the ancien regime. 
That being so, he would doubtless be willing to enter into 
suitable political arrangements. As for the question of the 
flag, Chesnelong had conceived the brilliant idea of a com- 
promise between the Royal Standard of former times and the 
Tricolour, that is to say the white section of the latter might, 
in his opinion, be delicately sprinkled with Jtcurs-de-hjs. In 
the autumn of 1873, then, Chesnelong repaired to Salzburg, 
where the Count de Chambord was staying. Three Royalist 
members of the Assembly, MM. de Carayon La Tour, de 
Cazenove, and Lucien Brun, in addition to M. de Dreux-Brcze, 
were with the Pretender at the time. Negotiations followed, 
and when Chesnelong returned to France and reported progress 
to the Committee of the Nine, the Restoration was regarded 
by the plotters as almost accomplished. However, a certain 
Savary, who had accompanied Chesnelong as secretary, drew 
up a proces-verbal of the whole affair, and, without submitting 
it to his patron, sent it to the press, by which means France 
was informed that the King would impose no charter on the 
country, but that one would be freely discussed and decided 
between his Majesty and the Assembly, when the latter had 
recognised the Royal Hereditary Right. Further, it was 
stated that the Tricolour flag would be maintained, and only 
be modified by agreement between the King and the Legislative 
Power. 

Suddenly, however, another proces-verbal of the negotia- 
tions appeared, and seemed to indicate that the Count de 
Chambord had by no means gone so far as the Savary report 
had led one to imagine. Perplexity ensued, but on October 
27, the Count himself addressed a very bitter open letter to 
Chesnelong, in which he declared that he would not renounce 
the banner of Arques and Ivry, and protested against the 
conditions which it was attempted to impose on him in 
advance. Indeed, he regarded the preliminary guarantees he 
was asked for as an insult to his honour, as a humiliation 



THE ROYALIST FUSION 151 

which would lessen both his authority and his prestige. This 
letter had much the effect of a bomb, it spread dismay among 
the moderate Royalists at the moment when they imagined 
that victory was within their grasp. 

It appears that at the interviews with Chesnelong, the 
Count had really declared that he would never accept the 
Tricolour, though he was content that it should be retained 
until he took formal possession of power. For the rest, he 
" reserved to himself the right of bringing forward a solution 
compatible with his honour, and of a nature to satisfy the 
Assembly and the nation." That solution, according to those 
who were most intimate with the Count at that period, would 
appear to have been none at all. He relied, says M. de Dreux- 
Breze, on his prestige, on the enthusiasm of the nation at being 
saved from great peril by his accession to the throne, which 
prestige and which enthusiasm would before long induce the 
country to accept, purely and simply, the banner of its King. 

He clung to that White Flag, nothing could induce him to 
relinquish it. In his letter to Chesnelong he asked what his 
great ancestor Henri IV. would have said had he been asked 
to give up the flag of Ivry. He forgot that the Bearnais made 
a far greater sacrifice, that of changing his religion, in order 
to secure the throne. When even Pope Pius IX., who naturally 
desired to see Royalty restored in France, wrote to the Count 
suggesting that he might make some concession on the question 
of the flag, he received a non possumus for his answer, followed, 
however, by a visit from M. Henry de Vanssay who was sent 
expressly to Rome to explain why the Count adhered to his 
original views. The fact seems to be that apart from all 
sentimental considerations, the Pretender felt that, if he gave 
way on that point, he would be forced to give way on many 
others. He wished the nation to take him purely and simply 
on trust ; he thought it horrible that any conditions whatever 
should be imposed on him, when it was the duty of his subjects 
to rely on his magnanimity. He said, somewhat later, to 
M. de Dreux-Breze, "If I had made all the concessions, 
accepted all the conditions which were asked of me, I might 
have recovered the crown, but I should not have remained on 
the throne six months. ,, 

While it is not true that the Countess de Chambord pre- 
vailed on her husband to take up an " impossible " position 



152 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

because she did not wish to reign, it is certain that she 
impressed on him the necessity of maintaining a firm attitude 
and making no surrender to " the Revolution." In that respect 
she gave rein to her anti-Liberal views, and her marked dislike 
for the Orleanist party and its Princes, in whom, she said, she 
would never be able to place any trust. 

In their embarrassing position, and in order to gain time, 
the Royalists sought various expedients of a nature to prevent 
the definitive constitution of the Republic, and to leave the 
door open for a Restoration. For instance, Changarnier 
suggested a kind of interregnum, and offered the Prince de 
Joinville the position of Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom, 
which, however, the Prince immediately refused, with the 
approval of the Count de Paris. Then, also to gain time, 
rally the now disunited Monarchists, and reassure the country, 
which was becoming more and more anxious, it was proposed 
to re-adjust MacMahon's position. He had been appointed 
President of the Republic, but for how long nobody could 
exactly say, and this alone was a cause of much unrest in 
French commerce, industry, and business generally. The first 
suggestion was that the Marshal's powers should be confirmed for 
ten years, in which event there would have been a Decennate, but 
that being regarded in some quarters as too long a period, it was 
agreed that one of seven years should be allotted. The Marshal 
himself precipitated this solution, demanding that the duration 
of his powers should be speedily fixed, for he was beginning to 
feel the uncertainty of his position, and his Ministers, disturbed 
by the restless state of the country and the complaints of 
financiers, manufacturers, and merchants, supported his demand. 
Among the Royalists generally, however, the voting of a 
Septennate was intended as an expedient. Few imagined that 
the Marshal would take the Septennate seriously, as he did ; 
most inclined to the view that arrangements would be arrived 
at by which the King would before long secure his own. 

But his Majesty in partibus was also becoming anxious. 
He did not wish the Restoration to be delayed, although 
he retained his former views on the flag and other matters. 
Perhaps, by repairing to France, he might be able to settle 
everything. Passing, therefore, through Switzerland, he reached 
Paris on the evening of November 8. Count de Sainte 
Suzanne was waiting for him at the terminus, and after driving 






THE THRONE LOST 153 

to the Tuileries, in order that the Prince might view the ruins 
of the palace where his ancestors had reigned, and where he 
himself had first seen the light, they betook themselves to 
No. 5 in the Rue St. Louis at Versailles — a house taken by 
Count Henry de Vanssay, whose wife officiated as hostess. 
Count de Blacas and M. de Monti de Reze were also in 
attendance. 

There is evidence that the Count de Chambord had come 
to France in the hope of ensuring by his presence his immediate 
accession to the throne. It has often been asserted that a gala 
carriage was expressly built for his triumphal entry into Paris ; 
and, perhaps, as such a carriage is said to have been used at 
the wedding of Prince George of Greece and Princess Marie 
Bonaparte in 1907, there may be truth in the story. We 
think, however, that as there were many gala carriages at 
Trianon, including that of the coronation of Charles X. 
(restored by the Empire and in excellent condition), the Count 
de Chambord can personally have given no orders for the 
building of a new one. That must have been due to some 
over-zealous Royalists acting on their own account. On the 
other hand, the Count came provided with a general's uniform, 
and M. de Dreux-Breze, who had previously purchased both 
a general's belt, and a star of the Legion of Honour, in which 
(as in Restoration days) the central eagle was replaced by a 
fleur-de-lys, took those articles to Versailles, in order that 
they might be in readiness, as well as several lists of function- 
aries, new prefects, new judges, and so forth, which had been 
prepared a considerable time previously, in order that the 
Monarchy might be installed almost as soon as it was 
proclaimed. 1 

The Count de Chambord wished, in the first place, to have 
a secret interview with Marshal MacMahon, to whom therefore 
he despatched his counsellor and chamberlain M. de Blacas. 
Dreux-Breze, however, foresaw that the interview would not 
be granted. Indeed MacMahon immediately, peremptorily, 
absolutely refused the request. He states in one of the few 
published fragments of his memoirs that he would have been 
prepared to accept the Count de Chambord as his sovereign 
if the Count's rights had been recognised by France, but, 
having been elected President of the Republic by the nation's 
1 All this is admitted by Dreux-Breze himself in his writings. 



154 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



representatives, he could not himself impose another form of 
Government on the country. With respect to the flag the 
Marshal's views are well known. "If," said he, "the White 
Flag were set up against the Tricolour, the chassepots would 
go off of their own accord." 

The Count de Chambord, on his side, when speaking to his 
followers, declared that it, had never been his desire to impose 
his will on MacMahon. He had simply wished, said he, to 
confer with the Marshal generally, and if the latter had 
regarded the position as hopeful for the restoration of royalty, 
he would have concerted with him the measures which might 
be adopted. We feel, however, that, without tempting the 
Marshal, the Count intended to appeal to his loyalty and his 
Royalist family traditions. In any case the failure of M. de 
Blacas' mission reduced the Count to despondency; all his 
plans had hinged on an interview with MacMahon, and that 
interview being refused, he could do nothing. It may be 
added that there is no truth in the story that, feverishly 
impatient respecting the result of the mission, he waited out 
of doors, near the Presidency, while M. de Blacas was with the 
Marshal. Nor is it true, as asserted by M. de Falloux in his 
memoirs, that on the evening when the Septennate was voted 
by the Assembly, the Count, wrapped in his mantle, awaited 
the issue pacing up and down in front of the statue of his 
ancestor, Louis XIV., in the courtyard of the palace of Versailles. 
On each occasion he remained quietly in the Rue St. Louis. 

After refusing to see the Count, MacMahon, it appears, 
informed M. de Blacas that he was willing to take all necessary 
steps to ensure his security during his sojourn at Versailles. 
At the same time he made no inquiry as to where he might be 
staying. In that connection the archives of the Prefecture of 
Police disclose the fact that the authorities were quite aware 
of the Count's presence in the Rue St. Louis. The Septennate 
was voted on the evening of November 19, seven fervent 
Legitimists declaring against it. By the Republicans it was 
generally accepted, as they felt that it at least maintained 
existing institutions, and might even serve as a check to 
Royalist enterprise. Such, indeed, proved to be the case, in 
spite of all the unrest of ensuing years. On the morrow of the 
vote the Count de Chambord took his departure. He had 
arrived at Versailles hoping for the triumph of a Bosworth 



THE THRONE LOST 155 

field, but he had encountered the bitterness of a Culloden. 
He never again set foot in France. 

Let us now go back a little. While all these intrigues 
were in progress a great event had happened. Thanks to the 
skilful measures devised by Thiers and his coadjutors, the 
ready response of the national purse, and the help tendered in 
all confidence by friendly foreign nations, France had paid, to 
the uttermost farthing, the great war indemnity levied upon 
her by the Germans, the interest which had to be added to 
the capital sum, and the cost of keeping the German troops 
quartered on various parts of her territory. One district after 
another had been freed of that burden, the necessary instal- 
ments of the indemnity being frequently paid at earlier dates 
than had been thought possible. At last, on August 1, the 
Germans evacuated Nancy and Belfort ; then, the final instal- 
ment being discharged on September 5, they marched home- 
ward from Verdun, and France was free. MacMahon's message 
to the Assembly in that connection was somewhat meagre. 
His Ministers did not wish to trumpet the praises of Thiers ; 
but Gambetta was right when on an historic occasion — the 
early departure of the Germans being ascribed to the good 
work of the majority of the Assembly — he pointed to where 
the little man sat, and exclaimed in stentorian accents : " There 
is the Liberator of the Territory ! " 

In the latter part of 1873, amid the debacle of the Royalists, 
a severe blow fell also on the partisans of Imperialism who had 
already lost their Emperor at the beginning of the year. 
Among the many stirring proclamations issued by Gambetta 
during the war with Germany, none had been more striking 
than the one which began as follows : — 

Frenchmen ! raise your souls and your resolution to the height 
of the terrible perils bursting upon the country ! It still depends 
on us to outweary evil fortune, and to show the world what a great 
nation is when it is determined not to perish, and when its courage 
rises even in the midst of catastrophes. Metz has capitulated. A 
commander on whom France relied, even after Mexico, has just 
deprived the country in danger of nearly two hundred thousand 
of its defenders. Marshal Bazaine has betrayed. He has become 
the accomplice of the invader. Contemptuous of the honour of 
the army of which he had charge, he has delivered up, without 
even making a supreme effort, one hundred and fifty thousand 
combatants, twenty thousand wounded, his rifles, his guns, his flags, 
and the strongest citadel of France — Metz, a virgin until his time, 



156 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

unsullied by the foreigner. 1 Such a crime is even beyond the 
punishment of justice. 

When the war was over, those who wished to bring the 
Marshal to account for the capitulation met with strenuous 
opposition in high places. Bazaine was freely called a traitor 
in Radical newspapers, in cafes and wineshops, and in the 
streets, but for most members of the National Assembly he 
remained "a great, if unfortunate, warrior."" One day, soon 
after the Commune, Changarnier warmly defended him in the 
Assembly, ascribing the attacks upon his reputation to the 
jealousy of subalterns anxious to increase their importance, and 
Thiers, who was present on the occasion, expressed his pleasure 
that Changarnier should have spoken so fittingly of " one of our 
great men of war." 

Thiers^ attitude was due in part to the circumstance that 
he had never believed in the advisability of prolonging hostilities 
after Sedan. He had even blamed Gambetta's proclamation 
about Bazaine at the time when it was issued, and with charac- 
teristic obstinacy he repeatedly refused to be enlightened 
respecting the Marshal, probably because he did not wish to 
have to change his views. He knew, moreover, that the army 
was still full of Bonapartist officers, and shrank from any 
course which might, to his thinking, indispose the military 
element towards the young Republic. As for Changarnier, his 
defence of Bazaine sprang from the fact that he had been 
personally concerned in the capitulation of Metz, having been 
the first General sent to the German headquarters to treat for 
the surrender, and having exercised no little authority in 
preventing Clinchant and other officers from a " forlorn hope " 
sortie, in defiance of Bazaine and the other Marshals. If, then, 
Bazaine were placed upon his trial, the role which he, Chan- 
garnier, had played in a number of incidents would be made 
public, and this the General was anxious to prevent. 

The Parisians, even those who called Bazaine a traitor, had 
at first very little knowledge of the real facts of the capitulation 
of Metz. They had formed but a vague idea of the mysterious 
Regnier's intervention on behalf of the Empire, and the missions 
of General Boyer to Versailles and England. But sudden 
enlightenment came with the publication of a book by an 
officer who had served under Bazaine in the beleaguered strong- 
1 Nunquam polluta was the city's motto. 



BAZAINE'S TRIAL 157 

hold. 1 Quoted by the press throughout France, this work 
influenced public opinion generally, though Thiers still refused 
to countenance any prosecution. He was, indeed, more than 
ever afraid of sowing disaffection in the army. He held that 
Bazaine's fellow Marshals and a number of Generals would 
certainly rally round him, some out of friendship, others 
because they might have fears respecting their own responsi- 
bility in the Metz affair. As military pronunciamientos might 
well imperil the Republic, it was best to let the Bazaine 
matter rest. 

But if that were Thiers's view, an important circumstance 
prevented it from prevailing. The French Military Code 
specifies that there 7iiust be an inquiry into every capitulation 
which takes place. There had been several capitulations in 
1870-71— those of Paris, Toul, Strasburg, Schlestadt, Neuf 
Brisach, Verdun, Peronne, Thionville, Montmedy, Phalsburg, 
and Mezieres, besides Metz — and the appointment of a Court of 
Inquiry into all of them became necessary. The law, indeed, 
was imperative on the subject, and there was no possibility of 
making any exception in favour of Metz. Bonapartists, how- 
ever, were at first pleased to see that the presidency of this 
court was allotted to a man on whose sympathies they imagined 
they could rely. This was the venerable Marshal Baraguey 
d'Hilliers, a fine old one-armed and one-eyed relic, who had 
served France since the days of the first Napoleon. Age, how- 
ever, had not weakened him morally. He still retained much 
of the inflexible spirit which the great Captain had infused 
into his officers, and no political consideration could influence 
him in matters of military duty. Thus it came to pass that, 
to the amazement of Thiers and the consternation of the 
partisans of Bazaine, the Court of Inquiry, under old Baraguey's 
direction, censured the capitulation of Metz severely. Its 
judgment, delivered in August 1872, set forth its opinion that 
Marshal Bazaine had " caused the loss of an army of 150,000 
men and the stronghold of Metz, that the entire responsibility 
was his, and that, as commander-in-chief, he had not done 
what military duty prescribed. 11 Further, the court blamed 
the Marshal " for having held with the enemy an intercourse 
which only ended in a capitulation unexampled in history, 11 
and for having " delivered to the enemy the colours which he 
1 Metz, campagne et negotiations, by Colonel d'Andlau. 



158 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

might have, and ought to have destroyed, thereby inflicting a 
crowning humiliation on brave soldiers whose honour it was his 
duty to protect." 

Such a judgment could have but one result. It is true, as 
General du Barail recalls in his Souvenirs, that Bazaine promptly 
applied to be placed upon his trial, but whether he had applied 
or not a prosecution had now become inevitable. From the 
foregoing it will be seen that Bazaine's trial was in no sense a 
political move, that it was brought about, indeed, simply by 
the military laws, applied by a distinguished old Marshal of 
France, a soldier who had served both Empires and the inter- 
vening Monarchies with high credit and integrity. The long 
investigation, which preceded the actual trial, was also con- 
ducted by an officer of lofty character, General Serre de Riviere, 
while Pourcet, who prosecuted, was an equally high-minded, as 
well as a most able man. 

It was on October 6, 1878, that the trial began at Trianon, 
lasting until December 10. The Court was composed of seven 
general officers, reinforced by three supplementary ones in case 
any of the seven should fall ill or die during the proceedings, 
in which case one or other of the supplementary judges was to 
step into the vacant place. The precaution was not unadvisable 
as several members of the tribunal were of advanced years — the 
youngest being the Duke d'Aumale who presided, and who was 
then in his fifty-second year. His colleague, Lallemand, was 
little older, but the majority were well past sixty, in fact 
General de la Motte-Rouge had entered his seventy-first year, 
a fact which his still abundant and carefully dyed hair abso- 
lutely failed to conceal. All the judges, however, were officers 
of ability, men of reputation in their time, and as with the 
exception of the Duke d'Aumale they had all served the Second 
Empire, the prisoner, whose imperialist tendencies were well 
known, could not claim that he was judged by a politically 
hostile court. 1 

Bazaine was a man of striking appearance. He was not, 
perhaps, very tall ; but the floor of the " dock " in which he sat 
being higher than that of the court generally, he seemed to 
tower over everybody else directly he stood up. His corpulence 

1 One of them, General de Chabaud-Latour, certainly belonged to an old 
Royalist family, but he had accepted the Empire, and held command under 
it. He was an authority on fortifications. 



BAZAINE'S TRIAL 159 

was amazing. General Guiod, one of the judges, had the 
reputation of being the fattest officer in the army, but his adi- 
posity was as nothing beside the Marshal's. The latter had 
always been inclined to stoutness, but since the war his girth 
had greatly increased, and his tunic was strained to the utmost. 
One wondered if this man, who seemed to weigh some twenty 
stone, would have been able to get into the saddle had occasion 
required, or whether, if he ever reassumed command, he would 
have to drive about in a carriage, as Marshal Pelissier — shorter 
but equally stout — was compelled to do even during the siege 
of Sebastopol. A large bullet head was set on Bazaine's bulky 
frame. On either side of the small but well-formed chin, from 
which depended a little tuft of beard, the fleshy cheeks drooped 
over a big bull neck. A few grey locks still strayed across the 
cranium, whose baldness lent height to the forehead. The 
hair on either side was cut very short. The dark and bushy 
eyebrows remained arched, although they were contracted, three 
deep vertical lines appearing above the short, aquiline nose. 
The lids of the dark, quick eyes seemed to be swollen, as if the 
glands were distended; the "crow's feet" were most pro- 
nounced. Probably the best feature was the mouth — small, but 
with fairly full lips, the upper one, which an unpretentious 
drooping moustache did not conceal, having the curves of 
Cupid's bow, while the under one was somewhat salient and 
sensual. The jaws were powerful, and, on the whole, the lower 
part of the face suggested a certain pride and doggedness, 
which contrasted with the somewhat anxious, puzzled ex- 
* pression imparted to the upper part by the contraction of the 
brows. The hands were remarkably fat and flabby; and on 
the whole the Marshal's appearance, his bulk and general un- 
wieldiness, suggested little possibility of his ever making his 
escape from a place of confinement by lowering himself with a 
rope from a height of a hundred feet or so, though this is 
what he is said to have done afterwards at the He Ste. 
Marguerite. 

The trial was of the most searching character, and although 
a few points were not fully elucidated, owing to the reticence of 
certain witnesses, concerned for their own share of responsi- 
bility, no impartial person can rise from a perusal of the 
records without feeling convinced that the Marshal was guilty, 
that he had indeed failed to do all he might have done to 



160 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

escape from Metz, that he had repeatedly and grossly deceived 
the commanders under his orders, and that he had invariably 
subordinated the interests of his country to those of the Im- 
perialist party to which he belonged. 

We cannot attempt here to analyse the records, extensive 
and minute as they are, extending to thousands of pages. We 
can mention only a few points. One of Bazaine's arguments 
was that, shut up in Metz, closely invested by the army of 
Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia, he was ignorant of the 
true state of France after Sedan, in which respect his only 
information was derived from the Germans, who deliberately 
deceived him. That Frederick Charles .and Bismarck bam- 
boozled him, played a game of cat and mouse with him, is true 
enough. It was peremptorily established at the trial, however, 
that in spite of the investment, certain means of communica- 
tion with outside existed, and that he took no steps to avail 
himself of them. Deliberately concealing his earlier underhand 
intercourse with the Germans from his Generals, he neverthe- 
less communicated to them, as real and authentic, the " news " 
which he derived from German sources — news which pictured 
France in a state of anarchy, without any recognised Govern- 
ment or any organised forces, news which, on one occasion, 
described Paris as being actually occupied by the invaders ! 
The Military Code contains a strict warning to officers to dis- 
credit intelligence from hostile quarters ; if they act upon it, 
they do so at their peril. But Bazaine did not hesitate. He 
deliberately applied to Prince Frederick Charles for "news," 
and utilised every lie which that Prince impudently retailed to 
him, to incline his Generals to his personal views. 

He was in part incited to the course he took by a scoundrel 
named Regnier, who, passing through the German lines, pre- 
tended to come to him on behalf of the Empress Eugenie, 
which was not the case, though there are grounds for believing 
that Regnier acted originally at the instigation of certain 
prominent Bonapartists, and had relations also with Count 
Bernstorff, the German ambassador in England. But a time 
came when Bazaine sent his aide-de-camp, General Boyer, to 
the German headquarters at Versailles — Boyer, his dme damnde, 
who, as shown by General Douay's correspondence, had 
already in Mexico dabbled in the most scandalous transactions 
on his patron's behalf. And Boyer, who ought to have been 



BAZAINE'S TRIAL 161 

placed at Bazaine's side in the dock, repeated on his return to 
Metz all the mendacious stories which the Germans had told 
him at Versailles. France, according to him, was in a state of 
anarchy. Yet he well knew the truth. Though he had 
travelled under German escort to Versailles, he had obtained 
independent information (notably from the Mayor of Bar-le- 
Duc), and he was aware that the National Defence Government 
was recognised throughout the country, and that both in Paris 
and in the provinces it was making every effort to hold the 
invader at bay. But it was not Boyer's desire to enlighten 
Marshals Canrobert and Lebceuf and all the Generals of the 
army respecting the true state of affairs. His purpose was to 
aid and abet his patron Bazaine in his system of deceit and his 
plan for restoring the Empire. 1 

The negotiations conducted by Regnier and Boyer tended 
to that issue. One document alone suffices to establish 
Bazaine's guilt in that respect — the memorandum which Boyer 
carried on his behalf to Bismarck. We need, indeed, only 
quote a part of it : 

At the moment when society is threatened by the attitude 
assumed by a violent party, whose tendencies cannot lead to a 
solution such as well-minded people seek, the Marshal commanding 
the Army of the Rhine, inspired by a desire to save his country, 
and save it from its own excesses, questions his conscience, and 
asks himself if the army placed under his orders is not destined to 
become the palladium of society. The military question is decided, 
the German armies are victorious, and his Majesty the King of 
Prussia cannot attach any great value to the sterile triumph he 
would obtain by dissolving the only force which to-day can master 
Anarchy in our unfortunate country. ... It would re-establish 
order and protect society, whose interests are identical with those 
of Europe. As an effect of that action it would supply Prussia 
with a guarantee for the pledges she might at present require, and 

1 Boyer, a mean and meagre-looking little man, with an ugly crafty face, 
was censured by the court for the contradictions in his evidence, and for 
having knowingly and wilfully deceived the assistant commanders. He 
related among other things that the west of France, influenced by religious 
passions, was ready for civil war, and that the south was in a state of com- 
plete anarchy. He carefully refrained from mentioning that this informa- 
tion had been given him by Bismarck ; he made no allusion to the fact that 
the latter had unwittingly handed him six French newspapers which 
showed the information to be false ; and as Marshal Canrobert, General 
Frossard, and others declared at Bazaine's trial, they never, for a moment, 
doubted the veracity of Boyer's statements. 



162 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

finally, it would contribute to the accession of a regular and legal 
authority (pouvoir) with which relations of all kinds might be 
resumed without shock, and legally. 1 

That the regular, legal authority with which intercourse 
might be " resumed " was that of the Empress Eugenie acting 
as Regent, is established peremptorily by the conditions which 
Bismarck stipulated with Boyer at Versailles, and which were 
subsequently rejected by a council of war held at Metz, when 
Bazaine was at last compelled to show his hand. The fact that 
Bismarck gave encouragement to the idea of treating with the 
Empress, and even suggested a course by which this might be 
brought about and the army of Metz utilised for restoring the 
Regency, in no degree lessens Bazaine's responsibility in the 
matter. Besides, he was only too willing to be tempted. The 
Empress as Regent — not however for her husband but for her 
young son, the Imperial Prince — and he, Bazaine, as High 
Constable and Protector of the Empire — such was the Marshal's 
secret desire. 

From a military point of view his conduct was at times 
outrageous. He referred to surrender in some of his very first 
communications with Prince Frederick Charles, when no such 
word should ever have escaped his pen ; moreover he confided 
to the scoundrel Regnier, a stranger of whom, according to his 
own admissions, he knew nothing, the all-important fact that 
the army's provisions would only last until October 18, and 
Regnier informed the Germans of it. Further, Bazaine's own 
accounts of the last sorties he made — the " foraging sorties " — 
indicated either an extremely cynical mind or a supreme un- 
consciousness of his responsibilities as a commander. An 
emissary reached Metz from Thionville with information that 
large stores of provisions had been collected there, and that 
a coup de main in that direction — Thionville, still held by 
the French, was between sixteen and seventeen miles distant 
— had considerable chances of success. But Bazaine never 
attempted it. When he was reproached on the subject at 
trial he denied that he had ever received the informatioi 
Proof of the contrary, however, was immediately forthcoming. 
On another occasion there was a possibility of a coup de mam 
on some large German supplies, but that also was neglecte 

1 The French phraseology is in parts so amphibolous and inept that a 
translation into fair English is difficult. 



BAZAINE'S TRIAL 163 

The Marshal did not wish to obtain the means of prolonging 
the resistance of his army. 

The question whether he would or would not have been 
successful in any determined effort to break out of Metz, had 
virtually nothing to do with his case. The plain simple issue 
was that he failed to do what military honour and duty 
required, and that he did certain things which military honour 
and duty forbade. In that respect there was not only his 
intercourse with the enemy and his subordination of military 
to political interests, but there was his disgraceful surrender of 
the colours of his army, when elementary duty prescribed their 
destruction. 1 Moreover, he actually refused the honours of 
war which the Germans were ready to grant ! That was the 
crowning affront offered by this Marshal of France to the brave, 
if unfortunate, men under his orders. By the fault of their 
commander-in-chief they had stood what was, on their side, an 
inglorious siege ; but they were the same soldiers who had 
fought so bravely at Borny, Mars-la-Tour, Gravel otte, Rezon- 
ville, St. Privat ; and if ever defeated, yet valiant, legions had 
deserved the honours of war they were surely these ! But no ! 
Dishonoured himself, Bazaine was unwilling that honour should 
be accorded to others. 

On the first day when he came into court the prisoner 
looked flushed, but his fat, heavy face subsequently assumed a 
dull, leaden, unhealthy hue. On the main issues his answers 
to the Duke d'Aumale's questions were never satisfactory, they 
degenerated at times into mere excuses. " There was nothing 
left," he said at one moment, referring to the position of the 
country after the fall of the Empire, whereupon D'Aumale 
gravely retorted, "There was France." That summed up 
everything. The Duke presided over the proceedings with 
great fairness and no little acumen. Nothing in any wise 
suggested his royal status, nobody addressed him as " Altesse " 
or " Monseigneur," he was simply General Henri d'Orleans, 
President of the Court. He and Gambetta. we remember, were 
very courteous towards each other when the latter gave evidence : 
it was " Monsieur le President " on one side, and " Monsieur le 
Depute " on the other. 

1 A good many flags were destroyed by indignant officers, Generals 
Jeanningros, Lapasset, and Laveaucoupet, Colonels Pean, Melchior, Girels, 
etc., but fifty-three remained, and these were handed over to the Germans. 



164 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Gambetta, however, struck many people by the awkwardness 
of his manners. There was a gaucherie about him, surprising 
in one accustomed to public appearances both as an advocate 
and a politician ; and his shiny, ill-fitting black clothes, which 
looked as though they had come from some slop-shop at the 
Temple market, by no means enhanced his appearance. Folk 
who had never previously seen him gazed in surprise. What ! 
was that the man who had ruled France during long months 
of war and suffering, who had thrown legion after legion into 
the field, who, by his energy which inspired, and his language 
which inflamed, had imparted vigour and hope to a lost cause ? 
Was that the "Dictator, 11 the fou fur ? eux, who had refused to 
despair of his country ? It seemed incredible. Still slim of 
figure as he was, he looked quite little in comparison with the 
ponderous and glowering Bazaine. 

The prisoner was defended by an advocate of world-wide 
repute, but one whom it astonished many to find acting as his 
counsel. Let us suppose, if it is possible to do so, a British 
Field-Marshal arraigned on charges similar to those preferred 
against Bazaine. Would there not be profound surprise if he 
were defended by some Old Bailey barrister, some man whose 
life had been spent in vain efforts to snatch murderers from 
the hangman ? Lachaud, Bazaine's advocate, was one of that 
type, one whose clients had been chiefly candidates for the 
guillotine or the galleys; and it was, indeed, somewhat of a 
shock to find him figuring in a case so different from those in 
which he usually appeared, and for such a client as a Marshal 
of France. 

At the same time Charles Lachaud was an exceedingly 
worthy and able man. At the age of two-and-twenty he 
had made a name at the bar for all time by his defence of 
Mme. Lafarge, the French Mrs. Maybrick, accused of poisoning 
her husband. Lachaud's efforts at least saved Mme. Lafarge's 
life ; she was reprieved, and we are inclined to think, as Lachaud 
himself always stoutly declared, that she may really have been 
innocent. From that time, 1840, until early in 1882, when he 
was stricken with paralysis, Lachaud figured in innumerable 
u famous cases."" Among the many murderers he defended were 
Dr. Lapommeraye, the French Palmer, and Tropmann, the 
assassin of the Kinck family. He also often pleaded in cases 
of theft and embezzlement, but it was particularly in murder 






BAZAINE'S TRIAL 165 

cases that his powers became most manifest. A native of 
Southern France, but with light hair and a bright complexion, 
he had a voice of wonderful flexibility and power, combined 
with undoubted histrionic gifts. He once told us that on 
rising to speak for a client, he singled out that member of the 
jury in whose demeanour during the earlier proceedings he had 
observed most hostility towards the prisoner. It was especially 
for that juryman that he spoke, piling argument on argument, 
and making every possible effort to wring from him some 
involuntary sign of approval. Lachaud usually identified him- 
self with his client's cause. At times he waxed indignant, and 
protests then poured from his lips in tones of thunder; at 
others he was all pathos, all softness, affecting his hearers to 
tears. But apart from those melodramatic gifts, he was an 
expert dialectitian, a most resourceful advocate, never at a loss 
for a rejoinder, a fresh argument, quick too in detecting the 
slightest contradiction in evidence and turning it to account. 
Thus his memory still abides as that of one of the greatest 
criminal advocates the French bar has known. 

His appearance was somewhat peculiar. He was stout, with 
a large head, and fairly long curly hair. The full round face 
was clean-shaven, the brow broad and lofty, the nose slender 
and aquiline, the mouth admirably shaped, the lips, which 
fairly quivered when he spoke, being wreathed, in moments of 
repose, in a smile at once engaging and malicious. But a 
strangeness was imparted to his appearance by his eyes; he 
squinted as much as any man can squint, and you never knew 
at whom or what he might really be looking. However great 
his gifts, he was scarcely the man for the Bazaine trial. It 
was no case of addressing an impressionable jury, but of dealing 
with military matters, of which he knew little, before a tribunal 
of experienced officers, to whom such matters were familiar. 
As we have said, therefore, his selection by Bazaine surprised 
many people. Some folk remarked, indeed, that it seemed as if 
the Marshal were convinced that he would be found guilty and 
had consequently chosen the ablest advocate to address an 
appeal ad misericordiam tribunalis. But Lachaud, though his 
private character had won him friends in all parties, was a 
staunch Bonapartist, and it was this circumstance, more than 
any other, which led to his selection. Assisted by his son, 
Georges, then a young man with fair " Dundreary " whiskers, 



166 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Lachaud certainly did his best for his client, and more than 
that could not be asked of him. 

General du Barail asserts in his Souvenirs that, if Bazaine 
was tried at all, it was purely and simply because he asked to 
be tried ; but although Thiers had fallen from power since the 
report of the Court of Inquiry, and although, with MacMahon 
at the iJlysee, the military element was now preponderant in 
France, it would, we think — in the state of public opinion — 
have been impossible to override the law and prevent the trial, 
however powerfully Bazaine might be protected. That he was 
treated with great leniency before and during the trial is certain. 
The house in which he was lodged in the Avenue de Picardie 
at Versailles was a mere nominal prison, he was accorded 
every mark of deference, he received and gave the salute as if 
no charge whatever hung over him. On the other hand, as 
Du Barail mentions, while everybody was convinced that the 
proceedings would end in a sentence to death, it was also held 
that the sentence would never be carried out. 

The Court having convicted him and condemned him to 
military degradation, death, and payment of the costs of the 
trial, immediately addressed an appeal for mercy to Marshal 
MacMahon, and the supreme penalty was commuted to one of 
twenty years' detention. Further, not only were the costs of 
the proceedings defrayed by the secret service fund of the War 
Office, instead of being levied on Bazaine's estate, but he was 
also spared " the formalities w of military degradation. Twenty- 
one years later when a young Jewish officer was convicted — 
wrongfully convicted, as we know — of selling to Germany 
certain trumpery secrets de Polkhinelle, specified in a notorious 
Bordereau, there was no question of sparing him "the 
formalities " of military degradation ; they were carried out in 
all their terrible severity in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire. 
Yet they were not enforced in the case of the Marshal of 
France, who had surrendered the strongest fortress of his 
country with an army of 170,000 men, 53 eagles, 1665 guns, 
278,280 rifles and muskets, 22,984,000 cartridges, 3,239,225 
projectiles, and 412,734 tons of powder ! 

It may readily be granted that old associations, the general 
composition of the army at that period, the state of parties 
and of the country, rendered it difficult if not impossible for 
MacMahon to carry out the original sentence of death. More- 



BAZAINE'S TRIAL 167 

over his responsibility for leniency in that respect was largely 
covered by the Court's unanimous appeal in the prisoner's 
favour. At the same time if Marshal Ney deserved death, and 
we will not say that he did not, Marshal Bazaine deserved it 
even more. The former, at any rate, did not betray his trust to 
the advantage of a foreign foe, whereas the latter did. Like 
Ney, Bazaine had risen from the ranks to the highest dignity 
in his country's army, but how different were their careers ! 
Although Bazaine won his baton in Mexico he returned from 
that country to France with a most unenviable reputation, that 
of an unscrupulous man, with sordid instincts, one, too, who set 
his own personal advantage before anything else. At the outset 
of the Franco-German War he was subordinated to the Emperor, 
who, knowing his man, had not previously confided his plan of 
campaign to him as he had done to MacMahon ; and it must 
not be forgotten that when the Republican deputies demanded 
and obtained the deposition of the Emperor from the chief 
command, it was Bazaine who, virtually at the dictation of 
those same Republicans, was set in the Emperor's place. They 
positively clamoured for the appointment, both in the Legislative 
Body and in the press — and this although, only a few years 
previously, they had denounced as much as they dared (given 
the press regime of the time) Bazaine's proceedings in Mexico. 
Thus the responsibility for what happened at Metz belongs in 
part to those Republicans by whom Bazaine's appointment in 
lieu of the detested Emperor was regarded as a glorious victory ! 
Prior even to the siege of Metz the Marshal's conduct of affairs 
was open to the gravest criticism. He was largely responsible 
for the failure of the battle of Rezonville, when he retreated 
before inferior forces at a moment when he might have crushed 
them — a decisive blunder which influenced the whole of the war. 
Again, at St. Privat, he abandoned Canrobert and the 6th Army 
Corps to the three hundred guns and the hundred thousand 
rifles of the Germans, when, at a word from him, the whole 
Imperial Guard with ten regiments of cavalry and a powerful 
artillery force might have hastened to Canrobert's support, and 
modified the issue of the battle. All that was something like 
a forewarning of what eventually happened. 

Spared the penalty of death and the ordeal of degradation, 
Bazaine found further leniency in the captivity to which he was 
condemned. He was sent to the He Ste. Marguerite, the chief 



168 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

of the Lerins islands, off the coast of Provence, and lodged in 
the fort, where, for seventeen years, the man with the Iron 
Mask was kept in rigorous confinement. But General du 
Barail, Minister of War, did not desire that Bazaine's confine- 
ment should be rigorous. He wrote to Marchi, the governor : 
" You are to treat the prisoner with the greatest consideration 
(" les plus grands egards "), in a word you must act as a homme du 
jnonde, not as the director of a prison. 1 ' From the windows of 
his apartment the Marshal had a lovely outlook : the blue sea, 
the blue sky, the picturesque coast of Provence, as well as the 
island's garden with its maritime pines, its myrtles, and its 
wealth of semi-tropical plants. In his rooms he could receive 
his friends, even retain them to dinner. Ste. Marguerite was 
no He du Diable, Bazaine no "dirty Jew." He was favoured 
even with a congenial companion, his aide-de-camp, Colonel 
Villette, a tall, spare, lanky man, with a face and moustaches 
strikingly suggestive of Gustave Dore's presentment of Don 
Quixote. Villette, be it said, was devoted to Bazaine and 
championed him more than once in a style which was quite as 
quixotic as his appearance. 

A change of ministry in France brought no change in the 
light captivity imposed on Bazaine. General de Cissey, after 
again becoming Minister of War, wrote to the prisoner address- 
ing him as " Monsieur le Marechal " (though he no longer had 
the faintest right to any such title) and informing him that his 
detention would shortly be commuted to banishment, and that 
it might perhaps be possible to pay him a pension. Bazaine, 
however, did not wait for those further favours. In the early 
hours of August 9, 1874, he contrived to effect his escape under 
circumstances which were never adequately explained, although 
judicial proceedings ensued. We know that his removal from 
the island was effected by the instrumentality of his wife, a 
Mexican lady nie de Pena y Azcarate, and her nephew Seiior 
Alvarez Rull. They at least provided the necessary vessel for 
the flight. But the story that Bazaine lowered himself from a 
window of the fort by means of a rope, thus descending a height 
of a hundred feet, is one that taxes belief, when we remember 
that he was then sixty-three years old and of surprising bulk. 
However, no absolute proofs to the contrary having been 
furnished, the story has been generally accepted, and it must be 
acknowledged that Bazaine's natural vigour was shown by the 



BAZAINE'S FATE 169 

fact that he survived his escape for many years in spite of dire 
adversity. His aide-de-camp, Villette, and a few others, were 
subsequently tried for aiding and abetting his escape, and were 
sentenced to comparatively brief terms of imprisonment. 
Marchi, the governor of the fortress, was exonerated. 

Though there was a loud outcry among the French 
Republicans generally, the Government, and indeed the whole 
official world, were really well pleased to be rid of the prisoner. 
He repaired to Madrid, where we once caught sight of him, 
shabby and much less corpulent than of yore. On one or two 
occasions, we believe, he offered his services to certain foreign 
powers, but did not obtain employment. His leisure was 
employed at one time in writing a work on his share of the war 
of 1870, which appeared at Madrid in 1883, supplementing the 
book VArmee du Rhin which he had issued in France in 1872 
— that is prior to his trial. Those apologies pro domo sua, 
though of considerable value in parts, throwing light on interest- 
ing points of detail, were unconvincing, however, with respect 
to the chief issues on which he was tried. As time elapsed, he 
became very poor, and applied for help in various directions. 
He had, we think, several children, of whom at least two — a 
son, Alphonse, and a daughter, Eugenie, to whom the Empress 
became godmother — are living. In October 1907, Mile. Bazaine 
was the victim of a murderous attack on board a German 
steamer going from Vera Cruz to Hamburg, her assailant being 
a cabin attendant who seems to have subsequently thrown him- 
self into the sea. Another near relation of the former Marshal, 
one who changed his name, rose of late years to the rank of 
General in the French army, in which he has always been much 
respected. As for Bazaine himself, he passed away in Spain in 
1888. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE SEPTENNATE — PARIS SALONS AND CLUBS — THE 

REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION AND ELECTIONS 

THE GREAT CHURCH CRUSADE 

The Bonapartist Activity and Eraile Ollivier— Ministerial Changes— A Last 
Effort of the Royalists — The Ultramontane Agitation — Danger of War 
with Germany — Count Arnim and Bismarck — The Prince of Wales and 
the French Royalists — Inauguration of the new Opera House — Death of 
Millet, the painter — Parisian Society — The Aristocracy — The Fashionable 
Salons — Some influential Ladies — Mmes. de Behague, de la Ferronays, 
Adolphe de Rothschild, de Blocqueville, de Beaumont, and Edmond 
Adam — The Chief Clubs of Paris — The Republic's Constitution— Senators 
and Deputies — Buffet's Administration — The General Elections — Dufaure 
as Premier— Jules Simon, his early Life and his Difficulties as Prime 
Minister — The Crusade in favour of Pius IX. — Simon's Fall from Office. 

The year 1874 opened with numerous Bonapartist demon- 
strations, which showed that the partisans of the Empire 
were becoming more active now that the attempts to place 
the Count de Chambord on the throne had failed. Noisy 
scenes followed the religious services on the anniversary of the 
death of Napoleon III., and in March, when the young Imperial 
Prince attained his majority, a large number of his supporters 
went on a pilgrimage to Chislehurst. Prince Napoleon Jerome 
abstained from going, however. He seemed to be playing for 
his own hand, posing as a democrat and denouncing the 
" reactionary and clerical w rule of the Broglie Ministry. There 
were violent disputes between him and Rouher, who led the 
Imperialist party in the Assembly, with the result that at the 
elections for the General Councils in the spring, Prince Charles 
Bonaparte was put up as a rival candidate in Corsica and 
inflicted a severe defeat on the son of old Jerome. Somewhat 
later, at an election for the Assembly in the Nievre, Baron de 
Bourgoing, a former equerry to the Emperor, 1 was returned by 

1 See our Court of the Tulleries. 
170 



BONAPARTIST ACTIVITY 171 

so large a majority — some 5000 votes — that the Republican 
party became alarmed. Its leaders denounced the Bonapartist 
intrigues to the Assembly, Gambetta accusing Magne, the 
Finance Minister, of peopling the Bureaucracy with Imperialists. 
There was an angry debate in which Rouher intervened and 
drew on himself a virulent retort from Gambetta, who declared 
that he would not allow "the scoundrels who had ruined 
France'" to sit in judgment on the Revolution by which the 
Empire had been overthrown. On the following day, at the 
Gare St. Lazare in Paris, when Gambetta was about to take 
the train to Versailles, a young man named Henri de Ste. 
Croix, the son of one of Magne's treasury receivers (who had 
married the widowed Duchess de Rovigo), attempted to assault 
the popular orator. But the latter sent for the police, and 
the brawl, though sensational enough, ended without actual 
violence. Later came an inquiry into the Nievre election, 
which showed how widespread and determined was the 
Bonapartist propaganda. Rouher denied that there was any 
actual Committee for an Appeal to the People — such an 
organisation, being illegal, might have been prosecuted — but 
the investigations indicated that something akin to an organisa- 
tion of the kind existed, and the Royalists joined the Repub- 
licans in striving to curb the Bonapartist intrigues. 

It was, by the way, in the midst of all this agitation that 
M. Emile Ollivier, who had been Napoleon IIL's chief Minister 
at the time when war was declared in 1870, endeavoured to 
prevail on the French Academy to accord him the honours of a 
solemn reception, he having been elected a member shortly 
before the war and circumstances having led to the postpone- 
ment of his formal admission and the speeches usual on such 
occasions. The Academy assented in principle to Ollivier's 
request, but, in accordance with usage, he was required to 
submit a draft of the address which he proposed to read at his 
installation. When this draft came before the Academy it 
was found to contain a glowing panegyric of Napoleon III., 
and Guizot, the veteran statesman and historian, who was one 
of the Immortals, protested energetically against any such 
eulogium, even threatening to resign if it were allowed to pass. 1 

1 Guizot then took comparatively little part in politics owing to his 
advanced age, but lived mostly in retirement at Val Richer, solacing himself 
till his last hours with the pursuit of literature. He died in September 1874, 
that is some eight months after the incidents recorded above. 



172 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

The other Academicians being for the most part Orleanists, 
naturally adopted Guizofs view, and as Ollivier refused to 
modify his draft, his "solemn reception" was adjourned sine 
die. He has, we believe, of later years taken a not inconsider- 
able part in the Academy's work, but has never been formal ly 
admitted as a member. The incident is, we think, the only one 
of its kind in the Academy's annals. Although there was no 
love lost between M. Ollivier and Rouher, whom he replaced 
in the Emperor's favour in 1870, and although Rouher was 
again in 1874 the chief champion of the Imperialist cause, it is 
a curious and significant circumstance that Ollivier should have 
endeavoured to make a Bonapartist demonstration at the 
Academy at that particular period, when, indeed, the propaganda 
in favour of the Restoration of the Empire reached high-water 
mark. Although in these later days it is only among those 
who are called " intellectuals " that any particular interest is 
taken in the speeches delivered at the Academical receptions, 
one can well understand how great would have been the 
sensation throughout France if Ollivier — almost forgotten 
now in spite of all his writings pro doma .sua, but then 
regarded with particular abhorrence by Republicans, who 
wrongly deemed him to be the author of the war of 1870 
— had publicly made a speech in praise of Napoleon III. 
only four years after Sedan. The mere idea of delivering 
such an oration must be regarded as part and parcel of the 
conspiracy to overthrow the Republic and place the Imperial 
Prince on the throne. 

Meantime, the Duke de Broglie and MacMahon's other 
Ministers were endeavouring to organise the Septennate 
according to their particular notions. They wished to modify 
the electoral laws and suppress universal suffrage. Nobody 
was to be allowed to vote unless he were twenty-five instead of 
twenty-one years of age, or unless he had resided for three years 
in the locality where he recorded his vote. 1 The result would 
have been the disfranchisement of some 3,000,000 electors. 
There was also a plan for creating not a Senate but a Grand 
Council, with powers which would have reduced the Chamber 
of Deputies to the lowest possible level. The Bonapartists, 

1 An exception was made in favour of those who were natives of the 
said locality, in which case six months' residence was to be regarded as 
sufficient. 



INCIDENTS OF THE SEPTENNATE 173 

however, who called themselves the party of the Appeal to the 
People, and who were for ever demanding a Plebiscitum, could 
not be expected to support measures that interfered with the 
supremacy of universal suffrage, which the Republicans also 
upheld, and in the result the Duke de Broglie, after two or 
three adverse votes in the Assembly, fell from power on May 
16, 1874. 

In this emergency, MacMahon formed a kind of scratch 
Administration in which Magne (Finances), Duke Decazes 
(Foreign Minister), and Fortou (now of the Interior) still 
figured, General de Cissey becoming the nominal Premier. 
The Marshal-President was somewhat irate both with the 
Assembly generally and with the leaders of the contending 
factions, whose disputes invariably revolved around the one 
absorbing question — Shall France be a Republic or a Monarchy ? 
For his part, MacMahon with his imperative, soldierly dis- 
position answered that question curtly enough : " Je m'en 
fiche," said he, " and besides I know nothing about it. What 
I ask is that my powers shall be defined and organised. / have 
been appointed for seven years, and I intend to carry out the 
contract. If, however, I can find no cabinet to organise the 
Septennate I shall either resign or take some very energetic 
steps." Words to that effect were spoken by him at various 
audiences which he gave to the leaders of the majority, and 
every day made it more evident that the Marshal, whom the 
Royalists had elected as a stop-gap, took his position as Chief 
of the State in all seriousness. 

Soon after the formation of the Cissey Ministry, M. 
Auguste Casimir-Perier (father of the President of that name) 
submitted a proposal to proceed with the Constitutional laws 
on the basis formerly arrived at by Thiers and the first Com- 
mittee of Thirty. To this the moderate Royalists retaliated 
by asking that the existing provisional state of affairs should 
be maintained, while the ultra Royalists burnt their ships by 
formally demanding the restoration of the Monarchy, with 
MacMahon as Lieutenant-General pending the enthronement 
of the King. Their spokesman on this occasion was the most 
prominent member of the famous La Rochefoucauld family, of 
which there were then five branches, represented by the Duke 
de la Rochefoucauld, the Duke de Doudeauville, the Duke 
de Bisaccia, the Duke de la Roche Guyon, and the Duke 



174 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

cPEstissac. 1 The nobleman to whom we refer was Count Marie 
Charles Gabriel Sosthene de la Rochefoucauld, Duke de 
Bisaccia (a Neapolitan title), who sat in the Assembly for the 
department of the Sarthe, and had acted for a brief period as 
Ambassador in London. He was the younger brother of the 
Duke de Doudeauville and second son of the notorious Sosthene 
de la Rochefoucauld, who, after contributing largely to the 
Restoration of the Bourbons in 1814, distinguished himself as 
Superintendent of Fine Arts by lengthening the skirts of the 
corps de ballet at the Opera House, and veiling by means of 
vine leaves the nudity of the statues at the Louvre. M. de 
Bisaccia's mother was Elisabeth Helene de Montmorency-Laval, 
daughter of the Duke de Montmorency, Governor of the Count 
de Chambord in the latter's early childhood, and he married 
first Yolande de Polignac, who died in 1855, and secondly 
Marie, daughter of the Prince de Ligne, President of the 
Belgian Parliament. Connected with all those exalted houses 
the Duke de la Rochefoucauld-Bisaccia (as he was usually 
called) naturally held fervent Royalist views, but his attempt 
to force on a Restoration in spite of the many previous rebuffs 
encountered signal failure. His demand was rejected by a 
majority of sixty votes, while by a majority of one M. Casimir 
Perier's proposal to proceed with the Constitutional laws was 
declared to be " urgent." 

The Count de Chambord, embittered by this fresh defeat, 
issued (July 1874) yet another manifesto which rendered 
matters even worse than they had been previously, for, as it 
repudiated every elementary principle of Constitutional Govern- 
ment, it alienated the Orleanist members of the Assembly, and 
virtually put an end to the Royalist alliance. MacMahon's 
authority thus gained additional support, and he himself 
strengthened his position by his public utterances, notably 
during the tours he made that summer in Brittany and 
Northern France, when, although the clergy and others 
addressed him in language which clearly revealed monarchical 
aspirations, he rightly counselled union and quietude, declaring 
his intention to uphold the existing regime and put down all 
disorder as long as he remained in office. 

1 The last Duke de la Rochefoucauld (Francis Ernest Gaston) died with- 
out issue, as did the Duke de Doudeauville (Augustin Stanislas). The line 
of the Bisaccias still continues, however, and is now, we think, the senior 
branch of the house. 



THE DANGER OF WAR 175 

The clergy were complicating matters by their foolish 
attempts to promote French intervention in favour of Pope 
Pius IX., whose temporal power they wished to see restored. 
Their partisans in the Assembly neglected no occasion to attack 
the Italian and German Governments, and the position of the 
Foreign Minister was most unenviable. French diplomacy had 
been for some time already under the control of Duke Decazes, 
the son of one of the more Liberal ministers of Louis XVIII. 
Born in 1819, Louis Charles Elie Amanien, Duke Decazes in 
France and Duke of Glucksberg in Denmark, 1 did not show 
himself to be a statesman of the highest ability, but, surrounded 
as he was by difficulties throughout his period of office (1873- 
1877), he at least contended with them and helped to save 
France from another war. A Royalist himself he nevertheless 
often found himself compelled to oppose the Royalists around 
him, for the superior interests of France did not coincide with 
their aspirations. At the same time, however, his private 
sympathies often prevented him from imparting sufficient 
energy to that opposition, and the others availed themselves 
of this circumstance to carry on campaigns which repeatedly 
involved France in trouble. At one moment, for instance, 
they wished the Government to intervene decisively in the 
affairs of Spain, which were in great confusion. King Amadeo, 
the Italian Prince, 2 called to the Spanish throne in 1870, had 
abdicated in 1873, a Republic had been constituted under the 
leadership of Castelar, and while a Carlist insurrection raged 
in the north, a semi-socialist rebellion broke out in the south 
and south-east, Carthagena becoming the scene of great 
excesses and desperate fighting. Eventually, the fall of 
Castelar and the accession of Serrano prepared the way for the 
restoration of the Spanish monarchy without open interference 
on the part of France. Nevertheless, at one period the 
intervention of MacMahon's Government was urgently solicited 
by the French Royalists. More dangerous for France, however, 
was the political campaign in the Pope's favour, for it 
threatened to embroil her with both Italy and Germany. It 
certainly alienated the former power, and sowed the seeds of 
the present Triple Alliance — indeed Italy already adhered to 

1 He married Mile. Sevenne de Lowenthal who bore him a son, the 
present Duke Decazes (Jean Elie), born in April 1864. 

2 Duke of Aosta, son of Victor Emanuel II. and brother of Humbert I. 
of Italy. 



176 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

that formed by the German, Russian, and Austrian Emperors 
in 1872. 

At the conclusion of the peace between France and 
Germany, the latter had sent to Paris, as her ambassador, the 
head of a famous Pomeranian house, Count Harry von Arnim, 
a tall, good-looking, black-bearded, and broad-shouldered man, 
with a handsome aristocratic wife, distinguished for her taste 
in dress. They speedily made their way in French society, 
cultivating from preference that of the Royalist salons, and 
before long Arnim more or less openly abetted the intrigues 
which led to the downfall of Thiers. He had previously 
served at Rome, and according to his own account had then 
foreseen the struggle between Germany and the Catholic Church, 
which followed the French war. It is the more surprising, 
therefore, that he should have assisted, with influence and 
encouragement, the plottings of the French Monarchists, with 
whose aspirations in favour of the Holy See he was naturally 
acquainted. His proceedings so displeased Bismarck that in 
1874 he was recalled from France. A bitter duel ensued 
between him and the powerful Chancellor. Arnim, in order 
to justify himself, issued abusive pamphlets and published, either 
personally or through Dr. Landsberg (long a Paris corre- 
spondent of the Austrian press) a number of diplomatic 
documents, by which acts and the withholding of other State 
papers he drew upon himself a series of sentences to fine and 
imprisonment for high treason, lese-majesty and similar offences. 
He had found a refuge in Switzerland, however, and was able 
to carry on the war until his death, which occurred at Nice 
in 1880, just as he had applied for a revision of his case. 

His indiscretions, coupled with the infatuated policy of 
the French Royalists and Clericals, contributed in 1875 to a 
great war scare. Bismarck, who beheld with amazement the 
rapid recovery of France from her recent disasters, and felt 
that she was resolved to embark on la revanche as soon as she 
had regained sufficient strength, desired to anticipate events 
and crush her once again before she was prepared for the 
struggle. In that respect the conduct of the French 
Monarchists alone offered abundant pretexts for quarrelling, 
though the one selected was the reorganisation of the French 
army. Indeed, the word went forth throughout Germany that 
France was preparing to attack the Fatherland, and the 






THE DANGER OF WAR 177 

rumour found credit on all sides. We then happened to be 
staying in the Palatinate as the guest of a member of the 
Reichstag, one of the chief German viticulturists ; and we well 
remember how our host convened several of his colleagues and 
other notabilities to discuss the great war question with us. 
Our statements that France had no such intentions as were 
imputed to her, our estimates of the still existing inefficiency 
of her military organisation, were received with incredulity. 
Officers of high rank, politicians of position, shook their heads 
gravely, and refused to be reassured. As we all know, however, 
the danger to peace lay on the German, not the French side. 
Fortunately, war was averted by the representations of Russia 
and Great Britain, as we shall show when sketching the history 
of the Franco-Russian Alliance. 

A visit which the Prince of Wales (subsequently our King 
Edward VII.) paid to France in the autumn of 1874 provoked 
some little bitterness of feeling among the French Republicans. 
It would appear that the Prince, at the time when the Duke 
de la Rochefoucauld-Bisaccia was Ambassador in London, had 
promised to visit him whenever he next went to France ; and, 
this now occurring, the Prince became the Duke's guest at his 
chateau of Esclimont in Eure-et-Loir, a fine towered and 
turreted Renaissance structure, carefully restored in 1864. 
The Prince shot over the coverts there, and then visited in 
turn the Duke de Luynes at Dampierre, the Duke de la 
Tremoille at Rambouillet, the Duke d'Aumale at Chantilly, 
and the Prince de Sagan and the Duke de Mouchy at their 
respective seats. Zealous Republicans were disturbed by this 
intercourse between the heir apparent to the British crown and 
leading French Monarchists, and some bitter remarks appeared 
in the more popular Parisian journals. They were levelled, 
however, much less at the Prince than at the Royalist leaders, 
one newspaper remarking : " A few months ago the Duke de la 
Rochefoucauld-Bisaccia tried to bring back the King with the 
help of the National Assembly. He failed, and so now he 
hopes to bring him back with the help of the Prince of Wales. 
He is not likely to succeed, but these are the usual tactics of 
the Royalist party. In 1815, the Bourbons came back in the 
baggage train of the Duke of Wellington, and with that pre- 
cedent before them, we can understand that they should now be 
anxious to secrete themselves in the Prince of Wales's valise." 



178 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

It was perhaps somewhat unfortunate that the Prince's visits 
to his French Royalist friends should have occurred at a time 
when party strife was so acute, but the incident was soon for- 
gotten, and early in the ensuing year the most popular man in 
Paris was an Englishman, that is the Lord Mayor of London, 
Alderman Stone. In this connection it must be mentioned 
that the Opera House in the Rue Le Peletier, erected as a 
" temporary " building in 1821 had been destroyed by fire in 
1873. Ever since 1860 it had been intended to replace it by 
a large pile, more worthy of such a city as Paris, and in the 
following year, the designs of Charles Gamier having been 
adopted, the building of the new house was begun. With the 
close of 1874 came the absolute completion of this wonderfully 
ornate structure, the largest of its kind in Europe, profusely 
embellished with thirty-three distinct varieties of marble, an 
infinity of bronze work and gilding, and a wonderful assemblage 
of artistic work to which fifteen distinguished painters — Paul 
Baudry pre-eminent among them — and seventy-five sculptors, 
including Carpeaux, Barrias, Carrier - Belleuse, Cain, Aims' 
Millet, and. Falguiere — had contributed. 

The inauguration in January 1875 was the first really great 
social function which the Septennate witnessed. The Marshal 
President and the Duchess de Magenta drove in state from the 
l^lysee; and conspicuous among the audience were several 
throneless royalties — the Orleans Princes, Isabella of Spain, 
Francis of Naples and his consort, blind George of Hanover 
and his daughter. The Corps Diplomatique was also present, 
together with many of the celebrities of Parisian society ; but 
the guest of the evening was undoubtedly London's representa- 
tive, whose visit the Parisians appreciated enthusiastically — 
recalling, as they did, the Mansion House Fund and the gifts 
to their poor and hungry ones at the close of the German Siege. 
Quite triumphal was Milor Maire's procession up the Rue de la 
Paix to the Opera House. Lamps and torches illumined it, 
the City Trumpeters went in front, a military escort surrounded 
and followed. And at the foot of Garnier's grand staircase, 
the manager, Halanzier, received his Lordship with honours 
usually reserved for crowned heads. All the way up those 
resplendent stairs, he preceded him, going backward step by 
step, and carrying aloft a lighted candelabrum. In this courtly 
manner was Lord Mayor Stone conducted to his box on the 



INCIDENTS OF THE SEPTENNATE 179 

right hand of that occupied by the Marshal President, and 
directly the assembled spectators perceived his tall striking 
figure — he was wearing, of course, his robes and his chain of 
office — they rose from their seats and acclaimed him. 

Paris was still admiring her new Opera House, particularly 
the grand staircase and Baudry's paintings, when two masters 
of art passed away, in rapid succession and almost obscurely, at 
Barbizon near Fontainebleau. One was Millet, the painter of 
"The Angelus" and "The Gleaners," the other Barye, the 
sculptor of the " Seated Lion," the " Lion and the Serpent,' 1 
" Theseus and the Minotaur," and many other groups of extra- 
ordinary power. Much has been written about Millet, but we 
doubt if any one has related amid what curious circumstances 
he died. Viscount Aguado's staghounds had been hunting in 
the neighbourhood of Barbizon, and the stag, making for the 
village and jumping into the gardens which separated Martinus's 
studio from Millet's turned to bay near the window of the very 
room where Millet lay in the last agony. A scene of great 
uproar and confusion ensued, but, although Martinus hastened 
to warn the huntsmen of his neighbour's condition, it was im- 
possible to call off the hounds, who were beyond control, while 
on the other hand Baron Lambert, 1 who was present, hesitated 
to shoot the stag for fear lest the report might give a yet 
greater shock to the dying painter. Such action was deemed 
to be, however, the only solution of the difficulty, and 
Lambert's aim being good the stag was promptly despatched. 
But at the same moment a weeping woman came forth from 
Millet's little house, and, more by her gestures than her words, 
apprised the saddened throng that all was over. The great 
artist had passed away amid the baying of the hallali. 

Paris was full of gaiety during the latter part of that 
winter, in fact until the advent of Lent. The political turmoil 
of the period did not interfere with social life, it rather added 
zest and spice to it. You found drawing-room conspiracies, 
boudoir cabals upon all sides. The Bonapartist aristocracy no 
longer possessed quite the means of former times, but many 
Royalist houses which, under the Empire, had entertained very 
little were now well to the front. Paris was invaded also by 
an infinity of Counts and Barons who had formerly dwelt in 
the provinces, but had hastened to the capital in the hope of 
1 See our Court of the Tuileries, 1852-1870. 



180 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

witnessing the King's restoration. 1 While they included a 
good many adventurers, they also numbered folk of genuine 
old nobility, but in either case it often happened that their 
means, adequate enough for provincial requirements, were in- 
sufficient to meet the exigencies of la vie Parisienne. Still they 
endeavoured to make a brave show, drawing on their capital to 
supply the deficiencies of their incomes, selling a farm here and 
a wood there, and even mortgaging at times the ancestral 
manor. It was all bound to end badly, as it did, particularly 
as a few years later, in the hope of retrieving their damaged 
fortunes, many of these same titled folk invested what remained 
to them in Bontoux and Feeler's " Union Generale " Bank, 
which the Pope blessed, and which was to have ruined the 
Jewish for the benefit of the Catholic aristocracy — a con- 
summation thwarted, as we shall hereafter relate, by the 
"machinations' 1 of a rival financier, who raked in most of 
the shekels and left a hundred noble families in the direst of 
straits. 

But in 1875, and indeed, until the end of the Septennate, 
the cry was Apres nous le deluge ! The most aristocratic salons 
of the period were those of the Prince de Nemours, known later 
as the Duke d'Alencon, the Princess de Sagan, the Baroness 
Alphonse and the Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild, the 
Duchesses de Bisaccia, de Fitz-James, and de Maille, the 
Dowager Duchess de Doudeauville, the Marchionesses de 
Trevise and de Mortemart, the Countesses de la Ferronays, and 
de Behague. Among those where les eUgances of Parisian life 
were more particularly cultivated were the drawing-rooms of 
the Duchesses de Castries and de la Tremoille, Countess d'Argy, 
the Marchioness de Boisgelin, and the Baroness de Cambourg 
(all Royalist salons), together with those of the Countess de 

1 Apropos of the French nobility it may be mentioned that, apart from 
the titles of pre-revolutionary days, Napoleon I. created 9 princes, 32 dukes, 
388 counts, and 1090 barons. Under the Restoration titles were conferred 
as follows : 17 dukes, 70 marquises, 83 counts, 62 viscounts, 215 barons, and 
785 esquires. Further, 3 dukes, 19 counts, 17 viscounts, and 59 barons were 
created by Louis Philippe, while 5 dukes, 35 counts, and a considerable 
number of barons were added to the list by Napoleon III. A good many 
spurious titles came to the front after 1870, and one of MacMahon's Ministers 
of Justice, M. Tailhand, actually found it necessary to issue a circular in- 
forming all judges, mayors, deputy mayors, and other functionaries who 
called themselves marquises, counts, or barons, that they must prove their 
right to such titles or cease to use them in their official signatures. 



PARISIAN DRAWING-ROOMS 181 

Pourtales, the Baroness de Poilly and the Viscountess de 
Tredern, nee Haussmann, which were patronised by the 
partisans of the young Imperial Prince. The most musical 
drawing-rooms of the time were those where the Princess de 
Brancovano, the Marchioness d'Aoust, the Countesses Greffulhe 
and de Chambrun, and the Baronesses Hirsch and Erlanger 
presided. 

All the arts had the entree to the mansions of the Princess 
Mathilde, the Baronesses Adolphe and Nathaniel de Roths- 
child, Countess Pillet-Will, Countess de Beaumont -Castries, 
and Mesdames Andre and Ernest Mayer. Politics and litera- 
ture flourished in the salons of the Duchess d'Harcourt, the 
Duchess d"Ayen, the Countess de Rainneville, the Countess de 
Segur, the Princess de Broglie, the Viscountess de Janze, Mme. 
Turr, Mme. Arnaud de TAriege and Mme. Edmond Adam. 
Some salons seemed to be more particularly patronised by 
gay young people. Such were those of the Duchesses de 
Luynes, de Feltre, and d'Albufera, the Marchioness de Lillers, 
the Princesses de la Tour d'Auvergne and de Leon, the 
Countesses de la Rouchefoucauld and Potocka ; while other 
drawing-rooms, like those of the Marchioness de Blocqueville, 
the Duchesses d'Avaray and de Marmier, the Baronesses Malet 
and Schickler, and Mme. Lacroix, appeared to be mostly 
favoured by staid and even elderly folk. At times you fancied 
yourself in some annexe to the French Academy, at another 
amidst an antiquated Chamber of Peers ; while anon you were 
confronted by the pomp and presence of royalty, and elsewhere 
you found youth, beauty, and all the taste and refinement suited 
to the home of a real leader of fashion. 

The ladies who ruled the more important sections of the 
Parisian world in those days were not invariably of noble birth. 
At times they had merely acquired a title by marriage, or 
afterwards. One who by dint of perseverance achieved a 
high position in the Faubourg St. Germain, the Countess de 
Behague, had sprung from a family of artisans and married a 
plebeian cattle raiser. He acquired great wealth, and wealth 
procured him a Papal title. His wife, an enterprising and 
energetic woman, thereupon undertook to force the doors of 
society, and by sheer pertinacity she did so, and even brought 
society to her feet. She first contrived to marry her daughter 
to an impecunious noble, the Count de Geffroy, and he dying, 



182 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

she found her a second husband in the person of the Marquis 
d'Aramon. That gave the Behagues the entree into certain 
circles, and the magnificence of their entertainments contri- 
buted to bring about the wished-for result. When Mme. de 
Behague had accomplished what she desired, nobody could 
display greater haughtiness and disdain than she did. u My 
dear," one of her lady friends said to her on some occasion, " I 
should very much like to bring Count Blank and introduce him 
to you at your next reception." " Oh, not this year, my list is 
full," Mme. de Behague retorted, " next winter, if you like." 
You had to wait for your entree into the Behague salons as you 
might wait for your election to certain clubs. 

Another lady of plebeian stock who attained a commanding 
position in the society of the time was the Countess de la 
Ferronays. She was simply nee Gibert, and her grandfather 
had been a tradesman. She contrived, however, to marry a 
nobleman of ancient lineage, who long attended the Count de 
Chambord in his exile. M. de la Ferronays died under curious 
circumstances. He and the Pretender were driving one winter 
afternoon in the neighbourhood of Froschdorf when silence 
suddenly fell between them. When after a moment the Count 
de Chambord asked his companion a question, he failed to 
obtain any answer, and, on glancing at him, he perceived that 
he was lying back in the carriage motionless. The Prince at 
once called to the coachman to stop, sprang out, took some 
snow and rubbed his attendant's face and hands with it. To 
no purpose, however ; M. de la Ferronays had expired, the 
sudden rupture of a blood-vessel being the cause of this 
unexpected death. 

His widow became perhaps the most ultra-Royalist of the 
ladies of the time. The manners of the old regime, the 
etiquette of Versailles, or at least a close imitation of it, 
reigned at her residence on the Cours-la-Reine. She believed 
fervently in the divine right and sanctity of monarchs, and in 
order to obtain the entree to her salons you had at least to 
feign a similar belief. She would not have admitted Queen 
Isabella of Spain to her entertainments, but she treated Don 
Carlos as a most honoured guest on the few occasions when he 
was staying in Paris. Again, she altogether disregarded the 
Count de Paris and his uncles until the Fusion of the Legiti- 
mists and the Orleanists was completed. Then she was pleased 



PARISIAN DRAWING-ROOMS ' 183 

to smile on them. For her, however, the Count was never the 
"Count de Paris," she recognised no such Orleanist title, she 
regarded him as " Monseigneur le Dauphin. 1 '' When he became, 
after the Count de Chambord's death, Head of the House of 
France, she at once proffered an allegiance which was willingly 
accepted; and anxious as she was to further the interests of 
the Royal family, she resolved to find a suitable husband for 
"the King's" eldest daughter, the Princess Marie Amelie. 
The young Crown Prince (late King) of Portugal came on a 
visit to Paris not long afterwards, and Mme. de la Ferronays 
having captured him, placed a large portrait of the Princess in 
one of her salons in the hope that it might attract his attention. 
It did, and the result was a marriage, which had serious conse- 
quences for the Orleans family. We shall have to speak of 
it hereafter. Early in 1908 the union was cruelly dissolved by 
the crime of a band of assassins, a crime by which Queen 
Amelie lost both her husband and her eldest son. 

Mme. de la Ferronays, in her eagerness to revive old-time 
customs, gave, we remember, at one time several soirees devoted 
to the dances of pre-revolutionary days. The original music 
was revised by Theodore de Lajarte, and a number of young 
men and girls of aristocratic families were taught the dances 
by Mile. Laure Fonta, an expert in the Terpsichorean art. It 
was thus that Queen Marie de Medici's " Courante," the Valois 
"Pavane," the Reims "Gavotte," and divers minuets were 
performed at the mansion in the Cours-la-Reine. When Mme. 
de la Ferronays wished to revive some of the dinner customs of 
the Louis XIV. period she was less successful. One of her 
ideas was to replace the usual modern formula signifying that 
dinner is ready — "Madame la Comtesse est servie" — by the 
old-time phrase, " Les viandes sont appretees " (the meats are 
ready), but, on the very first occasion of this attempted revival, 
the majordomo blundered sadly. Opening the dining-room 
doors he announced in a loud voice: "Madame la Comtesse, 
les viandes sont avancees." Now, in such a connection, the 
word avancees naturally means " high," and the statement that 
" the meats were high " naturally provoked a titter among the 
guests. The unlucky majordomo had got "mixed," as the 
saying goes. It would seem that another familiar formula, 
"les voitures sont avancees' (the carriages are waiting) had 
crossed his mind, and as he confused it with the words he was 



184 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



to speak, a dreadful quid pro quo had ensued. Mme. de la 
Ferronays could not conceal her annoyance, but the Duke de 
Madrid (Don Carlos), who happened to be the guest of the 
evening, endeavoured to console her by remarking: "Ah, 
madam, one cannot revive the good old times without reviving 
the good old servants also, and that is unfortunately im- 
possible." In his sleeve the Duke doubtless laughed like the 
others. Never was there a man who cared less for etiquette 
and ceremony than that hard fighter Don Carlos, who, what- 
ever his piety (bigotry if you like) and belief in his sovereign 
rights, was in his prime the only Bourbon Prince of the period 
evincing some of the healthy virile characteristics of the 
great man of the race, Henri of Navarre. 

But let us pass to another salon of the Septennate, that of 
the Baroness Adolphe de Rothschild, who died of recent years 
at an advanced age, leaving munificent bequests to numerous 
French and Swiss charities. Born in 1830, she was a daughter 
of Anselm Solomon de Rothschild of Vienna, the well- 
remembered Baron Ferdinand being her brother, and Baronesses 
Willy and Louise, and Miss Alice de Rothschild of Waddesdon 
Manor, her sisters. In 1850 she married her cousin Adolphe, 
son of the founder of the Frankfort Bank ; and soon afterwards 
repaired with him to Naples, where he established another 
branch of the great cosmopolitan financial house. Baron and 
Baroness Adolphe became great friends of Francis II. and his 
consort Marie Sophie, the last King and Queen of Naples, and 
when the latter were driven from their throne they rendered 
them many services. A little later the Queen — enceinte already 
at the time of the famous siege of Gaeta — gave birth to a 
daughter amid the barren splendour of the Farnese Palace at 
Rome, whereupon Baroness Adolphe hastened to her and 
provided both cradle and layette for the child, who died, 
however, prematurely. The Rothschild house at Naples was 
then closed, and Baron and Baroness Adolphe settled in Paris, 
in a remarkably fine mansion adjoining the Pare Monceau. 
They gave some wonderful entertainments there already in the 
time of the Empire, but they did not often figure at the 
Tuileries, as they preferred the House of Bourbon to that of 
Bonaparte. 

The Pare Monceau mansion was, we think, one of the very 
last in Paris where a halberdier stood on duty on the threshold 



PARISIAN DRAWING-ROOMS 185 

of the vestibule, while on reception evenings either side of the 
white marble staircase was lined with footmen in royal blue 
and crimson. The exiled Neapolitan Bourbons were long 
honoured guests at the mansion. Francis II. was invariably 
treated there as a reigning sovereign, though the Baroness's 
more particular friendship was for the Queen. It is, we believe, 
quite certain that the ex-rulers of Naples repeatedly received 
important financial help from Baron and Baroness Adolphe. 
On that account we have always regarded the picture of them 
and their financial straits which Daudet limned in his Kings 
in Exile as being exaggerated. 

After royalty, music claimed the honours of Baroness 
Adolphe's salons : Patti, Nilsson, Marie Van Zandt, and many 
other famous vocalists frequented them. The Baroness's 
summer residence was the handsome chateau de Pregny, over- 
looking the lake of Geneva. Its charming grounds with their 
grottoes and aviaries — the latter replete with birds of many 
kinds — were her peculiar care. George V., when Duke of York, 
and his brother, the late Duke of Clarence, were on one 
occasion guests at Pregny. The Baroness resided there perma- 
nently after losing her husband in 1900. Tall and fair, he was 
perhaps more of a society man than any other Rothschild of his 
period. Very good-humoured and a brilliant conversationalist, 
he possessed considerable artistic taste, and was often to be 
found in one or another Parisian studio. He was also a 
" doggy " man, a great admirer of French poodles. His wife's 
good heart was exemplified by her long life of munificence, but 
she was also a woman of ready and often mordant wit, one 
whose mots flashed at times through Paris. It was she who, 
referring to the prolonged political inactivity of Prince Victor 
Napoleon, the present head of the Bonapartes, once described 
him as " an eaglet whose whole life is spent in moulting." At 
another time, when a number of short-lived French ministries 
were following each other in rapid succession, somebody re- 
marked in her hearing : " It is a perfect St. Bartholomew." 
" At all events," retorted the Baroness, " you cannot call it a 
Massacre of the Innocents." At an earlier period, soon after 
the Franco-German War, when Thiers, one evening at the 
Elysee, was despondently denouncing the folly of warfare, 
adding : " After all, what have we ever gained by Napoleon's 
victories and conquests?" the Baroness answered archly: 



186 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

" Why, Monsieur Thiers, we have gained your History of the 
Consulate and the Empire.' 1 '' The little man hardly liked it, 
but the retort was overheard and circulated through Paris on 
the morrow. 

Very different from the Rothschild salons were those of the 
Marchioness de Blocqueville on the Quai Malaquais. The 
stately old-fashioned mansion of brick with stone dressings 
was furnished soberly, historical and family portraits chiefly 
adorning the walls of the reception rooms. The daughter of 
Napoleon's general, Davout, Duke d'Auerstadt, and the widow 
of Francois de Coulibceuf, Marquis de Blocqueville, the 
mistress of the house presided over what became par excellence, 
after Mme. d'Haussonville's death, the academical salon of 
Paris. Every Monday (Mme. de Blocqueville's day) all the 
sections of the Institute of France were represented there. 
There was no aristocratic pretentiousness, nor any revolutionary 
sans facon ; the general tendency of the opinions held there 
was liberal ; the manners were simply those of good society. 
Though men of mature age predominated, young ones were 
welcomed, and if the tone of the house was somewhat serious an 
element of brightness was to be found there, the Marchioness 
contriving to attract to her receptions a bevy of charming 
women interested in literature and art. She had written a few 
books, notably a work on her father, but she was no pedant, no 
bluestocking. Her essential quality was tact, and it used to be 
said that there was not another drawing-room in Paris where a 
young man could acquire better lessons in genuine politeness 
and good behaviour. 

There was a slight suggestion of artistic bohemianism about 
the drawing-room of the Countess Jeanne de Beaumont- 
Castries, the sister of Mme. de MacMahon. Her house stood 
at the corner of the Rue Marbeuf and the Avenue de PAlma, 
and was supposed to be an imitation of an English cottage. 
It was of brick-work with a wooden porch and a carved oak 
staircase conducting to a landing, along one wall of which 
stretched a huge canvas by Count Lepic, representing a modern 
seaside scene full of animation. On one side of this landing 
you found the Countess's studio, for, besides being a brilliant 
musician she was a sculptor of talent, as was evidenced by her 
medallion of Mme. Krauss of the Opera and her busts of 
Coligny and Joan of Arc. On the other side of the landing 



PARISIAN DRAWING-ROOMS 187 

we have mentioned there was a dining-room hung with old 
tapestry, and a huge monumental hall which served as 
the principal salon de reception. It was hung with modern 
paintings, among them being a fascinating portrait of the 
Countess by Carolus Duran. 

Mme. de Beaumont had been renowned for her beauty 
under the Empire, when her husband, jealous, it seemed, of 
every man who dared even to look at her, had challenged, in a 
semi-insane fashion, all whom he supposed to be her admirers, 
including, on one occasion, Prince Metternich, the Austrian 
Ambassador. 1 Under the Septennate, Mme. de Beaumont was 
still beautiful, famous particularly for the contour of her 
shoulders, but her artistic temperament had wrought a 
considerable change in her nature, inclined her to a liberalism 
of views which one did not expect to find in a daughter of 
the Castries, a granddaughter of the French Harcourts. She 
did not renounce her birth, her name, her relatives, or her old 
associations, but she realised the great changes taking place in 
French society, and she was, at that time at all events, the 
only woman of the authentic old noblesse who went forward, 
as it were, to welcome the new ideas, and threw her doors open 
to the democratic breeze which was sweeping across the 
country. In that respect she was, of course, quite unlike her 
elder sister, Mme. de MacMahon — an able and large-hearted 
woman, but one in whom the principle of authority was 
paramount — or her brother, the last Duke de Castries, a very 
gallant but extremely aristocratic gentleman, long famous and 
honoured for his scrupulous rectitude on the French turf. Of 
course, no political flag ever waved over the Countess de 
Beaumont's abode. It was neutral ground to which politicians 
of virtually every shade could, if they were interested in art, 
literature, or music, obtain access without particular difficulty. 
Under what exact circumstances Gambetta first appeared there, 
we cannot say; but he had many relations in the art world, 
and artists were welcome at Mme. de Beaumont's. In any case 
Gambetta became a frequent visitor at the " cottage,"" and on 
several occasions he there formed relations with personages 
whom he could not well have met elsewhere, and exchanged 
views with them on important political matters. In that re- 
spect Mme. de Beaumont's hospitality proved very advantageous 
1 See our Court of the Tuileries, 1852-1870. 



188 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



to the popular leader. It was, of course, rather piquant to 
find him frequenting her house when one remembered her 
near relationship to the Duchess de Magenta and the Marshal 
President. Scores of people were certainly aware of Gambetta , s 
friendship with the Countess, but, although it lasted until his 
death, we doubt if it was known publicly, during his life at all 
events. 

On the other hand, everybody was acquainted with his 
frequent presence in the salons of the statuesque Mme. Arnaud 
de TAriege and the ever active Mme. Edmond Adam, who, as 
feminine leaders of Republican society, were the first to be 
styled Les Pirc'wii.sc.s Hadkales by the Royalist press. The 
daughter of an officer of the first Napoleon, Mme. Adam, 
"Juliette Lamber" in literature, had first married a country 
doctor with whom her life was most unhappy, but after his 
death she became the wife of Edmond Adam, a wealthy, broad- 
minded, generous man, occupying a fairly high position at the 
French bar. During the German Siege of Paris, he served for 
a time as Prefect of Police. Later, he befriended Henri 
Rochefort, providing him with money at the time of his escape 
from New Caledonia. Already, in his lifetime, but more 
particularly after his death, Mme. Adam made her drawing- 
room one of the leading Republican rendezvous. She was 
already known in literary circles by several stories and sketches, 
and one or two books of some social import, such as her 
Idees Anti- Proudhonicnnes sur F Amour, la Femme, et le 
Manage. It was not until 1879, and consequently after 
MacMahon's time, that she established " La Nouvelle Revue,"" 
but she had then already been for some years in the front rank 
politically. 

Of an independent character and somewhat authoritarian 
disposition, she was over fond of laying down the law in her 
drawing-room, selecting and directing the conversation much 
as the famous Mme. Geoffrin did in the eighteenth century. 
She was scarcely witty, but she possessed a fund of anecdotical 
information which led you to take interest in what she said. 
Her temperament was enthusiastic, somewhat sentimental ; she 
was impulsive in her likes and dislikes, and brought all her 
powers of sarcasm to bear on those to whom she took an 
aversion. With her more intimate gentlemen friends she 
affected a kind of camaraderie, calling them at times by their 



PARISIAN DRAWING-ROOMS 189 

Christian names and seldom employing the word " Monsieur. 1 ' 
A Pagan in respect to religion, she claimed to belong 
philosophically to the neo-platonic school of Alexandria. In 
politics she was somewhat of a Girondist. At the same time 
she was a good patriot, warmly devoted to what seemed to her 
the best interests of France and the Republic. Among the 
men who admired her and to whom she was attached were 
General Chanzy, General de Galliffet, Ferdinand de Lesseps, 
M. de Freycinet, and such minor lights as Lepere, Andrieux, 
and Pittie who became the head of Grevy's military household. 
Her pet aversion was Jules Ferry. In literature she favoured 
the school of George Sand and patronised Deroulede, who 
threatened at one time to become the French Kipling. She 
abhorred Zola, and frequently exerted herself against him, he, 
on his side, professing profound disdain for her. It is certain, 
however, that for several years she exercised great literary as 
well as political influence in Paris. 

The revival of Parisian life under the Septennate was 
marked not only by the opening of many new drawing-rooms. 
Clubland flourished afresh, several new cercles were established, 
and the membership of the older ones rapidly increased. 
Sport reviving, the Jockey Club was again a good deal en 
evidence. It dated from 1833, when it was established through 
the initiative of a gentleman of English origin, M. de Bryon, 
who gathered the other thirteen original members around him 
on the top floor of a little house near the Tivoli gardens. But 
the Club soon migrated to the Rue Drouot, owing to the 
influential support which it obtained from such leaders of 
Parisian life as the Dukes of Orleans and Nemours, the Prince 
de la Moskowa, Prince Demidoff, Lord Henry Seymour, Count 
de Cambis, Charles Lafitte (Major Fridolin), MM. Delamarre, 
de Normandie, de Rieussec and others. Its race meetings were 
first held on the Champ de Mars, where, indeed, they continued 
until 1857, when the course was transferred to Longchamp in 
the Bois de Boulogne. Already in 1835, however, the 
Chantilly course was established by the Orleans Princes, and 
the Prix du Jockey Club or " French Derby " (original value 
^200) was inaugurated there — the first winner being a horse 
named Frank, the property of the eccentric Lord Henry 
Seymour, whose folly and prodigality won for him in Paris the 
singular nickname of " Milord Arsouille." 



190 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Gradually increasing in importance, the Jockey Club moved 
from the Rue Drouot to larger premises in the Rue de Grammont, 
and eventually in 1863 it took possession of a new building in 
the Rue Scribe. Count Cavour, who, during a sojourn in Paris 
in the fifties, became a temporary member of the " Jockey," was 
greatly impressed by its non-political character, as he mentions 
in one of his published letters. Any member attempting to 
raise a political discussion, received, said he, a warning from 
the Committee, and on repeating the offence was expelled. 
And he commented on the fact that he had found the Prince 
de la Moskowa, the son of Marshal Ney, hobnobbing with such 
a fervent Royalist as the Marquis de la Rifaudiere, who had 
fought any number of duels " for the honour of the Duchess 
de Berri. 1 " In a sense the Jockey Club has always retained 
a non-political character, that is, members of the rival French 
aristocracies — Legitimist, Orleanist, and Bonapartist — have 
freely met there, but few Republicans have ever belonged to it. 
Even they have only been Republicans nominally. 

At the time of Marshal MacMahon's Presidency the club 
counted about seven hundred members, inclusive of a few 
foreign royalties, among them the Prince of Wales, later 
Edward VII. The great majority were sportsmen and men 
of pleasure. A certain number of aristocratic names figured 
in the list, but they were seldom those of the more famous 
French houses. The army, however, was represented by 
numerous general officers, while the diplomatic world supplied 
a fairly strong contingent, and there were a certain number of 
financiers, including the Rothschilds, though, even at that 
period, Jewish candidates were by no means favoured. Notoriety 
or eccentricity debarred many men of wealth and birth from 
admission. The members, who regarded themselves as so many 
arbitri elegantarium, had set up a certain standard, and all who 
fell short of it or went beyond it were pitilessly blackballed at 
the elections. More than one young scion of nobility found 
himself excluded simply because the cut of his whiskers, the 
style of his phaeton, the pattern of his trousers, or the manner 
in which he wore his eye-glass, displeased a few members. It 
should be added that, despite its prominent position in connec- 
tion with the turf, the " Jockey " has never been a gambling club. 
Baccarat has never been played there. In MacMahon's time 
virtually the only card games patronised were whist and bezique. 



SOME PARISIAN CLUBS 191 

The most genuinely aristocratic of the Paris clubs was 
L'Union, to which several higher members of the Corps 
Diplomatique and other distinguished foreigners belonged. The 
general membership was, however, small, and no Frenchman 
had a chance of election unless, in addition to holding strongly 
Conservative opinions, he had a good fortune, a great name, and 
a connection with the Faubourg St. Germain. Most of its 
members were over fifty years of age, and quietude reigned in 
its rooms. It was a haven, where those privileged to cross its 
portals might rest and meditate on the past, careless of the 
frivolity and excitement that reigned elsewhere. 

The Cercle Agricole, whose members were generally called 
"the potatoes,*" was a shade more Liberal than the Union, 
though it was installed in that aristocratic district, the noble 
Faubourg. While most of the members belonged to the 
nobility, there were also a good many untitled landowners in 
the club, and these more particularly constituted the Liberal 
element. There was little card play, but the reading-room was 
generally full, and the dinners were well attended. On the 
other hand, the whilom Cercle Imperial, at the corner of the 
Avenue Gabriel and the Rue Boissy d'Anglas, had become the 
Temple of Baccarat. Whereas the very latest " potatoes " ,1 went 
to bed at one in the morning, the Cercle des Champs lillysees 
(as the Imperial was now called) kept open virtually until dawn. 
For eight months in the year play was incessant there, and the 
gains and losses were often extremely large. The club had 
altogether ceased to be a Bonapartist stronghold. A good 
many members of Imperial times still remained, but a crowd 
of financiers, speculators of all kinds, interspersed with down- 
right adventurers, had invaded both the salons and the famous 
terrace where you could sit, smoke, and watch le tout Paris on 
its way to and from the Bois de Boulogne. There, by the way, 
the number of well-appointed equipages and the display of 
feminine finery recalled the gayest days of the Empire. But it 
was no longer the fashion, as it had then been, to drive round 
the lakes. A few great ladies, anxious, it was said, to escape 
the presence of the women of the demi-monde, who flaunted their 
rouge and their pearl powder in the Bois, decided one day that 
they would henceforth drive in the Avenue des Acacias. Some 
friends joined them, and others imitating the example, le tour 
du Lac was speedily abandoned by everybody. Thus the purpose 



192 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

of the innovators was defeated, the demi-monde was with them 
as before. Indeed, ces dames, as might have been expected, had 
been among the first to follow the noble Faubourg to the new 
and more select drive. 

The world of the salons, the clubs and the Bois still clung 
to the hope that France would soon have a monarch. Although 
the Republic was now definitely constituted it was only the 
masses that took it au seriaLx. It was in February 1875 that 
an unwilling vote in favour of the Republican regime was wrung 
from the Versailles Assembly, which, as no further excuse for 
delay remained, was then at last compelled to deal with the 
Constitutional problem. Even at that stage, however, it con- 
trived to shirk any express proclamation of the Republic. A 
proposal to that effect, submitted by the eminent economist 
Laboulaye, was defeated by a majority of 24 votes, and it 
was only by a majority of one that a formula proposed by 
another member — M. Henri Wallon, a former professor at the 
Sorbonne and author of several esteemed historical volumes — 
was adopted. It did not even set forth that the Republic was 
the government of France, it merely left that fact implied ; for 
it ran as follows. " The President of the Republic is elected 
by a majority of the votes cast by the Senate and the Chamber 
of Deputies sitting together as a National Assembly. He is 
appointed for seven years and can be re-elected."" 

In defining the powers of the future Senators and Deputies, 
the Assembly did its utmost to place a curb upon the latter. 
The Senators were to share all legislative powers, they were 
also to have the right of refusing authority to declare war or 
to ratify treaties of peace and commerce, and that of controlling 
the general policy of the Government. Further, the Senators 
were to join the Deputies — so as to form a National Assembly 
— not only whenever a new President of the Republic had to 
be elected, but also when any proposal to revise the Constitution 
might be submitted. On those occasions the direction of the 
debates of the Assembly was to be entirely in the hands of the 
President and the officials of the Senate. The Chamber of 
Deputies might impeach the President of the Republic or his 
Ministers, but the Senate alone was to judge them. Further, 
if the President of the Republic should wish to dissolve the 
Chamber he might not do so without the Senate's permission. 
He secured, however, important prerogatives by the new Con- 



THE CONSTITUTION 193 

stitution. He could summon, prorogue, and adjourn the 
Legislature as he might see fit. He had authority to propose 
legislation and to intervene, through his Ministers, in the 
debates on proposed laws. All civil and military appointments 
were made by him. He disposed of the military, naval, and 
police forces. The right of pardoning and of commuting 
sentences was also vested in him. 

The Chamber of Deputies was tb be composed of 532 
members, 1 and the Senate of 300. To ensure the existence of 
a Conservative element in the latter body it was to include 
15 irremovable members. No Senator was to be under 40 and 
no Deputy under 25 years of age. Until 1884, the Constitution 
of Versailles remained unchanged, but it was then decided 
to gradually abolish the life senatorships, lots being drawn 
each time that an " irremovable r ' died, in order to determine 
which department should elect a Senator for the vacant seat — a 
list being kept of those departments entitled, by reason of their 
population, to an additional representative. Since 1884 the 
Senators have been elected for nine years, but every third year 
a third of the Assembly is renewed. The Senators are chosen 
by list voting in each department or colony, 2 and the senatorial 
electors are the deputies, the departmental and district 
councillors, and delegates chosen by the municipal councils of 
the various constituencies. The Deputies, on the other hand, 
are elected by universal suffrage. Each arrondissement or 
district elects one Deputy, but when its population exceeds 
100,000, it is entitled to elect an additional Deputy for every 
additional 100,000 inhabitants or fraction of that number. 3 
It should be mentioned, however, that from June 1885 until 
February 1889 there was a system of list voting, by which 
each elector voted for all the deputies of his department, 
and though this system was then extremely prejudicial 
to the Republic, there is nowadays a growing desire to 
revive it, and it may soon be tried again in a modified 
form. With respect to the relative political importance 
of the two Legislative bodies, it may be pointed out that 

1 There are nowadays 597. 

a The Colonies electing Senators are : Algeria, 3 ; Guadeloupe, Pondi- 
chery, Martinique, and Reunion, 1 each. 

s The Colonies send deputies to the Chamber as follows : Algeria, 6 ; 
Cochin China, 1 ; Guadeloupe, 2 ; French Guiana, 1 ; French India, 1 ; 
Martinique, 2 ; Reunion, 2 ; Senegal, 1. 

o 



194 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

in spite of all the National Assembly's stipulations in favour 
of the Senate, the latter's moral authority has declined. We 
think that no French Ministry would nowadays retire in con- 
sequence of any adverse vote in the Senate. 

When the Constitution of 1875 had been voted (it was, by 
the way, the thirteenth since 1789) the Cissey-Fortou Ministry 
resigned office. The Royalists were anxious that there should 
be a strong Administration during the last months of the 
Assembly's life, for it had agreed to lay down its powers prior 
to the elections for the new Legislature, which were to take 
place early the following year. Pressure was therefore brought 
to bear on MacMahon to recall the Duke de Broglie, but the 
attempt failed, as did another to induce the Duke d'Audiffret 
Pasquier 1 to assume office. The negotiations were laborious, 
and on one occasion when a politician whom the Marshal 
President had summoned, asked for two days'* delay to think 
over the proposals made to him, MacMahon retorted, "Two 
days ! why I was barely granted two minutes to decide if I 
would accept the Presidency ! " 

At last a Prime Minister was found in M. Buffet, who had 
presided not unsuccessfully over the Assembly since Jules Grevy's 
resignation. Grevy, as we said, had been content to preside in 
a frock coat, but Buffet reverted to evening dress a la Duke de 
Morny. Some considered him rather rough in his manners, and 
inclined to be partial, but there was little justification for that 
charge. If he was prompt and energetic in quelling disturbances, 
it was because he deemed it essential to assert the presidential 
authority, that being the only means of preventing the Assembly, 
compounded of so many hostile factions, from degenerating into 
a bear garden. With his assumption of the Premiership a 
Republican element entered into the Administration, for while 
Cissey still remained at the War Ministry and Decazes at the 
department for Foreign Affairs, Leon Say took the portfolio for 
Finances, Dufaure the Ministry of Justice, and Wallon — " the 

1 Edmond Armand Gaston, Duke d'Audiffret-Pasquier, born in 1823, and 
adopted by his grand-uncle, Chancellor Pasquier (pronounced Pa-ki-^), had 
distinguished himself by his reports and speeches on the onerous contracts 
entered into during the war of 1870. He was probably the most Liberal- 
minded of all the Dukes who figured so largely in the affairs of the time. He 
succeeded Buffet as President of the Assembly, and became afterwards the 
first President of the Senate. He was not, however, a success in either post. 
A lean little man with mutton-chop whiskers, he had a somewhat impatient, 
choleric temper, which did not fit him for presidential functions. 



POLITICAL CHANGES 195 

Father'" of the new Constitution — that of Public Instruction. 
Buffet himself became Minister of the Interior. The new 
Administration's mission was to prepare the country for the 
general elections, and it was hoped that it would induce it 
to patronise Conservative candidates. MacMahon issued a 
proclamation calling upon all electors who were in favour of 
social order, to rally round his Government, and thereby ensure 
to it the strength and respect which were needful for the general 
security. On the other hand the Republican leaders, Thiers and 
Gambetta, counselled moderation. The result showed that the 
majority of the country was weary of all the intrigues and 
subterfuges which had marked the National Assembly's long 
career. Owing to its tactics with respect to the " irremovables," 
there was not a Republican majority in the new Senate, but the 
popular party mustered no fewer than 148 members of various 
shades against 152 Legitimists, Orleanists, Bonapartists, and 
Clericals. Thiers was elected to the new body; Buffet, the 
Prime Minister, who was a candidate in the Vosges, was defeated. 
A little later, when the elections for the Chamber of Deputies 
took place, the first decisive polls (421 in number) resulted in 
the return of 295 Republicans of different shades. Further 
Republican successes attended the second polls necessitated in 
111 constituencies by the failure of any candidate to secure a 
majority over all competitors at the first ballots. Buffet, a 
candidate in four constituencies, was defeated in every one of 
them, Gambetta was returned in four out of five and decided to 
sit for Belleville. The fall of Buffet's Administration became 
inevitable, and MacMahon, accepting the country's verdict, 
though it was not in accordance with his own convictions, chose 
Dufaure, the recent Minister of Justice, to form a new Govern- 
ment. 

Born near Cognac in 1798 and an advocate by profession, 
Dufaure was an old parliamentary hand who had sat in the 
Legislatures of the Orleans Monarchy, the Second Republic, and 
the Second Empire. He had been Minister of Public Works as 
far back as the time when railways were first introduced into 
France, an innovation which he had done his best to encourage. 
He had even served Louis Napoleon for a short time as Minister 
of the Interior, but had afterwards returned to the Opposition 
ranks. When Thiers became Chief of the Executive in 1871, 
Dufaure was his first Minister of Justice. His Republicanism 



196 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

was distinctly Conservative ; his associations with Orleanist times 
had made him, also, somewhat of a doctrinaire. He was fond of 
repeating the Italian proverb Chi va piano va sano, c chi va sano 
va lojitano, remarking that it was because he had always kept 
it before his mind that he had attained his great age (he was 
seventy-eight when he became chief Minister) with his faculties 
unimpaired. He was certainly physically and intellectually " a 
grand old man.' 1 But at the same time he was too slow, too 
cautious, too much wedded to the past to suit the new Chamber 
of Deputies, whose disposition was indicated by the election of 
Gambetta as President of the Budget Committee. Dufaure 
failed also with the Senate, and at the end of the year (1876), 
being defeated in both houses, he resigned office. 

MacMahon was at a loss whom to take as his successor. In 
his dilemma he consulted the President of the Senate, and Duke 
d'Audiffret-Pasquier, to whose Liberalism we have referred, 1 
advised him to send for Jules Simon. He did so, and Simon 
formed the new Administration. We have spoken of him 
previously in our narrative. 2 He was (1877) in his sixty -third 
year. His early life had been full of difficulties bravely sur- 
mounted. 3 A Deputy of the Republican Opposition under the 

1 See footnote p. 194, ante 3 See pp. 9, 13, 28, 40, ante. 

3 In that respect we will quote a very interesting letter written by him. 
We may say that we ourselves had the advantage of knowing M. Simon and 
of being received in his gr enter — as he called his flat at No. 10 Place de la 
Madeleine — thanks to our acquaintance with one of his sons : — 

" You ask me for a few particulars about some episodes of my young days 
of which I one day spoke to you. When I was, I think, about thirteen, my 
family found itself quite ruined and unable to provide for the cost of my 
education. I was then in the third class at the College of Lorient. There 
was talk of teaching me a cloekmaker's calling. But I set out on foot from 
Lorient with six francs in my pocket, and from that day until I was appointed 
professor of the class of philosophy at the Lycee of Caen, I received nothing 
(from my family?) but those six francs. I went from Lorient to Vannes 
where I taught spelling and Latin to pupils whom I charged 3 francs, and 
even 30 sous a month, starting at six o'clock . . . and beginning again at 
four in the afternoon, and thereby earning my bread, and the cost of my 
education at the college. I thus passed through the second and rhetoric 
class. When I was in the philosophy class the General Council (of the 
department) voted, I think, a sum of 200 francs which enabled me to go to 
Rennes and pay my examination fees. The Rennes Lycee also offered me a 
purse (scholarship) but I wished to finish at the college of Vannes where I 
was liked . . . and even respected— throughout the town. There, then, is 
my story, for when once I had entered the l£cole Normale (in Paris) my 
career went on of itself — one year as professor at Caen, one year at Versailles, 
the next year professor at the Ecole Normale, then professor at the Sorbonne 



JULES SIMON'S MINISTRY 197 

Empire, he became a member of the National Defence and took 
a prominent part in bringing about Gambetta's resignation at 
Bordeaux. Elected to the National Assembly by the depart- 
ment of the Marne, he was soon afterwards appointed Minister 
of Public Instruction by Thiers. Amiable, but energetic in 
exercising his authority, he promptly restored his department to 
a state of order, and planned a scheme for compulsory education. 
But, in 1873, he was compelled to retire, owing to a speech in 
which he — rightly — attributed the liberation of the territory to 
Thiers, a statement which the Assembly, in its petty jealousy, 
deeply resented. Though no longer in office, Simon continued 
to exercise great influence in debate, repeatedly demanding 
a Republican constitution and the Assembly's withdrawal. 
Nevertheless, by reason of his spiritualist philosophy, which 
sufficed to create a gap between him and such men as Gambetta, 
and the moderate character of his political ideals, he secured in 
1876 election both as an irremovable Senator and as a member 
of the French Academy. 

His appointment as Premier by MacMahon marked a further 
slight advance in the regime's character, for, although in his 
ministerial programme Simon declared himself to be both 
" profoundly conservative and profoundly republican," his views 
were rather more advanced than those of Dufaure. But he 
speedily found himself in serious difficulties. He represented, 
as it were, a policy of conciliation between the Right and the 
Left of the Chamber. The religious question — the position of 
the Pope and the relations of France with Italy — to which we 
referred in an earlier part of this chapter, had now become 
acute. There was a perfect crusade of prelates in favour of 
Pius IX. The Right, composed of Monarchists of various 
kinds, supported it ; the Left, which comprised the Republicans 
of different categories, wished to see it stopped. Simon, 
respectful of religion and the Church, yet fairly Liberal in his 

when I was four-and-twenty, a deputy of the Constituent Assembly, and a 
Councillor of State in '49. When I resigned in 1852 (after Louis Napoleon's 
Coup d'Etat) I was scarcely richer than I had been when I started from 
Lorient in 1827, and I again gave lessons in Latin until the success of my 
book, Le Devoir, extricated me from that position, without, however, 
enriching me, as you are aware . . . Do you know I was so exhausted when 
I entered the Ecole Normale that for some years it was thought I should not 
live. Yet I ask myself whether the affection with which I nowadays 
encompass my children is better for them than the poverty-stricken child- 
hood, reduced to its own resources, in which no trial was spared me." 



198 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

social and political aspirations, found himself between two 
stools. Moreover, he did not enjoy a free hand. The Marshal 
President, though a practising Catholic — he was, we may 
mention, the last President of the Republic who ever invoked 
the name and blessing of God in a proclamation — was by no 
means so fervent in his religious views as to desire to jeopardise 
the interests of France by any foolhardy attempt to restore the 
territorial sovereignty of the Pope. But pressure was repeatedly 
brought to bear on him by his nearest connections, his wife, his 
other relatives, and various old-time friends. That pressure 
was felt by Simon, whose position thus became the more 
involved. The license of the French prelates at last exceeded 
all bounds. Urged on by the Nuncio, Mgr. Czacky, the Arch- 
bishop of Paris, the Bishops of Nevers, Nimes, Poitiers and 
others issued mimdcments which were virtually so many calls to 
arms. The fashionable Lenten preachers in Paris — Father 
Monsabre at Notre Dame, Father Ollivier at St. Germain 
PAuxerrois, Abbe Combalot at St. Roch, Abbe Dunand at 
Ste. Clotilde, Father Lescceur at the Madeleine, Abbe Feret at 
Notre Dame des Victoires, Abbe Vernhes at St. Augustin, and 
others — joined the campaign with more or less fervour. Had 
the Church had its way it would have ruined France in 1877, 
have laid her open to fresh invasion and fresh dismemberment, 
even as it would have repeatedly done the same in later years — 
regardless as it ever is of the welfare of nations provided that 
it can effect its purposes — selfish, grasping, and un- Christian 
purposes, in our opinion, though its partisans claim them to 
be " for the greater glory of God."" Never, in all the history 
of Christianity has any regime been attacked so unremittingly 
by the Church, as the Third French Republic has been. But 
even the worm will turn, and those who sow the storm may 
reap the whirlwind. 

Amid the agitation which prevailed in 1877, the Count de 
Chambord thought fit to intervene. "Every enemy of the 
Church is an enemy of France," he wrote in a letter to a friend, 
magnanimously overlooking the fact that Pius IX., so exacting 
with respect to his own pretensions, had not hesitated to sneer 
at his, the Count's, failure to secure the throne of France, 
remarking : " Tout ca pour une serviette," a very irreverent 
manner of designating the white flag. However, the language 
of the Bishop of Nevers became so violent that Martel, Minister 



JULES SIMON'S MINISTRY 199 

of Justice and Worship under Simon, wrote the prelate a letter 
of reprimand on MacMahon's behalf. But that did not satisfy 
the Republican Deputies. On May 4 there came an important 
debate in which Gambetta figured prominently. Simon knew 
that the popular leader was right in his denunciation of the 
agitation into which the clerical party had plunged the country, 
and he therefore bowed to a vote of the Chamber declaring 
that the Ultramontane demonstrations were a danger to peace. 
MacMahon must have known that such was the case. Never- 
theless, he was angered by his Administration's surrender to 
Gambetta, and it thus came to pass that on the morning of 
May 16 Jules Simon received a letter in which the Marshal 
virtually dismissed him from his office. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE SIXTEENTH OF MAY — GAMBETTA AND THIERS — 
THE GREAT EXHIBITION — MACMAHONS DEFEAT 
AND FALL 

The Marshal's Coup tie Tele and his New Ministry— Oscar de Fortou and 
his Functionaries — Dissolution of the Chamber — Gambetta's Position — 
His Life with his Aunt— His Sojourn at San Sebastian— A Glance at his 
Amours — His Return to France and his Home in Paris — The Parisian 
Press — Gambetta's Organ, La BipubUqtu Framgcdn — His Fortune 
and his Political Leadership— He calls on MacMahon to submit or 
resign— Last Days and Death of Thiers — General Elections — Fall of 
Broglie and Fortou— The Rochebouet Cabinet— The Marshal submits— 
Leo XIII. succeeds Pius IX.— The great Paris Exhibition— Gaieties and 
Songs of the Period— MacMahon at the Elysee— Mme. de MacMahon 
and her Charities— The Duval and Cora Pearl Scandal— Crimes of the 
Time— The great Military Commands— The Marshal Resigns. 

Just as the regime established under Louis Philippe's sovereignty 
is so often called the " Monarchy of July," from the circum- 
stance that it originated in the Revolution of July 1830, so 
the period which followed MacMahon's dismissal of Jules 
Simon is known historically as the Sixteenth of May, that 
having been the date of the dismissal in question. This so- 
called Sixteenth of May period lasted until November 20 in 
the same year, when the successors of Simon's Administration 
resigned. Although the Sixteenth of May has often been 
called a " Coup d'Etat," it was less that than a coup de tete on 
MacMahon's part. According to Count, then Viscount, 
Emmanuel d'Harcourt, the Marshal's Chief Secretary, pressure 
had been brought to bear on him by persons who asserted that 
Simon was deliberately preparing the accession to power of the 
Radicals headed by Gambetta. MacMahon's first impulse 
after the Chamber's vote on the Ultramontane demonstrations 
was, it seems, to resign office, but he abstained from doing so 

200 



THE SIXTEENTH OF MAY 201 

chiefly on account of the outlook abroad, and the possibility of 
France becoming involved in war, for apart from the bad effects 
of the clerical intrigues on the relations of the Republic with 
Germany and Italy, the Eastern question had become acute, 
agitation and revolt in the Balkans leading to war between 
Turkey and Russia, whose troops were now on the point of 
crossing the Danube. Moreover, the circumstance that a great 
Paris Exhibition — the first to be held under the Republic — was 
being prepared for the ensuing year also helped to dissuade the 
Marshal from resignation. In lieu thereof he dismissed Simon, 
with the intention of dissolving the Chamber and appealing to 
the constituencies, in the hope that fresh elections might result 
in the return of a Conservative majority. Simon subsequently 
stated that the pressure which resulted in his overthrow was 
exercised largely by two men, one the notorious Bishop 
Dupanloup of Orleans, who long contrived to keep Littre out 
of the Academy, and virtually quitted it when the great lexico- 
grapher was at last elected ; while the other was an energetic 
functionary of strong Imperialist views, M. Ernest Pascal, then 
Prefect at Lyons. Simon did not accept his dismissal without 
attempting to expostulate, but MacMahon retorted that he 
had made all possible concessions to the legislative majority, 
and could no longer retain a Ministry which followed in 
Gambetta's wake. The Duke d'Audiffret-Pasquier, President 
of the Senate, who had originally recommended Simon for the 
Premiership, was equally unsuccessful when he also tried to 
dissuade MacMahon from the course he was adopting. 

The two men to whom the Marshal entrusted the compo- 
sition of his new Administration do not appear to have known 
of his intention to summon them or to have taken any direct 
part in effecting Simon's overthrow. They were the Duke de 
Broglie and M. Oscar Bardy de Fortou. The former may well 
have had reason to believe that a crisis was impending, but, 
according to Viscount d'Harcourt, he had not once called at 
the Elysee since Simon's assumption of office. Fortou, for his 
part, had been staying for some time at his native place, 
Riberac, in southern France, where his wife was lying ill, and 
she had just become convalescent and he was on the point of 
taking her to Arcachon when a telegram from MacMahon 
summoned him to Paris. In the Cabinet, which he and Broglie 
speedily formed, the Duke Decazes, the Viscount de Meaux, 



202 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

MM. Caillaux, Brunet, Paris, General Berthaud, and Admiral 
Gicquel des Touches found places. 

Fortou, born in 1836, was at this time in the prime of life. 
An advocate by profession, he had long practised at the bar of 
Riberac, and in 1869 had offered to stand as a candidate for 
the Legislative Body of the Empire. The Government patron- 
ising, however, the son of M. de La Valette, Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, Fortou withdrew, and it followed that, on 
being elected to the National Assembly of 1871, he had no 
embarrassing political antecedents. A hard worker, he attracted 
the notice of Thiers, and became one of his Ministers of Public 
Works. But he soon set himself on the side of the broom- 
handle, in such wise that, when Thiers was swept away, Broglie 
made him Minister of Education. He next became Buffet's 
Minister of the Interior, to which post he now returned. 

Fortou was a man of the middle height, with a somewhat 
dapper figure, on which he prided himself, being always care- 
fully attired in a tightly buttoned frock-coat and light trousers. 
His hats shone brilliantly, and his neckties and gloves were of 
the most delicate hues. He had a small, bald, shiny head, 
fringed with short, curly, black hair. His full, brush - like 
beard ranged in colour from black to brown, but his moustache 
was streaked with grey. A straight and pointed nose projected 
from his long, brown face, and he gazed at you, through folding 
glasses, with tired eyes, whence crows'* feet radiated conspicu- 
ously. The brow was somewhat bumpy, the lips denoted 
sensuality, and disclosed the whitest and sharpest of teeth 
whenever they parted, as was not unfrequently the case, in a 
carnivorous smile, suggesting that of the tiger of the familiar 
" Limerick " after he had accommodated the Nigerian lady 
with a ride. At the tribune Fortou spoke in a somewhat 
resonant voice, with a slight southern accent, while resting his 
left hand on his hip, and emphasising his words in a hammering 
or pounding fashion with his right hand. His language was 
clear, haughty, often defiant. 

Such was the Gascon upstart — a blending of viveur, sports- 
man, lawyer, and politician — who, like some reincarnation of 
the Duke de Morny, stepped upon the scene with the intention 
of subduing France and reducing the Republic to a mere 
terminological status. He claimed to be an expert physio- 
gnomist, able to judge men at a glance, and the quality was 



THE SIXTEENTH OF MAY 203 

essential to one in his position, for the first duty which fell on 
him was to remove Republican officials and replace them by 
men on whom he could personally rely. Yet it may be doubted 
if Fortou possessed the qualification he claimed, for he pro- 
vided the ship of State with a very extraordinary crew. He 
made over two hundred appointments during the first fortnight 
or so of his administration, allotting the numerous prefectures 
and sub-prefectures chiefly to members of the petty provincial 
noblesse, the appearance of whose names on official decrees and 
orders seemed like some sudden resurrection of the past. 
There were Marquises, Counts, Viscounts, and Barons galore. 
Their names were Le Tendre de Tourville, Delpon de Vissec, 
Raffelis de Brosses, Bohy de la Chapelle, Falcon de Cimier, 
Toustain du Manoir, Villeneuve d'Esclapon, Poulain de la 
Foresterie, de Bastard, de Riancey, de Nervo, de Behr, de 
Casteras, de Callac, de Foucault, de Viaris, de Fournes, de 
Puyferrat, de Watrigant, de Beauvallon, de Chevalard, de la 
Rigaudie, de la Morandiere, and so forth. These reputed 
descendants of the Crusaders provided themselves with the 
finest possible uniforms, all glittering with silver embroidery, 
and arrived at their posts with their horses, carriages, hounds, 
body-servants, cooks, and wives, the latter being naturally 
accompanied by multitudinous trunks replete with Parisian 
finery. The cooks were soon in great request, for the 16th 
of May period was emphatically one of feasting throughout 
France. While all subordinate officials who remained steadfast 
in their Republican opinions were speedily dismissed, all who 
were willing to do the bidding of M. le Prefet or M. le Sous 
Prefet, and aid and abet those noble personages in persecuting 
Republicans and influencing the electorate in a Conservative 
sense, were dined and wined and otherwise entertained with 
profuse liberality. It was a very gay Carnival indeed for some 
folk, but they made the mistake of imagining that it would 
last for ever. Unfortunately for them, in the ensuing month 
of December, all but four of the functionaries appointed by 
Fortou were in their turn dismissed, and the multitudinous 
officials whom he or his creatures had revoked came back to 
their own again. 

But we are anticipating. The Republican party lost no 
time in protesting against MacMahon's coup de tete. It 
prepared for action at a meeting held on the very evening of 



204 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

May 16, and on the following day the Chamber of Deputies 
passed a resolution setting forth that it would give its con- 
fidence solely to a Ministry possessed of real freedom of action 
and willing to govern in accordance with Republican principles. 
MacMahon retorted on the 18th by proroguing the Chamber 
for a month. When it again met there was a great parlia- 
mentary battle, Gambetta leading the attack against Fortou, 
whose Administration was censured by a formal vote. But the 
Marshal President had now applied to the Senate for the 
necessary authorisation to dissolve the Chamber, and the 
Senate granting it by 149 to 130 votes, the dissolution was 
decreed on June 25. Thus the battle began. 

The Republicans were led by Thiers and Gambetta. Thanks 
to the latter's influence the former's leadership was now 
accepted by the advanced sections of the party, and in spite 
of his great age, the veteran statesman evinced no little eager- 
ness for the fray. Gambetta, on his side, was no longer the 
man of the war period, the fou furieux denounced by Thiers, 
the uncompromising autocrat of Bordeaux, whom his colleagues 
of the National Defence had deemed it necessary to depose, for 
experience had taught him that nothing really useful could be 
effected by haste or violence, and that patience and perseverance 
must be severely practised. Thus, without renouncing his 
ideals, he had largely modified his tactics, in such wise as to 
win the reputation of a Ripublicain de gouvernement. 

Now and again he still " let himself go," as the saying runs, 
but for the most part he sought to keep his feelings under 
control. Nature had implanted in him passion, impetuosity, 
and a certain fitfulness of mood. It is not generally known 
that soon after the declaration of war in 1870, being in very 
indifferent health, he betook himself to Switzerland, staying at 
the Chateau des Cretes, near Clarens, as the guest of its owner, 
M. Dubochet, Chairman of the Paris Gas Company and a 
director of the Eastern Railway Line, with whom he had 
become acquainted some years previously. One of his com- 
panions on this occasion was his friend Andre Lavertujon, by 
whom we know that he never for a moment anticipated the 
defeat of the Imperial armies. On the contrary, he was for 
ever repeating his conviction that France would give Germany 
"a sound drubbing.'" He refused to believe the news of the 
first reverses, and it was only when the situation became really 



GAMBETTA 205 

serious that he was willing to return to Paris. That his 
optimism continued during the remainder of the War is well 
known. As head of the Government at Tours and Bordeaux, 
he always believed in ultimate success, however severe and 
numerous might be the blows which fell on the armies he 
raised. But after he had voted against the preliminaries of 
peace and resigned his seat in the National Assembly, profound 
depression came upon him. He was also quite run down — not 
only suffering from laryngitis, but exhausted by his terrific 
expenditure of energy during the last stages of the War. 

He therefore repaired to San Sebastian accompanied by his 
private secretary, Sandrique, and his aunt, Mile. Massabie. 
She was his mother's sister, and had resided with him in Paris 
almost ever since his call to the bar. Their home was at first 
a modest flat on the fourth floor of a dingy house in the Rue 
Bonaparte, and their joint means were scanty, for Gambetta 
received very little money from his father, and was not at first 
particularly successful in obtaining briefs, while Mile. Massabie 
only disposed of a very slender private income. She was, 
however, most devoted to her nephew, and believed firmly in 
his future. France is a land where the humblest may attain 
to the highest positions. Gambetta himself was an example 
of it, as were Thiers, Jules Simon, and others of that period. 
Particularly numerous in art, too, have been the celebrities sprung 
from the ranks of the French people : Rude and Gamier, both 
of them blacksmiths' 1 sons ; Baudry, whose father made wooden 
shoes ; Carpeaux, whose father was a stone-mason ; Millet, who 
sprang from artisans ; Courbet, who was of peasant stock ; 
Gerome, the son of a journeyman goldsmith ; Theodore 
Rousseau, whose parentage also was lowly. Of many famous 
scientists, literary men, and military men, might the same be 
said ; and Gambetta, who in his younger days was fond of 
recalling that circumstance, in some degree based, on the rise 
of talent in literature, art, science, war, and statesmanship, that 
theory of the accession to power and position of new social 
strata {nouvelles couches sociales) which he set forth in one of 
his most famous speeches. 

The first notable improvement in his own position resulted 
from his election as a member of the Legislative Body in 1869, 
whereupon he and Mile. Massabie quitted the Rue Bonaparte 
for No. 12 Avenue Montaigne, in the Champs Ely sees quarter. 



206 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

In spite of its situation, however, the house was a very modest 
one, and the chief advantages of the young deputy's new flat 
were that it contained six rooms and was on the second instead 
of the fourth floor, an important consideration as regards 
Mile. Massabie, for she was lame, and her lameness increased 
with advancing years though, like the good housewife she was, 
she still and ever insisted on doing all marketing herself. The 
manage was, so to say, one of the halt and the blind, for if 
Aunt Massabie were lame, her nephew, as we previously 
related, had lost an eye. In that connection let us add that in 
1867, as the condition of the damaged organ seemed likely to 
affect the sight of the other, it was removed by Dr. Fieuzal, a 
famous oculist of the time, and replaced by a glass eye, whereby 
Gambetta's appearance was considerably improved. Neverthe- 
less, that side of his face remained drawn, and became before 
long lifeless, almost paralysed. 

It being impossible for him to take his aunt out of Paris 
in the balloon by which he quitted the city in October 1870, 
she remained there throughout the German Siege. With her 
devoted nature, she suffered perhaps more from the separation 
than from any physical privation or hardship. At all events, 
when the siege was over, she vowed that nothing but death 
should ever part her from her Leon again. He took her, then, 
to San Sebastian, where he rented some rooms in a house over- 
looking the bay — La Concha, as it is called — and led a very 
quiet life, his only visitors being Ranc, Spuller, and one or two 
other intimates. Rising at six o'clock in the morning (as was 
his habit throughout his life), he usually spent some time on 
the shore, delighting in the view of the sea, and then strolled 
through the town, wearing a short jacket and a soft felt hat, 
with a silk scarf, in lieu of collar, about his neck. At eleven 
o'clock he sat down outside the Cafe de la Marina, drank a 
little vermouth, smoked a cigar, and afterwards returned home 
to dejeuner. There is a legend that he spent most of his time 
in fishing, but he indulged in that recreation on only a few 
occasions, such as when he took a boat to the island of Sta. 
Clara at the entrance of the bay, and tried to capture a few 
specimens of the curious rock -boring mollusc known on our 
coasts as the piddock. It may be taken at low tide, but, in 
order to effect a capture, it is generally necessary to break the 
rock in which it artfully conceals itself. 



GAMBETTA 207 

Again, it is not correct that Gambetta had any Egeria — 
apart from "Tatan" Massabie — with him at San Sebastian. 
His connection with "Leonie Leon"" began somewhat later, 1 
and an interlude had supervened in his intercourse with a 
beautiful vocalist. Even as his letters to Leonie Leon exist, so 
are there several addressed to that earlier inamorata, letters 
beginning at times Ma chere Moid, at others Ma chere Reine, 
and signed, for the most part, Lonlon. There is one which 
well exemplifies the usual irony of life, for it promises ever- 
lasting faithfulness in glowing language. Gambetta himself 
had written the following verses, which show that he did not 
believe in constancy, besides supplying ample proof that how- 
ever great he might be as an orator, he was a very indifferent 
poet: 

Ah, pourquoi done t'ai-je promis 

De t' aimer, Ninon, pour la vie ? 

Un pareil serment e'est folie 

Quand les coeurs sont tant insoumis. 

Au temps printanier des pervenches, 
A l'heure ou le soir, calme et doux, 
Allume les e'toiles blanches, 
Lampes d'amour des guilledous, 

On croit s'adorer des annees, 
On a le coeur pres du bonnet ; 
Sitot les persiennes fermees, 
Adieu l'amour que Ton jurait ! 

Mile. " Mout " would appear to have quitted Paris before 
the German Siege began, and to have been near the young 
Dictator at Tours and Bordeaux while he was directing the 
National Defence. Later, the intercourse was momentarily 
resumed in Paris, but, as already mentioned, the pair were not 
together at San Sebastian. At one moment, Gambetta quitted 
that retreat for Madrid, where he spent a few days with 
Castelar, whom he had known in France, and the Spanish 
statesman subsequently related that almost the first words 
which Gambetta addressed to him were words of complaint 
respecting "the shameful manner in which he had been 

1 There are a good many inaccuracies in M. Francis Laur's little work Le 
Coeur de Gambetta. The very frontispiece of the book is wrongly dated 
** 1875," for it depicts Mile. Leon in attire such as no woman ever wore at 
that date, but which was the current fashion in Paris and elsewhere in 1868- 
1869, that is, long before Leonie Leon ever met Gambetta. 



208 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

abandoned by several old friends on whom he believed he could 
rely." He appeared, indeed, quite disheartened, and even 
spoke of settling permanently in Spain. 

He was led to return to France by peculiar circumstances. 
Among the French residents at San Sebastian was an old 
Republican named Victor Herzman, who was very desirous that 
Gambetta should again take part in the affairs of his country. 
Accompanied, therefore, by a M. Edouard Dupuy, who kept a 
French hotel in the town, Herzman called on Gambetta at a 
moment when certain complementary elections for the National 
Assembly were impending. That very day Gambetta had re- 
ceived a telegram from Marseilles asking him to become a 
candidate there, and the Bordeaux Republicans had proffered a 
similar request, to which, however, he was unwilling to accede. 

" I can't go ! " he said to Herzman. " We protested, my 
friends and myself, against that Assembly, and we deny that it 
possesses any constituent powers at all. Remember that if it 
should select a king, it would be incumbent on us, after taking 
part in its deliberations, to bow to its decision. By refraining 
from doing so, and stubbornly adhering to our protests, we 
reserve all our rights for the future. ,, 

To that view he seemed to cling in spite of all that Herzman 
could plead. Nevertheless, the latter's words produced some 
effect, and a curious incident, which occurred the same day, led 
to a complete reversal of Gambetta's decision. A needy and 
suspicious-looking individual, who had just taken a room in the 
same house as himself, came to him begging for assistance on 
the ground that he had fled from France owing to his participa- 
tion in the Commune. Gambetta, after questioning the man, 
did not believe his story, but suspected that he was a police 
spy sent to watch him. On the following morning, then, he 
informed Edouard Dupuy that he was returning to France at 
once. He did so, and at a public meeting held at Bordeaux on 
his arrival there he delivered a very able and pacific speech, 
which had no little influence on public opinion, and began to 
rehabilitate him among folk who held that he had hitherto 
carried extremist and bellicose views too far. His text was 
briefly this : " Unto each day its task : — France had experienced 
terrible disasters. They, and the condition of the nation 
generally, were largely due to ignorance. The nation had to 
be built up afresh in all respects, and to accomplish this, the 






GAMBETTA 209 

very first thing was to develop its education." Re-elected a 
member of the National Assembly both by Paris and by 
Marseilles, Gambetta now became the Radical leader in the 
Legislature, his efforts tending to transform the Republican 
groups into a real parti de gouvernement and to influence the 
country generally in favour of a Republican rigime. Neverthe- 
less, for a little while longer, he went at times somewhat farther 
in his speeches than was necessary or advisable, and Thiers and 
his Administration paid the penalty of such indiscretions. 

Gambetta was now again residing in the Avenue Montaigne. 
The flat there comprised a room where his secretary worked, 
another where he worked himself, a dining-room, where he 
entertained old friends at lunch on Sundays, a drawing-room, 
a bed-room which he occupied, another for Aunt Massabie, and 
a kitchen. Each apartment was very small, the furniture was 
very simple, there were no signs of luxury, the only decorations 
in the drawing-room being Henner's painting of Alsace, a few 
canvases depicting battle scenes, a large photograph of Rude's 
famous bas-relief, " Le Chant du Depart," and the portraits of a 
few friends. For some time, the only work of art in Gambetta's 
workroom was a bronze bust of Mirabeau, which stood on 
the mantelshelf. In April 1872, however, a deputation of 
Alsatians and Lorrainers presented him with a remarkable 
group in bronze — the work of Bartholdi of Colmar — in which 
Alsace was depicted as a squatting woman, with the corpse of 
her brother resting on her knees, while with outstretched, 
threatening hands, she directed the attention of a clinging 
child to some one whom she saw afar — as if, indeed, she were 
calling on that child to avenge the wrong as soon as he might 
come to manhood. 

On returning to active life, Gambetta merely had his salary 
as a deputy to live upon. As delegate of the National Defence 
he had contracted debts, some of which were worrying him. 
To further his policy, however, he contrived, with the co- 
operation of some friends, to establish a daily newspaper, en- 
titled La Republiqm Fran^aise. 1 This venture certainly seemed 
advisable, all the parties and leaders of the time having one or 
several organs, more or less directly under their control. For 

1 The first idea was to call the journal La Revanche, but that seemed 
somewhat premature ; and a second idea to entitle it Le Patriote was re- 
jected because it seemed too particularist in character. 

P 



210 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

instance, there was V Union, which, as the mouthpiece of the 
extreme Legitimists, was often more Royalist than the King 
himself. Its editor, the venerable M. de Laurentie, was the 
father of French journalists at that time, having been born on 
the very day of Louis XVI.'s execution in 1793. Then there 
was La Gazette de France, the oldest newspaper extant, and the 
inspired organ of the Count de Chambord, its editor being M. 
Gustave Janicot, who received his cues direct from the Count's 
authorised representative. W Hirers, in the hands of the 
famous Louis Veuillot, gave the Pretender a respectful but 
independent support, based on the hope that he would consent 
to be guided by the Jesuits. Ix Monde, another clerical organ, 
with a large staff of priests, followed in part the lead of Bishop 
Dupanloup, and in part that of its largest shareholder, the 
Duke de La Rochefoucauld-Bisaccia. 

Le Journal de Paris, edited by Edmond Herve, represented 
the Count de Paris. Le Soleil, a halfpenny paper, was started 
by the Duke d'Aumale for circulation among the peasantry 
and working classes, some 30,000 copies of each issue being 
distributed gratis. Le Francavi was the organ of the Duke de 
Broglie, and VAssembUe Nationale that of the Duke d'Audiffret 
Pasquier, while Le Constitution ncl had become the journal of 
M. Magne. 1 Ix Figaro, for the time being, supported the 
Legitimists ; La Patrie, once Napoleon III.'s favourite journal, 
had become temporarily an Orleanist print ; and the same had 
happened with Le Momteur universe!. Paris- Journal was a 
copy of the Figaro, quieter in tone and choicer in its language, 
but quite as anti- Republican. Last on the list of the 
Monarchist organs came Le Journal des Dtbats, from which 
those extremely moderate Republicans, Leon Say and St. Marc- 
Girardin, had been compelled to retire by the conversion of 
the editor, M. John Lemoinne, to Royalist views. 

The Bonapartists, on their part, disposed of La Presse, 
under Viscount de la Gueronniere; UOrdre, under Clement 
Duvernois, who was succeeded by Dugue de la Fauconnerie ; Le 
Pays under the Cassagnacs, father and son ; and Ix Gaulois 
edited by Edmond Tarbe, that being before the time when it 
fell into the hands of an Orleanist syndicate, who placed the 
intriguing, tuft-hunting Arthur Meyer at the head of it. 

On the Republican side, the chief papers were Le Bien 
1 See ante, pp. 138, 139, 171. 



THE PARIS PRESS 211 

Public, owned by Thiers and edited by Henri Vrignault; Le 
Temps conducted by Nefftzer and supporting Republicanism 
rather on grounds of expediency than of affection ; La Liberie, 
belonging to Emile de Girardin and flighty and erratic in its 
views ; Ufivtuement, a kind of Republican Figaro ; Le Dix- 
neuvieme Steele, directed by Edmond About, who had forsaken 
the cult of literature for that of the demon politics ; Le Siecle, 
then the powerful anti-clerical organ of the French licensed 
victuallers ; Le National and VOpinion Nationale, which were 
equally anti-clerical ; Le Rappel, which, under Francois Victor 
Hugo, Paul Meurice and Auguste Vacquerie, verged on Red 
Republicanism ; and VA venir National which, under Edmond 
Portalis, expounded even more extreme views. Finally there 
was the daily satirical journal Le Charivari, which, as directed 
by Pierre Veron, also worked for the Republican cause. 

It might be thought that among such a crowd of daily 
newspapers a new one would have small chance of support, but 
Gambetta's powerful personality commanded success, and, from 
the very outset, prosperity attended La Republique Francaise. 
The original capital, scraped together with difficulty, was, we 
believe, only i?5000, but it was afterwards increased consider- 
ably, a large number of the shares being allotted to Gambetta 
in return for his patronage and services. He became the 
salaried political director of the new paper, the actual editor- 
ship being allotted at first to his friend Eugene Spuller, 1 and 
later to Challemel - Lacour, an able and scholarly writer, who, 
however, while Prefect at Lyons, had blundered somewhat in 
dealing with the Communist rising there, he being hardly 
the man to contend with such a situation. He subsequently 
became French Ambassador in London. Among the leader- 
writers on La Republique Francaise, were Ranc and Allain- 
Targe. Antonin Proust dealt with foreign affairs. Floquet 
was an occasional contributor on topics of the day. Isembert 
was the chief sub-editor, Thomson (since a Minister and 
Governor of Algeria) assisting him. One feature of the paper 
in its earlier days was a "portrait gallery ," that is, a series 
of biting articles on prominent anti- Republicans, written 
chiefly by Challemel -Lacour, Ranc, and Dyonis Ordinaire. 
They were stopped, however, at the fall of Thiers, in order to 
avoid a prosecution. 

1 See ante, pp. 2, 15, 206'. 



212 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

When the paper was first started — in November 1871 — its 
offices were in the Rue du Croissant, whither Gambetta re- 
paired regularly every evening ; but, before long, the venture 
proved so successful that a house was purchased in the Chaussee 
d"Antin at a cost of i?22,000; and the printing works, the 
editorial and publishing offices, and the political directorate 
were concentrated there. A suite of rooms was fitted up for 
Gambetta's accommodation, and he was allowed the use of a 
brougham, hired from the Paris General Cab Company at a 
cost of i?26 a month. A legend then sprang up about the 
ex-dictator's " mansion " and " stylish equipages," but the facts 
were simply as we have mentioned. Although Gambetta's 
share in the proprietary of La RSpubUque Francaise became 
valuable, and yielded a considerable income, his means did not 
increase so largely as they might have done, as, for purposes of 
propaganda, a popular one sou journal reflecting his policy — 
La Petite Republique — was soon established, and consumed, we 
believe, a large amount of money, in spite of its extensive 
circulation. 1 

In the Chaussee dWntin, Gambetta continued to lead a 
very simple life; He had a valet, a young man called Francois, 
who had been in his service at Tours during the war ; but there 
was nothing pretentious about his little establishment. Mile. 
Massabie did not follow her nephew to his new abode — perhaps 
on account of his intercourse with Leonie Leon, who was often 
in the Chaussee d'Antin — and he may, perhaps, have missed the 
old lady's southern cuisine, those savoury ragouts, and those 
cassoulets of beans and smoked goose of which he was extremely 
fond. 2 That he was partial to the pleasures of the table can- 

1 It was long thought that Gambetta 's millionaire friend, M. Dubochet of 
the Paris Gas Company, would leave him a large legacy, for Dubochet had 
often expressed the view that the head of a political party ought to be a man 
of means. There was, too, a story to the effect that one day when Gambetta 
was admiring Dubochet's estate, the charmingly situated Chateau des 
Cretes, his friend told him with a smile that it would one day belong to 
him. However, when Dubochet died, it was found that he had be- 
queathed his property to his natural heirs, his nephew, M. Guichard, and 
his niece, Mrae. Arnaud de l'Ariege. The value of the deceased's estate was 
very great, and M. Guichard and his sister, opining that their uncle had 
merely neglected to alter a will made many years previously, offered 
Gambetta a large sum of money — according to some accounts, £80,000. He 
declined the gift, however, in a very friendly way. 

2 Mile. Massabie eventually became paralysed, and was removed to the 
residence of Gambetta's parents at Nice, where she died. That residence, 



GAMBETTA'S SPEECHES 213 

not be denied, and, as we shall see hereafter, that very par- 
tiality was the immediate cause of his death. We remember 
that in the days when all Paris was humming a popular ditty, 
"L'Amant d' Amanda," originally sung by Libert at one of 
the Cafes -Concerts in the Champs Elysees, there appeared a 
rather amusing parody of the song, with this refrain : — 

Voyez ce beau mangeur-la, 
C'est Gambetta,, c'est Gambetta ! 
Voyez ce beau mangeur-la, 

C'est Gambetta, 

C'n'est qu'ca ! 

If, as we previously said, there was still some violence 
and extravagance in the speeches which Gambetta made in 
various parts of France during Thiers's presidency (his 
journalistic enterprise, his peregrinations and utterances prompt- 
ing Sardou to write his famous political comedy Rabagas — 
1872) the accession of MacMahon and the dangers to which 
the Republic then became exposed inclined him more and more 
to moderate courses. He contributed powerfully to the voting 
of the Constitution in 1875, urging his party to accept com- 
promises, agreeing to the creation of a Senate, much as he 
disliked such an institution, even preaching resignation and 
patience, and founding, already then, what eventually became 
known as the Opportunist school of politics. Nevertheless, he 
could remain firm if he felt that the position required it, 
and when the clerical agitation became dangerous he spoke out 
freely. The famous speech which he delivered at Romans in 
1876 was prophetic. He foresaw on that occasion all the 
reactionary efforts which the Church put forth again and again 
in later years, efforts which, as we know, have compelled the 
Republic to dissolve the religious orders, close the clerical 
schools, and separate Church and State. And however power- 
ful the clerical party might be under the aegis of MacMahon, 
Gambetta attacked it boldly, declaring that Clericalism was the 
enemy, that in Clericalism, and in that alone, the real social 
peril which threatened the country was to be found. 

In the following year, when MacMahon had dissolved the 
Chamber, Gambetta again evinced energy and daring. Repair- 
built in 1872, was declared by Gambetta's enemies to have been erected with 
all the money he had stolen during the war, but it was a modest place cost- 
ing no more than some £1200 out of his father's careful savings. 



214 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

ing to the north of France, he delivered speeches at Amiens, 
Abbeville, and Lille, which brought repeated prosecutions upon 
him. He braved them scornfully, still exhorting the country 
to re-elect all the deputies — 363 in number — who had declared 
against the Broglie-Fortou Government, and prophesying, with 
superb confidence, that those 363 would become at least 400. 
So great was his influence at this time that, Prince Napoleon 
Jerome having been one of the 363, he prevailed on the 
Republican party to overlook the Prince's name and antecedents, 
and support his candidature. At last, confident as he was of 
victory, Gambetta did not hesitate to declare that when France 
had made her sovereign voice heard, it would be necessary to 
submit or resign (se soumettre ou se dhnettrc), 1 a reference to 
the position awaiting MacMahon, which drew on the Republican 
champion yet another prosecution. Nevertheless, he pursued 
his crusade as energetically as ever. 

Thiers also was exerting himself as much as his age allowed. 
His house in Paris, the Hotel Bagration, had long been one of 
the chief centres of opposition to MacMahon's reactionary 
ministries, although he had taken little active part in actual 
parliamentary matters. From the time of his fall, indeed, he 
intervened only once in debate, this being in March 1874, 
when important additions to the fortifications of Paris were 
proposed. In the following winter, Thiers proceeded to Italy, 
but returned to Versailles in time to vote for the Constitution 
of 1875. At the subsequent general elections, Belfort returned 
him as a senator, and Paris as a deputy, the latter post being 
the one he selected. At the advent of the Fortou-Broglie 
Ministry, he signed the manifesto of the 363, that being 
virtually his last public act, though, as the recognised leader of 
the Republican party, he took a large part privately in direct- 
ing the campaign. As it progressed, he became restless, excited, 
perhaps even a little anxious, although he was by nature an 
optimist, fond of quoting from Chenier's Jeune Captive, the 
lines : 

L'illusion feconde habite dans mon sein, 

J'ai les ailes de l'esperance. 

It was virtually certain that if MacMahon should be defeated 
at the elections and should then prefer to resign rather than 

1 There is a story that the expression was suggested to him by Mme. 
Edmond Adam. 



I 



LAST DAYS AND DEATH OF THIERS 215 

submit, he, Thiers, would be reappointed President of the 
Republic, and he may well have looked forward to that 
eventuality. He was now, however, eighty years of age, and 
the state of unrest in which he lived was trying to his health. 
There were no outward signs of a collapse, he looked as well 
as ever on the occasions when he appeared in public at St. 
Germain-en-Laye, where he decided to spend the summer, and 
thus the newspaper reports of his health were most favourable. 
On Saturday, September 1, one of the Paris satirical journals 
appeared with a cartoon which depicted the great little man 
giving a helping arm to poor old Father Time, who was 
portrayed in the last stage of decrepitude, no longer able even to 
carry his scythe, of which, therefore, his companion had kindly 
relieved him. It was an effective cartoon, and Thiers may well 
have smiled at it. He possessed, be it said, a sense of humour, 
and laughed freely at caricatures of himself, even when they 
were malicious. 

But the end was near. On Monday, September 3, after 
devoting his morning to the chief points which it was proposed 
to set out in a manifesto to the country on behalf of the whole 
Republican party, he was suddenly taken ill at dejeuner, and 
an attack of apoplexy supervened. Drs. Lepiez and Barthe 
made every effort to save him, but without avail ; he expired 
that evening at ten minutes to six o'clock. The sensation 
throughout France was profound. There was only one course 
for MacMahon and his Ministers to follow. The great services 
which Thiers had rendered to the country on the morrow of 
the War could not be overlooked, and a State funeral, there- 
fore, was immediately decreed. But this implied that all the 
arrangements would be in the hands of the Government, that 
those who had deliberately and persistently warred against 
Thiers and overthrown him would be found hypocritically 
lamenting his loss and heaping praise on his memory at his 
graveside. Mme. Thiers therefore declined the State obsequies, 
and the funeral became a great Republican demonstration. 
The religious ceremony was celebrated at Thiers's parish 
church, Notre Dame de Lorette ; and at the interment in the 
cemetery it was Jules Grevy who spoke for Republican France. 
From that hour Grevy virtually became his party's candidate 
for the Presidency. 

The death of Thiers was a great blow for the cause, and 



216 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

undoubtedly influenced the elections for the new Chamber of 
Deputies, which took place a month later. Thiers had 
commanded a large following of men of strictly moderate 
views, men scarcely inclined, as yet, to follow Gambetta's lead ; 
and their votes were naturally influenced by the ex-President's 
sudden demise. Moreover, Fortou's functionaries, after persecut- 
ing Republicans right and left, prosecuting, suspending, and 
suppressing newspapers all over the country, were bringing all 
possible pressure to bear on the electorate, intrigue, bribery, 
and corruption being rife upon every side. It happened, then, 
that the 363 did not become 400 as Gambetta had predicted. 
Nevertheless, the Republican candidates polled 568,000 more 
votes than they had done in 1876, and 2,551,000 more than 
were secured by the Royalists. Thus the Republican majority 
in the Chamber was, all told, still one of about 120 members. 
Fortou and Broglie naturally fell from power, the new Chamber 
appointing a Committee of Inquiry into their electoral 
proceedings. 

The ensuing elections for the departmental General Councils 
emphasised the Republican victory. Nevertheless, MacMahon 
was still unwilling to bow to the country's decision. He replaced 
his defeated advisers by a " Cabinet of Affairs,' 1 none of whose 
members belonged to the Legislature. The new Premier was 
General Gaetan de Grimaudet de Rochebouet, an officer born 
at Angers in 1813, who had participated in Napoleon III.'s 
Coup d'Etat, and had commanded the artillery of the Imperial 
Guard. He had seen a great deal of service in Algeria, at the 
siege of Rome, in the Crimea, in northern Italy, and with the 
army of Metz, and was reputed to be an energetic and even a 
dangerous man. 1 Ominous rumours respecting his intentions 
circulated in the Republican ranks — indeed, an attempt at a 
Coup d'Etat was apprehended. Thus the Chamber decided on 
the very first day by 315 to 204 votes that it would enter 
into no relations with the new Ministry, and it emphasised its 
views by reappointing Gambetta as President of the Budget 
Committee. It is difficult to say whether a Coup d'Etat was 
really intended. Under Fortou's Administration, MacMahon 
had repeatedly declared, in speeches in Normandy and elsewhere, 

1 Rochebouet took the post of Minister of War. His colleagues were 
Welche (Interior), Faye (Education), Dutilleul (Finances), De Banneville 
(Foreign Affairs), Ozenne (Agriculture), Rear-Admiral Roussin (Marine), and 
Graef (Public Works). 



ROCHEBOUET'S MINISTRY 217 

that the Constitution was not threatened. Nevertheless, certain 
military preparations — either for offensive or defensive purposes 
— were now made, and the doctrine of passive obedience to 
orders, on which Rochebouet insisted in his relations with his 
officers, also helped to agitate the country. However, even if 
unconstitutional designs existed — Rochebouet in later years 
repeatedly denied them — they were abandoned, and the 
" Cabinet of Affairs " resigned. MacMahon then attempted to 
form a semi-Orleanist Ministry headed by Batbie, but failing 
in that endeavour, he decided to make peace with the Chamber, 
and commissioned Dufaure 1 to form a new Administration. 
" Monsieur Dufaure is at least a sensible man," remarked the 
Marshal on this occasion ; " he is religious and upright, and he 
won't lead me into any disaster. But on the day when he goes 
I shall go as well." 

The new year, 1878, opened with an event of great im- 
portance. Pope Pius IX. died, and the Holy College was 
assembled for the election of his successor. We went to Rome 
at that moment for an English newspaper, provided with 
powerful introductions ; and some time before the decision of 
the Conclave, we were able to indicate that Cardinal Pecci 
might well be chosen, although his position as Camerlengo of 
the deceased Pontiff was currently held to militate against his 
chances. In that respect, however, the question was chiefly 
whether certain precedents should be set aside in the superior 
interests of the Church. They were, and after merely three 
days' discussion, Cardinal Pecci became Leo XIII. 2 The Church 
abandoned none of her rights or claims, but a new era began 
with respect to her mode of procedure — one of careful, at times 
artful, diplomacy in lieu of the blusterous but futile fulminations 
of Pius IX. The Clerical excesses in France were somewhat 
checked by the change, although the priestly party never fully 
obeyed the mot tfordre which came from the Vatican. 

For a while, a kind of general truce ensued with the opening 
of the Paris Exhibition of 1878. This was the most important 
world-show held since the great Imperial Carnival in 1867. 
There had been a notable and interesting international exhibition 

1 See ante, p. 195. 

2 It is less difficult at times than the ordinary journalist imagines to fore- 
tell who will be the next Pope. In the case of Leo XIII., Ruggiero Bonghi, 
Raffaello de Cesare, and Mgr. Pappolettere had confidently predicted his 
pontificate. 



218 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

at Vienna in 1873, but it had proved only partially successful, 
owing to a cholera scare for which there was little or no justi- 
fication. The Paris show attracted the greater attention, as 
it was the first held since the war with Germany, and testified 
abundantly to the country's wonderful recovery from its 
disasters. The idea of holding this exhibition emanated from 
Mme. de MacMahon, and it was largely at her instigation that 
M. Kranz, a senator and a moderate Republican, was appointed 
General Commissioner. At the fall of Jules Simon, the Duke 
de Broglie wished to dismiss Kranz, but the latter was upheld 
in his position by the influence of Mme. la Marechale, who, 
regardless of his political views, pronounced him to be the right 
man in the right place. 

Among those present at the inauguration of the Exhibition 
were the Prince of Wales (Edward VII.), the Crown Prince 
(later King) of Denmark, and the Duke of Aosta (sometime 
King of Spain). Germany did not exhibit ; nevertheless, the 
pavilions and adjuncts of the Exhibition now overflowed the 
Champ de Mars, which had been deemed an amply sufficient 
site in 1867. The palace and gardens of the Trocadero sprang 
up as if by enchantment. There were solemnities and gaieties 
innumerable. Paris sang, danced, and crowded to witness every 
display as enthusiastically as she had done in the year of the 
Empire's apogee. Wherever you went you heard the popular 
refrains of the time. There was notably " L'Amant d'Amanda," 
to which we previously referred, and which became "all the 
rage," with its idiotic chorus, mere play on words, running : — 

Voyez ce beau garcon la, 

C'est l'amant d'A — 

C'est l'amant d'A — 
Voyez ce beau garcon la, 

C'est l'amant d'A- 
manda ! 

And, apropos of the opera Paul et Virginie, there was an 
equally silly and therefore popular ditty, which began : — 

Je me nomme Po-Pol, 
Je demeur' a l'entresol, 
De Virginie je suis fol, 
Aussi je m'pousse du col — 

while often enough you heard some song recalling the war 
period. A famous one of the kind celebrated the unavailing 




THE EXHIBITION OF 1878 219 

charge of the French cuirassiers at Worth, or, as it is said in 
France, Reichshoffen : — 

lis reculaient, ces heros invincibles, 

A Reichshoffen la mort fauchait leurs rangs — 
Les ennemis, dans les bois invisibles, 

Comme des loups, poursuivaient ces geants. 
Depuis le jour, au front de la bataille, 

France ! ils portaient ton drapeau glorieux ; 
Us sont tombes, vaincus par la mitraille, 

Et non par ceux qui tremblaient devant eux ! 
Voyez la-bas, comme un eclair d'acier, 
Ces escadrons passer dans la fumee, 
Ils vont mourir, et pour sauver l'armee, 

Donner le sang du dernier cuirassier ! (bis.) 

Again there was a song called, if we remember rightly, 
" Les Ecoliers alsaciens," which showed an old schoolmaster of 
the conquered province secretly teaching the French language 
to the little children under his care. But the tramp of soldiers 
is heard outside the school, and the refrain follows : — 

La patrouille allemande passe — 

Baissez la voix, mes chers petits ; 

Parler francais n'est plus permis 
Aux petits enfants de 1' Alsace. 

These references will show that although Paris had become 
gay again in 1878, the thought of " La Revanche " was still an 
abiding one. 

Among the chief fetes of the time was that given at the 
palace of Versailles. It was not, however, in any way as 
splendid as that offered to Queen Victoria in 1855, nor did 
anything like the orderliness of that occasion prevail. The 
crush on the grand staircase — there were 16,000 guests — became, 
indeed, terrific, and many women only emerged from the meUe 
with their hair down and their costly gowns in tatters. The 
verdict of the more aristocratic invites was that the "new 
social strata," largely represented on this occasion, possessed 
little or no manners. Paris was, of course, crowded with 
foreigners and provincials, and the theatres reaped golden gains. 
The famous Cloches de Corneville, first produced in the previous 
year, was still running at the Folies Dramatiques ; Round the 
World in Eighty Days, was drawing crowds to the Porte St- 
Martin; Le Petit Due, thanks to Jeanne Granier, kept the 
Renaissance full every night ; OrpMe aux Enfers triumphed yet 



220 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

once again at the Theatre Lyrique ; Niniche was all the rage at 
the Varietes, and Babiole at the Bouffes. The Comedie-Francaise 
was naturally to the fore with Augier's play Les Fourchambault ; 
the Gymnase held a success with Le Be'be' ; but the Opera relied 
principally on its staircase and its foyer to attract the exhibition 
crowds — performing VAfncaine, indeed, with a frequency which 
became quite odious. 

We can recall the Bal des Artistes dramatiques that year. 
The chief vocalists and actresses, Krauss, Carvalho, Rosine 
Bloch, Sarah Bernhardt, Croizette and Reichemberg were — as 
usual — absent, but others attended, such as Heilbronn, Samary, 
Judic, Granier, and La Beaugrand (the premiere danseuse of 
" Coppelia "), as well as quite a crowd of women belonging 
partly to the stage and partly to the demi-monde. Leonid e 
Leblanc, Gabrielle Elluini, Caroline Letessier, Amelie Latour, 
Prelly, Valtesse, Angele, and the famous Margot — " the unique 
Margot" as she was called — were all there, shimmering with 
diamonds, and mostly in eighteenth century costumes, which 
were all the rage at that particular moment. The men, who 
laughed with those women, were mostly scions of nobility, or 
rich young fellows of the financial world ; and the brilliance 
and the gaiety of the scene were quite as great as in Imperial 
days. So far as amusement was concerned, Paris had indeed 
become herself again. The masses seemed quite as merry 
as the richer folk. 

Life at the Elysee Palace was naturally full of animation 
at this time. The Marshal's position compelled him to enter- 
tain on a large scale, though personally he much preferred a 
quiet and unostentatious life. In fact, he always seemed to be 
somewhat ill at ease in society. He never appeared in uniform 
unless obliged to do so. His usual attire was a dark blue 
frock-coat with a velvet collar, and dark grey trousers. His 
favourite recreation was riding ; but both before and after his 
Presidency he might often be seen sauntering about the 
Boulevards with his hands in his pockets, and a cigar — he was 
a great smoker — between his lips. One of his most marked 
characteristics was his fondness for children. In 1859, when he 
made his triumphal entry into Milan, he caught up a little girl 
who offered him a bouquet, set her on his holsters, and thus 
rode with her through the town. That pleasing trait of his 
character became yet more evident in advancing years. 









THE MACMAHONS AT THE ^LYS^E 221 

The establishment kept up at the Elysee was fairly large. 
The palace furniture was mostly provided by the State, but 
many accessories were supplied by the Marshal himself. There 
was a civil cabinet and a military one. At the head of the 
former was Viscount Louis Emmanuel d'Harcourt, to whom we 
previously referred, a good-looking, amiable man with a 
smiling face, long moustaches and a full beard. Born in 1844 
he was the younger son of George Trevor Douglas Bernard, 
Marquis d'Harcourt (sometime ambassador in England) by 
his marriage with Mile, de Beaupoil de Ste. Aulaire. This 
was the senior branch of the French Harcourts, the Duke 
d'Harcourt belonging to a junior line. Viscount Emmanuel, 
as he was usually called, was assisted at the Elysee by M. de 
Tanlay. At the head of the Marshal's military cabinet was 
the General Marquis d'Abzac de Mayac, who belonged to 
an old fighting family of south-western France. His coad- 
jutor was Colonel Robert. There was also a chaplain to the 
Presidency, Abbe Bonnefoy, a curate of the Madeleine, who 
afterwards became Bishop of La Rochelle. 

Unlike her sister, the Countess de Beaumont, Mme. de 
MacMahon upheld the traditions of her family, and kept its 
motto, " Fidele au Roi et a rHonneur," well in view. Under the 
Empire she had only appeared at the Tuileries when she was 
absolutely compelled to accompany her husband to some State 
ceremony there. She never attended the Empress's Mondays. 
Whatever her principles might be, she was distinctly an 
able woman. Her manners were very simple, and so was her 
attire, her gowns being generally of some dark hue. We 
recollect, however, that at one great reception of the time she 
presented a striking appearance in a long robe a traine of black 
velvet with a broad red sash falling from her waist, and a large 
spray of red geraniums in her black hair. She never made any 
display of jewellery, even the little she wore was of small value. 
In spite of her embonpoint, her appearance was distinguished, 
and she well knew how to hold her position. She was an 
excellent mother, most solicitous respecting her sons and her 
daughter, and attentive to their studies. The boys, before the 
family moved to the Elysee, attended the college of Versailles. 
At the time of the Franco-German War, Mme. de MacMahon 
had been a leading member of the Committee of the French 
Red Cross Society for the Relief of the Wounded, and had 



222 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

done no little good work in that connection. 1 In 1874 she 
established a society for providing poor children with clothes, 
and in the following year organised a very successful subscrip- 
tion for the benefit of the sufferers from the inundations in 
southern France. At religious and other ceremonies she 
frequently collected money for charitable purposes. She was, 
for instance, until her death, a prominent figure at the annual 
mass celebrated at the Madeleine for all soldiers and seamen 
killed in the service of France, on which occasions, wearing the 
Red Cross badge on her arm, she would go round the church 
collecting for the society's benefit. 

The MacMahons usually spent a part of the summer and 
the autumn at the chateau of La Forest in the Loiret, not very 
far from Montargis. There was some fairly good shooting 
there. The chateau, built originally in the time of St. Louis, 
was given by Philippe-le-Hardi to his tutor and chamberlain, 
Pierre de Machault. In 1840, it came into the possession 
of the Castries family and passed by inheritance to Mme. de 
MacMahon. We believe also that the Marshal's private 
residence in Paris — 70 Rue de Bellechasse — had formed part 
of his wife's dowry. 

There were a good many notable scandals and crimes in 
Paris during MacMahon's presidency. It was at this period, 
if we remember rightly, that young Duval, the son of the 
wealthy founder of the popular " Bouillon " restaurants, 
attempted to commit suicide on the door-mat of the notorious 
courtesan Cora Pearl. 2 She had beggared him and then 
tossed him aside, whereupon he shot himself and was removed 
to a hospital in an alarming condition. News of the occurrence 
reached us an hour or so afterwards, and in the company of a 

1 When the war broke out the society's only means was an income of 
£5:6:3. By August 25, 1870, its receipts had risen to nearly £112,000. 
By October, it had expended over £100,000 in organising thirty-two field 
ambulances. Its total outlay throughout the war was over half a million 
sterling, and 110,000 men were succoured and nursed in its many field, 
town and village ambulances. At the end of hostilities, it still had 
£120,000 in hand, for money and gifts in kind never ceased to reach its 
numerous branches. It has done a vast amount of good in subsequent 
French campaigns : Tunis, Tonquin, Madagascar, China, etc. ; and it nowa- 
days counts 55,000 members, with 302 committees of men and 252 committees 
of ladies. 

3 We may be in error as to the year when this occurred ; if so we ask 
pardon. In a life crowded with experiences, it is sometimes difficult to 
recall the exact date of an occurrence of secondary importance. 



SCANDALS AND CRIMES 

fellow-journalist we hastened to Cora Pearl's residence, which 
we expected to find in a state of more or less commotion. But 
the only signs that anything tragical had occurred were a few 
splashes of blood on a wall ; and Cora Pearl, far from evincing 
any emotion, sat in her salon chatting with two or three women 
of her class. All was laughter and indifference. The courtesan 
blurted out, crudely and shamelessly, that her victim was a 
young fool, and that she had sent him about his business, 
because he had no money left, and could be of no further use 
to her. Not a word of regret respecting the attempted suicide 
passed her lips. It was regarded by herself and her friends as 
a slight annoyance, which might really become a splendid 
advertisement. In fact, one of the women present remarked 
to Cora : " Well, I should like to see a man shoot himself for 
me. Quelle reclame, ma chere ! " 

We looked at Cora Pearl, that notorious Englishwoman, 
who had preyed for so many years on the spendthrifts of 
Parisian society, and we realised that she might well need an 
advertisement. Rouged, powdered, and bewigged, she was aged 
and emaciated, a mere shadow of the woman who, a good 
many years previously, had shared Prince Napoleon Jerome's 
Pompeian villa in the Champs Elysees. She had certainly 
spoken correctly in calling Duval "a young fool." It was 
hard to understand how he could ever have cared for her, and 
have taken his dismissal so tragically. Yet, as we know, such 
things often happen. Cora figured in the demi-monde for a 
good many years longer, made several more victims, wrote 
some more or less bogus memoirs, and died — well, we are 
hardly certain if she is dead now. As for young Duval he 
happily recovered, renounced the life which he had previously 
led and became a worthy and useful member of society. But 
for one who escapes from such shipwreck as befell him, how 
many are there who sink, irretrievably, to the depths ? 

Apart from mere scandals, there were some horrible crimes 
in those days. The "angel maker''' — one of the artisans of 
the depopulation of France — flourished exceedingly, living on 
the babes she took to nurse, but allowing them to fade away, 
and thus making little angels of them — whence, of course, her 
name. Even as in the last years of the Empire, so now again 
several remarkable cases, abounding in horrible revelations 
respecting the baby trade, came before both the Paris and the 



224 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

provincial courts like fresh warnings of what would happen in 
comparatively few years if the law should not step in to render 
such crime impossible . . . and yet, more than twenty years 
later, there was still abundant justification for what Zola 
wrote on the subject in his novel FicondiU. Back to the 
earlier years of the Republic one may also trace the rise of 
the Parisian Apache gangs; for with the youthful Gelinier 
and the " Band of the Velvet Caps,'" joint-stock crime already 
flourished under the Septennate. 

There were some particularly odious murders at that time. 
There was the case of a certain Billoir who killed his mistress, 
cut her up and flung the pieces into the Seine, where, as an 
ultra-realistic witness horribly put it, " they floated about like 
chunks of diseased pork." We well remember Billoir's trial, 
and can recall how Hortense Schneider — once "La Belle 
Helene " and " La Grande Duchesse " — attended every sitting 
of the court, carrying her dropsical pug dog, whom she gorged 
with biscuits and bonbons, while the most abominable evidence 
was being given. All that, of course, was Men Parisien. But 
there was also the tragedy of the Rue Poliveau, in a lodging 
house of which street the mutilated body of an old milkwoman 
was discovered. The murderers were two young men named 
Lebiez and Barre. They had been school -fellows in the 
provinces and had come to Paris, each with his respective 
mistress, a servant girl and a dressmaker. Barre, after serving 
as a lawyer's clerk, had become a speculator and an agent 
(Fqffaires, really living, however, on his old father, whose 
remittances he squandered, in such wise that he eventually 
found himself on the verge of ruin. Lebiez, for his part, was 
a medical student and a Revolutionary. He gave so-called 
lectures on the Darwinian theories, which were interspersed 
with political matter, and eventually he tried to resuscitate 
the notorious journal Le Pere Duchesne, in conjunction with an 
eccentric young advocate named Hippolyte BufFenoir. But 
the venture failed, and Lebiez was in as impecunious a position 
as Barre when the latter suggested that they should murder 
the old woman, who possessed, so he had discovered, some ^400 
of savings. She was enticed to Barrels abode, and there 
cowardly despatched. Like Billoir, Barre and Lebiez were 
guillotined. The last one's final words at the place of execution 
are worth recalling. " Adieu, messieurs," said he to the officials 



FALL OF MACMAHON 225 

with the utmost politeness, as the headsman's assistants seized 
him. There was, perhaps, more in those words — a Dieu — than 
he quite realised at the moment when he uttered them. 

With the close of the Exhibition year came a great political 
crisis. There were many battles in the Chamber between the 
Republicans and the defeated Royalists ; and an altercation 
between Gambetta and Fortou led to a duel with pistols, in 
which, however, neither was injured. But the chief question 
of the time was really a military one. General Borel, Dufaure's 
first Minister of War, had been succeeded by General Gresley, 
a highly competent officer, who had organised Lebrun's Army 
Corps in 1870, and fought with it, very gallantly, at Bazeilles. 
Now the Republican party which supported the Dufaure 
Ministry— -faute de mieuw — desired to see some change effected 
in the great military commands. It distrusted the military 
element, and particularly certain generals at the head of 
various Army Corps. It held, too, that in some instances the 
terms for which those generals had been appointed had expired, 
or nearly so, and ought not to be renewed. General Gresley 
was won more or less to that view. On the other hand the 
officers against whom the campaign was directed were mostly 
old friends of MacMahon's, men whom the Marshal desired 
neither to replace nor to displace — that is, shift them from one 
to another Army Corps. He maintained, moreover, that their 
periods of command would not actually expire for several 
months, and he jealously resisted any political interference in 
the affair. He pointed out that it was precisely on account of 
his determination to allow no politics in the military and naval 
services that, in spite of all personal friendship, he had removed 
General Ducrot and Admiral La Ronciere le Noury from active 
command, they having infringed that important rule. But he 
flatly refused to remove officers who had not infringed it, and 
of whose efficiency he had the highest opinion. From that 
refusal the crisis arose. 

The Dufaure Ministry, being closely pressed by the Chamber, 
asked that Generals Bataille, Bourbaki, du Barail, de Lartigue, 
and de Montaudon should be placed on half-pay, and that five 
other generals should be transferred from the corps they had 
hitherto commanded to others. MacMahon, however, persisted 
in his refusal, and bitterly reproached Gresley for making such 
a demand, declaring that it had been understood, on the 



226 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

General's assumption of office, that he — the President — should 
not be called upon to make any such sacrifice. The struggle 
was keen but brief. The Ministers spoke of withdrawing, and 
the Marshal retaliated by forwarding his resignation to the 
Senate. He felt that the question of the great commands had 
been raised solely to provoke that resignation, and discourage- 
ment and disgust came upon him when he reflected that this 
was his reward for endeavouring to observe the strictest con- 
stitutionalism since the advent of the Dufaure Ministry. 
Thus, on January 28, 1879, on the eve of a great ball for 
which many preparations were being made at the Elysee, he 
addressed, as we have said, a letter of resignation to the Senate 
— a letter not devoid of dignity, in which he recalled his fifty- 
three years of services, and declared emphatically that the 
proposed changes in the great commands would be detrimental 
to the army, and therefore detrimental to France. 

Gambetta's influence was undoubtedly an important factor 
in the incidents which led to MacMahon's resignation ; but, 
curiously enough, only a few years afterwards, in connection 
with the appointments of officers like Galliffet and Miribel, 
Gambetta devoted all his energy to the defence of principles 
virtually identical with those which the Marshal had en- 
deavoured to uphold. In his case, the question of the great 
commands was, as he divined, a mere pretext to compel his 
retirement. From the Republican point of view that retire- 
ment was, of course, necessary, as with the Marshal at the head 
of the State there could be no expansion of the regime. It 
may be noted that he adopted in turn both of the alternatives 
which Gambetta had set forth in his speech at Lille in 1877. 
After the collapse of the Fortou and Rochebouet Ministries he 
"gave in" ; and over the question of the great commands he 
" went out. 1 "' 




Jules Grew 



CHAPTER VIII 

grevy's presidency and gambetta's predomi- 
nance — STATE, CHURCH, AND EDUCATION — 
EGYPT AND TUNIS 

Jules Grevy, his Character, Qualities, Hobbies, and Daily Life — His 
Brothers, Albert and Paul — His Daughter and his Son-in-law, Daniel 
Wilson— The Official Household and Intimates of the Elysee— Grevy's 
Political and Constitutional Attitude — His First Ministry : M. William 
Waddington — Early Phases of the Trouble in Egypt — Grevy's Second 
Ministry : M. Charles de Freycinet — Jules Ferry and the Educational 
War with the Church — "Clause Seven" — Expulsion of the Jesuits and 
Others— Negotiations with the Pope — Gambetta, his Mistress and Holy 
Church — Grevy's Third Ministry : Jules Ferry — The Religious Orders 
prevail — Educational and Other Reforms — Foreign Affairs — The French 
Descent on Tunis — A Protectorate established — Resentment of Italy — 
Her Relations with France — Gambetta's Intrigues in Italy — The Triple 
Alliance first established — Attitude of Great Britain — Ferry's Rashness 
denounced — Gambetta's List Voting Project and Dictatorial Designs — 
General Elections of 1881 — Withdrawal of Ferry— Gambetta's Views on 
Tunis. 

Jules Grevy was now elected President of the Republic by a 
large majority of votes. He was at this time seventy-two years 
of age. The grandson of a justice of the peace who had held 
office during the great Revolution, and the son of a soldier of 
that period — one who had cast his sword aside and turned to 
the plough rather than serve the Empire - making General 
Bonaparte — Grevy had never swerved from the Republican 
principles which he had derived from those two forerunners, 
and his reputation for rectitude was universal. Some account 
of his earlier career has been given previously, and we have 
related how he resigned the Presidency of the National 
Assembly in 1873. l In March 1876, under the new Consti- 
tution, he became President of the Chamber of Deputies, and 

1 See ante, pp. 73, 125. 
227 



228 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

was re-elected to that post at each ensuing session. Now he 
was finally elevated to the supreme magistracy, that Presidency 
of the Republic which he had deemed a superfluous office in 
1848, when he had proposed, as an amendment to the Consti- 
tution, that there should be no President at all, but merely a 
Chief Executive Minister. That view he apparently held no 
longer, for he evinced no hesitation in accepting the post to 
which he was called. 

His fortune, at this time, was not particularly large, though 
he had benefited by his profession as an advocate, and had been 
able to extend the family property which he held near his 
native place, Mont-sous-Vaudrey in the Jura. It was an estate 
of some forty acres, well wooded and traversed by a little river, 
the Cuisance. The house was a simple, rectangular building, 
with two storeys above its ground floor, and stabling in which 
six horses could be accommodated. During his Presidency, 
M. Grevy embellished the place in various respects, but even 
after his death its value was estimated at less than ci?12,000. 
In Paris, before he became Chief of the State, he resided in a 
third-floor flat in the Rue Volney (previously St. Arnaud), 
where the furniture was extremely plain, though the decora- 
tions included, besides a bust of himself by Carpeaux, some 
very good bronzes and marble statuettes, and a few choice 
paintings — purchased mostly at the Hotel des Ventes in the 
Rue Drouot, where Grevy had often attended the great art 
sales of the Second Empire's last years. 

It will be seen from this that, although he was often 
denounced as a bourgeois and a Philistine, Grevy was not 
destitute of some artistic perception. It may be said also that 
he was a man of scholarly attainments, thoroughly well versed 
in Greek and Latin, and familiar with the history of antiquity, 
as his conversation often showed, though there was never much 
indication of the classicist in his public speeches. As a 
matter of fact, his study of ancient eloquence had disgusted 
him with it. Its verbiage, he once remarked, was excessive, and 
its exaggeration deplorably untrue to life. Briefly, it was a 
style for the modernist to shun. Personally, he could not 
extemporise with the polish of Jules Favre or the impetuosity 
of Gambetta. His more important speeches were always 
carefully prepared in advance. His " hobbies " were billiards, 
chess, and shooting, and he was a proficient player at both 



GREVY AND HIS FAMILY 229 

games, as well as a first-rate marksman. The billiard-room 
at the Elysee became at one time the most important apart- 
ment of the palace, and " Monsieur le President " was often to 
be seen there, playing for " a hundred up " in his shirt-sleeves, 
now against Lord Lyons, the British Ambassador, now against 
Le Royer, President of the Senate, or against M. Andrieux, 
Prefect of Police. At other times his adversary might be 
General Pittie, chief of the Elysee Military Cabinet, or 
Ludovic Halevy, or Anatole de la Forge (the defender of St. 
Quentin during the Franco-German War) or else, as a pis atter, 
Albert Grevy, who became for a time Governor of Algeria, 
chiefly because he happened to be "his brother's brother," 
though he was certainly a man of ability, one from whose rule 
the French trans-Mediterranean colony has reaped of late years 
substantial advantages, for he notably encouraged the Algerian 
colonists to plant vines. 1 

President Grevy had played chess and billiards from his 
youth onward. Late under the Empire, he still frequented the 
famous Cafe de la Regence for the former game ; and when the 
Grand Cafe was established on the Boulevard des Capucines, its 
billiard-tables secured his patronage. He often played there 
with Maubant, the actor of the Comedie Francaise, while other 
favourite antagonists were M. de Nanteuil and M. de Feuloya, 
the latter of whom thought nothing of staking <^200 or so on 
his prospects of winning a short game. But billiards and 
chess were not the only recreations at the Elysee in Grevy's 
days. Apart from the amusement which the President him- 
self derived from a certain pet duck, often to be seen waddling 
behind him along the garden paths, there were frequent 
fencing parties in the palace conservatory. Grevy himself 
did not fence, but his son-in-law, Daniel Wilson, was particu- 
larly fond of that exercise, and many well-known amateurs, 
such as Ta vernier, Dollfus, and Aurelien Scholl, together with 
several first-rate professional swordsmen, attended the Elysee 
gatherings. 

M. Wilson, whom we have just mentioned, married the 

1 President Grevy had a second brother, Paul, a very capable artillery 
general, who also became a senator for the Jura. He fought at Sedan and 
was taken prisoner there, but, having escaped, reached Paris, where he 
served during the German Siege, notably at the battle of Champigny. 
During his brother's presidency he commanded the artillery of the army of 
Paris. 



230 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

President's only daughter, Mile. Alice Grevy — a bright and 
intelligent young person, little known to the Parisians, but 
very popular at Mont-sous- Vaudrey — in October 1881. On 
his father's side, Wilson was of English origin, while on his 
mother's he was the grandson of Cazenave the Revolutionary, 
who sat both in the National Convention and in the Council of 
the Five Hundred. Born in Paris in 1840, Wilson figured for 
a time among the jeunesse doree of the capital, his name being 
connected with more than one lively social episode of the 
middle years of the Second Empire, when, according to some 
accounts, he scattered his money broadcast. Suddenly settling 
down, however, he became, in 1869, an Opposition member of 
the Corps Legislatif, to which Grevy also belonged, and thus 
their acquaintance originated. It was cemented during the 
Franco-German War (when Wilson commanded a battalion of 
Mobilises) by the intercourse which then sprang up between 
the Grevys and Wilson's sister, Mme. Pelouze, a charming and 
distinguished woman, good-looking, extremely fair, and also 
very English in manners and appearance, yet a true French- 
woman, patriotic, and with a taste for politics. 

Her husband was the son of Theophile Pelouze, the great 
chemist, to whom the world is largely indebted for beetroot 
sugar. Pelouze, who became wealthy, purchased from the 
heirs of the Dupin family the famous chateau of Chenonceaux in 
Touraine, associated with the memories of Diana of Poitiers, 
Catherine de' Medici and Louise de Vaudemont, wife of the last 
Valois; and on his son's death, this historic estate passed 
entirely to his daughter-in-law and became her favourite 
residence. During the war of 1870, however, she sought for a 
while a refuge at the Hotel de Bordeaux at Tours, where the 
Grevys also were staying, and an intimacy sprang up between 
them. Wilson, moreover, soon after Grevy's accession to the 
Presidency, became for a time Under-Secretary for Finances, a 
post which gave him many opportunities for calling at the 
^lysee, and enabled him to come forward as a suitor for Mile. 
Alice Grevy's hand. When he had married her he installed 
himself in the palace, and though he no longer held any 
ministerial office, being simply a deputy, he contrived to play an 
important part in both political and administrative affairs, his 
influence steadily increasing year by year. 

The President naturally had an official household. At the 



GR^VY AND HIS FAMILY 231 

head of the military department was General Francis Pittie, an 
officer of culture who produced a novel, a volume of verse, and 
numerous review articles, and also acquitted himself creditably 
of diplomatic missions in Spain and Russia. At the head of 
the Civil Cabinet was the amiable M. Duhamel, who was 
assisted by M. Fourneret. But to none of these did solicitors 
pay court with anything like the eagerness with which they 
approached M. Wilson, whose private room was incessantly 
besieged. He not only dabbled more and more in affairs of 
State, but conducted from the palace a variety of private 
business, industrial and commercial enterprises, as well as a 
newspaper called La Petite France du Centre, besides 
largely inspiring a coterie of Parisian journalists — Edmond 
About of Le XIXe Steele, Jourde of the older Siecle, 
Jenty of La France, and Carle of La Paix — writers who, 
under the pretext of upholding the President of the Republic, 
repeatedly made it their business to attack Gambetta. 

The weakness which Grevy displayed in regard to his son- 
in-law ultimately led to his downfall, as we shall see. It may 
be urged that the President was no longer young, that the 
circle of his private friends was very small, that his daughter 
was his only child and that he desired to keep her near him. 
Nevertheless, it was unfortunate that, on granting her hand to 
M. Wilson, he did not arrange that they should reside else- 
where than at the Elysee. It is, of course, quite true that, as 
a man of high personal integrity, the President was not in 
the habit of suspecting others of objectionable intentions or 
actions. He placed all confidence in those about him, imagin- 
ing that he was justified in doing so, but unhappily the 
consequences were disastrous. Matters might perhaps have 
been different had Grevy been a more worldly and a younger 
man. 

We have said that the circle of his intimates was very 
limited. Of course, the usual Elysee receptions took place under 
his Presidency, and now and again an official ball or dinner 
was given ; but if every recurring New Year's Day brought an 
average of 7000 civil functionaries, military men and others to 
the palace, for the purpose of paying their respects to " Monsieur 
le President,"" the life led there as a rule was very homely and 
quiet, at least so far as Grevy was concerned. If he were fond 
of playing billiards or chess, if it pleased him to spend a little 



232 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

time in watching a fencing bout, or a few days in shooting 
over the coverts of St. Germain, Marly, or Rambouillet, he 
seldom kept late hours. With him ten o'clock usually meant 
bed-time and " lights out." 

He had a square, strong forehead, and very expressive eyes. 
For many years he kept his upper lip and chin shaven, growing 
but a fringe of beard, which, so to say, encircled his face, and 
gave him a somewhat old - fashioned, austere appearance ; but 
in 1881 he grew a moustache, and allowed his beard to overrun 
his cheeks and chin, thereby altering his appearance to such a 
degree that he could no longer be recognised by many who had 
known him virtually all his life. He was inclined to stoutness, 
but held himself very erect, and could display a good deal of 
dignity, such as Gambetta was never able to show. 1 In public 
he invariably spoke with measured deliberation, rarely raising 
his voice even amid the most tempestuous scenes when he was 
President of the Assembly or the Chamber, and his sentences 
were usually short and crisp. He could be epigrammatic at 
times, and was not destitute of humour, though that was more 
frequently reserved for his private conversation. 

Grevy exercised great influence over some of the ministers 
who held office under him ; but he was often unlucky in 
advising or accepting the selection of some particular politician 
for office. He initiated or favoured a variety of Republican 
coalitions, which proved absolutely unworkable, and when once 
some such coalition-ministry had been got together, he con- 
sidered his duty finished, and retired within himself, as it were, 
leaving everything henceforth to the hybrid team he had 
formed, making no effort, as he might have done, by a little 
timely intervention, to direct its course or to prevent it from 
parting company. He exaggerated the formula of Thiers's 
younger days, " The King reigns but does not govern " ; and, 
on various occasions, the strict and narrow constitutionalism 
within which he confined himself placed the bark of the 
Republic in jeopardy. It was then still a ship with a crew, 
certainly, but with no real pilot at the helm. 

It was, seemingly, the example of MacMahon's Presidency 
which induced Grevy to abstain so much from interference in 
great questions of State. Moreover, he was confronted by various 

1 Detaille caught their contrasting attitudes very happily in his official 
painting of the presentation of new colours to the French array in 1880. 



GRAVY'S PRESIDENCY 233 

difficulties. Although the Republican party now predominated, 
it was divided in the Legislature into three distinct groups : 
the Left Centre, the Republican Left, and the Republican 
Union. Dufaure may be taken as a personification of the first, 
Waddington as one of the second, while Gambetta represented 
the third. It was in Gambetta's power to rally many 
members of the Republican Left to his own party, but he was 
at first quite unwilling to assume ministerial office, wishing 
apparently to see which way the wind might blow, and pre- 
ferring the position of President of the Chamber of Deputies, 
in which he exercised, without direct responsibility, the very 
greatest influence, becoming, indeed, like Moray under the 
Empire, the " power behind the throne, 1 ' for this was before the 
days of M. Wilson's complete ascendancy at the Elysee. 

That Grevy was in some degree jealous of Gambetta's 
commanding position is quite certain, though most of the more 
or less trenchant anecdotes on the subject may be regarded as 
apocryphal. Grevy's views, also, were more moderate than 
Gambetta's at this stage, and he therefore entrusted the forma- 
tion of his First Ministry to M. Waddington, a somewhat 
Conservative Republican of English origin, and one who on 
that account, and in connection with his management of 
French foreign affairs and his position at one time as Am- 
bassador in London, became suspect to many patriotic Parisians. 
There is not the slightest reason to believe, however, that he 
ever acted in any way contrary to the interests of France. 
Indeed, men of foreign origin like himself and Gambetta 
generally display a more fervent patriotism than others, in 
order that none may doubt their allegiance to the country 
which they have adopted, or where, by chance, they may 
have been born and reared. That M. Waddington desired to 
see good relations prevailing between France and Great Britain 
was certainly the case; but things which in these present 
entente cordiale days are regarded as only natural, were then 
looked upon as crimes. 

The position was difficult certainly. Serious trouble in 
Egypt had been impending ever since 1876, when Goschen and 
Joubert, acting for Great Britain and France, had inquired 
into the deplorable state of the Egyptian finances, consequent 
upon the reckless extravagance of Khedive Ismail, and also, 
in some degree, on the trouble with which Sir Samuel Baker 



234 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

and General Gordon had successively contended in the Soudan. 
At the Berlin Congress of 1878, following the Russo-Turkish 
War, Bismarck had hinted to Lord Beaconsfield that Great 
Britain should occupy Egypt. Waddington, then French 
Foreign Minister under Dufaure, stipulated, however, that the 
Congress should in no way discuss the Egyptian question, in 
which he held that France had a predominant interest, far 
exceeding that of any other power. That interest was, in 
some degree, of a sentimental character, but in the main it was 
financial, some i?l 20,000,000 of French capital being invested 
in Egypt. But Great Britain, apart from the large invest- 
ments of her own subjects and her purchase of Khedive Ismail's 
Suez Canal shares, had also certain strategical interests which 
were of the highest importance. The Suez Canal might 
be the work of France, but it was also "the short cut" to 
India, and it was therefore impossible for Great Britain to 
allow France to exercise unchecked control over Egypt on 
account of that country's financial liabilities. The question 
was, then, one for settlement between the two most inter- 
ested powers. The friendly advice which they first proffered 
to the Khedive was disregarded by him, and in 1879 after 
Waddington had become Grevy\s first Prime Minister, Ismail had 
to abdicate and was succeeded by his son, Tewfik. An Anglo- 
French control of the Egyptian finances ensued — Sir C. Rivers 
Wilson and Mr. Evelyn Baring (now Lord Cromer) acting on 
behalf of Great Britain, and M. de Blignieres on behalf of 
France. This course was fully approved by Gambetta, who 
regarded it as sound policy. It certainly seemed to promise 
well, for a time at all events. 

Those were, perhaps, the most important events that ensued 
in the sphere of foreign politics during Waddington's Adminis- 
tration. In home affairs, his Ministry was less successful. It 
secured an amnesty for some of the participators in the in- 
surrection of the Commune, and also the return of the Legisla- 
ture from Versailles to Paris, the Senate again meeting at the 
Luxembourg, and the Chamber at the Palais Bourbon, as in 
the days of the Second Empire ; but its policy, generally, was 
too moderate, too cautious, to please the parliamentary 
majority. It certainly tried to deal with the Education 
problem, an admittedly urgent one, but its attitude towards 
the amnesty question was regarded as being far from liberal, 



FERRY, THE CHURCH, AND EDUCATION 235 

while it was attacked for its opposition both to elected muni- 
cipalities in the great French cities and to anything approach- 
ing genuine freedom of the press. Thus the Chamber of 
Deputies made little pretence of hiding the displeasure with 
which it regarded the Ministry's proceedings, and finally, in 
December 1879, it resigned. 

Grevy's Second Ministry was formed by M. de Freycinet, 
Gambetta's coadjutor during the Franco-German War. 1 No 
member of the "Left Centre," that is, no Conservative Re- 
publican, figured in the new Administration, which was selected 
exclusively from the "Republican Left. ,, At the same time 
some members of the Waddington Cabinet continued in office, 
notably Jules Ferry, the Minister of Public Instruction. We 
have spoken of him previously in reference to his connection 
with the Government of National Defence. 2 An energetic and 
ambitious man, a lawyer by profession, he had first acquired 
popularity by denouncing Baron Haussmann's financial methods 
during the rebuilding of Paris, and secondly he had fallen into 
odium on account of the sufferings of the Parisians during the 
German Siege — he then being responsible for the rationing of 
the population. But his energy had been demonstrated at 
that time by the manner in which he had saved his colleagues 
from overthrow by a Red Republican insurrection (October 31, 
1870) ; while later, had he been adequately seconded, he might, 
perhaps, have checked in some degree the rising of the Com- 
mune. Born in 1832, in Eastern France, Ferry was related by 
marriage to Colonel Charras, Senator Scheurer-Kestner and 
Charles Floquet, his wife being a granddaughter of Kestner, 
one of the largest and wealthiest manufacturers of chemical 
products in Europe. 

Freycinet's Cabinet secured the voting of an enlarged 
amnesty for the Communists (which enabled some thousands of 
them to return to France), and gave official sanction to the 
French National Fete of July 14, in commemoration of the 
taking of the Bastille in 1789; but in the sphere of home 
affairs it was Ferry's department which played the leading part. 
Gambetta's famous exclamation, "Clericalism, that is the 
enemy ! " 3 was not forgotten in those days. The intrigues and 
encroachments of the Church, its attempts to re-establish the 

1 See ante, p. 25. 2 See ante, pp. 13, 14. 

3 See ante, p. 213. 



236 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Temporal Power with the help of France, and at the risk of 
plunging that country into war with Germany and Italy, its 
efforts to restore a monarchy in France with exactly the same 
object in view, were ever present in men's minds ; and it had 
become evident that a permanent danger existed in the large 
share of control which the Church exercised over the educational 
system of the country. As long as it should continue to train 
thousands of children in the belief that a monarchy was prefer- 
able to a republic, that the latter regime was odious in the 
sight of God, who had commanded obedience to Kings and 
Princes, and that the first and paramount duty of every 
Christian was to restore the temporal power of the Papacy, 
there could be no real social peace in France. The Republican 
Government was not the aggressor, the attacks came from the 
Church and its royalist allies — the French Church, let us say, 
for Leo XIII. the new Pope was, in his shrewd way, already 
advising caution — and thus the steps which Ferry initiated 
were simply measures of defence, < y He began by securing the 
exclusion of members of the clergy from the Upper Council of 
Public Instruction, while a second measure reserved the right 
of granting university degrees to the State Faculties alone. 
But in attempting to reorganise the educational system gener- 
ally, he set forth in a clause of his proposals — one which 
became famous as I 'Article Sept — that "nobody should hence- 
forth be able to direct any public or private educational 
establishment of any kind, or even to exercise the teaching 
profession, if he belonged to any unauthorised religious associa- 
tions." This clause was directed chiefly against the Jesuits, 
who had been largely responsible for the clerical intrigues of 
recent years. The Chamber voted the stipulation, but the 
Senate rejected it (148 to 129; March 9, 1880), whereupon 
the Chamber, while accepting the position, adopted a resolution 
(324 to 155) calling upon the Government to enforce the 
laws which already existed against unauthorised religious 
communities. 

The Government complied with that resolution by issuing 
decrees which summoned the Jesuits to close their scholastic 
establishments, and granted the other unauthorised religious 
associations a delay of three months to solicit an authorisation 
to pursue their callings. When the time expired the Jesuits 
refused to obey, and were expelled from their establishments — 



FERRY, THE CHURCH AND EDUCATION 237 

there being in Paris several exciting scenes, while fierce warfare 
was waged between the reactionary and the democratic news- 
papers, the whole tending to general perturbation. During 
the parliamentary recess, indeed, some of the Ministers became 
alarmed at their own energy, and attempted to negotiate with 
the Pope in order to secure the submission of the unauthorised 
orders to the laws of the country. Even Gambetta seems to 
have lent himself — in some degree — to this view, in spite of his 
vaunted anti -clericalism. He had one or two interviews with 
the Papal Nuncio, in part at the suggestion of his mistress, 
Leonie Leon, who, in spite of the irregularity of her life, 
professed great piety, and whom the Church did not hesitate 
to employ at this moment in accordance with its old-time 
practice of turning sexual weakness to account for its own 
benefit. In connection with the relations of France and the 
Papacy, Leonie Leon even made a journey to Rome, like some 
chosen Delilah of the Church, which wished to see its enemy 
Samson delivered into its power. That wish, however, what- 
ever hopes Mile. Leon may have entertained of her lover's 
eventual " conversion," was never realised. 

The negotiations with Leo XIII. fell through, chiefly because 
the more zealous Republicans disapproved of them, holding 
that certain proposed "declarations of obedience " which the 
religious orders were to furnish, would never be truly acted 
upon ; and the Ministry, being divided on the question, decided 
to resign, and was replaced by one under Ferry himself 
(September 1880). A renewal of energy was then expected by 
the democrats, but the existing laws did not give the new 
Administration sufficient weapons against the religious orders, 
whose resistance, moreover, was largely upheld by judges of 
clerical proclivities, appointed under the Second Empire or 
in MacMahon's time, in such wise that although numerous 
communities were dissolved by force, they contrived to reorganise 
their establishments in one or another way. An agitation for 
suspending judicial irremovability and replacing notoriously 
anti-Republican judges by men prepared to accept the existing 
regime and its institutions, then sprang up, and was ultimately 
successful. But, none the less, thanks to the blunders or 
supineness of successive governments and legislatures, the 
religious orders contrived to escape their threatened fate, and 
the number of pupils in their schools steadily increased during 



238 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

the ensuing ten years, whereupon it at last became urgent to 
revert, more energetically and more completely, however, to 
the policy which Ferry had initiated, but which many of his 
contemporaries, although good Republicans, had shrunk from 
following. Throughout their campaign the Clericals had been 
largely aided by men like Jules Simon, who, in spite of the 
teachings of experience, still believed in the possibility of a 
cordial understanding between the Church and the Republic. 
Had Ferry's policy prevailed in his time, France might have 
been spared much unrest and danger, and the Church itself 
might have benefited by avoiding the eventual application of 
far more drastic measures. 

At the same time, Ferry achieved as Prime Minister some 
notable successes in the educational sphere. In 1881, ele- 
mentary education became gratuitous in France. About the 
same time also secular secondary education was established for 
girls. In other respects the Ministry was a most progressive 
one. It refused to authorise political clubs, but it gave France 
the right of public meeting without any of the governmental 
restrictions inherited from the Empire. In the same year, 
1881, it established freedom of the press. Nobody henceforth 
had to secure an official permission to start a newspaper or to 
deposit a sum of money as a guarantee of the good behaviour 
of the intended print. The free circulation of newspapers and 
books without any hampering restrictions was also conceded ; 
and except in the case of libels on private individuals, it was 
decided that all press offences should be tried by jury, and that 
the plea of " being true in substance and in fact " should be 
admitted, together with evidence in support of it. 

Nevertheless, Jules Ferry remained unpopular. Slanders of 
one and another kind dogged his footsteps. A masterful man, 
conscious of his own ability, he was perhaps more inclined to 
domineer than to adopt conciliatory courses. His manners, 
moreover, lacked urbanity, and his personal appearance, with 
his long misshapen nose, which nature had intended to be 
aquiline, his flabby cheeks, and his bushy, mutton-chop whiskers, 
suggesting those of some waiter at a Boulevardian cafe, was 
scarcely prepossessing. But a far greater sin than any of those 
lay at his door. He was presumptuous enough to enlarge the 
territory of France by a bold coup de main. 

His Foreign Minister was Barthelemy St. Hilaire, formerly 



TUNIS AND THE POWERS 239 

secretary to Thiers. 1 The storms at home seemed likely to 
have their counterpart in storms abroad. There was trouble 
between Turkey on the one hand and Greece and Montenegro 
on the other, in such wise that the everlasting Eastern question 
might become acute again at any moment. The position in 
Egypt was also becoming worse than ever, Arabi and other 
malcontents rising against the Khedive's authority, and ac- 
quiring a power which rapidly increased. French opinion 
remaining suspicious of England in those Egyptian matters, 
and English opinion being likewise suspicious of France, the 
resources of diplomacy were at times sorely taxed. But, so far 
as France was concerned, the more particular trouble was Tunis. 
It had been maturing for some years. The Bey, Mohamed es 
Sadok, having become financially involved like Khedive Ismail, 
though to a smaller extent, an international commission had 
been established and had found itself confronted by several 
rival claims emanating from French, British, and Italian 
subjects. In the midst of the disputes which ensued, and 
which were unduly embittered, perhaps, by the attitude of 
M. Roustan, the French agent in Tunis (who, however, it may 
be freely admitted, was wrongfully accused by wild writers like 
Henri Rochefort, of corrupt mercenary motives), some raids 
were made on Algerian territory by Tunisian tribesmen, where- 
upon, in spite of the Bey's appeals to Turkey, the French 
Government decided on immediate punishment, and despatched 
both military and naval expeditions with that design. The 
tribes were chastised, the town of Sfax was bombarded, and 
Tunis city occupied, the result being a treaty which placed the 
Bey's dominions under the protectorate of France. It is quite 
possible that Ferry would have absolutely annexed the Tunisian 
territory, had he remained much longer in office with the 
support of the Legislature. 

He certainly felt that he had license and justification for 
what he did, notably by reason of the fact that Lord Salisbury 
had assured France, at the time of the Berlin Congress, that 
Great Britain was willing that she should take, in regard to 
Tunis, whatever course might be necessitated by the interests 
of Algeria. Such, at least, was always the contention of 
Barthelemy St. Hilaire. But whatever compensations Great 
Britain might have offered to France, when intent herself on 
1 See ante, p. 118. 



240 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

annexing Cyprus, there was another power to be considered — 
Italy, which had many colonists and considerable financial and 
commercial interests in Tunis. If the French coup de main 
somewhat startled English public opinion, which was not in 
the secret of the gods, it quite infuriated the Italians, besides 
impelling Turkey to throw a force of nearly 20,000 men into 
the adjacent regency of Tripoli. 

The relations of Italy and France had been strained ever 
since the Franco-German War, when the former power, intent 
on securing Rome, had refrained from hastening to the help of 
the state to which she owed both Lombardy and Venetia. The 
Republic's foreign policy in the matter of protective commercial 
tariffs had further embittered the intercourse, and Italy's only 
friend appeared to be the German Empire, which had profited 
by her neutrality in 1870. For a time Italy followed, at a 
respectful distance, in the wake of the alliance of the three 
Emperors, established at Berlin in 1872, but she next dropped 
into a state of almost complete isolation, which, in or about 
1879, became positively dangerous on account of the Italia 
irredenta agitation, which was fostered, regardless of the country's 
position, by extremists of the Garibaldian school. Count 
Andrassy, the Austrian Minister, was at last compelled, indeed, 
to warn the Italian Government that Austria would have to 
take measures for her self-protection if that agitation were not 
checked. The Italian Government replied (1879) that it was 
not responsible for the agitation, and in the exchange of 
views which ensued, the way was paved for the entry of Italy 
into an alliance with the two Empires of Central Europe — their 
formal compact with Russia having virtually come to an end 
by reason of the Russo-Turkish War, though on a few points 
the three Empires were still in agreement. Italy, then, was 
already drawing nearer to the central powers when the establish- 
ment of the French protectorate over Tunis impelled her to 
throw herself into their arms, in such wise that the famous 
Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria, and Italy, which still 
continues, was first signed in 1882. 1 This, then was an early 
effect of M the Tunisian adventure." 

1 It was renewed in 1887, and again in 1892. Originally the duration of 
the contract was limited to five years, but in 1892 it was extended to a period 
often years, the next renewal having taken place in 1902. Another term of 
ten years was then agreed upon in such wise that the existing agreements 
should remain in force until 1912. The role of Italy in the alliance may 



TUNIS AND THE POWERS 241 

On the other hand, it must be remembered that Italy was 
already and, to all appearance, irremediably estranged from 
France, and that although French abstention in regard to 
Tunis might have prevented Franco-Italian relations from 
becoming more bitter than they were — in which respect some 
risk had to be taken — it would certainly not have improved 
them in any degree whatever. This was fully recognised by 
Gambetta, who despaired of effecting any good understanding 
between the two states unless it were by some revolutionary 
or coercive means, and who, for some time, although not yet in 
office, exerted his secret power or influence to aid and abet 
the growth of a new Italian revolutionary party, which, he 
held, would place the young Kingdom in such a divided and 
distracted state that any intervention on its part in a new 
Franco-German War would become impossible. 1 Gambetta's 
action in this respect well exemplifies what we previously wrote 
concerning the ultra-patriotism of Frenchmen of foreign origin. 
Gambetta, currently denounced by inimical French journalists 
as " the Genoese," even as Waddington was sneered at as " the 
Englishman, 1 ' hesitated at nothing, however unscrupulous, in 
order to prevent the land of his forerunners from becoming a 
danger to the land of his birth. A man of old French ancestry 
might have hesitated to adopt such devices as were practised 
by this scion of Liguria. 2 

The Triple Alliance was, as we have shown, the outcome of 
the Tunisian protectorate. But French opinion did not wait 
for that banding together of more or less hostile powers. 
France had virtually achieved her first conquest since her 
reverses in 1870, and Ferry was roundly denounced for it. He 
had waged war without declaring it, he had expended money 
without asking for it, he had annexed territory without authority 
to do so, all the talk of a protectorate being a mere blind. 
Briefly, the Minister was guilty of every crime, and it was 
necessary to depose him as soon as possible. It must be 

nowadays be more passive than active, but whatever right of withdrawal the 
three contracting parties may have reserved to themselves, it is unlikely that 
Italy would take the initiative of formally bringing the alliance to an end. 
(Statements of the Marquis Cappelli, ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Italy.) 

1 See La France et Vltalie, 1881-1889, by M. Billot, ex-French ambassador 
to the Italian Court, Paris, 1905. 

2 Gambetta's father was a native of Celle-Ligure, near Savona, province 
of Genoa. 



242 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

remembered that little more than ten years had elapsed since 
the conclusion of peace with Germany. The idea of la Revanche 
still predominated in France, the danger of a new German 
invasion was still and ever present. There had been more than 
one war scare, the worst and most justified, in 1875, as we 
previously said ; and it was requisite that French statesmen 
should invariably observe great circumspection. The strength 
of France must not be frittered away in any rash colonial 
enterprises, it must remain entire, ever available, so as to 
contend with the great peiil which might come, at any moment, 
from beyond the Vosges ! This was really the national sentiment, 
which provoked so much dissatisfaction with the Tunisian affair, 
and which proved so powerful a factor in preventing France, 
despite the views of some of her ablest statesmen, from co- 
operating with Great Britain in the occupation of Egypt. 
England became hated for her action in that respect, a terrible 
jealousy sprang up in the French heart, the jealousy of one 
who sees another doing a thing in which he would have liked 
to participate, but which is for him impossible, as he is forced 
to keep incessant watch and ward over a great peril, which the 
other, for his part, has no reason to fear. 

Looking back, while we can understand the feelings which 
swayed the French in regard to Tunis, we hold that there was 
some justification for Ferry's policy. It was bold, but it was 
scarcely rash. There was reason to believe both that the 
British Government would assent to it, and that Germany 
would regard it with equanimity. Those were still the days of 
Bismarck, who was unwilling to risk the loss of a single button 
from the tunic of a Pomeranian infantryman by meddling in 
any business in which Germany, according to his views, had no 
interest. The Mediterranean ambition of Germany is a growth 
of these latter days. From the French action in Tunis, more- 
over, Germany certainly derived some advantage, for it finally 
brought Italy into line with her and Austria, and, however 
defective the Italian army may then have been, Italy might 
none the less prove a factor of importance in the event either 
of a new war or of diplomatic complications in which Germany 
might be concerned. On the other hand, in return for Italy's 
accession to the alliance of the central powers, Germany gave 
nothing save expressions of sympathy in regard to Tunis. If 
any Italians imagined that the great Empire would arise to 






TUNIS AND THE POWERS 243 

drive France out of her new Protectorate, they were speedily 
undeceived. 

With respect to Great Britain, while she did not wish to 
see the Mediterranean become a French lake, she had no desire 
to make it an English one. Her chief concern was to keep 
the great waterway open. Her influence was at that time 
absolutely paramount in Morocco, thanks to the energy and 
acumen of Sir John Drummond Hay. Further, she held 
Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus, and she was drawing towards the 
occupation of Egypt. Thus she could well suffer Tunis to pass 
under the protectorate of France, provided that the private 
rights of her subjects were not infringed. There was naturally 
considerable diplomatic correspondence over the affair, and many 
years elapsed before all questions of general or private commercial 
rights were finally adjusted. Indeed, it was only in 1896 and 
1897 that M. Hanotaux at last signed treaties with Italy and 
England, revising the Protectorate's commercial regime. It may 
be added that the state of the country has vastly improved 
under French control. The Bey, Mohamed es Sadok, died in 
1882, when his brother, Sidi AH, succeeded him. Ali's son, 
Mohamed, is now the titular sovereign. Since 1884, there has 
always been a surplus of receipts over expenditure, and yet the 
ports of Tunis, Bizerta, Susa, and Sfax have been greatly 
improved, while various railways have been constructed and 
many roads laid out. Again, extensive plantations of vines and 
olive-trees have been made, schools have been built, and an 
extensive trade in phosphates has been developed. France, 
which rebuked Ferry for his rashness over the Tunisian affair, 
now regards her protectorate with pride. 

Ferry was well aware of his unpopularity. General elections 
were due that year, 1881, and it was the Minister's declared 
intention to resign directly the new Legislature assembled. 
The position in regard to home politics was somewhat critical, 
as Gambetta particularly desired to modify the electoral system 
then in force. By this system each constituency or division of 
a department elected its particular deputy ; and in lieu of this 
Gambetta wished to establish so-called " list-voting, 11 that is 
to say, if a department were entitled to elect ten deputies, each 
elector of that department would be entitled to vote for ten 
candidates, as had been the case at the election of the National 
Assembly in 1871, when, indeed, list-voting was put in force. 



244 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

It was thought that in certain directions the votes of the 
towns would swamp those of the rural districts, and this, it was 
held, would be a distinct advantage for the Republican cause, 
as Republicanism predominated far more among townspeople 
than among the peasant classes. It was claimed also that 
the electoral machinery would be much simplified, and that 
expenses would be considerably lessened by the change. The 
truth appears to be that Gambetta desired it because, in the 
existing state of public opinion, it might favour the chances 
of candidates belonging to his own particular division of the 
Republican party, and that all the prattle about the enlighten- 
ment of the towns and the ignorance of the villages, and the 
dangers to which the latter might conduce, was a mere device 
for the occasion. 1 Although Grevy held that the suggested 
change would be most unfair, Ferry was induced to bring 
forward a bill proposing it, and, thanks to Gambetta's support, 
the Chamber passed this bill in May, 1881. When, however, 
it came before the Senate, it was rejected, much to Gambetta^ 
disgust. 

The elections took place in the autumn under the old 
system. Gambetta, accused on many sides of dictatorial 
designs, met with some very decided rebuffs in the more 
democratic divisions of Paris, and for a moment quite lost his 
temper. Nevertheless, he pinned his faith to the list-voting 
scheme, and toured Normandy in its favour. In many directions, 
however, the attempts made by himself or his partisans to 
exercise pressure on the electorate resulted disastrously. They 
tended, indeed, to encourage a belief in the great man's 
dictatorial ambition, and, broadly speaking, it was in those 
constituencies where the Gambettists were the less en evidence 
that they achieved the most success. It must be frankly 
admitted that Gambetta overreached himself at this period. 
He had often stirred France to its depths by truly national 
appeals, but France hesitated to follow him when he appealed 
to it solely pro domo sua. 

He had become very corpulent at this time, aged already 
in a variety of ways, too fond of lingering at table after 

1 Candidates were also to have had the privilege of offering themselves 
in as many departments as they pleased, and in the event of such a man as 
Gambetta doing so a veritable plebiscitum would have ensued. That was 
Bonapartist practice and did not commend itself to many Republicans, who 
were opposed to the excessive ascendancy of any one man. 






GAMBETTA AND LIST- VOTING 245 

dejeuner, and far too partial to cigars. Miserably poor in his 
youth, he had not been able to resist the pleasures of the 
affluence he enjoyed as President of the Chamber. He was 
taunted with his cook, a celebrated chef, who had quitted 
the Duke de Noailles to enter his service ; and Henri Rochefort 
christened him " the Pasha,' 1 attacking his life, habits, appear- 
ance, manners, and policy with a bitter, biting verve which day 
by day became more and more merciless. It was, in a way, 
the eternal war between les gras et les maigres, Rocheforfs 
leanness effectively contrasting with Gambetta's increasing 
rotundity. The famous journalist might well have remembered, 
however, that if, after his escape from New Caledonia, he had 
been able to emerge from exile in London and Switzerland, 
and return to France, it was largely by reason of the influence 
which Gambetta had exercised in promoting the amnesties in 
favour of the partisans of the Commune. Unfortunately, 
Henri Rochefort, with all his brilliant gifts, has proved himself 
to be the most " irresponsible " writer of his times. It may 
well be doubted if there has been a single public man in 
France whom he has not attacked or denounced in one or 
another fashion since he first began to write on political 
questions during the latter years of the Second Empire. He 
still survives, a shadow of his former self, and regarded by all 
sensible folk as undeserving of attention. However, he exercised 
real influence in Gambetta's time, and his attacks often proved 
detrimental to the Gambettist cause. 

The elections of 1881 showed that there was no danger of 
the ignorant and reactionary villages submerging the en- 
lightened and Republican towns, for only 90 Conservative — 
otherwise Royalist or Bonapartist — candidates were returned ; 
whereas the successful Republicans were 467 in number. But 
Gambetta's particular party, the Republican Union, only 
mustered 206 members, while there were 169 deputies of the 
Republican Left (from which Ferry's Ministry had been chiefly 
derived), 40 Conservative Republicans (Left Centre), and 46 
Extreme Republicans — the last forming a new Radical party, 
which had adopted Gambetta's original but now discarded 
programme in favour of the separation of Church and State, 
the abolition of the Senate, and the imposition of a progressive 
income tax. Under these circumstances it was anticipated 
that Gambetta, on taking office as he was expected to do, on 



246 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

account of Ferry's projected retirement, would form a ministry 
from his own party and the Republican Left, but on Leon 
Say and Freycinet declining to join him, he selected a cabinet 
solely from the Republican Union, to the exclusion of every 
other group. 

He did not ask Ferry to join him, for though they were 
in agreement on many questions, the ex-Prime Minister might 
have proved somewhat of an incubus by reason of the Tunisian 
business. There was, indeed, no little trouble over Ferry's 
withdrawal. The new Chamber wished to censure him, but 
did not dare to do so, on account of Gambetta's influence. 
When the Tunisian adventure was discussed, some thirty 
conflicting resolutions were put and lost successively. The 
mere "order of the day," which Gambetta desired, was also 
rejected. At last, without either censuring or approving 
Ferry's policy, the Chamber decided to accept the situation 
which that policy had created, voting that it was resolved to 
execute in its entirety the (Tunisian) treaty which the French 
nation had subscribed on May 12, 1881. This compromise 
was effected by Gambetta's personal intervention. In adopting 
it, the Chamber ignored Ferry's so-called " crime " but accepted 
its fruits. The voting was as follows : there were 355 members 
for the resolution, and 68 against it, while 124 abstained from 
recording their opinions. It may be added that the resolution 
fully reflected Gambetta's views. He said in conversation at 
that time : " France cannot retreat, it would be pusillanimity 
to do so, and might even re-act on our position in Algeria. 
But France cannot go further than she has done. Italy still 
disputes the validity of the treaty. Turkey, as the Bey's 
nominal suzerain, protests against it, and there are 15,000 
Turkish regulars in Tripoli. There must be, then, neither 
withdrawal nor annexation, but a protectorate only." 



CHAPTER IX 



AND DEATH 

The Members of Gambetta's Administration — The Newfoundland Dog and 
the Wrecker of Ministries — Gambetta and Art—" Senators " Coquelin 
and Meissonier— The French Navy — The Army : Campenon, Miribel, 
Boulanger, and Galliffet — A Host of Incompetent Generals — Foreign 
Affairs— Gambetta, the Prince of Orange, and the Prince of Wales — 
Gambetta's Travels— The new Position in Russia— France, England, and 
Egypt — The Bonapartists— Constitutional Revision and Gambetta's Fall 
— Mistakes of his Policy — The Second Freycinet Ministry — The Great 
Union Generate Smash— The Schools and the Clerical Right of Entry— 
Freycinet and Egypt— The Franco-British Alliance— Gambetta's Last 
Speech— His Mother's Death— Triumph of the Anti-English Policy and 
Fall of Freycinet— The Duclerc Cabinet— Gambetta's Retreat at Ville 
d'Avray — His Mistress, Leonie Leon, and her sad Story — Their projected 
Marriage— Gambetta's Accident— The Fatal Lunch— The Medical Treat- 
ment and the suggested Operation— Gambetta Dies— His Obsequies- 
Death of Chanzy — La Revanche Dead also. 

After the rejection of the list- voting bill by the Senate in the 
summer of 1881, Gambetta had remarked : " I won't undertake 
to govern the country when the means of doing so are refused 
me. I am offered power but it is only to entrap me. Well, I 
won't be entrapped, I won't take power at all." Nevertheless, 
his assumption of office after the general elections had been 
generally foreseen. When the new Chamber met, he was at 
first re-elected to its Presidency, 317 votes being given in his 
favour, and, this support appearing adequate, he accepted the 
duty of forming an administration directly the Ferry Cabinet 
fell. 1 In anticipation of the change, some foolish newspapers 
supporting him had repeated, ad nauseam, that the government 
he meant to constitute would be a really " Great Ministry," not 
only, indeed, one of "all the talents," but one including the 

1 M. Henri Brisson then became President of the Chamber, securing 347 
votes, or 30 more than Gambetta had obtained. 

247 



248 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

most influential men of the chief Republican groups. This 
intention was defeated by the defection of Leon Say, Freycinet, 
and others, and although the much heralded name of " Great 
Ministry" was immediately bestowed on the cabinet which 
Gambetta recruited among his immediate adherents, this was 
done simply in a spirit of derision, for the majority of the men who 
now suddenly stepped to the front were scarcely known to fame. 

The important Ministry of the Interior was assigned to a 
young Breton advocate and deputy, named Waldeck-Rousseau, 
whose father had been somewhat prominent during the Republic 
of 1848, but who personally had done little to distinguish him- 
self, except by pleading in matrimonial separation cases in 
the law-courts. Very energetic, but also extremely frigid and 
peremptory in his manners, Waldeck-Rousseau had few friends. 
Gambetta, however, had remarked his ability, notably in the 
parliamentary discussions on the irremovability of the judicial 
bench — the suspension of which was advocated by Waldeck- 
Rousseau, in order that the many Bonapartist and Royalist 
judges might be replaced by men loyal to the Constitution. 
As it happened, Waldeck-Rousseau had a great future before him, 
and though in later years he long deserted politics for the bar, he 
at last became Prime Minister of France, with the difficult task of 
pacifying the country after all the unrest it had suffered through 
the Dreyfus case and the intrigues of the Roman Church. 

The Ministry of Commerce and the Colonies in Gambetta's 
Ministry was assigned to M. Maurice Rouvier, 1 who since then 
has repeatedly figured in the history of the Republic, and the 
Under-Secretary chosen for Rouvier's department was the son of 
a furniture -maker named Faure. Felix Faure, as this son was 
called, ultimately became President of the Republic. The new 
Minister of Justice was an advocate named Jules Cazot, 
subsequently President of the Court of Cassation ; his Under- 
Secretary of State being another advocate, Martin-Feuillee, who 
also rose to a high position. The post of Public Instruction 
and Worship was allotted to Paul Bert, who as a physiologist 
has left a distinguished name in science. 2 Paul Bert's views 
on educational reform were sound, but, as he was a convinced 
freethinker, his appointment to the department of Worship as 

1 Born at Aix, in Provence, in 1 

2 He ultimately became French Resident in Indo-Chinaanddiedat Hanoi 
in 1886. 






THE GREAT MINISTRY 249 

well as Education was tantamount to a formal declaration of 
war against the Roman Church. Cochery, who became Minister 
of Posts and Telegraphs and retained that office in various 
administrations, Raynal, who took the portfolio of Public 
Works, and Allain Targe, who secured that of Finances, were 
all men who figured prominently in politics and worked hard 
to consolidate the Republic — not men of the first flight certainly, 
nevertheless able and zealous functionaries. 

For the Ministry of Agriculture, Gambetta chose a certain 
M. Deves, who acquired no little celebrity of a somewhat amus- 
ing description at the time when the enfant terrible of the 
French Parliament, the man who held (and still holds) the record 
as an overthrower of ministers, was M. Clemenceau, now Premier 
of the Republic. If Clemenceau had always had his own way, 
the ministerial changes under the present regime would have 
proved even more frequent than has been the case. But while 
he set himself the task of throwing one minister after another 
overboard, there was a deputy who made it his duty to plunge 
into the waves after the sinking man and to do his utmost to 
rescue him. This deputy was Deves, who thereby became known 
as the parliamentary " Newfoundland Dog." On several occasions 
he contrived to save one or another Administration threatened by 
the insatiable Clemenceau. A born conciliator, ever expert in 
finding a via media, in devising a compromise when an absolutely 
hostile vote was impending, M. Deves, whatever his failings, had 
his merits also. He himself often held ministerial positions. 

Before Gambetta's time, the Department of Fine Arts had 
been invariably attached to some other Ministry and managed 
by an Under-Secretary of State, but the great man formally 
instituted a Ministry of Fine Arts and assigned it to his friend, 
M. Antonin Proust, the distinguished art critic. It may be 
said that Gambetta had a genuine love and a catholic apprecia- 
tion of art, with numerous close friends in the art world : 
Mercie, Jules Breton, Jean Paul Laurens, Falguiere, Philippe 
Burty, Gustave Dore, and others. He fervently admired the 
work of Millet, and we can recall a very able article written 
by him for La Rtyublique Francaise in which he lauded 
" L'Angelus " to the skies. We remember, too, an interesting 
little speech of his extolling the work of Corot. 1 To Courbet's 

1 It was delivered at Ville d'Avray on the occasion of the inauguration of 
a monument to Corot's memory. 



250 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

art he was less partial, saying of it, on one occasion, "The 
handiwork could not be better, but there is no sign of soul.'" 

However, Gambetta's interest in artistic matters was not 
confined to painting and sculpture. 1 Theatrical art likewise 
appealed to him ; he formed a friendship with Mounet-Sully, 
and the elder Coquelin became one of his particular intimates. 
We do not think that Coquelin ever gave him any Uqons de 
maintien such as the anecdotiers assert were given by Talma 
to Napoleon. In any case, if they were, Gambetta profited 
little by them. While it was the stage which attracted the 
statesman to the comedian, it was politics which attracted 
the comedian to the statesman. "Would Coquelin become a 
senator, and, if he did, would he some day succeed Grevy as 
President of the Republic ?" That was a question which 
amused Paris for many months, varied, however, at times, by 
another one : " Of Meissonier the painter and Coquelin the 
actor, which had the better chance of a senatorship ? " Meis- 
sonier's political ambition was perhaps more genuine than 
Coquelin "s, but in neither case did success ensue. Meissonier 
had passed away, we think, before Leighton became a Peer of 
the United Kingdom with a right to vote in the House of 
Lords, a consummation which would have filled the painter 
of " 1805 " with the keenest envy. As for Coquelin, he, to the 
great advantage of the French stage, survived for many years, 
his death taking place in January, 1909. 

This digression has carried us from our subject — Gambetta's 
Ministry of Arts. It lasted some six weeks, when the legality 
of its creation merely by Presidential decree instead of by a 
Legislative decision was impugned in the Chamber by M. Ribot, 
whereupon suppression ensued. 

Let us now pass to the Ministry of Marine, which Gambetta 
allotted, not to an admiral, but to a ship's captain, Gougeard, 
an officer of merit and bravery, whose chief claim to distinc- 
tion, however, resided less in any services afloat than in those 
which he had rendered on land in 1870-71, with Chanzy's 

1 There was an amusing affair at the Salon of 1879. A certain Mile. 
Salvini employed a sculptor named Granet to model a bust of Gambetta, 
which was cast in bronze and exhibited as her work under her artistic 
pseudonym of M Salvadio." It was huge, theatrical, and hideous, and when 
Gambetta saw it at the Salon, he at once requested the authorities to remove 
it, on the ground that it was a libellous presentment of his physiognomy. The 
request was at once acceded to, the law being entirely on his side. 



THE GREAT MINISTRY 251 

Army of the Loire. Gougeard, indeed, had figured con- 
spicuously and heroically at the great defeat of Le Mans. 1 He 
had also this merit : he was a Republican, and there was really 
no Admiral of that time of whom the same might be said, 
most of those in office dating from the Second Empire. 
Indeed, although Republicanism now, at last, largely permeates 
the cadres of the French army, it has never penetrated to a 
similar degree among the naval officers. Various circumstances 
account for this. An extremely large proportion of the naval 
officers are of the Breton race, which clings to old-time ideals 
and the Catholic faith. The seaman, moreover, is usually more 
inclined to religion than is the landsman, and until recent 
years no real attempt was ever made in the French service to 
combat the superstitions engendered largely by the dangers of 
the seaman's calling. Chiefly educated, moreover, in establish- 
ments belonging to the religious orders, the young Frenchmen, 
sprigs of the Breton nobility and bourgeoisie, who took to 
the naval profession, carried their clerical training into the 
service, and thus, even under the most free-thinking of Marine 
Ministers, such, for instance, as M. Camille Pelletan, the navy 
was crowded with the most clerical of officers, men who 
solemnly dedicated their ships to the Sacred Heart of Jesus or 
the Blessed and Victorious St. Michael. But quite apart from 
ultra-religious tendencies, there was reason in Gambetta's time 
to doubt even the Republican allegiance of most of the naval 
officers ; and thus, in addition to Gougeard's practical ideas on 
navy reform, the soundness of his Republicanism commended 
him to the attention of Gambetta, though the latter was 
prepared to waive many points of political doctrine, and even 
to overlook the most reactionary antecedents among the men 
he appointed, with the object of securing the greatest practical 
efficiency in the army and the navy. 

His Minister of War was General Campenon, a tall and 
vigorous man, sixty-three years old, with brush-like hair and 
moustache, and a stentorian voice. 2 A Staff Corps officer 
throughout his career, he was well versed in military organisa- 
tion. He had been for some time intimate with the Prime 
Minister, having been introduced to him by the latter's close 

1 See ante, p. 20. 

2 Jean Baptiste Campenon, born in 1819, had served in the Crimea, 
Algeria, Italy, China, and with the Army of Metz, 1870. 



252 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

friend, General Thou mas, the author of that authoritative 
work Les Transformations de VArmte franqaise. 

Under Campenon, the very important post of Chief of the 
Staff was given to General de Miribel, who had previously 
served in the same capacity under Rochebouet, at the time when 
MacMahon was said to have meditated a Coup d'Etat. 1 For 
that reason, Miribers reappointment raised a storm of protests 
among zealous Republicans. Some regarded it as a positive 
indication of Gambetta's dictatorial desires, others urged that 
it was at least a most unwise appointment, Miribel being a 
known reactionary. Even now, however, it is a matter of some 
doubt whether the selection of Miribel was really Gambetta's 
own personal act, for General Campenon publicly claimed all 
responsibility for it, and one of his biographers has asserted 
that he made it a positive condition of his own acceptance of 
office. On the other hand, several anecdotiers allege that 
Gambetta personally telegraphed for Miribel (who was then 
commanding some infantry at Lyons), and that, on certain 
friends pointing out to him the inadvisability of employing the 
general, he retorted : " I am going to take him, and perhaps I 
shall even make him my Minister of War." It has also been 
asserted more than once, that Miribel, on reaching Paris, 
consulted the Orleanist leader, the Duke de Broglie, before he 
would accept the proffered post. That he was an officer of high 
attainments is certain, but the brief duration of the Great 
Ministry prevented him from then effecting much in the way of 
army reorganisation. 

The passionate interest which Gambetta took in the army 
dated, of course, from his dictatorship in 1870, since when he 
had neglected no opportunity of cultivating an intercourse with 
prominent officers. He controlled, and often inspired, a widely 
read military journal, VArmee franqaise^ edited by Edouard 
Taizon, an ex-officer and a native of Lorraine. His official 
functions also brought him into relations with military men. 

1 Marie Francois Joseph, Baron de Miribel, born September 14, 1831, at 
Montbonnot in the Isere, was originally an artillery officer. A brigadier in 
1875, he became a general of division in July 1880. He served at Sebastopol, 
Magenta, Solferino, and in Mexico, before becoming, in 1868, French 
military attache in Russia. He held an infantry command during the 
German Siege of Paris, and in 18T7 was chief of the French mission at the 
German army manoeuvres. Rochebouet afterwards made him Chief of the 
Staff, as stated above. 



' 



GAMBETTA AND THE ARMY 253 

In 1880, at an entertainment which he gave as President of the 
Chamber of Deputies on the occasion of the presentation of 
new colours to the army, he delivered a patriotic little speech 
to some of the principal officers, who gathered round him in 
one of the smaller salons of his official residence. Among 
those present were Marshal Canrobert and Generals Chanzy, 
Campenon, Billot, Farre, Ferron, Forgemol, Lewal, and 
Galliffet. The text he took was "Malheureux, oui, traitres 
jamais ! " the reference being, of course, to the disasters of 
1870 ; but, naturally, Gambetta's remarks did not apply to the 
specific case of Bazaine, whose trial and sentence he always 
regarded as the vindication of his own policy during the war- 
period. 

One young general, who first emerged from the crowd, as it 
were, during his Prime Ministership, was much disliked by him. 
This was Boulanger, whom Campenon selected for a mission to 
the United States at the time of the Centenary of American 
Independence. Boulanger had an excellent record, and had 
come to the front very rapidly, being made a general de brigade 
when only forty-three years old. Nevertheless, Gambetta did 
not like him, but remarked: "He has two eyes, and yet he 
never looks anybody in the face, whereas I always try to do so, 
though I have only one eye at my service. 1 ' On the other 
hand, Gambetta conceived a genuine regard for Galliffet, 
whom he appointed to be a member of the Upper Council of 
the War Department, a nomination which, even more than 
MiribePs, excited the wrath of the extreme Radicals. 1 " What ! 
the butcher of the Commune, the brute who had set old men, 
feeble women, and mere children against the wall of Pere 
Lachaise cemetery and shot them down, was being called to 
high office ! It was abominable ! " Loud were the protests 
of the Communists who, thanks to the amnesty, had returned 
from exile. 

Sarcasm, irony, derision had been, hitherto, the chief 
weapons employed against Gambetta. Jovial "Reds" had 
lustily sung in chorus : — 

Le voila, 

Gambetta ! 

Ah, ah, ah ! 

1 The other appointments to this Council were those of Marshal Can- 
robert, and Generals Chanzy, Gresley, Carteret-Trecourt, and Saussier. 



254 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

or else hummed a pastiche of the old-time ditty, "Dis-moi, 
soldat, 11 beginning : — 

Permets, Leon, permets qu'un camarade 

Qui te connut au vieux quartier Latin, 
Qui te connut maigre, et dans la pommade, 

Rappelle un temps oublie, c'est certain. 
Nous vivions deux dans la meme chambrette : 

Frisette, alors, en jouant la vertu, 
Nous adorait tous les deux en cachette — 

Dis-moi, Leon, dis-moi, t'en souviens-tu ? 

Mild banter of that kind no longer sufficed, however. The 
only muse that now celebrated the whilom "great tribune " 
was, frankly, la miise obscene, and sarcasm was followed by 
damnatory invective. The circumstance that Canrobert, " the 
bombarder of the Boulevards' 1 at Louis Napoleon's Coup 
d^tat, was chosen as one of Galliffet's colleagues, increased the 
exasperation of the Faubourgs. But Gambetta remained 
unmoved. He defended Galliffet, even vouching in private 
conversation for the general's Republicanism, and declaring 
that his only ambition was " to retake Strasburg and to see a 
statue of himself erected there. " 

It is well known that M. de Galliffet 1 rendered great 
services to the French army both during Gambetta's ministry 
and afterwards, becoming, as it were, a kind of grand-master of 
the cavalry as well as an inspector-general of high capacity. 
He prevented the undue promotion, or secured the retirement 
of many undeserving officers. His letters to Gambetta, before 
the latter even became Prime Minister, were remarkable for 
the severe strictures they contained. According to M. de 
Galliffet, in or about 1880, there were but twenty-five really 
capable generals in the whole French army, and all the others 
ought to have been cashiered. General the Marquis d'Espeuilles 
was " an antiquated old fool and an idler, 11 Arnaudeau was " so 
incapable as to be ridiculous, 11 Grandin was "an imbecile, a 
bundle of indifference and scepticism in league with the enemies 
of the government, 11 Carrelet, Sereville, and d'Elchingen 2 were 
of "great mediocrity, 11 Latheulade, Montarby, Oudinot, de 

1 For an account of his early career, etc., see our Court of the Tuileries, 
1852-1870. 

2 A grandson of Marshal Ney. He committed suicide in an empty house 
to avoid a prosecution similar to proceedings taken against various officers 
in Germany in 1907-8. 






GAMBETTA AND THE ARMY 255 

Dampierre, Feline, and de la Rochere were " very bad," while 
de Quelen was " archi-bad. 11 As for General L'Hotte, he was 
of " the old style, opposed to all progress," and Colonel (later 
General) Kaulbars, the Russian representative at the French 
manoeuvres, had been struck by "the limited range of his 
intelligence. 1 ' Many other generals of division were " as weak 
as could be " ; and, it was added, the foreign officers present 
at the manoeuvres openly vented "their astonishment at the 
physical, moral, and intellectual incapacity of the heads of the 
French army ! " Some ten years later, in 1890, M. de Galliffet 
expressed, through the medium of M. Joseph Reinach, very 
similar opinions on several generals then in command. We do 
not say that he has always been infallible in such matters, but 
events have frequently confirmed his dkta. 1 Still, it must not 
be forgotten that the Miribel and Galliffet appointments 
weakened Gambetta's Cabinet politically, deprived it of a good 
deal of Republican support, for the loss of which there was no 
such compensation as the adhesion of the more liberally inclined 
Conservatives, for, when the day of reckoning came in the 
Legislature, the Bonapartists and Royalists voted to a man for 
Gambetta's overthrow. 

He, himself, in addition to the Premiership, took the 
Ministry for Foreign Affairs. He was, of course, without 
diplomatic training, but during the war of 1870, when M. de 
Chaudordy directed the Foreign Department of the National 
Defence Delegation, he had had some personal intercourse, 
at Tours, with the representatives of the Powers, notably 
with Lord Lyons. Afterwards, at Grevy's accession, when he 
acquired, as President of the Chamber, 2 the influence of a 

1 Admiral Courbet, one of the best French naval officers of the Third 
Republic, also wrote very severely of some of his colleagues, notably Cloue, 
Bergasse, and Peyron. 

2 It must be said that he was not a good parliamentary President. He 
lacked Grevy's strict impartiality and composure. A somewhat noisy 
deputy in his day, addicted to interrupting other speakers, and careless 
whether his language were parliamentary or not, he visited, as President, 
the slightest oifences with punishment which was often foolishly severe. It 
is true, of course, that the Bonapartists were extremely turbulent at times. 
On one occasion Gambetta had to send for the guard to remove Paul de 
Cassagnac from the Chamber. Another day, we remember, when he hastily 
took up a hat to put it on as a sign that the sitting was suspended until the 
uproar ceased, the hat proved to belong to one of the secretaries, and was of 
such huge dimensions that it descended over the President's nose, both to 
his confusion and to the intense amusement of the Chamber, which there- 



256 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

power behind the throne, exercising, as he himself put it, 
" la dictature de la persuasion," many ambassadors placed 
themselves in contact with him, meeting him not only more or 
less officially but also in semi-privacy, notably at the house of 
the Countess de Beaumont, Mme. de MacMahon's sister. 

With royalty, his personal acquaintance was very limited. 
Save, perhaps, on some official occasions, he only met, we think, 
a few Russian Grand Dukes, and a couple of heirs apparent. 
One of these, one, too, whom he speedily dropped on account of 
incompatibility of temperament, was Henry William, Prince of 
Orange — elder son of William III. of Holland — who, shut off 
from any healthy life in his native country, disgusted also with 
the parsimonious treatment meted out to himself and his 
younger brother by the old profligate — and, in that respect, 
prodigal — King their father, inheriting, moreover, a soupqon of 
insanity from his grandmother, the daughter of the Emperor 
Paul of Russia, infinitely preferred the life of a Parisian 
Boulevardier to that of Prince Royal of the Netherlands, and 
vowed that, even if his august parent should presently quit the 
scene, he should continue to reside in Paris, instead of returning 
home to reign over the land of dams, dykes, and Dutchmen. 
With a fairly good physique and a frank, open manner, this 
Prince with the sempiternal white hat and grey frock-coat, 
appealed to one, in spite of his waywardness, a good deal more 
than did some of the other royalties who then made Paris the 
home of their exile, such, for instance, as certain junior 
Neapolitan Bourbons, who frequented shady clubs and cheap 
restaurants, and often rode about atop of some omnibus at the 
cost of three half-pence per journey, because they could not 
borrow a cab fare. Yet some of them have survived to batten 
on unfortunate Spain, and to figure with all pomp and cere- 
mony at a i?30,000 wedding at Wood Norton, whereas the 
Prince of Orange, after taking his mistress to a fete at the 
Opera one night, when he was already ailing, contracted 
pneumonia and speedily died. 1 

upon ceased squabbling, its good humour having been restored by this 
comical incident. 

1 He had largely inherited his father's amorous nature. On one occasion 
an enraged Parisian husband accused his wife of lunching en teie-h^Ute with 
the Prince in a private room at the Cafe d'Orsay. A scandalous "judicial 
separation " case ensued (Affaire Santerre, 1879-80). A quaint feature of 
the affair was that the husband, while: waiting " to surprise the guilty 



GAMBETTA, DIPLOMACY, AND ROYALTY 257 

Gambetta, as we have reason to know, was concerned at 
that demise, not that he had a favourable opinion of the Prince, 
but he knew that the latter's younger brother, Alexander, had 
but precarious health — indeed, he died in 1884 — and the 
question of the Dutch succession often made the French states- 
man thoughtful. Germany's ambition — her destiny, in her own 
opinion — lay westward. After Alsace would come Holland ; 
then Flanders, otherwise Belgium, that also being regarded as 
Germanic land, and with Flanders there would be Antwerp, of 
course. However, at the death of his elder son, William 
III. of Holland took a second wife, the Princess Emma of 
Waldeck-Pyrmont, by whom, in Gambetta's time, he already 
had a daughter, Wilhelmina, now Queen of Holland. It then 
seemed quite possible that this child might be followed by 
others. 1 

Gambetta's other acquaintance in royal spheres was the 
Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. They lunched together 
(perhaps more than once), and although, so far as we know, 
His Majesty's opinion of the French statesman has never been 
recorded, there is every reason to believe, without accepting 
any of the anecdotes textually, that Gambetta was, on his 
side, most favourably impressed by the sound views as well 
as the affability and friendly feeling for France of the Prince, 
who was then, in a sense, serving the requisite apprenticeship 
for a career of fruitful diplomacy. It was, by the way, the 
Prince of Wales who bestowed on the Prince of Orange, to 
whom we have just referred, that nickname of " Citron " which 
achieved so much popularity. The occasion, we have been told, 
was a lunch or dinner given by ex-Queen Isabella of Spain, 
at which Henry William, out of sorts that day, distinguished 
himself by the tartness of his remarks. " Mais ce n'est pas une 
orange, c'est un citron ! " the Prince of Wales exclaimed to 
the general amusement, and thus the nickname originated. 

Gambetta was not an untravelled man. In fact, he had 

couple," partook of a poulet chasseur. As one of the newspapers put it : 
" Othello thirsted for vengeance, Monsieur S. hungered for chicken." While 
he was partaking of it his wife made her escape, it was alleged, disguised in 
the white vest and trousers of a cook's assistant. It was often said in Paris 
that the Prince of Orange was not really the lady's lover, but, being a 
bachelor, took responsibility on himself in order to screen another Prince 
who was a married man. Henry William died while the legal proceedings 
were in progress. 

1 William III. of Holland survived till 1890, but left no other issue. 



258 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

travelled a good deal more than many French political leaders. 
We doubt if he ever made a stay of any length in Germany, 
and it is certain that he never met Bismarck, even if an 
interview between them was ever contemplated, which is, at 
least, a doubtful point. Again, they were never in direct 
correspondence. Some indirect communications appear to 
have passed through the medium of a French officer ; and it 
is true that an officious French wine merchant named Cheberry, 
a man of some position and wealth, who supplied Bismarck 
with burgundy, used to claim that he had conveyed messages 
from the French to the German statesman and vice versa. 
That is virtually all that can be said on the subject without 
launching into the dangerous sea of hypothesis. Gambetta's 
acquaintance with Germany dated from 1866, when he was 
acting as a junior secretary to Cremieux, the advocate. 
Clement Laurier 1 was the latter's principal secretary, and 
having to proceed to Constantinople in connection with the 
winding-up of Baron Stern's bank there, he took Gambetta 
with him. They passed through Germany and Austria, 
descended the Danube from Belgrade to the Black Sea, whence 
Constantinople was reached ; and their business finished, they 
returned home via the Archipelago, Athens, Naples, and 
Marseilles. All that was little more than globe-trotting, but it 
gave the future Minister of Foreign Affairs some idea of other 
countries. Again, he was in Italy on several occasions, his first 
visit to Rome being also made in Laurier's company He made, 
too, a tour in Belgium, and visited Switzerland frequently. 

His travels in France were extensive. During the war and 
his political campaigns he gradually became acquainted with 
every part of the country, his journeys and speeches being even 
more numerous than those of Louis Napoleon when the restora- 
tion of the Empire was contemplated. Most of Gambetta's 
speeches in the provinces dealt with questions of home policy, 
for he laid it down as an axiom that while Frenchmen should 
always keep la Revanche in mind, they ought never to speak 
of it. On one occasion, however, at Cherbourg in August 
1880, he gave rather more rein to his patriotic feelings than 
was prudent, thereby provoking both the strictures of the 
German press and the publication of a French brochure: 
Gambetta, c'est la Guerre, which circulated far and wide. 
1 See ante, p. 25. 



GAMBETTA'S ADMINISTRATION 259 

On becoming, however, Minister for Foreign Affairs in 
November 1881, 1 he was intent on a pacific policy. The most 
important of recent European events had been the assassination, 
on March 18, of the Emperor Alexander II. of Russia by the 
Nihilists. Although that ruler had helped to prevent a fresh 
German invasion of France in 1875, he had remained more or 
less bound to Germany by various ties and sympathies. His 
son Alexander III. did not exhibit the same pro-German 
tendency, being more of a Slav in disposition and aspirations 
if not in blood, and having also as his consort a Danish 
Princess, who remembered Schleswig-Holstein. Such circum- 
stances were not unimportant factors in the general situation, 
and might have been turned to account by French Diplomacy. 
However, General Chanzy, then ambassador at St. Petersburg, 
threw up his post on account of Gambetta 1 s religious and 
educational programme, and M. de Chaudordy was appointed 
in his stead. In like way, and for much the same reason, 
M. de St. Vallier resigned the Berlin embassy, and was replaced 
by Baron de Courcel. Such changes at Gambetta's accession 
to office were perhaps unfortunate ; still official Germany 
retained a purely observant attitude, and even the German 
newspapers put some restraint on their hostility. 

A matter of concern already at that time was the presence 
of many Russian Nihilist refugees in Switzerland, but this 
gave rise to no acute anxiety during Gambetta's administration. 
Trouble was already brewing, however, in or near the French 
possessions in the Far East, and the Tonquin question was 
soon to become acute. Nevertheless, Gambetta decided to 
make no move in that direction until a colonial army was 
formed. The most important affairs with which he had to deal 
concerned England and Egypt. There was, first the matter 
of a new Anglo-French Commercial Treaty which had been 
dragging on for some time past, the negotiations having been 
suspended at one moment owing to the insufficient concessions 
offered by France. They again failed, from the same cause, 
during Gambetta's Ministry. He showed himself, however, 
most anxious to co-operate with Great Britain in Egypt, and 
to prevent Turkish intervention there. In these matters, his 

1 His friend Spuller (see ante, p. 2) became his Chef-de-cabinet, J. J. 
Weiss was appointed Director of Political Affairs, and young M. Arnaud 
de TAriege acted as private secretary. 



260 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

conferences in Paris with Lord Lyons, and Challemel-Lacour's 
interviews in London with Earl Granville, resulted in the 
agreement of the two Powers. 

In home affairs, Gambetta was confronted by many 
difficulties. The Chamber gave his Cabinet a very frigid 
reception. Republican groups, jealous of one another, felt 
that they might now allow more rein to mutual dislike than 
they had done in the past, for Bonapartism seemed to be dead, 
and the Royalist prospects grew fainter daily. " The Republic 
has every luck," exclaimed the Duke de Broglie in the summer 
of 1879, when he heard that the young heir of the fallen 
Empire had been killed in Zululand, " the Imperial Prince is 
dead, and the Count de Chambord still lives on ! " By his 
cousin's death, Prince Napoleon Jerome became Head of the 
House of Bonaparte, but many Imperialists shrank from his 
leadership. He offended them grievously by writing an open 
letter in approval of Jules Ferry's decrees against the Jesuits 
and other religious orders in 1880. In the following year, 
Rouher, the whilom " Vice-Emperor," and since the war the 
chief Parliamentary leader of the Bonapartists, withdrew in 
disgust from public life, and it was in vain that Prince Napoleon 
issued manifestoes, his adherents gradually fell away from him, 
transferring their allegiance to his son, Prince Victor. 

If Gambetta's Ministry had lasted, it might, perhaps, have 
effected some remarkable changes, for, according to M. Joseph 
Reinach, among the reforms it intended to propose were several 
which were carried out by subsequent Cabinets and Chambers, 
but which could not be discussed in Gambetta's time owing to 
his speedy overthrow. The first thing which angered the 
Chamber was a circular issued by Waldeck-Rousseau to the 
Prefects, stating that all applications and recommendations for 
appointments and other favours must henceforth be transmitted 
by them to the Ministry. This interference with the influence 
which the deputies often brought to bear in such matters was 
deeply resented by them. The cry went up : " We told you so, 
this is the beginning of dictatorship ! " But it was Gambetta's 
campaign for the revision of the Constitution on certain specific 
lines which did most harm. He once more insisted on his 
list- voting scheme, and he wished to get rid of the irremovable 
senators, 1 and reduce the authority of the Senate in matters 
1 Sec ante, p. 193. 



GAMBETTA'S ADMINISTRATION 261 

of finance to the same level as that of the House of Lords. 
Thereupon, his Administration became known as a " Ministere 
de Coup d'Etat," and was violently attacked, not only by the 
Royalist, Bonapartist, and Extreme Republican journals, but 
also by the organ of the Elysee, La Paicc, inspired by Wilson, 
and La France, behind which stood M. de Freycinet — that 
whilom coadjutor, whom Gambetta now contemptuously styled 
a nolonU in regard to strength of character, and a mere filter 
in regard to intelligence ! 

The struggle which took place amidst a severe financial 
crisis, of which we shall speak presently, was involved, but short 
and decisive. Briefly, there was some willingness to revise the 
Constitution, though not in the manner which Gambetta desired. 
Deputy Barodet of the Extreme Left proposed complete 
revision, and a Committee of the Chamber submitted a counter- 
proposal to Gambetta's. Barodet's suggestion having been 
rejected, and Andrieux, ex-Prefect of Police and Envoy in 
Spain, having spoken for the Committee , s proposals, Gambetta 
defended his own scheme, protesting his patriotism and denying 
all dictatorial designs. But he was constantly interrupted, even 
laughed at by the deputies, and it became evident that his 
former hold over the majority was, at least temporarily, gone. 
Indeed, all the more advanced Republicans combined with the 
Bonapartists and Royalists to overthrow him, in such wise that 
he was defeated by 268 votes against 218 given in his favour. 

It follows that, counting from November 14, 1881, to 
January 26, 1882, the date of the hostile vote, Gambetta's long 
awaited Administration, of which such great things had been 
predicted and expected, lasted only seventy-three days. He 
destroyed himself, he committed political suicide, by his stubborn 
adherence to his list-voting policy — an adherence which became 
so wilful that he would listen to no arguments, though this 
policy was, in reality, the very negation of that doctrine of 
Opportunism which he had long preached. It is evident, indeed, 
that the opportune moment for an important Constitutional 
change has not arrived when parties are so divided respecting 
it ; and, as we shall show hereafter, when at the time of 
Boulanger's ascendancy a trial of list-voting was made, the 
consequences were such, that from that date onward, the bulk of 
the nation has remained opposed to any such system. 

Having destroyed his political power and much of his in- 



262 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

fluence also by his own wilfulness, Gambetta sent his resignation 
to Grevy, who could but accept it. In spite of the newspaper 
attacks inspired by his son-in-law, the President was not, we 
think, so hostile to Gambetta as some writers have contended. 
At any rate, he expressed in later years his regret that the 
Ministry had not lasted longer, for it had hoped to achieve 
great things, and many of its projects had his full approval. In 
any case, after Gambetta's overthrow, Grevy found himself in a 
sea of troubles. 

Although the Ministry fell so soon and accomplished so 
little, we have dwelt upon it because it marks an epoch in 
the Republic's history and is also one of the chief events in 
Gambetta's life. If failure resulted, this was largely because 
few, if any, men can be everything. A man may prove himself 
a great orator, as great as Mirabeau, he may also possess in even 
a greater degree than Danton the energy, the patriotism, the 
sacred flame, requisite in a nation's leader at time of deadly 
peril ; yet by reason precisely of his masterful nature, his 
predilection for command, he may be the most unsuitable chief 
for a liberty-loving democracy in time of peace. In matters of 
home-policy, Gambetta went too far in seeking to impose him- 
self on his contemporaries, in insisting on his own ideas to the 
exclusion of all others. And there were flaws also in his 
doctrine of Opportunism. We are reminded of the famous 
caricature of the period of the First Revolution, which showed 
a cook surrounded by the feathered denizens of the farmyard, 
of whom he inquired : " Now, my dears, with what sauce would 
you like to be eaten ? " " But we don't want to be eaten at 
all ! " was the reply. In Gambetta's case, he virtually exclaimed: 
" My dears, I promise you we won't eat you until there is a 
favourable opportunity to do so." Thus, although he cut off 
his ultra-democratic tail, tried to attract Society, and even won 
a few aristocratic military men and others to his side, his 
endeavours in that respect were mostly wasted. Those whom 
he sought to conciliate remained full of suspicion, while the 
old and tried Republicans protested against what seemed to 
them to be sheer apostasy. Again, although his exaltation of 
the army was inspired by genuine patriotism, and in accordance 
with the national aspirations — for la Revanche was still a leading 
feature of the country's creed — it yielded pernicious fruit. It 
was in his time that Paul Deroulede and others established the 






L'UNION G^N^RALE 263 

notorious " League of Patriots," and from the excessive army- 
worship which was thus fostered, sprang, first, Boulanger, and 
in later years the vain-glorious men whose sabres clattered 
through the halls of justice, drowning for a while the voices of 
innocence and truth. 

On falling from power, Gambetta hastened to the Riviera, 
thence to Genoa. M. de Freycinet now again became Prime 
Minister, and assumed the direction of Foreign Affairs. 1 At 
this moment Paris was in the throes of a severe financial crash. 
A banking house, called L'Union Generale, had been established 
there in 1876, with the object of furthering " the interests of 
all good Catholics," its original prospectus setting forth that 
the promotors had received for themselves and their enterprise 
"the special autograph blessing of our most Holy Father, 
Pope Leo XIII." Some members of the French aristocracy, 
including the Marquis de Biencourt and the Marquis de Plceuc, 
a former Sub-Governor of the Bank of France, were at the head 
of the venture. Its capital was at first only £1 60,000, but on 
the transformation of the concern into a limited liability 
company in 1878, the capital was raised to a million sterling. 
M. de Plceuc and others withdrew about this time, and the 
management was assumed by a man named Bontoux, originally 
an engineer, who had become manager of the Austrian Sudbahn, 
but had been ruined by the Viennese "Krach" in 1873. He 
afterwards came to France with introductions from the Count 
de Chambord, and wormed his way into Royalist society, securing 
also the support of some wealthy religious orders, which either 
purchased shares or deposited large sums of money with the Union 
Generale Bank. Devout folk of all ranks, from the highest to 
the lowest, did the same, even Pope Leo confiding i?120,000 to 
Bontoux for investment. The hope was that the Union Generale 
would become a great international Catholic machine de guenre y 
which would destroy the Jewish financial autocracy through- 
out Europe, and provide both the Holy See and the Legitimist 
cause in several countries with the requisite sinews of war. 

The bank's capital was increased to two millions sterling in 

1 This was the Fifth Ministry of Grevy's Presidency. Freycinet's 
colleagues were Leon Say (Finances), Ferry (Education), Goblet (Interior 
and Worship), General Billot (War), Admiral Jaureguiberry (Marine), Varroy 
(Public Works), Tirard (Commerce), de Mahy (Agriculture), Cochery (Post 
Office), and Humbert (Justice). The last named was the father of the 
Humbert who married " La Grande Therese," famous for her frauds. 



264 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

1879, to four millions in April 1880, and to six millions in 
November 1881, there being successive issues of shares, which 
were offered at a premium of £7 in 1880 and of i?14 in 1881 
— £20 being the face value. In the last-named year, the 
money on deposit at the bank amounted to about half a 
million, and the institution's gains were supposed to be 
enormous. At the Bourse the share price was ultimately 
forced up to i?120, or six times the face value. But Bontoux 
had been speculating recklessly. He had a branch house at 
Rome, he was financing the Brazilian railways, running the 
Bucharest Gas-Works, the Land Bank of Vienna and Pesth, and 
the Bohemian Railway Bank ; and on being attacked by 
financial rivals at the Paris Bourse, he only forced up and 
maintained the quotations for Union shares by buying them 
himself, in large quantities, through the medium of men of 
straw. His extraordinary operations were taken by Emile 
Zola as the text of the well-known novel L Argent. The 
crash which ultimately resulted — just as the Union was trying 
to float a loan for the Servian Government — proved terrific. 
Several members of the French nobility were quite ruined, 
others had to shut up their mansions and live in retirement for 
many years. Innumerable poor folk saw the savings of a life- 
time swept away ; while, as for his Holiness Leo XIII., he from 
that day forward would never invest a lira in any financial 
enterprise, but jealously hoarded the great bulk of the Peter's 
Pence at the Vatican. Bontoux and his acolyte Feder were 
arrested, and each was sentenced to five years 1 imprisonment. 
It is from that time that the rise of anti-Semitism in France 
may be dated ; for it was held that the great Catholic financial 
house had been crushed by the jealous Jews. It is true that 
various Jew financiers participated in the Bourse campaign by 
which Bontoux and his bank were overthrown, but the Union's 
most determined adversary, the man who so raked in the spoils 
as to add a second huge fortune to the one he already 
possessed, was a Protestant, a sugar-refiner named Lebaudy, 
whose lunatic son now wanders about the world, styling himself 
" Emperor of the Sahara." 

The second Freycinet Ministry soon found itself in 
difficulties. It included some able men, but they were ill- 
assorted. On assuming office, the Premier expressed his great 
deference for the Chamber, and it was agreed that all revision 



FREYCINET, GAMBETTA, AND EGYPT 265 

of the Constitution should be adjourned. "Man does not 
live by politics alone," M. de Freycinet sententiously remarked ; 
" there are other matters requiring attention." Ferry, indeed, 
again dealt with educational questions, and compulsory 
elementary education in government and municipal schools 
became secular as well. Still the clergy were not entirely 
driven from those schools. The Conservative parties demanded 
on their behalf a right of entry daily, out of ordinary school - 
hours, for the purpose of imparting religious instruction, one 
deputy protesting that " schools without God would be schools 
against Him. - " Ferry, however, would only grant the clergy 
the right of entry on Sundays and Thursdays. In other State 
departments serious difficulties soon arose. For instance, Leon 
Say protested against the national extravagance, and particularly 
against the Prime Minister's huge schemes for Public Works ; 
the question of reforming the judicial bench also led to 
unpleasantness in the Cabinet ; while that of giving Paris a 
Chief Mayor resulted in general resignation, which Grevy, how- 
ever, would not accept. Thus the Administration lingered on, 
though matters went daily from bad to worse. 

There was some trouble in Algeria and with Spain over the 
depredations committed in Spanish African possessions by Bou 
Amema, a native leader who defied the French ; but far more 
serious events occurred in connection with Egypt. The Porte's 
despatch of Dervish Pasha to that country was followed by a 
massacre at Alexandria. The rebellious Arabi Pasha became 
momentarily supreme. A Conference of the Powers was agreed 
on, but when immediate action against Arabi became impera- 
tive, France refused to participate, and the British bombarded 
Alexandria (July 11, 1881) and landed troops on their own 
responsibility. The relations of the two countries suffered by 
the frequent irresolution and the sudden changes of attitude 
which Freycinet displayed during the affair. It was " first he 
would, and then he wouldn't," and so on alternately. The 
truth appears to be that he was afraid of acting in conjunction 
with England alone, and preferred to cling to " the European 
concert," which (in the form of the Conference of the Repre- 
sentatives of the six Great Powers, assembled at Constanti- 
nople 1 ) had invited Turkey to restore order in Egypt. 

1 Great Britain was represented by Lord Dufferin and France by the 
Marquis de Noailles. 



266 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Freycinet at last signed, however, an agreement with Great 
Britain for the protection of the Suez Canal, and on July 18 
he applied to the Chamber for a vote of credit for the defence 
of certain French interests. It should be added that France 
then had two agents in Egypt, one of whom, the financial 
representative, M. de Blignieres, favoured co-operation with 
England, whereas the other, Baron de Ring, Consul -General, 
hated the English, and even encouraged Arabi's revolt. There 
was also a strong party in Paris hostile to any Franco-British 
alliance, and convinced that England might be kept out of 
Egypt, to the advantage of French interests, by playing off 
" the European concert " against perfidious Albion's ambition. 
One of the leaders of that party was M. Clemenceau. It had 
seven newspapers, some of large circulation, at its disposal. 1 
Further, in the Cabinet itself, M. de Freycinet was confronted 
by some more or less Anglophobist colleagues. 

On the vote of credit coming before the Chamber, the 
Ministry was attacked and co-operation with England was 
urged first by ^douard Lockroy (who had married Victor 
Hugo's daughter-in-law, the widow of his son Charles) and 
secondly by M. Francis Charmes, at that period a rising young 
politician. 2 Freycinet replied that the Government preferred 
to acquaint all the Powers with its views and intentions, 
rather than take any action that might afterwards meet with 
international disapproval. In speaking, however, of the agree- 
ment between France and England for the protection of the 
Suez Canal, he suddenly grew energetic, and declared that 
France would do her duty, with or without the approbation of 
the other Powers. Thereupon Paul de Cassagnac, the Bona- 
partist firebrand, somewhat astonished by this sortie, exclaimed : 
" Don't play the braggart after acting the coward ! " — which 
interjection provoked a terrific uproar. However, Freycinet's 
declaration was a surprise to most members of the Chamber, 
though they warmly applauded it as soon as they had mastered 
their astonishment. "I know where I am going,' 1 the Prime 
Minister exclaimed, as he reached his peroration. " I am going 
forward with the English alliance, but at the same time treat- 

1 Le Petit Journal (then 600,000 copies a day), V 'Jntransiaeant (100,000), 
La France (35,000), Le Steele (50,000), La Bataille (20,000), Le Radical (15,000), 
and La Justice (also about 15,000 copies per diem.) 

2 He is now a Senator, an Academician, and Editor of the famous fi 
des Deux Monden. 



FREYCINET, GAMBETTA, AND EGYPT 267 

ing the other Powers with all the consideration that is due to 
them. There is no occasion to boast of such a policy, but I trust 
that the country and the Legislature will recognise that it is 
inspired by wisdom and prudence."" 

A little later, after the Royalist Duke de la Rochefoucauld- 
Bisaccia and M. Delafosse, a Bonapartist, had protested that 
they would not grant a sou for any Egyptian expedition, 
Gambetta suddenly appeared at the tribune. He began by 
declaring that he would vote the funds the Government applied 
for, though he deemed them insufficient. He disclaimed all 
desire to recriminate, and added : " You tell us that you have 
always borne the Anglo-French alliance in mind. I congratu- 
late you, for at one moment I trembled for the future. I give 
you all my applause, trusting you will firmly persevere in your 
new line of policy. 1 '' Then, after deprecating Turkish inter- 
vention, and declaring that France and England, by a policy of 
mutual goodwill, might successfully cope with every possible 
difficulty, he referred to Germany's attitude, denouncing those 
who introduced Prince Bismarck's name into every controversy, 
as being over-suspicious. At last, having scouted the pre- 
tensions of Arabi and his adherents to be regarded as the 
National party of Egypt, he turned decisively to the question 
of the English Alliance. " Unfortunate! y, 11 said he, "there 
are members of this Chamber who have deliberately entertained 
the idea of war with Great Britain. Without any true feelings 
of patriotism they have openly spoken of the possibility of such 
a conflict; and not merely have they spoken of it, but they 
have enlarged on it in print, in the columns of a scurrilous 
press, and if our neighbours across the Channel had not 
sufficient common sense to treat such statements as they 
deserve, France might indeed be precipitated into a terrible 
adventure. 1 ' "Gentlemen, 11 Gambetta added, "when I con- 
sider the situation of Europe, I notice that during the last ten 
years there has always been a Western policy represented by 
France and England ; and allow me to say I know of no other 
alliance that is capable of proving of some assistance to us in 
the most terrible emergencies we have to fear. I say this with 
profound conviction, looking clearly into the future. 11 That 
allusion stirred the Chamber deeply, for it seemed to imply 
that if France stood true to England, the latter would support 
her should Germany invade her territory. But after expressing 



268 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

how fervently he treasured the honour and glory of his country, 
Gambetta continued : " Ah, remember my words ! make any 
sacrifice rather than forego the friendship and alliance of 
England."" And, lest his audience should imagine that he 
thought more of Great Britain than of his native country, he 
explained why both should co-operate in Egypt. " That,"" said 
he, " which most impels me to the English alliance, to joint 
co-operation in the Mediterranean and in Egypt, is — under- 
stand me plainly — my extreme fear that otherwise, in addition 
to causing a baleful rupture, you will hand over to England, 
and for ever, too, territories, rivers, and passages where we now 
have as much right as she has to live and trade. It is there- 
fore with no idea of humbling, lowering, or lessening French 
interests that I favour the English alliance, it is because I feel 
that those interests can only be efficaciously protected by that 
union and co-operation. If a rupture occurs all will be lost ! 
So, gentlemen, I will vote the funds that are asked of us. I 
will vote them because the Government tells us it has returned 
to the English alliance, and because it signed yesterday, on 
behalf of France, a new convention with Great Britain. I vote 
this money — I think it will prove insufficient — but I vote it, 
being convinced that in doing so the Chamber will not merely 
ratify a financial demand, but a line of future policy, signifying 
the maintenance of Anglo-French influence in the Mediter- 
ranean, the salvation of Egypt from Mohammedan fanaticism, 
from chimerical ideas of revolution, and the mad enterprises of 
an undisciplined soldiery. That is why I shall vote the funds, 
and why all my friends will vote with me." 

Such was the last speech Gambetta ever made, his legacy to 
France. That same afternoon, his mother died at St. Mande 
in the outskirts of Paris, and an hour after addressing the 
Chamber the afflicted statesman was wringing his hands beside 
her corpse. 1 The remains were removed to Nice and interred 
there. As for the result of the debate, in spite of a most 
virulent speech by the then Anglophobist Clemenceau, who 
denounced the English as wolves and birds of prey, as folk who 
" bled Egypt like vampires," 2 the funds which the Government 
solicited were granted by 340 to 66 votes. 

1 She had come from the south on a visit, and was suddenly stricken 
with paralysis. 

8 Long afterwards Clemenceau met Edward VII. at Marienbad. 



FREYCINET, GAMBETTA, AND EGYPT 

But, once again, Freycinet hesitated, changed his mind, 
tacked now in this, now in that direction. So far, moreover, 
Turkey, which had been requested by the Constantinople 
Conference to intervene in Egypt, had not even recognised that 
Conference, and when it finally did so, and accepted the 
principle of intervention, it was too late for any such course to 
be taken, for Great Britain had now made up her mind to 
restore order herself and refused to make room for Turkish 
troops. Freycinet, on his side, was visited with due punish- 
ment for his pusillanimity. He at least wished to protect the 
Suez Canal, with or without British co-operation, but when, on 
July 29, he applied for a special credit in that respect, 
Clemenceau urged that it should not be granted, and the 
Ministry was overthrown by 416 out of 491 votes. Thus the 
policy of distrust and hatred of England prevailed through the 
weakness of the Prime Minister, whom the Chamber would 
have followed had he showed any energy — as witness the 
favourable vote of July 19 — and thus England became the sole 
protector of Egypt, to the intense chagrin of many Frenchmen, 
who repented of their folly when it was too late. 

President Grevy's Sixth Ministry now assumed office. The 
Premier was Duclerc, 1 a former Vice-President of the National 
Assembly, who, after starting in life as a printer and journalist, 
had become an authority on financial questions, having often 
been consulted in that respect by Thiers and MacMahon. A 
financier was needed at the head of French affairs at that 
moment, for the national expenditure perpetually increased, 
although there was a deficit of twenty-eight millions sterling. 
Duclerc, however, finally decided to place a colleague, M. 
Tirard, at the Finance Ministry, simply exercising some control 
over him. 2 The foreign policy of the new Cabinet was chiefly 
directed towards the liquidation of affairs in Egypt, where 
Arabi and his partisans were finally overthrown by the British 
forces (Tel-el-Kebir, September 1882). About this time there 
was some improvement in the relations of France with the 

1 Charles Theodore Eugene Duclerc, born at Bagneres de Bigorre in 
1812, died in Paris in 1888. 

2 Freycinet's colleagues, Billot, Jaureguiberry, de Maby, and Cochery 
retained office (see ante, footnote p. 263). Deves became Minister of Justice. 
Other appointments were P. Legrand (Commerce), Herisson (Public Works), 
Duvaux (Education), and Armand Fallieres (Interior). We observe that the 
newspapers of the time described M. Fallieres as a B6pvblicain sans 6pithete. 



270 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Vatican, to which Lefebvre de Behaine was appointed am- 
bassador. The Cabinet's home policy was largely of Gambettist 
tendencies — Gambetta himself being appointed President of 
the Commission on Army Recruiting. Trouble sprang up 
during the autumn. The Bonapartists became active, finally 
casting off their allegiance to Prince Napoleon, and rallying 
round his son Victor. Then came a series of riots at Lyons 
and Montceau-les- Mines, the former attended by explosions 
of dynamite, and prompted by a new school of revolutionaries, 
the Anarchists, among whose leaders in France was a Russian 
Nihilist, Prince Kropotkin, previously resident at Geneva. 
He was arrested towards the end of the year, tried with 
fifty others, and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. Early 
in December France lost two distinguished men, Louis Blanc, 
the historian of the First Revolution, and Lachaud, the 
advocate; and public opinion was also concerned by the 
news of a curious accident which had befallen Gambetta on 
November 27. 

He had spent September at the Chateau des Creates in 
Switzerland, and after returning to France had betaken himself 
to a little place he owned on the slopes of Ville d'Avray. It 
was called Les Jardies, but it was not really Balzac's unfinished 
house of that name, 1 being, indeed, simply one which the great 
novelist's gardener had occupied, and it was very small. Gam- 
betta had been attracted to Ville d'Avray by Lemerre the 
" Parnassian " publisher (who had purchased Corot's villa there), 
and the spot so charmed him, that already in 1878 he rented 
for a time a little house in the Rue de la Cote d'Argent. 
Later he purchased the gardener's house at Les Jardies, with 
some land, for about <£ > 1400. He added to the house a 
drawing-room roofed with zinc, and made a few other embellish- 
ments, but it remained an unhealthy place, being very badly 
drained. The great man stayed there for rest and relaxation, 
and also walking exercise, which Dr. Siredey, his medical man, 
had recommended. We met him more than once following 
some avenue that led through the adjacent woods. He was 
generally accompanied by young M. Arnaud de l'Ariege, his 
secretary, or else some friend. We never saw him in the 
company of his mistress Leonie Leon, though she often visited 
him at Les Jardies. 

1 See Leon Gozlan's Balzac en Pantoufles, and Balzac chin, /?/»'. 



GAMBETTA AND MLLE. LfiON 271 

Her father was a colonel in the French army, who became 
involved in some dishonourable affair during the Second 
Empire, and shot himself rather than face a court-martial. 
Two daughters were left, unprovided for and unprotected. 
The elder one was seduced and gave birth to a boy — in after 
years wrongly suspected to be Gambetta's son. The younger 
girl, Leonie, was likewise seduced, that is by a married function- 
ary of the Empire, whose employment she had entered as 
governess to his children. Her liaison with Gambetta origin- 
ated late in 1871 or early in 1872. He took a small flat for her 
in the Rue Bonaparte, Paris, and often visited her there. She 
was also frequently at his rooms in the Chaussee d'Antin. Judg- 
ing by his letters, he loved her fervently as well as passionately, 
and the time came when, feeling that he could not possibly 
live without her, he desired to make her his wife. She, how- 
ever, professing great piety, which was doubtless genuine, replied 
that if she was to be united to him, it must be by a religious 
marriage as well as the civil ceremony prescribed by law. On 
that matter, Gambetta found it impossible to meet her wishes. 
He might be, as he once put it, a devotee of Joan of Arc, but 
he was also a disciple of Voltaire, and his participation in a 
religious marriage would mean a denial of all that he had ever 
preached or practised. On her side, Mile. Leon held that a 
marriage without religious rites would leave all the stain of her 
past upon her, and that this stain could only be wiped away by 
a marriage sanctified by God. 

At the outset, however, she deprecated the idea of any 
marriage at all. She felt, very sensibly, that the whole story 
of her past might become public, and that Gambetta's position 
and prospects might thereby be irremediably damaged. She 
even suggested in one of her letters that his interests would be 
best served if he married Mile. Dosne, the sister of Mme. 
Thiers. We do not know if that suggestion was intended 
seriously. There are certainly many instances of ambitious or 
money-seeking young men marrying old women, and of old 
women choosing fresh -faced boys for their husbands. But 
Gambetta was no hobbledehoy, he was a man of forty, with a 
full-blooded Southern temperament, and had no idea of marry- 
ing any old woman whatever, even though she possessed the 
wealth, influence, and worth of character of Mile. Dosne. If 
Gambetta had desired to take a wife of mature years, he might 



272 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

have turned his attention to the widowed and statuesque Mine. 
Arnaud de TAriege, who, with wealth and a high position, still 
combined a far more prepossessing appearance than had ever 
fallen to the lot of Mile. Dosne. Besides, did not the news- 
papers again and again prophesy the Arnaud -Gambetta 
marriage ? And when the cultured and still charming Mme. 
Edmond Adam had in her turn become a widow, was not 
her marriage with Gambetta frequently forecast by the 
quidnuncs? That seemed to them a very suitable match, 
for Mme. Adam was Gambetta , s junior by two years. But 
no, Mile. Leon cannot have wished her lover to marry any 
lady who was still young or prepossessing. If she suggested 
Mile. Dosne, it may well have been because the latter was a 
woman of whom she could not possibly have become jealous. 
But, when all is said, there was no need for Gambetta 
to make either a wealthy or an influential match. Thanks 
to his own energy, his means became ample, and his influence 
enormous. 

Moreover, he had set his heart on marrying his mistress, 
who was certainly a captivating woman, and one, too, of some 
culture, if we may judge her by her letters. The battle over 
the question of a religious marriage continued, then, between 
them. She, who was devout and constantly frequented the 
clergy, necessarily had her father confessor, and it follows that 
she must have told him of the position. In her long resistance 
to her lover's proposal of a civil marriage only, she must have 
been guided, upheld by a powerful influence, for her letters 
show that she fully shared Gambetta's love, and she would not 
have found, we think, in herself alone, the strength to with- 
stand his suggestions. Behind the feverish little drama enacted 
by this man and woman there lurk many possibilities, probabili- 
ties even. Ah, what a victory for Rome and the Holy Cause, 
if only the proud Dictator, he who had denounced the Church 
as the enemy, the real social peril, had been forced to humble 
himself before the altar, and receive the nuptial benediction 
from one of those God-fearing priests, whom he had so 
blasphemously attacked ! 

There are indications that the contest between Gambetta 
and Leonie had ended in the autumn of 1882, and that they 
had reached an agreement as to the form their marriage should 
assume. It seems evident that victory rested with the lover 



GAMBETTA'S LAST DAYS 273 

and not with the Church. Matters might possibly have taken 
a different course if Mile. Leon had not already been Gambetta's 
mistress. Men consent to many things for the sake of attaining 
their heart's desire. At all events, the marriage was resolved 
upon, and both Gambetta's father and his sister, Mme. Leris, 
acquiesced in it. 

On Monday, November 27, 1882, Leonie Leon was with 
Gambetta at Ville d'Avray. General Thoumas 1 called during 
the morning, but would not stay to dejeuner, as he had an 
invitation at Versailles. He went off, indeed, without seeing 
Mile. Leon, who was upstairs completing her toilet. Gambetta, 
left to himself, thought of indulging in a little revolver practice, 
as, indeed, had been his wont occasionally since his duel with 
Fortou in 1877. At this time his valet-de-chambre was no 
longer Francois Robelin, the Mobile guard of 1870, who, as an 
ex-soldier, had been accustomed to clean his master's weapons, 
and see that they were in proper condition. Francois had 
married, and a young fellow called Paul had lately entered 
Gambetta's service. It does not appear, however, that he ever 
attended to his employer's firearms, or even knew of their 
existence. That morning, then, on Gambetta taking a revolver 
with the intention of loading it, he found that one chamber 
had remained charged, and that the revolving breach was stiff. 
He wished to unload the chamber in question, and was using 
more pressure than was advisable to make the weapon act, 
when it suddenly went off, the bullet that had remained in it 
traversing that part of Gambetta's right hand which palmists 
call " the mount of Venus," and coming out a little above the 
wrist. 

The injured man was attended in the first instance by two 
local doctors, MM. Gille and Guerdat, and next by M. Lanne- 
longue, a very distinguished surgeon. His spirits remained 
good, he felt confident of recovery, read the newspapers, and 
repeatedly evinced an interest in political affairs. Indeed, the 
wound healed in a satisfactory manner, and although Gambetta 
experienced at times a "funny feeling" in the injured hand, 
he was soon able to use it. On the morning of December 8, 
he was apparently in a very favourable state, his temperature 
being 36 7 degrees (Centigrade), with a pulse of 72 beats. 
Owing, however, to his habit of body, and generally sluggish 
1 See ante, p. 252. 



274 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

condition at the time of the accident, the doctors l had hitherto 
kept him on a strict fluid diet, and as he now felt a craving 
for a nice lunch, he partook, it appears, of a boiled egg, half-a- 
dozen oysters, and a little woodcock. This repast, a mere 
nothing for a man in good health, proved fatal in Gambetta's 
case, owing to his general condition. Bad symptoms speedily 
developed. Professor Charcot saw him on December 10, and 
there was then already some talk of perityphlitis. On the 
11th, the patient was much worse, but on the 13th he felt 
better, and insisted on leaving his bed. On the 16th, in the 
absence of the principal medical man, he even ordered a carriage, 
and wilfully drove out, catching cold, with the result that his 
temperature rose to 39'6 degrees (Centigrade), and that his 
pulse marked 88 beats. He was much worse that night, and 
Lannelongue and Siredey, who were sent for, found him vomiting 
and extremely feverish. Symptoms nowadays associated with 
appendicitis displayed themselves, but although there was much 
talk among the medical men, little or nothing was done by 
them. Lannelongue, who first divined the truth, wished to 
perform an operation, but his suggestion was rejected both on 
December 23 and December 28, when Charcot, Trelat, Verneuil, 
Siredey, Gille, and Fieuzal met him in consultation. They held 
that an operation would yield no favourable result, and yet if 
one had been performed at an early stage Gambetta's life might 
possibly have been saved, even as King Edward's was under 
somewhat similar circumstances. 

As it happened, the fatal course of the illness remained 
unchecked. There was now perforation of the intestines, 
albuminuria and erysipelas appeared, the temperature sank, the 
pulse quickened to 120, and milk with the admixture of a little 
kirsch was the only nourishment the patient could take. But 
at last, on December 31, he could retain nothing, neither 
brandy, rum, coffee, nor champagne, and he became so cold 
that hot-water bottles were freely applied to warm him. It 
was all in vain. He passed away only a few minutes before 
the year also expired. It was but the forty -fourth of his 
strenuous life. 2 

1 There were several in attendance on him more or less at this time : 
Gille, Guerdat, Lannelongue, Siredey, Fieuzal, and two hospital house- 
surgeons, Berne and Martinet. 

3 The autopsy revealed traces of previous inflammation, which had con- 



GAMBETTA'S DEATH 275 

The whole world was stirred by the news of that unexpected 
death. It was felt that a great man, a masterful man, had 
departed. Not a faultless man, certainly, but one who, in a 
short life, had accomplished great things, and of whom still 
greater things had been expected in the fulness of time. 
The French Royalists, Bonapartists, and Radical Extremists 
triumphed noisily and brutally, heedless of the spectacle which 
they thereby offered to astonished Europe. And the funds 
now rose at the Bourse, large orders pouring in from Germany 
and Austria, for the knell of Gambetta's death was also, in 
Germanic estimation, the knell of la Revanche. That view was, 
perhaps, a true one. 

The grief-stricken Leonie Leon, whom the great man was 
so soon to have married, fled from Ville d'Avray, bewailing her 
perished happiness, and hid herself in a garret in Paris, while 
the little house where her lover lay in the embrace of death 
was invaded by his mourning admirers and partisans. It was 
some time before Mme. Leris, Gambetta's sister, could discover 
Leonie's whereabouts, and press upon her the acceptance of 
some pecuniary help. Before long her young nephew, to whom 
Gambetta had been so much attached, died, while she herself 
for several years led a restless, roving life, in which she was 
incessantly pursued by the memory of the past. 

All honour was paid to the remains of the man who had 
not despaired of France in her blackest hour. For two days 
they lay in state at the Palais Bourbon ; then, on January 6, 
1883, a procession two and a half miles long followed them 
to Pere Lachaise cemetery, where — prior to their removal to 
Nice, in accordance with the express instructions of Gambetta's 
father — they were provisionally deposited in a vault belonging 
to the city of Paris. And there a sack of earth was cast upon 
them : some of the soil of the lost Lorraine, sent stealthily from 
Metz, the covering bearing the inscription : Lotharingia viemor, 
violata non domita. Those words were vain, however. France, 
at that moment, had lost not only Gambetta but also her 
chief captain, the best general that had led her forces in 1870, 

tracted the bowels, of purulent infiltrations and of a slight degree of peritonitis, 
which had supervened in the final stage of the illness. The report declared 
that an operation would only have hastened death, and Lannelongue, it 
must be admitted, signed it. If he subsequently expressed very different 
views it was, we presume, on account of the progress effected by surgical 
science. 



276 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

the appointed warden of her Eastern frontier, her destined 
commander in the struggle by which she hoped to recover 
her ravished provinces. For, two days before Gambetta's 
obsequies in Paris, Chanzy died at Chalons-sur-Marne. He 
was not yet sixty years of age. It seemed, then, as if the 
Berlinese speculators were right: Doubtless the idea of la 
Revanche was not yet dead, but the possibility of its realisation 
appeared to have departed. 






CHAPTER X 

JULES FERRY AND THE FRENCH COLONIAL EMPIRE — 
THE EXPULSION OF THE PRINCES — BOULANGER 
AND GERMANY — THE WILSON SCANDAL AND 
GREVY'S FALL 

A Napoleonic Manifesto — Grevy's Seventh Ministry : Fallieres — Thibaudin, 
the Princes, and the Army— Grevy's Eighth Ministry : Jules Ferry— 
His Programme — French Finances— Death of the Count de Chambord— 
The King of Spain and the Parisians — Ferry and Colonial Expansion — 
France in Africa — Madagascar and the French Protectorate — The Con- 
quest of Tonquin — The Retreat from Langson — Ferry's Fall — Grevy's 
Ninth Ministry : H. Brisson — Death of Victor Hugo — Emile Zola and 
Alphonse Daudet— The Elections of 1885— Grevy's Tenth Ministry: 
Freycinet — General Boulanger and his Career — The Count de Paris' 
Indiscretion and his Daughter's Marriage — The Expulsion of the Princes 
— Boulanger and the Duke d'Aumale — Grevy's Eleventh Ministry : 
Rene Goblet — Boulanger and Germany — The Dangerous Schncebele* 
Affair — Grevy's last Ministry : Maurice Rouvier — Boulanger at Clermont- 
Ferrand — " A Music Hall General " — The Great Decorations Scandal 
— Generals Caffarel and D'Andlau — Boulanger in Hot Water — M. Daniel 
Wilson implicated — Demand for Grevy's Resignation — The Two His- 
torical Nights— The President's Pitiful Fall. 

Gambetta's death was almost immediately followed by a 
Ministerial crisis, provoked by the action of the Bonapartist 
Pretender, Prince Napoleon, who, against the advice of his 
foremost supporters, issued a long manifesto to the nation. It 
was couched in short phrases in obvious imitation of the 
imperatoria brevitas of Napoleon I., and some of its contents 
were surprising, for although the Prince was a notorious Free- 
thinker he now posed as a champion of the Church, accusing 
the Government of atheistical persecution, besides charging it 
with cowardice and ineptitude in Egypt, and with serving the 
interests of private speculators in Tunis. This manifesto was 
placarded on the walls of Paris and other cities, as the Press 

277 



278 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Laws, indeed, allowed, but the Government arrested the Prince 
on the charge of infringing them, and obtained a vote of 
approval from the Chamber, to which it presently submitted a 
Bill to enable it to expel the various Pretenders from France 
should certain contingencies arise. M. Floquet, however, 
introduced another measure for their immediate expulsion, 
while deputies Ballue and Lockroy proposed the exclusion of 
all Princes from the army. Not to be beaten, Clemenceau's 
organ, La Justice, suggested that expulsion from the country 
should be extended to every great capitalist and Jewish 
financier. At this time opinion was greatly divided as to the 
propriety of expelling the Princes. Some deputies regarded 
that course as contrary to Republican principles, while others 
did not wish to give the Government carte blanche in such a 
matter. Confusion ensued, the more so as Prime Minister 
Duclerc fell ill and could no longer guide his colleagues. The 
result was the resignation of the Ministry, to which there 
succeeded one under M. Fallieres, who took charge of the 
department of Foreign Affairs. 1 Two days later, however, 
while he was addressing the Chamber, he also was suddenly 
taken ill and fainted in the tribune. All sorts of rumours 
spread. Apoplexy and very serious mental trouble were talked 
of, but although M. Fallieres was removed from the scene for 
a short time, his vigorous constitution triumphed, and he 
then returned to public life, which led him at last to the 
Presidency of the Republic. However, all the weight of the 
debates on the expulsion of the Princes fell on M. Deves, now 
Minister of the Interior, and General Thibaudin, the Minister 
of War. 

Thibaudin 2 was an officer of some merit who had fought in 
Algeria and Italy, and under Bazaine in 1870 when he had 
also escaped from captivity in Germany, and commanded, under 
the assumed name of Comagny, a brigade of Bourbaki's Army 
of t the East. The Chamber and the Senate being unable to 
come to any agreement on the expulsion question, the Fallieres 
Administration resigned, but Thibaudin retained office as 
Minister of War, for he had discovered that a law passed in the 

1 This was Grevy's Seventh Ministry. It included most of the members 
of the previous administration ; but General Billot and Admiral Jaureguiberry 
withdrew like Duclerc, not, however, on account of illness, but because they 
were unwilling to act against the Orleans Princes. 

- Jean Thibaudin, born in 182^ in the Nievre. 



FERRY'S SECOND CABINET 279 

time of Louis Philippe (1834), would at least enable him to 
remove that King's son, the Duke d'Aumale, his grandson, the 
Duke de Chartres, and his great-grandson, the Duke d'Alencon, 
from active service in the army. This, in spite of the protests 
of the Royalists, was effected by a decree at the advent of Jules 
Ferry's second Ministry (the eighth under Grevy), on February 
21, 1883. As for Prince Napoleon, the Chamber of Indictments 
quashed the charge against him, holding that he had kept 
within the letter of the law in placarding his manifesto. 

Ferry's second Cabinet lasted till April 1885, and therefore 
proved the longest of this period of French history. Ferry 
himself at first took the portfolio for Education, but when 
failing health compelled Challemel-Lacour to abandon the 
department of Foreign Affairs, Ferry assumed charge of it. 
Waldeck - Rousseau now returned to the Interior, Raynal 
became Minister of Public Works, and Meline of Agriculture 1 
— the last named, who rose to the Premiership in later years, 
being at that time a close personal friend of Ferry's, whose 
fortunes he followed with the object of advancing his own. 
They both sat in the Chamber for the department of the 
Vosges. It was under this Administration that the rivalry of 
the various sections of Republicans became most marked, much 
to the detriment of the regimens good name, and even of its 
prospects of survival. Those whom Ferry led were styled the 
Opportunists, their opponents being known as Radicals. The 
former, following Gambetta's later views, formed an authori- 
tarian but progressive party, with a programme limited to 
the completion of educational reform, certain alterations in 
the military recruiting system, the authorisation of trades' 
unions and syndicates, the conversion of the Rentes to alleviate 
financial pressure, the reorganisation of the judicial bench, and 
partial revision of the Constitution. The Radical Opposition, 
however, demanded an Income Tax, the separation of Church 
and State, and a thorough revision of the Constitutional Law. 
The rivalry of the two parties was embittered by all sorts of 
personal questions ; Ferry, in particular, being as much hated 
by his opponents as in the days of the Tunisian adventure. 

1 Other posts were allotted as follows : Martin Feuiltee, Justice ; Tirard, 
Finances ; Charles Brun and later Admiral Peyron, Marine ; Herisson, 
Commerce ; and Cochery, Post Office. Felix Faure became Under-Secretary 
of State for the Colonies. 



'■ 



280 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

The fact is that he was too proud, and too candid also in his 
expressions of opinion, besides leading a private life of close 
dignity and refusing to purchase support in any way whatever. 

All that displeased a good many people, but he was really 
a most able man, one of the few great statesmen the Third 
Republic has produced, and, in spite of all opposition, he and 
his colleagues secured the adoption of some important measures. 
Raynal, the Minister of Public Works, negotiated with the 
Railway Companies a convention applying to lines which covered 
13,000 kilometres, and compelling the Companies to construct 
many which could yield very little revenue for several years, 
but which would open up neglected parts of France, and prove 
also of strategical importance. In return the Companies were 
guaranteed against compulsory State purchase of their under- 
takings. That purchase, however, was what the Radicals aimed 
at, and they roundly denounced the Convention. As regards 
the judicial bench, its irremovability was now suspended, and 
500 anti-Republican judges or magistrates were removed from 
their posts. Again the Radicals protested, this time chiefly 
because extremists of their own party were not promoted to 
the vacancies. Further, Waldeck -Rousseau piloted through 
the Legislature a law authorising professional syndicates and 
trades' unions, and another inflicting the punishment of trans- 
portation on criminal recidivists, notably those of that degraded 
class, so numerous in Paris, which lived on unfortunate women. 
Further, a law was passed rendering all sittings of Municipal 
Councils public, and thus preventing both secret jobbery and 
intimidation. 

Another important measure adopted at this period (1884) 
was the Divorce Law, the demand for which had been increasing 
for several years. There had been no legislation of the kind 
since the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, and only judicial 
separation could be obtained in the event of matrimonial un- 
happiness. The new Divorce Law was not initiated by the 
Ferry Cabinet, though the latter gave it support. The agita- 
tion in its favour had long been led by M. Alfred Naquet, a 
hunchback, but none the less a distinguished scientist and a 
very able politician. 1 He at last proved successful in his 
endeavours, piloting the measure to port in spite of the greatest 
opposition. 

1 Alfred Naquet, born at Carpentras in 1834, died 1907. 



FERRY'S SECOND CABINET 281 

Less successful were the attempts of the Ferry Cabinet to 
bring about equality of military service among all classes of 
Frenchmen, for they were defeated in the Senate ; but a limited 
Revision of the Constitution was effected in August, 1884. It 
applied chiefly to the mode in which the Senate was recruited, 
providing, notably, that as each of the seventy-five irremovable 
Senators, hitherto elected by the Assembly, died off, he should 
be replaced by a Senator elected for the usual term by one or 
another department entitled to additional representation. 

The greatest conflicts between the Government and its 
opponents were those relating to the national finances and 
the colonial expeditions of that period. The finances were 
in a deplorable state, and loans frequently had to be floated. 
Tirard, the Finance Minister, seemed to have very little capacity 
for his post. However, the French Five per cent Rentes were 
converted into Four and a half per cents in April, 1883. It 
then appeared that there were over 1,800,000 titres de Rente 
of that class in existence, the amounts each titre represented 
varying from 2 to 4500 francs, and the great number for % 3, 
5, 10, and 20 francs of Rente, indicating to what a huge extent 
the poorer classes of the community invested their savings in 
the National Funds. 1 

The colonial policy of Ferry's Administration was without 
doubt its principal feature, but as that policy led to the 
Cabinet's downfall it is more appropriate to glance first of all 
at some intervening events. In the early part of 1883 Paris 
was concerned by the news of the deaths of a number of notable 
people, both Frenchmen and foreigners. Gustave Dore, Wagner, 
Prince Gortschakoff, Louis Veuillot, the great clerical journalist, 
Karl Marx, and Abd-el-Kader passed away in turn. Then, 
about the end of June, the chief French Pretender, the Count 
de Chambord was suddenly taken ill, and by the middle of July 
was despaired of. During recent years he had been much 
interested in the struggle between the Roman Church and the 
Republic. In 1879 he had been approached by Mgr. Ferrata, 
a colleague and ultimately the successor of Czacky, the Papal 
Nuncio in Paris, on the subject of concentrating all the opposi- 

1 We find that in 1886 the "Ledger of France" registered 1,195,280 
titres de Rente bearing the holders' names, 209,583 M mixed " titres, that is, 
bearing the holders' names, but with blank coupons, and 2,118,329 titres to 
bearer. All the Rentes, 4£, 4, and 3 per cents, are included in the above 
figures. 



282 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

tion to the Republic on the pending religious questions — that 
is to say the French Royalists were to profess adherence to the 
Republic, and swell the ranks of its more Conservative adherents, 
in order both to prevent the Radicals from carrying out their 
designs upon the Church, and to obtain an entry into the 
Republican party with the view of undermining and overthrow- 
ing it. But the Count de Chambord would consent to no such 
tactics. He refused to authorise the adherence of his partisans 
to the Republic in any way or for any purpose, writing, indeed, 
in a most indignant strain to M. de Blacas respecting the Papal 
suggestions. One result of this affair was that in the emming 
year, 1880, Czacky, the Nuncio, approached Gambetta (through 
a clerical journalist who first saw Ranc on the subject), with 
the view of negotiating some understanding on clerical 
questions, in return for which Gambetta was to have received 
the support of Holy Church. However, these negotiations — in 
which, as previously mentioned, Mile. Leon afterwards figured — 
remained abortive. 

The illness of the Count de Chambord naturally revived the 
hopes of the Orleanists. The Count de Paris very properly 
proposed to pay his ailing relative a visit. But on hearing of 
this intention the Countess de Chambord, who detested the 
Orleanist Prince, telegraphed to ex-King Francis of Naples (for 
some years an exile in Paris) urging him to dissuade the Count 
de Paris from his journey. King Francis saw the Duke de 
Nemours — and, we think, M. Bocher, the Orleanist homme 
d'affaires — on the subject, and afterwards informed M. de Breze 
of what he had done. Nevertheless the Count de Paris started 
for Austria on July 2, 1883, and it became necessary to admit 
him to the patient's bedroom. He then renewed his declarations 
of allegiance, but this did not prevent him from being disinherited 
(at the instigation of the Countess de Chambord), so far as her 
husband's worldly possessions were concerned. These, when 
the uncrowned King of France died on August 23, went 
principally to the Count de Bardi, one of his Italian nephews. 
Moreover, Mme. de Chambord's vindictiveness was carried so far 
that when the Count de Paris wishe'd to attend her husband's 
obsequies he was informed that the place of honour, that of 
chief mourner, would be taken by the aforesaid Italian Bourbon. 
Thus none of the Orleans Princes attended the funeral at Goritz, 
the Count de Bardi being simply escorted by ex-Duke Robert 



ALFONSO XII. OF SPAIN 

of Parma and three Spanish Bourbons : the Pretender Don 
Carlos, his father Don Juan, and his brother Don Alfonso. 1 In 
this fashion did the representatives of Divine Right and 
Legitimacy visit the sins of Philippe Lgalite and Louis Philippe, 
the usurping King of the French, on their descendants. Never- 
theless the Count de Paris promptly informed the world that 
he was now Head of the House of Bourbon. 

In September that same year King Alfonso XII. of Spain 
— father of the present sovereign — met with a very hostile 
reception in Paris. His government had lately signed a 
commercial treaty with Germany, and he had afterwards visited 
the old Kaiser at Berlin, accepting from him on that occasion 
the honorary colonelcy of a regiment of Uhlans stationed at 
Strasburg. The idea of his daring to visit France after that 
acceptance (for both " Uhlans r ' and " Strasburg " awoke the most 
painful memories of 1870) greatly angered the Parisians. That 
anger was fanned, moreover, not only by extremist journals, 
but even by those which M. Wilson, President Grevy's son-in- 
law, inspired. They declared, indeed, that the Government was 
divided on the subject of King Alfonso's reception, and that 
President Grevy was by no means anxious to meet him. There 
was truth in both of those statements, but it was a great 
political blunder that they should be made by the organs of 
the Elysee, for by offending King Alfonso the risk of offending 
Kaiser William — and Bismarck also — was incurred. 

Apart from the Uhlan colonelcy affair, Alfonso XII. was a 
most unestimable man. His profligate tendencies, inherited 
from his dissolute mother, Isabella II., were the scandal of his 
reign. He has virtually passed into history as " Alfonso the 
Pacifier,' 1 and it is true that both the Carlists and the Republicans 
were subdued during his sovereignty, but that was the work of 
his ministers and generals, and he had no share in it personally, 

1 We went to Goritz on that occasion (September 3, 1883). There was an 
imposing procession in which monks and friars figured conspicuously. The 
hearse was surmounted by a royal crown ; on its panels appeared the lilies of 
old France. There were many representatives of the French Royalists, 
including M. de Charette and some of his former Pontifical Zouaves with 
their banner of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. M. de Blacas bore on a cushion 
the collar of the Order of the Holy Ghost, of which, we think, the Count de 
Chambord was one of the last two members : the other being the Duke de 
Nemours, who had received it in childhood from Charles X. The Countess de 
Chambord did not long survive her husband. She passed away in the spring 
of 1886. 



284 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



preferring by far the gay life in which he was abetted by a 
grandee of his Court, and which so undermined his constitution 
that when illness fell on him he promptly succumbed to it. At 
the same time it was impolitic to hoot him as the Parisians did 
when he arrived in Paris on Michaelmas Day 1883. Silence 
and indifference would have been a sufficient protest. As it 
happened, Grevy had to call at the Spanish embassy and tender 
the most humble apologies for the affront; and General 
Thibaudin, Minister of War, who, rather than participate in the 
King's reception, had feigned a sudden illness, was removed from 
his post and replaced by Campenon, Gambetta's former Minister. 
Even Wilson had to renounce officially the directorship of one of 
his newspapers, though he continued to inspire it sub rosd. Of 
course the President's apology and the removal of Thibaudin 
greatly angered the advanced Republicans, prompting them to 
yet fiercer attacks on the Government, regardless of the fact 
that its position in regard to foreign affairs was dangerous enough 
already. 

This was due chiefly to its policy of colonial expansion. It 
is difficult to find a parallel for Jules Ferry among English 
statesmen. Perhaps, however, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain most 
resembles him. Ferry was the friend of no country save his own. 
He strove for her advantage, her aggrandisement. His methods 
were not always impeccable ; he blundered at times, he was hasty 
at others. Although as a native of eastern France he could not 
possibly forget Alsace and Lorraine, he may have realised that a 
struggle on the Rhine and the re-conquest of the lost provinces 
was more than his country could undertake in those days, how- 
ever great her desires might be in that respect. At all events 
he perceived that there were other fields for her to conquer, that 
opportunities presented themselves both in Africa and in Asia 
— opportunities which if missed might never occur again. His 
ambition to give France a colonial empire was quite legitimate 
and praiseworthy. If we were Frenchmen we should all think so ; 
and if the methods which Ferry employed were not always 
legitimate, but verged, indeed, at times on the unscrupulous, it 
is difficult for us to cast stones at him, that is, if we remember, 
as we should, the equivocal pages in our own history. 

Ferry never held, we think, the post of Colonial Minister, 
nevertheless he really directed the policy of the department, and 
though he did not actually initiate the conquests and annexa- 



FRENCH COLONIAL EXPANSION 285 

tions of France in tropical climates, he gave them all possible 
impetus and development. His policy clashed with that of 
Great Britain in more than one direction, and now and again 
there was no little friction between the two countries. But 
however much we may have been irritated (at times with just 
reason), it should be borne in mind that the policy of France's 
colonial expansion saved the civilised world from a stupendous 
calamity, that of a great European war, in which, under the 
circumstances of the time, several powers must necessarily have 
participated. As the years went by France found herself more 
and more involved in colonial expeditions and enterprises ; and 
these exercised a restraining influence on her politicians whenever 
the hatred of Germany flared up, threatening to precipitate a 
new struggle for Alsace-Lorraine. 

In Africa the activity of France was manifested on several 
points. At first, under the aegis of Faidherbe, and later, thanks 
to the campaigns of such officers as Borgnis-Desbordes, Combes 
and Gallieni, the limits of Senegal were thrust back, the upper 
Niger was reached, and the territories now known as Senegambia 
and the French Soudan were subdued. All that was the labour 
of many years ; indeed the native ruler Samory, who so skilfully 
resisted the French, was not finally captured until 1898, but no 
little of the work of conquest belonged to Ferry's time. Again 
the hinterland of the French Ivory Coast possessions was secured 
— that ultimately resulting in the Dahomey war of 1892, which 
was foreseen long years previously. Then, from 1883 onward, 
there were the expeditions of Savorgnan de Brazza, Marche, and 
Ballay through the Gaboon and Congo countries, resulting in 
annexation on numerous points, much to the chagrin of the 
International African Association, which the King of the 
Belgians directed with the vigorous personal assistance of H. M. 
Stanley. The Congo rivalry led to some trouble already in the 
time of Ferry's Administration. In April 1884, however, he 
signed an agreement with Strauch, King Leopold's representa- 
tive, this being followed the ensuing year by an international 
congress at Berlin, by which, while the Independent Congo 
State under the Belgian sovereign's sway was called into being, 
the rights of France to her new possessions were formally 
recognised. 

Eastward of Africa, France had long contemplated, by virtue 
of some old and half-forgotten treaties, the establishment of 



286 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

a protectorate over Madagascar. She proceeded to enforce her 
claims in 1883, taking the first pretext which came to hand. 
Bad blood was engendered between France and England on 
this occasion. The latter had important commercial interests 
in the island, but gross indignities were offered to British 
subjects, and a great deal of British property was wilfully 
destroyed by Admiral Pierre, who commanded the French 
expedition. The captain of a British war-vessel was insulted 
and derided, and the British consul, Mr. Pakenham, was im- 
peratively and inhumanly ordered to depart from Tamatave, 
though he was lying there extremely ill. He died as the result 
of the enforcement of that command. In Palmerston , s days 
this would have led to immediate war, and the annihilation of 
France as a naval power. In 1883, however, England was 
under the sway of Gladstone's second Administration and seemed 
to be quite exhausted by her one effort in Egypt. A missionary 
named Shaw obtained an indemnity from the French, but in 
other respects they did virtually as they pleased. The Queen 
of Madagascar was compelled to submit, and in 1885 M. Le 
Myre de Vilers was installed in the island as Resident. Five 
years elapsed before the British would acknowledge the French 
protectorate, but at last the era of "graceful concessions " 
arrived, and in 1890 this protectorate was recognised by the 
Marquess of Salisbury. Then, at the expiration of five more 
years, the island was finally conquered and annexed by the 
French, whose navy at the time was in so deplorable a condition 
that for lack of transport ships of their own they had to hire 
suitable vessels from English firms. 1 Without insisting on this 
subject of Madagascar, regard for the truth compels us to say 
that the Republic evinced great unscrupulousness in its policy 
both towards the natives and towards ourselves. In that 
respect, however, the French claimed that they had done no 
more than we had done on many similar occasions. Perhaps 
they were right. In any case Madagascar was at last added to 
the Colonial Empire of France. 

The Tonquin question, which became the most acute of all in 
Ferry's time, dated in reality from 1861 to 1867, when Napoleon 

1 Jules Ferry desired to effect the absolute annexation of Madagascar 
already in 1885, and was only deterred from the attempt by the difficulty 
of making it at a time when the Tonquin War largely absorbed the naval 
resources of France. 






THE CONQUEST OF TONQUIN 287 

III. conquered and annexed the southern part of Cochin China. 
It was inevitable that France should desire to extend her sway 
in this region, and establish direct communication with the 
southern Chinese provinces. There were originally some treaties 
both with Cambodia and Annam, but these did not suffice. In 
1873 Jean Dupuis and Lieutenant Garnier explored the banks 
of the Songkoi or Red River, and the latter finally seized the 
town of Hanoi and the whole of the Tonquinese delta. The 
Annamite authorities, however, obtained the help of some of 
the " Black Flags " (a residue, it is said, of the Taeping insur- 
gents who were crushed by Gordon's " Ever Victorious Army w ), 
and in an engagement with this band Garnier was killed. His 
annexations in Tonquin were restored to Annam on the latter 
signing a treaty opening up the Songkoi to France, and giving 
her the control of Annamite Foreign Affairs. 1 

China, however, claiming suzerainty over Annam, ultimately 
refused to recognise this treaty, and covertly employed the 
Black and Yellow Flag bands to resist all French enterprise in 
Tonquin, whither Annam's disregard of the treaty, at China's 
instigation, led to the despatch of a small force under Commander 
Henri Riviere, a naval officer, whose great literary gifts, resulting 
in the production of some remarkable novels and stories, had 
made him widely known in France. Riviere was besieged in 
Hanoi and slain on making a sortie, May 19 and 20, 1883. 
Ferry thereupon sent out Admiral Courbet with a squadron 
and 4000 troops, commanded by General Bouet, with or under 
whom were Generals Millot, Briere de Plsle, and Negrier. Hanoi 
and Haiphong were reoccupied and fortified by the French. 
Sontay, Bacninh, and Hunghoa also fell into their hands. 
Briefly, progress was made in various directions both against 
the Annamite soldiery and the Black Flags and other Chinese 
irregulars who opposed the invasion. By a convention signed 
at Tientsin China at last renounced her suzerainty over Annam ; 
but in June 1884 a small French force found itself opposed at 
Bac-Le by some Chinese regulars, and Ferry's Cabinet there- 
upon adopted summary measures against the Celestial Empire. 
Admiral Courbet first bombarded Foochow, sank a score of 
Chinese vessels and destroyed the arsenal ; then he occupied 
Kelung on the island of Formosa (September 1884) ; next by 

1 This was during the Duke de BroghVs administration of French Foreign 
Affairs in 1874. The treaty was negotiated by M. Philastre. 



288 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

means of his torpedoes he sank five war-ships at the mouth of 
the Kiang or Blue River, and he was finally authorised to 
blockade all the Pechili coast and occupy the Pescadores. 

Meantime the French military forces, although they had 
been more than once well reinforced, only advanced through 
Tonquin with considerable difficulty. France (like ourselves 
on more than one occasion) had in the first instance underrated 
her adversaries, and public opinion was now greatly concerned 
respecting the duration and dangers of the enterprise. Both 
the Republican Extremists and the Royalists had attacked it 
from the outset ; but a much more serious symptom was the 
withdrawal of General Campenon from the War Ministry at 
the end of 1884. He had not initiated the Tonquin expedition 
nor had he really directed it ; that task having been assumed by 
the Minister of Marine. However, he wished it to be carried 
no farther, and proposed that the French occupation should be 
confined to the Tonquinese delta. Ferry's desires were very 
different, and so Campenon withdrew and was replaced by 
General Lewal, an officer known throughout European military 
circles by his writings on tactics. 1 The Government was at 
this moment interpellated in the Chamber, and Ferry, after 
announcing that the operations would henceforth be directed 
by the War Office, denied that he had any intention of sending 
a military expedition to China — as the newspapers had rumoured 
— his only design being, he said, to blockade the Coast of 
Pechili so as to compel China to carry out her engagements 
and refrain from abetting the resistance in Tonquin, the entire 
and absolute possession of which was claimed by France. In 
accordance with that view the French operations were directed 
towards the Chinese frontier of Yunnan, and Briere de Tlsle, 
now in chief command, ordered General de Negrier to advance 
upon Langson. That was done, there being a series of engage- 
ments in which the Chinese and Tonquinese were defeated ; but 
Negrier ultimately found himself opposed by an overwhelming 
force, and was compelled to evacuate Langson, closely followed 
by the enemy. In an engagement on March 28, 1885, he was 
somewhat seriously wounded, and had to yield the command of 
his little corps to Lieutenant-Colonel Herbinger. The Chinese 
had been beaten back in the fight; nevertheless Herbinger 
precipitated the French retreat, which continued in great dis- 
1 Jules Louis Lewal, born in Paris, 1823. 



FALL OF JULES FERRY 289 

order, guns and treasure being cast into a river so that the 
withdrawal of the troops might be accelerated. 

It was a serious repulse, that was all ; but just as some 
organs of the British press foolishly magnified every check to 
the British arms in South Africa into a "great disaster," so 
was the Langson affair magnified by the French Opposition 
journalists of 1885. There had been anxiety respecting 
Negrier's expedition for some little time past, and when its 
defeat became known the wildest rumours were circulated, a 
panic, with a fall of three francs in Rentes, ensuing at the 
Bourse, while the Ferry Cabinet was attacked on all sides. It 
had immediately given orders for large reinforcements to be 
sent to Tonquin — in addition to others which were already on 
their way — but when, on March 30, the Prime Minister, after 
officially notifying the Chamber of the position, applied for a 
supplementary credit of i?8,000,000 he encountered the utmost 
hostility. Clemenceau led the attack in language of the greatest 
violence, followed by Ribot, who retained more self-possession, 
and in the result the Government was rapidly overthrown by 
306 votes to 149 — the majority including the 86 Royalist and 
Bonapartist deputies. Great was the delight among Ferry's 
enemies. Le Figaro chronicled his fall in this choice 
language : " Beneath a storm of hootings, amid the contempt 
of his own majority, with his posterior kicked, M. Jules Ferry 
has passed away pitifully, wretchedly, like a bladder that 
bursts." 

The Government was accused of gross deception, of having 
long known the critical state of affairs in Tonquin, and of 
having concealed it. All it knew of the situation, however, 
was what it had learnt from its military and other representa- 
tives. It may have been somewhat unduly optimistic, but it 
had always sent out the reinforcements requested of it, and the 
chief responsibility undoubtedly rested not with the Cabinet at 
home but with those who were in authority on the scene of 
action. As for the pusillanimous fear of China which the 
Opposition encouraged in France, Ferry, at the moment of his 
downfall, actually held a first draft of a treaty which he was 
already negotiating with Pekin. He felt, however, that it was 
unwise to divulge it even for the purpose of saving his Ministry. 
Had he continued in office he had intended to exact from China 
both Formosa and the Pescadores, but the panic in Paris 



290 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

prevented any such demand. A less onerous treaty was finally 
ratified in June that year ; and in September Annam submitted 
to the French. Nevertheless, some three months later there 
were French deputies who proposed the evacuation of Tonquin, 
and this ridiculous suggestion was only defeated by a majority 
of one vote. It may be added that throughout the Annamite- 
Tonquinese struggle Ferry was not unmindful of Siam and 
Burmah. He had designs on both, but the British intervened 
by conquering Upper Burmah in 1885-86. Siam then became 
a buffer State, but the French have since annexed some of her 
territory — so have the British — and in spite of all Conventions 
the Siamese situation remains unsatisfactory. 

The next Ministry, the ninth of Grevy's time, was formed 
by Henri Brisson — a genuine democratic Republican with a 
reputation for some austerity — who had lately acted as President 
of the Chamber. A native of Bourges he was at this time only 
fifty years of age. He took the Presidency of the Council and 
the Ministry of Justice, giving the portfolio of War to 
Campenon and that of Foreign Affairs to the inevitable 
Freycinet. 1 The first memorable event with which this 
Ministry was associated was the death of Victor Hugo on 
May 22, whereupon the Pantheon in Paris was withdrawn 
from Church control and restored to the destination it had 
received during the first Revolution as the resting-place of the 
great men of France. State obsequies also were decreed for 
the departed poet, 2 and a procession three miles long marched 
through Paris behind the hearse. As at the funerals of 
Felicien David, Herold, and Gambetta, there were no religious 
rites, for Hugo, during his last illness, had refused "the 
ministrations of any priest of any religion whatever. " He 
was, indeed, purely and simply a Deist. 

Born in 1802 he had been one of the great literary figures 
of the nineteenth century, one, too, who had exercised no little 
political influence, and whatever might have been the inferiority 
of his later work, his death was regarded as a national loss. He 
had long been a triton among the minnows, and no triton was 
left now that he was gone. France seemed to be without a 

1 Other members of the Cabinet were : Allain Targe, Interior ; Admiral 
Galiber, Marine ; Goblet, Education and Worship ; Clamageran, and later 
Sadi Carnot, Finances. The last-named became President of the Republic. 

2 The Chamber at first shelved the question, greatly to the indignation of 

the public, but Gr6vy and Brisson took the law into their own hands. *^ 



HUGO, DAUDET, ZOLA 291 

great poet. There was, of course, the polished verse of Sully- 
Prudhomme, the severe and faultless phrasing of Heredia, the 
rapt, Browning-like obscurity of Mallarme's young muse, the 
tearful poetry in prose of Francois Coppee — but no sign of 
supreme greatness appeared in these or in any other poet. If 
the legitimate stage flourished it was no longer by the romantic 
drama in verse of Hugo's school, but by such productions as the 
younger Dumas, Victorien Sardou, and their disciples tendered. 
Fiction, moreover, was very different from what it had been 
in the old days of Notre Dame de Paris and Les Miserables. 
Gustave Flaubert and the Brothers Goncourt, 1 proceeding from 
Balzac, had fostered the cult of the roman d 'observation, and 
the robustness and outspokenness of Emile Zola 2 strove for 
supremacy with that combination of irony and sentiment which 
distinguished the work of Alphonse Daudet. Above them, as a 
master of style, but known as a writer of short stories, not as a 
novelist, young Guy de Maupassant was rising fast. Born in 
the same year, 1840, both Daudet and Zola stood at the height 
of their reputation at the time of Hugo's death, and were then 
probably the most widely read of all French authors. Daudet 
had produced Jack in 1877, Le Nabob in 1878, Les Rois en 
Exit in 1879, and Numa Roumestan in 1880. Zola, beginning 
his famous Rougon-Macquart series towards the close of the 
Second Empire, had already completed thirteen volumes of it, 
and was now writing the fourteenth, VCEwvre. V Assommoir, 
which made him famous, had been the great literary sensa- 
tion of MacMahon's Presidency. Its performance as a 
play had attended Grevy's accession. And since then there 
had come, inter alia, Nana (1880), Pot Bouille (1882), and 
Germinal, which last, after serial publication in 1884, was 
issued as a volume shortly before Hugo's death. It stands in 
relation to Zola much as Les Miserables stands in relation 
to the great writer to whom Zola dedicated his youth, and who 
undoubtedly influenced his whole career, however vast may be 
the difference between their respective work. For something 
of the Romanticist ever lingered in Zola despite all his 
championship of Naturalism. 

From Hugo and his splendid obsequies the Parisians once 

1 Edmond, the elder of them, was still alive and writing when Hugo died. 

2 See our biography : Emile Zola, Novelist and Reformer, London, John 
Lane, 1904. 



202 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

more had to turn to politics. Gambetta, as we know, had 
failed with his list-voting scheme but he had bequeathed it to 
his followers, some of whom still hankered for it, and at last 
after many postponements and much hesitation it became law 
in June 1885. We shall see the result hereafter. General 
elections ensued in the autumn, and the Republic suddenly found 
itself almost in jeopardy. The general dissatisfaction with the 
Tonquin affair and the state of industry, commerce, and the 
national finances chiefly influenced these elections, which showed 
surprising results compared with those of 1881. In that year 
the Republican candidates had polled 5,128,442 votes, now 
they obtained only 4,327,162. Again, the Royalist and 
Bonapartist nominees, who had secured 1,789,767 votes in 1881, 
now rejoiced in no fewer than 3,541,384. It should be said 
that they coalesced on this occasion, whereas at the first ballots 
the Republicans fought each other, there being rival Oppor- 
tunist and Radical lists on all sides. Great was the emotion 
when the first ballots showed that 176 Reactionaries and only 
127 Republicans had been returned. Fortunately at the 
second ballots the Republicans sank their differences and closed 
their ranks, and as the elections of some 20 Monarchists 
were quashed for bribery and corruption, the Chamber ulti- 
mately consisted of about 180 Royalists and Bonapartists, and 
400 Republicans. As, however, 180 of the latter were Radicals 
there seemed to be no stable majority. The necessary credits 
for the Tonquin war were only obtained with great difficulty, 
in fact, on one occasion, when the Cabinet applied for three 
millions sterling, only three-quarters of a million were granted. 
There was talk of financial retrenchment on every side, and as 
the winter approached yet greater commercial depression than 
before became manifest. It was amid these circumstances that 
Gravy's period of office having expired, he was re-elected 
President of the Republic by 457 votes against 68 given to 
M. Brisson. The latter's Cabinet now retired. 

Freycinet formed the Tenth Ministry of Grevy's time. Its 
programme was conciliation between all Republicans, and a 
genuine attempt to re-establish financial equilibrium. Among 
the men who now came to the front were ^douard Lockroy, 
Victor Hugo's relative by marriage, who obtained the portfolio 
for Commerce, and Rene Goblet, a subsequent Radical Prime 
Minister, who secured that of Education. But the most 



BOULANGER'S EARLY CAREER 295 

momentous appointment of all was that of General Boulanger 
as Minister of War. 1 This had fateful consequences. 

Georges Ernest Jean Marie Boulanger was born at Rennes 
on April 29, 1837. His mother was an Englishwoman. 2 Quit- 
ting the military school of St. Ayr in 1856 he joined the First 
Algerian "Tirailleurs 11 as a sub-lieutenant, and served in 
Kabylia under Marshal Randon. In the Italian War of 1859 
he received a severe bullet wound in the chest at the engagement 
of Turbigo, for his gallantry on which occasion he was decorated 
with the Legion of Honour. He was afterwards in Cochin China, 
where he received a lance wound in the thigh. At the advent 
of the war of 1870 he became a Major, and in November that 
year a Lieutenant-Colonel. Serving under Ducrot during the 
Siege of Paris, he was again badly wounded — by a bullet in the 
shoulder — at the battle of Champigny, in spite of which he 
insisted on remaining in command of his regiment. Promotion 
to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honour ensued, and in 
January 1871, Boulanger obtained a full colonelcy. He fought 
against the Commune, headed some of the first of the Versailles 
troops to enter the capital, and being yet again wounded, this 
time by a bullet in the left elbow, was solaced for that injury 
by promotion to a Commandership of the Legion of Honour. 

After the insurrection the military promotions accorded in 
war-time were iniquitously revised by order of the reactionary 
National Assembly, and Boulanger was thereupon reduced to 
the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, but in 1874 he again secured a 
colonelcy, and six years later became a General of Brigade — the 
youngest in the French army. After representing France in 
the United States at the Centenary of American Independence, 
he was appointed (May 1882) Director of the Infantry Depart- 
ment at the War Office, and busied himself particularly with 
such matters as military-school organisation and rifle practice. 
In 1884 he was made a General of Division, and appointed to 
the command of the forces of occupation in Tunis. 

1 Other posts were allotted as follows : Sarrien, Interior ; Sadi Carnot 
(the future President), Finance ; Admiral Aube, Marine and Colonies ; 
Baihaut, Public Works ; Demdie, Education ; Develle, Agriculture ; Granet 
(a friend of Boulanger's), Post Office. 

2 Her name was Mary Anne Webb Griffiths, and she was the daughter 
of a brewer and town-councillor of Brighton. Married in 1829 to Henri 
Boulanger, a notary of Rennes, she died in 1894, aged, it was then stated, 
92 years. — Annual Register. 



294 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

So far, then, his record had been excellent, and on becoming 
Minister of War he speedily acquired popularity by his frequent 
comminatory declarations respecting those reactionary officers 
who openly vented their dislike for the Republic. His own 
Republicanism was only questioned by those who knew that 
while he was serving, a few years previously, with the VHth 
Army Corps, under the Duke d'Aumale, he had conducted 
himself towards that Prince with the utmost obsequiousness. 

Grevy's second Presidency was inaugurated by a political 
amnesty, and Sadi Carnot, the Minister of Finances, afterwards 
strove to secure some budgetary equilibrium by the issue of a 
new loan. No less than seventy millions sterling were actually 
required, but the Government's demand was restricted to fifty- 
eight millions. The Chamber, however, retorted by voting a 
loan for twenty. This was immediately covered several times 
over ; but the situation was in no wise improved by the foolish 
policy of the Legislature. A few months later France, previously 
moved to no small degree by the mysterious murder of M. 
Barreme, Prefect of the Eure, in a railway carriage, 1 and by a 
miner's riot at Decazeville in the Aveyron, when an engineer 
named Watrin was murdered under circumstances of the 
utmost savagery, which confirmed the view taken in Germinal 
of the possibilities of human ferocity when men are goaded to 
revenge by the exactions and ill-treatment of capitalists — France, 
we say, was startled by an unexpected sensation. 

The Count de Paris, now Head of the House of Bourbon, 
was marrying his daughter, the Princess Marie Amelie, to Dom 
Carlos, Duke of Braganza and Crown Prince of Portugal. The 
marriage had been originally promoted by Mme. de La Ferronays 
ne'e Gibert, whom we have previously mentioned. 2 At this 
time the Princess was in her twenty-first year, her Jianci being 
two years older. The mere fact of this marriage did not parti- 
cularly interest French Republicans, apart from its indication 
that a charming and accomplished young lady, who was more 
or less their compatriot, 3 might some day become Queen of 
Portugal. But the indiscretion of her father, the Count de 
Paris, the least politic member of his family, one who, as a rule, 

1 Emile Zola's novel, La Bite Humaine, was partly based on that affair. 
3 See ante, pp. 182, 183. 

3 Her mother was a Spanish Bourbon, and she was born in England— at 
Twickenham. 



EXPULSION OF THE PRINCES 295 

only emerged from long periods of supineness to prove his 
latent energy by doing precisely the wrong thing, imparted to 
the occasion a character which was resented by the great 
majority of Frenchmen. That Royalist Committees should be 
formed in many regions to organise subscriptions for numerous 
beautiful presents to the bride, was only natural, but that her 
father, living in the midst of Republican France, should avail 
himself of this wedding to assert, even indirectly, his Kingly 
claims upon the country, was not to be tolerated. It was true 
that in October 1885, the Duke de Chartres, brother of the 
Count de Paris, on marrying his daughter to Prince Waldemar 
of Denmark, had given a soiree to the Royalist aristocracy at 
his residence in the Rue Jean Goujon, and that the Count de 
Paris, on the celebration of the religious ceremony at Eu, had 
received the Danish and other royal personages at the chateau 
there. But in all that no defiance had been offered to the 
Republic. Now, however, on the occasion of the Princess 
Amelie's wedding, which was to be celebrated at Lisbon, the 
Count de Paris not only gave a soiree oVadieu at his Paris resi- 
dence, the Hotel Galliera, in the Rue de Varennes, Faubourg 
St. Germain, — previously the home of the Duke and the 
benevolent Duchess of that name — but he sent invitations to 
all the Ambassadors of the great Powers, and all the Ministers 
of other States, as well as to the Royalist aristocracy. The 
Corps Diplomatique was amazed. Every embassy knew that this 
soire'e was to be made a great Royalist demonstration, and the 
Count de Paris' indiscretion in inviting the representatives of 
the Foreign Powers was manifest. Were these representatives, 
duly accredited to the French Republic, to attend a ceremony 
designed for the glorification of one who now claimed to be 
King of France and Navarre ? The answer was obvious. Not 
an Ambassador nor a Minister Plenipotentiary, save the 
Portuguese representative, attended the reception at the Hotel 
Galliera. Indeed, one ambassador, and not the least important, 
had no sooner received his invitation than he conveyed news 
of it to President Grevy. Thus the folly of the Count de Paris 
forced the Government of the Republic to take action. 

The Premier, M. de Freycinet, was a man of mild disposi- 
tion, and had he alone been concerned, nothing very serious 
might have ensued. But strong and immediate measures were 
urged on him by Clemenceau, who had already overthrown 



296 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

several ministries, and of whom, therefore, Freycinet was 
extremely afraid. Grevy realised that something had to be 
done, but owing to his intercourse with foreign Princes allied 
to the Houses of Bourbon and Orleans, he did not wish to 
carry matters to extremes. A permissive measure of expulsion 
in certain contingencies was again suggested by him, as had 
been the case on a former occasion. Clemenceau, however, 
prevailed so far that a bill for the immediate expulsion of the 
principal Princes was laid before the Chamber. A report by 
M. Camille Pelletan urged the expulsion of all Bourbons and 
Bonapartes, but eventually there came a compromise, suggested 
by M. Brousse, and the following enactment ensued. 1 

Clause I. — The territory of the French Republic is and remains 
forbidden to the heads of the families that have reigned over France 
and to their direct heirs by order of primogeniture. 

II. — The Government is authorised to expel any other member 
of those families by a decree passed by the Council of Ministers. 

III. — Whosoever, infringing this interdiction, may be found in 
France, Algeria, or the colonies, shall be punished with imprison- 
ment for a period of from two to five years. 

IV. — The members of the princely families who may be 
authorised to reside temporarily on the territory of the Republic, 
shall be excluded from all public functions. 

Freycinet spoke with great cleverness in dealing with the 
question before the Legislature. He pointed out that the 
heads of the Bourbon and Bonaparte families were fatally 
condemned to be and to remain Pretenders. Everything com- 
pelled it, their birth, their training, their entourage. The 
Expulsion Law was finally voted on June 22 (1886), and 
promulgated the next day, whereupon the Count de Paris 
betook himself with his family to England, Prince Napoleon to 
Switzerland, and his son, Prince Victor Bonaparte, to Belgium. 
On arriving at Dover the Count de Paris issued a proclamation 
declaring that a Monarchy was the most suitable government 
for France. 

In accordance with the fourth clause of the new law the 
Duke d'Aumale, the Duke de Chartres and the Duke d 1 Alencon, 
who had previously been removed from active service, were now 

1 In the Chamber it was adopted by a majority of 83 out of 547 members 
who voted ; in the Senate Clause I. was adopted by the small majority of 15, 
but at the final vote on the whole measure 141 members were for and 107 
against it. Many Republicans refused, on principle, to vote a loi d'exception. 



EXPULSION OF THE PRINCES 297 

struck out of the army list. Both Chartres and Alencon 
vainly appealed to the Council of State, whilst Aumale 
addressed a letter of indignant protest to President Grevy. 
We notice that an able French writer of the Gambettist school, 
in dealing comparatively recently with this subject, remarks 
that the Duke d'Aumale's letter may be nowadays regarded 
with great indulgence, but that at the time it was penned it 
appeared extremely insolent. Such is our own opinion. It 
was, however, more the Duke d'Aumale's misfortune than his 
fault if he was drawn into this affair, and suffered by the indis- 
cretion of his relative. With respect to the part he played in 
the earlier years of the present regime he certainly helped to 
effect the downfall of Thiers, but in spite of many solicitations 
and various opportunities he made no attempt to overthrow 
the Republic. While he was Commander of the Vllth Army 
Corps at Besancon he favoured the Clerical party in that region, 
insisted on being addressed as " Monseigneur " and referred to 
as " Royal Highness,' 1 which was incompatible, no doubt, with 
Republican institutions. It was, however, virtually the utmost 
that could be urged against him. Although he was by far the 
ablest member of his family, he had, we think, no personal 
political ambition. He stood several degrees removed from all 
claim to the French Throne. Moreover, neither wife nor 
child was left him. Thus it was unfortunate that the 
removal of his name from the Army List should have been 
insisted upon; his compulsory retirement from active service 
should have proved sufficient for the most zealous Republicans. 
But certainly his letter of protest was couched in such terms 
that it could not be overlooked in that hour of crisis. It was 
a pity that personal pride did not allow the Duke to bend to 
the storm. In the result he was expelled from France by virtue 
of Clause II. of the new law. 

Boulanger, as Minister of War, was soon interpellated on 
the subject. He replied by making a violent attack on the 
Duke d 1 Aumale, " a man who at twenty-one years of age, when 
knowing little or nothing, had nevertheless been made a general 
in the French army, simply because he was the son of a King 1 " 
There was some truth in that; and Boulanger, the youngest 
general of the Third Republic, had certainly seen a great deal 
more service than Aumale, and waited more than twice as 
many years, before attaining to the rank he held. The argument 



298 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



appealed to the Deputies, who, by 351 votes to 172, approved 
of the War Minister's declarations. Later, the Senate followed 
suit by 152 votes to 79 ; and it was resolved that Boulanger's 
speech to the Chamber should be printed and placarded 
throughout the 36,000 communes of France. Hitherto his 
name had been little known beyond a few coteries of politicians 
and specialists ; from that hour it became famous, or notorious, 
if that expression be preferred. 

To some people Boulanger's violent attack on the Duke 
d' Aumale seemed inexplicable, by reason of their earlier relations. 
But we were given to understand at the time that, as so often 
happens in France, it was all a question of chercliez la femmc. 
At that moment Aumale was sixty-four years of age, but he 
was still very vigorous and energetic. He had been a widower 
since 1869, and some years prior to his expulsion from France 
in 1886, his name (as we mentioned once before) had been 
discreetly, yet in certain circles frequently coupled with that 
of one of the most charming actresses of the Comedie Francaise. 
Now Boulanger, who was fifteen years younger than the Duke 
d 1 Aumale, had cast his eyes in the same direction, but without 
the success he had expected. Inde irae. That, of course, was 
prior to the General's well-known intrigue with Mine, de 
Bonnemains. 1 

His attack on the Duke d' Aumale was followed by the 
publication of some of his obsequious letters to that Prince. 
He at first denied their authenticity, but was afterwards com- 
pelled to admit it. Yet in spite of such equivocal behaviour 
he remained the favourite, the hero, of the masses. When he 
appeared, mounted on a black charger, at the review at 
Longchamp, on the National Fete of July 14, he was acclaimed 
by a delirious multitude. France had found a man at last — ah, 
what a man, indeed ! 

During the autumn a bill was passed by the Chamber, 
excluding both male and female members of religious associa- 
tions from teaching in State or Municipal schools ; but some 
members of the Cabinet were not on good terms with the 

1 Her husband (whom she quitted for Boulanger), was the son of the 
General de Bonnemains, who commanded one of the divisions of cuirassiers 
at the battle of Worth. We met young M. de Bonnemains, a tall and hand- 
some man, on more than one occasion. We remember that he offered us for 
translation, on behalf of Guy de Maupassant, the latter 's story Pierre et 
Jean ; we were unable, however, to undertake the work. 



GERMANY, FRANCE, AND BOULANGER 299 

Parliamentary majority, and finally, on December 3, an adverse 
vote led to resignation. M. Rene Goblet formed the next 
Ministry, the eleventh of Grevy's time. The chief changes 
were that Freycinet and Carnot retired, and that Goblet took 
the portfolio of the Interior instead of that of Education, which 
was accepted by the eminent scientist Berthelot, while M. 
Dauphin became Minister of Finances, and M. Leopold Flourens, 
brother of Gustave Flourens of the Commune, Minister for 
Foreign Affairs. He proved one of the best and ablest men 
that ever served the Republic in that capacity, displaying under 
the most trying and dangerous circumstances a prudence and 
shrewdness which saved the world from another great war. 
Never were two brothers more unlike than M. Leopold Flourens 
and the headstrong and unfortunate Gustave. 

Boulanger, who still remained at the head of the army, had 
for some time past aroused the distrust of Germany. He had 
not only made various imprudent speeches, but had lent himself 
to the bellicose manifestations of the League of Patriots founded 
by Paul Deroulede, the poet-politician who had won celebrity 
by his Chants du Soldat. The German press, "the reptile 
press " of those days, which took its instructions from Prince 
Bismarck's acolytes, already denounced Boulanger as a danger 
to European peace, and early in 1887 troops were moved hither 
and thither in Alsace-Lorraine with so much fuss and publicity 
that it seemed as if a direct warning to France were intended. 
In February the Paris Bourse took alarm ; there was quite a 
panic, with a drop of three francs in the quotations for Rentes. 
The French Government was still at that period in great 
financial difficulties, nevertheless the Chambers promptly voted 
a credit of several millions for the army and navy ; and addi- 
tional resources being required, it was resolved to levy higher 
duties on foreign corn, cattle, and meat. At the same time, 
with a view to clearing the atmosphere, it was suggested by 
some politicians that the Prime Minister should make a pacific 
declaration, but he refused to do so, saying that his opinions 
were thoroughly well known. However, he was quite willing 
to forbid Boulanger to despatch any additional troops to the 
frontier, as he wished to do by way of replying to the German 
military movements in Alsace. 

The situation seemed to be improved in some degree. 
Ferdinand de Lesseps went on a semi-official or officious mission 



300 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

to Berlin, and the bellicose Boiil anger lost a good deal of 
influence with the more moderate Republicans, owing to an 
impudent letter on military education and training which he 
addressed to a Parliamentary Committee, and afterwards tried 
to withdraw. But all at once a serious frontier incident caused 
general alarm. There was a Commissary of Police named 
Schncebele attached to the railway station of Pagny-sur-Moselle. 
The German authorities, suspecting him of intercourse with 
some Alsatian malcontents and conspirators, had resolved to 
arrest him if he crossed the frontier. He did so, not, however, 
with any intention of plotting, but in response to a request from 
a German police-commissary named Gautsch, who wished to 
confer with him respecting some of the frontier regulations. 
Nevertheless on April 20, Schncebele was arrested by German 
police-officers and removed to Metz. 

To most French people this seemed direct provocation on 
the part of Germany, and for a moment the question of war or 
peace trembled in the balance. Boulanger and the Radical 
members of the Cabinet urged that an apology should be 
immediately demanded in terms tantamount to an ultimatum. 
But M. Flourens pointed out, with his usual good sense, that 
under the circumstances in which Schnoebele's arrest had taken 
place it could not possibly be maintained by any known 
principle of law. Nevertheless, disregarding Goblet's earlier 
prohibition, Boulanger now sent as secretly as possible some 
additional detachments of troops towards the frontier, and, 
remembering the intervention of Russia during the war scare 
of 1875, he addressed a letter either to the Russian Emperor 
(Alexander III.) or to his War Minister (there have been 
conflicting statements on that point) in which he solicited 
Russian help. Luckily, Boulanger having boasted of his action 
to a colleague, the missive was intercepted in the post by the 
order of M. Flourens; and as it seemed certain that the 
incident would be speedily divulged, the latter, to prevent 
serious consequences, decided to acquaint the German Am- 
bassador in France with all particulars. He did so quite 
frankly, but at the same time pointed out that General 
Boulanger was alone responsible, and virtually threw him over. 
Thus Flourens saved the situation yet a second time. 

Finally M. Schncebele was released, Bismarck issuing a 
diplomatic note which betrayed considerable embarrassment. 



GERMANY, FRANCE, AND BOULANGER 301 

He also stated to M. Herbette, then French Ambassador at 
Berlin, that Schncebele's arrest was justified by the fact that they, 
the Germans, had proof of his connivance with an Alsatian 
traitor, but that as he had ventured on German soil at the 
invitation of a German official that invitation was tantamount 
to a safe conduct and would be respected. Thus, M. Schncebele 
having been released and transferred by the French authorities 
to Lyons, the incident, at one moment pregnant with fateful 
consequences, came to an end in spite of all the noisy demonstra- 
tions of the League of Patriots and the riotous protests which 
some extremists initiated against certain Wagner concerts in 
Paris. 

By this time it had become evident to many sincere and 
thoughtful Republicans as well as Royalists, that Boulanger 
was, indeed, a national danger. It was necessary to remove 
him from office whatever might be the anger of the mob. In 
the month of May an occasion at last presented itself. The 
estimates for the ensuing year were presented, and it was found 
that on an amount of 120 millions sterling the Government 
only proposed a saving of about i^OOjOOO. This was regarded 
as ridiculous, and 165 Conservatives combined with 110 Re- 
publicans to overthrow the Ministry. The Boulanger question 
largely influenced that vote. 

Now came the Twelfth and last Administration formed 
under Grevy's Presidency. The extremists made a desperate 
effort to maintain Boulanger in office. Day by day Clemenceau 
in La Justice, Rochefort in L 'Intransigeant, Lalou or Laur in 
La France proclaimed that it would be treason to the country 
to remove le brave general from the Ministry of War. 1 How- 
ever, after Grevy had vainly sought a Prime Minister in Deves, 
Duclerc, his favourite Freycinet, and Floquet, now President of 
the Chamber, he had to fall back on M. Maurice Rouvier, 2 who, 
disregarding all journalistic fulminations, formed a Cabinet 
from which Boulanger was excluded, May 30, 1887. Rouvier 
took with the Premiership the then extremely important post 
of Minister of Finances. He kept Flourens as Foreign Minister, 
and secured Fallieres for Home Affairs, Mazeau for Justice, 

1 Amidst this Ministerial crisis occurred the destruction of the Paris 
Opera Coraique by fire, about 130 persons perishing in that terrible 
catastrophe. 

3 See ante, p. 248. 



302 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



Spuller for Education and Worship, Dautresme for Commerce 
and Public Works, Barbe for Agriculture, and General Ferron 
for War. The last - named was grossly insulted by the 
extremists for presuming to accept office. 

Yet he was a very able officer, one whom Gallift'et, that 
good judge of military merit, had particularly distinguished, 
and whom Campenon had taken as chief of his staff when 
Minister of War. Ferron had chiefly seen service in Algeria, 
the Crimea, and the colonies, serving in New Caledonia during 
the Franco-German War. He was more particularly known as 
an expert engineer-officer. He dealt fairly but fearlessly with 
Boulanger. The latter had sometime previously authorised the 
establishment of an Officers' Club in a building on the Place de 
TOpera, and he not infrequently visited it, there being a good 
many of his adherents among the members. Demonstrations 
in his favour were often made outside the club, and they 
became more and more tumultuous on his fall from power. 
Now the new Government did not desire to treat him with 
indignity. They acknowledged that he had a distinguished 
military record, and imputed to him no treasonable designs. 
Their chief fear was with respect to the consequences which 
might result from the " turbulent and tumultuous patriotism " 
which he so often displayed. Moreover, in connection 
with the trial at Leipzig of some Alsatian enthusiasts 
opposed to German rule, Paris witnessed a sensational 
meeting of the League of Patriots ; on which occasion 
Boulanger was acclaimed as the personification both of 
the French army and of the war of revenge. It was there- 
fore resolved that he must not be allowed to remain in the 
capital, and that a safe post, one in which he would have the 
least opportunity of doing harm, must be found for him. It 
could not be called a disgrace as it was a high command, such 
as he had never exercised, but it was far away both from Paris 
and from the Vosges, being that of the XHIth Army Corps at 
Clermont-Ferrand, the old capital of Auvergne. In order to 
prevent any unseemly demonstration at the National Fete 
of July 14, he was ordered to repair to his post before 
that date. He did so, quitting Paris on July 8, but 
his departure became the occasion of yet another great 
demonstration. Again, when the National Fete arrived 
with the customary review of the Army of Paris, President 



THE RISE OF BOULANGISM 303 

Grevy and Ferron, the War Minister, were grossly insulted both 
by ignorant and foolish patriots and by hirelings of the 
Monarchist parties, which, since the expulsion of the Princes, 
had decided on open war against the Republic. The Radicals, 
alarmed by the shouts of " A bas la Republique ! a bas Grevy ! 
vive Boulanger ! c'est Boulanger qu'il nous faut ! " which assailed 
their ears that afternoon, began to repent of their infatuation, 
even Clemenceau declaring that the General must be kept in 
his place, while a very able Radical journalist, Sigismond 
Lacroix, started quite a campaign against him. 

Shortly afterwards Jules Ferry, emerging from his retire- 
ment, delivered a speech at Epinal in which he called Boulanger 
a general de cafe concert, this being an allusion to the various 
songs such as " En revenant de la Revue,'" which were sung in 
his honour by Paulus and others at the Paris music-halls. 
Boulanger challenged Ferry on account of that epithet, but no 
duel was fought as the seconds could not agree respecting the 
conditions. However, in September the Count de Paris issued 
yet another manifesto, one offering a kind of Napoleonic 
monarchy to France : this being a species of invitation to 
Boulanger, with whom the Pretender was already intriguing in 
spite of the General's share in the Law of Expulsion. Once 
again, too, public opinion was roused against Germany owing 
to an affair in the Vosges, when a German forest-keeper shot a 
French sportsman named Brignon dead, and wounded another. 
However, Germany paid some compensation to Brignon's 
widow, and that scare subsided. 1 

But the next trouble which arose in France proved very 
serious. It was discovered that General Caffarel, Under-Chief 
of the Staff at the War Office, which post he owed to Boulanger, 
had been, for some time past, in close relations with an adven- 
turess named Limouzin, who undertook to procure " decorations " 
— the Legion of Honour and foreign orders also — for all such 
persons that were willing to pay for them. Another officer, 
General Count d'Andlau (who was also a Senator), was like- 

1 To avoid interrupting the continuity of our narrative, let us mention here 
that in October 1887 Great Britain and France arrived at arrangements 
respecting the New Hebrides and the neutrality of the Suez Canal. In 
November the old 4£ per cent Rente was reduced to 3 per cent. It may 
also be mentioned that soon after taking office M. Rouvier's Administration 
induced the Chamber to vote a law on compulsory military service, by which 
the exemptions previously granted to seminarists were abolished (June 1887). 



304 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

wise implicated in this affair, as was, too, the famous, versatile 
and much -married Mine. Rattazzi, nie Bonaparte -Wyse. 1 
Caffarel was brought before a military court of inquiry, which 
proposed in its report that he should be compulsorily retired 
for "offences against honour.'" Meanwhile, however, several 
journalists had repaired to Clermont Ferrand to interview 
Boulanger on the matter, on account of his earlier connection 
with Caffarel. He assured them that the whole affair was 
simply a manoeuvre directed against himself by his jealous 
successor, General Ferron. That assertion was reproduced in 
the press, together with others emanating from M. Francis Laur 
(the author of Un Amour de Gambetta), to whom, it appeared, 
Boulanger had declared that he might have made himself 
Dictator on two occasions already, once when he had been 
solicited to do so by ninety-four general officers, and once at 
the request of the Monarchical Deputies and Senators. If 
that were so, however, why had the general not acquainted his 
ministerial colleagues with such treasonable proposals ? Failure 
to do so proved disloyalty. There are very good reasons, how- 
ever, for disbelieving the story about the ninety-four generals. 

For his remarks concerning his superior the Minister of War, 
Boulanger was ordered thirty days' close arrest. Some thought 
this too severe, others far from severe enough. Jules Ferry 
once more raised his voice, asking for a Government that could 
really govern, one that would finally extirpate Caesarism, and 
destroy every germ of that disease which, twice in a hundred 
years, had handed France over to dictatorship. But public 
attention was now again directed to the decorations scandal. 
In the proceedings against La Limouzin, General d'Andlau and 
Mme. Rattazzi, 2 yet another person became implicated, and this 
time none other than M. Daniel Wilson, the son-in-law of the 
President of the Republic ! In his case, certain letters, seized 
among his papers, suddenly disappeared, others being substituted 

1 See our Court of the Tuileries. 

3 They were condemned by default to imprisonment and fine. General 
d'Andlau fled to South America. It was also discovered in these proceedings 
that La Limouzin had been a particular friend of General Thibaudin, as his 
letters to her testified. The above were not the only generals, who, during 
the earlier period of the Republic, found themselves in trouble owing to their 
intercourse with adventuresses. In 1880 General de Cissey, ex- War Minister 
and commander of an army corps, became involved in a serious scandal by 
reason of his relations with a so-called Baroness de Kaulla (the separated wife 
of Colonel Jung) who was accused of being a foreign spy. 



FALL OF GR^VY 

for them with the connivance of the Prefect of Police, M. 
Gragnon, and, in some degree apparently, of the Chief of the 
Detective Force, M. Taylor. Gragnon was promptly cashiered 
and replaced by M. Leon Bourgeois, who since those days has 
become a distinguished statesman. 

Although Wilson was formally accused, he was not arrested ; 
indeed he continued to reside at the Elysee, the President 
protecting him and absolutely refusing to believe in his guilt. 
The Chamber met, however, and by a large majority ordered 
a parliamentary inquiry into the alleged " selling of public 
appointments and decorations.'" At the same time Clemenceau 
wished to interpellate the Cabinet, and when Rouvier asked for 
an adjournment it was refused by 317 votes to 238. Thereupon 
(November 19, 1887) the Ministry resigned. 

It was Grevy's resignation, however, which the majority 
really demanded. He hesitated for several days, during which 
he appealed to politicians of many schools in the hope of 
forming a Cabinet which would enable him to retain his position. 
In vain. Everybody who saw him declared that resignation 
could be his only course. On November 26, however, at the 
urgent request of certain Radicals or pseudo-Radicals, Boulanger 
came secretly to Paris. It was feared by the extremists that 
Jules Ferry might now secure power, and it was thought better 
to retain Grevy in office with the help of Boulanger's sword. 
On the night of November 28, Clemenceau, Camille Dreyfus, 
Camille Pelletan, Pichon, Perin, Laisant, Laguerre, Millerand, 
Leporche, and Granet met Henri Rochefort of V Intransigeant, 
Mayer of La Lanteme, and Victor Simond of Le Radical at 
the Masonic Headquarters in the Rue Cadet to discuss the 
situation. That first conference failed, as both Pelletan and 
Perin opposed the retention of Grevy. However, Granet, 
Laisant, Laguerre, Mayer, and Clemenceau afterwards repaired 
to the Cafe Durand near the Madeleine, where Rochefort had 
already joined Boulanger and Paul Deroulede. After conferring 
together they dispatched delegates to Floquet and Freycinet, 
but neither was willing to form a ministry under Grevy's presi- 
dency or with Boulanger at the War Office. On the following 
night Boulanger, Deroulede, Clemenceau, Rochefort, Mayer, 
Laisant, Granet, and Dreyfus met at the house of Laguerre, 
who was a Boulangist advocate and deputy. He and Granet 
had seen Grevy that day, and he had told them that if he were 



306 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

to remain in office it must be with a Prime Minister of great 
authority. The meeting appealed to Clemenceau, but he 
shrewdly declined the post of honour and peril. Delegates 
were then sent to Andrieux, ex-Prefect of Police, but he, 
though willing to take office under Grevy, would not accept 
Boulanger as a colleague. Thus the negotiations of the two 
so-called " Historical Nights " came to nothing. 

Meantime Grevy had personally appealed to M. Ribot, who 
consented to act provisionally if the President would resign. 
He wished, however, to see the letter of resignation before 
undertaking to read it to the Chamber. This condition Grevy 
would not accept. 

There was great agitation in Paris at the time, but General 
Saussier, the Military Governor and a man of no little firmness, 
declared that any rioter, were he a general officer or anybody 
else, would be shot without ceremony. On December 1, huge 
crowds gathered on the Place de la Concorde awaiting what 
might happen at the Chamber of Deputies, for Grevy had 
promised a message already on November 26, and its arrival 
was expected. None had yet come, however, and the Chamber 
thereupon adjourned until six o'clock, signifying that it hoped 
to receive the expected message at that hour. A little later 
the Senate adjourned till eight o'clock in the same way. Grevy 
could not resist the unanimity thus displayed by both branches 
of the Legislature. He therefore reluctantly sent an official 
announcement that he was preparing his letter of resignation. 
It was read in the Chambers on December % Thus fell one 
who was personally a very honest and had long been a most 
able man, but who was now eighty years of age, and no longer 
possessed of the perspicacity or the strength of character which 
he had shown in former times. He might have fallen in a far 
more dignified manner had he not been governed by his indulg- 
ence and solicitude for his son-in-law. As it was, he clung to 
his post as long as possible, and it at last became necessary 
to wring from him a resignation which he should have tendered 
directly M. Wilson was formally accused. 



CHAPTER XI 

carnot's presidency — boulanger's apogee 
and afterwards 

The Contest for the Presidency — Carnot's Election — His Family and his 
Career— His First Ministry : Tirard — The end of the Decorations Scandal 
— Wilson's Acquittal and later years — The Legion of Honour — General 
Boulanger, Prince Napoleon and the Sword of Marengo — Boulanger and 
the Royalists — He is placed on Half-Pay and afterwards Retired — The 
Aisne Election — Arthur Meyer and the Duchess d'Uzes— The Boulangist 
Programme — The General's Popularity and the Boulangist Muse — 
Floquet and the Emperor of Russia— Fall of Tirard's Ministry— Floquet's 
Administration — The Boulangist Exchequer— The Count de Paris' Con- 
tributions—The Millions of the Duchess d'Uzes— Boulanger's Election 
in the Nord — His Demands for Revision and Dissolution — He resigns — 
His Duel with Floquet— His Wife and his Mistress — His Great Triple 
Election— His Return for Paris— List Voting Abolished— Fall of Floquet 
and Return of Tirard to Power — The League of Patriots suppressed — 
Boulanger's Impending Arrest — His Flight to Brussels — He goes to 
London— A Reception at Portland Place — Boulanger and the High 
Court— His Interview with the Count de Paris— The Paris Exhibition of 
1889— The Escapade of the Duke of Orleans — Change of Cabinet— 
Boulanger in Jersey and Belgium— His Mistress dies and he destroys 
himself. 

Jules Ferry ought to have been the next President of the 
Republic, but although the Radical and the ultra- Patriotic 
leaders had been foiled in their endeavours to prop up Grevy 
with the help of Boulanger's sword, they were still determined 
that the chief state office should not be accorded to the man 
whom they so freely called " Famine Ferry," " Tonquin Ferry," 
and "Ferry, Bismarck's Valet." The demonstration on the 
Place de la Concorde on December 1 was followed by a more 
serious affair on the morrow. Communists and Socialists 
allied themselves for the nonce with Deroulede and his League 
of Patriots. Louise Michel led a band of Reds singing " La 
Carmagnole" along the Boulevards. Eudes and Lisbonne of 

307 



308 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

the Commune, Basly, Camelinat, Duc-Quercy and other new 
leaders of the jrroUtariat harangued the crowds, and tried to 
provoke a march on the H6tel-de-Ville ; and it is possible that 
if Paris had possessed a less energetic Military Governor than 
General Saussier some temporary revolutionary success might 
have ensued. 

As it was, the violent language used by the extremist 
leaders and newspapers against Ferry intimidated the National 
Assembly, or Congress of both Chambers, which now met to 
choose a new President of the Republic. There was a large 
majority in Ferry's favour among the Senators, but the Deputies 
were more divided, and apprehended a conflict with the populace. 
It was some little time before the Radicals could agree upon a 
candidate who might be opposed to Ferry with a prospect of 
success. Their first choice lay between Freycinet and Floquet, 
both of whom imagined they would be elected. But while 
Freycinet had refused to secure the appointment of Boulanger 
as Minister of War, Floquet — at this time — was not opposed to 
it, and could therefore rely on the support of the Boulangist as 
well as the Radical element. Neither, however, commanded a 
large number of votes, and as their rivalry threatened to increase 
Ferry's chances, Clemenceau suggested to his fellow Radicals 
the selection of an outsider, Brisson or Sadi Carnot. The 
latter was most favoured, and the choice was a politic one. 
Although he inclined somewhat to Radicalism, Carnot was in 
no sense an extremist, and directly his name was brought 
forward numerous deputies, in addition to those who patronised 
his candidature from hatred of Ferry, resolved to support him. 
At the first ballot he secured 303 votes against 212 given to 
Ferry, 76 bestowed on Freycinet, and 108 cast for General 
Saussier, who, although not a candidate, received, malgrt /?//', 
the support of the Royalists and Bonapartists, the former 
acting in accordance with instructions telegraphed by the 
Count de Paris who was then in Spain. Ferry, on finding that 
he only took second place in the voting, at once hastened to 
Carnot, congratulated him, and withdrew his own candidature. 
Freycinet acted likewise, and thus, at the second ballot, 
Carnot secured 616 votes against 188 given to Saussier, and 
was thereupon declared elected. 

Born at Limoges in 1837 and now therefore fifty years of 
age, he was the grandson of the renowned Lazare Carnot of 



CARNOT'S FAMILY AND CAREER 309 

the National Convention and Committee of Public Safety — 
the man who, in conjunction with Bouchotte, raised the four- 
teen armies with which the First Republic resisted the invaders 
of France, and who became known as "the Organiser of 
Victory. " Carnot served also under Napoleon, acting both as 
his first War Minister — on his elevation to the Consulship — 
and as his last Minister of the Interior — during the Hundred 
Days. Nevertheless Carnot's Republicanism was genuine, and 
was inherited by his descendants. His son, Louis Hippolyte, 
reared in exile after the Restoration of the Bourbons, returned 
to France at the Revolution of 1830, and was affiliated for a 
time to the famous St. Simonian sect. In 1836 he married the 
daughter of a General Dupont who had been at one time aide- 
de-camp to his father ; and of this marriage two sons were born : 
Marie Francois Sadi and Adolphe. Hippolyte Carnot was 
afterwards elected a deputy for Paris and at the Revolution of 
1848 he became a member of the Provisional Government and 
Minister for Education. He was among those who resisted 
Louis Napoleon's Coup d'Etat, and he then helped to save several 
of his political friends from arrest and imprisonment. Both his 
sons entered the Ecole Polytechnique, and, until the fall of the 
Empire, Sadi followed the profession of a State engineer, 
directing no little road and bridge work in Savoy. He married 
the daughter of Dupont-White, the famous political economist 
and precursor of Christian Socialism, one of whose principal 
axioms was that " Society has the right to compel individuals 
to act rightly, and it is its duty to protect the weak from the 
powerful. 11 Dupont-White, be it added, was among those whom 
Hippolyte Carnot saved at the Coup d'litat of 1851. By his 
marriage with Mile. Dupont-White, Sadi Carnot had two sons, 
one of whom entered the artillery service, and a daughter who 
married M. Cunisset. 

During the Franco-German War the future President of the 
Republic devised an improved mitrailleuse, and on taking a 
model of it to Tours, he there met Gambetta, who attached 
him to the War Ministry. In January 1871 he became special 
Commissary of the Republic in the departments of Seine 
Inferieure, Eure, and Calvados ; and in that capacity he placed 
Havre in a state of defence, and did all he could to ensure the 
revictualling of Paris by way of the Seine. Peace followed, and 
he was elected a deputy for the Cote d'Or, his family being of 



310 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

ancient Burgundian stock, 1 while his father, who had acted as 
mayor of one of the districts of Paris during the German Siege, 
became a deputy for Seine-et-Oise. They both followed the 
example of Gambetta and Chanzy in voting for the continua- 
tion of the War. In the National Assembly Sadi Carnot 
became secretary to the important parliamentary group called 
the Gauche Republicaine. When Grevy was elected President 
he entered the Waddington Ministry as Under-Secretary for 
Public Works, a post which he retained during Jules Ferry's 
first Administration. Under Brisson he was appointed Minister 
for that department ; and served subsequently as Minister of 
Finances, in which capacity he presented a very frank and able 
budget, rejecting many of the financial expedients hitherto 
employed, and proposing to liquidate the whole situation by 
means of a large loan. The Chamber, however, took alarm at 
its figure, and Carnofs proposals being rejected, the position 
went from bad to worse. It was at this time that, as M. Rouvier 
afterwards revealed, Carnot, careless of the intrigues at the 
Elysee, stoutly refused to further the interests of a trading 
company patronised by Grevy 7 s son-in-law Wilson. Such then 
was the man who now became President of the Republic. 
His father, who was still alive, a fine old gentleman of eighty- 
seven, hastened to congratulate him on his elevation. " You 
are now head of the family,"' said he, " you are Carnot. You 
need no longer use your Christian name. Sign your decrees 
Carnot, tout court." 

With dark and closely-cropped hair, surmounting a lofty 
brow, long moustaches and a full, squarely-trimmed beard, the 
new President had an energetic and intellectual face, with an 
expression of some dignity. His figure was slim and of the 
average height, but in spite of his training at the Ecole 
Polytechnique his gait was rather awkward as he was inclined 
to be knock-kneed. A particular feature of his career as 
President was the frequency of his journeys to one or another 
part of France. He surpassed all his predecessors in that 
respect, travelling, indeed, hither and thither quite as often 
as Gambetta had ever done. And as he possessed a ready 
command of language, and showed considerable tact, unbending 
whenever occasion required it, he made himself personally 
popular in many directions. But his time was one of great 
1 Lazare Carnot was born at Nolay near Beaune. 



CARNOTS FIRST MINISTRY 311 

unrest and turmoil, social as well as political, as we shall 
see. 

His first efforts were directed towards Republican con- 
centration, with which object he entrusted the formation of a 
Ministry to M. Tirard, one of his personal friends. Tirard, 
to whom we previously referred, was certainly a well-mean- 
ing man but one of moderate abilities, particularly in financial 
matters in spite of his personal success in trade. Born at 
Geneva in 1827 he had become a State official at the time of 
the Republic of 1848, but on the advent of the Second Empire 
he retired and established a business in that cheap " imitation " 
jewellery for which Paris was long unequalled. During the 
German Siege he was chosen as mayor of the Second Arrondisse- 
ment of Paris, and becoming popular among the people was 
afterwards elected a member of the Commune. But he was no 
firebrand, his efforts were entirely directed towards conciliation 
between the Parisians and the Government, and when he found 
a compromise impossible he withdrew to Versailles. 

In forming Carnot's first Ministry, Tirard wished to include 
members of every Republican group, but the portfolios he 
offered to Radicals like Goblet and Lockroy were declined, and 
from the outset, indeed, the Government was subjected to 
Radical as well as Boulangist attacks. Flourens remained at 
the head of Foreign Affairs, Fallieres passed from the Interior 
to Justice, the former department being allotted to Sarrien, 
while Loubet became Minister of Public Works, and de Mahy 
(and later Admiral Krantz), Minister of Marine and the 
Colonies, with Felix Faure as Under-Secretary. For the War 
Office Tirard's choice fell on General Logerot, an officer who 
had seen a great deal of service in Algeria, the Crimea, and 
Italy, and who had particularly distinguished himself at the 
battle of Coulmiers in 1870, when, although severely wounded 
in the leg, he had remained four-and-twenty hours in the 
saddle, commanding his men. Logerot's character was summed 
up in that episode, 1 and at a time when such a man as Boulanger 

1 Francois Auguste Logerot, born at Noyers, Loir-et-Cher, in 1825. He 
was a first-rate and determined rear-guard officer. We remember that on 
one occasion during the retreat of Chanzy's forces his regiment, the Second 
Zouaves de Marche, held the Germans in check for six hours, falling back 
barely a league during all that time, when it lost a quarter of its effective, 
including sixteen officers. The Logerots were essentially a military family, 
two of General Francois' brothers rose to the same rank in the artillery. The 
infantry was his branch of the service. 



312 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

had to be dealt with a resolute Minister of War was absolutely 
requisite. 1 

At first, however, most public attention was given to the 
decorations scandal. An attempt to prosecute M. Daniel Wilson 
and the ex-Prefect of Police on a charge of abstracting and 
forging documents fell through, but another to the effect that 
Wilson had been guilty of fraud in promising to procure the 
decoration of the Legion of Honour in return for a pecuniary 
payment was proceeded with. On March 1, 1888, he was 
convicted by the Paris Correctional Tribunal and sentenced to 
two years' imprisonment, five years' loss of civil rights, and the 
payment of a fine of i?120. Thereupon, however, he appealed, 
and the Appeal Court set the conviction aside. When that 
great encyclopedia of French jurisprudence, the Repertoire 
Dalloz, printed the court's judgment of acquittal it added 
thereto the following note, which explains what was the legal 
position at the time : — 

However shameful and immoral it may be to trade on one's 
influence and credit, it does not seem possible to find in such a 
proceeding the elements of fraud (e.icroquerie) if the influence and 
credit are real and the accused has seriously employed them in 
furthering the application he has been charged to support. The 
Court's judgment declares that the influence purchased by Crespin 
de la Jeanniere (a client of Wilson's) was powerful, that the 
promised recommendations and applications were not fanciful but 
were really made, that proof thereof was supplied to and accepted 
by Crespin, and that therefore he was not deceived. These facts 
certainly deprive the case of the features characteristic of fraud 
(escroquerie). But it has only been possible for the court to arrive 
at this conclusion by adding that it is not exact, as the first judges 
stated, that there had been a positive promise of a cross, which the 
accused boastfully asserted he could supply. Otherwise, indeed, 
the acquittal of the accused would have clashed with the principles 
laid down by the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation in the 
Ccelln case, that is, " that manoeuvres tending to persuade anybody 
that one can procure for a sum of money the cross of the Legion 
of Honour, and embracing an assertion of credit which does not 
exist, come within the category of the manoeuvres foreseen by 
Clause 405 of the Penal Code." 

It follows then that in the opinion of the judges Wilson 
had only given a promise to try to procure the decoration of 

1 The other members of Tirard's Cabinet were Dautresme, Commerce ; 
Faye, Education and Fine Arts ; and Viette, Agriculture. It will have been 
observed from what we have mentioned above that three future Presidents of 
the Republic, Loubet, Faure, and Fallieres served in this Ministry. 




Sadi Carnot 



THE LEGION OF HONOUR 313 

the Legion of Honour, and that his influence being real there 
had been no fraudulent manoeuvre. Briefly, he had kept 
within the law as it then stood. An early result of his case 
was an alteration of the law so as that it might cover any 
similar affairs in the future. It cannot be said that every 
appointment to the Legion of Honour since those days has 
been unimpeachable, but absolute corruption has undoubtedly 
been kept well in check. 1 

From another point of view it may be pointed out that 
the Legion's very name indicates that nobody guilty of any 
dishonourable action can rightly belong to it. Its regulations 
provide for non-admission, suspension, and expulsion in the 
event of bankruptcy, convictions either for felony or for certain 
misdemeanours at law, as well as for actions contrary to good 
morals which may not be amenable to the tribunals. It is 
unfortunately true, however, that a one-sided view has been 
occasionally taken with respect to the coU passionnel of human 
life, certain incidents in some men's careers having been airily 
overlooked at the time of their admission to the order, whereas 
in the case of nominees of the other sex (and women are now 
and then enrolled in the Legion) similar incidents have 
absolutely debarred them from admission. When, under the 
Second Empire, Rosa Bonheur, the great painter, was nominated 
no objection could arise, but when it was suggested that 
George Sand, the great novelist, should likewise receive the 
cross of honour, the Legion's Council was ready to offer the 
most strenuous opposition, on account of certain notorious 
amatory episodes in that gifted writer's life. In like fashion 
Rachel, the great tragedienne, would have been ineligible, 
despite all her genius, even if women had been admitted to 
the Legion in her time. 

With respect to the strong prejudice existing down to our 
own period against the inclusion of stage-players in the order, 

1 On June 1, 1907, the order included : Military members— 30 Grand 
Crosses, 176 Grand Officers, 808 Commanders, 3,974 Officers, and 25,276 
Chevaliers. Civilian members — 19 Grand Crosses, 48 Grand Officers, 278 
Commanders, 2,297 Officers, and 12,279 Chevaliers. Grand total, 45,185 
members. Since 1871 repeated efforts have been made to check the growth 
of the order, which has long been the most numerous in the world ; but they 
have always failed, one or another circumstance having prevented the en- 
forcement of stricter regulations. As a result of the Entente cordiale the 
order now counts nearly 500 British members of various ranks. This is the 
most numerous of all the foreign contingents. 



314 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

it must be acknowledged that, according to the strict letter of 
the statutes drawn up under Napoleon's supervision, they were 
certainly not eligible for admission. But the scope of the 
order having been modified and enlarged by successive Govern- 
ments, it was not fair that distinguished members of the 
theatrical profession, talented exponents of dramatic literature, 
should still remain excluded. The difficulty was overcome in 
one way or another, at first in a very indirect fashion — actors 
being decorated as professors of their art or State officials, by 
reason of their connection with the Conservatoire, etc., but 
finally there has been in some instances a disposition to honour 
them for their personal histrionic gifts. It may be added that 
whenever the nomination of an actor, or, indeed, of anybody 
else, is opposed by the Council of the Legion, it must not 
necessarily be assumed that the reasons officially assigned for 
the opposition are really the true ones. All sorts of questions 
may arise, but as the position of a nominee refused by the 
Council may well become delicate, the real motive of exclusion 
is often left unstated. 

It might be imagined that after M. Wilson's extraordinary 
adventure and an acquittal pronounced under such circumstances 
as we have stated he would have retired into private life for 
the remainder of his days. But he did not even resign his seat 
as a deputy. He still disposed of great influence in Touraine, 
where his sister Mme. Pelouze had her property, and in 1893 — 
two years after the unfortunate President Grevy passed away 
at Mont-sous- Vaudrey — he was once more elected for the 
arrondissement of Loches. Unseated by his colleagues on that 
occasion for exercising undue pressure on the electorate, he was 
again returned in 1894, and in 1898 also. It was only in 1902 
that he finally quitted public life, in which his position had so 
long been very invidious. 

Let us now turn to the affairs of General Boulanger. Some 
of his intrigues during the recent presidential crisis were well 
known to the Government, though at this date it was not 
aware that in addition to his close intercourse with extreme 
Radicals and ultra-Patriots he had established direct relations 
with the Bonapartist and Royalist factions also. The Bona- 
partists had been first in the field in their endeavour to capture 
the General for their cause, the idea emanating from one of 
their journalists, a certain M. George Thiebaud, who prevailed 



BOULANGEITS INTRIGUES 315 

so far with Boulanger that already early in 1887 the latter 
accompanied him under the name of Major Solar on a secret 
visit to Prince Napoleon Jerome in Switzerland. It does not 
appear that there was then any absolute proposal that Boulanger 
should restore the Empire. The basis of the negotiations was 
that Parliamentary rule was collapsing in France, that the 
Constitution needed revision, and that there ought to be a 
Plebiscitum or appeal to the people. For the rest the conver- 
sation between the General and the Prince covered the position 
of France in regard to Germany and Alsace-Lorraine, the 
Prince naturally holding that the recovery of the lost provinces 
might greatly facilitate the restoration of the Empire. In the 
course of the visit the Prince showed Boulanger his interesting 
collection of Napoleonic relics, including the telescopic spy-glass 
which the great captain used at Waterloo, and the sword he 
carried at Marengo. 1 The latter particularly interested 
Boulanger, and the Prince, observing it, said to him, "Well, 
on the day you have restored Alsace-Lorraine to France that 
sword, I promise you, shall be your- 

The General's direct intercourse with the Royalists dated 
from the second of the " Historical Nights " mentioned in our 
last chapter. Either before or after his interne ws with the 
Radical leaders he was approached by M. de Martimprey, who 
urged that the Republic had fallen so low owing to the decora- 
tions scandal, that it was absurd to prolong its agony, and that 
the right course would be to restore the monarchy — Boulanger 
playing the " glorious role "of a General Monk. One of the 
ex-Minister of War's prominent supporters, a certain Count 
Dillon, who claimed descent from the Dillons of the court of 
Marie Antoinette, and who was a director of a French trans- 
atlantic cable company, was present on this occasion, and like- 
wise declared himself to be a Royalist at heart. Baron de 
Mackau, a prominent adherent of the Count de Paris, also saw 
the General, who, so far as words went, acquiesced in the 
suggestions made to him. Mackau then communicated with 
the Marquis de Beauvoir, the Count de Paris"' official represen- 
tative in France, and the Marquis wrote the Pretender a 

1 We remember being shown those relics when we interviewed Prince 
Napoleon at his flat in the Avenue Montaigne after the death of the Imperial 
Prince. There was also a travelling valise of Napoleon I.'s, Kleber's sword, 
the pistols carried by the Duke of Brunswick at Waterloo, and a singular 
massive silver shield brought to France from the Kremlin in 1812. 



316 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

vaguely-worded letter respecting a general officer who favoured 
the restoration of the monarchy — so vague a letter indeed, that 
the Count de Paris imagined at first that it must refer to M. de 
Galliffet. However, the present Duke Decazes (son of the 
former Foreign Minister) soon proceeded to London with full 
particulars. 

Those matters were not known, it would seem, to General 
Logerot, the new Minister of War, when he took office, but he 
was acquainted with Boulanger's various acts of indiscipline, 
being quite aware that he had lately made three journeys to 
Paris without leave. On two of those occasions he had been 
disguised. The Minister therefore addressed a report to Presi- 
dent Carnot, recommending that Boulanger should be removed 
from his command at Clermont-Ferrand, and placed on half 
pay. " Approved. The President of the Republic — Carnot " 
was appended to that report when it appeared in the Journal 
Officiel, to the consternation of Boulanger's supporters. He, 
carried away by anger, did not even wait to hand over his 
command to his successor, as he should have done, but hastened 
to Paris, where a Committee of Protest gathered around him. 
Among its members were several Republican Extremists, such 
as Laur, Laisant, Deroulede, Naquet, Rochefort, Mayer, and 
Le Herisse, and some disguised Royalists and Bonapartists, such 
as Dillon and Thiebaud. Some bye-elections were then pending 
in the Aisne (Mezieres), and the Bouches-du-Rhone (Marseilles), 
and it was resolved that the General's name should be submitted 
to those constituencies. Money was needed, however, and a 
member of the Committee exerted himself to find it. 

This was M. Arthur Meyer, 1 a pushing German Jew, at the 
head of the Royalist newspaper called Le Gaulois. On coming 
to Paris in Imperial times Meyer had first dabbled in theatrical 
journalism, and acted as "secretary 1 ' to a notorious opera bouffe 
actress known as Blanche d'Antigny. That secretaryship 
apparently qualified him for another, for he became secretary 
to the Imperial Plebiscitum Committee in the last year of the 
Empire, at which time he cultivated the patronage of such men 
as La Gueronniere, Janvier de la Motte, and Count Lagrange. 
After the war of 1870 he conspired, after a fashion, for the 
Bonapartist cause, contrived to win and afterwards lose a con- 

1 He should not be confounded with another of Boulanger's supporters, 
M. Mayer of the Lanterne. 



BOULANGER'S FIRST CANDIDATURE 317 

siderable sum of money at the Bourse, then, abandoning 
Imperialism for Royalism, became director of Le Gaulois, quitted 
it to establish the Musee Grevin — -the Mme. Tussaud's of Paris 
— and finally again acquired the control of Le Gaulois, which 
he now made far more Royalist than it had ever been in the 
days of its founder, Edmond Tarbe. 

Meyer had originally met Boulanger at a dinner given in 
Paris, it is said, by Sir Charles Rivers Wilson, long Finance 
Minister in Egypt, this occurring before the General openly 
opposed the constituted Government. Meyer, however, was a 
very shrewd man, and already foresaw certain possibilities. He 
spoke of them to Dillon, whom he also knew, and it was virtu- 
ally agreed between them that they should, as far as possible, 
" run " Boulanger in the interests of the Royalist cause. When 
it was decided, then, to make Boulanger a candidate for the 
Chamber, Meyer spoke to the Marquis de Beauvoir on the 
question of funds, but the Marquis had none by him, and the 
Count de Paris, moreover, had as yet given no instructions. 
The matter being urgent, it occurred to Meyer to approach the 
wealthy Duchess d'Uzes. This lady, ne'e de Mortemart, was the 
great-granddaughter of the renowned Veuve Clicquot, who 
amassed a colossal fortune by the sale of her champagne. 1 The 
Duchess listened favourably to Meyer's proposals, and made 
an immediate advance of iPlOOO to cover the expenses of 
Boulanger's candidature at the election in the Aisne. 

At this moment, however, most of the Radical deputies had 
rallied round the Government, for the programme put forward 
by Boulanger's Committee displeased them in several respects. 
The Administration being thus strengthened, Logerot called 
upon the General to explain the use which was being made of 
his name and to disavow it, and as only an equivocal reply was 

1 In old times the Dukes d'Uzes were premier Dukes of France. Mme. 
Clicquot's only daughter married the Count de Chevigne, and her daughter 
espoused Count Louis Samuel Victorien de Rochechouart de Mortemart, the 
issue of that marriage being Marie Adrienne Anne Victurnienne Clementine, 
who became the wife of Amable Antoine, Duke de Crussols and d'Uzes. He 
died leaving the Duchess with a son, now holder of the family titles, and 
two daughters, the Viscountesses d'Hunolstein and de Galard. We may add 
that the Rochechouarts de Mortemart were a very famous house of old 
France, but no family ever had a motto more likely to bring the claims of 
long descent into ridicule : 

Ere God had made the seas to roll 
Rochechouart bore waves upon his scroll. 



318 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

received from him the Minister resolved on more drastic action. 
Boulanger had been guilty of a breach of discipline in quitting 
his command before his successor's arrival, and of another in 
allowing himself to be made a candidate for the Legislature, for 
though he held no command, he still belonged to the Army, 
and by the Army Law he was ineligible as a candidate. To 
determine the position, the Minister convoked a Court of 
Inquiry of which General Fevrier was appointed President. 
Boulanger's Committee thereupon took alarm, and tried to with- 
draw the illegal candidatures. But matters had gone too far, 
and although Boulanger could not be lawfully elected, he headed 
the poll in the Aisne with 45,000 votes. At Marseilles he was 
less successful, the old Revolutionary, Felix Pyat, being returned 
there by a large majority. But the Court of Inquiry now met, 
and decided unanimously that Boulanger, by his serious infrac- 
tions of discipline, had rendered himself liable to be struck, as 
unworthy, off the Army List. The Government thought it 
politic to take a more lenient course. As the General's length 
of service already exceeded thirty years, he was compulsorily 
retired, thus retaining apparently his right to a pension (March 
27, 1888). 

One result of all this was to render him eligible as a deputy, 
of which circumstance his supporters eagerly availed themselves. 
He openly became the leader of a hybrid party, one formed of 
all sorts of antagonistic elements. Though we feel that he was 
really fighting for his own hand, he seemed to be playing a 
quadruple role. To the Royalists he promised the Restoration 
of the Monarchy, to the Imperialists a Plebiscitum, to the 
Patriots the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine, to the Republican 
Extremists a democratic Revision of the Constitution. All 
that sub rosd, of course. Publicly his programme was summed 
up in three points : Dissolution of the existing Legislature, 
revision of the Constitution, election of a Constituent Assembly. 
He would, indeed, have revived a regime akin to that of 1848, 
with one Chamber only, a President elected by the whole coun- 
try and independent of that Chamber — that is to say, disposing 
of the military, naval, and police forces, and all the public 
functionaries. 

Of the General's popularity in many directions there can be 
no doubt. During his administration at the War Office he 
had certainly done his utmost, and without arriere pernfe, we 



THE BOULANGIST MUSE 319 

think, to ensure all possible creature comforts to the troops. 
Thus the men were grateful to him. Among the officers 
many of the younger ones favoured his cause, eager as they 
were for a promotion which a war for the recovery of Alsace- 
Lorraine might bring them. But, fortunately perhaps for the 
Republic — and unlike Louis Napoleon prior to the Coup 
d'Etat — he had not a single general officer on his side. The 
thoughtless masses favoured him in many parts, for a virulent 
and unscrupulous press denounced what they called Republican 
corruption on all sides. Here and there, too, money was at 
work. Portraits, broadsheets, pamphlets, soon flooded the 
country. As for the songs in Boulanger's favour they were 
innumerable, and in France there is nothing like a good song 
to farther a man's popularity or a political cause. 

Curiously enough, according to M. Terrail-Mermeix's little 
book of revelations, Les Coulisses du Boulangisme, the first 
song which helped the Boulangist party, " En rev'nant de la 
revue' 1 (1886), was not expressly written with that object. 
Gamier and Delormel, the writers of the words, submitted 
three versions to Paulus, the vocalist who made the song so 
popular. In one of them appeared the lines : 



Another ran : 



Je venais acclamer 

Le brav' General Boulanger. 



Je venais acclamer 

Le brav' General Negrier. 



While a third contained this variation : 

Je venais admirer 

Le brav' Commandant Domine. 

Both Negrier and Domine were very popular at that time 
in connection with the Tonquin war, but Paulus remarked : " Oh, 
the first version will do. People are talking a good deal about 
General Boulanger. I will stick to him." He did, and the song 
not only proved a powerful factor in the diffusion of Boulangism, 
but its sales brought Paulus, Gamier and Delormel a net profit 
of ,£2000. At the time when it was still all the rage in Paris, 
we were amazed on visiting London to find that the air was 
very popular there also, but we presently discovered that it had 



320 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

been utilised for a song in honour of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 
a song containing two admirable lines — 

Then shout hooray 
For Jubilation Day, 

— which have ever since lingered in our memory. 

But apart from " En rev'nant de la revue " there were many 
other songs, good, bad, and indifferent, in honour of le 
brav 1 gtniral. There was one by Gabillaud with the popular 

refrain : 

C'est boulange, boulange, boulange, 
C'est Boulanger qu'il nous faut ! 

There was "Le General Revanche,'" "Francais, buvons a 
Boulanger, r> " Le voir et mourir," " Les Pioupious d'Auvergne," 
and the Boulangist "Marseillaise'' 1 — the last-named an extra- 
ordinary production, in which occurred such lines as : 

Entendez-vous les cimetieres 

Fremir au cri de Boulanger ? 
Ce sont nos peres et nos freres, 

Tous les martyrs qu'il faut venger ! 

Again there was " A bas Bismarck ! " with the refrain : 

Par tout le sang de la France entiere, 

Par le passe', par les morts a venger, 
Avec le Tsar, pour Dieu, France, pour la Patrie ! 

Mort aux Prussiens, et vive Boulanger ! 

But perhaps the best of all the Boulangist " lyrics " was 
Gabillaud's " II reviendra," the success of which at least equalled 
that of Paulus's original song : 

II reviendra 
Quand le tambour battra, 
Quand l'etranger menac'ra 

Notre frontiere ! 

II sera la, 
Et chacun le suivra, 
Pour cortege il aura 

La France entiere ! 

At the last stage, when Boulangism was declining and 
suspicion spreading, a satirical and sufficiently significant 
" note " was sounded, as witness this quotation from yet anothe 

song: 

Le boulanger de notre quartier, 
Est l'plun bel homm' du monde, 



THE BOULANGIST MUSE 321 

II a z'un oeil bleu singulier, 

Avec mi' barbe blonde. 
II doit gagner des milliers de francs, 

Et raeme davantage, 
Car des farceurs, depuis quequ' temps, 

Repet'nt sur son passage : 
Le boulanger a des ecus 

Qui ne lui coutent guere. 
D'ou viennent-ils ? D'ou viennent-ils ? 

Via le mystere ! 

Of course those allusions to the source whence the General 
derived his means would have been regarded by patriots as 
rank trahison at the time when it seemed possible that he 
would become master of France. His chances were favoured by 
a curious circumstance. Although sincere Radical Republicans 
began to fear his ambition — even Clemenceau, his old school 
chum at Rennes, at last drawing away from him, as he ought 
to have done much sooner — they adhered to one principle > 
which he enunciated in his own programme, that of the %j 
revision of the Constitution. They did not appear to realise that 
safety for the Republic resided in the maintenance of the 
existing order of things, at least for the time being. They 
feared, apparently, that if the opportunity for revision were 
allowed to slip it might not occur again for many years. 
Floquet, who was then President of the Chamber, expressed 
that view, holding, moreover, that revision if properly effected 
would pacify the country and check the Caesarian tendencies 
which Boulangism was assuming. Tirard's Ministry was of 
a different opinion, and Floquet, desirous of supplanting it 
and of showing people how things "ought to be done, ,, 
coquetted with the extreme Left of the Chamber in order to 
provoke Tirard's overthrow. He feared, however, that his 
appointment as Prime Minister might be regarded very 
adversely in Russia, with which power Frenchmen generally, 
in view of the possibility of another war with the Germans, 
wished to remain on the best of terms ; and accordingly, as his 
position brought him now and then in contact with the Corps 
diplomatique, Floquet sounded Baron Mohrenheim, the Russian 
ambassador, respecting the reception which his assumption of 
the Premiership might meet in Russian official circles. For 
this there was an important reason. In 1867 when Alexander II. 
of Russia visited Paris, Floquet, then only a briefless barrister, 

Y 



322 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

had shouted " Long live Poland ! " in his face, while he was 
ascending the steps of the Palais de Justice. The incident 
had caused great unpleasantness at the time, notably by reason 
of the attempt which Berezowski, a Pole, made on the Czar's 
life in the Bois de Boulogne, and it had never been forgotten 
in the Russian official world. Now, however, Floquet offered 
the amende honorable to Alexander's son and successor, and in 
return Baron Mohrenheim was good enough to reassure him 
respecting the reception which Russia would give to a ministry 
formed under his auspices. 

The path having thus been cleared, the Radicals advanced 
to the assault of Tirard's Administration by supporting a 
revisionist proposal which emanated from a Boulangist deputy. 
Camille Pelletan and Andrieux spoke in its favour, and 
finally came the inevitable Clemenceau, who although no longer 
associating with Boulanger nevertheless played his game. In 
the result Tirard only obtained a minority of votes and had 
to resign office (March 30, 1888). Once again then, Clemenceau's 
^<Ccrazy destructiveness prevailed. He had overthrown Gambetta, 
Jules Ferry, and others, now he also overthrew Tirard, and in 
doing so he almost placed France at the mercy of Boulanger, 
for the Floquet Ministry which came into office proved one of 
the very weakest the Republic had known. And Clemenceau 
reaped no personal advantage from his folly. He wished to 
become President of the Chamber, but this was denied him, 
Meline being elected in his stead. 

Floquet was now both Premier and Minister of the Interior, 
Goblet took charge of Foreign Affairs, Peytral of Finance, 
Lockroy of Education, Legrand of Commerce and Industry, 
and Fernouillat of Justice and Worship. Admiral Krantz 
retained office as Minister of Marine, and Logerot was replaced 
at the War Office by Freycinet — a very great mistake, for all 
the general officers were opposed to Boulanger, and resented the 
exclusion of one of their profession and rank from the chief 
military post, as it cast suspicion upon their loyalty to the 
Republic. In fact nothing was better calculated to throw one 
or another malcontent general into Boulanger's arms. 

It was now that Boulangism blossomed forth in all its 
beauty. On April 8 the General was returned at a bye-election 
in the Dordogne with Bonapartist support, polling also 
numerous votes in the Aisne and the Aude. However, he 






BOULANGEITS APOGEE 323 

declined the Dordogne 1 s mandate on the plea that he had 
given an earlier promise to the electors of the Nord. The 
truth was that he and his partisans were working a virtual 
Plebiscitum in his favour, the plan being that his name should 
be submitted to the electors as often and in as many con- 
stituencies as possible. In that way not only would he and his 
lieutenants ascertain how far he was supported, but repeated 
successes at the polls would determine an even greater move- 
ment in his favour. 

Such a campaign could not be prosecuted without money. 
The earliest supplies, apart from the Duchess d^zes 1 advance 
of c^lOOO for the Aisne election, came from private partisans 
who spontaneously sent the General banknotes, drafts, and 
money-orders to such an extent that he in this way finally 
obtained over i?10,000. Moreover, a Paris publisher named 
Rouff paid him i?4000 for the privilege of putting his name on 
a popular patriotic work called L 1 Invasion Allemande, not a 
line of which he actually wrote. His private means were 
modest. He was worth less than ^3000 when his political 
campaign was really started, and the earlier gifts he received 
from private supporters were small. The Count de Paris, 
however, was desirous of helping him, and according to the 
Marquis de Beauvoir, than whom there could be no better 
authority, the Pretender spontaneously offered an allowance of 
,£2200 a month. Of that amount the General took ^400 
for his personal use, £600 being devoted to the current 
expenses of his campaign, and ^1200 employed in " sub- 
sidising " journalists. There was still nothing, however, for 
" working " the constituencies, and Boulanger himself declared 
that three million francs (^120,000) were needed. How could 
so large a sum be obtained ? Arthur Meyer again appealed to 
the Duchess d'Uzes, whose first idea was to form a fund to 
which several persons would contribute. She thought that 
some of the Count de Paris'' relatives ought to subscribe to it, 
and wrote to that effect to his brother, the Duke de Chartres. 
He, however, like the Duke d'Aumale, detested Boulanger (who 
had struck both their names off the army list), and declined to 
contribute a sou, even although there was the prospect of being 
able to return to France directly the General should acquire 
the ascendancy. The authorisation for the Duke d'Aumale's 
return given at a later period, was, of course, partly due to his 



324 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



promised bequest of Chantilly to the French Academy, but it 
was also suggested by important political considerations. As 
his detestation of Boulanger was notorious, and he exercised 
great influence among military men and Conservatives generally, 
Carnot and his ministers felt that an authorisation for his 
return would be a most politic move. 

But to return to the Duchess d'Uzes, she, being possessed 
of great wealth and desirous of contributing to the restoration 
of the Monarchy, answered the refusals of the Duke de 
Chartres by supplying the money which the Boulangists needed 
out of her own purse — that is to say, she tendered £1 20,000 to 
the Count de Paris, who was at first unwilling to accept so 
large a sum. But the Duchess would take no denial, and the 
money was entrusted to a committee of five members, the 
Marquis de Beauvoir, the Marquis de Breteuil, Count Albert 
de Mun, M. de Marti mprey, and Arthur Meyer, to be expended 
in accordance with the requirements of the Boulangist cause. 
In later years a legend sprang up that the money had not 
really been given by the Duchess d'Uzes herself, but by the 
famous Jewish financier, Baron Hirsch, but that assertion was 
surely inspired by anti-Semitism. There were, of course, several 
Jews among Boulanger's entourage, but they were men like 
Mayer and Meyer who had apostatised for their private ends ; 
and, curiously enough, Boulanger, desirous of pleasing every- 
body in turn, occasionally posed as an anti-Semite, saying; 
"One of the first things we shall have to do will be to rid 
France of the Jews ! " In those days, be it added, anti - 
/semitism — destined to reach its apogee at the time of the 
/ Dreyfus case — was already rampant in several directions, for 
]5)douard Drumont's notorious book, La France Juive, had been 
published in 1886. 

Of the money supplied by the Duchess d'Uzes, 1 only a 
bagatelle was spent on the Dordogne election, but at the 
ensuing contest in the Nord (April 15, 1888) the outlay was 
£1 0,000, expended in flooding the constituency with 
pamphlets, portraits, placards, and paid orators, and in 
favouring influential electors. In the result, Boulanger polled 
172,500 votes, or 87,500 more than the moderate Republican 

1 In return for this assistance the Boulangist Committee guaranteed that 
whenever there was an "official" Royalist candidate at an election, he should 
not be opposed either by the General or by any Republican Boidangist. 



BOULANGER'S APOGEE 325 

and Radical candidates who opposed him. The impression 
throughout France was tremendous. Jules Ferry raised a cry 
of alarm, and realising that Republican concentration was 
more necessary than ever, offered to give the Government all 
the help he could. But Floquet, a second or possibly third-rate 
man, often foolish and always vainglorious, declined the 
overture. He could do without the help of " Famine " and 
" Tonquin " Ferry ; and whereas the latter declared any 
revision of the Constitution to be extremely dangerous, he 
merely adjourned that matter for a short time. 

The Boulangist faction was now directed by a permanent 
committee, which met almost daily at its headquarters in the 
Rue de Seze, near the Madeleine. The party was skilfully 
organised throughout France, it had its local agents in every 
department, its travelling agents who hastened hither and 
thither at a moment's notice, and it must be said that, in 
addition to many paid servants, there were others who worked 
quite gratuitously and yet most zealously on its behalf. Let us 
not be too severe on them. Their devotion was sincere even 
though it were an aberration of patriotism. In many instances 
the divisions among Republicans, the supineness of certain 
ministers and deputies, the charges of corruption which were so 
often current, the shame of the decorations affair, the difficult, 
almost dangerous, financial situation of the country, with its 
chronic budgetary deficit ever since the collapse of the Union 
Generale in 1882, the long-precarious position and ultimate 
bankruptcy of the Panama Canal Company, 1 the scandalous 
collapse of the Comptoir d'Escompte, which was only saved from 
ruin by State intervention, followed by the Credit Foncier's 
troubles — many thousands of people being interested in those 
institutions — all such matters angered or disgusted many 
Frenchmen, and, even as in Louis Philippe's time, the faults 
of individuals were imputed to the regime itself. 

Away with the Parliamentary Republic since it brought 
turpitude, ruin, and disgrace in its train ! Away, too, with the 
men who scattered or wasted the country's resources, military 
as well as financial ! Those who desired la Revanche and the 
reconquest of Alsace-Lorraine were perhaps the most zealous 
of the great mass of Boulanger's supporters. In one way or 
another, then, the movement was largely one of misdirected 
1 We shall deal with the Panama affair in our next chapter. 



326 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

patriotism. Thousands who knew nothing of what was 
occurring behind the scenes, looked to Boulanger as to a man 
who would restore the national life to a state of cleanliness, 
prosperity, and dignity ; a man also, who would heal France of 
the wound from which she had been bleeding ever since 1870, 
and make her whole again. All those confiding, simple-minded, 
honest folk knew nothing of the General's real character, or took 
account of the many ambitions gravitating around him, the 
cortege of anxious pretenders and needy or aspiring adventurers, 
each of whom desired to make the popular hero his tool. 

Thus the progress of " the cause " continued. Even as the 
lily and the violet were the emblems of the orthodox Royalists 
and Bonapartists, so now the red carnation flaunted its 
sanguineous hue and shed its spicy perfume through the 
Boulangist ranks. When the real flower was not to be 
obtained, an artificial one decorated each stalwart's buttonhole. 
The party's motto was virtually that of the League of Patriots, 
so largely recruited from its midst : " Who goes there ? 
France ! " And its chief — quitting the Hotel du Louvre, 
which had been his bivouac ever since his return to Paris from 
Clermont-Ferrand — was now installed in a handsomely 
appointed house of the Rue Dumont d'Urville, nigh to the 
proud arch which commemorated the glory of the Grande 
Armee, under which it was hoped he would before long ride in 
triumph, avenging that desecrating march of the victorious 
German legions in March 1871, which was yet so well 
remembered in Paris. Meantime, surrounded by secretaries, 
lacqueys, and parasites, he was leading an easy life, free to 
indulge his somewhat expensive tastes. He went into society, 
dined at the Hotel d'Uzes, in the Rue de la Chaise, Faubourg 
St. Germain, where he met a good many members of the 
authentic Royalist noblesse, whom the Duchess virtually 
compelled to attend those repasts or the receptions which 
followed them ; and he was also to be met at the soire'es given 
in the Rue Fortuny by Dugue de la Fauconnerie, an ex- 
Bonapartist who now professed to be a moderate Republican, 
though his salons were often frequented by genuine adherents 
of Prince Victor Napoleon. Thus Boulanger found himself 
alternately in royalist and imperialist circles. 

However, when the Chamber of Deputies met, he took his 
seat as a deputy for the Nord, and on June 4 he called upon 



BOULANGEITS APOGEE 327 

his colleagues to declare that the Revision of the Constitution 
had become a matter of urgency. This motion, however, was 
promptly rejected by 377 to 186 votes. Then a few weeks 
were spent in prosecuting the campaign in various parts of the 
country, the Count de Paris likewise evincing activity at this 
time — despatching circulars to the provincial mayors, and 
placarding towns and villages with a manifesto in which he 
declared himself a partisan of communal self-government. 
The Church also was bestirring itself, demanding guarantees of 
Boulanger in return for its support ; and one of its new organs, 
La Croix, founded by the Assumptionist Fathers, who with 
the help of the alleged miracles of Lourdes were raking 
in money from the faithful, printed a declaration from him 
stating that he would never tolerate any kind of religious 
persecution. 

On July 12 he submitted to the Chamber a motion for its 
dissolution. There was an angry debate, Floquet, the Prime 
Minister, speaking of Boulanger as one who had passed from the 
sacristies of the priests to the antechambers of Royalty, while 
Boulanger retorted that Floquet was an ill-bred usher (pion) 
and a liar. Then he theatrically resigned his seat. A duel 
ensued between the Premier and the General, and to show how 
times were changing, it may be mentioned, that two of the 
latter's former Radical friends, Clemenceau himself and Georges 
Perin, acted as Floquefs seconds. The duel was fought with 
swords, and, strange as it may seem, Floquet, a lawyer by 
profession, proved to be far more expert in the science of fence 
than his military adversary. Boulanger, indeed, knew little or 
nothing of it. He rushed on Floquet with senseless impetuosity, 
and succeeded in slightly wounding him, but in return he 
himself was wounded severely in the neck. 

His friends sent word of what had happened to his wife, 
then resident in the Rue de Satory at Versailles. She was a 
lady of high character but of rigid and perhaps somewhat 
gloomy piety. Two daughters had been born of the marriage, 
but for ten years past it had been one in name only. Husband 
and wife did not live together, and had only been seen in 
company on a few official occasions while the General was 
Minister of War. For some time past he had desired to regain 
his freedom — that is temporarily, for he wished to contract 
another marriage — but, according to one account, Mine. 



328 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Boulanger, with her strict Catholic principles, refused to be a 
party to any ordinary divorce proceedings. An attempt was 
therefore being made to prevail on the Pope to dissolve the 
union. When Mme. Boulanger heard that her husband had 
been wounded she refused to go to him, saying that she was 
sure he did not want her, but as a matter of duty she would 
willingly send him her doctor. 

She was, no doubt, well aware of his liaison with Mme. de 
Bonnemains, which appears to have originated in or about 

1886, and it has been suggested that her opposition to a divorce, 
or even an ecclesiastical dissolution of her marriage, was 
inspired less by any religious feelings than by a determination 
to prevent her husband from marrying his mistress. As will 
presently appear there are indications that such was the case. 
When Mme. Boulanger refused to nurse the General it was his 
mistress who did so. Marguerite Crouzet — Spouse divorcee de 
Bonnemains, to employ French legal parlance — was born on 
December 19, 1855, and was now (1888) in her thirty-third 
year, her lover Boulanger being fifty-one. Her beauty was 
that of " a fine woman." With the eyes of a Juno, she had 
full lips, a somewhat large and prominent nose, and a bust 
which would have appealed to Rubens. She belonged to a 
good bonrgeoise family possessed of ample means. One of her 
uncles was a notary with an extensive practice. Somewhat 
extravagantly inclined, she seems to have been living at this 
time not on her income but her capital, at the rate of about 
<i?3000 a year, some i?500 of which were paid for the rent and 
taxes of her residence in the Rue de Berri. We doubt if she 
were ever legally "Viscountess" de Bonnemains (though she 
was often thus designated), for her father-in-law, the General 
Viscount de Bonnemains, appears to have been still alive in 

1887, at which date she had been divorced from her husband, 
who, in his father's time, only claimed the rank of Baron. 1 
It is quite certain that she became extremely attached to 
Boulanger, and that he loved her with all the passion of a man 
in his prime. His supporters subsequently declared that she 

1 We have previously alluded to the Bonnemains family. See ante, p. 
298. We find that Charles Frederic, Viscount de Bonnemains, General of 
Division and Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, resided, in or about 1887, 
at 38 Chauss^e d'Antin, Paris, and at the chateau de Nozay, Cher. His son, 
Baron de Bonnemains, was living in the Rue de la Peyrouse ; and the latter 's 
divorced wife in the Rue de Berri (No. 39) a 



MADAME DE BONNEMAINS 329 

had exercised a most deleterious influence over him, ever 
deterring him from taking the decisive steps which might have 
made him master of France. It at least seems certain that the 
attachment rendered him very irresolute during the latter 
stages of the movement, and that in the end he quite sacrificed 
his so-called " cause " to his love. 

While he was recovering from his wound there came a bye- 
election for the Ardeche at which he was a candidate. The 
party was so confident of success that only some i?2000 were 
spent on this occasion, with the result that Boulanger was 
defeated by 15,000 votes. This elated the Republicans, who 
immediately declared that the movement had spent its force 
and was subsiding. But on August 19 there were bye-elections 
for the Nord, the Sorame and the Charente Inferieure, the 
General being a candidate in all three departments. And all 
three elected him, the first by 142,000, the second by 57,000, 
and the third by 76,000 votes. Once more, then, the Re- 
publicans were plunged in consternation. It is true that 
this triple victory was a costly one. The Boulanger Election 
Fund spent £6800 in the Nord, £9400 in the Charente 
Inferieure, and £10,800 in the Sorame- that is ,£27,000 
altogether! It was evident that even the princely war- 
chest provided by the Duchess d'Uzes would, at that rate, be 
speedily exhausted. 

A few weeks later, the man of the moment suddenly 
disappeared. It was stated, truly enough, that he had gone on 
a voyage de convalescence. But where was he ? The newspapers 
were full of surmises and erroneous reports on the subject, even 
as they were in those later days when Emile Zola disappeared 
from France, and we contrived with the help of an astute legal 
friend to hide him away in England. Boulanger, however, had 
not come to our shores. While some were seeking him here, 
others in Holland, and others in Switzerland, he was quietly 
staying at Tangiers in the company of Mme. de Bonnemains. 
When he returned to France at the end of October, his elder 
daughter, Mile. Marcelle Boulanger, was married to Captain 
Driant, who had formerly been his orderly officer. The 
General attended the ceremony at St. Pierre de Chaillot 
(October 31, 1888) in full uniform. Mme. Boulanger was also 
present. So was the Duchess d'Uzes, and so, too, was Mme. 
de Bonnemains, the last named gorgeous in blue velvet, trimmed 



330 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

with blue fox. At this period the Vatican had intimated that 
the General's own marriage could not be ecclesiastically dissolved, 
and he now adopted the more prosaic course of suing for an 
ordinary divorce. The application was based on the fact that 
his wife had long lived apart from him. In accordance with 
the usual French practice both parties were summoned to appear 
before a judge, sitting privately, in order that he might 
attempt to reconcile them before finally authorising the suit. 
But at his first words, so the story runs, Boulanger interrupted 
him, saying : " It is useless, there can be no reconciliation, for 
Madame refuses to return to the conjugal domicile.'" " Indeed I 
do not, Monsieur," Mme. Boulanger retorted. " Give me your 
arm, and let us go home." That was a woman's wit — some 
might perhaps say, spite — the truth being apparently that 
Mme. Boulanger was prepared to adopt any tactics in order to 
prevent her husband from marrying his mistress. Of course 
they did not go home together, but the General found himself 
foiled, and the divorce proceedings were dropped. 

There was no little turmoil in France towards the end of 
the year. The Boulangist demonstrations became more frequent 
and more aggressive. Floquet, the Prime Minister, still wished 
to effect some Revision of the Constitution, holding that by 
doing so he would deprive the General's party of a weapon on 
which they greatly relied. Nevertheless, late in 1888, he 
agreed to adjourn action until circumstances might be more 
favourable, and obtained in that respect a vote of confidence 
from the Chamber. About this time one of the Paris deputies, 
an obscure individual named Hude, died, and it became 
necessary to replace him. Boulanger was naturally made a 
candidate, while the Republican party adopted as its nominee 
a member of the city's Municipal Council, a worthy but little 
known individual, M. Jacques. At the same time the Socialists, 
who were now beginning to raise their heads, decided to run 
a candidate of their own named Boule. Still this did not 
influence the issue. Great efforts were put forward on both 
sides, though the Republicans spent nothing like the money 
which the Boulangists lavished in promoting the Genera Ps 
candidature in one or another way. Indeed their outlay 
amounted to no less than .£18,000. The ballot took place 
on January 27, 1889, and Boulanger headed the poll with 
244,000 votes, or a majority of 82,000 over Jacques, who 






BOULANGEITS APOGEE 331 

polled 162,000— Boule following with 17,000 only, and some 
12,000 bulletins being declared "spoilt." 1 

Intense was the excitement that night in Paris. Boulanger 
and his intimates assembled at the Cafe Durand, near the 
Madeleine, their usual meeting-place, and many people imagined 
that, in presence of this crowning success, the General would 
march without hesitation on the Elysee Palace. The police 
regarded him with favour, the picked soldiers of the Garde 
Republicaine made no secret of their sympathy, and certainly 
no more favourable opportunity of success was ever offered him. 
But he made no attempt whatever, being, it seemed, amply 
satisfied with the votes he had secured that day. His inaction 
has been accounted for in various ways. According to some 
writers he lacked the moral courage necessary to attempt a 
Coup d'Etat; according to others he was held in check by 
the thought that should he fail and be arrested or shot — 
it mattered little which — he would for ever lose Mme. de 
Bonnemains, and according to others, he was resolved, before 
taking any decisive action, to await the result of the general 
elections which must come some months later. There is, how- 
ever, yet another explanation, namely that in his agreements 
with the Count de Paris and the Duchess d'Uzes he had 
promised to make no attempt to restore the monarchy by 
violent means. The Count de Paris was impressed by the fact 
that every regime established by force in France during the 
previous hundred years had lasted but a short time and come 
to a violent end. The first Republic, founded by a sanguinary 
Revolution, had been swept away by Napoleon, who in his turn 
was hurled down by force. The Bourbons, brought back by 
foreign bayonets, had been overthrown by a tumultuous popular 
rising. The Orleans Monarchy, born amid that convulsion, 
had perished in another — one that had given birth to the 
Second Republic, which was destined to be throttled in the 
night by the restorer of the Empire. And his sway, like his 
uncle's, had collapsed amid the disasters of a foreign invasion. 
To build up the monarchy afresh by forcible means would, 
then, fate it to destruction. To ensure its continuance it must 
be established in a peaceful and lawful manner. It followed, 
therefore, that although the Count de Paris was anxious to 

1 The General had the support of all Royalist and Bonapartist electors 
as well as of the Revisionist Radicals and the so-called Patriotic Party. 



332 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

avail himself of Boulanger's influence he did not desire to see 
himself set on the throne by the mere power of the sword ; and 
we have been told that this is why the General never attempted 
any Coup d^tat. 

We doubt, however, whether he could have restored the 
monarchy by that means or any other. At one moment the 
majority of the country might certainly have accepted him 
as dictator, but at any attempt to enthrone either Bourbon 
or Bonaparte serious conflict would have arisen among his 
heterogeneous army of followers. The Republican form of 
government, whatever its faults, still remained that which 
divided Frenchmen the least. And this they ended by realising, 
rallying to its support, and beating back the attempts against 
it with all the more zeal when they discovered that, whatever 
dishonesty might have lurked here and there among their 
rulers and law-givers, it was as nothing compared with that 
of the corrupt gang which, under such pleas as patriotism 
and public probity, aspired to become their masters. 

After the Paris election the Floquet Cabinet, hitherto all 
laissez dire and laissez faire, awoke to some consciousness of its 
responsibility. It was evident that the electoral successes of 
Boulanger and his adherents were largely due to the list-voting 
system, rightly rejected in Gambetta's time, and foolishly 
adopted in 1885. If it were maintained, the next General 
Elections might become a Boulangist Plebiscitum. The Govern- 
ment therefore brought forward a bill for the revival of the 
scrutin iminominal, as in the Republic's earlier days 1 ; and 
after a very sharp fight the Chamber passed this bill by a 
small majority (February 12, 1889). 2 Floquet, however, was 
not to be won from his idea of pacifying the country by 
means of Constitutional Revision. He submitted his scheme on 
February 14, and was met by a motion for adjournment. The 
Conservatives, the Boulangists, and the moderate Republicans 
(that is the Government's usual supporters), coalesced on this 
occasion, the former because they feared their interests would 
suffer if Floquet's particular plans were adopted, and the last 
named being steadily opposed to any revision at all. In the 
result, as the Ministry declined to adjourn the question, it 

1 See ante, pp. 193, 243, 244, 261. 

a In the summer came a complementary law rendering it illegal for any- 
body to be a candidate in more than one constituency on any occasion that 
might arise. 



FALL OF FLOQUET 333 

was overthrown. The previous Administration, it may be 
remembered, had been compelled to resign precisely because 
adjournment had been its policy. 

At this juncture Waldeck- Rousseau, emerging from his 
semi-retirement, proposed that a ministere de combat should 
be formed to fight both the Boulangists and the Radical 
Revisionists. But Carnot, who deemed this too bold a course, 
requested Meline to form a cabinet de conciliation, and on 
Meline failing to do so, Tirard returned to office, this time 
again with some very able men. Freycinet was maintained at 
the War Ministry ; Rouvier took Finances ; Thevenet, Justice ; 
Faye, Agriculture ; and Fallieres, Education and Worship. 
Rear-Admiral Jaures became Minister of Marine and the 
Colonies; 1 Spuller, so long Gambetta's able coadjutor and 
devoted friend, was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, and 
Yves Guyot assumed the direction of Public Works. 2 But the 
most important nomination was that of Constans as Minister of 
the Interior, a post he had already filled under Freycinet and 

1 Constant Louis Benjamin Jaures, born in Paris in 1823, and an uncle of 
Jean Jaures, now so well known as one of the leaders of the French Socialists, 
had seen much service at sea when in 1870-71 he became commander of the 
21st Army Corps, belonging to Chanzy's forces. Under the Republic, besides 
commanding the escadre devolutions, Admiral Jaures had acted as ambassador 
at Madrid and St. Petersburg. He died not long after entering Tirard's 
Cabinet, his post then being taken by Admiral Krantz. 

2 M. Yves Guyot, so well known in England of recent years, was born at 
Dinan in Brittany in 1843. At the age of one-and-twenty he came to Paris with 
a scheme for a navigable balloon, which seems to have been unsuccessful. 
He next turned to politics, edited a newspaper in the South of France, and 
eventually became a contributor to Le Rappel, founded by Victor Hugo and 
his friends. Later, M. Guyot established Le Radical. He served for some 
years as a Paris Municipal Councillor, exposed, as a journalist, many abuses 
prevalent in the Police Service, and was first elected to the Chamber in 1880. 
Appointed Minister of Public Works in 1889 he retained that post for nearly 
four years. In 1893, however, he failed to secure a seat in the Chamber, 
and thereupon devoted most of his attention to economic questions, becoming 
probably the foremost champion of Free Trade in France. At the time of 
the Dreyfus case he was director of Le Siecle, and ably supported the cause 
of justice. During the Boer War he was virtually the only journalist in 
France who took the British side and accurately predicted the issue of the 
struggle. A very active as well as able man, M. Guyot has travelled ex- 
tensively, and produced numerous works on economical and political subjects. 
One may particularly mention the admirable Dictionnaire du Commerce, de 
V Industrie et de la Banqm, which he edited in conjunction with M. Raifalo- 
vitch. M. Guyot was a close friend of Emile Zola, and the writer has long 
had the advantage of his acquaintance. 



334 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Ferry in 1880-81, when, with unhesitating vigour he had 
enforced the decrees against the religious orders. His return 
to office presaged, therefore, the energetic suppression of all 
factious proceedings. Born at Beziers in 1833 and the son of 
a Registrar of Mortgages, Jean Antoine Ernest Constans first 
became an advocate and then a professor of law at Douai, 
Dijon, and Toulouse. He entered the Legislature in 1876 as 
a deputy for the Haute Garonne, and after serving, as we have 
mentioned, under Freycinet and Ferry, he was sent on a mission 
to Pekin, and in 1886 became Governor of the French Indo- 
Chinese possessions. Now that he was again a Minister the 
Boulangists speedily discovered that the impunity they had 
enjoyed under the weak but pompous Floquet was quite a thing 
of the past. 

At this time an armed band of Russian adventurers, led by 
a man named Atchinoff, and bent on intriguing in Abyssinia 
under the pretext of introducing the Greek religion into that 
country, contrived to land at Sagallo, on the coast of the 
French territory of Djibouti, and when summoned to withdraw 
refused to do so. The French thereupon fired on them and 
killed six of their number. Communications passed between the 
Russian and French Governments, the former altogether dis- 
avowing Atchinoff and his expedition, and the latter expressing 
its regret at the fatal issue of the affair. There the matter 
ended as regards the two powers. But the Boulangist League 
of Patriots availed itself of the affair to make a violent, 
unpatriotic attack on the Republican Government. It paid 
a heavy penalty for that impulsive rashness, for Constans 
peremptorily dissolved it (February 28, 1889). The Boulangists 
should have given more heed to the warning than they did. 1 
Only one of them was really alarmed at the new situation 
which had arisen, and that was Boulanger himself. He now 
found himself much more closely shadowed by detectives than 
in Floquet's time, and rumours that his actual arrest was 
intended reached him, finally unnerving him or his mistress to 
such a point that, either of his own accord or at her solicitation 
(the point is one which only an answer from the grave could 
elucidate), he suddenly fled with her to Brussels, where, assuming 

1 There was another significant occurrence a week later : The decree of 
exile against the Duke d'Auraale was annulled, and on March 12 he w« 
received by President Carnot at the Elys^e. 



BOULANGEITS DOWNFALL 335 

the name of Bruno, he put up at the Hotel Mengelle. For 
several hours his chief acolytes were in dismay. They felt that 
his flight might ruin everything. Besides, they deemed his 
presence in Paris to be the more essential as a great scandal 
had just arisen in connection with the Comptoir d'Escompte, 
and the Panama Canal Company had suspended its payments — 
all this causing much perturbation in financial and commercial 
circles, and affording the party the best of opportunities for 
renewing its attacks on the existing regime's corruption. How- 
ever, at the first news of Boulanger's flight, Count Dillon had 
followed him to Brussels, whence, despite Mme. de Bonnemains"' 
tears and entreaties, he at once brought him back to Paris 
(March 14), the escapade remaining unknown both to the 
Government and to the public at large. At this juncture, 
being temporarily freed from petticoat influence and inspired 
by his friends, the General again showed some energy. On 
March 17 he made a speech at Tours, in which he called upon 
the Catholic Church and the faithful to rally round him, while 
on the 19th he issued a manifesto against the greedy, devouring 
" pack of Parliamentarians."" 

But there was justification for his earlier alarm. The new 
Government had quite determined to arrest him. Certain facts 
had become known to it, and inquiries respecting others were 
progressing. Constans was rendered the more eager for action 
by an impudent interpellation of the Boulangist deputy, 
Laguerre, who, in dealing with some of the current financial 
scandals, suggested that the Minister had taken bribes and 
secret commissions from a certain source. " All I ever received 
from that source," replied Constans, "was the present of a 
Lyons sausage, which I ate." That naturally set the Chamber 
laughing, but the Minister was indignant at having such 
charges brought against him. At last, however, all was ready 
for Boulanger's arrest, and M. Loze, the Prefect of Police, was 
summoned to the Ministry of the Interior (where some of the 
chief members of the Cabinet were assembled) to receive instruc- 
tions. They were no sooner given him, however, than he began 
to object because he feared a rising in Paris, and was not certain 
of the fidelity of his officers. After listening to him for a few 
minutes, Constans suddenly exclaimed : " Very well, if you fear 
to carry out your instructions, resign your post. Here are pen, 
ink, and paper. We were prepared for this contingency, and 



336 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

we know whom to put in your place." The Minister's energy 
disconcerted the Prefect, who protested that he was not wanting 
in courage, but had merely wished to point out what serious 
eventualities might arise. He was quite willing to obey his 
orders, he added, and he went off to make his preparations. 1 

He was certainly right in doubting the fidelity of some of 
his subordinates, for Boulanger, Dillon, and Rochefort heard of 
what was brewing, and whoever their exact informants may 
have been — Rochefort has declared that in his own case it was 
Countess de Bari, wife of the brother of Francis II. of Naples — 
the information must have first emanated from a police official. 
The Government really wished to arrest the General, and not, 
as often asserted, merely to frighten him into leaving France, 
though, after all, it was perhaps as well that he took that 
course. On quitting his house in the Rue Dumont d'Urville 
on the evening of April 1, he was perceived and followed to the 
Northern Railway Station by a detective named Godefroy, who, 
after seeing him start for Brussels, repaired to the Prefecture of 
Police to inform his superiors. The Prefect was absent, how- 
ever — at the Grand Opera with his daughters, so it was ultimately 
ascertained — and in his absence no action was taken, presumably 
because the subordinate functionaries thought it best to allow 
the General to escape. 

He stayed at the Hotel Mengelle at Brussels for some three 
weeks. Mine, de Bonnemains was with him, Dillon and 
Rochefort — for whose arrest, also, warrants had been issued — 
followed. Then came other members of the Permanent Com- 
mittee, and deputations galore, everybody being so hospitably 
treated that at the end of the first fortnight the General's bill 
amounted to i?880. Such was the number of adherents who 
flocked round him and so fervid were their demonstrations that 
M. Bernaert, the Belgian Premier, sent word that it would be 
best for him and his friends, in their own interests, to transfer 
their headquarters to another country. The hint was taken, 
and on April 24 Boulanger arrived in London with his supporters 
Dillon and Naquet, many others following them. When 
Boulanger alighted from the train at Charing Cross he was 
accorded a kind of public reception, among those who greeted 

1 We have told the story as it was related to us several years ago by one 
of the Ministers present on the occasion. Since those days the Prefect has 
risen, like M. Constans himself, to a high position in the French diplomatic 
service. 






BOULANGER'S DOWNFALL 337 

him being several portly dames of the quartier frangais, whom 
he chastely embraced. For a short time he was patronised by 
that excellent lady the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, who, unfortun- 
ately, would seem to have been very badly advised in the matter. 
She invited a number of notabilities to meet the General at 
dinner in Stratton Street, but the impression he produced was 
by no means favourable, and on the irregularity of his private 
life becoming known (as it should have been at the outset, con- 
sidering the number of people who were acquainted with it in 
Paris) English society dropped him as suddenly as it had taken 
him up. 

A house had been rented for him in Portland Place, and 
together with a host of English newspaper reporters, all the 
Boulangist tag, rag, and bobtail flocked to his receptions there. 
A visit we paid one Sunday filled us with much amusement. 
After filing past the General in the drawing-room, where all 
the men desired to shake hands with him, while the women, 
including some strange Leicester Square characters, were eager 
to exchange a kiss, we were prompted by a sound of revelry on 
high to explore the other parts of the house ; and we then 
found most of the bedrooms occupied by individuals who, after 
paying their respects to the General, had felt desirous of drink- 
ing his health as often and as copiously as possible. It so 
happened that the enterprising agent of some French wine- 
shippers had forwarded a large supply of champagne, claret, 
burgundy, and cognac; and the Boulangist stalwarts having 
procured a number of bottles of wine or spirits had retired 
with them to the seclusion of the bedrooms, where they sprawled 
on the beds and the floors, smoking and toasting the hero who 
was so gallantly kissing the ladies downstairs. 

Meantime legal proceedings against him, and also against 
Dillon and Rochefort, were pending in Paris. The Government 
was opposed, however, by Bouchez, the Procureur general, who 
favoured the Boulangist cause, and it became necessary to 
replace him by Quesnay de Beaurepaire. The investigation of 
the affair lasted three months, and when the indictment drafted 
by Beaurepaire became known, it was found to resemble a 
novelette, which was not perhaps so very surprising, as, under 
the pseudonym of Jules de Glouvet, M. le Procureur had pre- 
viously issued three or four works of fiction. The charges, 
however, were serious enough, for they included both conspiracy 

z 



338 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

against the safety of the State, and misappropriation of public 
money, the General being accused of employing, both while 
Director of Infantry and Minister of War, some of the Secret 
Service Fund of his department for the purpose of making him- 
self popular among the troops. In connection with the charge 
of conspiracy there was particular mention of his secret visit to 
Prince Napoleon at Prangins. Owing to those charges desperate 
efforts were made by M. Arthur Meyer and others to induce 
the General to return to France, face the music, and confound 
his accusers, but, influenced by Mme. de Bonnemains, he was 
unwilling to do so. 

Paris was now celebrating the centenary of the Revolution 
of 1789, and a great International Exhibition, with the famous 
Eiffel Tower as one of its most remarkable features, was being 
held on the Champ de Mars. Prior to its inauguration there 
was a festival at Versailles, when Carnot, surrounded by all the 
great bodies of the State, delivered an eulogistic address on the 
First Revolution. On his way to that ceremony he was fired 
at by a weak-witted young fellow named Perrin, who escaped 
with a sentence of four months' imprisonment. With the 
masses generally the President was now becoming extremely 
popular. He was applauded by huge crowds wherever he went, 
whether it were to the Exhibition, the Opera, the inauguration 
of the new Sorbonne, or the great gathering of some 18,000 of 
the mayors of France at the Palais de Tlndustrie ; and although 
some Boulangist deputies, notably Advocate Laguerre, exerted 
themselves to keep " the cause " before the public, it was already 
evident that the craze for le brav > g&ntral was subsiding. 
Indeed, when elections for the departmental and district 
councils took place throughout the country at the end of July, 
Boulanger, though a candidate in virtually 400 constituencies, 
was returned in only 12. The combined Boulangist and 
Reactionary parties secured altogether 489 seats, whereas 950 
were obtained by the Republicans, and were so distributed as 
to give them a majority in 74 departments. 

A little later the Senate assembled as a High Court of 
Justice to adjudicate on the charges against Boulanger and his 
alleged accomplices, Rochefort and Dillon. The decision was 
given on August 14, when, by 206 members to 3, Boulanger 
and Dillon were found guilty of conspiracy, Rochefort being 
convicted on the same count by 183 to 23. Boulanger alone 



BOULANGER'S DOWNFALL 339 

was convicted of misappropriation of money belonging to the 
Secret Service Fund. The sentence passed by the court on all 
three offenders was one of transportation for life to a fortified 
place, but they were, of course, in perfect safety in London. y 

Rochefort, for his part, regularly wrote leading articles for his J 
newspaper, UlntransigeanL from which he derived a comfort- f 

'■'MMimi.iWrti f7- T — — '■" 7 ^ 

able income, and devoted his spare time to artistic matters, in 
which he had some taste. It was then that he discovered there 
had once existed a painter called Sir Thomas Lawrence. 

Boulanger, either just before or after his conviction by 
default, had an interview with the Count de Paris at the 
temporary London residence of the Duchess d'Uzes. At this 
moment, whatever might be the difficulties of the situation, 
neither the Count nor the General thought of throwing up the 
sponge, for they expected good results from the coming general 
elections in France. They issued several manifestoes attacking 
the Republic, and Prince Victor Bonaparte displayed similar 
activity. But at the first ballots on September 22, 230 
Republicans were elected against 86 Royalists, 52 Bonapartists, 
and 22 Boulangists. Further, 129 Republicans were returned 
on October 6, and the new Chamber ultimately consisted of 
366 Republicans and 210 members of the various opposition 
groups. Boulanger had lost his civil rights by reason of his 
recent condemnation, nevertheless his friends nominated him in 
the Clignancourt district of Paris, where he polled 7816 votes 
against 5507 given to a Republican named JofFrin. The 
latter secured the seat owing to the General's disqualification. 
In the provinces the most remarkable occurrence was the defeat 
of Jules Ferry by a Boulangist at St. Die, which he had 
represented since 1871. It was a hard blow but he accepted it 
with equanimity, remarking in a letter which he wrote on the 
subject: " The Republic emerges triumphant from a redoubt- 
able crisis, so what does it matter if she leaves me behind her 
on the battlefield ? " 

Boulanger, however, had been deeply affected by the result 
of the first ballots, and would have gone to America had it not 
been for the expostulations of his friends. When the blow of 
the second ballots had fallen, and he saw absolutely everything 
collapsing around him, nobody could dissuade him from 
retirement, and two days later he and his mistress quitted 
London for Jersey, and installed themselves at the Hotel 



340 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

de la Pomme (TOr at St. Helier's. They spent the winter 
there. 

In February some little stir occurred in Paris owing to an 
escapade of the Royalist Pretender's son, the young Duke 
d'Orleans. Although the Law of Exile prohibited his presence 
in France, he made his way to the capital, put up at the 
residence of the Duke de Luynes, and announced that, having 
now attained the requisite age, he had come to serve his time 
in the army. The authorities retorted by lodging him in the 
Conciergerie, and the newspapers made no little fun of the 
affair, as the young Prince, instead of sharing with his " fellow 
conscripts " the contents of the usual army gamelle, or porringer 
— one of his professed desires 1 — was regaled with copious 
dejeuners and dinners procured from a very good restaurant. 
On being tried by the Eighth Correctional Police Court for 
infringing the exile law, he defended himself with some wit and 
spirit, remarking that even if his judges should convict him he 
was convinced that he would at least be acquitted by the 
200,000 conscripts whose turn for service had arrived. 
Sentenced to two years 1 detention, he was removed to the 
prison of Clairvaux, but less than four months afterwards the 
authorities released him, and he was sent out of France. 

Meantime there had been a change of Ministry and some 
other notable events of which we shall speak in our next 
chapter. All we need mention here is, first, that at the Paris 
Municipal elections of April 1890, only three out of eighty 
Boulangist candidates were elected. The movement was 
evidently dead. In fact on May 21 the General himself 
announced the dissolution of his Committee. Next, in 
September, came the publication of the many revelations of 
Terrail-Mermeix, sometime a Boulangist deputy for the seventh 
arrondissement of Paris. These dealt the cause a final 
decisive blow. 

The General and Mme. de Bonnemains were still residing at 
Jersey, but had removed from the Pomme d'Or to a house al 
St. Brelade. The island's humid climate, was, however, by 
no means suited to Mme. de Bonnemains. She contracted 
pulmonary consumption, and then, by slow degrees, this beautiful 
woman with the statuesque figure, the bust which Rubens 

1 He received on that account the nickname of Qcvmslls, which clung to 
him for several years. 



BOULANGER'S DEATH 341 

might well have chosen as a model, shrank to a skeleton. For 
some time her lover did not appear to notice it. He himself 
was ageing rapidly, growing grey, careworn, and bent. The 
Parisians would have no longer recognised the gallant soldier 
on the prancing black charger whom they had once applauded 
so frantically : the dashing captain who was to have restored 
Alsace-Lorraine to France. The rrdnage was at least free from 
pecuniary cares, for the General was apparently still possessed of 
considerable resources, and Mine, de Bonnemains about this time 
inherited a fortune of over =^100,000 from the widow of her 
uncle the notary. But the unfortunate woman was wasting 
away, racked by incessant coughing, and displaying that 
distaste for food which is so characteristic of the terrible 
disease that had fallen on her. In February 1891 she made a 
journey to Paris, where she became so ill that the doctors would 
not allow her to return to Jersey. She at last joined 
Boulanger at Brussels, where he rented a house in the Rue 
Montoyer. It was handsomely furnished; all comfort, even 
luxury, surrounded them ; but death was hovering near, and 
could not long be warded off. Their last days together were 
somewhat embittered, it has been said, by certain dissensions, 
provoked by anonymous letters addressed to the General, but 
his grief was intense when on July 16 his mistress at last passed 
away. Her fortune was bequeathed to three distant female 
relatives, who desired, we believe, to take charge of her 
interment. But the General would not allow it, and she was 
laid to rest in a vault at the cemetery of Ixelles, near Brussels. 
He lingered on, greatly afflicted by her loss, until September 
30, when, at half-past eleven in the morning, he shot himself 
dead beside her grave. That afternoon President Carnot gave 
a great garden party in the grounds of the Elysee Palace, and 
in the midst of that gay entertainment there came tidings of 
the death of the man who had been the most dangerous enemy 
that the Republic had known since its foundation. 

He was buried at Ixelles on October 3. Rochefort, 
Deroulede, a score of deputies, and a couple of hundred other 
Boulangists attended the ceremony. The Belgian Primate, 
the Cardinal Archbishop of Mechlin, had forbidden all religious 
rites as the deceased had committed suicide, and speeches were 
prohibited by the civil authorities. When the coffin containing 
the General's remains had been deposited beside that of the 



342 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

woman he had loved, Deroulede sprinkled over it a little French 
soil he had brought with him. That was all. Georges Boulanger, 
sometime the most prominent figure in France, and Marguerite 
Crouzet, sometime de Bonnemains, still sleep side by side in 
the Belgian cemetery, their grave inscribed only with their 
Christian names and the dates of their respective births and 
deaths. The thought that conspicuous courage and high 
ability on the one hand — for Boulanger displayed both those 
qualities during his earlier years — and that beauty and charm 
on the other, should have ended so pitifully, stays the words of 
judgment which we might otherwise have appended here. Let 
us only add : Requiescant in pace. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE GREAT PANAMA SCANDAL 

Some Royalties in Paris— The Comptoir d'Escompte and the Copper Corner 
— A Municipal Scandal — A Memorable Freycinet Ministry — A great Loan 
— Cronstadt and Portsmouth— The Pope, the Clergy, and the Republic — 
Loubet Prime Minister — Retirement of Constans — The Panama Canal 
Company— Ferdinand de Lesseps— The Canal Scheme and the Earlier 
Work— Alexandre Eiffel and the Canal Locks — The Panama Lottery 
Bonds — A Debacle — The Company in Bankruptcy — Frenzied Finance — 
Twenty-Three Millions Sterling squandered— Prosecution and Parlia- 
mentary Inquiry — Baron de Reinach — Loubet replaced by Ribot — 
Cornelius Herz, Charlatan and Blackmailer— Prosecution of the Company's 
Directors— The Sad State and Death of Ferdinand de Lesseps — Proceed- 
ings against Deputies and Senators — Floquet and Newspaper Subsidies 
— The Case of ex-Minister Baihaut — Death of Jules Ferry— Many 
Acquittals — Sentences on Charles de Lesseps, Baihaut, and Blondin — 
Charles Dupuy as Prime Minister— The General Elections of 1893— The 
Mysterious X. — The Norton Forgeries — Cornelius Herz and his Extradi- 
tion — Arton's Fate and Revelations — More Prosecutions and Acquittals 
—The Chamber's Vote of Censure— The Affair Reviewed— The Fate of 
the Canal Scheme— Purchase by the United States. 

Carnot's Presidency was, from first to last a period of political 
and social unrest. The bark of the Republic had to be navigated 
through a sea of troubles, storm followed storm, and the 
intervals of sunshine were brief and infrequent. As our previous 
chapter will have shown, even the year 1889, the centenary of 
the First Revolution, was one of great turmoil in spite of the 
Exhibition and the presence of some hundreds of thousands 
of foreigners in Paris. Held in commemoration of an event 
which was a warning and a lesson for Kings, the Exhibition 
naturally failed to attract many Royalties to France, still 
there were two crowned heads, the Shah and the King of Greece, 
and some seven or eight Princes among her visitors. Three of 

343 



344 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

the Princes may be mentioned : firstly, one who was altogether 
persona gratissima among the Parisians, that is the Heir 
apparent of Great Britain, afterwards Edward VII. ; secondly, 
Dom Carlos, Crown Prince of Portugal, who, as the husband of 
the Count de Paris' 1 daughter, desired to mark his and her 
dissociation from the Count's political enterprises, and ease the 
position of those members of the House of Orleans who still 
resided in France, whither, by the way, the Duke d'Aumale 
had then lately returned. The third Prince of note, who came 
to Paris in 1889, was Ferdinand of Bulgaria, the son of an 
Orleans Princess, and since those days included among the 
Crowned Heads of Europe. 

Shortly before the Exhibition opened there occurred a crisis 
in the affairs of the Comptoir d'Escompte to which we previously 
alluded. This arose through the Comptoir's relations with a 
Company called the Societe des Metaux, directed by a financier 
named Secretan. He, in conjunction with Denfert-Rochereau, 
Governor of the Comptoir d'Escompte, and the latter's 
coadjutors, Laveissiere and Hentsch, attempted to create a 
" corner " in copper, speculating so extensively and so recklessly, 
however, that on the attempt failing neither the Comptoir nor 
the Societe could meet its engagements. Denfert-Rochereau 
killed himself, Secretan and the others were arrested, and the 
Comptoir, being an institution holding certain privileges from 
the State, the Government intervened to prevent it from 
collapsing. With official sanction the Bank of France and the 
Rothschilds advanced sufficient money to check a financial 
panic which was setting in. Secretan, the prime mover in the 
affair, was sentenced to six months 1 imprisonment, no very 
severe penalty perhaps, but it may be added that he was 
quite ruined by the failure of his scheme. The sale of his 
great collection of works of art, in which figured Millet's 
famous painting " L'Angelus," was an event of world-wide 
interest. 

Early in the following year, 1890, even the Paris Municipal 
Council became involved in a financial scandal. It appeared 
that at an issue of City Bonds the Council's Syndic had placed a 
number of them at the disposal of some of his colleagues in such 
a way that they were able to dispose of them at a considerable 
premium. The Council was at that moment largely composed 
of Boulangists, but fortunately some elections held not long 



FREYCINET AGAIN IN POWER 345 

afterwards quite purged the H6tel-de-Ville of that corrupt 
element. 

A little earlier the Tirard Ministry, to which most of the 
credit for suppressing the Boulangist movement must be assigned, 
had quitted office, dissensions having arisen in its midst, not- 
ably between Tirard and Constans. They were certainly an ill- 
assorted pair, the first being essentially a man of peace and the 
second a born fighter. Constans withdrew on March 1, 1890, 
and five days later the Administration, being defeated in the 
Senate, was replaced by another under Freycinet. 1 This again 
was a memorable Ministry in various respects, for it prepared 
the way for the Franco-Russian Alliance, launched one of the 
most remarkable loans ever issued in France, devised a Tariff 
system which provoked a Tariff War with other countries, and 
raised the army to a higher point of efficiency than it had attained 
since 1871. That, let it be at once said, was largely Freycinet's 
work, for he called General de Miribel, so virulently assailed in 
Gambetta's time, to his councils, made him Chief of the General 
Staff, with the prospective appointment of Generalissimo in the 
event of war, and gave high command to Galliffet, Saussier, and 
Davoust : all of them able men who did right good work in 
their several posts. 

The great Loan we have mentioned was planned by Rouvier. 
It was one for 869J million francs (^34,780,000) issued at 92 
francs 55 centimes, and bearing 3 per cent interest. More than 
sixteen times the amount asked for was subscribed in Paris and 
the provinces (January 1891), and the manner in which the first 
instalments were paid showed that few of the subscriptions had 
been of a speculative character. This, be it remembered, 
occurred only one year after the Panama Canal Company (of 
which we shall soon speak) suspended payment, with liabilities 
which affected 800,000 investors. 

It is to M. Ribot, Minister of Foreign Affairs in this 
Freycinet Cabinet, that the preliminaries of the Franco-Russian 
entente 2 must be ascribed. In July 1891 a French squadron 
under Admiral Gervais visited Cronstadt and was inspected by 

1 It was composed as follows : Freycinet, Premier and Minister for War ; 
Fallieres, Justice and Worship ; Constans (who returned to office), Interior ; 
Ribot, Foreign Affairs ; Rouvier, Finances ; Barbey, Marine ; Bourgeois, 
Education and Fine Arts ; Yves Guyot, Public Works ; Develle, Agriculture ; 
and Jules Roche, Commerce. 

2 We shall deal with it in some detail in a later chapter. 



346 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

the Czar. On its homeward way, in order to mark that no 
hostility to England was intended in the turn which French 
diplomacy was taking, the squadron proceeded to Portsmouth, 
where it was reviewed by Queen Victoria. Somewhat later the 
Russian Minister, M. de Giers, came to Paris. 

This period was also marked by the evolution of the Papacy 
towards the Republic. Already in 1890, Cardinal Lavigerie, 
Archbishop of Algiers and Primate of French Africa, had 
signified his u sincere adhesion " to the existing regime, which, 
fifteen years earlier, he had urged the Count de Chambord to 
overthrow by force. It was hoped that the example set by a 
prelate of such high reputation and authority might tend to 
improve relations between Church and State, but neither really 
abandoned its claim to supremacy. The position was embittered 
by the conduct of many French pilgrims to Rome, who demon- 
strated there in favour of the Temporal Power, thus angering 
Italians generally, and offending King Umberto's Government. 
In France several matters were pending in relation to the 
Church, such as the conditions under which the Religious 
Orders might exist and the taxation they should pay, and 
although Pope Leo preached conciliation the majority of the 
Episcopate did not disguise its hostility to the Republican 
Government. The Archbishop of Aix-en-Provence, Mgr. 
Gouthe-Soulard, issued such an offensive manifesto that he 
was prosecuted by M. Fallieres, then Minister of Worship, and 
sentenced to pay a fine of ^120. Subsequently the five French 
Cardinals published a declaration complaining bitterly of the 
manner in which Catholics were treated (this simply meaning 
that the Government was resolved to allow the Church no 
excessive privileges), and the Archbishop of Algiers, as if 
repenting of his earlier " sincere adhesion " to the Republic, 
now adhered to this document also, though it was really a 
protest against the national institutions. The Royalist Com- 
mittees in the provinces were also instigated by the Count de 
Paris to oppose all reconciliation between genuine Catholics 
and the State. But on February 18, 1892, a popular news- 
paper, Le Petit Journal, published a very sensational article 
written by Ernest Judet, who stated that at an audience 
granted to him by the Pope, the latter had strongly counselled 
adhesion to the Republic, saying, among other things : " A 
Republic is as legitimate a government as any other. 1 ' Two 



THE POPE AND THE REPUBLIC 347 

days later, to the amazement, and in some cases the consterna- 
tion of the militant Catholics, clerics and laymen alike, Pope Leo 
issued a memorable Encyclical in which he virtually exhorted 
the clergy and faithful of France to rally to the Republic. 

To understand this move on the Pontiffs part the reader 
should bear in mind that at this time (February 1892) 
Boulangism was quite dead — the General having committed 
suicide during the previous autumn — and that all chances of a 
Monarchical Restoration in France seemed to have utterly 
departed. Moreover, the earlier overtures of Cardinal Lavigerie 
dated from a period subsequent to Boulanger's flight from 
France. As long as there had seemed to be a prospect of the 
Republic succumbing in the struggle, neither Prelate nor 
Pontiff had spoken. But now the Republic had triumphed, 
and the Head of the Church felt that he must make peace with 
her. At this juncture Freycinet desired to settle the questions 
which were in abeyance in regard to the Religious Orders ; and 
a bill being ready, precedence was desired for it. The Minister 
spoke hopefully in the Chamber of the prospects of a recon- 
ciliation between Church and State, but Henri Brisson retorted 
that their claims and aspirations were irreconcilable. The 
majority of the deputies were plainly of that opinion, for an 
" order of the day " which the Government wished to see 
carried was rejected by 282 to 210 votes. The Cabinet there- 
upon resigned. 

The next Ministry was formed by M. Emile Loubet, in 
later years President of the Republic. It included all the 
members of the previous Administration 1 excepting four : 
Constans, Fallieres, Barbey, and Yves Guyot. Loubet himself 
took Constans' place at the Ministry of the Interior, Louis 
Ricard succeeded Fallieres, Viette secured Guyot's post, and 
Godefroy Cavaignac (son of the general of M<8) replaced 
Barbey. Freycinet remained Minister of War. An able man 
in that respect, he was, indeed, far better qualified for depart- 
mental duties than for general political control, in which he so 
often displayed a painful lack of decision. Loubet (then fifty- 
three years of age) might not be so good a speaker, but he 
possessed more personal authority and knew his own mind. 
The non-inclusion of Constans in this Ministry was indirectly 
due to a virulent campaign which Henri Rochefort's journal, 
1 See ante, p. 345. 



348 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



VIntransigeant, was carrying on against him apropos of all 
sorts of mythical high crimes and misdemeanours which it laid 
at his door. He had treated those charges with the contempt 
they deserved until one of the Boulangist deputies, M. Francis 
Laur, called on him in the Chamber to answer them. Constans 
did so in two ways. He began by smacking M. Laur's face, 
and then indignantly repelled the insinuations against him. 
The occasion is known in the Parliamentary annals of the 
Republic as la journde des gifles. However, the persistency of 
the attacks on Constans by those who could not forgive him 
for having put down Boulangism with a strong hand, tended 
to perpetual unpleasantness, and President Carnot himself 
suggested that it would be well if he ceased for a time to hold 
office. As is well known, he ended by entering the diplomatic 
service, becoming Ambassador at Constantinople. 

But the opponents of the Republic, and notably the ex- 
Boulangists, were not disposed for a truce. They now directed 
their attacks upon a Vice-President of the Chamber, a talented 
man named Burdeau, who was only some forty years of age, 
and seemed to have a great future before him. He had served 
on a Committee to which the question of renewing the charter 
of the Bank of France had been submitted, and a Clerico- 
Boulangist organ now suddenly asserted that he had taken a 
large bribe from the Rothschilds to prevent the Bank's new 
charter from interfering with their interests. The newspaper 
was promptly prosecuted for this libel, and its manager was 
sentenced to imprisonment and fine, as well as the payment of 
.£3200, which were to be expended in publishing the sentence 
in as many newspapers as possible throughout the country. 
Shortly afterwards, when an interpellation of Clemenceau's had 
compelled Cavaignac to resign the Ministry of Marine, Burdeau 
was appointed in his place. 1 

However, a much more serious storm was now about to 
burst. This was the affair of the Panama Canal Company, 
which for some years past had been gradually assuming a more 
and more threatening aspect. There had been many schemes 

1 The expedition against Behanzin, King of Dahomey, was then in pro- 
gress. The commanders of the French naval squadron and the land forces 
were independent of each other, and friction between them was apprehended. 
Clemenceau desired that paramount control should be given to the military 
commander, General Dodds. Cavaignac refused his assent, and resigned on 
the Chamber supporting Clemenceau's suggestion. 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 349 

for a Central American Canal which should connect the 
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, before the French Company was 
established. Napoleon III. had been interested in one of 
them, and had suggested to Ferdinand de Lesseps at the time 
of the success of the Suez undertaking that his next work 
should be to sever North from South America, even as he had 
just severed Asia from Africa. 1 The question came before an 
International Geographical Congress held in Paris in 1875, 
when Lieutenant Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte-Wyse was chosen 
to make certain preliminary explorations. He did so, and on 
obtaining a " concession " from the Republic of Colombia, to 
which the Panama territory then belonged, he transferred it to 
M. de Lesseps. When this occurred the latter was over seventy 
years of age, and it seemed almost like tempting Providence 
for anybody to embark at that time of life in such a gigantic 
enterprise. But Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps was then still a 
man of extraordinary vitality. Born at Versailles in 1805, the 
son of Count Mathieu de Lesseps and also a second cousin of 
the Empress Eugenie, 2 he had held a variety of consular and 
diplomatic appointments in Portugal, Tunis, Egypt, Holland, 
Spain, and Italy, before starting in 1854 on that great under- 
taking of the Suez Canal, which, in spite of prolonged British 
opposition and many other difficulties, he brought to a 
triumphant issue in 1869, when, as a kind of amende honorable 
on England's part, he was welcomed among us and presented 
with the freedom of the City of London. In that same year, 
moreover, although he was sixty-four years of age, he contracted 
a second marriage, his first wife, Agathe Delamalle, his union 
with whom dated from 1838, having left him a widower in 
1854, after bearing him two sons, Charles and Aime Victor. 
His second bride was Mile. Louise Helene Autard de Bragard, 
a Creole beauty in her nineteenth year, born in Mauritius, but 
descended from an ancient Provencal family. At that time 
Lesseps' 1 age seemed to sit on him lightly. His hair was 
becoming white, but he was as active as a young man, and 
looked quite a picture of robust health with his handsome, 
full face and his well-knit figure. Five children were born of 
his second marriage: 1, Mathieu; 2 and 3, Marie Consuelo 
and Bertrand (twins); 4, Solange; 5, Paul. People smiled 

1 See our Court of the Tuilcries, page 371. 
2 See ibid, page 63. 



350 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

when they saw that good-looking elderly gentleman surrounded 
by his young family, and it used to be jocularly remarked that 
he did credit to the fruitful vine emblazoned in his armorial 
bearings. 1 

In 1879, that is, ten years after the inauguration of the 
Suez Canal, he started on a vigorous campaign in favour of 
the proposed Panama enterprise, and visited the Isthmus with 
a committee in order that some estimate of the cost of the 
undertaking might be prepared. It was at first held that the 
cost would be between thirty-three and thirty-four millions 
sterling, and that eight years would be required to complete 
the work. But the estimate was revised, on what basis we do 
not know, and reduced to twenty millions. A company was 
then formed, and apart from certain founders , shares, 590,000 
shares of a face value of i?20 each, were offered for public 
subscription. Additional preliminary work and study became 
necessary, however, and it was found advisable to buy up most 
of the shares in the railway line running from Colon (Aspinwall) 
to Panama. In the latter part of 1882 the various expenses 
had already absorbed most of the capital subscribed, and in 
September and October that year 850,000 bonds of £9,0 face 
value, were issued. The greater number of these were offered 
at only <£11 : 8s. each. The excavation work only began in 
1883. According to the scheme adopted, the canal was to be 
on the tide-level plan. It was to have a bottom width of 72 
feet, its length was estimated at about 46 miles, and there was 
to be a garage, about 3 miles long and 200 feet wide, in the 
plain of Tavernilla. At the outset a perfect town was erected 
for the purposes of the enterprise. Dwelling-places sprang 
up; there were workshops, magazines, wharfs, hospitals, and 
sanatoria ; and a huge quantity of maUriel — machines, pumps, 
trucks, implements of all kinds — was gathered together. Large 
sums of money were wasted on useless roads, luxurious stables, 
dairy farms, ornamental gardens and pleasure houses for the 
managing director and the principal officials ; and the real 
canal work, parcelled out in numerous sections among petty 
sub-contractors, proceeded very slowly indeed. A call of £5 
per share on those which were only partially paid up then 

1 Lesseps bears argent charged with a vine-stock vert, fruited with two 
bunches of grapes sable, planted on a terrace of the same, and surmounted 
in the middle chief by a mullet azure. 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 351 

became necessary, and again a large number of bonds, repre- 
senting a face value of about ^5,882,000, were issued. The 
system of carrying on the work in small sections was now 
abandoned. Five large divisions were formed and handed 
over to French and American contracting firms, the Canal 
Company itself supervising their work. The tide-level system 
was still adhered to, but it was now estimated that the 
expenditure it would entail would amount to forty -eight millions 
sterling. 

More money was therefore required, and the Government 
(Brisson's Ministry, Grevy being President), was asked to 
sanction the issue of lottery bonds (valeurs a lot), for a sum of 
i?24,000,000. Before deciding whether they would support 
this application, the authorities sent out a State engineer, 
M. Armand Rousseau, who, while reporting that it would be 
possible to complete the canal, made reserves both as to its 
estimated cost, and the manner in which the work had been 
hitherto conducted. Nevertheless, the Government submitted 
a bill to the Chamber, whose reception of the measure was so 
unfavourable that it had to be withdrawn. The Company 
thereupon called in the last £5 remaining unpaid on the 
original shares, and issued another 500,000 bonds, only half 
of which were taken up. To tempt the public it became 
necessary to revert to the lottery bond scheme, and in 
November 1885, an application in that respect was made 
to Rouvier, then Minister of Finances, but he would not 
entertain it. 

In the hope of favourably influencing public opinion, the 
Company now entered into an arrangement with the great 
engineer and contractor, Alexandre Eiffel, who at that moment 
was preparing his famous tower for the Exhibition of 1889. 
Born at Dijon in 1832 Eiffel had been a pupil of the Ecole des 
Arts et Manufactures, and had designed already in 1858 the 
fine tubular iron railway -bridge spanning the Garonne at 
Bordeaux. His subsequent work included many other bridges 
and viaducts in various parts of France, in Hungary and in 
Portugal, also * ; and he had erected the striking pavilion of 
the city of Paris, which, as an example of iron and steel con- 

1 Notably the daring Dom Luis bridge at Oporto. It was there and 
at the inauguration of that fine work (in 1875, we think), that we first met 
M. Eiffel. At that time his enthusiasm for his profession was remarkable. 



352 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

struction, had proved one of the features of the Exhibition of 
1878. When Eiffel was approached by the Panama Canal 
Company, the latter had come to the conclusion that the 
difficulties in the way of a sea-level canal could not be overcome, 
and accordingly it was now proposed that the lock system 
should be adopted, Eiffel undertaking all the work in connection 
with the construction of the locks, and supplying the whole 
maUriel. Rates were arranged for all the metal-work he might 
furnish, and for all the earth-work which would have to be 
done by his men. There were to be ten locks in all, the cost 
of their construction being estimated at £5,300,000. Eiffel's 
assistance was only secured, however, on onerous conditions, for 
apart from half a million sterling, which went in indemnifying 
earlier contractors, an immediate cash payment of £1,320,000 
had to be made to him. 

In January 1888, the Company again applied to the 
Government for authority to issue lottery bonds, and on the 
refusal of Tirard, now Minister of Finances, petitions to the 
Chamber were organised on an extensive scale, 159,000 
signatures being obtained, and the services of certain deputies 
secured to introduce a bill granting the Company the much- 
desired privilege. This measure became law in June, the 
Company being authorised to raise twenty-four millions sterling 
by means of lottery bonds which were to be redeemable in 
ninety - nine years. Moreover, sufficient money was to be 
deposited in the form of Rentes, to ensure due payment of the 
prizes at each successive drawing. Accordingly, on June 26, 
1888, 2,000,000 bonds were issued at £14 : 8s., representing 
£28,800,000, of which amount £4,800,000 were to be reserved 
for the prize fund. But in spite of huge sacrifices, exceeding 
£1, 240,000, and an extraordinary Press campaign (which alone 
cost ,£280,000), the issue failed. Only 849,249 bonds were 
taken up, representing about £8,934,000. That was not 
sufficient, and in December the Company made a last despairing 
and most costly effort to place the bonds which had remained 
unsold in June. But that attempt also failed, and thus a 
debacle was at hand. 

To assist the Company the Government tried to induce the 
Chamber to sanction a bill which granted three months delay 
for the payment of liabilities, but the Chamber would not even 
discuss it, and thereupon bankruptcy ensued. Three temporary 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 353 

managers of the Company, appointed by the Civil Tribunal of 
the Seine, vainly endeavoured to continue the work, and prevent 
the disaster from becoming irretrievable ; finally, in March 
1889, M. Monchicourt became sole liquidator. Under his 
auspices a committee repaired to the Isthmus to study the 
position, and reported (May 1890) that it would be possible 
to complete the canal in eight years, that the materiel was in a 
satisfactory state, and that ^36,000,000 would be required. 
That was a " large order," as the saying goes, and all the 
liquidator could do was to terminate some of the Company's 
onerous contracts, and compel M. Eiffel to refund some 
=£120,000 of the advance money paid to him. At the time 
operations were suspended, he had provided the requisite 
materiel and set up the necessary installations for the locks, but 
the excavatory and other earth work had scarcely begun, and 
was in a chaotic state. 

Now the Company's shareholders and bondholders had 
banded themselves together soon after it suspended payment, 
and on March 28, 1889, they forwarded to the Public Prosecutor 
a plaint against the Board of Directors. The Procureur general 
at that moment was still M. Camille Bouchez, the same who 
declined to proceed against Boulanger, and he took no notice 
of the plaint. His successor, Quesnay de Beaurepaire, became 
absorbed for a time in the prosecution of Boulanger, and like- 
wise gave no heed to the unfortunate Panama stockholders, 
though they renewed their applications repeatedly. At last it 
was resolved to petition the Chamber of Deputies, which at 
once referred the matter to the Minister of Justice, in order 
that all proper investigations might be made. Beaurepaire 
could then no longer ignore the matter, and on July 11, 1891, 
he sent to the Presiding Judge of the Paris Appeal Court a 
requisition to institute investigatory measures against Ferdinand 
de Lesseps, Marius Fontane, and Henri Cottu, President and 
members of the Directorate of the Panama Company. Lesseps 
being a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, this form of 
procedure was necessary. The Court delegated one of its 
members, Councillor Prinet, to conduct the investigation, which 
lasted for seventeen months, chiefly by reason of the intricacy 
and magnitude of the affair, and the many obstacles which 
interested parties placed in Prinet's way. 

Here let us interrupt our narrative for a moment to indicate 

2 a 



354 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

what were the principal financial aspects of the affair as ascer- 
tained during the legal investigation and the liquidator's 
operations. The Company had issued 4,734,878 shares or 
bonds of a nominal value of £92,847,000, irrespective of 9000 
founders 1 shares and 513,480 lottery bonds issued by the 
liquidator in 1889. The various issues of stock had produced 
£55,623,980 gross, but it was acknowledged that ,£3,768,000 
had been expended in commissions, allowances and other pay- 
ments to syndicates and others. For instance, one syndicate 
organised by the Jew banker, Levy-Cremieux, had taken 
,£156,000, Cremieux himself pocketing an additional £44,000. 
In connection with the issue of bonds in 1886, £120,000 had 
been spent on advertisements and " press services " ; in connec- 
tion with that of 1887, £94,440 had been spent in a like way ; 
while in 1888 the outlay in this respect was nearly £99,000. 
But the Syndicates were far more greedy than the journalists. 
At the last issue of lottery bonds, before the Company sus- 
pended payment, a syndicate was formed which appropriated 
no less than £940,000, and although the Credit Lyonnais and 
the Societe generale took £80,000 of that amount, they 
demanded and obtained an additional payment of £160,000 
for their support. It was sheer robbery on the part of those 
two institutions, whose honorability was supposed to be above 
suspicion. But there was also a financier named Hugo 
Oberndoerffer, who, for influencing the stockjobbers on the 
Bourse, was remunerated with £155,000; and further large 
sums passed to Baron Jacques de Reinach, of whom we shall 
speak presently. 

In interest and similar charges the Company paid away 
£10,082,720. Its expenses of administration were : in Panama, 
£3,415,483, in Paris, £624,176— total, £4,039,659. Of that 
amount the directors took £75,200, M. de Lesseps received 
£38,650, and £63,650 were paid to the American Committee. 
The Company's fine offices in Paris cost, with the furniture, 
£81,520. On the land and the many buildings purchased or 
erected on the Isthmus for the accommodation of the workmen 
and the staff, £1,157,365 were expended. Fine pleasure houses, 
ornamental gardens, and model farms are, of course, expensive 
luxuries. 

The subjoined statement shows the amounts actually spent 
on the Canal : 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 355 

Purchase of the Concession and Advances to the 

Colombian Government £437,640 

Paid to Contractors and piece-workers for labour and] 

accessories £17,723,325 V 18,504,825 

Workshops, etc., and materiel . . . 78 1,500 J 

Purchase of the Panama to Colon Railway Shares, a 

useful investment 3,730,727 



Full Expenditure on Canal .... £22,673,192 
Interest and similar charges .... 10,082,720 



Total . . . £32,755,9 12 

Gross Receipts of the Company £55,623,980 

Total Expenditure as given above .... 32,755,912 

Balance unaccounted for above £22,868,068 

Of that balance the greater part was squandered recklessly 
on financial syndicates and individual financiers, newspaper 
proprietors, journalists, and various senators and deputies. 
About a fifth of it went, as we have shown, in excessive 
administrative expenses. 

As already mentioned, M. Prinet's investigations were ex- 
tremely protracted, and the Chamber of Deputies, influenced 
by the rumours which frequently appeared in some newspapers, 
ended by losing patience, and passed a resolution demanding 
speedy and energetic measures in the Panama affair. At last, 
in September 1892, La Libre Parole, the journal of Edouard 
Drumont, the author of La France Juive, began to publish a 
series of articles entitled " Les Dessous du Panama," in which it 
was plainly stated that certain deputies and senators had sold 
their votes at the time when the issue of the lottery bonds was 
authorised. Prinet thereupon started a supplementary inquiry, 
which revealed very strange doings on the part of a certain 
financier called Baron Jacques de Reinach. Large amounts 
had been handed to him by the Panama Company for various 
purposes, and notably a sum of i?120,600 for "publicity 
expenses." An order was issued for him to account for that 
money (November 5, 1892), but it was found that he was then 
absent from home, in such wise that the order did not imme- 
diately reach him. A few days later three deputies, under the 
influence of the Libre Parole articles, asked leave to interpellate 
the Government, and a debate was fixed for December 21, 
after Ricard, the Minister of Justice, had declared that citations 



356 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

were about to be served on suspected parties. Now, during the 
night of December 19-20, Baron de Reinach was found in his 
bed, dead. On the morning of the 21st, Ferdinand de Lesseps, 
Marius Fontaine, Cottu, and Eiffel were served with citations 
summoning them to appear before the First Chamber of the 
Appeal Court sitting as a correctional tribunal. At the 
Palais Bourbon that afternoon, a deputy named Delahaye 
accused Reinach of having received ^200,000 from the Panama 
Company to buy votes. He had distributed, said Delahaye, no 
less than i?120,000 among 150 members of the Legislature, he 
had paid i?16,000 to an ex-Minister, and i?8000 to a member 
of the Committee appointed to report on the lottery bond bill. 
Loubet, the Prime Minister, at once agreed that there should 
be a parliamentary inquiry, and a committee of thirty- three 
members was appointed, with Brisson (a Radical) as its President, 
and Jolibois (a Bonapartist) and Clausel de Coussergues (a 
distinctly moderate Republican) as Vice-Presidents. At the 
very first sitting of this Committee, Delahaye denounced 
Reinach as having been the chief agent in corrupting public 
men with the assistance, however, of a shady dabbler in finance 
named Arton, who, it was discovered, had already fled the 
country. Councillor Prinet also told the Committee that five 
or six hundred persons of various positions had received money 
from the Panama Company, but that Baron de Reinach had 
only expended iPl^OOO on them, though he had obtained no 
less than i?392,000 of the Company's funds. 

The Committee carried its inquiry a little further, and then 
demanded of the Government the seizure of all Reinach's books 
and papers and the exhumation of his remains, in order that 
there might be a post-mortem examination to ascertain if he 
had died a violent death. Loubet raised no objection to the 
seizure of the papers, but he held (and so did the Minister of 
Justice, Ricard) that the Government had no authority to 
exhume the Baron's remains, that being a matter in which the 
authority rested with the deceased's family. 1 Loubet spoke 

1 The Baron was an uncle of those three gifted brothers, Joseph, Salomon, 
and Theodore Reinach. Joseph was also his son-in-law. Let us say, though 
some may think it superfluous, that none of the brothers had anything to 
do with the Baron's financial affairs or any knowledge of them. M. Joseph 
Reinach, however, discovered that his uncle, in settling some family matters 
a short time before his death, had paid him some money out of funds 
belonging to the Panama Company. The amount, £1600, was immediately 
refunded by M. Joseph Reinach to the liquidator. 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 357 

rather testily on this occasion, as if tired of the incessant 
demands made upon the Government. The period, be it said, 
was one of great unrest, for in addition to the Panama affair, 
and numerous difficulties with the Church (the Episcopate 
absolutely disregarding the Pope's desire for conciliation), the 
Anarchists were now spreading terror through Paris, where 
bomb after bomb was thrown. Confronted by all that outside 
trouble, and perpetually harassed in the Chamber, one could 
well understand a Minister losing patience. The outcome, 
however, was the Cabinet's defeat, for an overwhelming majority 
of deputies approved of Brisson's demand for the exhumation 
of Reinach's remains. 

Ribot formed the next Administration, at first retaining 
most of his previous colleagues, 1 including even Loubet, who, 
all considered, did not wish it to be thought that he was afraid 
of either Panamists or Ravachols. He even made no further 
difficulty about the exhumation affair. However, Quesnay de 
Beaurepaire, the Procureur general, who had opposed it, retired 
from his post (in which he was replaced by a M. Tanon) and 
secured a seat on the bench of the Cour de Cassation. Ribot, 
on taking office, made a fairly strong declaration of policy, 
telling the Senate that if he found any mud in his path he 
should simply kick it aside. On December 10, 1892, Reinach's 
body was examined by Professor Brouardel, who reported, how- 
ever, that he had found the viscera so decomposed that it was 
impossible to tell whether the deceased had taken poison or 
not. Thus much ado had been made to no purpose. 

Two days later, however, Le Figaro published a sensational 
article stating that Rouvier, while Minister of Finance, had had 
certain relations with Baron de Reinach and a notorious 
individual named Cornelius Herz. Of the latter we must here 
say something. He was born at Besancon in 1845, but his 
father was a Bavarian, and Cornelius was taken to the United 
States in his early childhood and naturalised as an American 

1 At first there were only two changes, Charles Dupuy succeeding 
Bourgeois as Education Minister, and Siegfried taking Roche's place at the 
Ministry of Commerce. At a later stage Loubet, Freycinet, Ricard, and 
Burdeau retired, and the Cabinet was reconstituted, Ribot passing from 
Foreign Affairs to the Interior, and General Loizillon and Admiral Rieunier 
becoming Ministers of War and Marine. Rouvier was replaced at Finances 
by Tirard. At the time of the reconstitution M. Delcasse first took office, 
becoming Under-Secretary for the Colonies. 



358 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

citizen. On reaching manhood he tried various callings, served 
an apprenticeship to a pharmaceutical chemist in Paris, practised 
medicine without a diploma at San Francisco, and became an 
agent in France for Thomas Alva Edison, the famous inventor. 
After succeeding in establishing a technical journal called La 
Lumiere electrigue, he managed to found, in succession, both an 
electric light and a telephone company. He next organised a 
notable Electrical Exhibition held in Paris in 1881, and posed 
so successfully as a scientist of the first rank that the Cross 
of Commander and later that of Grand Officer of the Legion 
of Honour were conferred on him. Yet, all the while, he was 
merely a charlatan — one of the first rank, it must be granted, a 
man with Mesmer\s illusive smattering of science and Cagliostro's 
unbounded impudence. For instance we once heard him 
insinuate that some of Edison's inventions were really his own. 
The truth is that Herz had a certain gift of assimilation, and 
was expert both in sucking the brains of those with whom he 
came in contact, and in draining their purses. For the rest, he 
had merely purchased and attempted to work the patents of 
such men as Cabanellas, Marcel Deprez, Carpentier, and 
Hospitalier. The state of France inducing him to dabble in 
politics, he at last acquired a share in the proprietary of a 
newspaper, La Justice, whose political director was M. Georges 
Clemenceau. That connection, according to M. Clemenceau's 
own statements, ceased in 1885 ; nevertheless he and Herz met 
occasionally, as do most men prominent in one or another way 
in public life. Nobody can know everything, and M. Clemen- 
ceau was certainly long unaware that Herz profited by the 
footing he had obtained in political and financial circles to sell 
his influence in one and another direction, and levy blackmail 
whenever he felt that he held some imprudent man in his 
power. He had long been acquainted with the difficulties of 
the Panama enterprise, he was expert in worming out secrets 
from subaltern officials, and having done so, he brought pressure 
to bear on Ferdinand de Lesseps and Baron de Reinach. 

According to the Figaro article which we mentioned before 
penning the above parenthesis, Reinach, confronted by the 
insatiable demands of Herz (who knew how the Baron had 
been appointed to distribute money for the Panama Company), 
appealed to Clemenceau, and later to Rouvier, for help ; and 
finally, on finding that Herz would not abate his demands, 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 359 

destroyed himself. Clemenceau confirmed the story in La 
Justice, acknowledging that he had gone with Rouvier and 
Reinach to see both Herz and Constans. A debate in the 
Chamber followed, Ribot stating that Rouvier had resigned 
office on account of certain revelations which in no wise affected 
his honour. Rouvier himself admitted the facts as stated, 
saying that he had taken what was perhaps an imprudent 
step, but one which was inspired by feelings of humanity and 
generosity. It is not quite clear how much of the truth was 
known to Rouvier and Clemenceau at that moment, but we 
have always understood that the facts were not fully before 
them. It is certain that both were well aware of the " subsidies " 
which the Panama Company was paying to the press ; but how- 
ever much Reinach may have required help he could not tell 
everything (particularly as Herz held him also in regard to 
another scandalous affair, that of the Southern Railway Line), 
and if those to whom he appealed divined, despite his reticence, 
some of the facts which were afterwards brought to light, one 
can understand that the fear of provoking a public catastrophe 
may have led them to shrink from further investigation. 

The statements made by Le Figaro and La Justice were 
followed by fresh magisterial inquiries, and on December 16 
warrants were issued for the arrest of Charles de Lesseps, Marius 
Fontane, Baron Henri Cottu, directors of the Panama Company, 
and Sans-Leroy, an ex-deputy, who had belonged to the Com- 
mittee on the last Lottery Bond Bill, and was said to have 
received ^8000 for securing the support of certain parlia- 
mentary colleagues. There was also a warrant against Ferdinand 
de Lesseps, but it was not executed. The aged promoter of 
the enterprise had been quite overwhelmed by its failure, and 
ever since the beginning of 1889 he had remained plunged in a 
state of senile prostration at his country place, La Chenaie, near 
Guilly in the Indre. His family and friends exerted themselves 
to keep everything hidden from him, but he was really quite 
incapable of realising the position, for he retained only a 
flickering of intelligence and spent month after month in a 
semi-somnolent condition. In 1884 when he was elected a 
member of the French Academy, on which occasion the illustrious 
Renan welcomed him among the Immortals with a most delight- 
fully witty speech, he had still possessed a good deal of his old 
vigour, but the increasing difficulties of the Panama Company 



360 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

from that time onward, aged him rapidly, and he was but a 
ghost of his former self at the moment of the actual failure. 
Of course he was nominally responsible for what occurred, but 
the real responsibility rested with those about him. In his 
sudden mental and physical decline he became a mere instrument 
in their hands and those of the greedy and unscrupulous 
financiers who regarded the Panama enterprise as a mere milch- 
cow. If, as the accounts indeed indicate, he himself drew from 
it, over a term of years, a sum of about i?39,000, on the other 
hand its collapse left him with very slender resources — so 
slender, in fact, that at his death at La Chenaie in 1894 the 
Board of the Suez Canal Company voted an annual allowance 
of about i^OOO a year to his wife and children — being unwilling 
that the Lesseps family (with the great Suez achievement 
behind it) should be cast adrift on the world. 

When the warrants were executed against Charles de Lesseps 
and the others a perquisition was also made at a private bank 
directed by a M. Thierree, with whom Baron Jacques de 
Reinach had done business ; and this perquisition resulted in 
the finding of six-and-twenty old cheques of Reinach's, repre- 
senting c£120,000, which seemed to implicate some prominent 
public men. M. Andrieux, the deputy, who owned that he 
had inspired the Libre Parole articles entitled " Les Dessous 
du Panama," also produced a photograph of one of Reinach^ 
alleged memoranda of the sums which he had paid away. 
Under all these circumstances the Legislature authorised pro- 
ceedings against Deputies Rouvier, Antonin Proust, Jules 
Roche, Emmanuel Arene, and Dugue de la Fauconnerie, and 
Senators Albert Grevy, Leon Renault, Paul Deves, Beral, and 
Thevenet. All these public men, however, like M. Sans-Leroy 
whom we previously mentioned, were able to clear themselves 
of the charges of corruption preferred against them. Some did 
so at a very early stage, in such wise that the indictments 
against them were quashed, while the others were acquitted 
by the jurymen before whom they appeared. Of course the 
Opposition journals refused to acknowledge their innocence 
(even as in later times they have refused to admit that of 
Captain Dreyfus), but looking at the matter dispassionately, if 
a^few cases have remained doubtful until this day, there was 
absolutely no evidence of guilt in many instances, while in 
others grave indiscretion was the utmost that could be proved. 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 361 

For instance while the Panama Company was subsidising the 
press to boom it, it had been held advisable that a share of the 
money it distributed should go to Republican journals. Rouvier 
played some part in that affair, but the chief role was taken by 
Floquet, as he frankly acknowledged in the Chamber, holding 
even that he had acted rightly, and that the money had been 
extremely useful, as it had helped the Republican Press in the 
great fight against General Boulanger. That, however, is not 
an argument which we can accept. We hold that no Govern- 
ment has a right to procure money for party purposes from 
private sources in return for a promise to support the 
donator's interests. Something very similar has long gone on 
in this country unfortunately, and casts a nasty blot upon our 
public life. There have been occasional efforts to bring the 
truth to light, to stop the practice of augmenting party funds 
by the bestowal of so-called " honours " ; still matters do not 
appear to be very much better now than they were in the old 
days. Tories and Liberals alike shrink from any ventilation 
of such abuses, and no doubt it requires courage to wash one's 
dirty linen in public. That courage we seldom evince in Eng- 
land, but the French displayed it fully during the Panama case. 
La lessive du Panama was a common phrase of the time. 

Towards the end of 1892 a perquisition at the offices of the 
Credit Lyonnais led to the arrest of another of the Panama 
Company's high officials, Blondin, and of an ex-Minister of 
Public Works, Baihaut, who, in return for laying one of the 
early Lottery Bond Bills before the Chamber, had obtained 
^15,000 from the Company. This affair naturally created a 
very great stir indeed. When the Chamber reassembled in 
January 1893, Floquet, by reason of his share in the newspaper 
subsidy business, lost his position as President, which went to 
Casimir-Perier. It may be mentioned also that about this 
time Jules Ferry became President of the Senate, in the place 
of Le Royer, who resigned that office because he had grown 
old and tired of the duties which he had discharged for eleven 
successive years. It seemed as though Ferry's return to a 
prominent position might be the prelude to his assumption of 
a yet more important office — and certainly France then needed 
a thoroughly strong man at the helm of affairs — but unfortun- 
ately the most competent of her available statesmen did not 
long survive the Senate's tardy act of justice. He passed away 



362 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

at the end of that winter (March 17, 1893), aged sixty-one, 
and was succeeded by Challemel-Laeour. Before that date 
Loubet and Freycinet, weary of incessant and undeserved 
attacks, had withdrawn from the Ribot Cabinet, which had to 
be reconstituted. 1 

On February 9 the Paris Appeal Court convicted Ferdinand 
and Charles de Lesseps, Eiffel, Fontane, and Cottu of the 
original charges against them, 2 and sentenced them to various 
penalties, but all the proceedings were quashed by the Cour de 
Cassation, because, according to the law, they should have been 
taken within a period of three years, dating from the time 
when the defendants had been removed from the directorate of 
the Panama Company. That had occurred on December 16, 
1888, and the proceedings had not been instituted until 
December 21, 1892. They were therefore null and void in 
law. Other proceedings, however, to which prescription did 
not apply, had been lately initiated, and these were duly brought 
to an issue. The Chamber of Indictments threw out the cases 
against Cottu, Albert Grevy, Leon Renault, Paul Deves, and 
Rouvier, but ordered that Charles de Lesseps, Marius Fontane, 
Blondin, Baihaut, Sans-Leroy, Beral, Antonin Proust, Dugue 
de la Fauconnerie, Gobron (an ex-deputy), and Arton, Reinach's 
intermediary, should be tried at the next Paris Assizes. The 
Chamber of Deputies also — apart from the legal proceedings — 
censured those of its members who had become involved in any 
way in the affair, and a very forcible speech which M. Godefroy 
Cavaignac delivered on this occasion was placarded by authority 
throughout France. 

On March 8, 1893, the Paris Assize Court assembled to try 
the defendants whose names we have given above. They were 
all present excepting Arton, who had long previously fled from 
France. According to some newspapers the authorities were 
by no means anxious to apprehend him ; and it is at least 
certain that when he had fled to Venice he was met there by a 
detective, who, instead of arresting him, endeavoured to effect 
an arrangement on the subject of " revelations.' 1 This was 
done, moreover, with the knowledge of certain officials at the 
Ministry of the Interior. At the trial at the Assizes Charles 
de Lesseps declared that the Company had repeatedly suffered 
from the exorbitant demands of Cornelius Herz, who on one 
1 See ante, p. 357, footnote. 3 See ante, p. 356. 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 363 

occasion had claimed, through Reinach, as much as i?400,000. 
Reinach, said de Lesseps, had received half that amount to 
deal with him. Bai'haut, for his part, had asked for i?40,000, 
and d£?15,000 had been paid to him. Floquet, moreover, was 
said to have " demanded " =£12,000 for the Republican Press ; 
and when he denied that statement, Charles de Lesseps adhered 
to it, saying also that the ex-Minister had declared that the 
Company ought really to pay a very much larger amount than 
the one named. It was shown, moreover, that Clemenceau had 
been in some degree cognisant of those negotiations. On the 
other hand, when Mme. Cottu asserted in evidence that a 
detective had told her that if her husband would only make 
some revelations against Royalist deputies, the proceedings 
against him would be dropped, it was found that M. Bourgeois, 
the Minister of Justice, had no knowledge of the matter. 
Soinoury, Directeur de la Surete generale, and Nicolle, a police- 
commissary, were involved in this affair, but it was proved 
conclusively that they had received no authority whatever to 
act as they had done, and Bourgeois, who had temporarily 
resigned office in order to face this charge, resumed his duties 
on obtaining a vote of confidence from the Chamber. Finally, 
the jury acquitted Marius Fontane, Sans-Leroy, Beral, Gobron, 
Proust, and Dugue de la Fauconnerie ; but it convicted Charles 
de Lesseps and Blondin of corrupt practices, and both were 
sentenced to imprisonment, the former for one year and the 
second for two years. Ba'ihaut, the ex-Minister of Public 
Works, was also found guilty of demanding money and receiving 
i?15,000. For that offence the Court sentenced him to five 
years imprisonment, a fine of ^30,000, the loss of all civil 
rights, and the reimbursement of the money he had obtained. 
In the event of his own estate being inadequate for the payments 
imposed upon him, the estates of Charles de Lesseps and Blondin 
were to be liable for the deficiency. 

A fortnight after sentence was pronounced (March 21, 
1893), the Ribot Cabinet resigned office owing to a conflict 
between the Senate and the Chamber apropos of their financial 
prerogatives, the Chamber wishing to reduce the Senate in that 
respect to the status of the British House of Lords, and the 
Senate victoriously resisting the attempt, as it did several 
others on subsequent occasions. The next Cabinet was formed 
by Charles Dupuy, who had lately been Minister of Education. 



364 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Born at Le Puy in the Haute Loire, and the son of a peasant, 
he was only forty-two years old on assuming the Premiership, 
but after first making his way in the scholastic profession he 
had come quite to the front as a politician, being assisted by a 
certain outward bonhomie of manner masking no little energy 
which, unfortunately, was not always of the best kind. 1 

The general state of the country gave serious concern to 
careful observers at this period. There had been many strikes 
among the working classes under Ribot, and there were even 
more under Dupuy, and the manner in which the Government 
dealt with those matters was often most unwise. Dupuy's 
energy was too frequently vigour of a blundering kind, and the 
evolution of a large section of the masses towards Socialism, 
and of a small section towards Anarchism, was hastened and 
intensified, leading to serious disruption in the Republican 
ranks. The full result was seen later — during the Presidencies 
of Casimir-Perier and Felix Faure — when it became necessary 
for the Governmental Republicans to ally themselves with 
those Reactionaries who professed to have " rallied " to the 
Republic, but whose sole object was to overthrow it. Under 
Carnot, during the Ribot and the first Dupuy Ministries, the 
spirit of the country certainly remained distinctly Republican, 
in spite both of many Governmental blunders and the growing 
disgust of the masses with the bourgeoisie, the former identifying 
the latter with the Panama scandals. The Count de Paris 
imagined that those scandals might strengthen the Royalist 
cause, but a manifesto which he issued on the subject was 
either treated with silent contempt or answered by scoffing 
references to the equally disgraceful scandals which had marked 
the reign of his grandfather, Louis Philippe. Further, the 
General Elections of 1893 testified both to the growth of the 
country's Republicanism and to that Republicanism's in- 
creasingly democratic evolution. The Royalists, Bonapartists, 
and Nationalists, hitherto about 170 in number, now gained 
the victory in only 93 constituencies, and 35 of their successful 
candidates sailed in under false colours, that is as men who 

1 Dupuy's colleagues were Poincare, Education, Worship, and Fine Arts ; 
Peytral, Finances : Develle, Foreign Affairs ; Guerin, Justice ; Terrier, 
Commerce and Industry ; Viger, Agriculture ; Viette, Public Works ; 
Loizillon, War ; Rieunier, Marine ; Delcasse\ Colonies. Dupuy himself 
took the Interior. 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 365 

professed to have " rallied " to the Republic. The Radical 
Republicans secured 150 seats, and the Socialists, previously a 
quantity negligeable, were returned for no fewer than 49. Those 
results were largely the outcome of all the Boulangist and 
Panamist disclosures, and it should be observed that they were 
obtained in spite of all the outrageous Anarchist "propa- 
ganda by deeds'" which marked this period, and which some 
had imagined would frighten the country into Conservatism. 

But we must now again return to the Panama affair, for 
the trial of Charles de Lesseps, Blondin, Baihaut, and the 
others had by no means brought it to a close. Several matters 
remained to be disposed of. The Opposition journals harped 
perpetually on the so-called list of corrupt politicians held by 
Andrieux. It comprised a few names and a good many initials, 
and there was also mention of a very mysterious X. Who 
could X. be ? A German journalist, one Otto Brandes, Paris 
correspondent of the Berliner Tageblatt, foolishly and reck- 
lessly stated in his journal that this recipient of Panamist 
bounty was M. Ernest Camot, son of the President of the 
Republic. The assertion was as ludicrous as impudent, and it 
was astonishing to find a journalist of reputation and experience 
giving publicity to such a canard. The result was Herr 
Brandes' expulsion from France. Another reckless suggestion 
was that the X. of the Andrieux list might be Baron Mohrenheim, 
the Russian Ambassador, to whom the Government naturally 
had to apologise. On the other hand it exacted an apology 
from the Swiss Government when some foolish people of Basle 
introduced a libellous " Panamist group " into a carnival pro- 
cession. 

Meantime two men whose guilt was notorious had still 
escaped punishment. One of them was Arton, Baron de 
Reinach's agent, and the other Cornelius Herz, who, after 
fleeing to England, had been lying ill at the Tankerville Hotel, 
Bournemouth. The French authorities desired to extradite 
him, but his illness prevented his removal to London and his 
attendance at Bow Street Police Court. He was repeatedly 
examined by French and English doctors, and the former, 
Brouardel, Charcot, and Dieulafoy, agreed that his illness must 
have a fatal issue at no very distant date. Nevertheless, there 
were frequent interpellations in the Chamber of Deputies 
respecting his extradition. He was struck off the roll of the 



366 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Legion of Honour in January 1893, 1 and in the following June 
Millevoye, an Anglophobist and ex-Boulangist deputy, subse- 
quently notorious as the editor of La Patrie,took the Government 
to task respecting the delay in the extradition proceedings, and 
the British Government's behaviour in regard to them. But 
the character of the debate suddenly changed. A Nationalist 
organ, La Cocarde, had previously announced the early publica- 
tion of some "documents 1 "' which had been stolen from the 
British Embassy, and which it asserted to be extremely com- 
promising for certain members of the French Legislature. 
Millevoye, who had alluded to this affair in his speech to the 
Chamber, was summoned to explain himself, and thereupon 
read out the alleged "documents,"" which consisted of some 
letters ascribed to Sir Thomas W. Lister of the British Foreign 
Office — letters imputing to several politicians and journalists, 
such as Burdeau, Clemenceau, and Rochefort, the acceptance of 
British bribes, ranging from i?2000 to £3600, in connection 
with the Herz business and French affairs generally. 

Millevoye declared that these letters had been given him by 
a " patriot of the island of Mauritius," but directly he began 
to read them to the Chamber it became patent that they were 
rank and clumsy forgeries. For a moment the excitable 
Deroulede tried to support his friend Millevoye, but they both 
succumbed to the storm of jeers which their folly provoked, 
and resigned their seats as a result of the censure which the 
Chamber speedily inflicted on them. 2 Millevoye's " patriot of 
Mauritius" proved to be a mulatto named Norton. He and 
Ducret, the editor of La Cocarde, were both tried for forgery, 
the first being sentenced to three years' and the second, as an 
accessory, to one year's imprisonment. Neither the Prime 
Minister, Charles Dupuy, nor the Foreign Minister, Develle, 
came well out of this affair, for it was shown that Norton's 
"documents" had been previously made known to them, and 

1 The Council of the Legion proved more dilatory in some other cases, 
and thereby came into conflict with the Chamber, which on July 13, 1895, 
passed a resolution inviting the Government to reorganise the Council, as it 
took " such little account of the decisions of justice." The Council thereupon 
resigned, and General F^vrier, Chancellor of the Order, followed its example. 

2 " The Chamber, stigmatising the odious and ridiculous slanders brought 
forward at the tribune, and regretting the loss of the country's time, 
throughout an entire sitting, passes to the order of the day "—For the 
motion, 382 ; against it, 2— Millevoye and Deroulede. 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 367 

that they had imagined they might be genuine ! In that 
matter the wish may have been father to the thought, not that 
Dupuy and Develle were violent Anglophobists, like Millevoye, 
or on account of the delicate questions, notably in regard to 
Siam, which were then pending between France and Great 
Britain, but because it might have served their interests if some 
of the Frenchmen named in the " documents " had really been 
guilty of taking bribes from " perfidious Albion.'" 

The affair in no wise expedited the extradition proceedings 
against Cornelius Herz ; but in August 1894 the Paris 
Correctional Tribunal condemned him, by default, to five 
years' imprisonment and ^120 fine, which sentence the Appeal 
Court confirmed in the following year. At last the Bow Street 
magistrate was empowered torepairtoBournemouthin connection 
with the extradition proceedings, but decided, in his wisdom, 
against the surrender of Herz to the French authorities. Thus 
the Bavarian charlatan and blackmailer, who, after M exploiting M 
so many inventors, had preyed like a vampire on the Panama Canal 
Company, and driven Baron de Reinach to suicide, escaped the 
punishment of the law. Relying on the impunity assured to 
him by the English magisterial decision, he coolly insulted the 
French authorities when, somewhat later, they foolishly sought 
to obtain certain information from him. At last, on July 6, 
1898, he died, without ever having made any revelation of 
importance. 

Two years previously the other absconding Panamist, 
Arton, was arrested in London. He had long been resident 
in the vicinity of Clapham Junction, running a tea business on 
St. John's Hill, and taking his meals at a little restaurant called 
" The Crichton." In his case extradition was granted on the 
condition that he should only be prosecuted for offences at 
common law. He was first tried in Paris in June 1896, but 
those proceedings having been set aside, he was sent in 
November before the Assizes of Seine-et-Marne, convicted, and 
sentenced to eight years' hard labour. During those trials and 
afterwards he made a number of bogus or unreliable "revela- 
tions." Certain memoranda in his note-books were supposed to 
indicate the payments he had made to public men with the 
authorisation of Baron de Reinach acting for the Panama 
Company. It was impossible, however, to check either his 
memoranda or his assertions. His character was far from good, 



368 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

and it was contended that sums which he claimed to have paid 
away had really been squandered by himself in speculation or 
otherwise. Nevertheless, in March 1897, proceedings were 
instituted against several more members of the Legislature and 
prominent journalists — Henri Maret, Alfred Naquet, Antide 
Boyer, Levrey, St. Martin, Planteau, Gaillard, Rigaut, and 
Laisant, who, according to Arton, had received from him sums 
varying from ^SO to i?4000. When the case was heard in 
March 1898 the Public Prosecutor abandoned the proceedings 
against some of the accused, and the others were acquitted by 
the jury, who found it impossible to believe Arton's evidence. 1 
Some suspicion attached to the case of Naquet, who, instead of 
standing his trial at that time, crossed over to England, but he 
ultimately returned to Paris, and in his turn also secured an 
acquittal. 

A three volume report of the proceedings of the first 
Parliamentary Committee on the Panama Affair was issued in 
1893, and another came from a second Parliamentary Com- 
mittee in January 1898. In March that year the Chamber of 
Deputies discussed those reports, and by a unanimous vote 
in which 515 members participated, signified its opinion and 
censure in the following terms : — 

The Chamber regrets that at the outset of the Panama affair a 
lack of duty on the part of certain magistrates ensured impunity to 
the culprits. It also regrets the silence preserved at that period 
respecting the discovery of certain misdemeanours and felonies 
which led to proceedings in 1895. 2 It blames the police manoeuvres 
which were concerted at the Ministry of the Interior at the end of 
1892 and the commencement of 1893, and which resulted in 
negotiations (pourparlers) at Venice between an emissary of the 
detective service sent thither for that purpose and a person [Arton] 
accused of offences at common law and liable to arrest under a 

1 His statements and memoranda had given rise to many libel suits against 
newspapers, some of which, notably La France, had been mulcted in heavy 
damages at the suit of those who were accused of having taken bribes. 

3 The above passage refers to a scandal connected with the Southern 
Railway Company, in which Baron Jacques de Reinach was involved. A 
great amount of money had been squandered, and Edmond Magnier, a 
Senator of the Var and political director of V jtvtnement newspaper, had 
taken a large bribe from Reinach in return for his Parliamentary services. 
When a warrant was issued for Magnier's arrest in 1895 he escaped from his 
house hidden in a linen-basket, but ultimately surrendered, and on being 
convicted at his trial was sentenced to a year's imprisonment. See also 
ante, p. 359. 






THE PANAMA SCANDAL 369 

warrant. It also blames the interference and the participation of 
political men in financial negotiations and operations more or less 
dependent on public authority [this applied to several Senators and 
Deputies], and it repudiates all pecuniary assistance supplied to the 
Government in any form whatever by private persons or companies. 

The final words referred, of course, to the newspaper subsidy 
business in which Floquet and Rouvier had taken part. With 
respect to the magistrates who had failed to discharge their 
duty at the outset of the affair that censure was levelled more 
particularly at M. Quesnay de Beaurepaire, who had been 
Procureur general at the time. But it is only fair to add that 
on the Cour de Cassation inquiring into the matter it held 
that there were no grounds for a prosecution. This decision 
was tantamount to a reversal of the Chamber's censure in 
Beaurepaire's case. 

Reviewing the whole affair we feel that it certainly disclosed 
a lamentable state of things. There were distinct instances of 
culpability or grievous indiscretion. And we will not say that 
no moral guilt attached to every one of those who were 
acquitted at law, or to some who altogether escaped prosecution, 
such as certain newspaper proprietors and writers who bled the 
unfortunate Panama enterprise on a large scale, taking money 
not so much to advertise it in a legitimate way as to delude 
investors and to refrain from attacking the Company and 
revealing practices of which they were fully cognisant. But on 
the other hand the corruption was certainly not so widespread 
as some asserted. It was naturally exaggerated by the Republic's 
enemies, and in a good many instances the bitter personal 
jealousies and differences between Republicans themselves 
tended to magnify it. It was a matter of which one might 
well say that 

All those who told it added something- new, 
While they who heard it made enlargement too. 
In ev'ry ear it spread, on ev'ry tongue it grew. 

Taking the charges against the members of the Legislature 
it should be remembered that there were some 900 Senators 
and Deputies, and that guilt or indiscretion was proved against 
very few of them. On the other hand as regards the press, 
several of the Royalist, Bonapartist, or Boulangist journals 
which so freely denounced parliamentary corruption were 
among those which pocketed the Company's subsidies. It was, 



370 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

indeed, precisely on that account that Floquet insisted on some 
share of the Company's favours going to the Republican press 
also. That, however, was certainly a great mistake. A strong 
and really high-minded Minister would not have stooped to 
countenance such practices, and even regulate them, as Floquet 
did ; he would have stopped them directly they came to his 
knowledge. The collapse of the Panama Company was not 
averted by the course pursued. It came as it was, indeed, 
bound to come under the circumstances, and with aggravated 
consequences also, for not only was the Company's financial 
deficit increased by its largesse to newspapers and other bribe- 
takers, but government, parliament, and press became discredited 
in many directions. 

It is perhaps fitting that we should here append a brief 
account of the fate of the unlucky enterprise. In July 1893 a 
law was passed to facilitate the liquidation of the Company, and 
M. Lemarquis, who became special proxy for the stockholders, 
endeavoured in conjunction with M. Gautron, then liquidator, 
to form a new Company for finishing the Canal. About 
i?l,272,000 were subscribed by former directors, contractors, 
and members of the earlier syndicates, and in 1894 an effort 
was made to dispose of 300,000 new shares, of which, however, 
only 34,843 were at first taken up. Nevertheless a new 
Company was ultimately formed with a capital of i?2,600,000, 
represented by 650,000 shares, 50,000 of which (fully paid up) 
were allotted to the Colombian Government, which repeatedly 
renewed the Canal concession. There was not enough money 
to resume work again on any extensive scale, in fact the new 
Company could only keep the existing materiel in repair, and 
carry out some small and urgent operations. In November 
1899, however, an international technical commission formed 
ten able engineers, some from the United States and others froi 
England and Germany, reported favourably on the possibility 
of completing the Canal at a cost of about i?20,500,000. 
President M'Kinley of the United States subsequently had tl 
matter investigated by a special commission, and in 1901, with 
a view to the completion of the work by the American 
Government, the latter entered into an arrangement with 
Great Britain which superseded the Clayton -Bui wer treaty 
1850, whereby both powers had agreed that neither shoi 
exclusively control or fortify any proposed ship canal through 



THE PANAMA SCANDAL 371 

Central America. By the new arrangement, which is known as 
the Hay-Pauncefote treaty, Great Britain agreed that the 
United States should have the sole right of constructing, 
maintaining, and policing the Panama Canal ; the United States 
on its side undertaking that the regulations of the enterprise 
should be substantially the same as those now governing the 
free navigation of the Suez Canal. The French Panama 
Company thereupon sold its rights and property to the United 
States for a sum of dP8,000,000, subject to the conclusion of 
a treaty between the purchasers and the Colombian Republic. 
Such a treaty was negotiated at Washington, it being agreed 
that, in return for a payment of ^2,000,000, and an annual 
rental of ^50,000, the United States should be granted a 
hundred years' lease with a privilege of perpetual renewal. 
Unluckily for Colombia, however, its Congress obstinately 
refused to ratify this treaty, in spite of significant warnings 
that, if it should fall through, Panama would assert its 
independence — as, indeed, it had done repeatedly during the 
previous half-century. With American support the threatened 
Revolution took place in November 1903, and Colombia 
thereby lost both its Panamese territory and the money 
proffered by the United States. The latter secured in per- 
petuity from the new Republic of Panama a strip of country 
ten miles in width and extending from ocean to ocean, together 
with unlimited rights of control, the terms of purchase being 
virtually identical with those which Colombia had spurned. 
Since that period the completion of the Canal has been 
progressing slowly but steadily under American auspices. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE ANARCHIST TERROR — THE ASSASSINATION 
OF CARNOT 

The Anarchists, their Precursors and their Theories — Bakunin and the 
Fe"d£ration Jurassienne — Early Phases of the Anarchist Movement in 
France — "Propaganda by Deeds" — The Russian Nihilists in France— 
The Murder of General Seliverskoff— The Affair at Fourmies— The Clichy 
Anarchists— Ravachol, the " Chevalier de la Dynamite "—The Crime at 
La Varizelle — The Violation of Mme. de Rochetaillee's Grave — The 
Murder of the Hermit of Chambles— Another crime imputed to Ravachol 
— His sojourn at St. Denis — The Theft of the Dynamite Cartridges — 
The Explosions of the Boulevard St. Germain, the Lobau Barracks, the 
Rue de Clichy, and the Cafe Very — Ravachol's Trials in Paris and at 
Montbrison — His Death by the Guillotine— Leauthier's Crime — The 
Deaths of Ferry, Taine, Maupassant, Gounod, and MacMahon — The 
Russian Fleet at Toulon — A Casimir-Perier Ministry— Vaillant and the 
Bomb of the Palais Bourbon — The Explosions of the Hotel Terminus, 
the Faubourg St. Jacques, and the Rue St. Martin— The Bomb of the 
Madeleine — The Outrage at Foyot's Restaurant — The Trial and Execution 
of Emile Henry — The Villisse Affair — The Second Dupuy Ministry — 
The Prosecution of the Thirty— The Murder of Carnot by Caserio— His 
Trial and Execution — Some later Outrages. 

In 1892, while M. Loubet was Prime Minister and the Panama 
scandal was gradually approaching a climax, Paris was 
suddenly startled and then horrified by a succession of dastardly 
outrages and crimes, the motives of which at first seemed to be 
incomprehensible, though it was immediately recognised that 
they were the work of so-called Anarchists. The name of 
Anarchist had been made familiar in France some forty years 
previously by the writings of P. J. Proudhon, but the sect 
claimed a far more distant ancestry. Traces of its principal 
theories might be found, indeed, among the views held by 
some of the early Christians, views which either survived until, 
or sprang up afresh during the Middle Ages, and which had 

372 



EARLY PHASES OF ANARCHISM 373 

exponents during the popular risings in England in the fourteenth 
century, and among the German Anabaptists two hundred 
years later. It may be taken, however, that the nineteenth and 
twentieth century Anarchist is more particularly the offspring of 
some of the " philosophy " current in France about the time 
of the great Revolution. Abbe Meslier, Jean Jacques Rousseau, 
and Diderot were more or less the modern Anarchist's pro- 
genitors. Indeed the canons of his belief are almost summed 
up in two lines which fell from Diderot's pen : — 

La nature n'a fait ni serviteurs ni maitres, 
Je ne veux ni donner ni recevoir des lois. 

The Hebertists and Babouvists of , the period of the Terror 
favoured in some degree those doctrines. Subsequently, during 
Louis Philippe's reign, the Anarchist theory found an exponent 
in Bellegarrigue ; and later still, during the Republic of 1848, 
Claude Pelletier adopted its more essential points. As for the 
Anarchism of to-day that is best expounded in La Societe 
mourante et FAnarchie, by Jean Grave, but it is also clearly 
and cleverly epitomised in Malato's pamphlet, La Philosophie 
de P Anarchic To put the matter briefly, Anarchism is a 
political and social system, in which each individual being 
develops according to his natural rights, and in which society 
quite dispenses with central government. It is argued that 
every man has a natural, equal, and imprescriptible right to 
happiness and free development; but that this right is 
annihilated in the existing social systems by a number of evil 
or blamable institutions, such as central or superior authority, 
religion, family ties, property-rights, militarism, patriotism, 
and so forth, these, in their ensemble, having established upon 
earth a regime which cannot be justified in logic, and which, 
in practice, is evil and criminal. That regime then, says the 
Anarchist, must be cast down, and replaced by one of true 
liberty and fraternity, that is a commonalty in which each 
man would work according to his strength, and receive according 
to his needs. All beings would be equal, all unions would be 
free. If man is not naturally good and kindly, he is at least 
capable of becoming so, and of realising that his own interests 
are inseparable from those of humanity at large. It would be 
possible and just, it is added, to replace the existing system of 
oppressive and unjust laws by a state of common brotherly 



374 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



customs. From this it will be seen that the Anarchist theory 
differs largely from the doctrines of the Socialist schools, which 
embrace in various degrees such principles as authority and 
compulsion. But, the reader may say, there is nothing in the 
Anarchist theory, as set forth above, to justify bomb- thro wing, 
destruction, and slaughter. Those deeds, however, are the 
outcome of the principle that the existing rdgime of Society 
must be cast down, and in this respect one sees what a wide 
difference there is between Socialism and Anarchism. The 
former likewise wishes to overthrow the present system, but 
seeks to do so by exclusively lawful means, the power of the 
vote, and so forth ; whereas Anarchism declares that laws are 
altogether wrong and ought not to be obeyed, and that the 
social change should be effected by revolutionary courses and 
not by the lawful means of which Socialists seek to avail 
themselves. Indeed, the employment of lawful means 
would be an acknowledgment of the authority of laws, an 
authority which the Anarchist absolutely denies. But let it 
be added that while there are many thousands of Anarchists 
scattered through Europe and America, the vast majority are 
content to state their theories and confine themselves to 
persuasive propaganda. It is only the more fanatical and 
less intelligent sectarians that have carried out the so-called 
"propaganda by deeds " by means of bombs and other de- 
structive or death-dealing instruments. 

The direct father of nineteenth and twentieth century 
Anarchism was the Russian Revolutionary Michael Bakunin. 1 
In September 1872 a split occurred in a Congress of the Inter- 
national Society of Workers held at the Hague. Bakunin's 

1 Descended from an old noble family of Twer, this apostle of Nihilism 
and Anarchism was born in 1814. In his youth he entered the Artillery 
School of St. Petersburg, but renounced a military career, and subsequently 
repaired to Berlin, where he became a member of the Hegelian sect. He 
afterwards associated with Proudhon and other French Revolutionaries, and 
in 1848 was mixed up in the attempts to free the Slav populations of Austria 
from the rule of the Hapsburgs. In the following year he headed the insur- 
rection of Dresden, but having been captured by the Prussian authorities he 
was handed over to the Emperor Nicholas I. of Russia, who in 1851 com- 
mitted him to the dungeons of Schliisselburg. Five years later Alexander II. 
sent him to Siberia as a penal colonist, but in 1859 he escaped and made his 
way to Japan. He reached England in 1861, and became one of the chief 
promoters of the International Society referred to above. His death took 
place in 1876. 



EARLY PHASES OF ANARCHISM 375 

individualist views could not possibly be reconciled with the 
socialist theories of Karl Marx. Moreover, the two leaders 
cordially detested each other, and each took his own course, 
followed by his adherents. Whilst Marx triumphed more par- 
ticularly in Germany, Bakunin founded the so-called Federation 
Jurassienne, which recruited many adherents in Eastern France, 
in Switzerland and Northern Italy, its views being also carried 
into Spain by Bakunin's disciple, Farelli. A newspaper, 
called LAvant Garde and edited by Paul Brousse, was 
established at Geneva, but it was in Italy in 1877 — a year 
after Bakunin's death — that the Anarchists first made them- 
selves really conspicuous. They did not effect much progress 
in France until 1878, when VAvant Garde having been killed 
by repeated prosecutions, another journal, Le Revolte, was 
founded by Prince Kropotkin and ^lisee Reclus who, 
although an Anarchist, was none the less a very eminent 
geographer. At a congress held in France in 1879 the 
Socialists and Anarchists found agreement impossible. The 
former decided to take part in electoral contests, the latter 
resolved to have nothing to do with them but to employ 
revolutionary tactics. Some attempt to effect a compromise 
was made at a subsequent congress at Havre, but dissensions 
soon broke out again. Nevertheless twenty-one Anarchist 
delegates, representing seven distinct "groups," attended a 
Socialist Congress held in Paris in 1881. They were expelled 
from that gathering after a series of violent scenes, and thereupon 
organised an independent Revolutionary Congress. 

It was now that the Anarchist movement really began to 
take shape in France. Another newspaper, La Revolution Sociale, 
was established in Paris, and the " groups " of Lyons, Grenoble, 
Vienne, Roanne, St. Etienne, Narbonne, Beziers, and Cette 
adhered to the Parisian programme. Lyons, moreover, not to 
be outdone by the capital, now had an Anarchist organ of its 
own, a weekly journal called Le Droit Social, with an average 
circulation of about 8000 copies, which will show how largely 
the movement (which some may deem insane) was already 
spreading. In the same year, 1881, an Anarchist Congress 
was held in London with the object of exchanging views and 
arriving at a common programme, but virtually nothing was 
effected in that respect, perhaps because Anarchism, in spite of 
the attempts to bind it together by means of "groups," is 



376 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



essentially a perverted form of individualism, in which each 
takes his own independent course. A few Anarchists, sharing 
the same particular idea, occasionally combine to carry it into 
effect, but there is no central authority, no board of directors, 
no junta, no camarilla, no governing power of any kind. Some 
European governments long imagined that there must be a 
regular organisation, and on that account blundered exceedingly 
in their attempts to put down the movement. London, 
moreover, has long been regarded as the city whence the mot 
cTordre goes forth for some dreadful outrage. But there is no 
mot cTo?'dre at all, there is simply individual inspiration, and 
thus you cannot stamp out Anarchism as you might suppress 
certain conspiracies. Anarchism is at once hydra -headed 
and elusive. 

It was in 1882 that the French Anarchists first began to 
practise the so-called " propaganda by deeds." There were 
serious revolutionary disturbances at Montceau-les-Mines, the 
great coal-mining centre in Saone-et-Loire. Dynamite now 
began to play a role in such risings. There were several 
explosions, a chapel on one occasion being completely destroyed. 
It became necessary to draft a strong body of troops into the 
district, and a large number of workmen were arrested and tried 
at Riom. Lyons also had its Anarchist affair, a bomb being 
thrown at a cafe on the Place Bellecour, with the result that a 
man was killed. Prince Kropotkin, the Nihilist, was accused 
of having helped to foment these disorders, and was arrested 
and sent to prison with many others as we related in a previous 
chapter. 1 Later came a semi- Anarchist demonstration on the 
Place des Invalides in Paris, in which Louise Michel figured, 
her participation leading to a sentence of six years'* solitary 
confinement — an excessive penalty in the case of a woman who 
really needed careful treatment in an asylum. However, thanks 
to a subsequent amnesty she served only a portion of her term. 
There were many other arrests and condemnations at that time, 
but the Anarchist movement was not checked by them. It 
now had a fresh newpaper, Tcrrc et Libcrtc, which appeared 
every week and attained a circulation of nearly 20,000 copies 
before a series of condemnations led to its demise some three 
months after its birth. Lc RtvoiU\ on which Jean Grave 
now collaborated with Elisee Ileclus, still continued to appear. 
1 See ante, p. 210. 



EARLY PHASES OF ANARCHISM 377 

Ensuing years witnessed, indeed, considerable accessions to 
Anarchist literature, and although there was a lull in the 
" propaganda by deeds " everything indicated that the principles 
of the movement were steadily spreading. 

In 1890 attention was momentarily diverted from the 
French Anarchists to the Russian Nihilists — whose tenets are 
almost identical. A number of Russians were found making 
explosives at Le Raincy in the environs of Paris, and arrest 
and condemnation naturally followed. That occurred in May, 
and during the following November Paris was startled by the 
murder of General Seliverskoff, a former Russian Minister of 
Police, at the Hotel de Bade on the Boulevard des Italiens. 
The assassin, a Pole called Padlewski, escaped with the 
assistance of some French revolutionary Radicals, notably a 
journalist named Labruyere, and the wife of Duc-Quercy, a 
notorious agitator. The latter hid Padlewski in Paris after 
his crime ; and the former accompanied him out of France, 
going with him, indeed, as far as Trieste. A prosecution 
followed this exploit, and if Padlewski escaped, Labruyere, 
Mme. Duc-Quercy, and a certain Gregoire paid for it by 
imprisonment (December 1890). 

On the following " May Day M there were some disturbances 
in the coal-mining districts in the Nord. Both M. Isaac, the 
sub-Prefect, and Major Chapu, the officer commanding some 
troops called out at Fourmies, virtually lost their heads on this 
occasion, giving orders to fire under such circumstances that 
nine people were shot dead and forty wounded, those who were 
killed including four women and three children. This terrible 
affair aroused general indignation ; but curiously enough it was 
on account of quite a minor incident, occurring that same day 
at Clichy-Levallois in the outskirts of Paris, that there came 
during the next few years a perfect Anarchist Terror, which 
culminated in the assassination of President Carnot. 

A party of some twenty Anarchists, headed by a woman 
carrying a red flag, was marching through Clichy when the 
local Commissary of Police assembled several of his men to 
disperse the little procession and seize the " seditious emblem.'" 
The scuffle which ensued became quite an affray, some shots 
being fired on both sides, though happily without effect ; and 
finally, three men named Dardare, Decamp, and Leveille were 
secured by the police. Desirous as we are of preserving strict 



378 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

impartiality in this narrative, we must admit that the police 
subjected their prisoners to gross ill-treatment, hitting them, 
kicking them, and dragging them along the ground. Had the 
Commissary been present, it would have been his duty to 
prevent this, but he had gone off to wash his hands — perhaps 
like Pontius Pilate — and, in the result, the prisoners had to be 
attended medically before they could stand their trial. Their 
original offence was not so very great, for the red flag had been 
flaunted here and there in and about Paris on several occasions 
since the return of the Communist exiles. Yet although the 
jury accorded " extenuating circumstances," the Public 
Prosecutor, M. Bulot, demanded exemplary punishment, and 
the Presiding Judge, M. Benoit, inflicted as high a penalty as 
he could, sending Decamp to hard labour for five years, and 
Dardare for three. Leveille had been acquitted. Now it was 
those sentences which provoked the outrages of Ravachol, with 
whom the Anarchist Terror began. 

Ravachol, the Chevalier de la Dynamite, as he was called in 
those days, was of German extraction. His real name was 
Francois Auguste Koenigstein, but his mother had been a 
demoiselle Ravachol. Though only of average height and 
somewhat slim build, he possessed very great muscular strength. 
He had a thin face, with the jaws of a wolf, and bright and 
cunning eyes. He had come into the world in the department 
of the Loire, that region of coal and iron, where the scenery is 
so often wild and rugged, and where life is always hard. It is 
there, indeed, that the most rebellious spirits in France are 
found. RavachoPs real calling was that of a journeyman dyer, 
and he had acquired a slight knowledge of chemistry — sufficient, 
at all events, to compound nitro-glycerine and prepare dynamite 
cartridges. Whatever his deficiencies he was a vain, boastful 
man, full of self-importance and fond of thrusting himself 
forward. He was eager, too, for money, and as his wages as a 
dyer did not suffice him, he practised coining, smuggling, and 
eventually murder. 

The first murders he committed took place at La Varizelle, 
near St. Chamond, where after breaking into the house of an 
old rentier named Rivollier, he despatched him in his bed by 
splitting his skull with a hatchet. Then, as his victim's old 
servant tried to escape, he followed her into the road and 
killed her there. But although he broke or forced every 



' 



RAVACHOL'S EARLY CAREER 379 

cupboard or drawer he could find, he obtained, apparently, very 
little money by those first crimes. They were perpetrated on 
the night of March 29, 1886. Several persons were arrested 
on suspicion, but the real culprit was never known until 
Ravachol ultimately confessed his guilt. A period of five 
years elapsed, and it may be that he committed more than one 
crime during that interval, but the next one, by order of date, 
that he acknowledged, occurred on a dark, rainy night in May 
1891, when, disregarding the incessant downpour, he climbed 
over the wall of the cemetery of St. Jean de Bonnefond near 
Terrenoire, and made his way towards the grave in which the 
Countess de Rochetaillee had recently been buried. He had 
heard, somehow or other, that this lady had been laid to rest 
wearing several valuable articles of jewellery, and these he was 
resolved to have. In order to reach the coffin, he first had to 
remove two stone slabs, one weighing 330 and the other 260 
lbs. But he was as strong as the famous assassin, Troppmann, 
and he accomplished his task and broke the coffin open. 
According to his own account, the odour of the corpse almost 
brought on nausea, nevertheless he persevered, and proceeded 
to feel the hands and the wrists, in order to secure any rings or 
bracelets which might be there. But there were none, and with 
a muttered oath he turned his attention to the neck, hoping 
at all events to find a necklace. But there was only a ribbon, 
from which depended a small consecrated medal and a tiny 
wooden cross. Ravachol ragefully tore them from the ribbon, 
flung them away, and hastened from the spot, lamenting his 
bad luck. 

A few weeks later, on June 19, he committed a much more 
profitable crime. There was an old man, an octogenarian 
named Jacques Brunei, living in a lonely cabin near Chambles. 
He had dwelt there for fifty years and was known as the Hermit, 
having, indeed, a great reputation for piety, but belonging 
apparently to no religious order. He went about soliciting 
alms, and people often brought him money and victuals. It 
occurred to Ravachol that as the Hermit spent little or nothing 
on sustenance, he must have a secret hoard, and in this surmise 
he was not mistaken. About noon, on June 19, 1891, he 
repaired to the Hermit's cabin, and told him he would give 
him twenty francs to have some masses said, if he could give 
him change for a fifty franc note. The Hermit, who was lying 



380 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

on his bed, replied that he had no ehange, and — perhaps 
because he did not like his visitor's manner — made an attempt 
to rise. But Ravachol prevented it, sprang upon him, knelt on 
his chest, stifled his cries with a handkerchief and strangled 
him. He found money all over the place, in an earthenware 
cooking-pot, in a cupboard, under the bed, and also in a little 
loft. And gold and silver and copper coins were all mingled 
together. The gold and silver alone represented £1600. 

Ravachol roughly sorted some of the money. He did not 
want to burden himself with the coppers and therefore flung 
them on the floor ; but he took as much gold and silver M lie 
could conveniently carry, shut up the house, and going towards 
the railway station entered a cafe near it and lunched. 
Murder made him hungry, and he devoured, it appears, an 
omelette of six eggs, some fresh-water fish and a steak, washing 
these down with draughts of wine, and afterwards treating 
himself to some punch, like a man well satisfied with his work. 
It was not yet finished however. He returned to the Hermit's 
dwelling, shut himself inside, and then carefully sorted all the 
money he could find. He realised that there was too much for 
him to take away on that occasion, but he resolved to return 
on the morrow with a valise. So once more he departed, this 
time for his home at St. diamond, where he informed his 
mistress — a lean ugly little woman, with eyes denoting hysteria 
— of his successful exploit. Her name was Rulhiere, and on 
the morrow he and she, after securing a conveyance, drove to 
the vicinity of Chambles. Ravachol went up to the cabin with 
a valise, in which he packed all the remaining gold and silver 
and sundry other valuables, and then rejoined his mistress. A 
few hours later a person of the locality discovered the Hermit 
lying dead on his bed, with some <i?50 worth of coppers strewn 
on the floor near him. 

But Ravachol had been noticed during his journeys to and 
from the cabin, and he was found and arrested. So were Jiis 
mistress and two receivers named Fachard and Crozet, to whom 
he had disposed of certain articles removed from the Hermit's 
dwelling. It happened, however, quite accidentally, that while 
the gendarmes were taking Ravachol to prison, a drunken 
man reeled into the midst of the group, and the gendarmes 
momentarily released their prisoner. He at once availed him- 
self of his opportunity and fled. His mistress and the others 



RAVACHOI/S CAREER 381 

were not so fortunate. They were brought to trial, and 
Rulhiere was sentenced to seven years'* hard labour, Crozet to 
one year's and Fachard to five years' imprisonment. 

Ravachol appears to have fled first to Lyons, where he rid 
himself of the coat and hat he had been wearing, throwing 
them away on the banks of the Rhone. Next he betook him- 
self to St. ^tienne, where he had certain friends, notably a man 
named Jus-Bdala, who was living with a girl called Mariette 
Soubert. It would appear that Ravachol had already deposited 
with them some of the money he had stolen at Chambles, and 
they contrived to hide him in their house for a short time. It 
was subsequently claimed that they even assisted him to murder 
an old woman named Marcon and her daughter, who kept a 
small ironmongery business in the Rue de Roanne at St. 
llltienne, but all three denied that crime, and indeed Beala and 
Mariette were acquitted by the jury which tried them on the 
charge. After a careful perusal of the evidence, we even think 
that Ravachol was guiltless in this respect. The crime was 
committed on July 27, 1891, that is only five weeks after the 
murder of the Hermit of Chambles, when Ravachol was in no 
need of money, as, on joining Beala, the latter had handed him 
several thousand francs which he had received on deposit. 

Before long all three of them, Ravachol, Beala, and Mariette, 
quitted St. Iiltienne for St. Denis on the north of Paris. Both 
men professed Anarchist principles, and had been connected 
with certain "groups" in southern France. At St. Denis 
they found themselves in a veritable hot-bed of Anarchism, the 
cause counting numerous " companions " among the riff-raff of 
the district. Ravachol, who had now assumed the name of 
Louis Leger, often heard them speak of the Clichy-Levallois 
case and the " martyrs " Decamp and Dardare, who had received 
such severe sentences, and the idea of " avenging " them gradu- 
ally grew upon him. Others, for their part, wished to " avenge * 
some of the Spanish Anarchists, whom the Government of 
the Queen -Regent was "persecuting" on account of their 
risings and outrages in Andalusia and Catalonia. A supply of 
dynamite being needed, Ravachol and three friends named 
Faugoux, Drouhet, and Chalbret, repaired to Soisy-sous-]£tiolles, 
south of Paris, where they stole about 120 cartridges from the 
works of a contractor named Couezy. Ravachol then employed 
a young fellow named Simon, a Parisian gavroche, more usually 



382 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

known by the sobriquet of Biscuit, to reconnoitre the house on 
the Boulevard St. Germain where M. Benoit, the judge who 
had sentenced Decamp and Dardare, occupied a flat, and he 
afterwards repaired thither himself, provided with an explosive 
apparatus. The journey was made in a tramcar, and to avoid 
arousing suspicion Ravachol dressed himself on this occasion in 
a frock-coat and silk hat like some genuine bourgeois. He 
deposited his apparatus on the landing of the second floor of the 
house where M. Benoit lived, then quietly took his departure. 
An explosion promptly ensued, doing damage to the extent of 
i?1000 or so, but fortunately nobody was killed or injured. 
Four days afterwards, at a late hour on March 15, 1892, there 
was an explosion at the Lobau Barracks, this being the work of 
an anarchist carpenter named Meunier, who had secured some 
of the dynamite stolen from Soisy ; and although it so chanced 
once again that no loss of life occurred, the Government hastily 
drafted a bill providing that persons responsible for such explo- 
sions should be liable to capital punishment. 

On March 27 Ravachol replied to that measure by depositing 
an infernal machine in a house in the Rue de Clichy, where M. 
Bulot, the Public Prosecutor at the trial of Decamp and Dardare, 
resided. On this occasion six persons were injured more or less 
severely, and the damage to property represented nearly ^6000. 
Ravachol, well pleased with his exploit, went off to lunch at an 
establishment — half wine-shop, half restaurant — on the Boule- 
vard Magenta. It was kept by a M. Very, who had married a 
Mile. Lherot, the latter's brother serving as his principal waiter. 
Ravachol was very vain, and some boastful remarks he made 
respecting the Boulevard St. Germain and Rue de Clichy crimes 
prompted Lherot to denounce him. He was arrested, as were 
his friends Beala and Mariette, his young acolyte Simon, and a 
man named Chaumentin, who, in order to save himself, gave 
evidence against the others. 

Beala, Mariette, and Chaumentin were acquitted at the 
Paris Assizes, but Ravachol and Simon were convicted with the 
admission of extenuating circumstances (!), whereupon they 
were sentenced to hard labour for life. Full inquiries had now 
been made, however, into RavachoPs past career, and he was 
sent before the Assizes at Montbrison to answer for the murders 
we previously related. Beala and Mariette, who were arraigned 
at the same time, were only convicted of having harboured him, 



RAVACHOUS CAREER 383 

but he himself, having acknowledged some of the crimes in 
question, was condemned to death. He was undoubtedly a 
veritable brigand, an unscrupulous rebel against every law, but 
from the statements he made at his trials he evidently had little 
knowledge of Anarchical theories. He professed Anarchism 
simply because it gave him an excuse to satisfy his violent 
instincts, his passion for slaughter and destruction, being, indeed, 
little more than a savage beast who recoiled from no excesses. 
He refused to appeal to the Court of Cassation or to solicit a 
reprieve, and was executed at Montbrison on July 10, 1892. 
On his way to the guillotine he was attended by a priest, who 
vainly exhorted him to repentance. " Take away your crucifix !" 
Ravachol shouted in reply. " Don't show it to me ; I shall spit 
on it if you do ! " And forthwith he began to sing a horrible 
ditty, commencing — 

Pour etre heureux, nom de Dieu, 
II faut tuer les proprietaires, 
Pour etre heureux, nom de Dieu, 
II faut couper les cures en deux ! 

The world was well rid of such a miscreant. 

But he had already found an Anarchist " avenger." On the 
evening preceding his trial in Paris, there was a terrible explo- 
sion at the Very Restaurant, whose waiter, Lherot, had denounced 
him. Very himself was killed, as was a customer named 
Hamonod, several other persons being injured. This outrage 
appears to have been the work of Meunier, the carpenter, who 
was already responsible for the explosion at the Lobau Barracks. 
He fled to London, and was not secured until the summer of 
1894. As there were certain discrepancies and gaps in the 
evidence against him he escaped with a sentence of hard labour 
for life, twenty years being the punishment allotted to one of 
his comrades named Bricou, while a man named Francis, who 
had also been extradited from England in connection with the 
case, was acquitted. 

The explosion at the Very Restaurant created a panic in 
Paris, and the police arrested everybody suspected of Anarchism 
whom they could lay hands upon. Yet a good many " com- 
panions " remained at large in the northern outskirts of Paris, 
which seemed to be their favourite habitat. It was there that 
they sang " La Ravachole," composed by a " poet " of the band, 
and beginning — 



384 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



Dans la grande ville de Paris 
II y a des bourgeois bien nourris; 
II y a aussi des misereux, 
Qui ont le ventre bien creux. 
Ceux-la ont les dents longues — 
Vive done le son, vive le son, 
Vive le son de l'explosion ! 

There was also a ditty on the explosive by the means of 
which death and destruction were to be meted out to the hated 
bourgeoisie, its chorus running — 

Danse, dynamite, 
Danse, danse vite, 
Dansons et cbantons : 
Dynamitons, dynamitons ! l 

After the explosion at the Very Restaurant some months 
elapsed without other outrages in Paris, but as the perpetrator 
of that crime had not been found, and there were frequent 
prosecutions of Anarchists for minor offences, on which occasions 
some of them indulged in the most horrible threats, apprehen- 
sion and restlessness lingered in the city. At last, on November 
8, an infernal machine was deposited at the offices of the Car- 
maux Mining Company in the Avenue de TOpera, and on being 
removed to the office of a Commissary of Police in the Rue des 
Bons Enfants, it exploded there, killing no fewer than six police 
officials. This again threw Paris into consternation — the 
greater as, although several Anarchists were arrested, the real 
culprit could not be found. The crime was ultimately acknow- 
ledged, however, by a young fellow, barely one-and -twenty, 
named Emile Henry, who belonged to a very respectable family, 
but was infected, like his elder brother Fortune, with Anarchist 
ideas. 

Slight of build, with a thin face, a sharp pointed nose, a 
little ruddy beard, and some down just fringing his upper lip, 
Henry was possessed in some respects of remarkable intelligence. 

1 Several years previously, before dynamite had become the favourite 

weapon of Revolutionary Extremists, and petroleum was still honoured in 

memory of the conflagrations of the Paris Commune, we recollect that the 

Berlinese followers of Hasselmann, " the German Marat," had a song set to 

the tune of the "Chanson de Mme. Angot" in Lecocq's operetta, with a 

chorus running— 

Hier Petroleum, da Petroleum, 

Petroleum um und um, 
Lass die Humpen frisch voll pumpen, 

Drelmal Hoch Petroleum ! 



RAVACHOL'S AVENGERS 385 

So great had been his precocity that at the age of sixteen he 
had already carried his mathematical studies to a point that 
entitled him to admission at the Ecole Polytechnique, which few 
young men are sufficiently qualified to enter before they are 
one-and-twenty. In manners Henry was cold, abrupt, energetic, 
always self-possessed, and some writers have likened him to an 
incipient Robespierre or St. Just. He did not enter the Ecole 
Polytechnique, as his relatives desired, because he was opposed 
to militarism, but took to commercial pursuits, first under his 
uncle M. Bordenave, an engineer, who sent him to an establish- 
ment he had at Venice. Ultimately he apprenticed himself 
to a clockmaker, and it was said that he did so in order to 
learn a branch of mechanics which would enable him to con- 
struct and regulate the most effective infernal machines possible. 
That he meant to cause as much havoc as he could was shown 
by the fact that the apparatus which exploded in the Rue des 
Bons Enfants was charged with no fewer than twenty dynamite 
cartridges. 

Henry had deposited it at the offices of the Carmaux 
Mining Company for this reason : serious disturbances had 
occurred at Carmaux some time previously, owing to the 
Company dismissing a workman named Calvignac, who, besides 
acting as secretary to the Miners 1 Union had been a member 
of the Municipal Council and as such was elected mayor of the 
town. The men on their side demanded the dismissal of 
M. Humblot, the acting manager; and a strike ensuing, the 
region was plunged into a state of disorder, attended by 
numerous acts of violence, the authors of which were in most 
instances arrested. The Prime Minister was then M. Loubet, 
who, while determined to punish criminal excesses, did not 
wish his administration to be branded by the working classes 
throughout France as the previous one had been, owing to the 
tragical affair of Fourmies, though the person really responsible 
for that affray had been a local functionary and a military 
officer. M. Loubet, then, proposed arbitration between the 
contending parties at Carmaux, and it was accepted, he acting 
as arbitrator. We think that this was the first occasion in the 
history of the third Republic when its government, instead of 
insisting on the letter of the law and confining itself strictly 
to repressive measures, threw itself, as it were, between the 
contestants in the interests of social peace. However, M. 

2c 



386 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Loubet's award did not at first give satisfaction to the miners. 
It specified that Calvignac should be reinstated as a workman 
and that the company should give him leave of absence to 
discharge his duties as mayor; that all the men on strike 
should be taken back except those sent to prison for violence ; 
and that M. Humblot, the manager, should resume his duties. 
The chief difficulty was occasioned by the sentences on the 
riotous miners. Their comrades wished them to be amnestied, 
and the Government refused that request. However, it very 
liberally commuted the sentences, and the men then went back 
to work. Now it was this affair, in which the Company had 
not been blameless, that prompted Emile Henry to deposit 
his infernal machine at their Paris offices, with the consequences 
we have related. 

Another period of calm so far as the Anarchists were 
concerned ensued, the Panama affair occupying most public 
attention. A number of celebrated Frenchmen, however, were 
passing away at this time. Renan, eminent in history and 
philosophy, in their relations to Christianity, had died in 
October 1892 ; John Lemoinne, the great editor of Le Journal 
des Debats, following him in December, while in March 1893 
France lost both her able statesman, Jules Ferry, and her great 
critic in art and history, Hippolyte Taine. In July came the 
death of the famous contour, Guy de Maupassant, who had 
previously lost his reason, being stricken at first with a form of 
la folk des grandeurs which led him to regard his literary work 
with supreme disdain, and to centre all his thoughts on his 
claims to social prominence as a scion of the old Norman 
nobility. The abuse of women and the abuse of drugs finally 
shattered his intellect, which, though it gave glimpses of 
genius, was probably predisposed to insanity, if one may judge 
by the fate of both his father and his brother. At last suicidal 
mania appeared, and although Maupassant was saved from 
self-destruction, it was only to linger for a time, bereft of 
reason. 

There was no little unpleasantness between Frenchmen and 
Italians during August that year. Italian labourers had long 
been pouring into France, and were welcomed there by con- 
tractors and others, as they worked for less money than the 
French. Disputes were frequent, however, and in an affray at 
the salt works at Aigues-Mortes in Languedoc, two Frenchmen 



DEATHS OF CELEBRITIES 387 

were killed. This led to terrible reprisals ; the whole population 
rose against the Italian immigrants, and fifty people lost their 
lives in the combats which ensued. Further, at Toul in 
northern France, the French and Italians working on a railway 
line fell out with tragical results. Italy took fire at the news, and 
Milan, Rome, Naples, and Palermo demonstrated against the 
French residents. The Republic's embassy in the Eternal City 
was only saved from assault by military intervention. However, 
both governments did all they could to calm the popular 
effervescence, which presently subsided. Again, the relations 
of the Republic with Great Britain were not particularly 
cordial at this time on account of the suspicions aroused by 
French action against Siam. On the other hand France and 
Russia were gradually drawing more closely together. In 
October a Russian squadron under Admiral Avellan arrived at 
Toulon, thus returning the French visit to Cronstadt. Avellan 
and many of his officers and men came on to Paris, where they 
were handsomely entertained. Some democrats and socialists, 
remembering Russia's form of Government and Poland's fate, 
resented the idea of any alliance between the Republic and the 
autocratic Empire, but to the nation generally it seemed like 
a ray of sunshine appearing amid the clouds by which France 
had been long encompassed. It promised companionship after 
prolonged isolation, moral support in time of peace, and the 
help of untold legions in the event of any wanton attack. 

Amidst the festivities to which that Russian visit gave rise, 
the gallant soldier who had first made a name by seizing the 
famous Malakoff fort at the siege of Sebastopol, died at his 
chateau in the Loiret. Two months previously, although he 
was eighty-five years old, he might still have been seen shooting 
over the coverts of the estate, but an affection of the digestive 
organs suddenly came upon him, soon followed by nephritis and 
urinaemia, which left no hope of recovery. On October 8 he 
fell into a semi-comatose state, accompanied by delirium, amidst 
which he was at times heard calling : " Les Turcos ! a moi les 
Turcos ! " as if, indeed, his imagination had carried him back to 
that unforgettable disaster of Worth, when the Turcos had 
fought on till their last gasp. The sufferer lingered in this 
condition until the morning of October 17, and then, after a 
brief return of consciousness, during which he saw the inevitable 
approaching and faced it serenely, he passed quietly away. 



388 



REPUBLICAN FRANCE 



Such was the death of MacMahon. France at that moment 
gave no thought to the errors which had marked his presidency, 
or to the limitations of his ability for supreme command. She 
remembered him only as one of her most gallant and devoted 
soldiers, and State obsequies were decreed in his honour. 

On the morrow of the Marshal's death France lost another 
eminent son, one whose spirit was never attuned to the roar of 
artillery or the crepitation of the fusillade. There was even 
little real virility in the art of Charles Gounod. Its chief char- 
acteristic was its feminine sweetness, a sweetness which made 
itself felt even when he strove to be solemn. Faust has remained 
his most widely known and most popular composition, but his 
best was probably Romio et Juliette in its final version, inspira- 
tion having then carried him to a degree of graceful litheness 
and heavenly douceur which he had never previously attained. 
He was, we feel, essentially the musician of tenderness and love ; 
and quite apart from the hostility of the French to Wagner on 
account of his nationality, one can understand that a nation 
which had grown up in the cult of such music as Gounod pro- 
duced, should long have been unable to appreciate the art of 
the master of Bayreuth. The Republic honoured the composer 
of Faust as she honoured the victor of Magenta: each was 
committed to the grave at the expense of the nation. 

For some time past there had been no Anarchist outrages, 
for although efforts were made to connect a certain Charles 
Moore — well known as the poet-cabman, one who composed 
verses while he drove his fares through the streets of Paris — 
with the Anarchist movement, it is certain that an attempt 
made by Moore on the life of M. Edouard Lockroy at the time 
of the General Elections of 1893, was inspired by his failure to 
obtain assistance from M. Lockroy, who, being busy with 
political matters, had neglected to answer Moore's applications. 
He knew him well, and, like Victor Hugo, he had previously 
befriended him. But Moore, imagining himself to be scorned 
by a confrere in literature, ended by repairing to M. Lockroy 's 
committee rooms, and there, on a landing, fired a revolver at 
him, fortunately without serious effect. At his trial the poet- 
cabman certainly asserted that he was an Anarchist — but that 
was the fashion of the day — and he did himself no good by the 
course he took, for a sentence of six years' 1 hard labour 
inflicted on him. An old workman named Villisse, who tried to 



FURTHER ANARCHIST OUTRAGES 389 

fire a revolver while he was in a crowd at the time of Admiral 
Avellan's visit to Paris, and was sentenced therefor to five years' 
solitary confinement, was also said to be an Anarchist, but he was 
simply insane, and ought to have been sent to an asylum. 

In November, six days after Salvador Franch, the Catalonian 
Anarchist, had flung a bomb from the gallery of the Liceo 
theatre at Barcelona, killing twenty-two and wounding forty 
persons seated in the stalls and the pit, Paris was shocked by 
a crime which might be directly traced to the influence of 
Anarchist outrage and literature on a feeble mind. The culprit 
was a youthful bootmaker named Leauthier. Nineteen years 
old and a native of the Hautes Alpes, he was earning a fair 
living and was entitled to receive a legacy of ^50 on reaching 
his majority ; but the perusal of wild writings had inflamed his 
mind against the glutted bourgeoisie " which consumed and did 
not produce." So little did Leauthier understand those words, 
that as in France a customer at a restaurant or cafe is called a 
" consumer " (consommateur) he resolved to avenge the " sublime 
Ravachol" on a "consumer" of that category. First of all, 
however, he resolved to be one himself, that is, to partake of 
a first-rate dinner, and then plant a sharp knife — one which he 
used in his calling — in the stomach of the most " consuming * 
bourgeois he might see in the establishment. He therefore 
repaired to Marguery 1 s well-known restaurant, adjoining the 
Gymnase theatre, where, if he did not partake of any sole a 
la normande, the dish for which the house was particularly 
renowned, he at least treated himself to soup, roast quail, 
claret, and champagne. When he was afterwards called upon 
to pay his bill he answered coolly that he had dined because he 
was hungry, but that having no money he did not intend to 
pay. " In that case," said M. Marguery, whom the waiter had 
summoned, " in that case a man does not drink champagne." 
" Well, the bourgeois drink it ! " Leauthier rejoined. " But they 
pay for it," said M. Marguery. " Yes, with our money ! " was 
the retort. The famous restaurateur did not argue the point 
any further, but putting his hand on Leauthier's shoulder led 
him to the door. The other was grasping his knife in his 
pocket at that moment, but either his courage failed him or he 
did not consider M. Marguery a sufficiently important person- 
age to be his victim. At all events he went off quietly. But 
on the next evening (November 13) he repaired to the Bouillon 



390 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

Duval in the Avenue de l'Opera, and at the moment when a 
well-dressed customer, who had just finished dinner, was putting 
on his overcoat, Leauthier stabbed him in the chest. Then he 
fled, but having left his hat behind him and feeling certain 
that he would be arrested, he ended by giving himself up to 
the police. " IVe had a good dinner," said he, " and I've stuck 
a bourgeois" When he heard that his victim was M. George- 
vitch, the Servian Minister in Paris, he retorted : " What ! an 
ambassador ? So much the better. 11 He would probably have 
been sentenced to capital punishment, but the factum he read 
in his defence at his trial, was so childish and so incoherent 
that the jury felt that he could not be fully responsible for his 
actions. They therefore gave him the benefit of " extenuating 
circumstances, 11 and he was sentenced to transportation for 
life. Like young Simon, RavachoPs whilom acolyte, he was 
killed during a revolt of the prisoners on Devil's Island in 
October 1894. 

Shortly after Leauthier's crime the Dupuy Ministry resigned, 
its more Radical members being no longer in agreement with 
their colleagues. M. Casimir-Perier, at that moment President 
of the Chamber, formed the next Cabinet, his parliamentary 
office being secured by Dupuy. 1 Except in regard to financial 
matters, in which it promised reforms to alleviate the taxation 
of the poor, the new Administration^ policy appeared vague. 
It had been in office only six days when, on the afternoon of 
December 9, a bomb exploded in the Chamber of Deputies. 
It was thrown from one of the public tribunes or galleries by a 
man who had meant to hurl it into the space immediately facing 
the seats occupied by M. Casimir-Perier and his colleagues. 
But, according to his own account, a woman nudged his arm, 
and the bomb, striking a pillar of the gallery, at once exploded, 
injuring numerous spectators and precipitating a quantity of 
shoemaker's nails and scraps of iron upon the heads of the 
deputies seated below. Altogether, about forty people were 
struck, but in most instances their injuries were little more 
than scratches, and the person who was most severely hurt was 
the very man by whom the bomb had been thrown. 

1 The Prime Minister took the department of Foreign Affairs, and the 
other posts were distributed as follows : Interior, Raynal ; Finances, Burdeau; 
Education and Worship, Spuller ; Justice, Antonin Dubost ; War, General 
Mercier ; Marine, Rear- Admiral Lefevre ; Public Works, Jonnart ; Commerce, 
Marty ; and Agriculture, Viger. 






FURTHER ANARCHIST OUTRAGES 391 

His name was Vaillant ; born at Mezieres in 1861, he was 
an illegitimate child, and, after receiving a barely rudimentary 
education, had been cast on the world penniless, when about 
fourteen years of age. He had tried his fortune in Algeria and 
the Argentine without success, and after returning to France mis- 
fortune had dogged his footsteps, though he was willing to work 
and had a good character as regards sobriety, being practically 
a total abstainer. By a marriage contracted when he was very 
young he had a daughter named Sidonie, and since his return 
to France he had cohabited with a woman who had borne him 
one or two children. At the time of his crime he was living 
at Choisy-le-Roi, south of Paris, and was employed in a business 
house at the princely salary of sixteen shillings a week. As his 
counsel, Maitre Labori, has said, Vaillant was simply an eocaspe're' 
de la misere. The statement he insisted on reading at his trial 
proved it. The sufferings of the destitute and the callousness 
of society were its principal themes. Of a dreamy and sensitive 
nature he had long brooded over his misfortunes, his bitter 
want ; and though he certainly upheld Anarchist ideas at his 
trial it is probable that he would never have entertained them 
had it not been for the misery to which he and his children 
were reduced. The construction of his bomb had cost him only 
a few francs, expended on various occasions, as his means did 
not allow him to dispose of more than a few sous at a time. 
As we previously indicated, the contents of the bomb were 
such nails as are commonly found in boot heels. There were, 
however, three pounds of them. 

Me. Labori pleaded ably for Vaillant, but the jury's verdict 
was a foregone conclusion, and this time there was no mention 
of extenuating circumstances. Vaillant was therefore con- 
demned to death. Several newspapers praised the jury's 
firmness. " No indulgence ! " said U £v6nement in an article by 
its editor, Senator Edmond Magnier, who, a little later, was 
sent to prison for selling his parliamentary influence to Baron 
de Reinach. 1 "A reprieve would be an insult to the jury," 
declared the Journal des De'bats. But Le Figaro and other 
newspapers, feeling that there were special circumstances in the 
case, were in favour of clemency. About <i?300 were collected 
by Le Figaro for the benefit of Vaillant's daughter, Sidonie, 
who wrote a touching letter to Mme. Carnot, soliciting her 
1 See ante, footnote, p. 368. 



392 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

intervention. There were a good many people who sought self- 
advertisement by thrusting themselves forward on the child's 
behalf, but some offers were quite sincere. Vail Ian t, however, 
insisted on appointing Sebastien Faure, the Revolutionist, to 
act as his daughter's guardian, to the horror, of course, of 
many would-be patronesses belonging to the aristocracy. 
Meantime, a good many Socialist and Radical deputies were 
petitioning Carnot for a commutation of sentence, and Me. 
Labori also saw him on the subject. It is probable that the 
President would have granted the appeal, but Casimir-Perier, 
the Premier, was absolutely opposed to leniency. He and his 
colleague Raynal of the Interior were at this time making a 
vain attempt to suppress Anarchism by issuing 2000 per- 
quisition warrants, and ordering numerous arrests. The names 
of many people who were merely chance acquaintances of 
Anarchists figured on the lists. The Cabinet Noir, moreover, 
was revived on a large scale. Nobody's correspondence remained 
safe. Letters addressed to London or Switzerland were regarded 
as being particularly suspicious. The Legislature, yielding to 
the panic, modified the press and association laws in a reactionary 
sense. And yet all those steps proved futile. On February 7, 
1894, two days after Vaillant had been guillotined, and his 
remains buried in the coin des suppliers at the cemetery of 
Ivry, a large branch of palm was found lying on the grave, 
with a card bearing these threatening lines : 

Sous les feuilles de cette palme, 

Que t'offre le Droit outrage, 
Tu peux dormir d'un sommeil calme, 

O Martyr, tu seras venge ! 

Those were no vain words, for on February 12 there was a 
terrible explosion at the Cafe Terminus, followed in March 
the bomb of the Rue St. Jacques, the bomb of the Fauboui 
St. Martin, and the bomb of the Madeleine. Next, in Api 
there was the affair of the Foyot Restaurant, while in June 
came the assassination of Carnot at Lyons. 

The tragical outrage at the Cafe Terminus was the work of 
Emile Henry, of whom we previously spoke. Bent on avenging 
Vaillant, he had first intended to throw his bomb either into 
Bignon's Restaurant in the Avenue de l'Opera or into the 
Cafe de la Paix on the Boulevard, but had not done so becaus 
he had noticed very few customers in those establishments, 




Jean Casimir-Perier 



FURTHER ANARCHIST OUTRAGES 

and wished (so he grimly confessed) to kill as many persons as 
possible. He therefore went towards the Gare St. Lazare and 
finally flung his deadly missile into the Cafe Terminus. The 
bomb was somewhat faultily made, and thus only one customer 
was killed by it, though a score were injured, some of them 
severely. Stopped while he was trying to escape, Henry fired 
several revolver shots, but was ultimately secured. He freely 
declared that he had made the bomb which had exploded in 
the Rue des Bons Enfants in November 1892, and his guilt in 
the Cafe Terminus affair was obvious. Cynical raillery and 
repartee were ever on his lips during his trial, his attitude 
throughout the proceedings being of the most uncompromising 
character. But at his execution on May 21 his courage 
forsook him and only with difficulty was he got to the 
guillotine. 

Meantime, there had been other outrages, perpetrated, it 
has always been thought, by means of other bombs which 
Henry had prepared, and which were removed from his lodgings 
at the time of his arrest, before the police were able to make 
any perquisition there. The person who secured those bombs 
is supposed to have been a Belgian Anarchist named Jean 
Pauwels, who was a friend of Henry's. In any case the 
delinquent devised a curious scheme. He engaged a furnished 
room in the Rue St. Jacques and another in the Faubourg St. 
Martin, then wrote to the police commissaries of both districts, 
stating that, overwhelmed by misfortune, he intended to take 
his life, and therefore desired that nobody should be accused of 
an act for which he alone would be responsible. The letters 
ready (they were signed with the name of Rabardy), the writer 
left, in each of the rooms he had engaged, a bomb placed in 
such a position that it would fall and explode directly the 
police forced the door, which the author of the scheme locked 
from the outside, carrying the key away with him. Thus on 
March 19, 1894, Paris was startled by two more affairs. The 
bomb left in the Rue St. Jacques exploded, wounding three 
persons, one of whom, the landlady of the house, died from 
her injuries. In the Faubourg St. Martin, however, the bomb 
fell harmlessly to the floor, and was afterwards exploded by the 
police, as a measure of precaution. 

Several fresh perquisitions and arrests, and the seizure of the 
various Anarchist journals followed those outrages. A number 



394 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

of minor offenders, Merigaud, Herteau, Castel, Rousset, and 
others, were also brought to trial in Paris and the provinces 
about this time, and sentenced to terms of imprisonment. It 
must be said, however, that in some cases the prisoners were not 
Anarchists at all. For instance, Gaston Richard, a youthful 
pork butcher's assistant, who stabbed the brother of a tavern- 
keeper at Courbevoie, and was sentenced to twenty years 1 
hard labour for that crime, declared at his trial that if during 
the investigation of his case he had admitted he was an 
Anarchist, it was simply because he had wished to prevent the 
magistrate from pestering him on the subject any further. At 
this period proceedings were also instituted against the Revolu- 
tionary writer Maurice Charnay, who was sentenced to six 
months' imprisonment for his so-called Catechlsme du Sold at, 
an early example of those efforts to diffuse an ti -militarism, to 
which the French Anarchists of to-day have largely devoted 
themselves. Jean Grave was also prosecuted for his book 
La Socittt mourante et TAnarchic, a subversive treatise, no 
doubt, but a remarkably well written one. Elisee Reclus, 
Octave Mirbeau, Paul Adam, and Bernard Lazare spoke in 
favour of Grave and his book, but he was nevertheless sentenced 
to two years' imprisonment, and it was ordered that all copies of 
the offending work should be destroyed. 1 

On March 15, as a man was about to enter the Madeleine 
church, a bomb he was carrying in his pocket exploded, and he 
was immediately killed. He was none other than Jean Pauwels, 
the Belgian Anarchist of whom we have spoken. Once again, 
then, there came several perquisition! and arrests, but most of 
those who were lodged in gaol had to be released after a few 
weeks' detention, there being no proof of their complicity in the 
Anarchist movement. Yet the Government still clung to the 
idea that there must be a gigantic conspiracy. It did not 
realise that the many crimes which had occurred were simply 
the work of more or less isolated individuals, inspired chiefly, if 
not entirely, by the mere force of example. On April 4 the 
windows of the Cafe Foyot in the Quarter Latin were blown in 
by a bomb, and a customer, M. Laurent Tailhade, one of the 
literary men who had attempted the psychology of Anarchism, 
was injured. The perpetrator of this outrage was never found, 

1 Grave profited by an amnesty granted in February 1895. Whilst in 
prison he had written another curious work, La SocteU future. 



ASSASSINATION OF CARNOT 395 

but it is unlikely that it was directed against M. Tailhade, as he 
had evinced some platonic Anarchist leanings. 

The month of May, marked by the execution of Simile 
Henry, went by without further crimes, but in June came the 
supreme tragedy. We previously remarked that President 
Carnot spent much of his time in travelling about France, 
inaugurating public works and attending a great variety of 
local functions. That year a Colonial Exhibition, due to private 
initiative, but favoured with municipal support, was being held 
at Lyons, and on June 23 the President who had promised to 
visit it, quitted Paris for that purpose, accompanied by M. 
Dupuy, the Prime Minister, 1 General Borius, and some members 
of his household. When the train stopped at Dijon, M. Carnot 
found his elder son, a lieutenant of artillery, his daughter Mme. 
Cunisset-Carnot, her husband and children, waiting to spend a 
few minutes in his company. There was a brief but cordial 
chat, the President embraced his son, daughter, and grand- 
children — for the last time, though he knew it not — and the 
journey to Lyons was then resumed. His reception that night in 
the great Southern city was an enthusiastic one. The working- 
classes of Lyons are extremely democratic, and in connection 
with strikes they have now and again given serious trouble to 
the authorities ; but the race which is found there is one with a 
naturally frank, open, cordial disposition. 2 Carnot, whatever 
the errors of his Ministers and the political necessities of the 
time, had made himself personally popular in many parts of 

1 Casimir-Perier's Cabinet had resigned on May 23, the Chamber having 
disapproved of its action in forbidding the employes of the State Railways to 
send delegates to a Trades-Union Congress. It was felt at that time that the 
Government's policy was assuming too reactionary a character, that its 
repressive measures had failed to stamp out Anarchism and had provoked 
much discontent among the masses generally. Nevertheless it was succeeded 
by an Administration which evinced identical tendencies. Charles Dupuy 
again became Premier and Minister of the Interior, his colleagues being : 
Justice, Guenn ; Finances, Poincare ; Education, Leygues ; Foreign Affairs 
(for the first time), Gabriel Hanotaux ; Public Works, Barthou ; Agriculture, 
Viger ; Commerce, Lourties ; Marine, Felix Faure ; and War, the sub- 
sequently notorious General Mercier. This Administration is known in 
French parliamentary annals as the " Ministere des Jeunes." Dupuy was 
then forty-three, Hanotaux forty-one, and Poincare" thirty-four years old. 
All their colleagues were under sixty. 

2 The clerical party has long been in a distinct minority at Lyons. Notre 
Dame de Fourvieres is less an attraction for the Lyonnese themselves, than 
for the tourists or pilgrims who go to the city. 



396 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

France, and the Lyonnese were resolved to give him as warm a 
welcome as he had met elsewhere. On June 25 he held a series 
of receptions, visited the Exhibition, and dined in the evening 
as the city's guest at the stately Palais du Commerce, in which 
the local Bourse is held. In response to the toast of his health, 
proposed by Dr. Gailleton, the popular democratic Mayor of 
Lyons, the President, after referring to political dissensions 
and social unrest, made an eloquent appeal for concord, " in the 
name of the country which needed that all her children should 
remain united in order that she might continue marching 
without a pause towards progress and justice, of which it was 
fit she should set an example to the world. 1 '' Those who heard 
and applauded those words regarded them as being virtually the 
Presidential ultima verba, for Carnot's term of office had almost 
expired and he had stated that he would not accept re-election. 
Nobody, however, imagined that his appeal was, at the same 
time, almost his last utterance as a man. 

The banquet was to be followed by a gala performance at 
the Grand Theatre. The distance thither from the Palais du 
Commerce — along the Rue de la Republique l — being very 
short, Carnot proposed to go on foot. But some member of 
his family privately told the Mayor that he was rather tired, and 
it was therefore decided to drive to the theatre in a landau. 
The President seated himself in the carriage, as did Dr. Gailleton, 
General Borius and General Voisin. A detachment of Cuirassiers 
rode in front, virtually walking their horses, for the Rue de la 
Republique, which is some seventy-five feet wide, was crowded 
with people, who had gathered in the roadway as well as on the 
foot pavements on either hand. A loud clamour of " Vive la 
Republique ! Vive Carnot ! Vive le President ! " went up as the 
head of the procession was seen slowly approaching, and neither 
the police nor the troops (who were altogether outnumbered) 
made any attempt to drive the onlookers from the road to the 
footways. The President himself seemed anxious to be in touch 
with that gay and enthusiastic crowd. A Cuirassier rode on 
either side of the carriage, and Carnot, addressing the one on 
the right hand (the side on which he himself was seated in the 
landau), told him to draw back a little in order that he might 
be the better able to see the great concourse of spectators. 

1 That fine street was one of the improvements effected by Napoleon III. 
and was originally called Rue Imperiale. 



ASSASSINATION OF CARNOT 397 

The presidential party had quitted the Palais du Commerce, 
by way of the Place des Cordeliers, at a little past nine o'clock, 
and the procession had scarcely turned into the Rue de la 
Republique, when a young man bounded forward, holding in 
his raised right hand a paper, which those who saw it imagined 
to be a petition. The steps of the carriage closed up directly 
its doors were shut, but it was a low-built landau, and the 
young man, resting his left hand on the top of the right-hand 
door, sprang up and struck the President a terrific blow. 1 
Within the paper which had been noticed, there was a poignard, 
and such was the force of the blow that the weapon penetrated 
to a depth of about four and a half inches, perforating the liver 
and opening the vena porta. Nevertheless Carnot had strength 
enough to draw out the weapon and fling it into the road. 
Then gasping, " I am wounded ! " he sank back in the carriage 
and fainted away. As for the assassin he had immediately 
sprung down again, and diving between the horses of the landau 
and those of the last row of Cuirassiers who preceded it, he 
darted to the opposite side of the street, striving to force his way 
through the crowd there and disappear. But, at his sudden 
rush and excited appearance people took him to be an escaping 
thief — for nobody as yet suspected the truth — and a pretty 
young servant girl pluckily caught hold of him by the sleeve in 
order to detain him. He wrenched himself free from her and 
struck her in the breast. But others then intervened, some 
policemen sprang forward, and he was seized and finally carried 
off, amid the frantic shouts of the crowd which, now knowing 
what had happened, wished to lynch him on the spot. 

The Mayor of Lyons, who was a medical man, did all he 
could for the unfortunate President, while the carriage was 
being driven as rapidly as possible to the Prefecture. There, 
Dr. Poncet, Professor of Surgery at the local Ecole de Medicine, 
and other able men, exerted themselves to save the sufferer's life. 
But they speedily perceived that the wound was mortal. 
Nothing could stop hemorrhage under such conditions. Carnot 
lingered for about three hours, expiring soon after he had 
received extreme unction from the Cardinal Archbishop of 
Lyons. His cousin, M. Simeon Carnot, and the latter's sister, 

1 Our narrative of the assassination of Carnot has been constructed partly 
from the published accounts and partly from what we personally saw in 
company with one of our relatives by marriage. 



398 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

as well as the Prime Minister and some other high 
officials, were with the unfortunate President during his last 
hours. 

The assassin's name — often incorrectly given — was Santo- 
Geronimo Caserio. 1 He was born at Motta-Visconti, in 
Lombardy on September 8, 1873. His father was a bargeman, 
and he had several brothers — all respectable, hard-working folk. 
At thirteen years of age he had been apprenticed to a baker at 
Milan, where he came in contact with various Anarchists whose 
theories he imbibed. His family vainly endeavoured to rescue 
him from such views. As a mere youth, however, he was sent 
to prison for distributing Anarchist writings among soldiers. 
Subsequently, to avoid serving in the Italian army, he fled to 
Lugano, in Switzerland. Thence he made his way to Geneva, and 
so on to Lyons. That occurred in the autumn of 1893. From 
Lyons Caserio repaired to Vienne, and finally to Cette, on the 
Mediterranean coast, where he secured employment with a 
baker, a compatriot named Vialla. Both at Vienne and at 
Cette he entered into relations with local Anarchists, meeting 
them at the cafes and wine shops they frequented. It was the 
execution of Vaiilant that first inspired him with the idea of 
assassinating M. Carnot, and finally the news that the 
President was about to visit Lyons prompted him to carry 
the idea into effect. On June 23 he deliberately picked a 
quarrel with his employer with the object of securing instant 
dismissal and the payment of what money was due to him, 
about 20 francs, with which, and a trifle he had saved, he set 
out for Lyons, travelling by train to Montpellier, Tarascon, and 
Vienne. At the last-named town he tried to find some 
Anarchists whom he had known there the previous year, but 
failed to discover them, and his money now being well-nigh 
exhausted, he resolved to proceed to Lyons on foot. Quitting 
Vienne about 2 p.m., he reached Lyons, a distance of some 
twenty miles, in the evening; and after buying a newspaper 
there so that he might ascertain the presidential programme, he 
followed the crowd to the Rue de la Republique. Never was 
premeditation more clearly displayed. Caserio had purchased 
the poignard with which he assassinated the President before 
quitting Cette, and had paid four shillings for it. The blade 

1 Otherwise St. Jerome Caserio. In books of reference he is often called 
merely Santo Caserio or Caserio Santo. 






ASSASSINATION OF CARNOT 399 

was marked " Toledo," but it was really French cutlery, made at 
Thiers in Auvergne. 

He repeatedly declared after his arrest that he had no 
accomplice, and had taken nobody into his confidence. At his 
trial his expression was placid, and his appearance youthful, 
merely a little down shading his upper lip. His manners seemed 
gentle, but his intelligence was plainly somewhat limited. On 
the presiding judge remarking that he had neglected his 
studies while at school, he admitted it, adding: "If I had 
learnt more I should have been cleverer and better. " At the 
same time he displayed no repentance for his deed. He asserted 
that he had cried " Vive la Revolution ! " when he struck the 
President, and " Vive TAnarchie ! " as he rushed across the 
street. On being sentenced to capital punishment, his placidity 
forsook him and he began to tremble. When he was roused 
from sleep on the morning appointed for his execution (August 
16), he quite broke down, bursting into sobs. He met his fate, 
indeed, like a child appalled by the thought of death ; and on 
the way to the guillotine the headsman's assistants had to 
support him on either side. It was said that he gasped " Vive 
PAnarchie ! " as he was cast upon the bascule, but in reality his 
only words were : " I won't, I won't," uttered in the Lombardian 
dialect, and suggesting the cry of a whimpering, recalcitrant 
boy when threatened with a flogging. Such criminals as Caserio 
may not be hardened offenders, they may have only a limited 
intellect, perverted by evil companionship, and swayed at last 
by a fixed idea, but whatever may be urged on their behalf, the 
fact remains that they are dangerous to the whole community. 
In the state of France at that time the execution of Caserio was 
inevitable, but it is perhaps a question whether the practice of 
Switzerland and Italy in such cases is not to be preferred. 1 

With all pomp and ceremony Carnot's remains were laid to 
rest beside those of his illustrious grandfather in the Pantheon, 
in Paris. Reaction was now rampant in the official world, and a 
serious schism sundered the Parliamentary majority. The policy 
of Republican concentration was absolutely abandoned, the so- 
called Moderate Republicans seeking an alliance with those 
Monarchists who professed to accept the Republic. Thus the 
Congress of Versailles chose Casimir-Perier to be President of 

1 The assassins of the Empress Elizabeth and King Humbert were not 
executed but sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life. 



400 REPUBLICAN FRANCE 

the Republic by 451 votes against 195 given to Henri Brisson, 
the Radical nominee. Those Royalists and Bonapartists who 
still refused to adhere to the Republic voted for General 
Fevrier, while certain Republican coterws, opposed both to 
Perier and to Brisson, scattered their votes between Charles 
Dupuy and Emmanuel Arago. 

Thoroughly "resolute government " was now decided on, 
and bills levelled at Anarchism were soon submitted to the 
legislature. They placed every person reputed to be an 
Anarchist outside the pale of the common law, they denied him 
the right of trial by jury, they were so worded that a mere 
remark, a mere letter, expressive of the slightest sympathy 
or interest, became an indictable offence, punishable with a long 
term of hard labour. It was proposed also to muzzle the 
press yet more tightly than before, and various rights and 
privileges in which the whole community was interested, 
including the ordinary liberty of the subject, were affected more 
or less directly by this panic legislation. Radical deputies and 
senators urged that there should at least be a time-limit to laws 
which carried France back to the dark hours of Orsini's crime 
and the tyranny of General Espinasse ; but the Government 
insisted that its measures must be eternal ! Both in the 
Chamber 1 and the Senate they were passed by large silent 
majorities, in spite of the many angry protests of the more 
democratic members. 

But the community signified its displeasure. Before the 
voting of the lois d "exception the Government had resolved to 
indict, on a charge of conspiracy, a number of persons concerned 
in the diffusion of subversive ideas and practices. The plan 
seems to have been to include in this prosecution both those 

1 M. Auguste Burdeau now took Casimir-Perier's former place as 
President of the Chamber, but he was unfortunately carried off by a 
pulmonary complaint at the end of the year. Born at Lyons in 1851, he was 
the son of a humble office-attendant, whose meagre salary was supplemented 
by his wife's earnings as a dressmaker. After remarkably brilliant studies 
at Lyons and Paris (defraying the cost of his education by the scholarships 
he won) Burdeau was appointed a professor at the Lycee St. Louis. He 
served Paul Bert as chief secretary at the time of Gambetta's "Grand 
Ministere," and after being elected a deputy for Lyons in 1885, became in 
turn Minister of Marine and Finances, distinguishing himself in both those 
offices. The untimely death of this exceptionally able man was much 
regretted. A national pension was conferred on his widow and children. His 
memory survives as that of the French translator of the writings of Herbert 
Spencer. 



ATTEMPTS TO SUBDUE ANARCHISM 401 

who dreamt of an ideal state of society, and those who carried 
on the so-called propaganda by act, the psychologists who 
simply frequented the Anarchists in order to study them, and 
the men who were the objects of their curiosity. The 
defendants picked out by the authorities were thirty in number, 
among them being several writers, four married women (their 
husbands 1 alleged accomplices), and three burglars, two of whom, 
we think, were Italians. The three burglars were convicted and 
sentenced for their offences against the common law, but the 
jury stoutly refused to convict the others. There was indeed no 
"practical 1 "' Anarchist, no Henry, no Ravachol, no Pauwels, 
among them. The majority were simply half-witted ideal ogues, 
crazy poetasters, entitled, perhaps, to be placed in asylums, but 
not such men as deserved the galleys — that seeming to the jury 
to be excessive punishment even in the case of more seriously 
subversive writers like Jean Grave and Sebastien Faure, who 
were among the accused. Moreover, many people were already 
inclining, rightly, we think, to the view that Anarchism was not 
to be stamped out by exceptional laws, martyr-making, or any 
other imitation of the measures which had altogether failed 
to subdue Nihilism in Russia. Briefly, the prosecution of the 
Thirty broke down, much to the Government's confusion. 

The Correctional Courts, in which there were no juries, gave, 
however, short shrift to those prisoners who were brought before 
them. There were numerous arbitrary arrests, and some 
perfectly innocent persons were sent to prison. It was only 
right that real apologists of Caserio's crime should be punished, 
but any man who spoke at all foolishly in his cups paid a very 
heavy penalty for his idiocy. Delation was encouraged by the 
authorities, and in that respect it seemed as if the days of 
Robespierre and the " suspects " might return. The electorate 
expressed its opinion of the reactionary policy which was being 
pursued in no uncertain manner. Casimir-Perier, before his 
elevation to the Presidency of the Republic, had sat in the 
Chamber as deputy for Nogent-sur-Seine, an agricultural rather 
than an industrial centre ; yet at the election for a new member 
a Socialist was re