HOW WE GOT POSSESSION OF THE TUILERIES.
A ROMANCE AFTER THE MANNER OF ALEXANDER DUMAS.
BY PROFESSOR AYTOUN.
[MAGA. April 1848.]
HEADS OR TAILS?
I like political ovations. It is a very pleasant thing to perambulate
Europe in the guise of a regenerator, sowing the good seed of political
economy in places which have hitherto been barren, and enlightening the
heathen upon the texture of calico, and the blessings of unreciprocal
free-trade. I rather flatter myself that I have excited considerable
sensation in certain quarters of Europe, previously plunged in darkness,
and unillumined by the argand lamp of Manchester philosophy. Since
September last, I have not been idle, but have borne the banner of
regeneration from the Baltic to the shores of the Bosphorus.
As the apostle of peace and plenty, I have everywhere been rapturously
greeted. Never, I believe, was there a sincerer, a more earnest wish
prevalent throughout the nations for the maintenance of universal
tranquillity than now; never a better security for that fraternisation
which we all so earnestly desire; never a more peaceful or
unrevolutionary epoch. Such, at least, were my ideas a short time ago,
when, after having fulfilled a secret mission of some delicacy in a very
distant part of the Continent, I turned my face homewards, and retraced
my steps in the direction of my own Glaswegian Mecca. In passing through
Italy, I found that country deeply engaged in plans of social
organisation, and much cheered by the sympathising presence of a member
of her Britannic Majesty’s Cabinet. It was delightful to witness the
good feeling which seemed to prevail between the British unaccredited
minister and the scum of the Ausonian population,—the mutual politeness
and sympathy exhibited by each of the high contracting parties,—and the
perfect understanding on the part of the Lazzaroni, of the motives which
had induced the northern peer to absent himself from felicity awhile,
and devote the whole of his vast talents and genius to the cause of
foreign insurrection. I had just time to congratulate Pope Pius upon the
charming prospect which was before him, and to say a few hurried words
regarding the superiority of cotton to Christianity as a universal
tranquillising medium, when certain unpleasant rumours from the frontier
forced their way to the Eternal City, and convinced me of the propriety
of continuing my retreat towards the land of my nativity. Not that I
fear steel, or have any abstract repugnance to grape, but my mission was
emphatically one of peace; I had a great duty to discharge to my
country, and that might have been lamentably curtailed by the bullet of
some blundering Austrian.
Behold me, then, at Paris—that Aspasian capital of the world. I had
often visited it before in the character of a tourist and literateur,
but never until now as a politician. True, I was not accredited: I
enjoyed neither diplomatic rank, nor the more soothing salary which is
its accompaniment. But, in these times, such distinctions are rapidly
fading away. I had seen with my own eyes a good deal of spontaneous
diplomacy, which certainly did not seem to flow in the regular channel;
and, furthermore, I could personally testify to the weight attached
abroad to private commercial crusades. I needed no official costume; I
was the representative of a popular movement; I was the champion of a
class; and my name and my principles were alike familiar to the ears of
the illuminati of Europe. Formerly I had been proud of associating with
Eugène Sue, Charles Nodier, Paul de Kock, and other characters of
ephemeral literary celebrity; I had wasted my time in orgies at the
Café de Londres, or the Rocher de Cancale, and was but too happy to be
admitted to those little parties of pleasure in which the majority of
the cavaliers are feuilletonists, and the dames, terrestrial stars from
the constellation of the Théatre des Variétés. Now I looked back on this
former phase of my existence with a consciousness of having wasted my
energies. I had shot into another sphere—was entitled to take rank with
Thiers, Odillon Barrot, Crémieux, and other champions of the people; and
I resolved to comport myself accordingly. I do not feel at liberty to
enter into the exact details of the public business which detained me
for some time in Paris. It is enough to say, that I was warmly and
cordially received, and on the best possible terms with the members of
the extreme gauche.
One afternoon about the middle of February, I was returning from the
Chamber of Deputies, meditating very seriously upon the nature of a
debate which I had just heard, regarding the opposition of ministers to
the holding of a Reform banquet in Paris, and in which my friend Barrot
had borne a very conspicuous share. At the corner of the Place de la
Concorde, I observed a tall swarthy man in the uniform of the National
Guard, engaged in cheapening a poodle. I thought I recognised the
face—hesitated, stopped, and in a moment was in the arms of my
illustrious friend, the Count of Monte-Christo, and Marquis Davy de la
“Capdibious!” cried the author of Trois Mousquetaires—“Who would have
thought to see you here? Welcome, my dear Dunshunner, a thousand times
to Paris. Where have you been these hundred years?”
“Voyaging, like yourself, to the East, my dear Marquis,” replied I.
“Ah, bah! That is an old joke. I never was nearer Egypt than the Bois de
Boulogne; however, I did manage to mystify the good public about the
baths of Alexandria. But how came you here just now? Dix mille
tonnerres! They told me you had been made pair d’Angleterre.”
“Why, no; not exactly. There was some talk of it, I believe. But
jealousy—jealousy, you know—”
“Ah, yes,—I comprehend! Ce vilain Palmerston, n’est-ce pas? But that
is always the way; ministers are always the same. You will hardly credit
it, my dear friend, but I—I with my ancient title—and the most popular
author of France, am not even a member of the Chamber of Deputies!”
“You amaze me!”
“Yes—after all, you manage better in England. There is that little
D’Israeli—very clever man—Monceton Milles, Bourring, and Wakeley, all
in the legislature; while here the literary interest is altogether
“Surely, my dear Marquis, you forget—there’s Lamartine.”
“Lamartine! a mere sentimentalist—a nobody! No, my dear friend; France
must be regenerated. The daughter of glory, she cannot live without
“How, Marquis? I thought that you and Montpensier—”
“Were friends? True enough. It was I who settled the Spanish marriages.
There, I rather flatter myself, I had your perfidious Albion on the hip.
But, to say the truth, I am tired of family alliances. We want something
more to keep us alive—something startling, in short—something like the
Pyramids and Moscow, to give us an impulse forward into the dark gulf of
futurity. The limits of Algeria are too contracted for the fluttering of
our national banner. We want freedom, less taxation, and a more extended
“And cannot all these,” said I, unwilling to lose the opportunity of
converting so remarkable a man as the Count of Monte-Christo to the
grand principles of Manchester—“cannot these be attained by more
peaceful methods than the subversion of general tranquillity? What is
freedom, my dear Marquis, but an unlimited exportation of cotton abroad,
with double task hours of wholesome labour at home? How will you
diminish your taxation better, than by reducing all duties on imports,
until the deficit is laid directly upon the shoulders of a single
uncomplaining class? Why seek to extend your frontier, whilst we in
England, out of sheer love to the world at large, are rapidly
demolishing our colonies? Did you ever happen,” continued I, pulling
from my pocket a bundle of the Manchester manifestos, “to peruse any of
these glorious epitomes of reason and of political science? Are you
familiar with the soul-stirring tracts of Thompson and of Bright? Did
you ever read the Socialist’s scheme for universal philanthropy, which
“Peste!” replied the illustrious nobleman, “what the deuce do we care
for the opinions of Monsieur Tonson, or any of your low manufacturers?
By my honour, Dunshunner, I am afraid you are losing your head. Don’t
you know, my dear fellow, that all great revolutions spring from us, the
men of genius? It is we who are the true rousers of the people; we, the
poets and romancers, who are the source of all legitimate power. Witness
Voltaire, Rousseau, De Beranger, and—I may say it without any
imputation of vanity—the Marquis Davy de la Pailleterie!”
“Yours is a new theory!” said I, musingly.
“New! Pray pardon me—it is as old as literature itself! No revolution
can be effectual unless it has the fine arts for its basis. Simple as I
stand here, I demand no more time than a month to wrap Europe in
“You don’t say so seriously?”
“On my honour.”
“Give me leave to doubt it.”
“Should you like a proof?”
“Not on so great a scale, certainly. I am afraid the results would be
too serious to justify the experiment.”
“Ah, bah! You are a philanthropist. What are a few thousand lives
compared with the triumph of mind?”
“Not much to you, perhaps, but certainly something to the owners. But
come, my dear friend, you are jesting. You don’t mean to insinuate that
you possess any such power?”
“I do indeed.”
“But the means? Granting that you have the power—and all Europe
acknowledges the extraordinary faculties of the author of
Monte-Christo—some time would be required for their development. You
cannot hope to inoculate the mind of a nation in a moment.”
“I did not say a moment—I said a month.”
“And dare I ask your recipe?”
“A very simple one. Two romances, each in ten volumes, and a couple of
“What! of your own?”
“Of mine,” replied the Marquis de la Pailleterie.
“I wish to heaven that I knew how you set about it. I have heard G. P.
R. James backed for a volume a-month, but this sinks him into utter
“There is no difficulty in explaining it. He writes,—I never do.”
“You never write?”
“Then how the mischief do you manage?”
“I compose. Since I met you, I have composed and dictated a whole
chapter of the Memoirs of a Physician!”
“To be sure. It is already written down, and will be circulated
throughout Paris to-morrow.”
“Monsieur le Marquis—have I the honour to hold an interview with
“Mon cher, vous me flattez beaucoup! I have not thought it necessary
to intrust my experiences to the sympathising bosom of M. Frédéric
“Have you a familiar spirit, then?” said I, casting a suspicious glance
towards the poodle, then vigorously engaged in hunting through its
The Marquis smiled.
“The ingenuity of your supposition, my dear friend, deserves a specific
answer. I have indeed a familiar spirit—that is, I am possessed of a
confidant, ready at all times, though absent, to chronicle my thoughts,
and to express, in corresponding words, the spontaneous emotions of my
soul. Nay, you need not start. The art is an innocent one, and its
practice, though divulged, would not expose me in any way to the
censures of the church.”
“You pique my curiosity strangely!”
“Well, then, listen. For some years I have paid the utmost attention to
the science of animal magnetism, an art which undoubtedly lay at the
foundation of the ancient Chaldean lore, and which, though now revived,
has been debased by the artifices and quackery of knaves. I need not go
into details. After long search, I have succeeded in finding a being
which, in its dormant or spiritual state, has an entire affinity with my
own. When awake, you would suppose Leontine Deschappelles to be a mere
ordinary though rather interesting female, endowed certainly with a
miraculous sensibility for music, but not otherwise in any way
remarkable. But, when asleep, she becomes as it were the counterpart or
reflex of myself. Every thought which passes through my bosom
simultaneously arises in hers. I do not need even to utter the words. By
some miraculous process, these present themselves as vividly to her as
if I had bestowed the utmost labour upon composition. I have but to
throw her into a magnetic sleep, and my literary product for the day is
secured. I go forth through Paris, mingle in society, appear idle and
insouciant; and yet all the while the ideal personages of my tale are
passing over the mirror of my mind, and performing their allotted duty.
I have reached such perfection in the art, that I can compose two or
even three romances at once. I return towards evening, and then I find
Leontine, pale indeed and exhausted, but with a vast pile of manuscript
before her, which contains the faithful transcript of my thoughts. Now,
perhaps, you will cease to wonder at an apparent fertility, which, I am
aware, has challenged the admiration and astonishment of Europe.”
All this was uttered by Monte-Christo with such exemplary gravity, that
I stood perfectly confounded. If true, it was indeed the solution of the
greatest literary problem of the age; but I could hardly suppress the
idea that he was making me the victim of a hoax.
“And whereabouts does she dwell, this Demoiselle Leontine?” said I.
“At my house,” he replied; “she is my adopted child. Poor Leontine!
sometimes when I look at her wasted cheek, I feel a pang of regret to
think that she is paying so dear for a celebrity which must be immortal.
But it is the fate of genius, my friend, and all of us must submit!”
As the Marquis uttered this sentiment with a pathetic sigh, I could not
refrain from glancing at his manly and athletic proportions. Certainly
there was no appearance of over-fatigue or lassitude there. He looked
the very incarnation of good cheer, and had contrived to avert from his
own person all vestige of those calamities which he was pleased so
feelingly to deplore. He might have been exhibited at the Trois Frères
as a splendid result of their nutritive and culinary system.
“You doubt me still, I see,” said De la Pailleterie. “Well, I cannot
wonder at it. Such things, I know, sound strange in the apprehension of
you incredulous islanders. But I will even give you a proof, Dunshunner,
which is more than I would do to any other man—for I cannot forget the
service you rendered me long ago at the Isle de Bourbon. You see this
little instrument,—put it to your ear. I shall summon Leontine to
speak, and the sound of her reply will be conveyed to you through that
silver tube, which is in strict rapport with her magnetic
So saying, he placed in my hand a miniature silver trumpet, beautifully
wrought, which I immediately placed to my ear.
Monte-Christo drew himself up to his full height, fixed his fine eyes
earnestly upon vacuity, made several passes upwards with his hand, and
“My friend, do you hear me? If so, answer.”
Immediately, and to my unexpected surprise, there thrilled through the
silver tube a whisper of miraculous sweetness.
“Great master! I listen—I obey!”
“May St Mungo, St Mirren, St Rollox, and all the other western saints,
have me in their keeping!” cried I. “Heard ever mortal man aught like
“Hush—be silent!” said the Marquis, “or you may destroy the spell.
Leontine, have you concluded the chapter?”
“I have,” said the voice; “shall I read the last sentences?”
“Do,” replied the adept, who seemed to hear the response simultaneously
with myself, by intuition.
The voice went on: “At this moment the door of the apartment opened, and
Chon rushed into the room. ‘Well, my little sister, how goes it?’ said
the Countess. ‘Bad.’ ‘Indeed!’ ‘It is but too true.’ ‘De Noailles?’
‘No.’ ‘Ha! D’Aiguillon?’ ‘You deceive yourself.’ ‘Who then?’ ‘Philip de
Taverney, the Chevalier Maison-Rouge!’ ‘Ha!’ cried the Countess, ‘then I
am lost!’ and she sank senseless upon the cushions.”
“Well done, Leontine!” exclaimed De la Pailleterie; “that is the seventh
chapter I have composed since morning. Are you fatigued, my child?”
“Very—very weary,” replied the voice, in a melancholy cadence.
“You shall have rest soon. Come hither. Do you see me?”
“Ah! you are very cruel!”
“I understand. Cease to be fatigued—I will it!”
“Ah! thanks, thanks!”
“Do you see me now?”
“I do. Oh, how handsome!”
The Marquis caressed his whiskers.
“Where am I?”
“At the corner of the Place de la Concorde, near the Tuileries’ gardens.
Ah, you naughty man, you have been smoking!”
“Who is with me?”
“A poodle-dog,” replied the voice. “What a pretty creature! he is just
snapping at a fly. Come here, poor fellow!”
The poodle gave an unearthly yell, and rushed between the legs of
Monte-Christo, thereby nearly capsizing that extraordinary magician.
“That will do, my dear Marquis,” said I, returning him the trumpet. “I
am now perfectly convinced of the truth of your assertions, and can no
longer wonder at the marvellous fertility of your pen—I beg pardon—of
your invention. Pray, do not trouble your fair friend any further upon
my account. I have heard quite enough to satisfy me that I am in the
presence of the most remarkable man in Europe.”
“Pooh! this is a mere bagatelle. Any man might do the same, with a
slight smattering of the occult sciences. But we were talking, if I
recollect right, about moral influence and power. I maintain that the
authors of romance and melodrama are the true masters of the age: you,
on the contrary, believe in free-trade and the jargon of political
economy. Is it not so?”
“True. We started from that point.”
“Well, then, would you like to see a revolution?”
“Not on my account, my dear Marquis. I own the interest of the
spectacle, but it demands too great a sacrifice.”
“Not at all. In fact, I have made up my mind for a bouleversement this
spring, as I seriously believe it would tend very much to the
respectability of France. It must come sooner or later. Louis Philippe
is well up in years, and it cannot make much difference to him. Besides,
I am tired of Guizot. He gives himself airs as an historian which are
absolutely insufferable, and France can submit to it no longer. The only
doubt I entertain is, whether this ought to be a new ministry, or an
entire dynastical change.”
“You are the best judge. For my own part, having no interest in the
matter further than curiosity, a change of ministers would satisfy me.”
“Ay, but there are considerations beyond that. Much may be said upon
both sides. There is danger certainly in organic changes, at the same
time we must work out by all means our full and legitimate freedom.
What would you do in such a case of perplexity?”
Victor Hugo’s simple and romantic method of deciding between hostile
opinions, as exemplified in his valuable drama of Lucrêce Borgia, at
once occurred to me.
“Are you quite serious,” said I, “in wishing to effect a change of some
“I am,” said the Marquis, “as resolute as Prometheus on the Caucasus.”
“Then suppose we toss for it; and so leave the question of a new cabinet
or dynasty entirely to the arbitration of fate?”
“A good and a pious idea!” replied the Marquis de la Pailleterie. “Here
is a five-franc piece. I shall toss, and you shall call.”
Up went the dollar, big with the fate of France, twirling in the evening
“Heads for a new ministry!” cried I, and the coin fell chinking on the
gravel. We both rushed up.
“It is tails!” said the Marquis devoutly. “Destiny! Thou hast willed it,
and I am but thine instrument. Farewell, my friend; in ten days you
shall hear more of this. Meantime, I must be busy. Poor Leontine! thou
hast a heavy task before thee!”
“If you are going homewards,” said I, “permit me to accompany you so
far. Our way lies together.”
“Not so,” replied the Marquis thoughtfully. “I dine to-day at Véfour’s,
and in the evening I must attend the Théatre de la Porte St Martin. I am
never so much alone as in the midst of excitement. O France, France!
what do I not endure for thee!”
So saying, Monte-Christo extended his hand, which I wrung affectionately
within my own. I felt proud of the link which bound me to so high and
elevated a being.
“Ah, my friend!” said I, “ah, my friend! there is yet time to pause.
Would it not be wiser and better to forego this enterprise altogether?”
“You forget,” replied the other solemnly. “Destiny has willed it. Go,
let us each fulfil our destiny!”
So saying, this remarkable man tucked the poodle under his arm, and in a
few moments was lost to my view amidst the avenues of the garden of the
THE IDES OF MARCH.
Several days elapsed, during which Paris maintained its customary
tranquillity. The eye of a stranger could have observed very little
alteration in the demeanour of the populace; and even in the salons
there was no strong surmise of any coming event of importance. In the
capital of France one looks for a revolution as quietly as the people
of England await the advent of “the coming man.” The event is always
prophesied—sometimes apparently upon the eve of being fulfilled; but
the failures are so numerous as to prevent inordinate disappointment. In
the Chamber there were some growlings about the Reform banquet, and the
usual vague threats if any attempt should be made to coerce the
liberties of the people; but these demonstrations had been so often
repeated, that nobody had faith in any serious or critical result.
Little Thiers, to be sure, blustered; and Odillon Barrot assumed pompous
airs, and tried to look like a Roman citizen at our small patriotic
cosmopolitan reunions; but I never could believe that either of them was
thoroughly in earnest. We all know the game that is played in Britain,
where the doors of the ministerial cabinet are constructed on the
principle of a Dutch clock. When it is fair weather, the ambitious
figure of Lord John Russell is seen mounting guard on the outside—when
it threatens to blow, the small sentry retires, and makes way for the
Tamworth grenadier. Just so was it in Paris. Guizot, if wheeled from his
perch, was expected to be replaced by the smarter and more enterprising
Thiers, and slumbrous Duchatel by the broad-chested and beetle-browed
At the same time I could not altogether shut my eyes to the more active
state of the press. I do not mean to aver that the mere political
articles exhibited more than their usual vigour; but throughout the
whole literature of the day there ran an under-current of revolutionary
feeling which betokened wonderful unanimity. Less than usual was said
about Marengo, Austerlitz, or even the three glorious days of July. The
minds of men were directed further back, to a period when the Republic
was all in all, when France stood isolated among the nations, great in
crime, and drunken with her new-won freedom. The lapse of half a century
is enough to throw a sort of halo around the memory of the veriest
villain and assassin. We have seen Dick Turpin and Jack Sheppard exhumed
from their graves to be made the heroes of modern romance; and the same
alchemy was now applied to the honoured ashes of Anacharsis Clootz, and
other patriots of the Reign of Terror.
All this was done very insidiously, and, I must say, with consummate
skill. Six or seven simultaneous romances reminded the public of its
former immunity from rule, and about as many melodramas denounced utter
perdition to tyranny. I liked the fun. Man is by nature a revolutionary
animal, especially when he has nothing to lose; and it is needless to
remark that a very small portion indeed of my capital was invested in
the foreign funds.
I saw little of my friend the Marquis, beyond meeting him at the usual
promenades, and bowing to him at the theatres, where he never failed to
present himself. A casual observer would have thought that De la
Pailleterie had no other earthly vocation than to perambulate Paris as a
mere votary of pleasure. Once or twice, however, towards evening, I
encountered him in his uniform of the National Guard, with fire in his
eye, haste in his step, and a settled deliberation on his forehead; and
I could not help, as I gazed upon him, feeling transported backwards to
the period of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
At length I received the expected billet, and on the appointed evening
rendered myself punctually at his house. The rooms were already more
than half filled by the company.
“Are the Ides of March come?” said I, pressing the proffered hand of
“Come—but not yet over,” he replied. “You have seen the new play which
has produced such a marked sensation?”
“I have. Wonderful production! Whose is it?”
A mysterious smile played upon the lip of my friend.
“Come,” said he, “let me introduce you to a countryman, a sympathiser;
one who, like you, is desirous that our poor country should participate
in the blessings of the British loom. Mr Hutton Bagsby—Mr Dunshunner.”
Bagsby was a punchy man, with a bald head, and a nose which betokened
his habitual addiction to the fiery grape of Portugal.
“Servant, sir!” said he. “Understand you’re a free-trader, supporter of
Cobden’s principles, and inclined to go the whole hog. Glad to see a man
of common understanding here. Damme, sir, when I speak to these French
fellows about calico, they begin to talk about fraternity; which, as I
take it, means eating frogs, for I don’t pretend to understand their
“Every nation has its hobby, you know, Mr Bagsby,” I replied. “We
consider ourselves more practical than the French, and stick to the main
chance; they, on the other hand, are occupied with social grievances,
and what they call the rights of labour.”
“Rights of labour!” exclaimed Bagsby. “Hanged if I think labour has got
any rights at all. Blow all protection! say I. Look after the interests
of the middle classes, and let capital have its swing. As for those
confounded working fellows, who cares about them? We don’t, I can answer
for it. When I was in the League, we wanted to bring corn down, in order
to get work cheaper; and, now that we’ve got it, do you think we will
stand any rubbish about rights? These French fellows are a poor set;
they don’t understand sound commercial principles.”
“Ha! Lamoricière!” said our host, accosting a general officer who just
then entered the apartment; “how goes it? Any result from to-day’s
demonstration at the Chamber?”
“Ma foi! I should say there is. The banquets are forbidden. There is a
talk about impeaching ministers; and, in the mean time, the
artillery-waggons are rumbling through the streets in scores.”
“Then our old friend Macaire is likely to make a stand?”
“It is quite possible that the respectable gentleman may try it,” said
the commandant, regaling himself with a pinch. “By the way, the National
Guard must turn out to-morrow early. The rappel will be beat by
daybreak. There is a stir already in the Boulevards; and, as I drove
here, I saw the people in thousands reading the evening journals by
“Such is liberty!” exclaimed a little gentleman, who had been listening
eagerly to the General. “Such is liberty! she holds her bivouac at
nightfall by the torch of reason; and, on the morrow, the dawn is red
with the brightness of the sun of Austerlitz!”
A loud hum of applause followed the enunciation of this touching
“Our friend is great to-night,” whispered Monte-Christo; “and he
may be greater to-morrow. If Louis Philippe yields, he may be
prime-minister—if firing begins, I have a shrewd notion he won’t
be anywhere. Ah, Monsieur Albert! welcome from Cannes. We have been
expecting you for some time, and you have arrived not a moment too
The individual thus accosted was of middle height, advanced age, and
very plainly dressed. He wore a rusty grey surtout, trousers of plaid
check, and the lower part of his countenance was buried in the folds
of a black cravat. The features were remarkable; and, somehow or other,
I thought that I had seen them before. The small grey eyes rolled
restlessly beneath their shaggy pent-house; the cheek-bones were
remarkably prominent; a deep furrow was cut on either side of the mouth;
and the nose, which was of singular conformation, seemed endowed with
spontaneous life, and performed a series of extraordinary mechanical
revolutions. Altogether, the appearance of the man impressed me with the
idea of strong, ill-regulated energy, and of that restless activity
which is emphatically the mother of mischief.
Monsieur Albert did not seem very desirous of courting attention. He
rather winked than replied to our host, threw a suspicious look at
Bagsby, who was staring him in the face, honoured me with a survey, and
then edged away into the crowd. I felt rather curious to know something
more about him.
“Pray, my dear Marquis,” said I, “who may this Monsieur Albert be?”
“Albert! Is it possible that you do not—but I forget. I can only tell
you, mon cher, that this Monsieur Albert is a very remarkable man, and
will be heard of hereafter among the ranks of the people. You seem to
suspect a mystery? Well, well! There are mysteries in all great dramas,
such as that which is now going on around us; so for the present you
must be content to know my friend as simple Albert, ouvrier.”
“Hanged if I haven’t seen that fellow in the black choker before!” said
Mr Bagsby; “or, at all events, I’ve seen his double. I say, Mr
Dunshunner, who is the chap that came in just now?”
“I really cannot tell, Mr Bagsby. Monte-Christo calls him simply Mr
Albert, a workman.”
“That’s their fraternity, I suppose! If I thought he was an operative,
I’d be off in the twinkling of a billy-roller. But it’s all a hoax. Do
you know, I think he’s very like a certain noble—”
Here an aide-de-camp, booted and spurred, dashed into the apartment.
“General! you are wanted immediately: the émeute has begun, half Paris
is rushing to arms, and they are singing the Marseillaise through the
“Anything else?” said the General, who, with inimitable sang froid,
was sipping a tumbler of orgeat.
“Guizot has resigned.”
“Bravo!” cried the little gentleman above referred to—and he cut a
caper that might have done credit to Vestris. “Bravo! there is some
chance for capable men now.”
“I was told,” continued the aide-de-camp, “as I came along, that Count
Molé had been sent for.”
“Molé! bah! an imbecile!” muttered the diminutive statesman. “It was not
worth a revolution to produce such a miserable result.”
“And what say the people?” asked our host.
“Cela ne suffit pas!”
“Ah, les bons citoyens! Ah! les braves garçons! Je les connais!” And
here the candidate for office executed a playful pirouette.
“Nevertheless,” said Lamoricière, “we must do our duty.”
“Which is?” interrupted De la Pailleterie.
“To see the play played out, at all events,” replied the military
patriot; “and therefore, messieurs, I have the honour to wish you all a
very good evening.”
“But stop, General,” cried two or three voices: “what would you advise
us to do?”
“In the first place, gentlemen,” replied the warrior, and his words were
listened to with the deepest attention, “I would recommend you, as the
streets are in a disturbed state, to see the ladies home. That duty
performed, you will probably be guided by your own sagacity and tastes.
The National Guard will, of course, muster at their quarters. Gentlemen
who are of an architectural genius will probably be gratified by an
opportunity of inspecting several barricades in different parts of the
city; and I have always observed, that behind a wall of this description
there is little danger from a passing bullet. Others, who are fond of
fireworks, may possibly find an opportunity of improving themselves in
the pyrotechnic art. But I detain you, gentlemen, I fear unjustifiably;
and as I observe that the firing has begun, I have the honour once more
to renew my salutations.”
And in fact a sharp fusillade was heard without, towards the conclusion
of the General’s harangue. The whole party was thrown into confusion;
several ladies showed symptoms of fainting, and were incontinently
received in the arms of their respective cavaliers.
The aspiring statesman had disappeared. Whether he got under a sofa, or
up the chimney, I do not know, but he vanished utterly from my eyes.
Monte-Christo was in a prodigious state of excitement.
“I have kept my word, you see,” he said: “this may be misconstrued in
history, but I call upon you to bear witness that the revolution was a
triumph of genius. O France!” continued he, filling his pocket with
macaroons, “the hour of thine emancipation has come!”
Observing a middle-aged lady making towards the door without male
escort, I thought it incumbent upon me to tender my services, in
compliance with the suggestions of the gallant Lamoricière. I was a good
deal obstructed, however, by Mr Hutton Bagsby, who, in extreme alarm,
was cleaving to the skirts of my garments.
“Can I be of the slightest assistance in offering my escort to madame?”
said I with a respectful bow.
The lady looked at me with unfeigned surprise.
“Monsieur mistakes, I believe,” said she quietly. “Perhaps he thinks I
carry a fan. Look here”—and she exhibited the butt of an enormous
horse-pistol. “The authoress of Lélia knows well how to command respect
“George Sand!” I exclaimed in amazement.
“The same, Monsieur; who will be happy to meet you this evening at an
early hour, behind the barricade of the Rue Montmartre.”
“O good Lord!” cried Mr Hutton Bagsby, “here is a precious kettle of
fish! They are firing out yonder like mad; they’ll be breaking into the
houses next, and we’ll all be murdered to a man.”
“Do not be alarmed, Mr Bagsby; this is a mere political revolution. The
people have no animosity whatever to strangers.”
“Haven’t they? I wish you had seen the way the waiter looked this
morning at my dressing-case. They’d tie me up to the lamp-post at once
for the sake of my watch and seals! And I don’t know a single word of
their bloody language. I wish the leaders of the League had been hanged
before they sent me here.”
“What! then you are here upon a mission?”
“Yes, I’m a delegate, as they call it. O Lord, I wish somebody would
take me home!”
“Where do you reside, Mr Bagsby?”
“I don’t know the name of the street, and the man who brought me here
has just gone away with a gun! Oh dear! what shall I do?”
I really felt considerably embarrassed. By this time Monte-Christo and
most of his guests had departed, and I knew no one to whom I could
consign the unfortunate and terrified free-trader. I sincerely pitied
poor Bagsby, who was eminently unfitted for this sort of work; and was
just about to offer him an asylum in my own apartments, when I felt my
shoulder touched, and, turning round, recognised the intelligent though
sarcastic features of Albert the ouvrier.
“You are both English?” he said in a perfectly pure dialect. “Eh bien,
I like the English, and I wish they understood us better. You are in
difficulties. Well, I will assist. Come with me. You may depend upon the
honour of a member of the Institute. Workman as I am, I have some
influence here. Come—is it a bargain? Only one caution, gentlemen:
remember where you are, and that the watchwords for the night are
fraternité, egalité! You comprehend? Let us lose no time, but follow
So saying, he strode to the door. Bagsby said not a word, but clutched
my arm. But as we descended the staircase, he muttered in my ear as well
as the chattering of his teeth would allow:—
“It is him—I am perfectly certain! Who on earth would have believed
this! O Lord Harry!”
The streets were in a state of wild commotion. Everywhere we encountered
crowds of truculent working fellows, dressed in blouses, and armed with
muskets, who were pressing towards the Boulevards. Sometimes they passed
us in hurried groups; at other times the way was intercepted by a
regular procession bearing torches, and singing the war-hymn of
Marseilles. Those who judge of the physical powers of the French people
by the specimens they usually encounter in the streets of Paris, are
certain to form an erroneous estimate. A more powerful and athletic race
than the workmen is scarcely to be found in Europe; and it was not, I
confess, without a certain sensation of terror, that I found myself
launched into the midst of this wild and uncontrollable mob, whose
furious gestures testified to their excitement, and whose brawny arms
were bared, and ready for the work of slaughter.
Considering the immense military force which was known to be stationed
in and around Paris, it seemed to me quite miraculous that no effective
demonstration had been made. Possibly the troops might be drawn up in
some of the wider streets or squares, but hitherto we had encountered
none. Several bodies of the National Guard, it is true, occasionally
went by; but these did not seem to be considered as part of the military
force, nor did they take any active steps towards the quelling of the
disturbance. At times, however, the sound of distant firing warned us
that the struggle had begun.
Poor Bagsby clung to my arm in a perfect paroxysm of fear. I had
cautioned him, as we went out, on no account to open his lips, or to
make any remarks which might serve to betray his origin. The creature
was quite docile, and followed in the footsteps of Monsieur Albert like
a lamb. That mysterious personage strode boldly forward, chuckling to
himself as he went, and certainly exhibited a profound knowledge of the
topography of Paris. Once or twice we were stopped and questioned; but a
few cabalistic words from our leader solved all difficulties, and we
were allowed to proceed amidst general and vociferous applause.
At length, as we approached the termination of a long and narrow street,
we heard a tremendous shouting, and the unmistakable sounds of conflict.
“Here come the Municipal Guards!” cried M. Albert, quickly. “These
fellows fight like demons, and have no regard for the persons of the
people. Follow me, gentlemen, this way, and speedily, if you do not wish
to be sliced like blanc-mange!”
With these words the ouvrier dived into a dark lane, and we lost no time
in following his example. I had no idea whatever of our locality, but it
seemed evident that we were in one of the worst quarters of Paris. Every
lamp in the lane had been broken, so that we could form no opinion of
its character from vision. It was, however, ankle-deep of mud—a
circumstance by no means likely to prolong the existence of my glazed
boots. Altogether, I did not like the situation; and had it not been for
the guarantee as to M. Albert’s respectability, implied from his
acquaintance with Monte-Christo, I think I should have preferred
trusting myself to the tender mercies of the Municipal Guard. As for
poor Bagsby, his teeth were going like castanets.
“You seem cold, sir,” said Albert, in a deep and husky voice, as we
reached a part of the lane apparently fenced in by dead walls. “This is
a wild night for a Manchester weaver to be wandering in the streets of
“O Lord! you know me, then?” groaned Bagsby, with a piteous accent.
“Know you? ha, ha!” replied the other, with the laugh of the third
ruffian in a melodrama; “who does not know citizen Bagsby, the
delegate—Bagsby, the great champion of the League—Bagsby, the
“It’s not time, upon my soul!” cried Bagsby; “I am nothing of the kind.
I haven’t a hundred pounds in the world that I can properly call my
“The world wrongs you, then,” said Albert; “and, to say the truth, you
keep up the delusion by carrying so much bullion about you. I should
say, now, that the chain round your neck must be worth some fifty
Bagsby made no reply, but clutched my arm with the grasp of a cockatoo.
“This is a very dreary place,” continued Albert, in a tone that might
have emanated from a sepulchre. “Last winter three men were robbed and
murdered in this very passage. There is a conduit to the Seine below,
and I saw the bodies next morning in the Morgue, with their throats cut
from ear to ear!”
From a slight interjectional sound, I concluded that Bagsby was praying.
“These,” said the ouvrier, “are the walls of a slaughter-house: on the
other side is the shed where they ordinarily keep the guillotine. Have
you seen that implement yet, Mr Bagsby?”
“Mercy on us, no!” groaned the delegate. “Oh, Mr Albert, whoever you
are, do take us out of this place, or I am sure I shall lose my reason!
If you want my watch, say so at once, and, upon my word, you are
“Harkye, sirrah,” said Monsieur Albert: “I have more than half a mind to
leave you here all night for your consummate impertinence. I knew you
from the very first to be a thorough poltroon; but I shall find a proper
means of chastising you. Come along, sir; we are past the lane now, and
at a place where your hands may be better employed for the liberties of
the people than your head ever was in inventing task-work at home.”
We now emerged into an open court, lighted by a solitary lamp. It was
apparently deserted, but on a low whistle from Monsieur Albert, some
twenty or thirty individuals in blouses rushed forth from the doorways
and surrounded us. I own I did not feel remarkably comfortable at the
moment; for although it was clear to me that our guide had merely been
amusing himself at the expense of Bagsby, the apparition of his
confederates was rather sudden and startling. As for Bagsby, he
evidently expected no better fate than an immediate conduct to the
“You come late, mon capitaine,” said a bloused veteran, armed with a
mattock. “They have the start of us already in the Rue des Petits
“Never mind, grognard! we are early enough for the ball,” said M.
Albert. “Have you everything ready as I desired?”
“All ready—spades, levers, pickaxes, and the rest.”
“Enough to serve our purpose, and we shall soon have more. But who are
these with you?”
“Fraternisers—two bold Englishmen, who are ready to die for freedom!”
“Vivent les Anglais, et à bas les tyrans!” shouted the blouses.
“This citizen,” continued Albert, indicating the unhappy Bagsby, “is a
Cobdenist and a delegate. He has sworn to remain at the barricades until
the last shot is fired, and to plant the red banner of the emancipated
people upon its summit. His soul is thirsting for fraternity. Brothers!
open to him your arms.”
Hereupon a regular scramble took place for the carcass of Mr Hutton
Bagsby. Never surely was so much love lavished upon any human creature.
Patriot after patriot bestowed on him the full-flavoured hug of
fraternity, and he emerged from their grasp very much in the tattered
condition of a scarecrow.
“Give the citizen delegate a blouse and a pickaxe,” quoth Albert, “and
then for the barricade. You have your orders—execute them. Up with the
pavement, down with the trees; fling over every omnibus and cab that
comes in your way, and fight to the last drop of your blood for France
and her freedom. Away!”
With a tremendous shout the patriots rushed off, hurrying Bagsby along
with them. The unfortunate man offered no resistance, but the agony
depicted on his face might have melted the heart of a millstone.
Albert remained silent until the group were out of sight, and then burst
into a peal of laughter.
“That little man,” said he, “will gather some useful experiences
to-night that may last him as long as he lives. As for you, Mr
Dunshunner, whose name and person are well known to me, I presume you
have no ambition to engage in any such architectural constructions?”
I modestly acknowledged my aversion to practical masonry.
“Well, then,” said the ouvrier, “I suppose you are perfectly competent
to take care of yourself. There will be good fun in the streets, if you
choose to run the risk of seeing it; at the same time there is safety in
stone walls. ’Gad, I think this will astonish plain John! There’s
nothing like it in his Lives of the Chancellors. I don’t want,
however, to see our friend the delegate absolutely sacrificed. Will you
do me the favour to inquire for him to-morrow at the barricade down
there? I will answer for it that he does not make his escape before
then; and now for Ledru Rollin!”
With these words, and a friendly nod, the eccentric artisan departed, at
a pace which showed how little his activity had been impaired by years.
Filled with painful and conflicting thoughts, I followed the course of
another street which led me to the Rue Rivoli.
Here I had a capital opportunity of witnessing the progress of the
revolution. The street was crowded with the people shouting, yelling,
and huzzaing; and a large body of the National Guard, drawn up
immediately in front of me, seemed to be in high favour. Indeed, I was
not surprised at this, on discovering that the officer in command was no
less a person than my illustrious friend De la Pailleterie. He looked as
warlike as a Lybian lion, though it was impossible to comprehend what
particular section of the community were the objects of his sublime
anger. Indeed, it was rather difficult to know what the gentlemen in
blouses wanted. Some were shouting for reform, as if that were a
tangible article which could be handed them from a window; others
demanded the abdication of ministers—rather unreasonably, I thought,
since at that moment there was no vestige of a ministry in France;
whilst the most practical section of the mob was clamorous for the head
of Guizot. Presently the shakos and bright bayonets of a large
detachment of infantry were seen approaching, amidst vehement cries of
“Vive la Ligne!” They marched up to the National Guard, who still
maintained their ranks. The leading officer looked puzzled.
“Who are these?” he said, pointing with his sword to the Guard.
“I have the honour to inform Monsieur,” said Monte-Christo, stepping
forward, “that these are the second legion of the National Guard!”
“Vive la Garde Nationale!” cried the officer.
“Vive la Ligne!” reciprocated the Marquis.
Both gentlemen then saluted, and interchanged snuff-boxes, amidst
tremendous cheering from the populace.
“And who are these?” continued the officer, pointing to the blouses on
“These are the people,” replied Monte-Christo.
“They must disperse. My orders are peremptory,” said the regular.
“The National Guard will protect them. Monsieur, respect the people!”
“They must disperse,” repeated the officer.
“They shall not,” replied Monte-Christo.
The moment was critical.
“In that case,” replied the officer, after a pause, “I shall best
fulfil my duty by wishing Monsieur a good evening.”
“You are a brave fellow!” cried the Marquis, sheathing his sabre; and in
a moment the warriors were locked in a brotherly embrace.
The effect was electric and instantaneous. “Let us all fraternise!” was
the cry; and regulars, nationals, and blouses, rushed into each others’
arms. The union was complete. Jacob and Esau coalesced without the
formality of an explanation. Ammunition was handed over by the troops
without the slightest scruple, and in return many bottles of vin
ordinaire were produced for the refreshment of the military. No man who
witnessed that scene could have any doubt as to the final result of the
Presently, however, a smart fusillade was heard to the right. The cry
arose, “They are assassinating the people! to the barricades! to the
barricades!” and the whole multitude swept vehemently forward towards
the place of contest. Unfortunately, in my anxiety to behold the
rencontre in which my friend bore so distinguished a part, I had pressed
a little further forwards than was prudent, and I now found myself in
the midst of an infuriated gang of workmen, and urged irresistibly
onwards to the nearest barricade.
“Thou hast no arms, comrade!” cried a gigantic butcher, who strode
beside me armed with an enormous axe; “here—take this;” and he thrust
a sabre into my hand; “take this, and strike home for la Patrie!”
I muttered my acknowledgments for the gift, and tried to look as like a
patriot as possible.
“Tête de Robespierre!” cried another. “This is better than paying
taxes! À bas la Garde Municipale! à bas tous les tyrans!”
“Tête de Brissot!” exclaimed I, in return, thinking it no unwise plan
to invoke the Manes of some of the earlier heroes. This was a slight
“Quoi? Girondin?” cried the butcher, with a ferocious scowl.
“Non; corps de Marat!” I shouted.
“Bon! embrasse-moi donc, camarade!” said the butcher, and so we
reached the barricade.
Here the game was going on in earnest. The barricade had been thrown up
hastily and imperfectly, and a considerable body of the Municipal
Guard—who, by the way, behaved throughout with much intrepidity—was
attempting to dislodge the rioters. In fact, they had almost succeeded.
Some ten of the insurgents, who were perched upon the top of the pile,
had been shot down, and no one seemed anxious to supply their place on
that bad eminence. In vain my friend the butcher waved his axe, and
shouted, “En avant!” A considerable number of voices, indeed, took up
the cry, but a remarkable reluctance was exhibited in setting the
salutary example. A few minutes more, and the passage would have been
cleared; when all of a sudden, from the interior of a cabriolet, which
formed a sort of parapet to the embankment, emerged a ghastly figure,
streaming with gore, and grasping the drapeau rouge. I never was more
petrified in my life—there could be no doubt of the man—it was Hutton
For a moment he stood gazing upon the tossing multitude beneath. There
was a brief pause, and even the soldiers, awed by his intrepidity,
forbore to fire. At last, however, they raised their muskets; when, with
a hoarse scream, Bagsby leaped from the barricade, and alighted
uninjured on the street. Had Mars descended in person to lead the
insurrection, he could not have done better.
“Ah, le brave Anglais! Ah, le député intrépide! A la rescousse!” was
the cry, and a torrent of human beings rushed headlong over the
No power on earth could have resisted that terrific charge. The
Municipal Guards were scattered like chaff before the wind; some were
cut down, and others escaped under cover of the ranks of the Nationals.
Like the rest, I had leaped the embankment; but not being anxious to
distinguish myself in single combat, I paused at the spot where Bagsby
had fallen. There I found the illustrious delegate stretched upon the
ground, still grasping the glorious colours. I stooped down and examined
the body, but I could discover no wound. The blood that stained his
forehead was evidently not his own.
I loosened his neckcloth to give him air, but still there were no signs
of animation. A crowd soon gathered around us—the victors were
returning from the combat.
“He will never fight more!” said the author of the Mysteries of Paris,
whom I now recognised among the combatants. “He has led us on for the
last time to victory! Alas for the adopted child of France! Un vrai
héros! II est mort sur le champ de bataille! Messieurs, I propose that
we decree for our departed comrade the honours of a public funeral!”
“How do you feel yourself to-day, Mr Bagsby?” said I, as I entered the
apartment of that heroic individual on the following morning; “you made
a very close shave of it, I can tell you. Eugène Sue wanted to have you
stretched upon a shutter, and carried in procession as a victim through
all the streets of Paris.”
“Victim indeed!” replied Bagsby, manipulating the small of his back,
“I’ve been quite enough victimised already. Hanged if I don’t get that
villain Albert impeached when I reach England, that’s all! I worked
among them with the pickaxe till my arms were nearly broken, and the
only thanks I got was to be shot at like a popinjay.”
“Nay, Mr Bagsby, you have covered yourself with glory. Every one says
that but for you the barricade would inevitably have been carried.”
“They might have carried it to the infernal regions for aught that I
cared,” replied Bagsby. “Catch me fraternising again with any of them; a
disreputable set of scoundrels with never a shirt to their back.”
“You forget, my dear sir,” said I: “Mr Cobden is of opinion that they
are the most affectionate and domesticated people on the face of the
“Did Cobden say that?” cried Bagsby: “then he’s a greater humbug than I
took him to be, and that is saying not a little. He’ll never get another
testimonial out of me, I can tell you. But pray, how did I come here?”
“Why, you were just about to be treated to a public funeral, when very
fortunately you exhibited some symptoms of resuscitation, and a couple
of hairy patriots carried you to my lodgings. Your exertions had been
too much for you. I must confess, Mr Bagsby, I had no idea that you were
so bloodthirsty a personage.”
“Me bloodthirsty!” cried Bagsby; “Lord bless you! I am like to faint
whenever I cut myself in shaving. Guns and swords are my perfect
abomination, and I don’t think I could bring myself to fire at a
“Come, come! you do yourself injustice. I shall never forget the
brilliant manner in which you charged down the barricade.”
“All I can tell you is, that I was deucedly glad to hide myself in one
of the empty coaches. But when a bullet came splash through the panel
within two inches of my ear, I found the place was getting too hot to
hold me, and scrambled out. I had covered myself with one of their red
rags by way of concealment, and I suppose I brought it out with me. As
to jumping down, you will allow it was full time to do that, when fifty
fellows were taking a deliberate aim with their guns.”
“You are too modest, Mr Bagsby; and, notwithstanding all your
disclaimers, you have gained a niche in history as a hero. But come;
this may be a busy day, and it is already late. Do you think you can
manage any breakfast?”
“I’ll try,” said Bagsby; and, to do him justice, he did.
Our meal concluded, I proposed a ramble, in order to ascertain the
progress of events, of which both of us were thoroughly ignorant.
Bagsby, however, was extremely adverse to leaving the house. He had a
strong impression that he would be again kidnapped, and pressed into
active service; in which case he affirmed that he would incontinently
give up the ghost.
“Can’t you stay comfortably here,” said he, “and let’s have a little
bottled porter? These foreign chaps can surely fight their own battles
without you or me; and that leads me to ask if you know the cause of all
this disturbance. Hanged if I understand anything about it!”
“I believe it mainly proceeds from the King having forbidden some of the
deputies to dine together in public.”
“You don’t say so!” cried Bagsby: “what an old fool he must be! Blowed
if I wouldn’t have taken the chair in person, and sent them twelve dozen
of champagne to drink my health.”
“Kings, Mr Bagsby, are rarely endowed with a large proportion of such
sagacity as yours. But really we must go forth and look a little about
us. It is past mid-day, and I cannot hear any firing. You may rely upon
it that the contest has been settled in one way or another—either the
people have been appeased, or, what is more likely, the troops have
sided with them. We must endeavour to obtain some information.”
“You may do as you like,” said Bagsby, “but my mind is made up. I’m off
for Havre this blessed afternoon.”
“My dear sir, you cannot. No passports can be obtained just now, and the
mob has taken up the railroads.”
“What an idiot I was ever to come here!” groaned Bagsby. “Mercy on me!
must I continue in this den of thieves, whether I will or no?”
“I am afraid there is no alternative. But you judge the Parisians too
hastily, Mr Bagsby. I perceive they have respected your watch.”
“Ay, but you heard what that chap said about the slaughter-house lane. I
declare he almost frightened me into fits. But where are you going?”
“Out, to be sure. If you choose to remain—”
“Not I. Who knows but they may take a fancy to seek for me here, and
carry me away again! I won’t part with the only Englishman I know in
Paris, though I think it would be more sensible to remain quietly where
We threw ourselves into the stream of people which was rapidly setting
in towards the Tuileries. Great events seemed to have happened, or at
all events to be on the eve of completion. The troops were nowhere to be
seen. They had vanished from the city like magic.
“Bon jour, Citoyen Bagsby,” said a harsh voice, immediately behind us.
“I hear high accounts of your valour yesterday at the barricades. Allow
me to congratulate you on your first revolutionary experiment.”
I turned round, and encountered the sarcastic smile of M. Albert the
ouvrier. He was rather better dressed than on the previous evening, and had a tricolored sash bound around his waist. With him was a crowd of
persons evidently in attendance.
“Should you like, Mr Bagsby, to enter the service of the Republic? for
such, I have the honour to inform you, France is now,” continued the
ouvrier. “We shall need a few practical heads—”
“Oh dear! I knew what it would all come to!” groaned Bagsby.
“Don’t misapprehend me—I mean heads to assist us in our new commercial
arrangements. Now, as free-trade has succeeded so remarkably well in
Britain, perhaps you would not object to communicate some of your
experiences to M. Crémieux, who is now my colleague?”
“Your colleague, M. Albert?” said I.
“Exactly so. I have the honour to be one of the members of the
Provisional Government of France.”
“Am I in my senses or not?” muttered Bagsby. “Oh, sir, whoever you are,
do be a good fellow for once, and let me get home! I promise you, I
shall not say a word about this business on the other side of the
“Far be it from me to lay any restraint upon your freedom of speech, Mr
Bagsby. So, then, I conclude you refuse? Well, be it so. After all, I
daresay Crémieux will get on very well without you.”
“But pray, M. Albert—one word,” said I. “You mentioned a republic—”
“I did. It has been established for an hour. Louis Philippe has
abdicated, and in all probability is by this time half a league beyond
the barrier. The Duchess of Orleans came down with her son to the
Chamber of Deputies, and I really believe there would have been a
regency; for the gallantry of France was moved, and Barrot was
determined on the point. Little Ledru Rollin, however, saved us from
half measures. Rollin is a clever fellow, with the soul of a
Robespierre; and, seeing how matters were likely to go, he quietly
slipped to the door, and admitted a select number of our friends from
the barricades. That put a stop to the talking. You have no idea how
quiet gentlemen become in the presence of a mob with loaded muskets.
Their hearts failed them; the deputies gradually withdrew, and a
republic was proclaimed by the sovereign will of the people. I am just
on my way to the Hôtel de Ville, to assist in consolidating the
“Bon voyage, M. Albert!”
“Oh, we shall do it, sure enough! But here we are near the Tuileries.
Perhaps, gentlemen, you would like to enjoy the amusements which are
going on yonder, and to drink prosperity to the new Republic in a glass
of Louis Philippe’s old Clos Vougeot. If so, do not let me detain you.
Adieu!” And, with a spasmodic twitch of his nose, the eccentric ouvrier
“Well! what things one does see abroad, to be sure!” said Bagsby: “I
recollect him quite well at the time of the Reform Bill—”
“Hush, my dear Bagsby!” said I, “this is not the moment nor the place
for any reminiscences of the kind.”
Certainly the aspect of what was going forward in front of the Tuileries
was enough to drive all minor memories from the head of any man. A huge
bonfire was blazing in the midst of the Square opposite the Place du
Carrousel, and several thousands of the populace were dancing round it
like demons. It was fed by the royal carriages, the furniture of the
state-rooms, and every combustible article which could in any way be
identified with the fallen dynasty. The windows of the palace were flung
open, and hangings, curtains, and tapestries of silk and golden tissue,
were pitched into the square amidst shouts of glee that would have
broken the heart of an upholsterer. It was the utter recklessness of
destruction. Yet, with all this, there was a certain appearance of
honesty preserved. The people might destroy to any amount they pleased,
but they were not permitted to appropriate. The man who smashed a mirror
or shattered a costly vase into flinders was a patriot,—he who helped
himself to an inkstand was denounced as an ignominious thief. I saw one
poor devil, whose famished appearance bore miserable testimony to his
poverty, arrested and searched; a pair of paste buckles was found upon
him, and he was immediately conducted to the gardens, and shot by a
couple of gentlemen who, five minutes before, had deliberately slit some
valuable pictures into ribbons! Every moment the crowd was receiving
accession from without, and the bonfire materials from within. At last,
amidst tremendous acclamations, the throne itself was catapulted into
the square, and the last symbol of royalty reduced to a heap of ashes.
The whole scene was so extremely uninviting that I regretted having come
so far, and suggested to Bagsby the propriety of an immediate retreat.
This, however, was not so easy. Several of the citizens who were now
dancing democratic polkas round the embers, had been very active
partisans at the barricade on the evening before, and, as ill-luck would
have it, recognised their revivified champion.
“Trois mille rognons!” exclaimed my revolutionary friend the butcher;
“here’s the brave little Englishman that led us on so gallantly against
the Municipal Guard! How is it with thee, my fire-eater, my stout
swallower of bullets? Art thou sad that there is no more work for thee
to do? Cheer up, citizen! we shall be at the frontiers before long; and
then who knows but the Republic may reward thee with the baton of a
marshal of France!”
“Plus de maréchaux!” cried a truculent chiffonier, who was truculently
picking a marrow-bone with his knife. “Such fellows are worth nothing
except to betray the people. I waited to have a shot at old Soult
yesterday, but the rascal would not show face!”
“Never mind him, citizen,” said the butcher, “we all know Père
Pomme-de-terre. But thou lookest pale! Art thirsty? Come with me, and I
will show thee where old Macaire keeps his cellar. France will not
grudge a flask to so brave a patriot as thyself.”
“Ay, ay! to the cellar—to the cellar!” exclaimed some fifty voices.
“Silence, mes enfants!” cried the butcher, who evidently had already
reconnoitred the interior of the subterranean vaults. “Let us do all
things in order. As Citizen Lamartine remarked, let virtue go hand in
hand with liberty, and let us apply ourselves seriously to the
consummation of this great work. We have now an opportunity of
fraternising with the world. We see amongst us an Englishman who last
night devoted his tremendous energies to France. We thought he had
fallen, and were about to give him public honours. Let us not be more
unmindful of the living than the dead. Here he stands, and I now propose
that he be carried on the shoulders of the people to the
royal—peste!—I mean the republican cellar, and that we there drink
to the confusion of all rank, and the union of all nations in the bonds
of universal brotherhood!”
“Agreed! agreed!” shouted the mob; and for the second time Bagsby
underwent the ceremony of entire fraternisation. He was then hoisted
upon the shoulders of some half-dozen patriots, notwithstanding a
melancholy howl, by which he intended to express disapprobation of the
whole proceeding. I was pressed into the service as interpreter, and
took care to attribute his disclaimer solely to an excess of modesty.
“Thou also wert at the barricade last night,” said the butcher. “Thou,
too, hast struck a blow for France. Come along. Let us cement with wine
the fraternity that originated in blood!”
So saying, he laid hold of my arm, and we all rushed towards the
Tuileries. I would have given a trifle to have been lodged at that
moment in the filthiest tenement of the Cowcaddens; but anything like
resistance was of course utterly out of the question. In we thronged, a
tumultuous rabble of men and women, through the portal of the Kings of
France, across the halls, and along the galleries, all of them bearing
already lamentable marks of violence, outrage, and desecration. Here was
a picture of Louis Philippe, a masterpiece by Horace Vernet, literally
riddled with balls; there a statue of some prince, decapitated by the
blow of a hammer; and in another place the fragments of a magnificent
vase, which had been the gift of an emperor. Crowds of people were
sitting or lying in the state apartments, eating, drinking, smoking, and
singing obscene ditties, or wantonly but deliberately pursuing the work
of dismemberment. And but a few hours before, this had been the palace
of the King of the Barricades!
Down we went to the cellars, which by this time were tolerably clear, as
most of the previous visitors had preferred the plan of enjoying the
abstracted fluid in the upper and loftier apartments. But such was not
the view of Monsieur Destripes the butcher, or of his friend
Pomme-de-terre. These experienced bacchanals preferred remaining at
headquarters, on the principle that the séance ought to be declared
permanent. Bagsby, as the individual least competent to enforce order,
was called to the chair, and seated upon a kilderkin of Bordeaux, with a
spigot as the emblem of authority. Then began a scene of brutal and
undisguised revelry. Casks were tapped for a single sample, and their
contents allowed to run out in streams upon the floor. Bottles were
smashed in consequence of the exceeding scarcity of cork-screws, and the
finest vintage of the Côte d’Or and of Champagne were poured like water
down throats hitherto unconscious of any such generous beverage.
I need not dwell upon what followed—indeed I could not possibly do
justice to the eloquence of M. Pomme-de-terre, or the accomplishments of
several poissardes, who had accompanied us in our expedition, and now
favoured us with sundry erotic ditties, popular in the Faubourg St
Antoine. With these ladies Bagsby seemed very popular; indeed, they had
formed themselves into a sort of body-guard around his person.
Sick of the whole scene, I availed myself of the first opportunity to
escape from that tainted atmosphere; and, after traversing most of the
state apartments and several corridors, I found myself in a part of the
palace which had evidently been occupied by some of those who were now
fleeing as exiles towards a foreign land. The hand of the spoiler also
had been here, but he was gone. It was a miserable thing to witness the
desolation of these apartments. The bed whereon a princess had lain the
night before, was now tossed and tumbled by some rude ruffian, the
curtains were torn down, the gardes-de-robe broken open, and a hundred
articles of female apparel and luxury were scattered carelessly upon the
floor. The setting sun of February gleamed through the broken windows,
and rendered the heartless work of spoliation more distinct and
apparent. I picked up one handkerchief, still wet, it might be with
tears, and on the corner of it was embroidered a royal cypher.
I, who was not an insurgent, almost felt that, in penetrating through
these rooms, I was doing violence to the sanctity of misfortune. Where,
on the coming night, might rest the head of her who, a few hours before,
had lain upon that pillow of down? For the shelter of what obscure and
stifling hut might she be forced to exchange the noble ceiling of a
palace? This much I had gathered, that all the royal family had not
succeeded in making their escape. Some of the ladies had been seen, with
no protectors by their side, shrieking in the midst of the crowd; but
the cry of woe was that day too general to attract attention, and it
seemed that the older chivalry of France had passed away. Where was the
husband at the hour when the wife was struggling in that rout of terror?
I turned into a side-passage, and opened another door. It was a small
room which apparently had escaped observation. Everything here bore
token of the purity of feminine taste. The little bed was untouched:
there were flowers in the window, a breviary upon the table, and a
crucifix suspended on the wall. The poor young inmate of this place had
been also summoned from her sanctuary, never more to enter it again. As
I came in, a little bird in a cage raised a loud twittering, and began
to beat itself against the wires. The seed-box was empty, and the last
drop of water had been finished. In a revolution such as this, it is the
fate of favourites to be neglected.
The poor thing was perishing of hunger. I had no food to give it, but I
opened the cage and the window, and set it free. With a shrill note of
joy, it darted off to the trees, happier than its mistress, now thrown
upon the mercy of a rude and selfish world. I looked down upon the scene
beneath. The river was flowing tranquilly to the sea; the first breezes
of spring were moving through the trees, just beginning to burgeon and
expand; the sun was sinking amidst the golden clouds tranquilly—no sign
in heaven or earth betokened that on that day a mighty monarchy had
fallen. The roar of Paris was hushed; the work of desolation was over;
and on the morrow, its first day would dawn upon the infant Republic.
“May Heaven shelter the unfortunate!” I exclaimed; “and may my native
land be long preserved from the visitation of a calamity like this!”
TWO PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENTS.
I awoke upon the morrow impressed with that strange sensation which is
so apt to occur after the first night’s repose in a new and unfamiliar
locality. I could not for some time remember where I was. The events of
the two last days beset me like the recollections of an unhealthy dream,
produced by the agency of opiates; and it was with difficulty I could
persuade myself that I had passed the night beneath the roof of the
“After all,” thought I, “the event may be an interesting, but it is by
no means an unusual one, in this transitory world of ours. Louis XVI.,
Napoleon, Charles X., Louis Philippe, and Dunshunner, have by turns
occupied the palace, and none of them have had the good fortune to leave
it in perpetuity to their issue. Since abdication is the order of the
day, I shall even follow the example of my royal predecessors, and bolt
with as much expedition as possible; for, to say the truth, I am getting
tired of this turmoil, and I think, with Sir Kenneth of Scotland, that
the waters of the Clyde would sound pleasant and grateful in mine ear.”
A very slight toilet sufficed for the occasion, and I sallied forth with
the full intention of making my immediate escape. This was not so easy.
I encountered no one in the corridors, but as I opened the door of the
Salle des Trophées, a din of many voices burst upon my ears. A number of
persons occupied the hall, apparently engaged in the discussion of an
extempore breakfast. To my infinite disgust, I recognised my quondam
acquaintances of the cellar.
“Aha! thou art still here then, citizen?” cried Monsieur Destripes, who
was inflicting huge gashes upon a ham, filched, no doubt, from the royal
buttery. “By my faith, we thought thou hadst given us the slip. Never
mind—we are not likely to part soon; so sit thee down and partake of
our republican cheer.”
“I am afraid,” said I, “that business requires my presence elsewhere.”
“Let it keep till it cool then,” replied the other. “Suffice it to say,
that no man quits this hall till the whole of us march out en masse.
Say I right, brother Pomme-de-terre?”
“Just so,” replied the chiffonier, tossing off his draught from an
ornament of Venetian glass. “We have built up a second barricade, and
have sworn never to surrender.”
“How is this, gentlemen?” said I.
“You must know, sir,” replied a meagre-looking personage, whom I
afterwards ascertained to be a barber, “that the liberty of the people
is not yet secure. Last night, when we were in the cellar, a large body
of the National Guard came, by orders of the Provisional Government, and
ejected the whole of our compatriots from the upper stories of the
Tuileries. This we hold to be a clear infraction of the charter, for all
public buildings are declared to be the property of the people.
Fortunately we escaped their notice, but being determined to reassert
the rights of France, we have barricaded the staircase which leads to
this hall, and are resolved to maintain our post.”
“Bravely spoken, old Saigne-du-nez!” cried the butcher; “and a jollier
company you won’t find anywhere. Here are ladies for society, wine for
the drinking, provisions to last us a week; and what would you wish for
more? Cent mille haches! I doubt if Louis Philippe is enjoying himself
half so much.”
“But really gentlemen—”
“Sacre, no mutiny!” cried the butcher; “don’t we know that the
sovereign will of the people must be respected? There is thy friend
there, as happy as may be; go round and profit by his example.”
Sure enough I discovered poor Bagsby extended in a corner of the hall.
The orgies of last evening were sufficient to account for his haggard
countenance and blood-shot eyes, but hardly for the multitudinous oaths
which he ejaculated from time to time. Beside him sat a bloated
poissarde, who was evidently enamoured of his person, and tended him
with all that devotion which is the characteristic of the gentler sex.
As it was beyond the power of either to hold any intelligible
conversation, the lady contrived to supply its place by a system of
endearing pantomime. Sometimes she patted Bagsby on the cheek, then
chirupped as a girl might do when coaxing a bird to open its mouth, and
occasionally endeavoured to insinuate morsels of garlic and meat between
“Oh, Mr Dunshunner! save me from this hag!” muttered Bagsby. “I have
such a splitting headache, and she will insist on poisoning me with her
confounded trash! Faugh, how she smells of eels! O dear! oh dear! is
there no way of getting out? The barricades and the fighting are nothing
compared to this!”
“I am afraid, Mr Bagsby,” said I, “there is no remedy but patience. Our
friends here seem quite determined to hold out, and I am afraid that
they would use little ceremony, did we make any show of resistance.”
“I know that well enough!” said Bagsby; “they wanted to hang me last
night, because I made a run to the door: only, the women would not let
them. What do you want, you old harridan? I wish you would take your
fingers from my neck!”
“Ce cher bourgeois!” murmured the poissarde: “c’est un méchant drôle,
mais assez joli!”
“Upon my word, Mr Bagsby, I think you have reason to congratulate
yourself on your conquest. At all events, don’t make enemies of the
women; for, heaven knows, we are in a very ticklish situation, and I
don’t like the looks of several of those fellows.”
“If ever I get home again,” said Bagsby, “I’ll renounce my errors, turn
Tory, go regularly to church, and pray for the Queen. I’ve had enough of
liberty to last me the rest of my natural lifetime. But, I say, my dear
friend, couldn’t you just rid me of this woman for half an hour or so?
You will find her a nice chatty sort of person; only, I don’t quite
comprehend what she says.”
“Utterly impossible, Mr Bagsby! See, they are about something now. Our
friend the barber is rising to speak.”
“Citizens!” said Saigne-du-nez, speaking as from a tribune, over the
back of an arm-chair—“Citizens! we are placed by the despotism of our
rulers in an embarrassing position. We, the people, who have won the
palace and driven forth the despot and his race, are now ordered to
evacuate the field of our glory, by men who have usurped the charter,
and who pretend to interpret the law. I declare the sublime truth, that,
with the revolution, all laws, human and divine, have perished! (Immense
“Citizens! isolated as we are by this base decree from the great body of
the people, it becomes us to constitute a separate government for
ourselves. Order must be maintained, but such order as shall strike
terror into the breasts of our enemies. France has been assailed through
us, and we must vindicate her freedom. Amongst us are many patriots,
able and willing to sustain the toils of government; and I now propose
that we proceed to elect a provisional ministry.”
The motion was carried by acclamation, and the orator proceeded:
“Citizens! amongst our numbers there is one man who has filled the most
lofty situations. I allude to Citizen Jupiter Potard. Actor in a hundred
revolutions, he has ever maintained the sublime demeanour of a patriot
of the Reign of Terror. Three generations have regarded him as a model,
and I now call upon him to assume the place and dignity of our
Jupiter Potard, a very fine-looking old man, with a beard about a yard
long,—who was really a model, inasmuch as he had sat in that capacity
for the last thirty years to the artists of Paris,—was then conducted,
amidst general applause, to a chair at the head of the table. Jupiter, I
am compelled to add, seemed rather inebriated; but as he did not attempt
to make any speeches, that circumstance did not operate as a
The remainder of the administration was speedily formed. Destripes
became Minister of the Interior: Pomme-de-terre received the Portfolio
of Justice. A gentleman, who rejoiced in the sobriquet of
Gratte-les-rues, was made Minister of War. Saigne-du-nez appointed
himself to the Financial Department, and I was unanimously voted the
Minister of Foreign Affairs. These were the principal offices of the
Republic, and to us the functions of government were confided. Bagsby,
at the request of the poissardes, received the honorary title of
Minister of Marine.
A separate table was ordered for our accommodation; and our first
decree, countersigned by the Minister of the Interior, was an order for
a fresh subsidy from the wine-cellar.
Here a sentry, who had been stationed at a window, announced the
approach of a detachment of the National Guard.
“Citizen Minister of War!” said Saigne-du-nez, who, without any scruple,
had usurped the functions of poor old Jupiter Potard, “this is your
business. It is my opinion that the provisional government cannot
receive a deputation of this kind. Let them announce their intentions at
the barricade without.”
Gratte-les-rues, a huge ruffian with a squint, straightway shouldered
his musket and left the room. In a few minutes he returned with a paper,
which he cast upon the table.
“A decree from the Hôtel de Ville,” he said.
“Is it your pleasure, citizen colleagues, that this document should now
be read?” asked Saigne-du-nez.
All assented, and, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, the following
document was placed in my hands. It was listened to with profound
“Unity is the soul of the French nation; it forms its grandeur, its
power, and its glory; through unity we have triumphed, and the
rights of the people have been vindicated.
“Impressed with these high and exalted sentiments, and overflowing
with that fraternity which is the life-blood of our social system,
the Provisional Government decrees:—
“I. That the Tuileries, now denominated the Hôpital des Invalides
Civiles, shall be immediately evacuated by the citizens who have so
bravely wrested it from the tyrant.
“II. That each patriot, on leaving it, shall receive from the
public treasury the sum of five francs, or an equivalent in
“III. The Minister of the Interior is charged with the execution of
|Dupont (de l’Eure).
“Sang de Mirabeau!” cried Destripes, when I had finished the perusal
of this document, “do they take us for fools! Five francs indeed! This
is the value which these aristocrats place upon the blood of the people!
Citizen colleagues, I propose that the messenger be admitted, and
immediately flung out of the window!”
“And I second the motion,” said Pomme-de-terre.
“Nay, citizens!” cried Saigne-du-nez,—“no violence. I agree that we
cannot entertain the offer, but this is a case for negotiation. Let the
Minister of Foreign Affairs draw up a protocol in reply.”
In consequence of this suggestion I set to work, and in a few minutes
produced the following manifesto, which may find a place in some
subsequent collection of treaties:
“France is free. The rights of every Frenchman, having been gained
by himself, are sacred and inviolable; the rights of property are
“Indivisibility is a fundamental principle of the nation. It
applies peculiarly to public works. That which the nation gave, the
nation now resumes.
“We protest against foreign aggression. Satisfied with our own
triumph, we shall remain tranquil. We do not ask possession of the
Hôtel de Ville, but we are prepared to maintain our righteous
occupation of the Tuileries.
“Impressed with these high and exalted sentiments, the Provisional
Government of the Tuileries decrees—
“I. That it is inexpedient to lessen the glory of France, by
intrusting the charge of the Tuileries to any other hands save
those of the brave citizens who have so nobly captured it.
“II. That the Provisional Government does not recognise coupons as
a national medium of exchange.
“III. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is charged with the execution
of this decree.
“Mort aux tyrans!
This document was unanimously adopted as the true exponent of our
sentiments; and I was highly complimented by my colleagues on my
diplomatic ability. I took occasion, however, to fold up the following
note along with the despatch:
“If Citizen Albert has any regard for his English friends, he will
immediately communicate their situation to the citizen
Monte-Christo. Here, affairs look very ill. The public tranquillity
depends entirely upon the supply of liquor.”
This business being settled, we occupied ourselves with more industrial
duties. The finance was easily disposed of. There were but four francs,
six sous, leviable among the whole community; but Gratte-les-rues, with
instinctive acuteness, had discovered the watch and chain of the
unfortunate Minister of Marine, and these were instantly seized and
confiscated as public property.
On investigation we found that the larder was but indifferently
supplied. Due allowance being made for the inordinate appetite of the
poissardes, of whom there were no less than ten in our company, it was
calculated that our stock of food could not last for more than a couple
of days. On the other hand, there was a superabundance of wine.
We then proceeded to adjust a scheme for the future regulation of labour
throughout France; but I do not think that I need trouble my readers
with the detail. It did not differ materially from that propounded by M.
Louis Blanc, and the substance of it might shortly be stated as—three
days’ wage for half-a-day’s labour. It was also decreed, that all
servants should receive, in addition to their wages, a proportion of
their masters’ profits.
After some hours of legislation, not altogether harmonious—for
Destripes, being baulked in a proposition to fire the palace, threatened
to string up old Jupiter Potard to the chandelier, and was only
prevented from doing so by the blunderbuss of Saigne-du-nez—we grew
weary of labour, and the orgies commenced anew. I have neither patience
nor stomach to enter into a description of the scene that was there and
then enacted. In charity to the human race, let me hope that such a
spectacle may never again be witnessed in the heart of a Christian city.
Poor Bagsby suffered fearfully. The affection of the poissarde had
gradually augmented to a species of insanity, and she never left him for
a moment. The unhappy man was dragged out by her to every dance; she
gloated on him like an ogress surveying a plump and pursy pilgrim; and
at the close of each set she demanded the fraternal salute. He tried to
escape from his persecutor by dodging round the furniture; but it was of
no use. She followed him as a ferret follows a rabbit through all the
intricacies of his warren, and invariably succeeded in capturing her
booty in a corner.
At length night came, and with it silence. One by one the revellers had
fallen asleep, some still clutching the bottle, which they had plied
with unabated vigour so long as sensibility remained, and the broad calm
moon looked on reproachfully through the windows of that desecrated
hall. There was peace in heaven, but on earth—oh, what madness and
I was lying wrapped up in some old tapestry, meditating very seriously
upon my present precarious situation, when I observed a figure moving
amidst the mass of sleepers. The company around was of such a nature,
that unpleasant suspicions naturally occurred to my mind, and I
continued to watch the apparition until the moonlight shone upon it,
when I recognised Bagsby. This poor fellow was a sad incubus upon my
motions; for although I had no earthly tie towards him, I could not
help feeling that in some measure I had been instrumental in placing him
in his present dilemma, and I had resolved not to escape without making
him the partner of my flight. I was very curious to know the object of
his present movements, for the stealthy manner in which he glided
through the hall betokened some unusual purpose. I was not long left in
doubt. From behind a large screen he drew forth a coil of cord, formerly
attached to the curtain, but latterly indicated by Destripes as the
implement for Potard’s apotheosis; and approaching a window, he
proceeded to attach one end of it very deliberately to a staple. He then
gave a cautious glance around, as if to be certain that no one was
watching him, and began to undo the fastenings of the window. A new
gleam of hope dawned upon me. I was about to rise and move to his
assistance, when another figure glided rapidly through the moonshine. In
an instant Bagsby was clutched by the throat, and a low voice hissed
“Ah traitre! monstre! polisson! tu veux donc fuir?”
It was the poissarde. Nothing on earth is so wakeful as a jealous woman.
She had suspected the designs of the wretched Minister of Marine, and
counterfeited sleep only to detect him in the act of escaping.
Not a moment was to be lost. I knew that if this woman gave the alarm,
Bagsby would inevitably be hanged with his own rope, and I stole towards
the couple, in order to effect, if possible, a reconciliation.
“Ah, citizen, is it thou?” said the poissarde more loudly than was at
all convenient. “Here is thy fellow trying to play me a pretty trick!
Perfidious monster! was this what thou meant by all thy professions of
“For heaven’s sake, take the woman off, or she will strangle me!”
“Pray, hush! my dear madam, hush!” said I, “or you may wake some of our
“What care I?” said the poissarde; “let them wake, and I will denounce
the villain who has dared to trifle with my affections!”
“Nay, but consider the consequences!” said I. “Do, pray, be silent for
one moment. Bagsby, this is a bad business!”
“You need not tell me that,” groaned Bagsby.
“Your life depends upon this woman, and you must appease her somehow.”
“I’ll agree to anything,” said the terrified Minister of Marine.
“Yes! I will be avenged!” cried the poissarde; “I will have his heart’s
blood, since he has dared to deceive me. How! is this the way they treat
a daughter of the people?”
“Citoyenne!” I said, “you are wrong—utterly wrong. Believe me, he loves
you passionately. What proof do you desire?”
“Let him marry me to-morrow,” said the poissarde, “in this very room, or
I shall immediately raise the alarm.”
I tried to mitigate the sentence, but the poissarde was perfectly
“Bagsby, there is no help for it!” said I. “We are in the midst of a
revolution, and must go along with it. She insists upon you marrying her
to-morrow. The alternative is instant death.”
“I’ll do it,” said Bagsby, quietly; “anything is better than being
murdered in cold blood.”
The countenance of the poissarde brightened.
“Aha!” said she, taking the submissive Bagsby by the ear, “so thou art
to be my republican husband after all, coquin? Come along. I shall
take care that thou dost not escape again to-night, and to-morrow I
shall keep thee for ever!”
So saying, she conducted her captive to the other end of the hall.
A REPUBLICAN WEDDING.
“This is great news!” said Destripes, as we mustered round the
revolutionary breakfast table. “Hast heard, citizen? Our colleague the
Minister of Marine is about to contract an alliance with a daughter of
the people. Corbleu! There is no such sport as a regular republican
“In my early days,” said Jupiter Potard, “we had them very frequently.
The way was, to tie two young aristocrats together, and throw them into
the Seine. How poor dear Carrier used to laugh at the fun! Oh, my
friends! we shall never see such merry times again.”
“Come, don’t be down-hearted, old fellow!” cried Destripes. “We never
can tell what is before us. I don’t despair of seeing something yet
which might make the ghost of Collot d’Herbois rub its hands with
ecstasy. But to our present work. Let us get over the business of the
day, and then celebrate the wedding with a roaring festival.”
“But where are we to find a priest?” asked Saigne-du-nez. “I question
whether any of our fraternity has ever taken orders.”
“Priest!” cried Destripes ferociously. “Is this an age of superstition?
I tell thee, Saigne-du-nez, that if any such fellow were here, he should
presently be dangling from the ceiling! What better priest would’st
thou have than our venerable friend Potard?”
“Ay, ay!” said Pomme-de-terre, “Potard will do the work famously. I’ll
warrant me, with that long beard of his, he has sate for a high-priest
ere now. But look at Citoyenne Corbeille, how fond she seems of her
bargain. Ventrebleu! our colleague is sure to be a happy man!”
Whatever happiness might be in store for Bagsby hereafter, there was no
appearance of it just then. He sate beside his bride like a criminal on
the morning of his execution; and such efforts as he did make to respond
to her attentions were rueful and ludicrous in the extreme.
Breakfast over, we proceeded to council; but as we had no deputations to
receive, and no fresh arrangements to make, our sitting was rather
brief. Bagsby, in order, as I supposed, to gain time, entreated me to
broach the topics of free-trade and unrestricted international exchange;
but recent events had driven the doctrines of Manchester from my head,
and somewhat shaken my belief in the infallibility of the prophets of
the League. Besides, I doubted very much whether our Provisional
Ministry cared one farthing for duties upon calico and linen, neither of
these being articles in which they were wont exorbitantly to indulge;
and I perfectly understood the danger of appearing over tedious upon
any subject in a society so strangely constituted. I therefore turned a
deaf ear to the prayers of Bagsby, and refused to enlighten the council
at the risk of the integrity of my neck. No reply whatever had been made
by the authorities without, to our communication of the previous day.
One o’clock was the hour appointed by the Provisional Government for the
nuptial ceremony, which was to be performed with great solemnity. About
twelve the bride, accompanied by three other poissardes, retired, in
order to select from the stores of the palace a costume befitting the
occasion. In the mean time, I had great difficulty in keeping up the
courage of Bagsby,—indeed, he was only manageable through the medium of
doses of brandy. At times he would burst out into a paroxysm of passion,
and execrate collectively and individually the whole body of the
Manchester League, who had sent him upon this unfortunate mission to
Paris. This profanity over, he would burst into tears, bewail his
wretched lot, and apostrophise a certain buxom widow, who seemed to
dwell somewhere in the neighbourhood of Macclesfield. As for the French,
the outpourings from the vial of his wrath upon that devoted nation were
most awful and unchristian. The plagues of Egypt were a joke to the
torments which he invoked upon their heads; and I felt intensely
thankful that not one of our companions understood a syllable of
English, else the grave would inevitably have been the bridal couch of
It now became my duty to see the bridegroom properly attired; for which
purpose, with permission of our colleagues, I conducted Bagsby to a
neighbouring room, where a full suit of uniform, perhaps the property of
Louis Philippe, had been laid out.
“Come now, Mr Bagsby,” said I, observing that he was about to renew his
lamentations, “we have had quite enough of this. You have brought it
upon yourself. Had you warned me of your design last night, it is quite
possible that both of us might have escaped; but you chose to essay the
adventure single-handed, and, having failed, you must stand by the
consequences. After all, what is it? Merely marriage, a thing which
almost every man must undergo at least once in his lifetime.”
“Oh! but such a woman—such a she-devil rather!” groaned Bagsby. “I
shouldn’t be the least surprised if she bites as bad as a crocodile. How
can I ever take such a monster home, and introduce her to my friends?”
“I see no occasion for that, my good fellow. Why not stay here and
become a naturalised Frenchman?”
“Here? I’d as soon think of staying in a lunatic asylum! Indeed I may be
in one soon enough, for flesh and blood can’t stand this kind of torture
long. But I say,” continued he, a ray of hope flashing across his
countenance, “they surely can’t make it a real marriage after all.
Hanged if any one of these blackguards is a clergyman; and even if he
was, they haven’t got a special license.”
“Don’t deceive yourself, Mr Bagsby,” said I; “marriage in France is a
mere social contract, and can be established by witnesses, of whom there
will be but too many present.”
“Then I say they are an infernal set of incarnate pestiferous heathens!
What! marry a man whether he will or not, and out of church! It’s enough
to draw down a judgment upon the land.”
“You forget, Mr Bagsby. You need not marry unless you choose; it is a
mere question of selection between a wedding and an execution,—between
the lady and a certain rope, which, I can assure you, Monsieur
Destripes, or his friend Gratte-les-rues, will have no hesitation in
handling. Indeed, from significant symptoms, I conclude that their
fingers are itching for some such practice.”
“They are indeed two horrid-looking blackguards!” said Bagsby dolefully.
“I wish I had pluck enough to be hanged: after all, it could not be much
worse than marriage. And yet I don’t know. There may be some means of
getting a divorce, or she may drink herself to death, for, between you
and me, she seems awfully addicted to the use of ardent spirits.”
“Fie! Mr Bagsby; how can you talk so of your bride upon the wedding-day!
Be quick! get into those trousers, and never mind the fit. It may be
dangerous to keep them waiting long; and, under present circumstances,
it would be prudent to abstain from trying the temper of the lady too
“I never thought to be married this way!” sighed Bagsby, putting on the
military coat, which, being stiff with embroidery, and twice too big for
him, stuck out like an enormous cuirass. “If my poor old mother could
see me now, getting into the cast-off clothes of some outlandish
“She would admire you exceedingly, I am sure. Do you know, you look
quite warlike with these epaulets! Come now—on with the sash, take
another thimbleful of brandy, and then to the altar like a man!”
“I daresay you mean well, Mr Dunshunner; but I have listened to more
pleasant conversation. I say—what is to prevent my getting up the
“Mere madness! The moment you are missed they will fire up it. Believe
me, you have not a chance of escape; so the sooner you resign yourself
to your inevitable destiny the better.”
Here a loud knocking was heard at the door.
“Citizen Minister of Marine, art thou ready?” cried the voice of
Pomme-de-terre. “Thy bride is waiting for thee, the altar is decked,
and Père Potard in his robes of office!”
“Come, then,” said I, seizing Bagsby by the arm. “Take courage, man! In
ten minutes it will all be over.”
Our colleagues had not been idle in the interim. At one end of the hall
they had built up an extempore altar covered with a carpet, behind which
stood Jupiter Potard, arrayed in a royal mantle of crimson velvet, which
very possibly in former days might have decorated the shoulders of
Napoleon. Indeed the imperial eagle was worked upon it in gold, and it
had been abstracted from one of the numerous repositories of the palace.
Jupiter, with his long beard and fine sloping forehead, looked the
perfect image of a pontiff, and might have been appropriately drawn as a
principal figure in a picture of the marriage of Heliogabalus.
Gratte-les-rues and Pomme-de-terre, being of bellicose temperament, had
encased themselves in suits of armour, and stood, like two champions of
antiquity, on each side of the venerable prelate. Destripes, who had
accepted the office of temporary father to Demoiselle Corbeille,
appeared as a patriot of the Reign of Terror. His brawny chest was bare;
his shirt sleeves rolled up to the shoulder; and in his belt was stuck
the axe, a fitting emblem alike of his principles and his profession.
At his right hand stood the bride, bedizened with brocade and finery.
From what antiquated lumber-chest they had fished out her apparel, it
would be utterly in vain to inquire. One thing was clear, that the
former occupant of the robes had been decidedly inferior in girth to the
blooming poissarde, since it was now necessary to fasten them across the
bosom by a curious network of tape. I am afraid I have done injustice to
this lady, for really, on the present occasion, she did not look
superlatively hideous. She was a woman of about forty-five,
strong-built, with an immense development of foot and ancle, and arms of
masculine proportion. Yet she had a pair of decidedly fine black eyes,
betokening perhaps little of maiden modesty, but flashing with love and
triumph; a nez retroussé, which, but for its perpetual redness, might
have given a piquant expression to her countenance; a large mouth, and a
set of prodigious teeth, which, to say the truth, were enough to justify
the apprehensions of the bridegroom.
“Silence!” cried Jupiter Potard as we entered; “let the present august
solemnity be conducted as befits the sovereignty of the people! Citizen
Saigne-du-nez was clad in a black frock, I suppose to represent a
notary. He came forward:—
“In the name of the French nation, one and indivisible, I demand the
celebration of the nuptials of Citizen Hutton Bagsby, adopted child of
France, and Provisional Minister of her Marine in the department of the
Tuileries, and of Citoyenne Céphyse Corbeille, poissarde, and daughter
of the people.”
“Is there any one here to gainsay the marriage?” asked Jupiter.
There was no reply.
“Then, in the name of the French nation, I decree that the ceremony
shall proceed. Citizen Minister of Marine, are you willing to take this
woman as your lawful wife?”
A cold sweat stood upon the brow of Bagsby, his knees knocked together,
and he leaned the whole weight of his body upon my arm, as I interpreted
to him the demand of Jupiter.
“Say anything you like,” muttered he; “it will all come to the same
thing at last!”
“The citizen consents, most venerable President.”
“Then nothing remains but to put the same question to the citoyenne,”
said Potard. “Who appears as the father of the bride?”
“Chûte de la Bastille! that do I,” cried Destripes.
“Citizen Destripes, do you of your own free will and accord—”
Here a thundering rap was heard at the door.
“What is that?” cried Destripes, starting back. “Some one has passed the
“In the name of the Provisional Government!” cried a loud voice. The
door was flung open, and to my inexpressible joy, I beheld the Count of
Monte-Christo, backed by a large detachment of the National Guard.
“Treason! treachery!” shouted Destripes. “Ah, villain, thou hast
neglected thy post!” and he fetched a tremendous blow with his axe at
the head of Gratte-les-rues. It was fortunate for that chief that his
helmet was of excellent temper, otherwise he must have been cloven to
the chin. As it was, he staggered backwards and fell.
The National Guard immediately presented their muskets.
“I have the honour to inform the citizens,” said Monte-Christo, “that I
have imperative orders to fire if the slightest resistance is made.
Monsieur, therefore, will have the goodness immediately to lay down that
Destripes glared on him for a moment, as though he meditated a rush, but
the steady attitude of the National Guard involuntarily subdued him.
“This is freedom!” he exclaimed, flinging away his weapon. “This is what
we fought for at the barricades! Always deceived—always sold by the
aristocrats! But the day may come when I shall hold a tight reckoning
with thee, my master, or I am not the nephew of the citizen Samson!”
“Pray, may I ask the meaning of this extraordinary scene?” said
Monte-Christo, gazing in astonishment at the motley group before him.
“Is it the intention of the gentlemen to institute a Crusade, or have we
lighted by chance upon an assemblage of the chivalry of Malta?”
“Neither,” I replied. “The fact is, that just as you came in we were
engaged in celebrating a republican marriage.”
“Far be it from me to interfere with domestic or connubial
arrangements!” replied the polite Monte-Christo. “Let the marriage go
on, by all means; I shall be delighted to witness it, and we can proceed
to business thereafter.”
“You will see no marriage here, I can tell you!” cried Bagsby, who at
the first symptom of relief had taken shelter under the shadow of the
Marquis. “I put myself under your protection; and, by Jove, if you don’t
help me, I shall immediately complain to Lord Normanby!”
“What is this?” cried Monte-Christo. “Do I see Monsieur Bagsby in a
general’s uniform? Why, my good sir, you have become a naturalised
Frenchman indeed! The nation has a claim upon you.”
“The nation will find it very difficult to get it settled then!” said
Bagsby. “But I want to get out. I say, can’t I get away?”
“Certainly. There is nothing to prevent you. But I am rather curious to
hear about this marriage.”
“Why,” said I, “the truth is, my dear Marquis, that the subject is
rather a delicate one for our friend. He has just been officiating in
the capacity of bridegroom.”
“You amaze me!” said Monte-Christo; “and which, may I ask, is the fair
Here Demoiselle Céphyse came forward.
“Citizen officer,” she said, “I want my husband!”
“You hear, Monsieur Bagsby?” said Monte-Christo, in intense enjoyment of
the scene. “The lady says she has a claim upon you.”
“It’s all a lie!” shouted Bagsby. “I’ve got nothing to say to the woman.
I hate and abhor her!”
“Monstre!” shrieked the poissarde, judging of Bagsby’s ungallant
repudiation rather from his gestures than his words. And she sprang
towards him with the extended talons of a tigress. Bagsby, however, was
this time too nimble for her, and took refuge behind the ranks of the
National Guard, who were literally in convulsions of laughter.
“I will have thee, though, polisson!” cried the exasperated bride. “I
will have thee, though I were to follow thee to the end of the world!
Thou hast consented to be my husband, little tisserand, and I never
will give thee up.”
“Keep her off! good, dear soldiers,” cried Bagsby: “pray, keep her off!
I shall be murdered and torn to pieces if she gets hold of me! Oh, Mr
Dunshunner! do tell them to protect me with their bayonets.”
“Be under no alarm, Mr Bagsby,” said Monte-Christo; “you are now under
the protection of the National Guard. But to business. Which of the
citizens assembled is spokesman here?”
“I am the president!” hiccupped Jupiter Potard, who, throughout the
morning, had been unremitting in his attentions to the bottle.
“Then, you will understand that, by orders of the Provisional
Government, all must evacuate the palace within a quarter of an hour.”
“Louis Philippe had seventeen years of it,” replied Jupiter Potard. “I
won’t abdicate a minute sooner!”
“And I,” said Pomme-de-terre, “expect a handsome pension for my pains.”
“Or at least,” said Saigne-du-nez, “we must have permission to gut the
“You have done quite enough mischief already,” said Monte-Christo; “so
prepare to move. My orders are quite peremptory, and I shall execute
them to the letter!”
“Come along, then, citizens!” cried Destripes. “I always knew what would
come of it, if these rascally bourgeoisie got the upper hand of the
workmen. They are all black aristocrats in their hearts. But, by the
head of Robespierre, thou shalt find that thy government is not settled
yet, and there shall be more blood before we let them trample down the
rights of the people!”
So saying, the democratic butcher strode from the apartment, followed by
the rest of the Provisional Government and their adherents, each
retaining the garb which he had chosen to wear in honour of the nuptials
of Bagsby. The poissarde lingered for a moment, eyeing her faithless
betrothed as he stood in the midst of the Guard, like a lioness robbed
of her cub; and then, with a cry of wrath, and a gesture of menace, she
rushed after her companions.
“Thank Heaven!” cried Bagsby, dropping on his knees, “the bitterest hour
of my whole existence is over!”
ADIEU, SWEET FRANCE!
“And so you received the message from M. Albert?” said I to
Monte-Christo, as we walked together to the Hôtel de Ville.
“I did; and to say the truth, I was rather apprehensive about you.
Revolutions are all very well; but it is a frightful thing when the
dregs of the population get the upper hand.”
“I am glad to hear you acknowledge so much. For my part, Marquis, having
seen one revolution, I never wish to witness another.”
“We could not possibly avoid it,” said Monte-Christo. “It was a mere
question of time. No one doubts that a revolutionary spirit may be
carried too far.”
“Can’t you contrive to write it down?” said I.
“Unfortunately, the majority of gentlemen with whom you have lately been
associating, are not strongly addicted to letters. I question whether M.
Destripes has even read La Tour de Nêsle.”
“If he had,” said I, “it must have tended very greatly to his moral
improvement. But how is it with the Provisional Government?”
“Faith, I must own they are rather in a critical position. Had it not
been for Lamartine—who, I must confess, is a noble fellow, and a man of
undaunted courage—they would have been torn to pieces long ago.
Hitherto they have managed tolerably by means of the National Guard; but
the atmosphere is charged with thunder. Here we are, however, at the
Hôtel de Ville.”
Not the least curious of the revolutionary scenes of Paris was the
aspect of the seat of government. At the moment I reached it, many
thousands of the lower orders were assembled in front, and one of the
Provisional Government, I believe Louis Blanc, was haranguing them from
a window. Immense crowds were likewise gathered round the entrance.
These consisted of the deputations, who were doing their very best to
exhaust the physical energies, and distract the mental powers, of the
men who had undertaken the perilous task of government.
Under conduct of my friend, I made my way to the room where the
mysterious ouvrier was performing his part of the onerous duty. He
greeted me with a brief nod and a grim smile, but did not pretermit his
The body which occupied his attention at this crisis of the
commonwealth, was a musical deputation, which craved sweet counsel
regarding some matter of crotchets or of bars. It is not the first time
that music has been heard in the midst of stirring events. Nero took a
fancy to fiddle when Rome was blazing around him.
I could not but admire the gravity with which Albert listened to the
somewhat elaborate address, and the dexterity with which he contrived to
blend the subjects of pipes and patriotism.
“Citizens!” he said, “the Provisional Government are deeply impressed
with the importance of the views which you advocate. Republican
institutions cannot hope to exist without music, for to the sound of
music even the spheres themselves revolve in the mighty and illimitable
expanse of ether.
“At this crisis your suggestions become doubly valuable. I have listened
to them with emotions which I would struggle in vain to express. Oh,
that we may see the day when, with a glorious nation as an orchestra,
the psalm of universal freedom may rise in a swell of triumphant
“And it will come! Rely upon us. Return to your homes. Cherish
fraternity and music. Meantime we shall work without intermission for
your sake. Harmony is our sole object: believe me that, in reconstituted
France, there shall be nothing but perfect harmony.”
The deputation withdrew in tears; and another entered to state certain
grievances touching the manufacture of steel beads. I need not say that
in this, as in several other instances, the ouvrier comported himself
like an eminent member of the Society of Universal Knowledge.
“That’s the last of them, praise be to Mumbo Jumbo!” said he, as the
representatives of the shoe-blacks departed. “Faith, this is work hard
enough to kill a horse. So, Mr Dunshunner! you have been getting up a
counter-revolution at the Tuileries, I see. How are Monsieur Potard and
all the rest of your colleagues?”
“I am afraid they are finally expelled from paradise,” said I.
“Serve them right! a parcel of democratic scum. And what has become of
“I have sent him to my hotel. He was in reality very near becoming an
actual child of France.” And I told the story of the nuptials, at which
the ouvrier nearly split himself with laughter.
“And now, Mr Dunshunner,” said he, “may I ask the nature of your plans?”
“These may depend a good deal upon your advice,” said I.
“I never give advice,” replied the ouvrier with a nasal twitch.
“Sometimes it is rather dangerous. But tell me—what would you think of
the state of the British government, if Earl Grey at a cabinet-council
were to threaten to call in the mob, and if Lord Johnny Russell
prevented him by clapping a pistol to his ear.”
“I should think very badly of it indeed,” said I.
“Or if Incapability Wood should threaten, in the event of the populace
appearing, to produce from the Earl’s pocket a surreptitious order on
the Treasury for something like twelve thousand pounds?”
“Well, then; I don’t think you’ll find that sort of thing going on in
London, at all events.”
“Have you any commands for the other side of the Channel?”
“Oh, then, you are determined to leave? Well, perhaps upon the whole it
is your wisest plan. But do not you regret having evacuated the
“Indeed, I do not. Nevertheless, Monsieur Albert, it may yet be occupied
by one of my family.”
“C’est bien possible. You are a clever race. What began with a
Clovis, may well end with a Dunshunner.”
And so, with a cordial pressure of the hand, we parted.
“Monte-Christo,” I said, as that very evening I bundled Bagsby into a
fiacre on our way to the railroad station—“Monte-Christo, my good
fellow, let me give you a slight piece of advice, which it would be well
if all of our craft and calling would keep in memory, ‘Think twice
before you write up another revolution.’”