« PreviousContinue »
Uhrich was bound down by his parole, while the National Assembly killed in the street-fighting Trochu, Vinoy, and Ducrot were busy defending after the coup d'état of December, 1851. Paris. Large forces were being concentrated both For fully a week did this energetic young stateson the Loire and the Rhone, but no one had been man have to wait in Paris for a favourable opporyet appointed, or even nominated to command tunity of starting. Morning after morning the them. The ministry of war, by Fourichon's Place de Saint-Pierre at Montmartre was thronged resignation, was vacant, and M. Cremieux, an by people eager to witness his departure, and amiable, easy lawyer, minister of justice in the morning after morning pilot-balloons were sent up, Provisional Government, was acting war minister. in order to ascertain the direction of the aerial His appointment, at such a crisis, was very unsuit- currents; but the wind kept persistently in the able, and there were loud demands for transferring west, and would probably have carried the balloon the war administration to a commission composed into the parts of France occupied by the enemy, of MM. Glais-Bizoin, Laurier, Steenackers, Frays- and possibly into Germany itself
, had the attempt sinet, Le Cesne, and Alphonse Gent. The nation been made to ascend. At length it changed to was becoming absolutely frantic with impatience the south-east; and at eleven o'clock on the mornand despair at the inaptitude of those who had the ing of Thursday, October 7, M. Gambetta, accomdirection of affairs, and at the utter demoraliza- panied by his secretary and the aeronaut Trichet, tion, both civil and military, which was spreading ascended in the Armand Barbès, carrying with through every department.
him an immense quantity of letters and several In these circumstances M. Laurier, the acting pigeons.
pigeons. During the night, however, a conmanager for the department of the Interior, a man trary breeze sprung up. On Friday morning the of considerable capacity, devoted to the cause of aeronaut in charge of the balloon, believing they the nation, and faithful to the trust reposed in him were not far from Tours, allowed the machine by M. Gambetta, his chief, thought that the to descend—but only to find out that they were moment had come when the government of Paris hovering over Metz, two hundred miles away should be informed of the serious state of things. to the east. The Prussian troops fired volley after Two words, translated “Come at once," were volley at the travellers.
. The balloon was made addressed by him to Gambetta, and intrusted to to rise again, but not a moment too soon, for the carriage of a “pigeon traveller.” The minister already some half dozen balls had pierced the car; of the Interior knew his agent well. Without and even one of the cords which attached it to the delay he consulted with his colleagues, who all balloon was cut, and had to be spliced by the felt convinced that his presence at Tours was minister himself, who was slightly wounded in the indispensable, and that he ought to proceed thither hand. All through Friday the travellers made immediately.
little or no progress, but on Saturday, at daylight, M. Léon Gambetta, the young barrister who was they descended in the neighbourhood of Montdidier, thus destined to play such an important part in a small town about four leagues from Amiens, and the struggles of his country, won a seat in the one league off the railway between it and Paris. Chamber of Deputies in 1869, as one of the mem- M. Gambetta was here met by a gentleman who bers for Paris, and distinguished himself by his conveyed him in his carriage to Amiens, whence bold attacks on the imperial policy, and his advo- he shortly after departed for Rouen, where a great cacy of democratic principles. A native of the demonstration was made by the national guard south of France, but of Genoese family, he was and the populace, and at the railway station the endowed with all the ardent physical and moral following address was presented to him :"Illusqualities of that passionate Italian race. His trious Citoyen Gambetta ; self-sacrifice is everyeloquence and capacity for business were proved by where, but energy, foresight, and management are many successes at the French bar, achieved by the wanting. Raise up these, and the enemy will time he was thirty-two years of age; but he came be driven forth, France saved, and the republic first into public note as counsel for some of the founded definitively and for ever. Vive la France ! accused under the government prosecutions of Vive la Republique!”
M. Gambetta made a 1868, against the promoters of the subscription for stirring reply, addressed specially to the people a monument to Baudin, one of the members of of Normandy, and concluding with the words, “If we cannot make a compact with victory, let us which on the 4th of September had only 500 make a compact with death.” Immediately after cannons, has now 3800, with 400 rounds of he left for Tours. Here the enthusiastic republi- ammunition for each. The casting of projectiles can was unpleasantly impressed with the aspect of continues with ardour. Every one is at the post the place, the number of officers and soldiers idling assigned to him for fighting. The enceinte is about the cafés, and the absence of that stern con- uninterruptedly covered by the national guard, centration of thought on one object which he left who from morning until night drill for the war behind him in Paris. He also found that little had with patriotism and steadiness. The experience of been done, that there was a lack of resource and these improvised soldiers increases daily. Behind vigour ill befitting the gravity of the crisis; and it the enceinte there is a third line of defence formed was with ill-concealed displeasure that he appeared of barricades, behind which the Parisians are found at the Prefecture window in answer to the clam- to defend the republic—the genius of street fightorous crowd below. In a few brief words he ing. All this has been executed with calmness acknowledged the honour done him and, depre- and order by the concurrence and enthusiasm of cating demonstrations, concluded as follows :- all. It is not a vain illusion that Paris is impreg
Let us work and fight. I bring you the instruc- nable. It cannot be captured nor surprised. Two tions and decisions of the Paris government. As other means remain to the Prussians-sedition and I cannot speak to you all, I have written. In an famine. But sedition will not arise, nor famine hour's time you will be able to read the object of either. Paris, by placing herself on rations, has my mission. Once more, gentlemen, let us work enough to defy the enemy for long months, thanks and fight, for we have not a minute to spare. to the provisions which have been accumulated, and Everyone to his post. "Vive la Republique!”” will bear restraint and scarcity with manly conHe at once held a council with his colleagues, stancy, in order to afford her brothers in the departand at night a decree was published, postponing ments time to gather. Such is without disguise the intended elections for a National Assembly, the state of Paris. This state imposes great duties chiefly because twenty-three departments were upon you. The first is to have no other occupamore or less in the hands of the invader. Simul- tion than the war; the second is to accept fraternally taneously with the decree, he issued the following the supremacy of the republican power, emanatcircular :
ing from necessity and right, which will serve no “By order of the republican government I have ambition. It has no other passion than to rescue left Paris to convey to you the hopes of the Parisian France from the abyss into which monarchy has people, and the instructions and orders of those plunged her. This done, the republic will be who accepted the mission of delivering France founded, sheltered against conspirators and reacfrom the foreigner. For seventeen days Paris tionists. Therefore, I have the order, without has been invested, and offers the spectacle of two taking into account difficulties or opposition, to millions of men who, forgetting all differences to remedy and, although time fails, to make up by range themselves around the republican flag, will activity the shortcomings caused by delay. Men disappoint the expectations of the invader, who are not wanting. What has failed us has been a reckoned
upon civil discord. The revolution found decisive resolution and the consecutive execution Paris without cannon and without arms. Now of our plans. That which failed us after the 400,000 national guards are armed, 100,000 mobiles shameful capitulation at Sedan was arms. All have been summoned, and 60,000 regular troops supplies of this nature had been sent on to Sedan, are assembled. The foundries cast cannon, the Metz, and Strassburg, as if, one would think, the women make 1,000,000 cartridges daily. The authors of our disaster, by a last criminal combinational guard have two mitrailleuses for each bat- nation, had desired, at their fall, to deprive us of talion. Field-pieces are being made for sorties all means of repairing our ruin. Steps have now against the besiegers. The forts are manned by been taken to obtain rifles and equipments from marines, and are furnished with marvellous artil- all parts of the world. Neither workmen nor money lery, served by the first gunners in the world. are wanting. We must bring to bear all our reUp till now their fire has prevented the enemy sources, which are immense; we must make the from establishing the smallest work. The enceinte, provinces shake off their torpor, react against